> This is part of the chemistry story. it attracts women who say the only
> important reason for them to become chemists is that 'there were a lot
> of women in it'. Which is rather hard on those of us who would like to
> spread the succcess elsewhere. It means that if we could get even
> moderately successful, we could probably snowball, but the first
> step seems as hard as ever.
Hey Laura, I enjoy your bold pen stroke sketches of a female psyche and find
the descriptions quite compelling, even in the presence of so many
exceptions, i.e. women who don't fit that mold. That's not the point of
stereotypes, and stereotypes have a way of being useful even as they quickly
get obsolete (we diss them so strongly because they do, in fact, become
highly misleading, as a culture evolves away from them).
The movie and music club cultures that knit young people around memepools,
have ways of changing the mix pretty significantly over fairly long periods
of time. TV audiences of the 1960s would have been shocked at the antics on
The Simpsons, but by now these characters treasured members of our human
family. Generations fly by, and the dance between the sexes changes in the
Some futurists paint this ship-style ethic with males and females in unisex
uniforms, the hierarchy just as obviously unisex, and blind to other such
superficial differences (skin color, eye shape etc.). That brand of
futurism reflects a present that's now past. Been there done that. Now
we're more likely to see ourselves surviving in a remote, reality-TV
wilderness, more like Indiana Jones than Star Trek, or more like Jacques
Cousteau, with lots of high tech (aqua lungs and so forth). No, not
neo-colonial. More like the aliens have landed (i.e. a next generation has
come to mommy, aka to our shared Spaceship Earth).
> As a boy, I'm looking at a different rebalancing act: CS infuses math
> new blood, changing its sex appeal in the process, and pretty much erasing
> the so-called "gender gap" -- however at a cost of making what boyz and
> girlz learn tomorrow, in terms of content-wise distance from what you
> learned when you and I were little, pretty vast. GPS starting 2nd grade,
> with earth.google.com. Stellarium. Celestia. You and I picked it up
> reading, then looked up and saw light pollution and forgot the
> constellations. We were ignorant, and then we died.
Can't quite make you out, but do suspect that we remain on very different
In my world, we forgot to give enough attention to what, for example, a Mr.
Felix Klein (1849-1925) was trying to tell us.
We in fact consistently misread, misunderstand, misrepresent and misapply
the potential of the best of the past to inform and map the future.
In my program, we correct that mistake - letting the gender chips fall where
they may, but strongly suspecting - done correctly (i.e. beautifully) they
will fall where they should and to everyone's satisfaction.
I *am* resisting. It sounds to me like you want to block important
processing among expert educators by raising irrelevant specters, or rather,
relevant specters in an irrelevant fashion.
It is you who bring in Marxism as a key word, without context, and expect
that to mean something to others. You presume a shared namespace. I find
that presumptuous on your part.
That's why I prefer when you delve into personal autobiography. Then you
start to make a little more sense to me.
> Or at lest, first, made some effort to indicate you actual read what I
> wrote with some sensitivity. As a prelude to your denigrating response.
It's not denigrating. More like: unless you can prove your desire to
impose a moratorium is well founded, your wish may be ignored. On the other
hand, maybe there's something important here. But you don't do enough to
flesh it out (in this first post). You do better later. But if you think a
word like "Marxism" is going to close an argument with me, think again.
> But as you have said, you read what I write with a sense of from where it
> comes. And you have a right to (to be wrong) about that.
Yes, I have a right to be wrong. I also have a right to not include your
code in my running version of the source, which is often copied by others,
if I think your viewpoint is overly obstructive and/or obnoxious. But for
now, I'm paused, waiting to see what your proposed moratorium might look
like, whether it would interfere, assist or whatever. I'm still evaluating.
Do you have any brand of futurism you could share, some scifi about what
tomorrow should/could be like, were your desires met in higher degree? For
my part, I do go public with a brand of futurism. I practice what I preach.
And I tend to dismiss ideological camps unable to produce such scenery, even
> I have no place for GPS in my program.
That's perfectly fine, and so we compete, counter-recruit. You fill your
school, I'll fill mine, and like that.
GPS is important when driving a [Google?] bizmo to a point of interest. We
train faculty in that skill, starting at a young age.
"Earth awareness" is critical in the new curriculum, and segues to
polyhedra, networks, ip protocols, shipping lines. Exercises involve
knowing what time it is in Tokyo, when it's midnight in New York
(reflexively, like the multiplication table used to be) -- so you don't wake
someone asleep, so you don't miss your plane to OSCON or whatever.
You and I never grew up with this kind of earth awareness. A kid in my
tomorrow will be able point to the moon without hesitation, even when it's
between his or her feet. More like airline pilots (which is why more of
them will have pilot licenses, percentage-wise, than did those early
> knowing what time it is in Tokyo, when it's midnight in New York
> (reflexively, like the multiplication table used to be) -- so you don't
> someone asleep, so you don't miss your plane to OSCON or whatever.
What time it is in Tokyo, when it's midnight in New York?
Outside the context the concept of the history of our confrontation with
time and timekeeping, you are talking about trivialities.
When my students have begun to understand something of the hidden depth
connected to these questions, as for example as presented interestingly in
"Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps - Empires of Time" by Peter Galison 2003
and only then, might I allow a one word answer to the question of what time
is it in Tokyo?
> Heh - I should to leave something on the table for my great granddaughter
> to get to work on.
This work is too primal to just leave undone for another 100 years. What
were we proposing to do in the meantime, just sit back and make money, watch
people starve? They'd never forgive us, those grandchildren, rightfully.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kirby Urner [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 1:49 PM
> This work is too primal to just leave undone for another 100 years. What
> were we proposing to do in the meantime, just sit back and make money,
> people starve? They'd never forgive us, those grandchildren, rightfully.
The beautiful things that we are actually more than equipped to do now, as I
have said, and as you pass over.
> What time it is in Tokyo, when it's midnight in New York?
I can't point to the moon either, but I'm working on it. Stellarium and
Celestia a big help. OMSI too.
> Outside the context the concept of the history of our confrontation with
> time and timekeeping, you are talking about trivialities.
As in Trivium? Not really. Astra, along with Angulos (angles, geometry)
was a Quadrivium subject. Still is.
> When my students have begun to understand something of the hidden depth
> connected to these questions, as for example as presented interestingly
> in "Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps - Empires of Time" by Peter Galison
> 2003 and only then, might I allow a one word answer to the question of
> what time is it in Tokyo?
> Do you understand what time it is in Tokyo?
> According to whom?
According to a network of atomic clocks synched with GPS satellites and
monitored in Japan as surely as in Colorado.
> My answer to your moral activist concerns, which I like to think I share
> in my way, is "mindfulness".
> Mindfulness depends on an appreciation of the evolution of things.
I can't help but translate this into some Buddhist namespace -- several are
familiar to me.
> The "Empires of Time" subheading to the Galison's book is somewhat a play
> on words, but in the most basic sense he means Empire, as in Roman Empire,
> British Empire.
In Fuller's (RBF's) lexicon, some of which I've adopted, per Synergetics
Dictionary (EJA), we speak of the East India Company, which his father
worked for. Fuller himself drank tea to excess. I'm more inclined towards
coffee (plus am also sometimes excessive).
Speaking of coffee, I meant to include 'coffee drinkers' in my list of
programmer nicknames: gemologists (Ruby), perl divers (duh), snake charmers
(double duh), and now Java programmers.
> There is nothing at all inevitable - or scientific (ask the French
> revolutionists who tried to influence things otherwise) - about how we
> have come to express what time it is in Tokyo.
> What time is it in Tokyo?
> Have a year or two to discuss it?
You want this to be poetry or something? Airplanes have to land, computers
have to communicate, phone calls have to occur. The details were worked out
years ago, and are now basic infrastructure. To me, it sounds like you're
saying we shouldn't teach basic infra to 2nd graders, by showing 'em their
school via Google Earth. No, we have to wait for some teacher to wax poetic
in like 10th grade, where they maybe give it some existentialist spin (all
I'm not talking about airy fairy stuff, I'm talking basic logistics. Think
of Dutch kids learning about dikes. "This is why we're not all under water
kids." If GPS is off by a second of an arc, a lot of people could die.
Remember in Louisiana when that guy on the porch shouted to CBS News that
they should turn on the pumps. He was right, and that's what the military
was working on (generals got involved). But first the pumps hadda be pumped
out by other pumps, pumps that got floated into place by boat. Then Rita
>On Sat, 2005-10-08 at 18:25 -0700, Radenski, Atanas wrote:
>> > -----Original Message-----
>> > From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]]
> > Behalf Of Arthur
>> > Beauty is beauty, and is never useful.
>> 'Beautiful' is what gives us pleasure. (Things that give us pleasure can
>> be useful at times, perhaps.)
>It is selfish to do thing simply for pleasure.
It is not necessarily selfish to do things simply for pleasure. It can be a most natural, harmless, and acceptable activity. Imagine I am looking at a flower, the flower is beautiful, looking at it gives me pleasure, so I continue looking just for the pleasure of it, but why should that be called 'selfish'?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kirby Urner [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Speaking of ISEPP, I've got a boat meeting set up with the Wanderers CEO,
> Don Wardwell (wwwanderers.org).
Maybe you should invite Dave and Lloyd to the Wanderers homepage as well:
Science would be ruined if it were to withdraw entirely into narrowly
defined specialties. The rare scholars who are wanderers-by-choice are
essential to the
intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines
-- Benoit Mandelbrot
>Turns out that the fact that Einstein happened to get a day job in a patent
>office in Switzerland - where the timekeeping action has always been -
>seems to have been the kind of serendipity that contributes to a Leap
>Forward. That day job got him to where he got much more directly than it
>is generally understood.
I would like to complete a circle here.
And relate it back to the learning and teaching of programming (and
The most general point of the Galison book is that the general meme about
how science progresses needs some adjusting.
One way to state the prevailing meme - is that, say, abstract mathematicians
work in an atmosphere of pure inquiry playing with ideas, and then at some
point those ideas, thought to be purely abstract, are found to have some
application to some real problem in, say, physics.
The meme - according to the history lessons discussed in this book -
underplays the extent to which the abstract ideas are informed in the first
case by the efforts of the practical scientists and engineers (and
politicians and businessmen) to solve very worldly problems. Like how do we
sync our clocks in remote locations so that train schedules make sense.
Personal frame of reference:
My interest in mathematics is purely in the abstract - my goal is to gain
mindfulness. But I find that goal is only achievable by working in the
concrete, and I have found that the best concrete approach - for myself -
has been in the practical practice of solving problems in the context of
programming. Setting out to make concrete things occur, and struggling
toward the solution that will induce them to incur.
My interest in programming in purely practical. As above - making concrete
things occur. And I find that my efforts to do so inform a whole level of
unanticipated appreciation of a different kind of abstract thinking -
connected to the abstractions that computer scientists and programming
language designers live within and develop.
When I say that I want to learn to *program*, not "learn to program", I
think I am meaning that I want my struggles to induce the practical to allow
me to discover on my own the abstract issues. Which is another way of
insisting on being allowed to make my own mistakes.
Guido is quoted somewhere recently (I did not see the quote first hand and
cannot vouch for its authenticity) that Python is an experiment in how much
freedom to give programmers. Many people seem to object to Python in the
real world, "business critical" environment, because by some standards it
allows programmers too much freedom to make mistakes. I don't need to join
that debate, nor am I qualified to participate in it.
But I am certainly convinced that the freedom to make mistakes is
unassailable as part of a learning process. And therefore conclude that
programming in the style that Python allows is an unassailable and
under-utilized educational resource.
> Behalf Of Arthur
> But I am certainly convinced that the freedom to make mistakes is
> unassailable as part of a learning process. And therefore conclude that
> programming in the style that Python allows is an unassailable and
> under-utilized educational resource.
Clarifying what I mean here, and asking some real questions at the same
No, I don't think writing code in Python is so free as to be more subject to
the problems of programmer error, but that's OK because it is good for
What I do mean perhaps goes back to the discussion of properties and the
Uniform Access Principle.
There are languages that believe so strongly in the importance of the UAP,
that it is imposed within the design of the language - from what I see Ruby
and Eiffel offering the strictest implementations.
But if one were to be learning programming from, say Ruby, it seems to me
that there are at least two things that it will be near impossible to
1) The basis for a conclusion that the Uniform Access Principle should be
considered an inviolate principle.
2) The basis for a conclusion that it should not be.
Because one cannot explore the possibilities (and problems) of working both
within and outside of it.
The Python environment - providing properties as a convenience for exploring
the possibilities of working within it, and the ability to ignore them for
exploring the possibilities of working without - seems optimum. For
learners/explorers - for sure. But I would expect for fully grown-up
programmers as all.
That being said - still not getting the UAP thing.
Which seems to be saying that distinguishing between assigned attributes and
methods that do not take parameters is an implementation detail, and hiding
it, benefits (is essential to) API design flexibility - via a decoupling.
But why is distinguishing between methods that do and do not take parameters
any more justified, and isn't doing so its own kind of violation of a
principle of decoupling.
None of this questioning coming from the abstract realm - because I am
exploring in a language that does inhibit exploration.
If anyone is still reading...
One of the cases in which I used properties and thought I had it right - on
the getting of a vector I wanted the return, for purposed of drawing, to be
constrained to some MAX value, which is a module level constant. So I had a
method that would return a constrained vector, and since the vector itself
was a plain attribute, it felt right to flatten this constrained version of
a vector via a property.
Now I find there are advantages to having the MAX value be sensitive to
certain conditions of the caller. And I want the caller to call the method
with a MAX value that is appropriate to its needs. So I have no choice but
to de-propertize the method.
In the case of Kirby's Triangle angle, might it be wise to avoid the
possibility of exploding any spacecraft, and insist that a contract be
formed with the caller so that the caller must specify whether they are
expecting the return value in radians or degrees? Seems maybe yes. But
that requires a parameter, though changes nothing else about what the angle
is in relation to the Triangle.
> In the case of Kirby's Triangle angle, might it be wise to avoid the
> possibility of exploding any spacecraft, and insist that a contract be
> formed with the caller so that the caller must specify whether they are
> expecting the return value in radians or degrees? Seems maybe yes. But
> that requires a parameter, though changes nothing else about what the
> angle is in relation to the Triangle.
> So the UAP is not getting through here.
Note that passing an argument is not the only way to tell an object stuff
like "my preferred unit of measure." That could also be regarded as a
change in state, and be handled with another attribute, e.g.:
>>> Triangle.anglemeasure = 'degrees' # set default class attribute
>>> mytri = Triangle((30,60,90)) # instantiate using degrees
>>> mytri.anglemeasure = 'radians' # change state on instance
>>> mytri.C # consult angle
>>> mytri = mytri * 2 # double size -- angles unaffected
>>> mytri.anglemeasure = 'degrees' # change reporting unit
>>> mytri.C # consult angle (again)
I'm not claiming this approach is in any ultimate sense better. I'm merely
pointing out that this is another approach.
CS enrollments seem to be dropping drastically everywhere. Many
factors probably are at fault (dot-com bust, off-shoring hype), but
there seem to be others. One in particular is that so few HS
graduates seem ready analytically to join in. This is a problem to
discuss elsewhere, I suppose, but I was wondering if you could point
me to info (such as cp4e - I've only heard the name) that can be
considered to help the cause. I'd like to know how to better recruit
from the secondary schools, and also how to influence them to better
prepare students. I know Kirby is deep into this. I'd like to know
what I can do as a college professor. The demand for CS expertise
isn't going away, and the jobs are starting to come back now, but
with fewer locals to fill them, off-shoring will only increase. I'd
like to see our citizens consider CS as viable as business or law. I
mean, someone has to do the "real work" :-).
Honestly, I can't imagine a field that better combines both sides of
the brain with a service ethic and a dimension of fun than CS. But
it looks like so much nerd-ness or drivel to the uninitiated.
On Wed, Oct 12, 2005 at 08:25:56PM -0600, Chuck Allison wrote:
> Hello EDU-SIG,
> CS enrollments seem to be dropping drastically everywhere. Many
> factors probably are at fault (dot-com bust, off-shoring hype), but
> there seem to be others. One in particular is that so few HS
> graduates seem ready analytically to join in.
> Honestly, I can't imagine a field that better combines both sides of
> the brain with a service ethic and a dimension of fun than CS. But
> it looks like so much nerd-ness or drivel to the uninitiated.
> Any ideas would be appreciated.
I noticed a profound shift occur at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Oregon
between 1985 (when I graduated from there) and 1995-1998 when I visited
there to give talks for national engineering week. In one memorable
experience, I spoke to the Biochemistry students, in the same classroom
where I had taken that same class a decade earlier. These were the top 20
math and science students in the school. I asked how many of them wanted to
become engineers. I got zero responses. I was floored. Based on my
experience of the past, I had expected least a handful! I said "engineering
is a good career, it pays good money, why are you not interested?" One kid
raised his hand and said "It's too hard." Another volunteered, "Yeah, I have
a friend who is an engineering student and he has to work all the time." I
was dumbfounded. It appeared as if these kids thought there was a hard road
to success and an easy road to the same success, so planned to take the easy
Chuck, we are up against a more difficult problem than just making CS look
cool. CS is fun, of course, but it is also hard work, there is no disguising
that. If the rising generation doesn't have the work ethic, there is really
In my experience, I noticed that among the successful American-born
engineering students, a significant number of them had been raised on farms,
where they had to get up at 5am every morning to milk the cows. In other
words, they knew how to work. So what did I do? When I lived back in
Oregon, we moved out to the country and we had goats and chickens, and my
boys went out with me morning and evening to milk the goats. Now that we
live in a different environment in North Carolina, I have taken a different
route and have the boys help me in our home publishing business. They have
gotten pretty good at binding books. (Just a little plug: anyone who buys my
book is contributing to my children's education in multiple ways.)