My toe is rather an ugly purple colour on top, but my gait is less of a hobble than it was on Monday, so I think things are on the mend.
Here's a marker of cultural difference between the UK and Australia (other than: one can play cricket, and the other can't): in the UK you can buy orange and grapefruit juice blends in cartons. This is typically known as ‘breakfast juice’. In Australia, you can't (I have seen ‘breakfast juices’, but these are typically orange with mango and/or pineapple). But Australia distinguishes itself by providing apple and blackcurrant juice, which I don't remember seeing on the shelves at Sainsbury's. Australia's better because you can mimic the UK by buying the orange and grapefruit juices separately, and mixing them yourself, but you can't buy blackcurrant juice separately in either country. Isn't that fascinating?
There's a guy out there called Paul Graham who is definitely
something of a guru. I earlier linked to a piece of his about using
Bayesian analyses to detect spams (given samples of non-spam and spam
messages). For whatever reason, his proposal hit a nerve, and lots of
people rushed to implement this (good) idea. I am using Xavier
implementation of this idea, and it works wonderfully.
On the other hand, Graham's latest piece is all about hacking and how it's really just like painting, and it gets up my nose in all sorts of ways. Perhaps this is inevitable. He says
I've never liked the term "computer science." The main reason I don't like it is that there's no such thing. Computer science is a grab bag of tenuously related areas thrown together by an accident of history, like Yugoslavia.
and I just don't buy this. Yes, there's a spectrum of interests
in a Computer Science department, but this is true of any discipline
too. Graham's also got a real hang-up about what he calls static
typing, and he proffers Lisp's dynamic typing as a real win over
languages where you
have to declare the type of every variable
(from another essay of
his). SML and Haskell are both statically typed
languages, and neither requires you to declare the types of
Of course, both of these languages are academic languages (i.e., the product of academic research), and academia is generally getting a bum rap here so perhaps it's not surprising that I should feel so antsy. It's all symptomatic of a typical mentality that says that hacking is cool, and where the real work is done, while stuff done in ivory towers is obviously not useful, or applicable to the practice of real programming. In order to demonstrate that they absolutely don't suffer from maths envy, people of this view find it too easy to lurch to the opposite extreme and dismiss academic stuff out of hand.