Saturday, August 24, 2002

Item: An ABC News article on lookism.

Many women judge attractiveness in guys by their height (and many of us collaborators are below average height, so start getting rankled now).

20/20 hired two women to test reactions to beauty. How'd you like to be the one hired as 'not-beautiful'?

What do you think about 'lookism'? Are you guilty? Have you been discriminated against? And how do you feel when your spouse says your kids are better looking than the two of you (or is that just my baggage?) There's another good questions: how important is attractiveness in your children? In your friends?

Friday, August 23, 2002

Jaquandor grew up in New Hampshire, attending the private academy where his father was headmaster. After earning his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Notre Dame, he went on to earn a Nobel Prize in Economics. He was elected as New Hampshire's lone member of the House of Representatives, and after three terms he was elected Governor of New Hampshire. While serving his second term, his good friend Leo McGarry prevailed upon him to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination, which he did, surprisingly defeating the favored Senator from Texas, John Hoynes. He was elected President and, despite having recently been censured by Congress for withholding the knowledge of his multiple sclerosis, is currently running for re-election versus Republican nominee, Governor Robert Ritchie of Florida.

Oops, that's not Jaquandor, that's Jed Bartlett. My mistake!

My family moved around quite a bit during the 1970s, due to the lack of tenure-track positions in my father's field. (He is a mathematics professor.) He finally attained a position at St. Bonaventure University in 1981, and we have lived in Western New York state ever since. (For those geographically challenged, I am nowhere near New York City. I could drive to Cleveland, OH and back in the time it would take me to drive to NYC.)

I attended Wartburg College from 1989 to 1993, initially majoring in Music but then switching to Philosophy. I took a number of classes with Sean, and rare was the day when I actually understood what he was saying. ("Maybe truth doesn't exist. Maybe truth subsists!!" he once said....and I still don't know what that means.) I also began dating my future wife while in college; her name is Deb. We weren't married until 1997, though.

After leaving Wartburg I worked for six years in restaurant management while dreaming of writing; I had flirted with creative writing all through grade school but done nothing at all with it in college. (Like every good aspring writer during this time period, my first work was Star Wars fanfic.) I've been working on the same project -- an Arthurian novel -- for six years now, but I'm now two-thirds of the way through the draft that I plan to shop around to publishers. And I have started writing short fiction as well, and currently I have five stories out at market. (That's an optimistic euphemism for "waiting for rejection slips".)

Our first child, Haley Katherine, was born in 1999 -- how Sean deals with twins is mind-boggling -- and since then I worked as a pharmaceutical sales rep, before being recently downsized. (Not a mystery why -- the parent company's stock was trading at $15.00/share when I was released, and now it's under $9.00/share.) I am currently job-hunting, and am considering working part-time while I establish a freelance writing business. Currently I live in Buffalo, NY, a city that has been down-on-its-luck for twenty years but is still a wonderful place. Yes, we get snow; but in the entire time they've been recording weather stats, not once has the temperature gone over 100 degrees in Buffalo.

Hobbies: reading, filling the house with books, walking, rollerblading.

Music: Classical (Berlioz, Wagner, Rachmaninov); Filmscores (Williams, Korngold, Rozsa, Goldsmith); Celtic (The Chieftains).

Books: Fantasy (Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay, George R. R. Martin, Charles de Lint); Science Fiction (Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Vernor Vinge); Horror (King, Graham Joyce, Poppy Z. Brite); Humor (Christopher Moore).

Movies: Star Wars, Casablanca, musicals galore.

Politics: Left of center.

Religion: None. (I genuinely mean that. I'm not even an atheist.)

My weblog is called Byzantium's Shores, where I post thoughts about books, music, movies and whatever else leaps to mind. I used to be a very active poster to Usenet (particularly on, but I've largely abandoned Usenet in favor of blogging. Incidentally, I discovered blogging through Sean's site, which I discovered because one sleepless night I did a Google search for "Sean Meade" -- I occasionally do Google searches for people I've known, which is how I found out about another old friend who has since become -- Gasp! -- a Scientologist.
In terms of relationships, beginning with the most important, I am:

a Jesus-follower (enough said for now. Ask me if you want to know more, or keep an eye out...).

Christine's husband for going on nine years. We met at Wartburg College. We lived in Charlotte for six years where I worked at Forest Hill Church and attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary--Charlotte. Christine is amazingly loving and the best wife for me.

dad to Elizabeth and Wil for more than three years. I love my children deeply. Christine and I write about our life with our children on twinlog.I also feel I've done six years of parenting. People ask me if it gone by quickly and I say 'No.'

son to Paul and Sue. Brother of Kyle, Erin, Ryan, and Cory. (These fine folks and their spouses are the core constituents of meadenet, pretty much just email address-wise.) I grew up on a farm west of Iowa City.

friend to Jason. We met in 10th grade at West High School. He's my oldest best friend.

sometime colleague and associate of Jaquandor, with a budding friendship. We majored in philosophy at Wartburg College together.

friend of Chris and John and lots of other guys I've met on the web. MetaFilter was the place I ran into these guys. I found myself communicating with MeFi folks more and visiting MeFi less. But it will always be the Mothership. My concept of Collaboratory is a smaller, more manageable MeFi.

friend to Scott, who I met at Redeemer Covenant Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I am the Associate Pastor. Like Jaq, in a way, Scott and I have more of a net relationship than a real life relationship, but I think that's OK. I've been in full-time ministry for ten years.

I used to have hobbies. Now I have twins. I read escapist fiction sometimes. I like to watch movies. I like music. A lot of my leisure time these days will find me escaping to the world of Civilization 2. This needs to be strictly monitored, lest I sneak off to my room while Christine and the twins are living their lives. I have not gone so far as to play it at work.

I am very fond of the web, and maintain a pretty active weblog called interact.

I'm 30. And, honestly, I'm not crazy about it. I envisioned myself a little more together. It evokes old REM:

I can't see a life at 30, I don't buy a life at 30, caught like flies.

I'd like to get at least my overall outlook on the ball before 31. I think this is an attainable goal.
Obligatory Profile:

I was born and raised in Tulsa, OK, where I lived until I went to college at Baylor Univ. in Waco, TX. If you have questions about Baylor, just e-mail me sometime and I'll let you know the pros and cons, as there are plenty of both. After graduating with a BBA in Economics (May '01) and International Business, I moved back to Tulsa for a little while. There, I kind of half-assed looked for a job, but had very little luck. I then moved to Dallas in March of 2002 as motivation to actually do something. I landed a gig with Dallas County in the Office of Budget and Evaluation. I work in the Old School Book Depository, where the JFK memorial museum is located. I'm enjoying myself so far. I know it's not permanent though. I'm hoping to go to grad school starting in Fall of 2004 to earn joint masters degrees in Public Affairs and either Latin American Studies or Russian and Eastern European studies at UT Austin.

Other than weblogging, my hobbies include disc golf, reading (mostly literature), music of all kinds, soccer, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I do sporadically. I've had my personal blog for about a year and a half, and have enjoyed watching the progression that it has made in my style. The first few months are pretty ugly.

At 23, I'm most likely the youngest collaborator. But that's cool with me. I tend to fall on the left side of politics, and my main issues are Campaign Finance Reform, Trade Policy, and Changes in Drug Policy. Feel free to drop me a line whenever and about anything. Thanks for reading.
I just heard Jeff Swartz, CEO of Timberland, talking on NPR at the City Club of Cleveland. He described his company's service programs and approach to corporate ethics, and I have to say my bs detector didn't go off once. I checked out their website and was impressed by how much they're willing to document.

For comparison, I looked at similar pages at Nike's website. They were a lot less substantial. In particular, compare Timberland's Global Labor Standards with Nike's Manufacturing Practices agenda. Just a sample: Timberland says, "In 1998, we started working with Verité, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO) to audit factories making Timberland® products. This included all footwear and apparel vendors, along with some licensees' facilities," and they go on to describe some specific targets of these audits. Nike, on the other hand, says that one of their goals is to "foster balanced understanding inside and outside Nike of the realities on the factory floor." Orwell would love that.

Whatever the fictional Lloyd Dobler may have wished, we're trapped in a world where we pretty much have to buy, sell, and process things. But at least some of time, some of the choices are better than others. Timberland isn't perfect, of course, but they're apparently a lot better than most. What companies do you admire for their committment to values beyond the accountant's easy measures?
Is it just me, or has Steven Den Beste gone completely off the deep end lately? Consider this post of his. Now, a standard procedure of his is to establish some kind of metaphor first, generally drawn from his engineering background, and then use that metaphor to make some point about international politics. Usually, it's pretty much the same point, that American unilateralism is good and whatever we want to do, we should not allow the protests of Europe or anyone else to dissuade us from that goal. It's not at all uncommon to start reading one of Steven's posts under the impression that he's talking about X, and only later discover that the only reason he's bringing X up at all is to illustrate Y.

But in the post in question, he goes over the top. He starts off telling us about cell phones and their engineering problems; then he moves onto computing problems and their resolution on the space shuttle; then he transitions into the lessons computer scientists can learn from ant colonies. All of this leads him to a discussion of elections and electoral systems, which he seems to view in terms of a particular engineering problem (noise reduction, specifically). And all of that leads to his main point of the entire post -- which, after whimsically cutting-and-pasting it into Word, I find is more than 5,000 words long -- in which he seemingly refutes a single plank of "Transnational Progressivism" (a new thing he's been flogging for a couple of weeks now) in one paragraph.

Remember how in JFK, when Jim Garrison makes that long speech at the end of the movie? and how, when he gets at last to the point where he accuses President Johnson of being an "accessory after the fact", the trial judge nearly keels over? That was the effect on me. Anyone else?

OK, someone needs to tell Jeff Bridges that he's omitted a key part of the whole "black text on white background for maximum readability" equation. Anyone who can peruse this site and not be reaching for the Excedrin within two minutes is either superhuman or drunk. That's not a font; it appears to actually be digitized samples of his own handwriting. Ugh!!!

I never knew that Hawaii had snow-covered mountains (at least part of the time) until I checked this site. Some of the best Hawaiian photography I've ever seen is here. So, does anyone know how often it actually snows there?

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Hi there from another Collaboratory contributor.

As you can see, my name is John Hardy. I'm thirty nine and live in Melbourne, Australia.

When I was much younger I wanted to be an astronaut, then I wanted to be a
farmer, then a cartoonist and then finally just a plain old millionaire.
When I got older, I gave up on those ideas and became a software engineer.

In the process, I studied a number of things ranging from engineering to
sociology but I got my main gob-smacking eye-opener of an education in life
when I started to travel. Initially I did a classic on-a-shoe-string kind of
trip across Asia, taking in countires like Thailand, India, Nepal and China.
I have been going back to Asia as often I can ever since then.

I run a small software business and I work from home. I'm married to a
wonderful person named Soo Ling who happens to be from Malaysia. We have two
little daughters, Emma Jiamei is nearly three years old and Karmen Jade is
scarcely seven weeks.

At times I have been known to use the name lagado

Hi there!
Vinland Map Confirmed Authentic Fake

The Vinland Map has sparked controversy ever since its discovery forty five years ago. Found bound into the back of a volume called the Tartar Relation, an account of a Franciscan friar who travelled from France to Mongolia in 1245, the map purports to chart the passage of Vikings Leif Eriksson and Bjarni Herjulfsson across the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of "Vinland" a region near modern Newfoundland. While the veracity of Viking accounts of voyages to America circa 1000 AD are now beyond dispute, the existence of this map implies that Columbus may have had foreknowledge that land lay to the West long before he set sail on August 3, 1492.

Now a couple of recent papers have demonstrated that the Vinland map is authentic and also a confirmed forgery. Actually it's not really as ambiguous as all that: the parchment upon which it was drawn has been proven to be medieval but this was never really in doubt. Radiocarbon testing has confirmed it dates from 1434. On the other hand, microprobe spectroscopy testing of the inks used imply that they were likely to have been produced in the 20th century. A good summary and even a theory of who the forger could have been can be found here.
Wil Wheaton will be giving a speech on copyright and freedom of expression tonight, and he has posted the text to his blog.

Now that the rumors are starting anew about a Bill Clinton talk show, I have to ask: what would he talk about??? Would he discuss issues and his views and such, or would it be an "Oprah" style thing? Goodness, would we have to endure Clinton doing "Secret Crushes Revealed" or "Please Give My Mom a Makeover"?

Why bother to think?

Simon Blackburn in defence of philosphy and the role of the philosopher.

"(T)he choice is never 'why have ethics?' but only 'what kind of ethics shall we have?' — whether, for instance, we educate the next generation in the light of Aristotle, or Hume or John Stuart Mill, or whether we abandon anything to be got from those works, and leave them to the Harvard Business School, or Colleges for Strategic Studies"

We've got a couple of degreed philosphers here. Do you all have criticisms? Agreements? What is the role of philosphy today?
Sometimes, even the most apparently obvious things require proof. Presenting: the proof that it is possible to divide by three.

(an unposted link via snarkout)
Hello, from one of the collaborators—

I work at the University of Northern Iowa as an advisor for their Educational Talent Search program, in which capacity I help mostly low-income kids in grades 6-12 plan for college. I attended UNI as an undergraduate and graduate student of English (letters, not education). My only real academic achievement is a book I helped edit, an edition of a Renaissance translation of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, John Bracegirdle's Psychopharmacon. Beyond all that fiddle, I am married to Candy Streed, and we have a son, Clay. Candy works for Silos & Smokestacks, a heritage tourism development organization. Clay is two years, nine months old; his imagination is dominated by firefighters, Dad’s toolbox, and donuts. We live in Waterloo, Iowa, city of John Deere tractors and long, bitter winters. But I’m a winter person.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Chris' friend, Sheldon, died yesterday. I pray that the funeral today was everything Chris and Sheldon hoped it would be. And bless you, Chris.
Here's the first post to open up Collaboratory:

The BBC came out with a list of the 100 Greatest Britons. [Insert all of the normal top X qualifications here.]

This list stands out to me as going from sublime to stupid: from Alfred the Great to Julie Andrews, from JRR Tolkien and Shakespeare to David Bowie, Tony Blair, and Michael Crawford.

What do you think?