Monthly Archives: December 2003

BlogX or .Text?

Some Microsoft blogs appear to be on the move; so, I’ve annotated my blog roll accordingly. Does this mean that Chris Anderson’s BlogX is going away within Microsoft in favor of .Text? It would be interesting to know if there’s more behind the move than just traffic leveling, etc. It would also be good to know if there is a known issue with these two ASP.NET blogging engines when their RSS feeds are probed by RSS Bandit using indirection. I just updated to the latest bandit drop and pointed it at my blog roll only to find that I had to manually create new feeds for each site powered by BlogX or .Text. Of course, there may be something wrong with my blog roll markup, too; if there is, though, I’ not seeing it.

Prefer engagement to invective

Ann Coulter challenges liberals to engage conservatives in real debate instead of Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right. Instead of destroying opponents or silencing dissident opinions, strive to win arguments. A false argument should be refuted, not named. That’s the basic idea behind freedom of speech. Arguments by demonization, rather than truth and light, can be presumed fraudulent. More takeaways from this read:

  • To win a free competition of ideas, one must have some. -Rush Limbaugh (from his forward)
  • Avoid secondary distractions while achieving primary objectives (e.g. addressing lies instead of speaking the truth).
  • News reporting must not be political propaganda.
  • Beware of words like moderate, liberal, conservative…whose meaning varies based on context and author.

Frankly, I need to expand my working vocabulary…or I should carry a dictionary with me when I read Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.

Aside: John Montgomery‘s comments about cynicism vs. skepticism (e.g. in the software industry) resonate with me, too.

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

Absolutes vs. relativism

In the complete absence of light, there is black. In the absolute presence of light, there is white. As light enters or leaves shades of grey form. Or, put another way, it becomes more difficult to distinguish black from white…right from wrong, good from evil, truth from lies.

Ignorance != non-existence

In his latest book on bias in the media elite, Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite, Bernard Goldberg makes the point that just because the media elite says that liberal bias isn’ present in its treatment of the news doesn’t make it non-existent. Translating this loosely into the realm of software development, this same argument is often grounds for not having a developer test his own code. (What bugs?) More takeaways from this read:

  • Journalism is about truth-telling, and should be devoid of interpretation (commentary). Don’t masquerade one for the other. (Step 9 (of 12): Don’t confuse journalist with activist.)
  • Significance lies both in what is said and what is not said. Sure, this should be obvious, but in reality it seems like whitespace isn’ given equal due.
  • Critical thinking is more important now than ever before. What is the truth? What bias is present? I was expecting X but am being told Y (or nothing at all)…what should this be telling me?
  • Sometimes it’s not a question of whether something can survive, but if it in fact deserves to survive. This last point reminds me of the recurring sentiment in Michael Crichton‘s fiction of not contemplating the costs of various technological advances (can vs. should).

Finally, one particular quote in the book made by Andy Rooney grabbed my attention: Our lives could not survive all the truth about everything. I sure wish that I had more context behind Mr. Rooney’s statement. It was uttered in the context of changing prior statements made to Larry King–almost as if to somehow justify spin/bias. Taken simply at face value, the statement rings true; however, it shouldn’t be used to justify lying, etc. Again, it would have been nice to have been a fly on the wall when this statement was originally made…

The Truth will set you free!

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.

Changing expression ‘community’

Growing up, the email we take for granted today wasn’t mainstream–not until high school, anyway. Community essentially referred to one’s neighborhood, church, or possibly small town. You knew your neighbors and they knew you. Of course, you always hoped to receive a letter or postcard from family or friends afar, but given the time for mail to travel the postal system, such correspondence was typically considered to be outside one’s community experience. Community was by-in-large local with respect to geography.

Nowadays, community has a much broader meaning and in some cases one that seems almost inverted. We can’t wait for snail mail–only email will do. (A text message or IM is even better, thanks!) We chat with folks from who-knows-where and don’t know the couple next door. Community has become by-in-large local with respect to shared interests.

At what cost is this change taking place?

The world continues to shrink when it comes to connecting people together in the large, yet in the small the opposite seems to be true. Home becomes a place of isolation, not refuge. Community becomes more controlled and less spontaneous–caller ID, safe lists, etc. are the order of the day.

I wonder what the next generation will have to say about community