David makes some important points. We are taught to "throw one away; you will anyway". This is good advice. The first time you write a program, learning how to write that program is the most important thing. Building a prototype is the best way.
But some of us have already built the prototypes for the programs we want to write; we have learned how. Brooks does not say to throw all programs away, only the first.
I feel strong kinship with David over these issues. After much thought, I find my preference for C reaffirmed. For one, it's a fairly good language for the kind of programming I enjoy most (2D graphics). I am happy packaging my work as libraries that I, and others, can use. C is still the best language for writing libraries, including those intended to be used from scripting languages. These libraries will continue to be useful even as these languages evolve.
For throwaway programs, I like Python.
Arc is the most interesting language design effort at the moment. If Paul Graham meets his goals, it will be a very useful language. He has a pretty good chance at meeting these goals, because Arc is essentially a dialect of Lisp, which already meets most of them.
Paul has solicited input from the community. The collected responses are well worth reading. They should be a Wiki, I think.
Of course, it will be a long time before Arc becomes a good language for writing "timeless" code. Among other things, the language has to stabilize, acquire some good implementations, and develop a rich set of libraries (with a thriving community to support them).
We have approval from the school system for our plan to home-school Alan in the mornings, and send him to public school in the afternoons. I think this will work well.
Alan has expressed interest in chemistry. I'm pretty weak in that subject, so I'm not confident about the best way to teach it. My inclination is to start by doing recipe-style experiments (baking soda and vinegar, color changers, etc). Do people have a favorite book or other resource for this stuff? Is a chemistry set a good purchase?
Max's language development is also rocketing along. He's now doing simple sentences ("dog peed on it"), can count to ten with no difficulty, and appears to be learning some letters. Not only that, but we spent some time this evening kicking a (small) soccer ball, and he's pretty good at kicking it where he wants it to go. Way better than I was at almost-2!
My Plantronics CT-10 arrived a few days ago. I'm still getting used to it, but overall I think I like it. The mike is not significantly "hotter" than a generic phone's, but seems to be better at noise cancelling. The headphones are quite a bit clearer, which is good. And a headset is a huge ergonomic win, especially if you're also typing.
Putting the phone in its charging cradle while off-hook doesn't work well. This is workaroundable, but still a misfeature.