Dribblings on Academia and/or Computers

On the offhand chance that the reader is a member of the University of California administration, regencies, professorships or similar, please note my opinion that the UC system's "maximum unit count before expulsion with extreme prejudice" policy is one of the largest loads of countereducational excrement my academic career has ever encountered, and I will most likely not be returning to UC until it goes away, for the obvious two reasons. Thank you.

Writing and computers don't usually go together. I believe it's principally because they're so far apart in implementation, and few people have energy enough for two major mental foci. A disturbing number of people have great literacy and/or skill only one of the two. It's easier to understand writers and literature fanciers disliking, avoiding or simply not grasping computers, but much harder the other way around. Don't learn to read or write source code until you can read or write your native language(s) -- great talent for writing code doesn't make you a better person unless you were a complete person to begin with. Conversely, literate and articulate people often make the very best computer engineers -- many of the same skills apply.

I was going to include in the previous paragraph a further comment that creative literary skills makes it much easier to feel rewarded by geekdom, but backing up that claim would require an in-depth exposition on why geekhood is so rewarding, and I haven't the concentration.

I was also going to mention that by diversifying oneself into both a technical and logical field and a creative and abstract one you win the fawning attentions of two entirely different and equally rewarding clases of cute college girls.*

My academic history is a little scattered. High school and I gave up on one another when I was 15. Passed the CHSPE, got my HS diploma in two hours. Went to Santa Rosa Junior College for three years, until disgust and transfer credits got the better of me. Graduated with an AS degree and a few 4.0 GPA certificates, neither of which have proved especially important to anything in my careers since then.

Departed SRJC, went to UC Davis for two years. Davis is a pleasant place, the university suffers from an extreme dose of anal retention, much like the rest of the University of California. While I approve of research being performed by students, I do not approve at all of the total marginalization of any meaningful academic process to sustain it, nor do I approve of of UC's decision to convert most all of undergraduate education into a sort of meat grinder through which only the most obedient students may pass. I gave up on UCD after the institution demonstrated its refusal to budge on a policy that expels all students who exceed 225 units, whether they've completed their studies or not.

All that said, I now drift around Sonoma State University, a more relaxed institution which resembles SRJC, but with worse budget problems and free HIV testing. Also on-campus housing, should I ever want to retry the anonymous-student thing. I'm nominally a ward of the computer science department, which has a problem with IDEs.

I would be a more obedient student if I was more dependent on actually graduating. However, I've been working in my field without a degree for years, to the extent of funding my education and otherwise supporting myself with it. That sort of thing does not make for an attentive and studious rote-learner. Also there was this girl.

* - This is, of course, complete and utter fiction. Cute college girls do not generally go around swooning for pasty-complexioned, mumbling geeks with poor posture and odd sleep habits. This situation may, it seems, be slowly correcting itself, though I suspect it may be the same feminine oracular quality that enables them to latch onto future plastic surgeons, investment brokers and such even while they (the surgeons, et al) are still sitting around drinking beer, belching, and using their textbooks to prop up the TV, without realizing the imminent peril of acquiring a lifestyle involving suits, nice houses, and potentially lucrative alimony arrangements.
Anecdotally speaking, another aggravating aspect of all this is the aforementioned cute college girls' irritation with geeks who seem to be staring at their breasts (the girls', I mean), when in fact they (the geeks) are merely staring vacantly while thinking, when the girls' breasts happened to be placed in the way. The unrelatedness of the direction of the stare and the location of the breasts is too seldom realized by the cute college girls of the world.


Devin Carraway
Last modified: Mon Jun 7 21:26:14 PDT 1999