News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 5/5/97
>> In the 1960s we rushed to the moon. Let's go back with an intention to stay.
From: Michael_Miller@zd.com (Michael Miller);
Sent at 5/6/97; 8:51:38 AM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
Absolutely. I don't know if it's true, but I've heard that the state of our space program is such that it took us 8 years to successfully land a man on the moon after Kennedy's 1961 speech; and it would take us nearly another 8 years to send someone back if the president announced that as our intention today.
Chuck has it right on with Ticketmaster. A higher profile example of Ticketmaster's juggernaut is the Pearl Jam tour a few years ago where they unsuccessfully tried to tour in venues not controlled by TM. The only legitimate reason I can think of for TM's behavior is if Microsoft's links were overloading its server or something. If TM is successful in court, which I highly doubt, I would expect it to have little or no impact on the web since any sane content provider would immediately announce that its site is "linkable". I reckon that as broad as free speech is defined these days, one could reasonably argue that a link is just speech that happens to be easy to act on.
Sent at 5/5/97; 7:59:33 PM;
I agree that if someone is on the web, you should be able to link to them. You put information on the web because presumably you either are a) inflating your own ego or b) you want people to have access to that information. If the reason is a, then you should go find another more appropriate venue. If the reason is b, then I see no reason why you would not want me to link to the information, provided that I don't try to misrepresent it as if it were my own information.
From: email@example.com (Jim Correia);
Sent at 5/5/97; 6:47:18 PM;
This is the example link you provide on the Scripting News page today. The sidewalk site gives a quick blurb about the concert, pricing, parking, payment, and ticket availability information in addition to providing a link to TicketMaster. Are they doing more than a "Living" section of a newspaper would? Who is responsible if the information is incorrect in either case? In both cases who would the consumer place blame on? Are the answers above different depending on the medium?
Up until this point the web and the net in general have flourished through open standards and self-regulation, which are often the antithesis of commercial interests. It will be interesting to see what happens. In the end I won't be surprised if the interests of the users and the consumers are completely lost in the shuffle.
I think the principle of minimalism is the appropriate solution to legislation about the net right now. Lots of issues are coming up in grey areas; areas in which the legislature, IMHO, doesn't even begin to understand all the factors involved in an issue, thus almost by definition will make a poor decision. In addition how our government hopes to regulate a world-wide network is something will still amuses me.
I've known you from afar for quite a few years, beginning when you released Think Tank for the Apple II. More recently I've been a subscriber to your list.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tod Wicks);
Sent at 5/5/97; 3:13:01 PM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
Sometimes I agree with you and other times I don't, but that's life. I usually enjoy reading your messages.
I just read Do you have a Head?
Words escape me to express how I feel about this piece. It was one of the most impressive and insightful essays I've read in a long time on the topic of space exploration. The part that I felt most stirring was the notion that the Moon was placed there to be accessible for our "first steps" as a race on our journey to the stars (your words were "The designer of the universe placed the moon so close to our planet so we could go somewhere...")
This puts into words something that I've had a vague feeling about for a long time. It opens up whole areas of speculation as to what the stepping stones for other intelligent races might be, where they might go when they take their first wobbly steps aw ay from their home environments.
Thanks for making my day. I truly appreciate it.
Proof that you Exist was a lovely piece, whose spirit I found touching, but despite that I think you were playing a little fast and loose with "the facts" (there's a column or two in that simple phrase, the way it is used and the common understanding of what it means). In the section titled "Birth control". You said:
From: email@example.com (Francis G. Kostella);
Sent at 5/5/97; 4:20:39 PM;
Proof that you Exist
> Our ancestors moved directly from their parent's
> house into a new house containing two strangers
> and a kid.
True, only if by "ancestors" you mean: "people who lived during the last century in the industrial nations". I've been "lucky" enough to have a number of anthropologist friends and have had the opportunity to discuss family structures, western and non-western, modern and historical, with them, and what I've learned is that the modern "nuclear family" structure you use above is not the human norm, and is a direct result of the economic pressures of industrial cultures. That is, it is a kind of "industrial nomadism", where mom and dad can trek to the best industrial jobs and only carry a few kids with them, easier than trying to move the whole clan around during each bump in the economy.
More common has been the "extended family" or clan, where several generations of family members live together, a structure that doesn't work that well under industrial economies, at least as we know them. I've always been interested in these issues as I grew up in an extended family in a small village in rural Pennsylvania and have noted how my sense of society is different than that of my nuclear family born peers. Well, I'm not claiming to be an expert, only to have some little understanding based on experience and conversations with supposed experts.
> They hadn't completed growing up when they had their kids.
Right, but in a clan household, you're not considered a full adult for a much longer time than you are these days. I'm well beyond my twenties, but do you consider an 18-year-old mature? Many are not, I don't think I was.
Another point from my "anthro" friends is that people living in harsh economic conditions have lots of children as soon as possible as a form of insurance. The better the odds that your child will grow to adulthood and be a "survivor", the better your chances that you'll have someone to help you through your old age. And this is from studies of modern-day inner-city life in the USA, not some "third-world backwater". Think about it, modern birth control is fairly cheap and easy to get, yet poor people seems to continue to have lots of children.
> If they had spent a few years living on their own, if they > had had a life independent of their parents, they would > have had a chance to define themselves before defining > a new human being and passing on, unprocessed, what > was given to them.
Well, Dave, the Nature vs. Nurture argument has been going on for a long time and is not anywhere near being settled. If children were 100% dependent on their parents for these types of qualities then how could these qualities ever arise in the first place? That is, assume that every branch of the human family tree has a pair of idiot parents on it at some point, then how do any good things get passed on past these "poorly defined" people if they're able to block these good aspects? It seems that parenting and family structures are not the whole story, there are other things that define a person..I tend toward belief in a spiritual dimension as the root of personality, I'm sure other have other answers. My own experience with my son is that it is all there already, I need to provide the secure environment for growth and not block the good things.
You also wrote:
> They had children early in life because there was no > effective birth control. There was no question whether > you'd have babies or not. If you had sex, and your > bodies were fertile (most are) you had kids.
Now where'd you get that idea? Birth control is not a modern innovation, it goes back at least to ancient Egypt. Further, the idea that those who lived in a different epoch where too unsophisticated to do things such as practice a non-chemical form of birth control is sort of arrogant, eh? Think of it, in our century there have been how many TENS of millions of people killed at the hands of other people, yet we persist in thinking that our era is the most advanced of all and that no other epoch could have been better. "Youuuuuu..are the Crown of Creation!" to quote the old Airplane tune.
Dave, I'm disappointed. I generally love your columns for their human-based, human-scaled view of things: Are we enjoying our lives? Are we having fun? Are we learning things? Growing? Aren't we THE best generation of people who ever existed? WHAT?!! Where'd this scabrous vein of unexamined positivism come from? It just doesn't seem to jibe with your other writings.
Sorry to be critical, but I've never seen one of your columns become so unreflective, there's so much mystery surrounding the "parameters" of what makes a good human life that it seems unfair to claim our time is so wonderful and other times so barbaric. The old Taoists claimed humans had millions of years of bliss and harmony, until rules and law and morality and learning were invented, and now most of humanity is miserable. I don't take that as literal truth, but as a dramatic exposition of a philosophy. What do you think?
A really neat piece of mac software is Starry Night. A demo is at http://www.siennasoft.com/index.shtml
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Norman);
Sent at 5/5/97; 2:36:25 PM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
The first time I saw a terrestial eclipse it took my breath away. Really puts things in perspective.
Maybe you already have it.
There is a book--one which includes Harding's "On Having No Head" essay as just one of many terrific others:
From: email@example.com (Jim Moy);
Sent at 5/5/97; 12:23:53 PM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
"The Mind's I, Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul" Composed and Arranged by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett. ISBN 0-465-04624-X AACR2
You just know it's going to be awesome when you see both Hofstadter and Dennett's names on it.
Loved your piece today - I'm happy to see you writing un-industry pieces again. Just a thought - most people under 30 don't grok the word grok, unles they've read Stranger in a Strange Land.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Tim Tate);
Sent at 5/5/97; 11:19:46 AM;
Grok? What's that?
This 'issue' reminds me of one of the story devices that Douglas Adams used in his Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy, and one which I call upon quite often when discussing topics along this line with people.
From: roberth@MICROSOFT.com (Robert Hess);
Sent at 5/5/97; 9:37:31 AM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
"The Total Perspective Vortex"
It is positioned as the ultimate punishment.
It essentially is a virtual reality representation of the entire universe (as extrapolated mathematically from a piece of fairy cake), and anybody who is subjected to this VR experience is done so with a mental "You Are Here" arrow pointing at the exceedingly infidecimal spec that represents them and their importance in the grand scheme of things.
Apparently the experience of seeing that your position in the universe is even below that of a bowl of Jell-O pudding is such an shock, that all who are put into it are reduced to as much functionality as that same such bowl of Jell-O pudding. All except Zaphod Beblebrox of course...
You wrote, "The designer of the universe placed the moon so close to our planet so we could go somewhere at this point in our technologic evolution."
From: email@example.com (Fred Ballard);
Sent at 5/5/97; 12:36:15 PM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
Did you ever wonder about our moon being the same apparent size as our sun, so that total solar eclipses show us the sun's corona, a nice little experiment for us in the designer's learning lab?
On a similar note:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Cameron Barrett);
Sent at 5/5/97; 12:31:23 PM;
Re:Do you have a Head?
Roger von Oech, Ph.D., in his book _A Whack on the Side of the Head: How to Unlock Your Mind for Innovation_ says:
"When I was a sophomore in High School, my English teaher put a small chalk dot on the blackboard. He asked the class what it was. A few seconds passed and then someone said, "A chalk dot on the blackboard." The rest of the class seemed relieved that the obvious had been stated, and no one had anything more to say. "I'm surprised at you," the teacher told the class. "I did the same exercise yesterday with a group of kindergartners and they thought of fifty different things the chalk mark could be: an owl's eye, a cigar butt, the top of a telephone pole, a star, a pebble, a squashed bug, a rotten egg, and so on. They really had their imaginations in high gear."
Von Oech goes on to say:
"In the ten year period between kindergarten and high school, not only had we learned to find the right answer, we had also lost the ability to look for more than one right answer. We had learned how to be specific, but we had lost much of our imaginative power. An noted educator Neil Postman has remarked, 'Children enter school as question marks and leave as periods.'"
Von Oech, Roger, _A Whack on the Side of the Head: How to Unlock Your Mind for Innovation_, Warner Books, Inc., New York, NY, ©1983 ISBN: 0-446-38635-9
When the western states were being settled there was initially so much land that no one put up fences. Farmers, cattlemen and sheep herders coexisted. Then it started getting crowded and fences started popping up and range wars started. Well take a look at Monday, May 5th's, NY Times. It seems the same thing is happening on the Internet and even on televison.
From: email@example.com (Barry Frankel);
Sent at 5/5/97; 8:07:19 AM;
The Ticketmaster/Seattle Sidewalk battle has gotten nasty. Now when a user of Microsoft's Sidewalk goes to Ticketmaster they get the following message, "Ticketmaster does not have a relationship with Sidewalk. You have been directed to a restricted area."
On the TV side of the range the Times reports that the cattle barons, oops, I ment cable barons are fighting to kill HDTV. The cable barons have announced that they plan to use digital compression and a lower definition picture than today's standard TV, to bring more channels to a consumer over the existing cable rather than increase their distribution network to support HDTV.
And while it didn't make the paper today, there is also the PC vs TV battle over sequential scaning vs interlace scanning. Sure does look like a range war is breaking out on multiple fronts.
I'm not sure what the answer is. Do we buy Reed Hunt a set of pearl handled 45s and tell him to go out their and keep the peace? But something has to be done to stop these folks from putting up barbed wire fences between the consumers and information.