Thursday, October 04, 2007

Recalling Sputnik

I sort of expected more space program retrospectives, timed with this commemoration of Sputnik, a cultural icon and indelible what the bleep on the American psyche.

We're especially in need of some self reflection on recent intellectual history. What have we been teaching the kids ever since?

Right after Sputnik, school kids were told to dive head first into set theory, ala Bertie Russell and friends.

Parents suddenly had to endure future shock, given junior's unions and intersections of objects, subsets, empty set... which just wasn't fair!

It's the losers who have to change their ways, while we winners get our status quo "American way of life" preserved in every detail (unless we want to change, in which case everyone else should just move over pronto).

So comforting then, to have "won" the Cold War and not have to struggle with that infernal New Math any more!

Avast ye Venn Diagrams, begone ye SQL, it's a nostalgia trip to some chimerical neverland we're pursuing, with no time for anything Gnu, no time for anything "in the future" (like where's that again? -- never heard of it).