Simple is better

I made a nice simple demo
no un programa supremo
I should have stopped there
My brain said “beware!”
But my ego did not get the memo

I kept gilding my demo with features
Like colors and various creatures
It became quite enhanced
And very advanced
I was swinging way out for the bleachers

But then my poor demo stopped working
‘Cause somewhere a bug was now lurking
It was very disarming
And not all that charming
Frankly, I found it quite irking

Losing features is not so much fun
But at least now I’ve got it to run
When faced with reality
I chose functionality
‘Cause simple is better than none

At an airport on Saturday

Today I discovered that nobody wants to travel by air on Saturdays. I should have known this long ago, but for various reasons I have not often traveled by air on Saturdays.

It’s not just the complete lack of crowds. It’s also that everybody who works on airplanes and airports and at TSA is very happy and relaxed.

They are all smiling and friendly on Saturdays, and they go out of their way to be nice to you. It’s kind of like they are all on a working vacation.

I suppose I shouldn’t be talking about this. The next thing you know, people will start traveling by air on Saturdays. And that will ruin the whole thing.

Collaborative art + history

As I am learning how to use Croquet, I am doing little collaborative experiments. The latest one allows people to collaborate to form an evolving picture, by clicking on it to set or clear pixels.

The twist is that any participant can go back and look at the entire history of the picture’s evolution, to see how it formed and changed over time.

I didn’t really know whether this was going to work properly, on a technical level, since this is all new to me. But I figured I would just put it out there and see what happens.

So I put it up on this page for a while and I let people play with it, but then I soon realized that it was not yet stable enough. I am going to try to find out why, and then try again after I figure it out.

At the seder

At the Passover seder this week, we got to the part where the tenth plague happened. All of the Egyptian firstborn had been slain, and the Pharaoh relented (at least temporarily) and agreed to let the Jewish slaves depart.

And then the youngest child at our seder had a question. “Why,” he asked, “if all the Egyptian firstborn were killed, isn’t the Pharaoh dead?”

Nobody at the table knew the answer. I, for one, thought it was a very good question.


I was at an airport this morning, and was struck by how incredibly crowded it was. Not just individuals and couples, but many entire families were traveling together.

Of course, this is for Passover. It is a day when Jews everywhere travel to be with family for the Seder.

How odd it is to think about the fact that so many Jews literally pass over the world on this day. It is a meaning of the word “passover” that I suspect would never have been thought of in earlier centuries.

Teach your children, part 2

Yes, Raold Dahl was racist and worse, although his stories are brilliant classics. Yes, Americans have an ugly history of racism and worse, though also capable of wondrous achievements. How are we helping children by shielding their young minds from the complexity of their reality? Do we really want them to grow up incapable of reasoning about difficult topics?

Hiding the truth beneath a layer of sugar can be actively harmful. Should we refrain from teaching children how bad the Nazis were, for fear that we will upset them? If we do that, they might grow up with only a surface understanding, and come to the misinformed conclusion that Hitler wasn’t all that bad. After all, the Nazis had better looking uniforms than anyone else.

The only way your child can ever learn to safely cross the road is to first understand that cars can kill you. And the only way we can prevent a repeat of horrors like genocide and slavery is to teach our children what to avoid in the society that they will build together when they grow up and inherit this world.

Teach your children, part 1

The recent scrubbing of the works of Raold Dahl to remove words and phrases that might sound racist or misogynist or ablist, reminded me of Governor DeSantis of Florida, and his initiative to purge public schools of references to various genders and to our nation’s ugly history of racism, slavery and genocide. The former comes from the Left, and the latter from the Right, but the common argument seems to be that the scrubbers are protecting children.

But this all makes me think of those parents who never let their kids play in the dirt, lest they be exposed to pathogens. Those kids can grow up with compromised immune systems, since their developing bodies never had a chance to develop ways of dealing with potentially dangerous microbes.

What if the same is true of developing minds? Kids who are protected from social pathogens might never develop ways of dealing with them. It seems as though Left and Right are joined in a common effort to raise a generation of helpless snowflakes.

More tomorrow.

The value of students

I was watching a video of a that the great computer pioneer Ivan Sutherland gave just a week ago, at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Computing at the University of Utah. Not surprisingly, he said many brilliant things.

But one moment of his talk in particular jumped out at me. It was when he said this:

“My opinion is, it’s harder to forget what you were taught than to learn new stuff. And that’s the value of students. They don’t know what can’t be done, and so they just go ahead and do it.”

NY Times April 1 crossword

Today’s NY Times “April fools” themed crossword puzzle was a real hoot. Solving it basically requires you to keep in mind one of the most important unspoken rules of crossword puzzles, and then do exactly the opposite.

Of course you need to figure out for yourself exactly what rule you are breaking. Because the rule that is being broken is an unspoken rule, the puzzle itself remains technically correct.

Diabolically clever. I love it!