debunking a lot of bunk: coding IS TOO “fun”

soon im going to take qz off my list of places with articles that make sense or check anything they say at all. (wait, have i done that already?)

i guess coding isnt “fun” anymore:

“ethically complex?” what the heck– i dont think theres anything inherently complex about creating a website, do you? when i was learning to code there was nothing about it that was ethically complex– im sure there are some aspects of publishing software that– could someone please help the author of this tripe get it together?

there are lots of pro-coding articles and a surprising number of anti-coding articles.

  • coding isnt as easy as they say (well its not always, it is certainly possible to make it difficult in some instances, isnt that a good thing?)
  • coding isnt for everyone (define “everyone” and why that isnt possible, please…)
  • coding shouldnt be taught in schools (fine, neither should math. what, i need to state a good reason and you dont?)


i have no idea where these people come from.

now when i was a kid and i learned coding, i used to think it made me special. today, im happy to tell you thats a lot of bunk– anyone can code if theyre interested. making it easy and making it interesting are a special challenge for anyone that wants to teach– but thats typical of teaching.

let me tell you something, those teachers that told you everyone needs math are lying. everyone benefits from math if they can do it, but not everyone needs it. it is possible to go through your life without it– just as you can with code. but making a special argument against teaching math in school would be absurd.

most people do not become mathematicians for a living, and most people who learn to code will not spend their lives as a career programmer. perhaps it takes a special kind of mind to code for a living– i dont recommend learning to code for that reason anyway. i recommend learning to code mostly because it will help you understand computers and technology better than people who dont learn to code. and thats a pretty solid argument.

if they tell you it cant be fun, or simply “isnt fun,” theyre lying. or theyre making an idiotic claim, which i will now address:

the article starts off with one of the worst non-factual claims that could possibly be made on the subject:

“the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon.”


oh, great! taking us back 20 or more years in one fell swoop. thanks walt, youve just rejuvenated an urban legend people are working year after year to kill.

no, programmers dont have a special brain, they have a special skill. i remember a time that i couldnt whistle, but after hearing it explained enough different ways and practicing, i managed (years later.) perhaps that part of my brain finally developed? no! i just learned how to whistle. coding is no different.

the reason i know its no different is because ive done experiments (limited in scope for sure) to teach code concepts to all sorts of people. the thing is, code can be over-complicated. but those over-complications are not requirements that cant be mitigated. because of useful abstractions, almost nothing in code is ACTUALLY required. it varies depending on the task. it can be both fun, and simple, and still powerful.

its really just language. and no one is telling you that it takes a special person to write a sentence. nope, literacy touches every group of people except (and often including) those who are extremely poor and didnt have the best advantages in their youth.

practically anyone can learn to read. if theres an exception, its a true exception– if you can learn to read, you CAN learn to code. but like with reading, how easy it is depends on both the teacher and the lesson. if you have an awful teacher and start with a hard lesson, only some people will manage. that should be obvious, and doesnt prove that learning anything is difficult or “no fun.”

i suck at math, so you know. learning code actually helped me with math a little, though some people will probably tell you that you need to be good at math to code. nope! i needed to learn to code first.

more tripe:


” As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten.”

so if youve been diagnosed with a.d.d., i guess that counts you out! well, i WAS diagnosed with a.d.d. and even treated for it, but not until id been coding for ten years. i guess all that coding didnt help me focus much– even though its a requirement!

so first they tell you that you have to be a special kind of person, and now weve raised that to be “almost superhuman!” theres more than enough data in these first two claims for the laziest of armchair scientists to debunk the article, but im going to do more of that work for you:


“…a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.”

if i managed a publication that an author on my payroll submitted this to, id be asking for a urine test right about now. this author is high.


” When it comes to programming, why do policymakers and technologists pretend otherwise?”

i dont know buddy, its probably for the same reason they pretend that the earth isnt flat, or that the moon landing actually happened.

however, in the second half the article the author nearly admits (just not explicitly) that all that leaning on costly prejudices was more or less click-bait: it was a segue into the importance of the ethics and politics of technology:


“In an ever-more intricate and connected world, where software plays a larger and larger role in everyday life, it’s irresponsible to speak of coding as a lightweight activity.”

no it isnt. it it certainly CAN BE a lightweight activity, like playing with legos or scultping with clay. and you can also segue from throwing play-doh at the floor to the ethics of artistic expression, the politics of copyright and the history of propaganda, but sometimes a cigar is just a freaking cigar.

by the time the author admits what hes really saying, his article has done more damage than it makes up for. heres my advice: dont reinforce a load of nonsense to throw in a good point at the end of an article. it shouldve been an article about the negative impact of click-bait on journalism, though its too late for that. heck, if thats what passes for journalism now, i could write for qz and im not even trying. (dont call me, guys, ill call you.)



thanks to mhneifer for pointing this article out in the first place:


an early nomination from my favorite valentine: one lovely blog

if you want to make it in the blog business, heres one little piece of advice:

you know how your parents taught you to shut up and behave? forget all about that!



ok, so first and second of all, thank you to the very lovely blogger “this field was intentionally left blank” (i think its a pen name, but some parents are weird) aka “ms. wave” for her extremely edutaining blog, “the silent wave.”

the “rules” are that i have to tell you 7 things about myself. since once upon a time, this blog was meant to be entirely about programming, i will be sure to sneak an item or two about that in:

  1. i am in love with both portugal, and its people. the language is very pleasant too, but the words are not easy to discern by ear. i know theyre in there! but you could say “mais casa macieira por favor” 100 times, and i would think you were giving your life story.
  2. i am the author of an educational programming language, called “fig.” there is a localized portuguese version called “figueira.” i occasionally meet portuguese speakers with some english, and i helped introduce two of them to coding. one of them helped finalize the keywords in the portuguese version.
  3. i love most kinds of music– not so much opera or country. ive stuck my foot in my mouth a few times mentioning my feelings about country music. im from the south originally, so i feel if i dont love it, i probably never will. faith hills janis joplin cover wasnt terrible, though.
  4. im counting the aside about where im from as #4. you would never be able to guess from my accent, but a few choice phrases might tip you off.
  5. i hate cigarettes, though ive dated a number of smokers. kissing a smoker isnt the bad part, in my opinion– the way they make your clothes smell is.
  6. vanilla perfume on the other hand, is extremely seductive. the one from coty is awful, the one from victorias secret is not easy to resist (and i hate to plug them, i dont like their brand at all.)
  7. my favorite doctor is still tom baker, but i love david tennant nearly as much (and occasionally more.) tangentially related by way of bbc filming locations: i also really, really love welsh accents. scottish too, but welsh accents are more dangerous than vanilla perfume– i know, i clearly have a problem.


there are a lot of bloggers id recommend to you, but wouldnt nominate, because i only want to nominate people that might have fun with it. i think i can get away with 7 people (the rules say “up to 15”) because although i follow hundreds, i tend to pay the closest attention to those im in regular conversation with. and i follow a lot of blogs about teaching, home teaching and people just learning to code (a type very likely to abandon their blog without mentioning it.)

  1. epic chas gamer: prolific, quick-and-easy posts about his video games, web browser, and computer-related posts.
  2. antwerpenhomeschooling: follow the exploits of a super-awesome teacher and simon (or mostly, its simon,) a kid genius who can probably out-code me already.
  3. the anonymous life: not just any blog about life and home abroad, but from one of the most thoughtful and sensitive people ive found online. if you missed your meditation today, try stopping by this blog instead.
  4. gifguide2code: like the title so accurately describes, this is a blog about coding in various languages with regular use of animated gifs.
  5. stem girls: one of the better blogs ive found on women and girls in technology– ive actually followed quite a few of these from individual female tech bloggers, but like so many tech blogs, people seem to just stop posting. hopefully this one will be around for a while.
  6. simply.cindy: a preschool teacher, author and photographer, whose thoughts on working with kids are probably just as good for being an adult.
  7. the vivifier: life, love and beauty.


i hope you know how much work it was to put this list together… in the year/plus ive been on wordpress, my list of subscriptions is up to 439. by 2018 it will probably be up to 1000.

but i participate in a number of communities, due to both my interests and the people i want to reach. one group nominates me, but that group has already nominated the people that come to mind to nominate– so thats a number of obvious choices down.

a few people i wanted to nominate have fallen off the map, which makes me very sad. but most people blog for free, and you cant make them do it. jet, i miss your posts about coding, i hope you do another one this year.

a lot of the things im subscribed to are pretty technical and obscure– not just about coding, but language development or diy tech that is too technical or  expensive for me to get deeply into (let alone most people i normally chat with on wordpress) then on top of that–

i subscribe to both personal blogs and technical blogs, and i dont think a lot of the technical bloggers are looking to participate in this sort of award thing. i hope you dont mind, chas, i thought you might have fun with this. 🙂

if more people kept blogging year after year, this would be an easier task. but a lot of the most obvious choices were either taken, or arent blogging. i hope you find these 7 choices as appealing as i do, and it certainly wont hurt to check them out! you may find them gems, as i do.

and do you know a blog (even your own) that you think i might like to subscribe to, based on this list? feel free to link to it in the comments!


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