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Comment: Re:So not Python, but VB? (Score 1) 646

by pscottdv (#48859617) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

I started with BASIC on a TRS-80 myself. I am convinced it gave me a certain level of brain damage that took years to remove. On the TRS-80, everything interesting (graphics, sound) had to be done by poking into memory anyways, so it's not like BASIC gave me any powerful constructs to do those things. Mostly it got in the way. Honestly, C would have been better.

But that's besides the point. I agree with you that C is a bad language for a beginner these days, but for the reasons you cited, not the ones in the summary. Specifically, because it is boring, not because it is "complex".

That doesn't make Visual Basic the right choice.

Comment: So not Python, but VB? (Score 3, Interesting) 646

by pscottdv (#48856425) Attached to: Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming

I use Python every day and I love it, but he may have a point about variable declaration. Statically typed languages are important to learn about.

I do find it hard to imagine what other constructs he is teaching his beginners that cannot be done in Python. Anonymous functions, maybe? Does VB do that yet? It didn't when I last used it. Tail-end recursion? I don't think VB does that either.

But with so many languages to choose from, VB seems like it would be way down on the list.

I also disagree about C being "incredibly complex for a beginner". I found C to be very easy to grasp and very good at exposing what the computer is actually doing under the hood. I would agree that programming C well is complex (and also time-consuming), but that is because it is simple, not because it is complex.

Comment: Re:How dare you talk down about Reagan like that! (Score 1) 160

by pscottdv (#48765071) Attached to: What's Wrong With the Manhattan Project National Park

Volcker kept ratcheting up interest rates to stop inflation and it wasn't working because while it brought down demand, it also brought down productivity because it became more and more expensive to borrow for capital investment. Reagan's policies were designed to combat the problem of low productivity. An increase in payroll taxes also served to dampen demand which also helped reduce inflation. I still contend that these were the right policy decisions at the time.

Reagan is not to blame for the fact that later Republican politicians (and constituencies) refused to change course when the economic situation changed.

Comment: Re:How dare you talk down about Reagan like that! (Score 1) 160

by pscottdv (#48763799) Attached to: What's Wrong With the Manhattan Project National Park

The mid to late 70's was NOT prosperous for the middle class. Interest rates were nearly 20% and inflation was huge as well. The US was suffering simultaneously from low productivity and high inflation. Reagan's solution was to boost productivity by cutting taxes and regulation. And, while it took a couple of years, it worked.

Yes, this led to a situation ripe for growing inequality, but the real problem is that self-described "conservatives" think that since Reagan's recipe for fighting "stagflation" worked once, it is the solution to every economic problem which it is not. Today the US (along with most of the world) is dealing with unhealthily LOW interest rates and inflation. Large businesses are sitting on giant piles of cash while many households have unhealthy levels of debt. Yet the so-called "conservatives" want to fight our problems with "Reaganomics" instead of developing new solutions that fit today's problems.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 545

by pscottdv (#48537607) Attached to: Should IT Professionals Be Exempt From Overtime Regulations?

I remember the 70s. I have no idea how anyone could think it was a "golden age". We had high inflation, high unemployment, terrible service and low quality products and were only just starting to recover from all the many ways we had been poisoning our environment with lead, pesticides and sulfur.

Comment: Re:This is a common misunderstanding (Score 1) 139

by pscottdv (#48505717) Attached to: Want To Work For a Cool Tech Company? Hone Your Social Skills

Social skills and teamwork ability are great things to have, but when these words are used in relation to a job, they invariably mean submitting to existing hierarchies. If I refuse to be a paid slave that doesn't make me an antisocial egotist.

No, but your demeaning description of how 95% of the world earns their living kinda does.

Comment: Re:Classification (Score 1) 219

by pscottdv (#48279167) Attached to: Most Planets In the Universe Are Homeless

Actually these are not planets according to the new classification.

The IAU classification only applies to bodies within this Solar System. It does not apply to bodies outside the solar system.

RESOLUTION 5A

The IAU therefore resolves that planets and other bodies in our Solar System, except satellites, be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

(1) A "planet" [1] is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape [2], (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and

(d) is not a satellite.

(3) All other objects [3], except satellites, orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as "Small Solar-System Bodies".

Emphasis mine.

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke

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