Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? I come down on the side of traditional reading. Aren’t there studies that show, if you give a child a doll that has no facial features, it allows the imagination to grow? Whereas if you give a child a doll with facial features, the child has no reason to exercise creativity?
Scanning internet articles, videos, podcasts, etc. is more about feeding an audience predetermined conclusions, fulfilling fantasy, relieving the viewer of the ‘effort’ to think. Look around, you see more people posting conclusions than questions - and posting conclusions from unvetted sources. Personal opinion. How does a kid learn to value a particular site? How do you research, say, the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, the search for the Holy Grail, without having other external authoritative sources to give you a reasonable mental bullsh-t detection kit? Kids are looking for online avatar-mentors, digital deities who can show them the way. God knows what they’re finding these days. I picture the digital image of Dennis Nedry (“Jurassic Park”) flipping them off as soon as they walk away.
Ask a college professor about her/his students’ Google search skills. I was surprised to hear from a couple of instructors that their classes are incapable of assembling search terms to find even the simplest information. If students don’t get the information they seek from a one or two word search, then “there wasn’t anything about it online.” With hypertext, kids are expecting answers for all permutations of a single question to reside under a single simple search term.
The internet’s not there yet, but it may be soon. A search engine that learns your contexts and paradigms, and searches from that point. There’s the next step. Ideological search engines. One wonders - could the next generation make the real world work that way, or just seem to? Welcome to the Matrix.
SF New Mexican:
Santa Fe River flows as officials release water from Nichols Reservoir. Hello, Dolly. Preparing for the precip from the hurricane. My plants are very happy right now, even if buyers at Spanish Market are chagrined.
Mick Jagger, pensioner. Big change from 40 years ago, when he said, “If I’m singing ‘Satisfaction’ when I’m 40, I’m going to kill myself.”
Red Green and Blue:
Bush Administration Proposes ‘Fire Sale’ of Rocky Mountains for Oil Shale Development. “The draft rules recommend reduced royalty rates for the extraction of oil from shale on 2 million acres of public property in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. While the government currently charges 12.5% to 18.8% for conventional oil drilling, oil shale development would be set at around 5%.”
Heads up, those of you watching the SF County drilling issue. Read the above. Look at the water requirements!!
The media all seem to agree, supposedly without consulting each other, that Mr Obama is ‘presumptuous.’ Do watch the ‘barbecue video.’ Just because Mr Obama’s being himself overseas, that’s presumptuous? Just because he’s not getting hammered over his wife’s comments, Reverend Wright’s tirades, etc. etc. etc. - that’s presumptuous?
I think the fact he had the temerity to appear in Berlin - where Kennedy and Reagan left such big footprints - and pulled the event off without a gaffe, is what the media considers presumptuous.
Related: The Economist gives Obama praise for ‘pulling it off’ without giving Republicans ammunition.
Prevailing theory of aging challenged in Stanford worm study. “Their discovery contradicts the prevailing theory that aging is a buildup of tissue damage akin to rust, and implies science might eventually halt or even reverse the ravages of age.” And here I thought rust never sleeps.
Online word processors.
I’m an old word processor curmudgeon; I started playing with computers via an old Singer punch-paper-tape word processor back in the ‘70’s. When you cut-and-pasted for real. I’ve been using Darkroom (Windows variant of WriteRoom for Mac) and TreePad Plus (allows for organizing of written content) for writing, of late. I prefer a stripped-down word processor for most things. Word is just too top-heavy. I sometimes feel like those ponderous menu bars are sitting on my brow, obscuring my vision. I’ve always felt that for any word processing functions beyond the bare basics, one should be using a desktop publishing program. It’s easier to fancy up a document there, than digging through haystacks of menus in a word processor. God knows, the only thing missing from the top word processors are automatic-boilerplate-writers and USB cappucino-makers, but the menus that would be required to work them would drive you to drink.
Why contemplate an online solution? The problem always seems to be that I never have the complete set of documents I need on any given system I run. Some document is either on another computer, my little USB widget (“Where did I put that damned thing? I didn’t drop it at the coffee joint, did I?”), or someplace else no matter how often or faithfully I try to synchronize systems. Online solutions such as Google Docs and Zoho Writer never appealed. The interfaces are more prominent than the content area, making writing difficult. Distracting.
Now I find Adobe Buzzword is supplanting my previous favorites. I’ve been using it for couple of weeks now, since having to find a quick way to open a .docx file at a client’s location ... and I really enjoy the simplicity of the interface. Even in beta stage, it has that Mac sort of design smoothness to it. The choice of Minion for typeface works well for me - I prefer a serif - and a serif other than Times Roman, Georgia or Garamond. The table function is particularly well thought out, IMHO. Not too much, not too little. In the natal days of word processors, columns were a royal pain (my old Jacquard systems used things called “traces”, where you had to calculate the character # for each column right margin and column left margin). This table widget is a joy, the drag and click features. Reminds me of the first time I used Pagemaker 1.0. Response times are good, I’ve never been slowed down by a ‘net connection. I’ve made the mistake a couple of times with “Print”, using the browser’s print function rather than Buzzword’s, which gives me a lovely headered-and-footered blank sheet.
Bottom line: The interface gets out of my way enough so I can concentrate on the writing, yet there’s enough capability here to meet my immediate formatting needs. I’m not losing my documents. A photographer once told me, if you can’t take a good photo with a particular camera, dump it and get another. The tool helps drive creativity, and you want not just good tools, but ones which reward with joy in use. I’m writing at a clip with Buzzword. It’s a good tool for me right now.
I really have only two suggestions for the beta. I’d love to see heirarchical filing of documents, a la Treepad Plus ... and the ability to export files in batches, perhaps in .zip format. So’s I can drop a copy to my local disk quickly, in case I want to do offline editing.
Consider Buzzword “Recommended.”
In Surprise Move, EPA Bans Carbofuran Residue on Food. “There is no question that carbofuran exacts a toll on wildlife: A 2006 EPA document examining the pesticide’s environmental effects found that if a flock of mallard ducks wandered into an alfalfa field within a week after the chemical was applied, 84 percent of the birds would die. The pesticide also kills bees, which have experienced an unexplained massive population collapse in recent years.” Evil stuff, this.
Wall Street Journal:
Book review, Farm Friends. “Farm life would supposedly help create the kind of peace and harmony that the 1960s counterculture was so keen to find. Naturally, the New Age did not arrive, and the farm members went their separate ways.” Not much in the review here, but worth a look-see at the bookstore.
“We must all own up that without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets.”
In northern Italy, a medieval village restored to life. Part of me would really like to restore an old New Mexican ghost town ...
NY Times Business:
SF New Mexican:
Buried treasure: One-of-a-kind formation found in N.M. cave. A “snowy river.”
SF New Mexican:
Group says papers show toxins from LANL posed health risk. “Over the past several months, investigators found that sites on a small portion of the lab between 1948 and 1955 released more than 80 times the amount of airborne plutonium than the lab had originally estimated.”
I was just remembering ...
those little square bottles of Testors PLA paints for my model airplanes when I was a kid. The smell. The thick goopy texture. The crappy brushes the Nassau Hobby Shop had, that lost bristles and left lines in even the most careful paintwork.
Maine wages fight against toxic chemicals. “Under the law, Maine will test chemicals and issue a ‘certificate of non-compliance’ to manufacturers stating their chemicals do not meet state laws. The state can notify retailers the product contains toxic chemicals and legislation can be approved to ban its sale.” If they can do the same for frac’ing chemicals, this would be a great idea for New Mexico.
Big Pharma Pushes Drugs That Cause Conditions They Are Supposed to Prevent. Fosamax and other bisphosphonate drugs may kill your bones, instead of thickening them.
Columbia Journalism Review:
Flickring out. “There are bright spots to the amateur-image revolution. Lots of photos of ‘my girlfriend’s feet,’ true, but bystanders also now often shoot the most crucial events of our day.”
Target needs tougher talk on paying less. Paper goods are cheaper there than Sam’s or anywhere else. It’ll take time (and advertising) for folks to peek in the housewares sections, rather than clothing.