Saturday, September 12, 2009

Are you a Christian?

In Lilongwe, after getting to know people for a bit, they invariably will ask - 'Are you a Christian'? I am not quite sure what the analogue is in America, perhaps are you a democrat/republican. I've started saying no - I'm a secular humanist. (This unbeknownst to me is my husband's twitter ID!)

Then I explain that, I believe in Christian ethical values, but not necessarily in a Christian god or Jesus who interferes in world affairs - aka a God with divine providence. But this leads me to think what exactly are Christian ethics? During the crusades, would it be meaningful to speak of christian ethics - these ethics would be different from christian ethics today.

I suppose what I value is the humanist tradition expressed in the teachings of jesus, the rational tradition, preserved by Aquinus - and the scientific tradition that was actively repressed by the medieval church, and of course the legal/judicial/debate tradition of Judaic teachings.

More about this later - I think my internet connection may soon give up.

Last night I had a lovely dinner with Isaac Holeman of Frontline SMS at Huts, a well recommended Indian eatery in Lilongwe. It was good - but my pricest meal in Lilongwe 4800k for the two of us! It was good, and I am not feeling any digestive side effects but not worth the kwatcha.

I returned home to finish the fixtures for my new refactored data models and low and behold the fixtures revealed some issues with my class structure. Basically I had a person class (an abstract class) that was inherited by a healthworker class and a childpatient class. Prior to this project my only experience with django was writing fast backends for iphone applications. This project has been a django learning experience. When I started loading fixtures for my healthworkers and patients, they would not show up in the django admin page as separate entities, but as aggregated, unclickable items on the admin page (something like 20 patients). Exhausted and exasperated - I chucked the possibility of polymorphism and added a person object to healthworkers and children. Then because of my super slick - with some spaghetti code - dynamiclayout model I remapped the report columns to the new function/method names and everything worked as in a dream.


Also in looking at the data - it is really bad. I am not going to be able to clean this data before I leave. I would if I could, but it really is not in the scope of this project - and already I have been unsuccessful in staving off feature creep. In software development it is important to have strict boundaries for a given project. You could conceivably work for ages on a project making minor tweaks and assisting with various automated tasks. You cannot work indefinitely with out appropriate remuneration on a project. People generally only value a service that they have to pay for - and in this case they will take ownership in the project. In the case of the INFSSS project. It is paid for by a Columbia grant - and I think this is reflected in the lack of interest by stakeholders. Everyone wants the sun, the moon, and the stars, if its free. However, if there is money then the hard decisions in terms of scoping - are made. Then, too, people will take active interest in the project and in its success. How this works into open source software - I will discuss at a later date.

I am now debugging my stats and graphing - and then will add 2 more sms messages. I should be done tonight. Tomorrow hopefully will be spent wandering around and trading video out CDs for tzchakies. Hopefully going to Mzuzu next week, but need to speak with Stanley on Monday.

1 comment:

  1. I would do well there, as I would just answer "I am an animist."