Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Windmills R Us

Something that came up early in my Chicago workshop this year, was during free association around windmills, while staring at a picture of a camel. My focus group came up with Don Quixote (finally got me to get it) then I somewhat dismissed that out of hand, as if this great Spanish classic were beneath me or something.

A lot of people don't read a lot these days, yet know that "tilting at windmills" is a synonym for "hopeless", not sure if because windmills are large, and what's "tilting" anyway? Not everyone is in the Society for Creative Anachronism. But in any case, windmills come down to us as symbolizing the Dutch establishment, set in its ways, and any "tilting" is just going to mean "barking up the wrong tree" yet again.

I have some happier associations with windmills in thinking of Python Nation, aka Windmillville or WMV. Here is the Dutch HQS where our dictator lives, our Guido.

You see us on the border with "the camel kingdom", the neighboring Perl Republic, frequented by Wall, Conway, Randal and those characters (among my favorites, as I discuss in my workshop (and here in my blogs)).

If this is where Don Quixote was trying to get work done of some kind, more power to him: it's a beautiful place, very free and open, yet puzzling sometimes, like Uru by Cyan, especially now that the windmills are so slender looking, with birds of prey adapting to not fly into them so often (secret: birds learn).


Also, given your generic windmill has microprocessors, might well hook to infrastructure with Pythonic APIs, by Enthought or whatever firm, this "I am a windmill" mindset is becoming more commonplace within the engineering community, with "I am a..." and "I have a..." being accepted mental constructs in object oriented programming (OOP), as well as in test driven development (TDD), whereby we're encouraged to develop intuitive empathy for our materials ("feel the force" as it were), though not as a replacement for empirical measures.

We start learning our engineering early around here, like from childrens books. "I'm a dike in Holland: I hold back the ocean and really hope I don't break". Sometimes we'll use Madlibs to teach string substitution (e.g. with string.Template), the basis for legal forms, dynamic web pages of all kinds. We stay earthy and relevant in this way, even invest in grossology. Like we're not trying to disconnect from all the dirt. This is real world engineering, not stupid prissy stuff, i.e. not pretending to be "pure" (whatever that means), love those hybrids (of anything). Does this make us liberals then? Cosmopolitan maybe.