Stop telling kids that programming is a ‘foreign language’

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Do you think computer programming should count as a foreign language credit in US schools? New Mexico does. So do legislators in  Kentucky and Washington and several other states, with more on the horizon as fears about US students’ STEM deficiencies increase.

At first glance, the idea of letting kids study Swift instead of Spanish may seem appealing. We all know computer programming is an important skill, so it would be nice if it was promoted from elective status in schools, and there are plenty of superficial parallels between code and natural languages: both come from large families, so picking up your eighth declarative programming language is a lot easier than learning your first; both have concepts of grammar, syntax and so on.

The ways in which this idea is terrible are also apparent at first glance, and agreed on by both linguists and computer scientists. A quick rundown of some highlights:

Continue reading “Stop telling kids that programming is a ‘foreign language’”

Stop telling kids that programming is a ‘foreign language’

Welp. I Was an OPM Hack Victim

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The letter finally showed up in my mailbox on December 7, 2015 – about eight months after the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) first noticed something weird in their database records, and more than twenty months after the hack began.

“Dear FORREST BRAZEAL,” began the letter, which went on to use words like “malicious cyber intrusion”, “Social Security numbers” and “theft of background investigation records”. The letter expressed sympathy for any “concern and frustration” I felt, mentioned that no misuse of my stolen information had yet been detected, and offered a link to some identity protection resources, just in case. For legal reasons, I’m sure, there were no words of apology in the letter.

When the OPM minions – those who haven’t resigned in disgrace – finish licking and stamping, more than twenty million Americans will have received this letter. It’s the latest fallout from one of the largest government data breaches in American history, affecting current federal workers, military service members, families and retirees. And, apparently, me.

Continue reading “Welp. I Was an OPM Hack Victim”

Welp. I Was an OPM Hack Victim