Barbie is the key to everything

The Saudis have figured out that Barbie is a major cultural force (story).  An American woman a couple weeks ago was equally clued in.  We were talking about the best environments for teaching children to program computers (perhaps a questionable project these days, rather akin to teaching children other Third World skills that are irrelevant in a developed nation, e.g., soaking manioc).  She was an expert in the area and it seems that no progress has been made since Logo (1970s) and that, in any case, hardly any kids were learning anything substantial about programming.  Such kids who were doing anything with computers were mostly boys.  She observed “I hate to say this but what we really need to get girls excited about computers is a Barbie programming language.”

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fat, dumb, anti-depressed, but not happy?

Here’s a curmudgeonly article from Orion that claims that one-third of Americans are on Prozac-like antidepressants.  Yet not everyone walks around with a smile on his or her face.  Why not?  The author ascribes our malaise to spending too much time driving alone in our SUVs to Starbucks compared to Europeans who walk to gatherings with friends.


(Question for the comments section:  Do we believe this statistic that 1/3rd of us are on happy pills?)


[Wow, this sure got a lot of comments.  It does seem that the 1/3rd number is a vast overestimate (sadly for shareholders in drug companies).  Pilots at least are safe from pill-pushing shrinks because the FAA won’t allow anyone to fly who is on antidepressants (http://www.aviationmedicine.com/psych.htm).]

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