It's Father's Day and time for my annual re-posting of Groucho Marx singing the greatest song dedicated to that occasion of all time. Happy F-day to all the dads out there — especially my own dad and my brother Neil; to Mark and Pesco and Jason, and to your own old man. This morning, I was serenaded with this selfsame song, given a box of my favorite chocolates, taken for a slap-up breakfast and a swim, and given a deluxe card with a World's Best Dad badge. Popular Mechanics interviewed a bunch of people about their fathers; including me:
My dad was really good at making me think everything through. The scientific method is a totally counterintuitive thing because it begins by saying: You can't trust your memory or your senses. You have to measure things empirically and write them down because otherwise everything you remember and everything you know is colored by your biases and experiences and hopes and aspirations. And essentially your brain lies to you all the time. This is a very hard thing to get a 5-year-old to understand.
One thing my dad was quite good about was giving me enough rope to hang myself and leaving me alone in front of a computer. When we got an Apple II Plus in 1979 there was virtually no software on it. Basically, we got two floppy disks' worth of demos, none of them super exciting. I remember there was a simulator for running a lemonade stand and a Mad Libs program. But there were magazines like Byte that had thousands of lines of BASIC, which you could type into a computer and use it to make programs—that is, if you could type thousands of lines without making a typo (not easy for a 9-year-old.) He provided me with the technology and handed me an issue of Byte and he turned me loose.
Bonus track: Everybody Works In Our House (Except My Old Man)