Phil came up with an idea — somewhere — about what to do with this unexpected and bizarre election result, and the idea happens to find harmony with my own idea about leaving the election in the dust and thinking about turkey & cranberries. He said…get this…forget about it for now, but keep an eye on our new President, wait for him to do something wrong and then call him out on it. Meanwhile, if he isn’t doing anything wrong (yet), go back to worrying about the other stuff that really matters.
I know, just crazy talk. Right??
Crazy maybe, but not isolated. Actor Tom Hanks said pretty much the same thing a few days back…
“We are going to be all right. America has been in worse places than we are at right now,” Hanks said. “In my own lifetime our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail, and every dinner table ended up being as close to a fist fight as human families will allow.
“We have been in a place where we have looked at our leaders and wondered what the hell they were thinking of. We’ve had moments with the administrations and politicians and senators and governors in which we have we’ve asked ourselves ‘Are they lying to us or do they really believe in this?’ That’s all right.
“We will take everything that has been handed to us as Americans and we will turn our nation and we will turn the future and we will turn all the work that we have in before us into some grand thing of beauty,” Hanks said, to a standing ovation.
Alright, that’s not quite exactly the same thing. Phil calls on us to do something that takes some maturity, more maturity than is required for simply clinging to optimism. He calls on us to make a plan with some forks-in-the-road, some decision points. A plan with the word “if” in it. Scary stuff!
I found my thoughts gravitating back to this while shutting out politics & elections for a bit — yes, I do that. I was making an effort to read about tech, and in an effort to maintain some professional humility…yes I do that too, or at least I occasionally make the effort…I was perusing this.
What skills do self-taught programmers commonly lack?
Or, to put it another way: what should a self-taught programmer study to get up to speed with his/her formally-educated peers?
I think I’ve got a pretty good bead on the typical Quora respondent. In sum, these are young college-grads who feel like they’re in a class by themselves because they use the metric system. By which I mean, they want to become elitist snobs but they’re not entirely sure how yet, because they’re still prioritizing process over outcome. I can tell this by the questions as well as the answers. I see these questions scroll up like “how many monitors would a good programmer be using?” and, applying perhaps a bit more old-fashioned common sense than would be expected by the person posing the question, I come up with my own counter-question: How come you haven’t already figured it out for yourself? Try one, try two, try three, see what works…
It gets back to the plan that is scary because of what it leaves unplanned. How come everything’s got to be scripted? I can’t relate to this.
Anyway, much more on that later. Someone made a great point to help keep self-taughts like me in check:
It is not skills per se that self-educated programmers lack, but a sense of perspective for the field as a whole. Computer science is large; one lifetime is too short to learn all of it. Autodidacts rarely see this humbling reality as plainly as CS majors. Most CS majors have been crushed by an introductory course in some topic that seemed approachable at the beginning: theory, AI, graphics, operating systems, compilers, databases, etc. The self-taught more frequently live in an unpopped bubble of big-fish-in-a-small-pond self-esteem. Even those rare autodidacts who fully see that CS is bigger than them are at a disadvantage when reaching past the borders of their expertise.
When confronted with a new (to me) problem, the most valuable information I can gather is: Has this problem already been solved? If so, by whom, and how? If not, why? Is it uninteresting? Or so monumentally hard that its solution is a life’s calling? The ability to answer these questions is a primary product of a CS education… [bold emphasis in original]
To which, someone else added…
Self-taught programmers commonly lack humility.
In his years of writing, Mark Twain often crossed paths with self-taught writers. He was disgusted with their lack of humility, and concluded:
“The self-taught man seldom knows anything accurately, and he does not know a tenth as much as he could have known if he had worked under teachers; and, besides, he brags, and is the means of fooling other thoughtless people into going and doing as he himself had done.”
A third one condenses it to coffee-mug-slogan size:
There’s no shame in being proud of the fact that you taught yourself, but you should be aware of the limitations of your teacher.
Well…there is a problem here. (And to be fair, the second respondent goes onto address this somewhat.) There is a crude correlation being imposed that attempts to fasten “having a teacher” to embiggened concept-command. This is not entirely invalid. I’ve often made the observation that programmers are “frosting spreaders” for the most part, possessing only surface-level understanding of some of these concepts, but demonstrating at least some familiarity with a vast array of subjects outside my own periphery; and then there are the “icepick stabbers” like myself. We simply don’t believe in the surface-level understanding. We don’t have confidence in it. We figure we “know” about a subject after we have built something that actually works, which can be very time-intensive. And I know it works this way because I’ve seen the eclectic mix of advantages & disadvantages one would expect to see, given the premise. People who can do things I can’t do, tend to be broad where I’m not. When I can do things they can’t do, I’m deep where they aren’t. It’s two different learning styles, and perhaps it comes from this self-taught-versus-teacher business.
Anyway: The correlation is far from perfect. It isn’t entirely flawed, either. To be dragged across the surface of all the computer science concepts by another, like the head of a mop at the end of a handle, can certainly provide a lot of value. But as an “icepick,” I must point out icepicks can provide value too; I’ve seen it. Particularly when it comes time to diagnose why something isn’t working. Then again, my learning process has not been quick. I’ve been at this awhile. Obviously, we’re looking at two different styles of learning. One says “Follow these instructions, and after awhile we’ll circle back and you can learn why things work the way thy work, and why your instructions had you do that.” The other is more old-school, frontier-style. It says “You can’t pass this point, ever, until you get this working.” Both have value.
There are two sides to the coin. “You taught yourself, so be aware of the limitations of your teacher” is clever, and there is truth in this. You know what else is clever and has some truth to it? “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Which one is the final word? Neither.
My point is that it is a mistake to toss one over the side and decree that entire generations should be taught the other way. That is a recipe for a glut of instruction-followers and frosting-spreaders.
It leads to an imbalance. An imbalance I unwittingly described awhile back:
Given the choice between a sound knowledge base of verifiable & verified factual information, and the ability to think logically, I would choose the latter.
I expounded on it thusly…
If I have a good understanding of how to figure out what a fact means, but my head is crammed chock full of silly “factoids” that aren’t really true even though they may be repeated by others verbatim, I should be able to ultimately determine some of these conflict irreconcilably with others. From there, I should be able to figure out which ones are suspect and, eventually, which ones should be questioned, and then reconsidered.
If I have a good solid repository of verified fact, but I don’t know how to figure out what these facts are really telling me, I might as well have nothing.
I note, with interest, that a great many of the people who disagree with this adhere to the Quora mindset — they “fucking love science,” as Severian likes to put it. Irony is, the scientific method is pretty much exactly what I’m describing here: Believe in the metaphysical reality, refine your theories and your experiments in a responsible and diligent way, you should approach this reality as time passes. Yes, as a self-taught programmer you will now & then be caught solving problems that have been solved already. I’m guilty of this. But there, we get into the field of economics; who wants to pay a self-taught programmer to use the scientific method on a problem that’s been solved already? Nobody. But, we all participate in economics whether we realize it or not. This is how the self-taught deals with that problem. It’s by self-teaching some more, and some more. No one wants to pay the programmer to solve a problem that’s already been solved, sure, but nobody wants to be the programmer who’s getting told no one wants to pay him anymore. Like anything else economic in nature, the problem self-corrects over time. Just like a flawed theory subjected to scientific practice.
But that brings us right back to the original subject: Plans that are scary, because they aren’t fully solidified, necessarily containing decision-points. My fear, with this Quora-mindset of “self taught isn’t taught at all,” seemingly determined to flood the civilized world with “programmers” numbering in the millions who follow good scripts but haven’t been taught to diagnose an unexpected result, is this: We are pandering to a generational handicap. Johnny Can’t Reason. The deficiency is in making, and following, plans with those scary question marks in ’em. Grappling with the fork in the road. The “if.” By catering to the handicap, I believe we may be asking for a lot more of it; that’s the way enabling works. Hopefully I’m wrong about this. If I’m right, the implications are dire, because the ability to form an opinion from a fact is a rudimentary ability. Much in the realm of what we call “thought” is closed off to you, if you can’t do that much. But everything I see lately suggests, and strongly so, that I’m right as rain. It’s a problem of atrophy. The kids must have scripts to follow, and if the scripts turn out to be wrong, they don’t know what to do. Also, if you bring it to their attention that there is uncertainty about future events going the way they expect, they see no point to pondering it. Why consider this? It isn’t what the script says. Again, it’s a problem of atrophy.
WHICH BRINGS ME….back to this Trump business. Seems Ann Coulter is noticing what I’ve been noticing. The kids can’t grok to an unexpected result, in computer programming or in anything else.
Until the nationwide protests of the last few days, I had no idea how bad the problem was, but our nation is drowning in drama queenery.
The immediate reaction of most celebrities to Trump’s victory was: “THE WORLD IS WAITING FOR MY TAKE ON THE ELECTION!”
Aaron Sorkin and David Remnick, in matching pink housecoats and fuzzy slippers, wrote hysterical jeremiads about the cataclysm of Trump’s election.
Sorkin was especially irked that Trump was supported by white men who don’t appreciate rap music. As proof that the end was near, he triumphantly reported: “The Dow futures dropped 700 points overnight.” After a brief drop, the Dow surged to historic highs, recording its biggest weekly gain in five years.
But I can’t wait to read the letters these guys wrote to their children about Bill Clinton! Don’t leave us hanging guys — post those, too, please.
You tell ’em, Annie! Yes there are people who despise Ms. Coulter, but she speaks for me in spades here. I am most definitely not waiting for your take on the election…or Ann Coulter’s…or even my own. Piss on all that, I’m waiting on sweet potatoes, turkey, duck and bacon.
But still the snowflakes wallow, as loudly as they can. It’s annoying, even to #NeverTrump ers…well, some of them anyway.
You’re upset about Trump winning? Well, guess what? Conservatives were upset about Obama winning twice. Welcome to the party, pal.
Oh, but liberals are special snowflakes whose feelings are more important than those of regular people. They need safe spaces, blankies and pacifiers to cope with trauma and they’re getting them at colleges across America. Therapy dogs were offered to traumatized students at the University of Kansas. Virginia Tech’s HokiePRIDE group posted national suicide hotline numbers. Liberal students are demanding “separate but equal” facilities for black students at the University of Michigan….yes, seriously. So, we have liberals DEMANDING SEGREGATION, but they’re still calling everyone else racist.
It’s odd that all this fuss was made over “Donald Trump will refuse to accept the results when, er I mean if, he loses…” and now it’s gone the other way, the shoe’s on the other foot.
A Washington Post–ABC News poll found that 18% of voters — 33% of Clinton supporters and 1% of Trump supporters — think Trump was not the legitimate winner of the election. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has called on Congress to investigate the Russian cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee and the election.
Makes total sense. All of that chatter — all those scripts — relentlessly telling us and re-telling us that Hillary was going to smash Donald Trump like a cockroach. It couldn’t have been wrong, it shouldn’t have been wrong. How could it be wrong??
Well there’s an easy answer for that…she was an awful candidate who ran a terrible campaign.
Now the Clinton supporters have to learn to deal with it. All these demands for audits, violent riots, “peaceful” protests that turn out on closer inspection to be violent riots, grief counseling, safe spaces, safety pins, lying about hate crimes…they all amount to one big failure to do exactly that. I just don’t understand perfessor, I ran the tutorial and the computer isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. The kids are lost.
Kurt Schlichter hit the nail on the head with this…
The Democrats Won’t Autopsy Their Own Corpse
The Democrats already know the cause of their utter electoral humiliation: all those flyover people who had voted for Obama last time were actually racists who demonstrated their racism by not voting for the tired old white lady too.
Far be it for me to help out you terrible Democrat clowns by suggesting that your terrible party has a terrible problem and you might want to figure out how to fix it. Sure, Hillary did get a lot of votes. Maybe even a majority of votes. And, considering we are not a democracy but a constitutional republic, of equal relevance is the fact that I own a hat.
You lost. And it’s because you suck.
Now, you and rest of the unshaven she-beasts and spindly femboys could take this opportunity for reflection and introspection following the election instead of retreating to your campus safe spaces for vegan cookies and awkward hugs. You could try to figure out where you went wrong losing so many voters who you used to have sewn up. The idea is to figure out how you might be able to prevent similar results in the future. Some call it a “post-event analysis.” In the Army – for the goatee n’ scarf gang, that’s the one that fights on the ground – we call it an “after action review.” Coroners call it an “autopsy.”
And you’ll never, ever do it. Why? Because you are liberals and you already have your answers.
Everyone is racist.
Everyone is sexist.
Everyone is stupid.
Everyone but you, that is…
The kids have been going to school; the “higher” education, they’ve been told. And, they have been made to feel like they’ve been learning things. As I pointed out above, learning isn’t really effective if it’s just popping open the cranium and pouring in some “facts,” even if the facts are good, verified, correct facts. This just doesn’t work, at least, not as a go-to method, a monopoly. As we’ve just learned, a lot of the time in life the scripts are wrong. That’s why professors of higher ed have gotten in the habit of repeating the mantra “We don’t teach them what to think, we’re here to teach them how to think.” What a pity that so few of them actually meant it.
For a textbook example of the problem, look no further than America’s First Holy Lame Duck Himself…
Speaking in Greece on his valedictory trip to Europe as president, Barack Obama struck a familiar theme: “(W)e are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude form of nationalism, or ethnic identity, or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ …
“(T)he future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common, as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict.”
That the world’s great celebrant of “diversity” envisions an even more multicultural, multiethnic, multiracial America and Europe is not news. This dream has animated his presidency.
But in this day of Brexit and president-elect Donald Trump new questions arise. Is Obama’s vision a utopian myth? Have leaders like him and Angela Merkel lost touch with reality? Are not they the ones who belong to yesterday, not tomorrow?
He does this with a variety of different issues. Nationalism, health care, how the election was going to turn out, the economy…
President Obama, in Greece, said world leaders should learn from the U.S. presidential election and pay attention to the public’s fears and frustration about the economy. Why? He never has.
How can a man living in such a fantasy world presume to tell other people how to perceive others and react to problems as if he’s been an innocent bystander witnessing these horrors for years?
Scratch that. He doesn’t think we’ve experienced horrors. He thinks the U.S. economy has been wonderful under his watch. Listening to him characterize his eight-year record is to witness willful blindness on a scale my willing suspension of disbelief is incapable of processing.
The American economy, said Obama, was contracting faster than it did during the Great Depression. “We had to fight back from the worst recession since the Great Depression. … But we were able to intervene, apply lessons learned and stabilize and then begin growth again.” He tastelessly bragged, in front of his Greek audience, that his economy recovered better and faster than most of Europe’s. Then he began critiquing Greece’s economy, as if he is a wizard of economics.
No American politician — and certainly no president — in my lifetime has caused such destruction and suffered so little personal accountability for it. It was ridiculous when he still blamed George W. Bush for his own lackluster economy and unconscionable deficits in the latter half of his first term. It was amazing that he kept making this argument with a straight face through the 2012 presidential election.
But why not? It worked. When you’ve got a liberal media covering your tracks and slanting everything in your favor, you can apparently fool millions.
But when that’s your advantage, there’s a real danger you start to believe in your own bullshit. This is what’s particularly cruel about the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s “signature legislation” achievement. The results could be metaphorically captured in an assembly of three people: One has medical coverage whereas before, he didn’t; the other has coverage at two or three times the cost of what he had before, because the ACA required his old company to cancel the policy; the third one has no coverage at all and must now pay a huge fine. President Obama’s supporters, working from their “perfessor told me to do this” scripts, believing in narrative but not in fact, cruelly counsel all within earshot to ignore the last two guys. Only the first one actually exists, because he’s the only one who helps the narrative.
This is, in my mind, the most unkind thing Obamamania has done for us across all eight years. If the “change” helped you, that’s wonderful, but if it hurt you then please kindly vanish. Because you don’t help our narrative, and you don’t exist in our world anyway.
What happened earlier this month was that the incurious dimbulbs, ultimately, just hurt themselves. It’s their phobia against plans that contain question marks, their phobia against the decision points, the forks-in-the-road. This idea that the plan can never contain the word “if” — everything has to be scripted. Hillary’s going to say this, she’s going to provoke Trump into saying that, these people will vote this way, those people will vote that way, and then she’ll squash him like a bug. And THEN…oh. Well, how’d that work?
Now they’re all in a tizzy.
They won’t take responsibility for their own actions, even.
It’s easy for the holidays to lose their luster when you can’t even finish your sweet potato casserole without wanting to chuck your plate at your uncle.
The poor dears! They’re being provoked into throwing plates of food across the room.
Well, I hope I’ve seen the last of it. I’ve put up with my share of the goading, pre-election…one occasion comes to mind from the fifth…
P.S. Long time no hear. You just figured out Trump’s not likely to win?
Eww. Well, there’s a thought that has aged about as gracefully as Dorian Gray.
We were just talking about humility, scientific method, being ready for forks in the road, for the lessons that emerge when real life arises to confront cherished narratives. That one, for the author of the jab, must have been particularly jarring. No? You’d think. But you’d think wrong…
For here he is, just this past Wednesday, every bit as certain of events taking place next year, as he’d be if they occurred in the past. That’s a modern American liberal for you, seldom correct but never in doubt. Well, now with this latest rimshot he could very well be right! This time. This very first time. To this, I say exactly the same thing I said to all the wrong stuff that came before:
And there, with those two words, is our cultural divide. This is the problem. Ann Coulter laments that “our nation is drowning in drama queenery.” The real problem is bigger than that, I say. The real problem is this phobia against plans that are real, grown-up, adult plans, containing decision points. Plans that are not plans for children, plans that are not scripts. Too many people “know” way too much, because they MUST know everything — it all has to be scripted for them.
“Let’s see” is powerful. It gives you the tools to think like an adult. But it takes balls. We, as a country, have been losing this. But — and I say this as something of a Trump detractor as well, my first choice was somebody else — the events from earlier this month go a long way toward our maybe, maybe, getting it back again.
And on that note, I circle back around to the very beginning. I think we would all do very well to follow Phil’s advice, wait and see what happens, and respond appropriately. Leave the fortune-telling to the gypsy girls…oh sorry, was that racist of me? Did I wrongfully appropriate a culture just now? Whatever. Pass the gravy. We’re done here.