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20 Years of MS Word and Why It Should Die a Swift Death 843

Ars writer Jeremy Reimer takes a stroll down memory lane, recalling over 20 years of (almost) constant Microsoft Word use and why, with current and emerging tech trends, he thinks his relationship with the program may be at an end. "So why don't I need Word any more? To figure this out, I tried to go back to basics and think about what Word was originally designed to do. In the early days, Word's primary purpose was to ready a document so that you could print it out. As a student I needed to print out essays so I could hand them to my instructor. In the office I needed to print out reports so that I could hand them to my supervisor. The end goal was always the same: I printed out something to give to someone more important than me, who would evaluate it and, if I was lucky, give it back to me at some indeterminate time in the future. One didn't question this; it was just the way the world worked. Somewhere along the way, we stopped printing things out quite so much. Maybe it was the rise of office networking. Maybe it was when the printer companies kept raising the price of ink to ridiculous levels. Maybe it was when we realized we couldn't print out the whole Internet. Despite the fact that fewer things were being printed, we kept on using Word to create our documents."

A Mathematician's Lament — an Indictment of US Math Education 677

Scott Aaronson recently had "A Mathematician's Lament" [PDF], Paul Lockhardt's indictment of K-12 math education in the US, pointed out to him and takes some time to examine the finer points. "Lockhardt says pretty much everything I've wanted to say about this subject since the age of twelve, and does so with the thunderous rage of an Old Testament prophet. If you like math, and more so if you think you don't like math, I implore you to read his essay with every atom of my being. Which is not to say I don't have a few quibbles [...] In the end, Lockhardt's lament is subversive, angry, and radical ... but if you know anything about math and anything about K-12 'education' (at least in the United States), I defy you to read and find a single sentence that isn't permeated, suffused, soaked, and encrusted with truth."

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