August 30, 2014 7:43 AM

A Monad Sighting in Pop Literature

Lab experiments are invaluable in the hard sciences, in part because neutrinos and monads don't change their behavior when they are being watched; but humans do.

Several things ran through my mind when I read this sentence.

  • "Monads don't change their behavior when watched." Wow. The authors of this book must know a little functional programming.

  • Monads mentioned in the same sentence as neutrinos, which are fundamental particles of the universe? Oh, no. This will only make the smug functional programming weenies more smug.

  • Monads are part of the "hard sciences"? These authors really do get functional programming!

  • This sentence appears in a chapter called "The Three Hardest Words in the English Language". That joke writes itself.

  • Maybe I shouldn't be surprised to see this sentence. The book called Think Like a Freak.

I kid my monad-loving friends; I kid. The rest of the book is pretty good, too.

Posted by Eugene Wallingford | Permalink | Categories: Computing

August 19, 2014 1:49 PM

The Universal Justification

Because we need it to tell better stories.

Ethan Zuckerman says that this is the reason people are addicted to big data, quoting Macej Ceglowski's wonderful The Internet with a Human Face But if you look deep enough, this is the reason that most of us do so many of the things we do. We want to tell better stories.

As I teach our intro course this fall, I am going to ask myself occasionally, "How does what we are learning today help my students tell a better story?" I'm curious to see how that changes the way I think about the things we do in class.

Posted by Eugene Wallingford | Permalink | Categories: General, Teaching and Learning

August 16, 2014 10:19 AM

Channeling Virginia Woolf

In her diary, Woolf once secured in words a state of mind that has waylaid me recently.

Still if one is Prometheus, if the rock is hard and the gadflies pungent, gratitude, affection, none of the nobler feelings have sway. And so this August is wasted.

And yet hope remains. August is but half past.


(From an entry dated Tuesday, August 18, 1921, in A Writer's Diary.)

Posted by Eugene Wallingford | Permalink | Categories: Personal