I also can't hold a Solstice (I live a bit far away from the nearest LW Meetup, and my family has family Christmas plans I've already agreed to), but I am interested in reading about your celebration. It's great to have a secular alternative to the religious tones of the holiday season.
Took the survey, but I didn't have time to finish most of the extra credit questions. I liked how the survey really made me think over a lot of my positions more critically than I otherwise would have. It will be interesting to see if I change much next year.
A question regarding your title: are you looking for the programming language that best teaches rationalist thinking (if there is one in particular)? Or are you asking for a more general analysis of what the various languages are best at?
Regardless, as a novice programmer (I'm taking my first Java class right now), I would be interested in hearing what LW's opinions are. I chose Java because I wanted to develop Android apps, and because of the large number of jobs calling for Java programmers in my area.
Since you said she's interested in fantasy, I'd suggest the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede (Dealing with Dragons is book one.) Unfortunately it's not on the Kindle yet, but it does a good job of pointing out common fantasy tropes in an entertaining way. Also, the main female character is a very good role model.
If you want more of a scientific mindset applied to fantasy, I'd say The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards instills scientific curiosity very well. Also not available on Kindle...
Finally, (this time actually on the Kindle!) if you want to gently introduce her to sci-fi while still maintaining fantasy, Diane Duane's Young Wizard series is... decent. Might be a bit scary at parts, though. I don't recommend this as highly as the other two, though. It doesn't necessarily teach anything rationality (although it's been a while since I read it), it's just a good bridge into science fiction.
EDIT: I just thought of a great introduction to non-fiction reading. An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn't by Judy Jones. It's a general overview of a lot of topics ranging from history to philosophy to science, all in a humorous style. This was one of the books that kickstarted my love of learning when I was thirteen-ish.
I followed the standard Questioning Religion(TM) route. When I was twelve, our family had a bit of a crisis: my dad's job looked insecure, my mother was having difficulty with her side of the family, and I was home schooled and acutely aware of the fact that this was why I had no social contact with my peers. At all. The solution, as my fundamentalist curriculum (complete with pictures of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden with dinosaurs(!) in the science texts (!!!) ) put it, was to pray for God to magically fix it. Which of course he could do, he's omnipotent! He's God! And he loves all the little children, right?
Several weeks of ardent praying later, my twelve year old self began to smell something fishy. Coincidentally, in the mandatory Bible class (these were DVD correspondence courses), the teacher told the class, "God answers prayers with 'Yes, no, or maybe.' "
"Well, what on earth is the point of praying, then?" said my twelve year old self. I stopped praying. Coincidentally, my life drastically improved after that, so I felt that prayer hadn't altered the outcome one iota. I came to the gut conclusion that Christianity couldn't be right. Mandatory reading of the Bible convinced me that the God of the Bible was a pretty evil guy, if he existed. However, I was limited by the aforementioned abomination of a science text, revisionist history books (which identified all groups who disagreed with the author's exact viewpoint as being wrong and/or Communists), and I was too intimidated by my mother to go check out some decent books on evolution to get the counter-arguments to the Fundamentalist propaganda I was being fed. It would take me another eight years to actually be able to fully back up why I wasn't religious.
On a side note, my grandmother used to be really into New Age... stuff. She gave my mother a whole bunch of books on meditation and seeing energy in trees. The ridiculousness of this stuff probably inoculated me against religion in general, because I could easily see that New Age stuff didn't match with reality (I couldn't see energy in trees) and that left me skeptical of all religion. Also, my dad himself is non-religious. He never really spoke about his lack of belief to me (I think my mother pressured him not to), but he set an example as a completely awesome, well-put together guy who didn't need religion to prop up his life. Also, we watched a lot of Star Trek and astronomy shows together.
Once I hit college, I focused on shoring up the leaky holes in my education. I finally got my hands on Dawkin's The God Delusion, which finally killed the specter of religious indoctrination that had been lurking in the background. I found LW's Sequences not too long ago as well, they went a long way towards explaining why people around me seemed so insane and illogical. I gave myself a new commitment towards seeking the truth and have finally started slowly coming out as an atheist and a rationalist. (Working on my mother, now, and very much not looking forward to that conversation.)
So yeah. It was oddly anti-climatic, really. Once I escaped to the relative sanity of community college, the religious stuff stopped being so controlling in my life, and my dad is very supportive of my atheism/rationalism. I am oddly grateful for religion giving me that initial distrust of authority that turned me towards rationalism.
Hello Less Wrong!
I am a twenty year old female currently pursuing a degree in programming in Washington State, after deciding that calculus and statistics was infinitely more interesting to me than accounting and economics. I found LW via HPMOR, and tore through the majority of the Sequences in a month. (Now I'm re-reading them much more slowly for better comprehension and hopefully retention.)
I wish to improve my rationality skills, because reading the Sequences showed me that there are a lot of time-wasting arguments out there, and I want to spend my time doing productive, interesting, and fun things instead. Also, I've always enjoyed philosophy, so finding a site that uses scholarship and actual logic to tackle critical issues was amazing.
Other defining things about me: I like cooking, folding origami, playing video games, and reading science fiction, fantasy, and history books. I struggle with procrastination and akrasia. I look forward to self-improvement!
I found it interesting that you mentioned Alicorn's Luminosity series, as that is the single most helpful, life-changing work I've read on Less Wrong. Certainly not the "lifehack" in the sense of procedures one can implement, but her work has helped me identify problem areas in myself with much more accuracy than before.
By contrast, I find lukeprog's Procrasination Equation intimidating at first glance, and I have to work up my willpower to make a commitment to it. Pomodoro and Exercise have both worked well for me in the past, but I've backslid from using them. Leechblock doesn't appeal to me as an idea at all, because the barrier is too easy to delete. I'd rather develop my willpower instead.