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March 31, 2007

Critical Thinking - Native American Style

"Only when the last tree has died; only when the last river been poisoned; only when the last fish is caught; only then will they realize that you cannot eat money." - Cree Indian Proverb

March 19, 2007

The Impact of Tortured Logic

Abu Ghraib Torture-715244.jpgJohn Yoo may be a fine law professor. That is for others at Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley's Law School, to determine. What is clear is that his work on the so-called "torture memo" used some equally tortured logic.

In an interview with a British journalist, Yoo said this about war:

Look, death is worse than torture, but everyone except pacifists thinks there are circumstances in which war is justified. War means killing people. If we are entitled to kill people, we must be entitled to injure them. I don't see how it can be reasonable to have an absolute prohibition on torture when you don't have an absolute prohibition on killing.

Here is a very solid explanation of the flaws in Yoo's thinking by Professor Dave Glazier from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles via Marty Lederman at the blog, Balkanization:

One of the most fundamental problems with Yoo's logic is that he is simply ignorant of the law of war. Yoo clearly believes that war is essentially a lawless regime, subject only to a few treaties he knows of. In his view, if you can distinguish your situation from those covered by explicit treaty language, then you get to do what you want. What Yoo fails to recognize is that war is far from a lawless regime.

Emotionally clear, and rigorously logical thinking are never as crucial as when we are faced with such critically important moments in history - moments that can alter a society permanently and irreversibly. Moments like when one is considering the long-term implications of going to war.

Such considerations transcend political affiliations, and/or inclinations.

March 17, 2007

Does anyone really give a shift?

Happy St. Pat's everyone!

So, today's entry isn't really a "tech tip" but it is something tech related and goes along with why it is important to stay on the cutting edge--or at the very least--informed. (See, I'm *not* really wasting my time surfing the web for hours on end! Well, I guess it depends where I'm surfing for those hours on end, right?) Check out this video and I'd love to know if shift happens to you...

Credit goes to "The Fischbowl" Blog, by Karl Fisch of Arapahoe High School in Colorado (http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2006/08/did-you-know.html) and Scott McLeod's revisions

March 7, 2007

Web Expert, Ian Stanley, Joins Whitman Blog Team

This is my first entry, so I’ve been crawling the web looking for good examples of what I want to do for my first entry. As far as I can tell, bloggers usually give a little bio info (you know, to establish their credibility) and then some background info (to give context to their periodic musings). It’s my understanding that you, as dutiful blog readers, should post comments to let me know what you’re thinking (about what I said), or to guide me with future topics, corrections, etc.

Here’s my attempt at fulfilling my end of the bargain:

Who am I?
I’m 29 years old and live and work in the north San Francisco Bay Area. I am a member of On the Verge Group 4 (and if you want to know all of the goods on me from that angle, you can check me out here). I work as the Coordinator of Education and Employment for a youth Emancipation Center (as in emancipating from Foster Care, Group Homes and/or Probation). As all of us that work for non-profits know that our job duties are not limited to our job title. I also coordinate my non-profit’s technology and infrastructure (which includes 7 Intel Processor iMacs/printers, a networked hard drive for shared storage space and a networked copier/laser printer). I’m new to the cult of Mac, but learning (and loving it) quickly. My expertise is in Window’s PC’s and networking. My computer love began back in the early 90s with a programming class (my love of software) I took in high school and then when I dismantled our family home computer and had to get it back together and working (hardware) before my mom and dad found out. The rest is history.

My Goal
I’ll be using this space to share fantastic tech and net finds with you, my fellow non-profit techies (or wannabe techies). My hope is to focus on practical technology that is neither too advanced nor too expensive.

Preview of what’s to come
So, you want a taste of the goods I’ll share? Bon appétit:

Netfinds (useful sites to share)
Jyngle: “a mobile and online messaging service that helps you easily share information with groups of people.”
As someone who works with youth and groups of youth on a regular basis over the past eight years, I’ve come to learn that the much hyped next generation might be online all the time, but they sure don’t check (or reply to) their email very much (well, unless its some JUICY gossip). Solution? Well it may very well be Jyngle—sign up for a free account, and then you can send group voicemail messages or text messages. It’s much more likely that the youth you’re trying to get a hold of will get your message (their phone numbers change so much less often than their --funnybunny6205@hotmail.com-- email).
Bonus: if you’ve ever got a song stuck in your head that you don’t know, try Midomi.com. Hum into your computer’s mic and it will tell you what

Webdef (new lingo you should know)
Web 2.0: any of a host of user-friendly, interactive, “next generation” websites that facilitate collaboration or info sharing, especially among social groups and/or other websites—especially if they use Flash animation/technology. (i.e.: Gmail integrates Google email, calendar, documents and chat; MySpace integrates a whole social community w/ job listings, video, music, chat and, of course, the ability to comment about how cute/dorky your friend looks in that picture) For more on Web 2.0, check out the web2.0 directory.

Until next time.

What Makes a Commonwealth?

us_state_abbrev_map.jpgThere are only four commonwealths in the Union. Three - Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia - were part of the original thirteen colonies, and Kentucky was the fifteenth member of the Confederation, as it was called back then.

This bit of historical trivia seems important today in light of what is occurring in one of those commonwealths, notably Pennsylvania, concerning the issue of transportation.

So let's review. A commonwealth is a state governed for the common good, literally for the common weal, or common well-being.

Now let's look at what is occurring in the commonwealth's capital with regard to the transportation issue. In an article in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer the governor's office has said that there will be no "patch" this time to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). No federal highway funds "diverted" to cover the cost overruns in the southeast corner of the state.

But here is the key paragraph:

Legislators representing rural areas of the state, such as Rep. Fred McIlhattan (R., Clarion), said their constituents were reluctant to contribute more money for mass transit, which they saw as benefiting only metropolitan areas.

And to me this is indicative of much that is happening not just in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but also in the nation as a whole. If the "wifum question" (What's in it for me?) does not have an immediate and concrete answer, many of us Americans just say no. Rural is more and more pitted against urban, with suburbanites squeezed in the middle.

Unless we return to conversations about the common good, the common well being of all our citizens - urban, rural, rich, poor and middle-class, children and seniors - then there is little hope that either our standards of living or the quality of our lives will stay the same let alone improve.

Right now "well-being in common" seems less like a platitude, and more like a good way to live, and perhaps the only way we will survive.

[Originally posted on Edd's higherportal/t4c site.]