Apologies for the interruption to my (ir)regularly scheduled posts about random bullshit no-one actually cares about, but I thought this was worth bringing up. Even though I have no idea how many people are actually reading this, this is my platform for my thoughts and this is something I feel strongly about. So here we go.

The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution recognises the equal right to life of the mother and an unborn child. This has always been a controversial amendment and people have argued that such wording has no place in the constitution. So, tomorrow, May 25th, Ireland is holding a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

I want to encourage any Irish people reading this website to vote yes to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25th.

We all have our reasons for voting yes or no. We all have our stories. Let me tell you a little bit of my story.

We spent a long time trying to conceive. It took forever. Long enough that we experienced that pain when our friends got pregnant. Why could they get pregnant so easily, without appearing to even try? Each month, we’d realise we once again weren’t successful and we’d be desolate, completely unable to comfort each other. If you haven’t gone through this, you don’t know the pain involved. When I look back on it, I remember it as being one of the hardest points in my life.

But eventually we did it. My wife got pregnant.

The pregnancy was fun, but the labour wasn’t. My daughter was posterior, which basically means that instead of being face-down, the baby was face-up, so the baby’s head and spine was pushing against my wife’s spine so that every push was intensely painful. Also, with every push, the baby’s heart rate would drop precipitously. Eventually, it was decided to bring my wife in for an emergency c-section, where they discovered the chord was wrapped around the baby’s neck (just before I heard my daughter cry for the first time, I heard a surgeon say “look at this messer!”)1.

Obviously, this whole experience was extremely traumatic, both emotionally and physically. And that was just the beginning. Then there’s the issue of being a brand new mother, trying to breastfeed having had major surgery on your abdominal core. I can’t begin to explain the pride and admiration I have for my wife and how she handled the whole thing.

And this is when I realised that this only made me more pro-choice. Having seen first-hand the reality of pregnancy and labour and the reality of raising a child and the lasting (permanent?) scars, both literal and metaphorical, involved in the whole process, I firmly believe there is no way a woman should be forced to go through all this if they couldn’t manage it. And this is to say nothing of extreme cases involving, say, assault or a fatal foetal abnormality. Forcing a woman to go through all that would be barbaric.

Jump forward a couple of years and we’ve been extremely lucky and managed to conceive our second child without really trying very hard at all.

But halfway through the pregnancy, we found out there were complications. Well, no, wait, that’s not quite accurate. There were possible complications. And not insignificant ones, possibly. Which meant a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about how our child would be affected by all this. And there were a lot of tests. So many tests. During one particular test just after Christmas, a doctor (an Irish doctor) asked us “have you considered termination?”

We hadn’t, and we wouldn’t, because we knew the risks, and we knew how strong we were and we knew that we could manage it, no matter how bad it turned out to be2 and I wouldn’t judge anyone for making a different choice in the same circumstances.

And that’s kind of the point of all this: the choice already exists. When the doctor asked us if we’d considered termination, he meant “have you considered (traveling to England for) termination?” The 8th amendment doesn’t stop Irish women from having abortions, it just stops them from having abortions in Ireland3, where they can be surrounded by their loved ones when they really need it.

It’s a horrible, uncaring section of our constitution and should be taken out. And that’s what this referendum is about. Recognising that something is wrong with the current situation and trying to do something about it.

Please, vote yes.

  1. My daughter came out perfectly fine. As I write this, she’s a strong and sturdy two and a half years old. And she’s bilingual, did I mention that? She speaks English and Polish. Smartest kid I know.
  2. It’s fine, by the way. My ten-week old son is healthy and thriving although he will need to be continuously monitored until he’s about a year old.
  3. The 14th amendment added some extra provisions to the language introduced by the 8th amendment, saying “This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state”.

Your Next Dining Destination (Really): Warsaw →

I do a lot of complaining about Warsaw but the one thing I can’t complain about is the quality of the food coming out of the restaurants here. When we first arrived, I would give out about how there’s not much of a food culture here. Boy, was I wrong. (Also, not really mentioned in the article is how cheap the food is here. Blows my mind every time.)

RetroAhoy: The Secret of Monkey Island

This is very good, if 70-minute documentaries about Monkey Island are your kind of thing.

(They are very much my kind of thing.)

Subscription Hell →

I’ve drafted a lot of blog posts about the subscription model (and binned them all because I couldn’t figure out a way of saying “not everyone is entitled to make a living from the one piece of software they wrote” without sounding like a complete asshole), but this article from Danny Crichton says pretty much everything I wanted to – subscriptions are probably the new norm, but developers and marketers need to be smarter about the pricing to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

Can These Robots Build an Ikea Chair?

Spoiler: yes they can.

(My favourite part was the jiggle to get the dowel into place.)

See also: Hikea, where people take LSD and try to assemble Ikea furniture.

MVP Soundsystem →

Frank Chimero has a really great way of organising his Spotify playlists, which allows him to tie a song into a place in time. Sometimes Spotify (other streaming services are available) can be a little like drinking from the firehose, so it’s great to see how other people handle it.

Excerpts from My Upcoming Novel, Ready Player Two: Girl Stuff →

“Wow, Felicity,” he said. My Internet name was Felicity, after the coolest American girl doll. “I never met someone who knew so much about Harry/Draco before.”

I laughed. “Thanks, Sasuke420, I guess not everyone is as serious as I am about the Classic Ships.” Then I turned on the best song, “Spice World,” by the Spice Girls. I saw his eyes go wide as he got my musical reference. He was a keeper.

“In a while, Totodile,” I said, which is a Pokémon.

If you’d told me these were real, I would have believed you.

The Flight of the Zuckerberg →

Dave Pell:

Facebook is constantly urging you to share your immediate thoughts and reactions to every life event. We were a couple days into the company’s biggest challenge before Facebook’s creator shared any of his thoughts on the matter. There’s probably a lesson in that.

This is the best reaction to the CA/Facebook story that I’ve read.

Sex Workers Say Porn on Google Drive Is Suddenly Disappearing →

If this is true, this is an ugly precedent to set as we move more and more to entirely cloud-based storage. You don’t own your data even if you pay someone else to store it for you.

Twitter Threads

A couple of weeks ago, Max Krieger wrote a really interesting twitter thread about the design of San Francisco’s Metreon building. It got a lot of traffic and was retweeted into my timeline a few times. I always find it interesting when multiple people point to a specific Twitter thread because Twitter’s awful design makes threaded discussions a nightmare to read. Like reading a novel by turning pages with a pliers - sure, you can do it, but it’s an awful experience.

I didn’t think much more of it until a few days later, when John Gruber also linked to the thread and, more importantly, linked to some of Max Krieger’s older twitter threads through

And, dear readers, this has changed everything for me.

Laid out in this more thoughtful way – flat and with no separations between tweets, with actually readable typography and with no cropping of images forcing you to break flow to see the full context – you can see how the twitter thread is a wonderful art form in itself. When it’s done right, of course (for example, you’ll see Krieger isn’t numbering his tweets).

Unlike blog posts like this one, tweets are conversational by design. You get a much better sense that of the author’s actual voice because they’re speaking to you rather than speaking at you. Combine this with a long-form discussion of a topic that the author is really genuinely passionate about and you’ve got something I could sit and read for days.

I recently read Cory O’Brien’s Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, which is a jokey, lighthearted summary of the major world myths. But what makes it interesting is the way it’s written. This is not a dry, didactic lecture. The entire book written like an IM conversation with a friend or – to bring this back on-topic – like a well-done Twitter thread. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

And as I predicted, I devoured this book. Loved it. Not just because it was easy to read (which definitely helps when you’ve got a weeks-old baby), but because it felt like I was casually talking to someone I knew about something they were super knowledgeable and passionate about.

I’m not saying I want all books to be written in this way (but wow, can you imagine how great it would be if, say, Ulysses was written like this?), but instead I’d like for anyone thinking of starting a Twitter thread to keep these things in mind: keep your voice and remember that Twitter dot com is not designed for long-form threaded monologues, so imagine your words being presented with a designer’s eye.