When caffinated, slugs die. Will this lead to caffine contamination of the soil, or new “Power-Veggies”? You know it will eventually end up in our meat too….

“I am so wired, I just had a whole bag of Java-beets”

“Try Starbuck’s new fresh picked Mocha-berries”

“Man, I crammed all night for that exam; let’s go get an McEsspresoChicken sandwich.”

Any way to avoid caffine after this?

It is always interesting to me that strange happenings are consistantly blamed on some helpless, possibly non-existant creatures from another world. It seems that Argentina is having trouble with ‘X-files’ type phenomena. I will agree with the point that it is strange, but I am not too sure about the aliens part. No pictures, too bad.

More on Technopoly Just arrived at the chapter about computer technology. Good example of what happens when those who don’t quite know how something works decide to rant against it. It is quite out dated, and so far his focus is on the use of biological terms in reference to computers. He thinks this is indicative of a view that computers can “think” and have some sort of life of their own. Most people today would laugh at such a thought. Postman is concerned about the shift of thought toward thinking of Man as machine, and Machine as man. There is a little truth to this, as there is a strong basis in current science that pushes the “Man is machine” idea. Examples would be the reduction of emotion to chemical reactions in the biological central processing unit we so affectionately call the “brain”, and social/psychological disorders be a result of a ‘malfunction’, or chemical inballance. I understand that there are problems caused by deficiencies of certain chemicals in the body, but to say that it is merely a deficiency or malfunction that causes such extreme behavior as schizophrenia, or any serious neurological disorder seems a bit simplistic. But Postmans claim that we are on our way to accepting computers as human is way off. Of all the tools that man has ever created, computers are the most problematic. Computers have made our lives harder and more complex. Certain aspects of life are easier or at least faster, like communication and commerce, but now we have the ability to keep all our most important information on easily damaged disks, that we cannot be entirely sure are private. We have created a whole industry, a great percentage of which is manned by people who learned technology on their own, or through certification programs. This experience and training is valued higher than a college degree by some companies, and others would rather have someone they can train themselves. What happened to education? How has knowledge in the use of one tool become more valuable than a strong foundation in humanities, art, math and science? Odd words from the mouth of one who only has experience under his belt. I am reconsidering this whole “maybe I don’t need college” thing.

Young Science Hobbyist
I thought we were dangerous in high school with our make-shift pipe bombs. Never thought about going nuclear. Didn’t think you could DO that.

“It’s simply presumed that the average person wouldn’t have the technology or materials required to experiment in these areas.”

“I’ve still got time. I don’t believe I took more than five years off of my life.”

I have picked up Neil Postman’s Technopoly this summer and find many of his insights quite interesting. I am in a strange position as the gatekeeper of technology in a Christian institution. How beneficial is the Internet to education, and do the benefits out weigh the virulence? How important is it to teach the use of technology? Can we assume that it will be learned anyway? How do we teach students be be their own gate-keepers, to question the premise that technology is benign, and to value wisdom over knowledge? What is the purpose of education, to prepare young adults for the marketplace, or to use history, science, and literature to instill character and wisdom?

I find that I am not truly a technologist, as I do not embrace technology just because it is technology. I enjoy working with computers, and find that I have a knack for it, but on my time off, I do not spend a nano-gram of thought on them. I am by no means a Luddite, well actually, maybe that is exactly what I am. I think that I do oppose any technology that threatens commonality and community. I will have to think about that one. Like my brother, I would like to live underground, live off the land, but still be close enough to be in community with others of my ilk. Computers can go do what they want without me. But they are my livelihood. Ah, the catch-22 of technology.

“These Engines of mischief were sentenced to die
By unanimous vote of the Trade
And Ludd who can all opposition defy
Was the grand Executioner made”
General Ludd’s Triumph, 1812


Sorry about the caps. I just doubted the movie from the first time I heard what the title would be. I know it fits in with the history, but come on, “Attack of the clones”? I kept an open mind. That is, until I saw the preview. Looked like a sci-fi mush soap-opera. I decided that it was probably just how they chose to portray it, maybe not how it actually is. Last night we went to see it. Special effects were quite good, although it did not make it believable that this one happened before episodes 4-6. From the start Anikin was far too childish, and showed no ‘wisdom’ that you would think he would gain from 10 years of Jedi training. His character was rather 2 dimensional, and you could predict his reactions to everything. I think it would have built a stronger character if he had internalized his anger and bitterness. Senator Amadala could have been a strong character, if they had not made her act like a thirteen year old, tot aly distracted by A’s affections. She shows some strength as a important political figure only a few times. She could have been strong and bitey like Leah, after all, it is her mother, no? The characters carried the first 3. They were fun, they did not get along well, they were sarcastic, and they made the movies. Would they have been fun if Luke (or Han) and Leah were all sappy, and had conversations pulled straight out of Dawson’s Creek? I think not. No matter what people think, a really good movie needs either strong characters (make them believable) or a strong plot that does not allow for the development of characters. This one did not have either.

1. Don’t even hint at bringing Amidala and Annakin together until near the end. Everyone knows that they have to end up together, use it as a tool to build suspense.
2. Let the main characters have secrets. Studies have shown that dramatic irony significantly increases the enjoyment of the movie by the viewer. (Why did he tell her that he killed them all? Let him ruminate, and stew.)
3. Make the characters likeable/enjoyable. I don’t mean more senator cleavage/nipples. I mean personality.
4. Focus on the Jedi. Here is our chance to find out what they are all about. We know that they vanish by episode 4, so let’s find out about them now. What the heck are they? Do I have to read a book to find out?
5. Give the lovebirds some real reason to get married. What did Amadala see in him? She knew that he was out of control, and had murdered. Isn’t she supposed to be wise, being in a position of planetary leadership and all?

It was not an entire waste of time. The action was fun, and the Yoda fighting scene was very good. The plot was Ok overall, but the silly infatuation got in the way far too often.

The rain has returned

Hot season is very hot, and we look forward to the rain. The average temperature over the last few months has been around 95F. That does not take into account the humidity, usually close to 100%, or the UV index, right around 10.0. So it is a relief to have rain again. The electrical storms are beautiful here, but the risk to the computer/network equipment does not allow me to enjoy them as I would like. Knowing that one hit could cause thousands of dollars of damage and weeks of work puts a damper on the fun of huge electric distarges.

Micro turbines!
@ slashdot.org
@ economist.com

Penguin migration

There is an interesting thread on SlashDot about moving from Microsoft to Linux Migrating Your Office from Windows to Linux? I would love to see our school go all Linux, but the transition must be so painful. It could be that a school with few funds, and little technology could easily make the change. We are at a place where we can start really adopting technology, but it almost seems like a point of no return into M$ territory. Can we make a shift now, before people get too used to Windows and MS Office? What about all our Access databases for student management? We are using GIMP for windows as the site wide image editing tool, and are planning to move to non-M$ browsers (Opera) and email clients (Eudora?) for security reasons. Can we start moving to Open Office too? Part of my plan is to integrate all of our different databases into one MySQL or some other open source SQL database. When that happens, maybe we can shed the MS Access shackles that hold us to Windows. Problem: just shelled out $$$ for 70 licenses for Windows 2000 Pro and 5 Servers.

Every once in a while I am tempted to feel less than educated because of my choice to postpone indefinitely my college education. In my mind I have many good reasons why I should not feel this way, yet it comes back. The field I work in values experience, and certain skills that I happen to have, but it is hard for me to know how a college education would positively impact my abilities. Would a degree in Botany help me to troubleshoot strange network traffic? Would a doctorate in anything assist in setting up Active Directory, or designing an interactive alumni web site? I know of many benefits that would compliment my current skills, but am still not convinced that a college education is the only way to obtain those experiences or knowledge. Sometimes the void is more social. Most of my peers and some of my siblings have spent more years studying than I, and it creates a gap between us of topics and subject matter. I just do not have the knowledge to converse at the same level. Sure, I know technical jargon, and the workings of several technologies that puts me into a geek-elite, but that is not education. Technical knowledge is knowledge of the use of tools. There are few social messages to learn from HTML, and writing batch files does not help me to have a deeper understanding of the human nature. I try to educate myself, but how does ignorance seek out knowledge? I can read books, and think. What more? Is there some key activity that I am missing? How do you learn philosophy via experience? What activities teach theology? Is there enough value in knowing the classics, that I should read them all? When I listen to music, am I missing something that would allow me to multiply my appreciation of it? Can I ever fully enjoy art without a knowledge of the history, progression, and movements?

Have I mistakenly placed education on a pedestle? What am I missing? Am I missing anything?

We have bought many new Compaq computers this year, and with them we have received multiple support CDs. We really only need a few (if more than one) of each CD. So we have a collection of useless CD. Well, not quite useless. I am looking for some fun projects they could be used for, like a huge solar oven. If you have any ideas, let me know.