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I'm fond of Perl as a first language, for a couple of reasons. Foremost among them is that Perl is fun and easy, so it serves as a gentle introduction to programming (and modules) that's easy to stick with long enough to catch the bug, and it's versatile in that it can be used for webapps or for automating system tasks or just for playing around. But I wouldn't recommend making it anybody's only language, because it IS a scripting language and consequently encourages a sort of sloppy wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am approach to coding. Start with it, learn the basics, then move on to Python, and after achieving competence there learning new languages pretty much just feels like fun and games. Perl remains my favorite language for anything to do with SQL, and also for hammering out quick scripts to automate boring tasks.

Lisp is probably not necessary, but IS fun to learn. I don't know whether if it makes you a better programmer. I'm definitely better now than I was before I learned it, but I don't know how to differentiate between "I gained experience" and "Lisp fixed my brain".

My first languages were C++ and Java, incidentally, and I would say that I became a decent programmer in spite of that rather than because of it. C++ was too much all at once, at least for twelve-year-old-me, and Java by contrast is so gentle and coddling that it became a kind of tarpit from which I almost did not escape.

I think more than anything what reliably converts you to a higher value programmer (provided you already have good math skills) is going through the larval stage as many times as possible.

What a silly thought experiment. The fact that two people use one word to refer to two different things (which superficially appear similar) doesn't mean anything except that the language is imperfect.

Case in point: Uses of the word "love".

Okay. Thank you very much for your insight; I do appreciate it.

I... Was not even aware that such a game existed; I was referring to The Once And Future King. But clicking through the wiki a little bit has me fascinated by the tangle of mythological references.

Just call me le Chevalier mal Fet.

You make an interesting point. To be sure I've understood: Behave in a more truth-seeking manner in general, because if I do so I will be a more truth-seeking person in the future from force of habit, and if I do not do so then I will be less of one? If the force of habit is really so potent in cases like this then it's a very convincing argument; I wouldn't want to give up the ability to be rational just to be a tiny bit better at manipulation.

Both twenty-one. But that is a less useful statistic than emotional maturity, which I think is what you're getting at, so I should note that there is a definite discrepancy in terms of how well we handle feelings - I have a great deal more emotional control than does she. So despite being the same age, there is a power imbalance in a sense similar to the one you're asking about. Of the two undescribed parties, one is older than me (22) and one is younger (19).

Actually, I don't quite have to pretend that the other parties are attempting manipulation in the other direction; they've all been fairly transparent in their attempts (albeit with varying degrees of persistence; of the three, J sits in the middle in terms of time spent attempting to convert me).

I look forward very much to seeing your sequence.

This is a very valid point, but I'm less interested in whether such a plan is practical than in whether, assuming feasibility, it is ethical.

Explicitly declaring "I am going to try to convert you" to any of these people would definitely eliminate or minimize all potential avenues of influence, and I do not think I am nearly subtle enough to work around that. Still, if I understand what you're saying correctly, it's more an issue of informed consent of study participants than of letting people decide whether they want their buttons pushed. Is that an accurate understanding of your perspective?

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