Archive for March, 2008

I Think Therefore …

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Twice today, while driving through Exeter, I saw a bumper sticker that said "I think therefore I am dangerous." I think I want one. I have long believed that people and the way their minds work are what make objects dangerous rather than objects making people dangerous.

Truly though it is ideas coming from people who can and do think that are the most dangerous "things" in the world. At the same time they are the way we move forward as a society. Like some many things thinking (and the ideas thinking generates) are a double edged weapon.

So go out there and think! Be dangerous.

Chelsea on the Stump

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

So I found this interesting.

Campaigning in Indianapolis for her mother, Chelsea Clinton had a quick retort when asked a question she had never had before. When a male student asked her if her mother’s credibility had been hurt during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton quickly responded.
"Wow, you’re the first person actually that’s ever asked me that question, in the, maybe 70 college campuses that I’ve been to," Clinton bitterly said at Butler University.  "And I don’t think that’s any of your business."

The comments at the MSDN article range from anger at the student who asked the question to "what’s wrong with the question?" from others.

Now to be honest I think this was a fair question. A little rough; a little unkind; a little difficult to answer but in the end isn’t the credibility of a person something to take into account when electing a president. I can think of a lot better ways she could have answered that. For example "that was a very difficult time in my life and the life of my family and I’d really rather not talk about it." Now that I could have lived with.

Credibility is more and more an issue for Clinton. So soon after the exaggerated version of her Africa trip you’d think her whole team would be more sensitive about that sort of question. More and more I have to wonder why anyone supports Clinton for president.

Speaking the Unspeakable

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

There are some things you just can’t say. Not because they are not true but because they are just too politically incorrect. I’m worried that we are missing out on solving some problems just because it is unacceptable to speak about them.

Take for example saying the Obama is getting so much attention because he is black or that Clinton is getting so much attention because she is a woman. No no you can’t say those things because saying them implies racism or sexism that we wish know does not exist. But honestly do you really think that the reason Edwards got short changed in the media is because he was not a serious candidate? Of course not. The media decided that a race between a black man and a white woman was more interesting, would sell more, and so they left Edwards out. Is that because the media is racist/sexist or just because they think the public is or is it just because people are more interested in seeing something different? Does it even matter? Probably not but I think that saying race and gender had nothing to do with it is intellectually dishonest.

We are closing discussion that might help make things better in the future.

Or take some people saying that 9-11 was a reaction to things America did in the past. What sort of idiot thinks that Moslem extremists are not pissed off at the US for things we have done? Things like supporting Israel or taking advantage of middle eastern oil or being Christians? Who really deep down when they honestly look at history doesn’t understand that Arab Moslems have reasons that in their mind create justifiable anger at the US? But you can’t say that.

That is not to say that the anger or our actions justify (certainly not to us) the actions of 9-11. That day is clearly not a rational response to most sane people. But to deny that there are other people who see the world differently is, again, intellectually dishonest.

We are closing discussion that might help make things better in the future.

And just so I can get a third strike against me, there is the debates about treatment of boys and girls in schools. There are some who get violently upset if you say that some school environments are much more comfortable for girls than for boys. Heaven forbid that you suggest that boys and girls behave differently, learn differently, or respond to teachers differently. Gasp that is sexist. And yet does anyone really believe that boys and girls are the same? Note that no one is saying better or worse, or right and wrong – just different. Demanding that people close their eyes to gender differences in schools is intellectually dishonest.

We are closing discussion that might help make things better in the future.

Without honest open, no holds bared, no topic exclude, no viewpoint unheard discussion how can real problems be fixed? We can’t just ignore facts just because they make the world look differently than we want it to be. And yet, more and more often, that is just what we are doing.

What Is That Smell?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

I went away for a week and when I returned my office smelled funny. Something died in here funny. Now since I do not leave food laying around in there and no one else uses the office I am concerned. The office is a mess and I hope as I clean it out I’ll find what ever it is. But at the same time I am worried about what it might me. You can’t just close off and abandon a room though.

I’ll let you know what if anything I find because I am sure you are all dyeing to know.

Let Me Make Up My Own Mind

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

I have long been dissatisfied with reading/hearing second hand or third hand reports of events. Reading a book review or a movie review is not the same as seeing the movie or reading the book. The same is true of newsworthy events. One of the great wonders and joys of the Internet is the ability to get to the source itself. Of sure not everything but at least a lot of things.

It seems like everyone is talking about Barak Obama’s speech on race in America. Most of the reviews I came across where by fawning fans of the man so it was hard to take them too seriously. But this is the Internet age and so I was easily able to find and watch the speech for myself. And a wonderful speech it was. It almost makes me want to vote for the man.

And then there is reporting on other issues. The one review of yesterday’s testimony on the Washington DC handgun ban I was able to find was by someone who is clearly biased in favor of the ban. It was pretty disrespectful of almost all involved. Fortunately the transcript is available and I was able to spend some time reading it. I learned a good deal in that reading. And frankly the transcript reads a lot more reasonably than the review I read would have suggested. If one needed a reason to distrust the main stream media that would do it.

There is this theory that the Internet will result in a more informed populous. That people will be able to seek out and learn from unbiased reporting or at least be able to get unfiltered reading from both (or more than two) sides of the issues. Or maybe they will go to the source and avoid filters completely. It’s a wonderful theory and I believe it is possible. But I wonder if most people just look to the same old biased sources and get their information pre-digested and pre-filtered. It takes some work to find the sources. It takes a lot more time to read 80-100 pages of testimony than to read a one page summary. People have to really care to put in the time. Just because they can doesn’t mean people will.

We run our world (I’m thinking especially of voting) as though we have an informed population. But do we really? I wonder.

Laptop Keyboards

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

So I got a new laptop and I’m still getting used to it. It is bigger (though still pretty light) then the one I had been using. More memory (4gb), more disk (150gb on the main one and I forget how much on the second one that I can swap in and out with the CD/DVD reader/burner), both hard drives are 7200 rpm, a docking station, travel power cord, extra battery and who knows what that I haven’t discovered yet. It’s a Lenovo Thinkpad T61 for those of you who have to know.

Installing all my software is not a big deal. I seem to have access to all the media I need. The biggest thing I am getting used to is the keyboard. The delete key is at the top and I am used to it being in the bottom. The Fn and Ctrl keys are swapped from what I am used to. And I am used the the arrow keys being more isolated and the down arrow key having a nub on it. All four of the arrow keys have nubs (I just found them) but there are at the top of the keys and I am used to feeling on the bottom of them. This is messing up my typing in the dark.

The "mouse" keys around the touch pad are different. Not better or worse so much as just different. It is taking some getting used to. I’m sure I am going to like this new laptop and even if I don’t it has to be better than the one it replaces which I have grown to hate with a minor passion. I just wish the keyboards were as standard away from the letter and numbers as they are with them.

Interesting Output Devices

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

Not sure why this made me thing of Matt.

Typing in the Dark

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Like a lot of people I am a touch typist. OK not a great one and I have trouble with special characters but still I get  but most of the time. This means a couple of things. One is that I can take notes while watching the people or person who is talking. That seems more polite than looking at the keyboard. And it means that I can type in the dark when I can’t see the keyboard if I want to. (Which I am doing now BTW)  It’s a pretty useful skill to have. And of course it means that I type faster (though not real fast) then I would if I had to look for the keys all the time.

I went to secretarial school to learn to type when I was in middle school. Yes a special school for mostly women to learn office skills that was mostly typing and shorthand. I never learned the shorthand but the typing I learned and that has served me well for years and years. It was weird being a middle school boy in a place like that. I pretty muck just worked because I was not about to talk to all those older women some of whom much have been at least 20!

Now a days people learn to text by touch. That’s just not going to happen for me and I don’t think anyone teachers that. People just learn it. I’m not sure how many people who IM can touch type though. I tend to think that some of the reason for text and IM shorthand is that people just don’t type fast enough. I know that a lot of the conversations I have are with people who use code and still do not type as much real information as I do. That can cause misunderstandings at time.

Does anyone know if middle schools teach typing these days? Or younger? High schools seem to pretty much have dropped it. Somewhere along the line I think that typing should be something people learn though. Maybe not to me a super fast touch typist but at least good enough to write a good essay and keep up with a text based conversation. What do you think?

Found Money

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I believe that everything has a story. Some stories are trivial and some are not. I suspect that one can’t tell if the story is big or small by the item though. Money is an example.

Yesterday I found a five dollar bill on the ground. It was wet and dirty but there is no way of telling how long it has been on the ground or how it got there. It may be that someone lost it and never knew it was missing. Perhaps they had plenty of money and losing was lost in the noise as it were. But on the other hand perhaps to the person who lost it losing it mattered a good deal. Could it have meant the difference between a good meal and no meal at all? Could it have meant that they ran out of gas on the way home? There are all sorts of ways where losing $5 could be a big deal to someone.

I also found a dime yesterday. Now a dime is a whole lot less valuable than a five spot so it probably didn’t change anyone’s life. But I’ll bet if one really thought about it one could make up a good story about it.

So I found $5.10 yesterday. The dime is going into my change fund but I’m not sure about the five. Spend it – on something fun or on regular expenses? Or put save it for something? Tough questions. What do you do with found money?

Ex-Apple Guy Interviews Steve Ballmer

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I never thought I’d see Guy Kawasaki at a Microsoft event but it happened. Earlier this week Guy Kawasaki interviewed Steve Ballmer at the MIX08 event. It’s a very interesting interview and at times very funny. Usually events like this have someone tossing “softball” questions but Guy really doesn’t pull any punches.

I enjoyed the back and forth over the new light Apple laptop. I found it interesting that Guy uses the same cell phone (a Motorola Q) that I do because he depends on the connection with Exchange for email. Windows Mobile is pretty good really. Apparently Kawasaki does some work with Microsoft and he actually has nice things to say about the changes he has seen in the company.

I haven’t finished watching it yet but so far it is one of the most interesting interviews with Ballmer that I have seen.