Today I was disappointed to find that my mysteriously disembodied correspondent did not utilize the notepad program I kept running overnight. No doubt this is a relief to many of our readers, who have begun to complain about the amount of hacked-together material in this feature. Reaching into my mailbag at random, I find the following letter:
Editor, The Glob:-
Is it really necessary to litter your column with references to ‘computerese’ in order to suggest some feeble semblance of being sympatico or ‘down with’ the youth of today? As someone who prefers to avoid touching a computer as much as possible, I am distressed to see the culture of computer users promoted in such an insidious fashion. I would almost expect to find such claptrap in our public schools, staffed as they are by pedogogues and other degenerates, but I strongly object to seeing this filth in a periodical of wide distribution.
The computer represents the single greatest threat to the morality of our children and the metastability of the nuclear family. I hope that you will take this criticism to heart and realize the error of your ways. It is never too late to apologize. I am a loyal reader of long standing, and I would rather not be forced to cancel my subscription.
Sincerely yours, Bashful In Finding Fault
P.S. My eleven-year-old son asked me to send along the following message: “J00 TH1NK J00 R 3|_337 H4X0R? W3 W1|_|_ 0WNZ0R J00, N00B!” I’m not sure what it means, but I’m sure that I needn’t remind you to ‘suffer the little children.’ –BIFF
I am quite shocked to detect such a strong vein of technophobia in my readership. Computing technology has enabled tremendous advances in such critical segments of human existence as shopping, dating, and wasting time, and there is nothing to fear from the computer per se. A computer is simply a well-organized lump of inert matter that consumes a moderate amount of electricity in order to heat an office in comfort. As an added bonus, it performs computations.
The Geek Chorus: Dood, this is so funny I forgot to laugh.
Myself: Sit down and be quiet. This presentation is all for your benefit.
There is a well-developed theory of computation that exactly describes what it is that a computer is capable of. I have examined this theory in detail, and I can assure the parents of the nation that their children are safe. There is nothing intrinsically dangerous or deleterious to morals in computation. If a parent were to forbid her child computation, she would doom that child to dulness. For it can be established that every human mind performs computation in making decisions, and a child without computation would be unable to decide on anything. Imagine a child unable to clearly articulate what it wants! It would simply wander around, crying, and occasionally shriek in the ear of a passerby. Children do not behave that way when they have a wide latitude for computation, or at least a taste for doing sums. In that case, a convenient wall and a crayon will suffice for hours of amusement. Thus, we have conclusively proved that computation is desirable in children. It is certainly common enough in adolescents, who are more calculating by nature.
I strongly believe that parents are leery of the computer because they do not understand what computer users are saying. As with any cultural innovation, the computer has stimulated the language to develop along new paths, which are ill-paved and trecherous. Naturally, people will fear what they do not understand, and so we see that antipathy to the computer grows out of frustrations with grappling with the technical jargon of the computing lifestyle.
The Glob Universal School of Knowledge has recognized this problem for what it is, and we have developed a comprehensive set of correspondence courses to enable even the most backward luddite to converse fluently on any topic related to computers, computing, or the new economy. These courses will present vocabulary, data structures, and conversational algorithms for students of all levels, with exercises to be returned by mail for evaluation. Pronounciation is mastered with the aid of a comprehensive set of dialogues on 78rpm records, which are provided gratis to every fees-paying student. For a prospectus of available courses, please send a postal order for $5 to the Admissions Office, The Glob Universal School of Knowledge, care of this column.