Category: Books

Last week, The New York Times and the Washington Post had great opinion pieces about anti-intellectualism in the United States.

New York Times: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

Washington Post: The Dumbing of America

The mass media culture of today seems to celebrate idiocy, looking down at knowledge. The education system in the United States is completely broken. Parents, care more about their children’s athletic accomplishments, rather than academic pursuits.

At the same time, everybody and their brother has a masters degree, while lacking basic high school geography, math, and history fundamentals. Remember when having a graduate degree actually meant something?

Nowhere is the dumbing of America more noticeable, than the state of television news. CNN, the network that once aspired to be the New York Times of Television, has turned in to NY Post. Don’t believe me? Watch 10 minutes of Lou Dobbs.

Critics tend to point an undeserved harsh finger at video games and the Internet. Video games are an easy target, but it reminds me a lot of the anti rock music paranoia of the 50’s and 60’s. Parents and critics are simply afraid of things they don’t understand. Blaming the Internet for anti-intellectualism in the US, is simply dead wrong. The Internet is a tool. It can be used for good, and it can be abused.

There is no single clear cause of the dumbing of America, and there are no easy solutions either. Its a lot like global warming. Its a long-term problem, with long-term solutions. Humans are naturally short-term creatures.

“When you’re dead, you’re dead.” –Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Dead at 84

Kurt Vonnegut was a great writer, I highly recommend picking up any of his books, but to me he is an endless source of great quotations.

I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I cant help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why, and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap.

The only difference between [George W.] Bush and [Adolf] Hitler is that Hitler was elected.

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.

All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.

I have wanted to give Iraq a lesson in democracy—because we’re experienced with it, you know. And, in democracy, after a hundred years, you have to let your slaves go. And, after a hundred and fifty years, you have to let your women vote. And, at the beginning of democracy, is that quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing is quite okay. And that’s what’s going on now.

A few jobs ago, I co-wrote a grant proposal for a P2P project that received a grant from the Mellon foundation. The Mellon foundation funds a variety of academic IT initiatives, including the Chandler project. There were quite a few instances were my project, called LionShare, was encouraged to collaborate with the Chandler project. A few conference calls, and the occasional sit in on each other’s conference presentations.

One of my former colleagues at Penn State alerted me about a book detailing the misguided development process of Chandler. The book, “Dreaming in Code,” was authored by Scott Rosenberg, the co-founder of Salon.com. I just started reading the book last night.

Today, I’m reviewing the list of blogs that are linking to items on my personal website, when I notice that the author of Dreaming in Code is linking to an image on my website, in a post about the how Pioneer HDTV’s run GPLed software.

It’s a small world..

Last week, I placed an order on Amazon.com for a wide variety of books. I purchased two flight books to supplement my PPL study materials and one computer related book to study for an RHCE test I’m taking in a few weeks. I also picked up a few CD’s and a book about a Park avenue plastic surgery firm. The book was co-written by a relative of mine, so I thought I should check it out.

I went to check my amazon.com recommendations today, Amazon thinks I’m pursuing a PPL, RHCE, and a face lift!

amazon thinks i need a face lift