[etoys-dev] Congratulations on Censoring the Roulette Project

Steve Thomas sthomas1 at gosargon.com
Fri Jan 22 00:48:35 EST 2010

My Dear Wormwood (apologies to C.S. Lewis and "The Screwtape Letters")

Much congratulations are in order for you success in preventing the Roulette
project from being published on the Squeakland Website.

But do not put down your guard, the enemy is always watching for an

Guide your patients reading and be careful to keep them off this email list
and away from original works such as the letters of Fermat and Pascal (try
and block their browsers from viewing
http://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/pascal.pdf )

One way to do this is convince those in Charge of Censorship that the
letters between Fermat and Pascal are all about gambling and will lead the
poor wretched little creatures into a depraved life of crime.
Convince them that they know what is best for the little vermin and that
they are doing a good deed by protecting them from Gambling.

Do NOT at any point mention Probability and Statistics, such powerful ideas
in the minds of small children are dangerous to our cause.
Unfortunately the idea that small humans should learn Probability and
Statistics has caught on amongst those who are normally our allies in
keeping people ignorant.

That said all is not lost and your mistake in letting the concept of P&S
into schools (for which you will be severely punished) should not cause
irreparable harm.
I am working on our unwitting allies  (well meaning School Administrations,
Standards Testers and Textbook publishers) to Assimilate those ideas into
the school culture and promote them as wonderful abstract ideas where the
important part is not the ideas themselves and how you can use them, but the
ability to manipulate symbols without any ties to the real world or other
subjects.  Or if they insist on the concrete, use the idea of taking a
survey to determine what color M&M a particular girl is most likely to

I am working to convince them that their goal is scoring well on
Standardized Tests (preferably multiple choice as it is easier for them to
administer). Then they can say what a wonderful job they did and feed their
own hubris and/or work on their insecurities.

I encourage you to keep in place the mechanism of delaying publishing a
project until it has been reviewed or better yet 3 to 5 days after they
publish it.  Hopefully this will discourage our enemies and the small little
vermin they call "children", so that they never come back.  Remind them they
are protecting their precious little ones and doing a great service to
humanity (don't mention actual children or the worse things they are exposed
to in the real world). Also re-enforce their misguided notion that if they
allow words like "mojo" they will scare off schools from using Etoys. Their
desire not to offend anyone will help mute much of their effectiveness.
Remind them that the other key to success is to try and please everyone.

Do not let them look for counter evidence on that disgusting Scratch Site.
If they do a search there and see what kind of projects there are and how it
has expanded around the world in such a short time, all is lost.  Remind
them that they can do better and Re-Inventing the wheel will help them do
their part for humanity (while keeping them away from the enemies more
effective tasks).

Keep their minds off the most elementary of ideas that they should see what
motivates children, observe how children learn and listen to them. We don't
want them to see the simplistic design of our enemy and see what works.

  1) Keep their minds on high and mighty powerful ideas in their most
minimalistic and abstract forms.
  2) Avoid the concrete representations of the ideas, convincing them that
anytime they present the concrete or use metaphor they will mislead and in
some way and miss the beautiful and subtle distinctions they have come to
appreciate as they themselves became experts.
  3) Hide from them the methods and ways in which the ideas were developed.
  4) Keep from them good problems and original works that will help children
learn and develop deeper understanding.
  5) Discourage documenting how they learn and Reflection (here I am
thinking about that villainous fellow Carlos)

I am most worried about Yoshiki, that  follower of the enemy who tried to
post the Roulette game. Ensure he does not tell where else he may have
posted it (probably on that deplorable SuperSwiki2 site from that tiny
Island in the Pacific). Fortunately it is probably posted in Japanese so we
can limit the potential damage. We must continue to prevent what the enemy
considers Good Projects (those that the small vermin are motivated to
use/learn and remix) being translated into other languages so that others
can learn from it (I wish the enemy would bring back the Tower of Babel
again, but that was a one shot lucky one for us).

Do not waste too much time on Mr. Steve, he is an obnoxious little twit who
has an gift for offending those he really cares about and is trying to
His style of humor, which he believes is well meaning, has the wonderful
side effect of keeping some people focused on being offended and away from
any ideas he is trying to discuss.

Your Affectionate Uncle Screwtape
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