Month: September 2009

Do you remember what day it is?

Posted by – September 11, 2009

Let me tell a story that has nothing to do with 9/11.

I know a family who lost a daughter to a car crash a few years back. That’s a pain that fades but never truly goes away. That’s a pain that can frequently return in full force, for nothing more than a random memory. It can’t be understood until it is experienced (and I have not experienced it).

In talking with this family, it really comforts them to know that their friends want to remember their daughter.

Remembering 9/11 is a little like that. If we celebrate at all, it’s the fact that we’re still here, but it’s less about celebrating than venerating. We share in a pain that most can’t understand, if only a little, and by so doing draw a little closer together. Is that not worthwhile? Can we not devote a bit of brainspace to drawing together, at a time when great pressures are trying to tear us apart?

Remember how it brought out the best in all of us. Where did that goodness go? Surely it is still there, hiding inside of us, waiting for someone or something to draw it out. Remember, and be a little better for it.

Technology changes things. Duh.

Posted by – September 10, 2009

This post is a short response to Neil Postman’s Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, as assigned by my CS 404 class. In short: Postman’s first two ideas are wrong; his third is inconsequential; and his final two are rather insightful.

Postman’s first idea is that new technologies have unintended consequences. That is true, but where he goes wrong is in calling this obvious fact a problem.

The solution to the problems created by technology has been shown, over and over, to be more technology. Thanks to the Internet, the world at large is losing interest in television, and a culture of creators is growing up in its stead. Cars pollute our air, but electric cars are coming, and soon. Car accidents kill us, so DARPA-funded initiatives are developing the self-driving car, which will all but eliminate crashes. Our city streets are clogged with cars, but technology is working on that one, too.

This does beg the question of whether we will suffer the fate of the old woman who swallowed a fly. The answer is complex, but my gut says no. What killed the old woman was the fact that her solutions created ever larger problems. We can see that technological change is growing exponentially, but the problems of society are not.

Postman’s second idea is that technology does not benefit everyone. We create new technologies to solve problems. If you’re part of the problem, then of course the new technology will harm your interests. This is, again, true; and again, it’s not the problem he thinks it is. It is perhaps unfortunate that people are often part of problems that need solving; does this then mean that we should not solve those problems?

As this entry is running well over the assigned length, I won’t go into why Postman’s fourth and fifth ideas are interesting. For that, you can read them for yourself. That notwithstanding, I’d still like to leave you with this excerpt from Postman’s Fifth, which resonated with me rather strongly:

Whenever I think about the capacity of technology to become mythic, I call to mind the remark made by Pope John Paul II. He said, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”

Son of Metapost

Posted by – September 9, 2009

You wouldn’t know from looking, but this installation of WordPress is almost exactly one year old. What happened to the posts? They were all just sharing notes for a class I was taking at the time, so I deleted them. Whatever. I refuse to acknowledge that my past two attempts at blogging were complete failures that fizzled out after a couple months.

Wait—no…crap. Anyway, you know what they say about third attempts.

The Design

Nestled between Brigham Young University’s Wilkinson Student Center, Crabtree Technology Building, Clyde Engineering Building, and Harvey Fletcher Building, there stands a haphazard collection of Kwanset huts and temporary buildings. These structures house storage, engineering projects, TA offices, and who knows what else. They are an odd wart on an otherwise pristine campus.

I imagine that these buildings were originally intended to be temporary, but many have been in service for over seventy years. This blog’s design is a little like that. I grabbed an off-the-shelf theme to use until I could replace it with something I designed myself, but who knows when I’ll actually find the time.

Until then, this theme is functional and exhibits a stark beauty.

The Name

Look, I suck at naming things. I didn’t even come up with the name for this blog—my parents did. I figured if I tried to give it some nifty name I’d just wind up embarrassing myself, so I went the eponymous route. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The End

We all know what a blog is. No sense going on and on about it.