Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

  • Music:

Power of Academic Secretaries

Daydream: Independence-Day-movie-esque alien spaceships hovering above a city, all is lost as they circle the capital building, buildings melting under laser onslaught. A scientist farmer runs up from the basement and screams in a mad scientist voice, "The secret weapon! It is ready!", and pulls a lidded serving tray from behind his back. The gathered politicians look puzzled. He lifts the lid, the ships shudder, and begin to burn as they fall to the ground, and the camera pulls back to a wedge of cheese on the tray. "Behold! The power of cheese!"

On the topic of cheese, I had some of the nastiest cheese I've ever had this morning. Occasional adventures in food have their pitfalls.

Academic secretaries are often amazing. The CS department's main office's secretary (who has a name, but I don't particularly want google to glue this entry to her) knows my name, the department I came from, when I have mail (offhand), and plenty of other details about me (and presumably everyone else in the department - I doubt I'm special). If I had that job, I'm sure people would get kind of tired of "who are you again?" the first 30 times they saw me. I suppose I can understand it by way of analogy of people not understanding how geeks can cuddle up in bed with ORA's Sendmail book or political philosophy geeks with Rawls' Theory of Justice, but it's still amazing. Tangent:

Computer Science has, more or less, a canon of classic works that people should theoretically know and have read to be well-versed in the field. Donald Knuth of Stanford has the distinction of having written what is probably the most-accepted part of that canon.

My primary education, despite numerous other interests and fields I've picked up parts of, was in Computer Science - I'm wondering what the canon-cloud is for other fields - for Maths, would Principia Mathematica (Bertrand Russel's) still be part of it or would the work on rebasing maths on new foundations have "obsoleted" it? Similarly, is the actual Principia Mathematica (Newton's) still canon for classic physics? It might be that we no longer need a canon for some fields, or perhaps we're between canons and new ones will emerge out of the growing embrace of managed-wikis by the educational sector. How much are canons about emotional security/tradition?

"Secant and you shall receive" would make a nice T-shirt.


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