Language: The Debate and the Law

Stractics and Tagegy

Elizabeth mentions that they looked up the difference between strategy and tactics during the debates too.  And I thought Obama was supposed to be the intellectual here.  Oh, campaign posturing, you’ve fooled me again!

My understanding is that the plural, tactics, is equivalent to strategy.  The singular, tactic, would be equivalent to stratagem except the latter has the connotation of trickery or deception, which is a subset of tactics and strategies.

This election has seen many stratagem of attacking the opponent over language.  We’ve seen metaphors involving swine, doctrines that redefine themselves by an egg timer (and somehow remained owned by their minter), and so on.

It is obvious that neither candidate is familiar with the principle of charity nor do they believe winning on the issues alone is more important than winning.

Come Guy Fawkes Day, the cheese stands alone.  With all 300 million of us standing in a big circle.  That is the level of maturity our political landscape has devolved into.  Hi-ho, the derry-o!

How to Create Good Law

Even in the midst of a financial market meltdown the question on the tip of their tongues is “How do we show off?”  So McCain straps on his bullet-proof vest and charges into the fray.  Obama talks some sense about regulations, but seems to favor a bailout nonetheless.

Meanwhile, we’ve still got soldiers trying to stop the violence of two foreign lands and no real consolidated plan to stop buying all this oil.  We’ve still got millions without health insurance, one heartbeat away from bankruptcy.  Our electricity grid is aging.  Our internet service sucks.  Our transportation system is regressive.  Our tax structure is about as sensible as Ahmadinejad (again, in many ways caused more by perception than any intrinsic conviction).

One of the big problems is that we still legislate using 20th (err, 18th) century methods: a bill is born, and the staples fly until a simple three-section bill turns into a 200-section monstrosity. Then, as Obama said about funding the troops during the debate, a disagreement about something like time-tables (or in the case of the update to FISA that Obama voted for, illegal immunity for telecommunications companies) may force a voter’s hand either way.

In software we call the concept of having a module or class directed at a single, specific task “cohersion.”  When a bill focuses on everything from Iraq funding to the drinking age to a resolution praising the latest Pixar film we call that “coincidental cohesion.”  We should have law created according to the same principles that govern (proper) software engineering.

What’s more, we should have a context free language that describes the law.  That is the kind of thing that might drag me back to school some day.

Peace.