A fairly random grab-bag of items have been occupying my consciousness in the past 24 hours. Last...

A fairly random grab-bag of items have been occupying my consciousness in the past 24 hours. Last night, I randomly happened upon Python, and read a very persuasive article by a very clever guy on why it was a very useful language to learn. But the real clincher was reading an article on programming Window GUIs in Python where I discovered that you can write a "Hello, World!" standalone application -- in its own little window, with a button -- using five lines of code. That's sweet, and enough to sell the language to me, quite apart from all the references to the Spanish Inquisition and ex-parrots. Python is an interpreted language, but you can use it to easily make standalone GUI applications. Good stuff.
Completely unrelated, this morning, I remembered that I love EurekAlert. It reports stuff that seems obvious in retrospect, but it's nice to hear it confirmed by a scientific study. Stuff like:
  • Tobacco firms used their financial interests in companies that make anti-smoking products to persuade them to cut down on their marketing. Surprise! Why the hell do we let the tobacco companies own their competition? Can anyone explain that to me?
  • Optimists live longer than pessimists. Serves them right.
  • Female doctors are nicer to their patients than male doctors. Look at me, this is my shocked face.
  • The rather anticlimactic revelation that sharing your bed with your child neither helps nor harms the child's development. It kind of makes you wonder why they even bothered reporting it, really. "Hey, everyone, listen up! This practice has no effect! It's irrelevant! We just wanted you to know that!"
  • And the fairly interesting idea of using crystal chips instead of barcodes. You don't pass your stuff over the scanner anymore, you just drive your trolley through a detector. Cool.