## Friday, January 27, 2006

### LUDDITES Revisited



GUEST BLOGGER: Bill Gasarch

This is my last day guest blogging, so I'll end where I began,
THREE points on LUDDITES

I) Janos Simon corrected my history of Luddites, for which I thank him.
If you are interested, go to HIS comment on MY post from Monday Jan 23
for a link to a very nice article.

II) My father and father-in-law offer an interesting contrast:

FATHER-IN-LAW (Engineering Major, career mostly in Business, now retired):
LUDDITE: Does not program his VCR. Not sure if he doesn't know how to or just
doesn't want to.  So he HAS to be home on Sunday to watch Desperate Housewives
(a show I found distasteful- My father in law is hipper than I am).

NON-LUDDITE: Took a course on C at a local community college when
he was 70.  Pays all his bills on line.

FATHER (English Major, High School English Teacher and Vice Principal, now retired)
LUDDITE: Got a computer recently and still can't get email or pay his bills on line.

NON-LUDDITE: Uses his VCR to tape ALOT of shows.  He needs it since he watches ALOT:
West Wing, My Name is Earl, The Sopranos, Sex in the City when it was on (a show I find
distasteful- My dad is hipper than I am), 6 feet under, Deadwood, all four Law and Orders,
and all three CSI's, Without a trace, other stuff I can't recall. This from the man
who restricted me, wisely, to no more than an hour of TV a night when I was a kid.)

III) Stuart Kurtz emailed me some more questions for my Luddite quiz.  I asked him if I
could post them and he suggested asking for other inputs.  No one replied, so here are his:

STUART BEGIN:
9) Do you write emails (or blog posts) in
a) variable width fonts with formatting,
b) variable width fonts without formatting,
c) fixed width fonts,
d) What's a blog?,
e) What's email?, or
f) What's writing?

10) Do you indicate emphasis by
a) using italic or slanted font,
b) using a bold faced font,
c) metadiscourse, i.e., "I want to emphasize that... ",
d) ALL CAPS, or
e) Shouting and waving your arms.

a) four buttons,
b) three buttons,
c) two buttons,
d) one button,
e) control characters are good enough for RMS, and they're good  enough for me, or
f) four feet and a tail.

12) What's your favorite programming language?
a) Ruby or Python,
b) Java
c) Lisp,
d) C++,
e) Awk,
f) IBM-360 assembly language,
g) C,
h) Lisp, or

[I know Lisp occurs twice, but c and h are still different answers. Note that there's no
point asking for Perl -- as Perl programmers can only write, not read.]
STUART END.

bill g.

P.S. I am supposed to say Now that I've guest blogged for a week I'm even more
impressed with Lance getting a topic out every day'' But this is NOT TRUE.
I was SO IMPRESSED with Lance in the first place that I can't be more impressed''



1. Talking of VCR already makes you a luddite these days. Tivo, DVR, etc.

2. The true non-luddite uses bittorrent to get all of their TV shows. How else to see shows on the BBC or other channels you don't even have? (And in my case, that would be all of them... I have no cable tv or any tv at all!)

3. Is Lance back yet? How long do we have to endure these bizarre puritanical parentheticals (which I find distasteful)? There are probably some computer scientists you find distasteful as well. Some of them probably read this blog.

4. Actually, three cheers for the parenthetical declarations of distaste. There sure is plenty of distastful things around that need to be called what they are. Add to the list violent video games.

5. Did you notice what was referred to as "distasteful"? Out of a list of many television shows (one, e.g. centering around gangsters, the mafia, and fantastical portrayals of drugs, sex, and violence), two were marked as "distasteful" (and not the one I described parenthetically). Those two happen to be shows whose titles at least hint at sexuality. I have a feeling that this is why the remarks seemed almost comically puritanical, as if the blogger were afraid to accidentally endorse something sexual.

Sex is bad. Especially sexual women.

6. Oh crap. Is the computational complexity blog going to go the way of pandagon with endless guest posters and sex wars? Who needs this crap?

What I find especially distasteful is the omission of the ML from the languages list.

But I am glad for the omission of Haskell, which I find distasteful.

7. I'm actually glad. How often do you get to hear about "sex wars" in computational complexity blogs. Usually computer scientists have no idea what sex is (when at work?).

8. Have you seen the front of Papadimitriou's book entitled "Computational Complexity"? It contains a naked woman. In fact, the goddess of love and beauty herself.

9. She was formed out of Uranus's blood and semen (which I find distasteful--Uranus is hipper than I am).

10. This is Stu. Sorry about omitting ML, it definitely should have been included. Indeed, I've long claimed that all programming languages (well, almost all, since Prolog doesn't fit the mold) are converging on Lisp, ML, or Haskell. So Haskell should have made the cut too.

I guess if I really wanted to be offensive, I'd have grouped ML with Java...

Bill asked me a couple of questions about my choices (why lisp twice, why not Perl). The first is a bit obscure, as for the second -- Perl programmers can only write, not read, so of course they're selected against as readers of the quiz.