Thomas Jefferson on Hillary Clinton

7 Apr 2018 /
Thomas Jefferson

My fellow Americans —

Hillary Clinton is still rattling off all the “reasons” she lost the 2016 presidential election: misogyny, the FBI, sexism, the NRA, Russia . . .

To my knowledge, she has never correctly identified the actual culprits: the patriotic men and women of this country.

Thomas Jefferson

How You Should Think Of Me

7 Apr 2018 /
Harper's Muslims and Christians

A disciple came to Maruf Kharki and said:

“I have been talking to people about you. Jews claim that you are a Jew; Christians revere you as one of their own saints; Muslims insist that you are the greatest of all Muslims.”

Maruf answered:

“This is what humanity says in Baghdad. When I was in Jerusalem, Jews said that I was a Christian, Muslims that I was a Jew, and Christians that I was a Muslim.”

“What must we think of you, then?” the man said.

“Some do not understand me and they revere me. Others do not either, so they revile me. That is what I have come to say. You should think of me as one who has said this.”

Stop the Presses!

6 Apr 2018 /
  • It’s official: older men like older women (as well as younger ones)The Times
  • Lazy River project still incomplete one year laterLaredo Morning Times

How to Tell if a . . .

6 Apr 2018 /

I typed that into Google and here’s what autocomplete came back with:

How to tell if a ...

Guys want to know how to tell if a girl likes them. Girls also want to know if someone likes them, but not as much as they want to know if that egg is bad.

A Joke About Inequality

3 Apr 2018 /

Igor and Boris are dirt-poor peasants in the Soviet Union (it’s an old joke), barely scratching enough crops from their small plots of land to feed their families. The only difference between them is that Boris owns a scrawny goat. One day a genie appears to Igor and grants him a wish. Igor says, “I wish that Boris’s goat should die.”

A Nest, a Haven and Calm Place

1 Apr 2018 /

The low trolley on its cushiony rubber tyres luxuriously bore the corpse away down the middle of the ward. There was speed and secretiveness and deftness in its movement. Over the dead man’s face was a blanket, so that age, torture, ugliness and fear, all were hidden.

Instead of looking on this covering, this careful manipulation as an hypocrisy and cheat, I saw it for what it really was, a desperate effort to make life bearable and sane.

I admired the doctors and the nurses. I admired every human being in the world who, on top of a million, million horrors, yet built a nest, a haven and calm place.

— Denton Welch, A Voice Through a Cloud

David Hogg’s College Prospects

1 Apr 2018 /
Hogg on CNN

A CNN news anchor asked Parkland shooting survivor and graduating senior David Hogg “what kind of dumbass colleges” would reject his application.

As it happens, the dumbass colleges include UCLA and three other UC schools: UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.

Hogg scored a 1270 on the SAT. 1270 SAT scores are a dime a dozen. If his name were, say, Emma Gonzalez, he might get into a UC school with a 1270 SAT, but a white boy from Florida is not getting into a UC school with a 1270 SAT.

Unlike Laura Ingraham, I will not lose any advertisers for pointing this out because I don’t have any advertisers.

Hogg puts himself out there as a guy who’s going to play hardball with profane takedowns of anyone who doesn’t see the world the same way he does, but he feels victimized when someone says a 1270 SAT score is not very good? Hey no fair picking on a high school kid!

I live in California and I’m glad he’s not coming.

Was Nikolas Cruz Bullied?

1 Apr 2018 /

In 2018, being accused of bullying is not on a par with being accused of murder, but it’s close.

Emma Gonzalez, one of the Parkland shooting survivors, said this about Nikolas Cruz at the anti-gun march in Washington, D.C.:

Since he was in middle school, it was no surprise to anyone who knew him that he was the shooter. Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him? You don’t know this kid. OK? We did!

I can’t see anything unusual about that. The popular kids sneer at the geeks, the nerds and the weirdos. Because they deserve it. You don’t know this kid. We did.

But when the kid in this case goes off the rails, which “was no surprise to anyone who knew him,” some self-reflection seems to be in order before blaming the usual suspects.

I don’t understand the strategy of gun control proponents. Every tragedy is used to hammer and shame and silence those with different views. Every time I hear the Parkland kids, they’re abrasive and rude.

Is that helpful? It may be cathartic but I’m pretty sure it just hardens people on both sides in their pre-existing opinions.

Nicolas Cruz arrest

This is Where Your PDF Resume Will Take You

31 Mar 2018 /
Microsoft Word

Received the following advice today:

When applying for jobs, never send your resume in .docx format. Fonts don’t always get embedded and hiring managers cannot always open these files. Use PDF.

Do we really want to work for managers who can’t open a Word doc? Imagine the world-class mentoring and career development you’re going to get from such a person.

I mean, my wife can open Word docs no problem and she can’t even figure out how to turn on the TV.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

See You in Hell . . . if There Is a Hell

30 Mar 2018 /


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

John Lennon lyrics are now Catholic doctrine!

See you in Hell!


29 Mar 2018 /

“I thought that went out with zithers and tarot cards.”

“I still use tarot cards.”

“OK, I thought it went out with bread baking and Russian civilization . . . do you bake bread?”

“I could bake bread.”

Terrifying Xanax Resurgence!

28 Mar 2018 /

You know what’s good when you’re terrified? Xanax!

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If You Act Like an Idiot, I’ll Kill You

28 Mar 2018 /

When my son was growing up, I found a lot of opportunities to point to someone else’s kid and say, “You see what he just did? Don’t do that.”

When I saw a kid acting like an idiot, I assumed the parents were idiots . . . the kid either learned it from the parents or the parents allowed it to happen.

So if my kid were to act like an idiot, I assume other people would think I’m an idiot.

A friend of mine recently shared some advice he got from his dad growing up. I’ve paraphrased it as the title of this post.

Of course killing your own children is going too far, but in a figurative sense, I believe this is good advice and I endorse it . . .

Though Much is Taken, Much Abides

24 Mar 2018 /
Carbon print of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1869

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

— Alfred Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses”

Oh by the Way, Doc . . .

23 Mar 2018 /

I walked by a TV playing a pharmaceutical advertisement . . .

Before taking [drug name], be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve had a liver transplant.

Shouldn’t your doctor know if you’ve had a liver transplant?

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Teaching Computer Science: How to Get Top-Notch Teachers in the Classroom

23 Mar 2018 /
Woman teaching geometry, from Euclid's Elements.

Woman teaching geometry, from Euclid’s Elements.

I read something every day where educators and/or elected officials are talking about the importance for our kids, our country, our future, etc., of teaching computer science, the sticking point being an extreme shortage of qualified teachers.

A person entering the workforce with a computer science degree is unlikely to go into teaching because of the opportunity cost: they can earn a lot more money as a software engineer.

The likelihood of getting a mid-career tech industry professional to switch into teaching is even lower. Teacher salaries are based in large part on years of service. A mid-career person switching into teaching is not going to get a mid-career teacher’s salary, they are going to get a first-year teacher’s salary.

So here’s the idea:

Give CS professionals the opportunity to apply their years in industry to years of service as a teacher.

It’s still a pay cut going from software engineering to teaching but it’s on a scale that people may be willing to take if they’re looking for a new direction in life. It’s not a pay cut to back when you were 22 years old and right out of college.

What’s the alternative? Schools can’t attract qualified CS teachers so they’re taking in-service teachers and sending them to a workshop for a few days to learn to be computer science teachers.

It’s like hiring music teachers who aren’t musicians, or Spanish teachers who don’t speak Spanish.

Are you going to have a good CS program if it’s run by someone whose only connection to the subject is a five-day workshop? No. Are kids going to get excited about computer science? No. How could they? The teacher isn’t even excited about computer science.

How can these teachers know if what they’re teaching is valuable, or how well they’re teaching it?


Programming is difficult, there’s no way around that. The first programming class I took in college had a 75 percent drop rate.

The essential difficulty is that we’re used to giving instructions to other humans. If our instructions are less than perfect and we leave out some details, people can still probably figure out what to do. If we send a text or an email with a grammatical error or a typo, the recipient can figure it out.

Computers can’t figure it out. If you’re giving instructions to a computer, everything has to be perfect and you can’t leave anything out. It’s not a natural mindset, operating at that level of detail.

UC Berkeley offers a CS class, intended for non-majors, called The Beauty and Joy of Computing, the idea being that yes, programming is hard, but it also opens up new ways for people to connect, design, research, play, create and express themselves, to translate ideas into code.

You can’t get the beauty and joy and challenge and fun of computing across to students via teachers who just learned programming at a week-long workshop last summer. The only thing that comes across is how difficult it is.

Introducing kids to computer science and programming in this way may be worse than not teaching CS at all. Kids decide pretty quickly that programming is too hard, it’s boring, they’re not smart enough, they don’t have the right aptitude, their efforts are not rewarded and they don’t want to have anything to do with it because it makes them feel bad about themselves.

Computer science is not unique in this respect, but it’s less about presenting “material” and more about conveying a way of thinking. Teachers can’t convey a way of thinking when they don’t genuinely think that way.

If teaching CS is important, provide an incentive to get qualified teachers in the classroom, who can teach what they do, teach something that is part of their life, teach something that is personal and valuable to them, and pass on their own insights and experience.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Work Hard, Play Hard

17 Mar 2018 /

You work hard? Is that a boast? Maybe you have to work hard because you lack talent and finesse.

You play hard? Are you a bad loser? Are you an even worse winner? How do those two words even go together — “play” and “hard”?

An Atheist Falls Into a Swamp . . .

17 Mar 2018 /
Man in a swamp

[David Hume] once fell into a swamp near the house he was building in Edinburgh. Owing to his reputation among the locals as an atheist, a woman refused to pull him out of it until he recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Belief, which, being practical-minded, he did. But not before he argued with her about whether Christians were obligated to help their enemies.

— Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

How I Married My Mother

15 Mar 2018 /

Oklahoma mom who once married her son will now go to jail for marrying her daughterFort Worth Star-Telegram

Mom is being jailed for felony incest. I think we can all agree that marrying the son was a wrong thing to do, but I thought incest requires sexual intercourse.

The two women are adults, there’s no child abuse, there are no reproductive issues to consider, so if you happen to hit it off with your mom in that way, why not?

Look, they even have matching outfits!

Mother-daughter mug shot

A Story-Telling Mothman

14 Mar 2018 /


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