Tuesday, June 22, 2004

James Burke's KnowledgeWeb

Okay, I'm going to bed, but I ran across a link I just had to toss up here. I've checked the original Connections series out from the library recently, and Lucy and I have been working our way through it, getting ever more impressed with James Burke as we went. Thus tonight, I was poking around the net to see what he's up to these days, and I ran across James Burke's KnowledgeWeb Project. I swear to god, this is really, really cool. I have no idea how they'll ever get it up and functional, considering the obscene amount of information they must be working with, but here's hoping.

Oh, and check out the video demo to get some idea as to why I'm so jazzed about this.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Why Nerds are Unpopular

Okay, okay, I know I haven't posted lately. Between trying to get my upcoming Vampire game ready and trying to find a job, I've just been too damn busy. Once I have the game in a more coherent form, I'll write it up here, though . . . sans secrets for those of you who are playing in it.

Anyhow, while we're on the topic of role-playing games, social ostricization, and horrible childhood trauma, I ran across an absolutely fantastic article, entitled Why Nerds are Unpopular. Everyone should read this. Parents, children, students, and teachers. Everyone. Teachers should read it twice. Nerds should read it five times. It's something Lucy and I have been planning on for a while, but reading this article really cemented my desire to homeschool any kids I have.

It's an odd position for a liberal who believes so strongly in public education to take, I realize. It's not that I think homeschooling will give my kids a better education (although there's certainly that possibility) so much as I'm utterly unwilling to subject my kids to the kind of social torture that Junior High School creates. I'm all for cleaning the system up and trying to actually punish bullies instead of rewarding them, but until that time, no. Hell no.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

A Lovely Afternoon

This afternoon, I went to the Solano Peace & Justice Coalition's weekly 'Vigil for Peace,' held every thursday on First Street here in town. There were a few counter-protesters across the street, and we'd get the occasional angry drive-by shouting, but 80% of the reaction from passers-by was positive. I got to spend time arguing with a Green about the prospects for gradual or dramatic political change. It was a good time. I'll probably take photos to post next week.

After the vigil, Lucy and I wandered down first street to the Farmer's Market, stopping to chat with a few friends at the local coffee shop. At the market, we browsed for a bit and picked up some good organic fruits and veggies. Of course, no food pyramid is complete without junk food, so we got a big-ass bag of Kettle Korn too.

The afternoon finished up with a visit to the library, where I had 5 or 6 books on hold, then back home. All in all, a damn fine day.

It wasn't until I got here that I realized: I just lived the stereotypical leftie afternoon.


I guess I'm officially part of the coastal elite now.

If we'd only had time to take in a foreign film (preferably something anti-American) it would have been really perfect. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I Told You So.

First, a little scene-setting:

From June 1999 to September 2001, I was working at a place in San Francisco called Pulse Entertainment. They did streaming 3D graphics over the web . . . typical late-90s dot-com startup kind of place to work, and typical early-00's layoff. Anyway, when I was working there, I had a long, involved discussion with a co-worker of mine, David (who was a pretty excellent guy, despite his politics), about the energy industry deregulation. My argument was, more or less, "What's to keep these unregulated energy companies from deliberately restricting energy flow in order to drive prices sky-high?" David, a dedicated libertarian, argued that it wouldn't be in their best interests to do that, because the laws of supply and demand dictated that they couldn't make money that way, as usage would fall off as prices rose. it's a fairly standard sort of argument. "The Invisibe Hand is never wrong" and all that.

Time passed.

Then, in 2000 the energy crisis hit. David and I revisited our discussion. "Well," I said, "surely this is proof of what I was saying?" "No, no," said he, "the problem isn't that the energy companies are manipulating the market, the problem is that we don't have enough supply. If anything, we should have deregulated further!"

Well, this morning, I woke up to read that apparently there are tapes of Enron employees gloating over how much money they were making by deliberately restricting energy flow in order to drive prices sky-high.

I hope you'll all indulge me, but it's not too often I get to win a four and a half year old argument.

David, I was right.