The latest education wrinkle: skip handwriting - use a computer!My daughter is in a Waldorf program and I'm really pleased with her warmth, sense of artistic ability, sense of motion and body, and empathy for others (particularly animals). I went through a public school myself, but it was before the appearance of the ubiquitious personal computer. And how are things nowadays? Well, the following is from a Waldorf education mailing list:
"My daughter who is now in grade 6 started her education in the public
school. Even though she does not have a learning disability she was
encouraged in 2nd grade to use the computer for writing assignments instead
of handwritten. For various reasons I put her in a WE inspired school in
grade 3. She had a difficult time learning to draw and write in a
beautiful manner. Her teachers and I encouraged her to keep working and it
has paid off. She now has beautiful handwriting and pictures in her main
lessons that the grandparents want to show off."
War would cost a cool $85BHere's an interesting story from the Associated Press by way of the Boulder Daily Camera: Pentagon puts war cost near $85B. Here's the lead:
"WASHINGTON ? The Pentagon is telling the White House and Congress that defeating Iraq and occupying the country for six months could cost as much as $85 billion, according to sources ? considerably more than what senior administration officials have said in public."
Not to put a price on things, but let's do some math to understand this figure...
Breast, uh, best flights on the East Coast: Hooters AirIn case you still retain your sense of humor about elbowing through security checks, squishing onto a plane and flying about the chaotic skies, there's a new airline in town that might well appeal to folk who like, um, buxom women. Hooters, the restaurant chain known for its sexy waitresses and PG-rated approach to burger joints, has purchased a small charter airline out of North Carolina and in about 10 days begins flights on Hooters Air.
There's a funny column by Scott McCartney about this in The Wall Street Journal where my favorite quote is: "Now here comes Hooters Air, which will begin flying Boeing Co. 737s between Atlanta and Myrtle Beach, S.C., on March 6 after buying a small North Carolina charter company. New York service will soon follow. Each plane will have three flight attendants to meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations, and two "Hooters girls" to do whatever Hooters girls do -- serve chicken wings, I guess."
Why must every Hollywood film have a serial killer?I finally got around to watching K-PAX last night and thought it was a good film. At least, until the scene where we learn the tragedy that caused the protagonist to consider himself an alien from the planet K-PAX. In a typical Hollywood fashion we can't just have someone relating the story, we have to see the rape, mutilation and murders. It was totally unnecessary to the advancement of the plot and enjoyment of the film.
But why is that so much a staple of films nowadays? I watch a lot of films from the 40s and 50s and even in the most violent of them, it's ridiculously tame compared to the many, many graphic and gory films released today.
Our flawed economic mantra: spend! spend!Think about this for a second: the entire U.S. economy is built on the idea that we can't stop spending. Decide not to buy anything for a few days and suddenly you're not contributing to the betterment of the economy and the country. A kind of crazy thought; spending is your patriotic duty.
But is that really true? Can we really live in a country where the tenets of capitalism and consumerism are indeed the very foundation of our nation? I think so...
Online Education vs. Military DeploymentI'm an instructor for the University of Phoenix Online, which is an interesting experience unto itself, but this morning the Powers That Be issued an interesting note that I thought I'd share with you:
"Dear Online Faculty,
"Quite a few of our students are in the military, and during this time of readiness, are deploying to points around the globe. Just a reminder that we are not to work around the attendance standards for our campus. It's important that we not tell these military students that they can submit their work early before they deploy and still earn a letter grade. That's not what will happen. If they miss attendance, these students will be auto-dropped, and then they will be eligible for only a W or a W/F grade."
Turning the tables on those pesky Nigerian scammersIf you haven't yet received at least one invitation from someone in Nigeria seeking help extracting millions in ill-gotten gains from the government before some calamity befell their father, uncle, cousin, whatever, then you're perhaps one of the few lucky ones on the Net. I receive at least a half-dozen a week, all typically starting out similarly:
"I am Mrs. Amina Mohammed, cousin and Personal Assistant to former Nigeria Head of State, Late General Sanni Abacha who died on the 8th July 1998 while in power..."
Various people have explored the scam here, but the best I've found yet is the Fraud: Mike Aba [link subsequently removed: obsolete] which is a bit convoluted and twisted, but certainly interesting reading!
Now where's the receipt for that darn duct tape?Our Clueless-Paranoid-In-Chief Tom Ridge announced today that "the heightened alert level warning of possible terrorist attacks might be lowered in coming days depending on assessments of threats received by the government." Um, isn't that always true? That is, don't we hope that the Department of Homeland Security, with its phenomenal $42 billion dollar annual budget, is re-evaluating this stuff on a minute-by-minute basis?
Which leads to the obvious question: can people get a refund on unused duct tape?
The serious nature of an MBA programFor those curious about how an online MBA proceeds, here's my most recent class discussion summary for my economics class. It's pretty funny and there are some inside jokes, but generally you'll see that learning online can be just as pleasant as being stuck in a classroom twice weekly.
[With abject and humble apologies - in advance - to just about everyone and everything, including Jack Welch (you'll see..!) It's insanely long, a day late, and doubtless a dollar short, but, um, Enjoy! :-) ]
Knowledge Duel-a-thon, Episode VGood evening ladies and gentlemen (and Dr. Brownstein) and welcome to another thrilling episode of the Economics Knowledge Duel-a-thon! That's too long to say, so flip on your auto-translators and teach 'em that every time I say 'EKD' I mean Economics Knowledge Duel-a-thon. Got it? Great!
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blog news site? Rumor has it...A little bird told me that Google tendered an offer for popular blogger firm Pyra late last week and that it was accepted. Which leads to the inevitable question: where is the central spot for news about the business of weblogs, blogging, and online journals? Not news about the latest entry in a blog - though that's of interest too, but covered well by sites like wander-lust.
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Wired magazine pulls a fast one...After years of swearing off Wired Magazine because of their reality distortion field and horrible layout, I got a super subscription offer in the mail, something like "one year for $5" (really!), so I took the plunge.
And their great solution for subscription fulfillment? They're sending me back issues. My subscription started this month, so, in the weird time offset of magazines, I received the March 2003 issue. Then the February 2003, and just a few days ago the January 2003 issue arrived. Guys?! What's up with that??
Like my weblog? Vote it up at Bloghop!Weblogs are some of the most innovative uses of 'net technology that I'm aware of currently, and among the various blogrings, blog directories and even 'best of' blog directories there's one that allows visitors to vote on the quality and content of each weblog in their directory: bloghop.
And so.... if you think this weblog is a good use of electrons, disk space, and your own time and energy, please do me a favor and
-- click here --
so that my ranking goes up and more people get to bump into my blog!
How to tell if your publisher has a sense of humorJust finished writing the introduction to Solaris for Dummies (which is the last thing written, not the first) and I've added a little test to see if the Dummies Press people have a sense of humor. :-) One of the paragraphs in the introduction, in the "What's not covered" section, currently says:
"Speaking of missing topics, we also don't cover programming, hacking into a Solaris system, or advanced system administration and network configuration topics. There are plenty of great books on those topics, including Java for Dummies and Exploiting Security Holes for Fun and Profit for Dummies (just kidding on that one!)"The question is: will "Exploiting Security Holes for Fun and Profit for Dummies" remain in the final book, or will they yank it or alter it to avoid sullying the brand?
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Get a Grip, Dell: Apple did this years ago!From the latest edition of CNN's Computing News:
"Dell saying bye to floppy disk drives: In what may be the wave of the future, Dell Computer said goodbye to the past on Thursday when it announced it would stop making floppy disk drives standard equipment on its higher end desktop personal computers. "Hello CNN: Apple gave up on the tedious and overly small floppy drive years ago and, in fact, to give credit where it's due, it was NeXT Computer that was the first to eschew the floppy drive. Grumble, grumble.
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Let's face it, Yahoo! stinks as a Web directoryWhen David & Jerry first morphed their shared bookmark project into the Yahoo site, it was way cool. Enter any topic at all and there'd be a bunch of Web sites to explore. Submit your site, and a day or two later there you'd be, in the same lists as The Big Dogs. But in the subsequent growth of the firm and expansion into being a media behemoth, they've left the dog in the car without a window cracked.
And, sadly, Yahoo is becoming more and more irrelevant in the search engine space. A disappointing fate for one of the true trailblazers on the Web.
The Valentine's Day TrapI was thinking today about how our zeal for holidays has become a Catch-22, controlled, primarily, by business and the media. Valentine's Day is a great example of this. If you feel like you show your significant other that you love them every day, a thousand different ways, you might be tempted to say "oh, we don't do this Valentine's Day commercial holiday thing." But can you really get away with that? It's a rare couple that won't have at least a small stumble if, in fact, either ignores Valentine's Day. What's most striking is how it has become - along with just about every other holiday - Big Business...
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Hurray! Done writing the Solaris book!An update for people keeping track of my current writing projects: I turned in the final chapter of Solaris for Dummies this morning! A definite weight off my shoulders, and this also means that I've written two totally dissimilar books in the same three month period. Ug. Never again!
I have to say that as I dug more into the administrative side of Solaris 9 for the last few chapters, I am aghast at some of the basic mistakes they have made in security and default configurations, not to mention how they've written some security utilities...
Disneyworld versus WaldorfToday was an interesting day, but to explain, I'll have to go back in time a bit...
After exploring various educational options for our children, we finally settled on Waldorf schooling two years ago. If you aren't familiar with Waldorf schools, they're based on the pedagogy of Rudolf Steiner, and emphasize imaginative play, art, and creativity in the earlier years. While initially dubious about the academic rigor -- Waldorf kids don't learn to read in kindergarten, for example -- we have learned to really appreciate the Waldorf philosophy, particularly regarding the negative influence of media on children.
A cool new tech toy...Thanks to the recommendation of my friend Oscar, I purchased a very interesting and slick new device for my [Leica] digital camera: a portable hard disk/digital media reader combo. Not much bigger than a pack of cards, this 10GB drive has a little slot on the front that can read and save the contents of either SmartMedia or CompactFlash cards, allowing me to toss this in my camera bag and effectively take thousands and thousands of pictures. Or, what I plan on doing, copy my entire picture library onto the unit then have a quite portable device for showing the pictures to family and friends with USB-capable computers.
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Plodding along with sick kidsOne thing about having kids is that you never realize how important a strong immune system is until you live with people that have half-formed immune systems! In a manner that is, oh so typical of the age, A- (6) got a cough and general malaise in school last week, and spent most of this week out and coughing like a chain-smoker late at night. As she's getting better, G- (2) has contracted the bug, whatever it is. so we're deep in the sleepless zone again, and dream of a few good nights of sleep...
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Government pays Dads to spend time with kidsThis is just too weird: "Fathers in Norfolk can claim up to £25 to help fund activities with their children under a new parenting skills scheme: Men who sign up to the Active Dads Project, run by the Norfolk Learning and Skills Council, have to agree to take their children on six outings, which could include cinema visits or fishing trips." This program, as detailed on the BBC Web site is intended to encourage Dads to spend time with their children.
But maybe what these dads need are Humanity Classes instead, something that reminds them that procreation doesn't end with an orgasm, but actually extends into the territory of responsibility....
I knew that someone would benefit from more testingI am not a big fan of standardized testing, believing that they inevitably encourage teaching to the test, a bland normalization of education opportunities, and diminished quality of teachers, among other ills. However, I appear to be in the minority, since the current government is quite zealous about "if we can't quantify it, it can't exist. Therefore: test! Test! TEST!" And is it any wonder that some companies are doing very well in this new climate?
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"The Toughest Laptops In the World!"I had to laugh when I read the following letter sent to Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, with his response:
Q: My husband has given an elderly Compaq laptop to our 20-month-old twins. They love to "type" on it, while Daddy works on his -- but they also jump on it, like the gorilla used to do in the old luggage commercial. If they manage to break it open, is there anything in the screen (or anywhere else) that can harm them?Perhaps Dad hasn't heard of age-appropriate toys yet? And more likely than not, there's a funny laptop advert now brewing in the minds of some Madison Avenue hotshots... :-)
Ebert offers funny Windows slam in reviewChicago Sun-Times columnist Rogert Ebert, one of my favorite film reviewers, has a quite hilarious anti-Windows commentary in his latest review, of the film Final Destination 2 wherein he writes:
"Soon bad things are happening to good people, in a series of accidents that Rube Goldberg would have considered implausible. In one ingenious sequence, we see a character who almost trips over a lot of toys while carrying a big Macintosh iMac box. In his house, he starts the microwave and lights a fire under a frying pan, then drops his ring down the garbage disposal, then gets his hand trapped in the disposal while the microwave explodes and the frying pan starts a fire, then gets his hand loose, breaks a window that mysteriously slams shut, climbs down a fire escape, falls to the ground and finally, when it seems he is safe ... well, everything that could possibly go wrong does, except that he didn't get a Windows machine."Go Roger! :-)
A Nation of Whiners?Today the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas while making its way to a landing in Florida, after a couple of weeks in space. Already there's been an address from the President and half the mailing lists I'm on have sent out special "tragedy updates", including even the Project Gutenberg mailing list. I asked Michael Hart, director of Project Gutenberg, why he used that mailing list to send out a message about the Columbia and he simply said "I sent to everyone I knew. . ."
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