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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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1/01/2005

Home Schooling Update

For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of education--lip- service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school-leaving age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.
the lost tools of learning, dorothy sayers
My friend, the Reverend Susan Hutchinson, read my earlier thoughts on home schooling and sent along Ms. Sayer's essay. Which defines the educational problem almost perfectly.

I am not sure that Susan and I are quite ready to embrace the Trivium whole. (I am still inclined to think that science and natural history and hands on "shop" like learning need a place.) But as I read through homeschooling materials the idea of "classical education" makes a good deal of sense.

Of course, so does "unschooling" in all its child centered splendor - but my political schizophrenia seems to extend to educational issues.

12/31/2004

Must Kill Flea

I never play Flash Game....Nick claims he got the F#@%ing rat 499cm down the track. He lies, or he spend thirty two hours doing it...You don't actually need to read Japanese to waste your time doing this...just click on the obvious button...and it is a rat, not a hamster.

Grand Theft Auto

I am still laughing. Socar plays Grand Theft Auto. Seriously, she should be writing a very brilliant book...Well, actually, she is.

12/30/2004

American Corporate Bastards

Pace Ms. Parrish and her ilk,

- Pfizer: $35 million
- Coca Cola: $10 million
- Exxon Mobil Corp: $5 million
- Citigroup Inc.: $3 million
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: $3 million
- Merck & Co. Inc. is giving $3 million in cash while Johnson & Johnson and Abbott Laboratories Inc. are each donating $2 million; each of the three are also sending drugs and other health care supplies to the region. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is donating $1 million in cash and $4 million in antibiotics and antifungal drugs. Roche Group and GlaxoSmithKline PLC were also planning to donate supplies and/or cash. Nike Inc., American Express Co., General Electric Co. and First Data Corp. are each giving $1 million.
- Amazon.com had collected about 87,000 donations totaling more than $5.4 million for the American Red Cross as of Thursday afternoon. [Now $6,286,000]
- Wal-Mart Inc. is setting up collection containers at all of its stores, in addition to a $2 million donation from its foundation.
you big mouth, you via instapundit

Bram Cohen - Bit Torrent

There is a really interesting interview with Bit Torrent inventor Bram Cohen up at Wired Magazine.

The theory was that there would be a convergent revolution with television, newspapers, magazines, music and movies all using the net to drive their own business models. It turns out that newspapers in their present form are deadmen walking, music has been transformed by file sharing and MP3 players, magazines are simply waiting for the axe of real "electric paper" before they go all net all the time; but television?? The movies??

"All hell's about to break loose," says Brad Burnham, a venture capitalist with Union Square Ventures in Manhattan, which studies the impact of new technology on traditional media. BitTorrent does not require the wires or airwaves that the cable and network giants have spent billions constructing and buying. And it pounds the final nail into the coffin of must-see, appointment television. BitTorrent transforms the Internet into the world's largest TiVo.
wired
The article goes on to suggest that the television and movie industries have about ten years to deal with the reality of Bit Torrent...Yeah, right. The reality is that geeks and sub 30's are already adopting Bit Torrent as a relatively virus free P2P tool for their file sharing needs. The bandwidth barriers are coming down...fast. Storage is not an issue with 80 gig drives for less than $100.00.

Legally, sharing movies - as opposed to music - is outright illegal in Canada and the United States; but one advantage of Bit Torrent is that with the exception of the person who originally rips and uploads the file, no other person will be sharing the whole file or even a very significant part of it. This is the content distribution industry's worst nightmare. Fully distributed sharing. With the Kaaza/IMesh music sharing there was at least a chance that the music industry policemen could spot people with large numbers of songs which they were sharing, more or less, one by one. This is really impossible with Bit Torrent and similar software.

Time for a DMCIA rethink I think...and, yo, Parliament guys, do yourselves a huge favour and work on ways of making creators money rather than implementing the technologically outmoded WTO intellectual property protocols. And do it in the real world...

12/29/2004

You May Wonder

You may be wondering why I am so fascinated with the Amazon donation total. Lots of other organizations are collecting money. I heard on the news that the Canadian Red Cross has had over 3 million in donations so far.

What is different about the Amazon numbers is that it reflects a degree of connection not previously possible in traditional media. Traditional media is just now coming up to speed on the disaster. While they publish "How to Help" boxes with their stories, they cannot create an instant donation option simply because they are not linked to the 'net.

Moreover, the coverage, even on television and radio, is twelve to twenty four hours behind events and that is after a lot of catchup.

Wretchard at Belmont Club writes,

The blogosphere is a specific manifestation -- and by no means the only one -- of the networks made possible by the Internet which can be imperfectly compared to the emerging nervous system of a growing organism. Once the software and infrastructure to self-publish was in place, it was natural that analytical cells, or groups of cells would take inputs from other parts of the system and process them....

To the 'instant pundit' was added the 'instant reporter' -- the man already on the spot, often possessed of local knowledge and language skills. These came suddenly of age with the December 2004 tsunami story. Survivors with a videocamera or even just an email or web browser connection 'filed stories' which were vacuumed up by the the instant pundits hovering over their RSS subscriptions and launched into the global information pool. In retrospect, the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine forshadowed the events of the tsunami coverage. Individuals with mobile computing and communications devices provided a substantial shadow coverage of the unfolding events there. Like the tsunami instant reporters, the insta-journalists in the Ukraine had the additional advantage of being largely unknown to each other. This meant that unlike the wire services, which are often single-sourced, the insta-reports could be cross-checked. The exaggerations or misinterpretations of the one would live or die depending on the reinforcement or negation it received from other sources which could not be forced into a collusive arrangement. It was built-in collateral confirmation.
belmont club
The numbers at Amazon reflect the growth of the web and, are something of a proxy for the increasing influence of the blogosphere.

Which, I think, makes them very interesting indeed.

Unpublished

Holidays are a great time to sort through a year's writing - and clean the drafts off the old hard drive. As I go I am putting some of my better unplublished pieces up at my Long Posts Blog: The first two are: What Carole James can Learn from John Kerry and Healthier than you Might Think - a defence of the Canadian Medicare System.

More will follow....

Stingy eh?

No doubt there are worthy Canadian efforts; but amazon is making donating to the Red Cross for tsunami relief one click easy. Go here.

Update: Five hours ago Glen Reynolds was agog that the Amazon fund hit 1 million. I just checked and at 11:20 PST it was 2 million.

It is easy to take the shot, as Jeff Jarvis did, and point out that Amazon has now raised more than France has pledged; but governments have to begin with real assessments of what is most urgently needed and that takes time.

I do note, however, that the American government has now diverted an aircraft carrier and assorted other military assets to help with the clean up - now what is a week of an aircraft carrier's time worth?

Update II
: I checked the number at 10:20 PST: $3,650,000.00 - about $145,000 an hour and I see the meme is spreading with donate buttons popping up around the net.

12/28/2004

The Last Heathen

I, apparently, have a review of The Last Heathen up at the National Post. It originally ran at the Ottawa Citizen - in the travel section. The unedited review is at Long Posts.

Charles Montgomery writes a wonderful book about his travels in Melanesia. But, and here is the thing, it is rather more a book about your standard issue, secular humanist coming to grips with belief and faith. Well worth reading right the way through....Which I make easy by putting up the Amazon link....I think I make .60 cents a book....Let the good times roll.

Blog Pace

Just about every blog, including this one took some time off over the holidays. Which is a great idea. Whether you are a linker or a thinker, writing and linking needs to be fresh and that means taking a bit of time off to actually think. Not to mention eat well, love your kids (even the giant 14 year old) and recharge.

Back now; but will be lightish until next week.