What is a nanosecond anyway? Computing pioneer Grace Hopper shows us (1983)

This is pioneering computer scientist and US Navy read admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992) explaining the concept of a nanosecond. From the Computer History Museum:

(Hopper) held a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Vassar College (1928) and an M.S. (1930) and Ph.D in mathematics (1934) from Yale University.

Hopper began her career teaching at Vassar and taught there from 1931 to 1943, when she joined the u.s. Navy Reserve. Her first assignment was to work with Professor Howard Aiken of the Harvard Computation Laboratory on problems of military significance.

Hopper remained at Harvard until 1949, when she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, led by the designers of the groundbreaking ENIAC computer system. There, she developed one of the world's first compilers and compiler-based programming languages. In 1959, Hopper played an important role in defining a new easy-to- use programming language. The result was COBOL, probably the most successful programming language for business applications in history.

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Should a programming conference host a reactionary weirdo?

LambdaConf is a conference for people who are into functional programming. If you don't know what that means, it suffices to say that these are stout, yeomanly Hobbits of computer science. What's news is that they invited Mencius Moldbug to speak at it. Moldbug (real name Curtis Yarvin) is a Hollywood archetype of coders: the programming whiz who has strange and comically retrograde opinions of minorities, slavery, ladies, etc. So. Should he be invited to speak?

LambdaConf founder and chief organizer John A. De Goes wrote in a blog post that the conference decided to keep Yarvin as a speaker in order not to set a precedent of discriminating against attendees because of their beliefs. "LambdaConf does not and cannot endorse any of the wildly different, diametrically opposed, and controversial opinions held by speakers, attendees, volunteers, and vendors," he wrote. …

Jon Sterling, organizer of LambdaConf workshop PrlConf, decided to cancel the workshop, writing in an open letter: "We cannot possibly organize a workshop under the umbrella of a conference that values the free expression of racist and fascist views over the physical and emotional safety of its attendees and speakers."

Not all who oppose Yarvin's views say they will boycott the conference. The writers of a forthcoming book on the programming language Haskell say they are coming to support other speakers and attendees.

There's a passage in one of the Hannibal Lecter novels, probably Silence of the Lambs, where it's made clear that the good doctor, though incarcerated as a serial killer, is still engaged as a professional in his field of study. Read the rest