Tagged: Mayor Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:26 pm on May 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: beautician, , , , , , , Learning, , math teacher, Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, , , Richard Trethewey, , , , technology pioneer, This Old House,   

    On Learning to Code. Or Not. 

    Alert! Jeff Atwood wrote an excellent post about the “learn to code” movement.

    He starts with a tirade full of incredulity about Mayor Bloomberg’s New Years resolution to learn to code with Codeacademy.

    “Fortunately, the odds of this technological flight of fancy happening – even in jest – are zero, and for good reason: the mayor of New York City will hopefully spend his time doing the job taxpayers paid him to do instead.”

    Let’s put aside the princely sum of $1 that His Honor collects from the job. Let’s even put aside that Mayor Bloomberg is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing – promoting New York’s bustling tech industry. More to put aside: our Mayor happens to be a technology pioneer with a ridiculous IQ.

    This all comes down to a very difficult question: should people learn nerdy things when they have little use for them, just for the sake of learning.

    I remember a Livejournal discussion that was hashed over and over in the Russian-speaking community. A math teacher was stumped by a question from his student: why was she supposed to learn about trigonometry when she wanted to become a beautician. The teacher did not come up with a good answer, but the livejournalers did dig up some awesome reasons. One well meaning pro-education-for-the-sake-of-education zelot said something to this effect: well, if you work with nail polish, tangents and cotangents figure prominently in formulas that deal with reflectiveness of thin films. That will lead to a greater understanding of how and why nail polish looks the way it does.

    On the surface it may seem that Mayor Bloomberg has about as much need to know how to code as much as a beautician needs to know about sines and cosines.

    There’s more: executives who learned a little bit about writing code at some point tend to say the following phrase “oh, I don’t know much about writing code, just enough to be dangerous”. They say it with this look on their faces:

    Jeff takes this further with the plumbing analogy: since almost everyone has a toilet, should everyone take a course at toiletacademy.com and spend several weeks learning plumbing?

    Normally I’m against education for the sake of education. I once argued for a whole hour with a co-worker who felt that _any_ education is worth _any_ amount of money. I did not know at the time that he held degrees in Psychology of Human Sexuality, Biology, Sociology and Communications. He must have been on to something: he made an amazing career while mine took a nosedive soon after that discussion.

    Here’s where Jeff is wrong (I know, this is shocking, Jeff being all wrong and such): it is better to push people to learn incongruous things then to tell them that this is a bad idea. Steve Jobs learned calligraphy in college and it turned out to be super useful. He might not have become a master calligrapher, but man, did that piece of esoteric knowledge change the world.

    When I was in college I badly wanted to take a scientific glass blowing class, but did not. I deeply regret that.

    Are there people who learned plumbing from This Old House annoying contractors? Yes. Are self-install refrigerator ice maker lines causing millions in water damage? Yes. Is the world better off because Richard Trethewey taught it some plumbing? Absolutely.

    If anything, attempting to learn to code will make people more compassionate towards coders. I do believe that people who are not already drawn to programming are not likely to become programmers, more than that, they are not likely to sit through a whole RoR bootcamp or worse. Learn to code movement is not likely to lure in bad programmers, but it might give people some understanding of what coders go through and maybe be more hesitant to have loud yelling-on-the-phone sessions near their cubes. Mayor Bloomberg, who enforces open workspace policies everywhere he works, might understand why programmers need offices. Jeff, let His Honor code a bit.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:42 am on December 1, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: certain catroon professor, Choo, Fritz Fuchs, Mayor, McFreaky, , Natalie E. Recently, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital on the Upper East Side, nurse, Queensboro Bridge, , Solaris,   

    Natalie E. 

    Recently, with the help of my wife, I went ahead and spawned a child process.

    The birth papers identify her as a 6lb 6oz (2kg 800g) baby female (or BF as it said on her id tag). We named her Natalie Ethel. The old-fashioned middle name is honoring my grandmother, as well as letting my daughter write her name as Natalie E. (like in Wile E. Coyote). My wife got to choose the first name and settled on Natalie. The goal was to pick a simple name that has a clear analog in Russian. Thus Natalie/Natasha. The cartoon conotation is purely accidental. One thing for sure – Gary the Cat and Tilde the Cat are not being renamed “Muss and Skworrl“.

    Natalie was delivered in New York Presbyterian Hospital on the Upper East Side. I got to say that we are very fortunate in that our insurance covered it, as it’s pretty much a fancypants hospital. Downstairs I saw several limos and a Maybach (a $300K+ Mercedes). The delivery room was huge and had a great view of the Roosevelt Island and Queensboro Bridge.

    The wires that you see on the windowsill in the previous picture were hooked up to my wife throughout labor (it’s a standard procedure in that hospital) and were used to continuously display the baby’s heartbeat. The Windows 3.11 application had the funniest little icons, and an especially cute picture of a choo-choo train that pulsed in and out. The sound effects for the choo-choo were provided by that Doppler heartbeat sound. Things to note are the funny icon representing a pregnant woman in the left corner, the nurse’s name that also doubles as a certain catroon professor’s catchphrase and the 47 in the heartbeat rate.

    As I mentioned before, this hospital is fancy and is for rich folks mostly. This means a lot of pictures of dead white men. The whole hospital is basically encrusted with pictures of very rich people who gave money for the hospital and distinguished doctors who led various departments. The pictures in the maternity ward were a bit unusual. Not that there was a minority or a female doctor, but it was very interesting to see that unlike the doctor before him and after him, Dr. Fritz Fuchs who chaired the department in 60s and 70s, in the spirit of the decades, chose to have his portrait done in a modernist manner.

    Now that I have a brand-spanking-new baby on my hands, and a wife who can get very upset over things like remembering the sad story about the sentient ocean in Stanislaw Lem’s “Solaris“, my blogging frequency is not likely to be much improved.

    But I promise you that as much as I am envious of the popularity of the bloggers that write almost exclusively about ther children and pets, and despite the increasingly personal nature of my posts, this is not a permanent trend.

    Also, I will try to avoid referring to my child by a weird and/or embarrassing nickname. Bloggers really let loose with children’s nicknames: Mayor McFreaky, The Squrrily, The Chub and the Grub, Puhtishkin, Kutuzov and Homiak (Hamster), Fasolets (Uhh, Broadbean?). Both Russian-speaking and anglophones. What’s up with that?

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 12:25 pm on October 28, 2004 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , BMT Astoria Line, Catch me if you can, , City Hall station, , , , , Mayor, McClellan, middle car, , steel dust, Subway Centennial   

    Happy Birthday Dear IRT! 

    Empire State Building is lighted Red/Gold/Red today. Handy ESB lighting schedule tells me that this is in honor of Subway Centennial. A better color would have been a rusty gray-brown, the color of steel dust that covers the tracks and most other subway surfaces, but I guess they don’t have lights like that, do they?

    To celebrate Interborough Transit Corportation’s 100’s birthday I decided to try and sneak a peek at the fabled City Hall station, the one where Mayor Bloomberg and a bunch of bigwigs recreated Mayor McClellan’s ride 100 years ago. It’s nice to be NYC’s Mayor – you can fly NYPD helicopters and drive antique trains.

    Unfortunately the restored City Hall station was not open for regular shmoes, but I tried the old trick – taking 6 train through the last stop. Number 6 loops through the old City Hall station without stopping. I asked the conductor to let me stay, but since it was around 8PM she said – “not at this time of night” and kicked me out. I went for a walk around City Hall and took this picture of the pretty entrance to the current City Hall station.

    When I took the train back I saw the most upsetting sight – there was an intoxicated bum sleeping in a middle car with the conductor not paying any attention to him. He was holding an empty popcorn bag an there was small sea of popcorn and other rat attracting garbage around him. Apparently he went through the loop unharassed, although the old City Hall station was of no interest to him. I guess next time it would probably be a good idea to try asking a few conductors – maybe some are not as strict.

    This is like living in Manhattan – Donald Trump in his tower, a bum in a box on church steps, a low income person in a housing project. Middle class not allowed.

    On the bright side, tomorrow the special museum train will be making regular stops on the B/Q line between 10AM and 3PM. They call it “Catch me if you can“.

     
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