Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Thursday, February 16, 2006

A tale of two premises

I can go halfway here. Bravo for stating this simple yet noble truth about writing:

[I]t's not enough to simply vomit out of your fingers. It's important to say what you mean clearly, correctly and well. It's important to maintain high standards. It's important to think before you write.

The written word is to thought as money is to work and sex is to love: the former is the concrete, here-now-this form of the higher-order activity and abstractness of the latter. And just as money can be stolen or wasted, and an act of sex can be a shameful degradation, a sloppy thought written or printed-out doesn't deserve the ink it consumes.

Technology, however, is not culpable here -- that's the incorrect premise of the article. Technology is amoral (in this sense) as has been said, because it does not cause one to be moral or not, though it enables both. High-tech communication does seem to be a cultural lubricant, in that SMTP, NNTP, and HTTP allow anyone's thoughts to be spread worldwide in a matter of seconds. The classic limiting factors over which thoughts travel the world and influence minds -- things like money and politics -- are receding as the fundamental factor becomes more-and-more unleashed: individual judgement.

When I get an email of all lower-case, no-punctuation sentence fragments, I don't blame the sinister TCP/IP networks and POP servers which are destroying civilization. I rather chalk it up to the sender's bad judgement, especially his or her implicit judgement that clear thinking isn't important. Clearly, I think it is.

I could stop here, but I want to nail down that self-imposed illiteracy is not just bad taste or lack of education (I'm talking about adults here), it is literally immoral. How can I know that?

Honesty is the dedication to facts, at the potential expense of any random desire-of-the-moment. To be dishonest is to pretend a fact isn't a fact, or that something important isn't important. And this is exactly the meaning of sloppy thinking: acting as if reality isn't all that important, what's supremely important is riding out my next wave of cognitive whim.

or i dunno ..... maybe i should just chill ;-P

Monday, February 13, 2006

Clay spoon!

Elias is 1-1/2-years-old now, and wow has he grown up a lot since being a 1-year-old. His vocabulary must be a few hundred words now, and he learns a few more each day. Quite voracious, really. Often he'll hear a word one day, try it out, and then wake up the next day saying that new word just for fun ("coffee bean!" is the example that comes to mind). His special interest continues to be lights, so of course he knows vocabulary of lights well: light bulb, wire, cable, switch, button, lamp, turn on, turn off, broken, shade, globe, receptacle ("tickle"), plug, etc. I also realized last week that he seems to recognize most if not all of the alphabet, because he has sponge letters at bathtime and can tell me what each one is if I ask.

Elias's learning of numbers has been educational for me. I never would have realized or at least appreciated that ordinality is the foundation for cardinality. Elias has been able to count to 10, with help, for several weeks; this amounts to repeating the list of numbers, not knowing what they mean. It has been much more difficult to understand numbers as answers to "how many?" I think he is just on the edge of understanding that "two" means there are two of the same thing. Sometimes I'll show a picture of something like three bears, and ask him "how many bears are there?", and he might say "two" or he might say "three" or he might count "one, two", and that's it. So he knows that counting numbers have something to do with "how many", but he doesn't quite yet get the notion of "how many?", or maybe just *which* quantity each number means.

Elias has never had a full-on attachment item (like a blankie), but one thing comes close: his "clay spoon". This is a plastic measuring spoon which he once, several weeks ago, squished some blue hardening clay into. The clay seems permanently stuck in it now, and he loves that spoon, to the paint that lately he calls out for it when it's time to sleep. Unfortunately the clay spoon keeps getting misplaced, but so far it has always returned, too. What I think is really cool about the clay spoon is that Elias's favorite toy is something that *he* made!

Finally, he's doing the typical 1-1/2-year-old thing of lifting heavy objects for fun. There's quite a bit of grunting involved, but that may be partly because he's seen me make a big, silly production out of lifting big things as part of the moving-in-and-rearranging process.

In the picture, Elias is doing the small slide at the part on his own: climbing up, sliding down (on his belly), then running around to do it again.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

RIP: Telegrams, 1844-2006

This is interesting: the first telegram was sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844, and Western Union stopped sending telegrams on Jan. 26, 2006. That's a communications technology that lasted nearly 162 years. The interesting thing is not so much that the era of telegrams is gone, but that the era of technologies which can last 162 years is gone.

[Updated my bad math, thanks Bernie.]