Some people have asked to read the commencement address I delivered this morning to the 2013 graduates of Butler University. So here it is.
My own commencement speaker, who shall remain nameless, began with a lame joke about how these speeches only come in two varieties: Short and bad. This…
What a great speech. Now I need to go and read Neil Gaiman’s again too, to make me feel like my degree was worth something.
So this video started going around my facebook today, with about a dozen of my female friends sharing the link with comments like, and “Everyone needs to see this”, and “All girls should watch this,” and “This made me cry.” And I’m not trying to shame those girls! I definitely understand why they would do so. And I don’t want to be a killjoy. But as I clicked the link and started watching the video, I started to feel a slight sense of discomfort. I couldn’t put my finger on why that was, exactly, but it continued throughout the whole thing. After watching the video several more times, I have some thoughts…
So I’m reading this just for a laugh (and, you know, because making a ton of money writing chick-lit books seems appealing after being unemployed for so long so I’m doing my research). I’ve got as far as page 3 and I can’t believe there hasn’t been a 50 Shades-style outcry over how badly written these books are.
English mathematician and writer Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (December 10, 1815–November 27, 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron as the only legitimate child to the poet Lord Byron and better-known as Ada Lovelace, is commonly considered the world’s first computer programmer — a title she earned by writing the very first algorithm designed to be processed by a machine during her work on Charles Babbage’s seminal Analytical Engine, the early theoretical general-purpose computer that laid the foundation of modern computing.
Abandoned by her father when she was barely a few months old and half-orphaned by Lord Byron’s death when Ada was only eight, Lovelace was led to mathematics and logic by her mother, who saw these strictly rational disciplines as an antidote to the madness she feared Ada had inherited from her father. But even as Lovelace came to indulge her mathematical mind, she insisted on referring to herself as a “poetical scientist.”
Still in her twenties, she was enlisted by Babbage in translating Italian mathematician Louis Menebrea’s memoir of the Analytical Engine, originally published in French. It was in the elaborate notes on the book, which she penned during a nine-month period in 1842-1843, that Lovelace wrote the algorithm which staked out her corner of history.
Lovelace was in many ways a rebel of her era: Though she and her mother inhabited the upper echelons of London society, women’s participation in intellectual affairs was both uncommon and discouraged. Even among the gentlemen who pursued such disciplines as geology, astronomy, and botany, there were no professional scientists per se — in fact, the very word “scientist” didn’t exist until William Whewell coined it in 1836. And yet Lovelace, a woman, was very much a scientist — in addition to being the mother of three children — and an intellectual peer of Babbage’s.
But besides a pioneer of computer science, Lovelace, whose eclectic interests spanned from music to mesmerism, was also in a way one of the world’s first neuroscientists — at least a theoretical one. In 1844, she grew intensely interested in creating “a calculus of the nervous system,” confiding in her friend Woronzow Greig a desire to develop a mathematical model for consciousness that would explain how nerve signals give rise to thoughts and feelings in the brain. But, largely due to her mother’s instilled admonitions about Ada’s inherited capacity for madness, she eventually abandoned the quest.
Lovelace died of uterine cancer, after a short battle terribly managed by her physicians, two weeks short of her thirty-seventh birthday. She is commemorated with one of London’s famous blue plates, located at St. James’s Square and inscribed “Ada Countess of Lovelace 1815-1852 Pioneer of Computing lived here.” Her contribution to modern life is imprinted on every interaction we have with a machine on any given day.
What are your top beauty tips?
Start out perfect and don’t change a thing. Always accentuate your best features by pointing at them. And conceal your flaws by sucker punching anyone who has the audacity to mention them.
Never too old to learn from the Muppets.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.” - Miss Piggy
When I die
Give what’s left of me away
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
And give them
What you need to give to me.
I want to leave you something,
Look for me
In the people I’ve known
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.
You can love me most
Hands touch hands,
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
That need to be free.
Love doesn’t die,
So, when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
- Merritt Malloy