What Nerd Jargon Teaches Us About Obama, Ducks and How to Pass Laws

You may not know it, but among other things I am a computer programmer, and as it so happens, a few days ago I wanted to check for another way of saying “code refactoring” in nerd jargon and I found this funny blog entry that is two years old but relevant enough in both the programming field as well as politics.

As the nerd that I am, I found it utterly amusing. I also realized that some of the expressions apply to politics, some very obviously so.

The term “Barack Obama”  is used for

A project management account to which the most aspirational tickets – stuff you’d really like to do but will probably never get approval for – gets assigned.

Translation, if it even needs one: In software development projects, you submit “tickets” or “issues” which can be “bug reports” or “feature requests” to the project management team. And feature requests which will never get approved, not because they are not good features, just like with many excellent new law proposals by our president which are always blocked by the Republicans, those are assigned to the Barack Obama account.

There is also the “Hindenbug”, a catastrophic data-destroying bug, which in the political arena I would simply call “Republican”.

While they are all quite cute, and I enjoyed Bloombug and Bugfoot, I really liked the description of the “Duck” term and its use. And I think Democrats should use it in politics!

The Duck strategy is used to add an unwanted feature or behavior to a program that is otherwise fine and that the programmer does not want to have to modify.

The artist working on the queen animations for Battle Chess did the animations for the queen the way that he felt would be best, with one addition: he gave the queen a pet duck.

He animated this duck through all of the queen’s animations, had it flapping around the corners. He also took great care to make sure that it never overlapped the "actual" animation.

Eventually, it came time for the producer to review the animation set for the queen. The producer sat down and watched all of the animations. When they were done, he turned to the artist and said, "That looks great. Just one thing – get rid of the duck."

And here is how I suggest using the Duck strategy in the 113th congress of the Unites States:

  • Let Democrats add a Duck clause to gun control law that requires each gun to have a wireless transmitter and GPS locator and transmit hourly how many shots have been fired. And let’s really insist on that feature.
  • Let Democrats propose a law that not only closes corporate loopholes but that requires that companies pay back all the money they kept in the last 10 years by using those loopholes
  • Let Democrats propose a law to charge higher taxes on companies who ship jobs oversees and let’s add a provision that the articles sold by that company are taxed at 1% higher rate than the basic sales tax rate.

I think you get the point. Perhaps you can come up with other political “Ducks”? Best if they (Republicans) don’t notice it’s a duck.

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