September 16, 2005

Blog Move Imminent!

I'm getting ready to move the blog over to the new software right now (8:45pm Pacific, 11:45pm Eastern, on Friday Sept. 16). Please do not post comments here, or else they won't get carried over into the new system. Remember, the new blog link is http://www.contracheck.com/nika/. It should all be functional by Saturday morning, and this old blog should redirect you to the new one.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:44 PM in Computers. [link] | Comments (0)

Video Car

I just I'm just a blogging fool today. I came across this blurb about a remote control car with a camcorder built in. It's a cool idea. But after watching the linked video, I don't know that I could stand much of any video produced by kids, even my darling baby.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:49 PM in Reviews. [link] | Comments (0)

See-Through Concrete

Well, not exactly see-through, but there is now a type of concrete that passes light. Too cool! You could put walls around your garden or yard, and get more light than you otherwise would, among many other applications.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:38 PM in Space & Science. [link] | Comments (0)

Big Blue For Schools

CNN is reporting that IBM is starting a program to support its employees who want to become math & science teachers. IBM, along with the rest of the technology industry, is concerned about the shortfall in math & science education in the US. So, they're going to give financial support to some employeees (up to 100 in their trial phase of the program) to get teaching credentials and then move over to schools.

Bravo to IBM for putting money into a program that could help the nation's long-term educational goals, even if nothing is guaranteed to come directly back to IBM.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:41 PM in Politics. [link] | Comments (0)

Too Smart Airplanes

I was just reading an article about computing advances, and more than one futurist predicts we could have human-level intelligence in computers by 2020. I like this part:

Pearson said that computer consciousness would make feasible a whole new sphere of emotional machines, such as airplanes that are afraid of crashing.

Just what we need: Airplanes that refuse to take off.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:28 AM in Space & Science. [link] | Comments (0)

Clarification on Military Thoughts

While playing with the new BlogSearch tool at Google yesterday, I found out that Elizabeth D. has a blog, and she'd linked to some of my posts. Unfortunately, it turns out that she and some of her readers either misunderstood me, or couldn't understand me at all. :-) So, maybe I can clarify things a bit.

The post was about the military and citizenship. I'd tried to make a few points in the article:

  • America has a standing army which is large enough and well-funded enough to allow politicians to send troops around the world without causing undue distress at home. As the article I was quoting put it, "Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged."

  • This disconnect between military and the broader population raises the scary possibility (based on the history of other nations) of the USA at some point becoming a military empire, a fear the nation's founders felt: "a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm.""

  • Compulsory service to the government, which could be both in service to the military or to other functions (such as land beautification), is distasteful in many ways. But it does tie some large fraction of the citizenry to the nation's politics, especially its military activities.

In the comments on my post, Elizabeth D. wrote, "Draftees tend to make poor soldiers." I think it depends on the situation. Surely the Israeli military (which requires everyone to serve for some time, I believe) is not seen as a poor quality army? I don't know enough about other countries to compare other volunteer versus draft armies. Options to keep both a volunteer component and a draft component in the military could also probably help with some of the problems.

The other comments about mandatory work are valid. I'm not saying that forcing all (or a randomly selected fraction) of the population of a certain age to work for the government (either in the military or in infrastructure improvement) is a great solution. I do think, however, that variations of the idea should be explored, because the current system has its own problems.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:44 AM in Politics. [link] | Comments (2)

Hey, Math

Thomas Friedman writes in today's New York Times ("Still Eating Our Lunch") about a program called HeyMath (note that the URL is heymath.org, NOT heymath.net as it says in Friedman's column), which serves to collect the best way of teaching individual math concepts from teachers in multiple countries. Abstract concepts are combined with illustrations and animations to help explain the concepts, and now teachers from around the world can use the website to help their own math instruction. It sounds like an interesting idea.

And of course, the reason for Friedman to devote his editorial segment to the topic is clear:

Why am I writing about this? Because math and science are the keys to innovation and power in today's world, and American parents had better understand that the people who are eating their kids' lunch in math are not resting on their laurels.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:48 AM in Politics. [link] | Comments (0)

September 15, 2005

So Cleansing...

Some of Dorothy's bath toys (esp. the ducks) have been getting mildew or something inside of them, presumably due to not properly drying out. So, last night during bath time, Elizabeth's suggestion was that it was time to:

give the duck a bleach enema.
So funny, yet so disturbing...

Well, today I gave the duck (and a few others toys) the bleach enema, and now they're squeaky (was the pun intended, or wasn't it? you'll never know...) clean!

Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:16 PM in Quotes & Misc. Humor. [link] | Comments (1)

Compare and Contrast

How did this happen?

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 10:59 AM in Photo Gallery. [link] | Comments (1)

Changing Blog Software

At some point in the near future, I'm going to switch this blog from using MovableType to WordPress instead. I'm using MovableType v. 2.65, whereas the software has been upgraded beyond version 3, but now costs money to use. And I don't like the administrative interface or the way it has to rebuild every single page if you change the layout etc. WordPress has worked pretty well as the LiftPort blog software.

When I do switch things over, I'll move the location of the blog as well. The new URL will be http://www.contracheck.com/nika (instead of /blog). I will leave a placeholder here, redirecting people to the new location. And I will post an announcement to the blog when the switchover is imminent.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:57 AM in Computers. [link] | Comments (0)

Baby TSA

From Elizabeth: A Toy for the Times. "OK dolly, time for the full body cavity search!"

Elizabeth says, "I canít decide if this is a good idea or horrifying. Maybe itís both." It is a bit sad.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:52 AM in Parenting. [link] | Comments (0)

September 13, 2005

Smart Chimps

Wild chimpanzees capable of passing on knowledge of how to detect and destroy traps have been found in the West African nation of Guinea.
Very interesting. You can read more here.
Posted by Tom Nugent at 03:24 PM in Space & Science. [link] | Comments (1)

Cobalt holds his ground

The cats have pretty well-defined territories around the house. The seat of the rocking chair belongs to Cobalt, and the top of the chair back belongs to Rhodium. Rhodium also has Dorothy's folding mat/chair, although Cobalt will use it occasionally when she's not around. Cobalt has priority on our pillows.

Of course, the territiories are somewhat fluid, and Dorothy's mobility has definitely shifted which are the preferred locations. But Cobalt decided that enough was enough this weekend.

Continue reading "Cobalt holds his ground"...

Posted by Elizabeth Nugent at 11:50 AM in Family Tidbits. [link] | Comments (1)

More On Tribes

It appears that Elizabeth and I took away very different messages from the post about Tribes. I agree that the author might have come across as smug, and I disagree with many of his comments on modern-era politicians (e.g., George Bush et al). I believe that the message shouldn't be confused with the way it is said, but Elizabeth and I seem to take away different core messages. Here's what I took from the article.

Continue reading "More On Tribes"...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:49 AM in Politics. [link] | Comments (0)

September 12, 2005

First Photos of September

OK, I've got the latest batch of photos online. Uncle Keith's visit, deer in the back yard, and cheesy grins from Dorothy.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 02:54 PM in Photo Gallery. [link] | Comments (0)

Flame On!

Seen on the back of a trailer parked in the construction zone behind our house:
P9118921-flamable.jpg
So, does this mean that the contents of the trailer are controversial and might start an internet flame war?

Posted by Tom Nugent at 01:45 PM in Quotes & Misc. Humor. [link] | Comments (0)

Cat Nose Beeping

I just downloaded two weeks' worth of photos from the camera, and will be uploading some of them later today. For now, here's a movie of Dorothy beeping Cobalt's nose (the movie requires Quicktime 7 to view). He's surprisingly unphased by the ordeal.

Posted by Tom Nugent at 12:09 PM in Photo Gallery. [link] | Comments (4)

18-Month Checkup

Dorothy had her 18-month check-up this morning, and everything looks good. For the record, her weight was 26 lbs. 15oz, and her height was 33 inches. So she's still bouncing around the 75th to 90th percentile. Oh, and her head diameter was 19.25 centimeters.

They asked us if she knows 20 words. We replied that she knows almost that many animals. Dog, cat, bear, deer, bird, owl, otter, frog, giraffe, hippo, rhino, ape, etc. etc. Plus she knows her head, hair, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, tongue, belly button, heinie (very cute when she points to it), knees, ankles, toes, etc. Words are not a problem. :-)

Posted by Tom Nugent at 10:49 AM in Child Development. [link] | Comments (0)

September 11, 2005

Tribes

I think it's appropriate, on this anniversary of 9/11, to post a link to an excellent post about humanity. Warning: There's some profanity from the article quoted here.

Continue reading "Tribes"...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 09:46 PM in Politics. [link] | Comments (1)

Katrina Craziness

There are so many stories coming out of New Orleans, it's hard to know what is true and what is not. Although the story from the EMS workers about getting shot at by police and repeatedly bullied by law enforcement seemed plausible, numerous comments are debunking the story (e.g., in this Samizdata.net blog and this Free Republic blog), pointing out the authors' political history and inconsistencies in their story. The sad thing, of course, is that the story was so believable.

Continue reading "Katrina Craziness"...

Posted by Tom Nugent at 08:32 PM in Politics. [link] | Comments (1)