Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Junk Science or Junk Appointments?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Candidates Rise to the Digital Challenge
Council candidate Joe Moore said he will start putting some more effort into his nascent blog. He created it nearly two months ago, but had done nothing with it until a half-hour before the night's event.
Luanne Brown, council candidate, said she would soon have a blog of her own containing campaign information. You'll hear about it here when it is ready for prime time.
Digital Divide Digest
One reader questioned if publishing the age of the candidate had any significance. The answer is simple. Age has always had an influence of technology adoption, as have other factors, particularly race, income, and geography. But there is more to the story.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Assocated Artist Gallery Closes
Times, the AAG started up in 1983 in the space where Yesteryear Tobacconists now operates. From whta I understand, sales at this location have never been that great and membership in the AAG has declined over the past decade to the point where there's not always a volunteer available to staff the store. I know I've driven by several times in the past couple of months on a Friday or Saturday and seen a sign on the door to the effect that no volunteer was available to open the store today.
Carbondale Candidates Online -- NOT!
The media challenged candidates must think that voters still only get the election news from traditional broadcast media: radio, TV, newspapers, and of course, the last minute flurry of campaign literature stuffed into thousands of screen doors.
According to Internet Usage and Population website there are over 210 million people in the Unites States that use the internet. That is a 120% increase since 2000. So, why is it so difficult to locate the e-mail address of candidates for public office? If the candidates are running on a platform, why isn't it on a public website for everyone to see?
I've searched the Internet asembling what references I could find for the candidates. Shown below are websites referencing the candidates, their age and e-mail addresses, if known. If a candidate has a campaign website, it is shown in bold, italics below. Other URLS are websites that appear to contain some valid information about the candidate. (I tried to not use e-mail address for their employment or websites where more than one candidate is described.) Share and enjoy.
Brad Cole, 35, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica Davis, 38, e-mail via campaign website
Melvin "Pepper" Holder, 57, No public e-mail address identified
Sheila Simon, 45, email@example.com
Stephen Haynes, 42, firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Moore, 21, No public e-mail address identified
Lance D. Jack, 36, email@example.com
Mary Pohlmann, 62, No public e-mail address identified
Paulette "Will" Sherwood, 62, No public e-mail address identified
Elizabeth Lewin, NA, No public e-mail address identified
Luanne J. Brown, NA, No public e-mail address identified
Bad Forensics Theater
Source: SIUC News release.
Labels: siu teaching
Friday, January 26, 2007
any publicity is good?
Labels: siu marketing
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Not so fast
Wadda Ya Mean, Ya Sez Ya Can’t Sell Me $1.00 of Gasoline!
Why is that? Several reasons. Foremost, we are quite befuddled by fractional math. Sure, 4 divided by 2 = 2, but exactly how many gallons of gasoline can you buy for $10 at $2.04 and 9/10ths a gallon?
The addition of 9/10 cent to the price of a gallon of gasoline makes impossible the purchase of one gallon of gasoline at the advertised price. And it makes our mathematically challenged brains crash into a state of befuddlement.
Imagine if all groceries, postage stamps and tuition were sold like that? So why do we do it with gasoline?
Well, some research says that a difference of two-tenths of a cent (about 30¢ for an average fill-up) may be enough to sway consumers' buying decisions. “Because of this, service stations quickly react to the price posted on the street corner by their competition and adjust their price accordingly. If not, they risk the possibility of losing their customers.”
Don’t lose a lot of sleep over this issue. What you ought to be worried about is why paying for a gallon of gas will likely always result in getting more or less than you should.
For example, gasoline volume changes approximately 0.058% for every 1ºF change in temperature. “The energy content of a gallon of gasoline purchased by a motorist in Nome, Alaska in January could, theoretically, be as much as 8-10% greater that that of a gallon of gasoline purchased by a motorist in Marion, IL (center of the universe, I’m told) in July.” So 10 gallons in Alaska might be 11 gallons in Illinois. But, they contain the same amount os useful energy. You pay for 11, but really only get the value of 10.
Robbery you say? Read more about it.
Sheila on the air, on the door
One highlight of Sheila's chat with Miller: calling for the release of the closed session City Council discussions in 2003 about the old American Tap property, a controversial topic at the time, which undoubtedly will be an issue in the upcoming campaign debate.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Most Depressing Day of the Year!
Labels: local news
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I'd like to get more into Carbondale civic activity, but don't have much time. I vote, and do my best to read about it, and I commend you all for your involvement- I think talking & writing about it makes a big difference and if nothing else clarifies your ideas about what should be happening. Writing about things tends to make them happen sometimes, I've found, though not always- at least people recognize good ideas when they see them. So I'll try to find a few- I promise!
Simon Campaign Starts in Earnest
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Is Carbondale Cool?
Labels: Cool Cities
Thursday, January 18, 2007
The Hidden Costs of Socialism
Everything was going fine until I got about halfway done with my homework and realized that several problems were assigned that did not exist in my text. Frustrated, I went to Morris to check out the current edition from the Reserve room. The answer to the question of how much mathematics had changed in a couple of years was not much; there was very little difference between the readings portion of the two texts. In fact, the only difference I noticed was the removal of a tidbit I had thought interesting about the origin of the word “Algebra.”
The Exercises portion, however, was another story. It was completely different from what was in my old text. Problems had been added, existing problems had been moved; sometimes the only noticeable change was that the problem sections had been rearranged and renumbered. Why? Was the new format somehow superior to the old, aside from the additional problems? No; it was about the same, just reworded and renumbered. Why then? For one purpose: to stiff poor college students like myself.
It’s a cute trick: Leave the text substantially alone, but rearrange the exercises in order to instantly outdate the old textbook and force students to buy the expensive new edition instead of purchasing the old one used. It’s particularly transparent in mathematics, where (at least on the undergraduate level) things change so slowly that publishing a new edition every two years is patently silly. But it’s a trick that is used throughout the massively profitable textbook publishing system. Publish a new edition, discontinue the old edition, and rearrange things sufficiently so that the old edition is incompatible with the new. This bit of skullduggery, along with the exorbitant price of textbooks, combine to jilt college students out of millions of dollars every year.
How is this possible? How is it that in a free-market economy where it seems that nearly every other commodity or service seems to get better and/or cheaper over time, can textbook publishing be stuck in this Dark Ages cycle of ripoffs and exploitation?
The answer, oddly enough, would seem to be socialism. In particular, socialist colleges and universities. “Huh?” you might ask. “What socialist universities?” There’s one right before your eyes. I attend one. SIUC is a state-owned, and therefore socialist, school. Its tuition rates are subsidized, particularly for state residents, so that its tuition rates are substantially below market rates for a comparable education.
So how are state schools responsible for textbook prices? Simple: socialist schools have no incentive to keep costs low for their students. Their tuition rates are already artificially low, so they can expect high enrollment even if they heap other, hidden costs on the students (although SIUC, amazingly, seems to be doing a horrible job at enrollment, even so). What’s more, the low price of state schools removes poorer students from the free market for higher education, so that (except for the intellectual cream) private schools rarely even attempt to entice them. This results in reduced price competition between private schools. Someone who is paying $20,000 a semester (or whatever it is now) to attend MIT is unlikely to balk at a $500 textbook bill.
If state schools did not exist, low-cost private schools would spring up in their place, and (given the magic of the free market) would likely be providing a superior education at equivalent or lesser cost within a few years. What’s more, a free market in education would tend to solve the textbook problem. If schools could compete freely for the poorer students, textbook cost would likely become a factor.
And the solution to the textbook problem is astonishingly simple: Textbook cost should be counted as part of tuition. Students don’t pay room-rental fees for their classrooms; they don’t pay electricity fees for the energy they use while in class. All of that and more are part of the cost of tuition. If textbooks as well were considered as part of this cost by a majority or substantial minority of schools, textbook prices would plummet. Why? Because schools, trying to minimize their textbook cost, would press professors to choose cheaper texts, and those that are not updated more often than necessary. A market for cheaper textbooks would spring up, and publishers would move to fill that market. In fairly short order, this ridiculous stranglehold publishing companies have over students would be abolished. As of now, there is no market for cheaper textbooks. Sure, you want a cheaper textbook, but you are not the one who chooses the textbook you have to buy; your professor is. And your professor is not the one who has to pay for it, so he will rationalize the cost to himself, and you are, once again, screwed.
So remember: The next time you think government would do a better job than the market at providing some service or good, don’t forget the hidden costs.
Labels: lincoln jr. high school razing
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
To blog or not to blog, that is the question.
I've been interested in computing technology since I first visited a Control Data Corporation factory in Minneapolis in about 1967. I can't remember if the experience was a field trip for the Explorer Scouts or Junior Achievement . Either way, at the time, computers were basically "big iron" occupying large rooms and whole floors of buildings. I was introduced to the marvels of punched chadless tape storage (There is a lesson somewhere in there regarding Florida voting machines), punch cards, and the power of 0's and 1's. Yes, "we've come a long way, baby!
Most older adults were raised with broadcast technologies such as radio and TV and have yet to fully embrace new digital technologies unless they are iterative forms of radio and TV (e.g. XM Radio, plasma/LCD displays), satellite delivery, etc. Despite there being over sixty million blogs now in existence, if you are reading this blog, then you are probably the exception to the rule.
Most older adults also missed the advent of digital communities that began evolving in earnest with Usenet newsgroups, e-mail distribution lists and bulletin board systems (BBS). I cut my digital in 1989 teeth starting a BBS in Carbondale, IL called The Preservation BBS. It was devoted to information sharing on historic preservation issues and sustainable community development. It had an international scope serving up FidoNet and RIME Network discussion forums and shareware resources.
All global technologies tend to start in urban areas and migrate to rural environs. Southern Illinois is no exception. High speed internet was quite slow in coming to Carbondale and is still unavailable to most homes outside the city limits of large towns in the region.
The earliest blog was probably a stone tablet chronicle passed around the village. After Gutenberg made his first impression, print journals and later electronic diaries filled the need for personal publishing. Those technologies and today's blogs empower the common person with an uncensored voice. The result can be a free community of ideas as exemplified in the Memphis Manifesto.
Like all technologies most blogs have a typical life cycle characteristic of the Internet (short, furious growth, followed by anguished decline). Someday, blogs will be supplanted by something different, though not necessarily better. Wikipedia quotes Gartner research that says "blogging will peak in 2007, levelling off when the number of writers who maintain a personal website reaches 100 million. Gartner analysts expect that the novelty value of the medium will wear off as most people who are interested in the phenomenon have checked it out, and new bloggers will offset the number of writers who abandon their creation out of boredom. The firm estimates that there are more than 200 million former bloggers who have ceased posting to their online diaries, creating an exponential rise in the amount of dotsam and netsam (i.e. unwanted objects) on the Web."
Carbondale (IL) is already developing its own pile of digital dotsam and netsam. There is a lot of evidence to indicate local blogging does not attract bloggers with staying power. That is everyone's loss. A quick survey of the latest posting dates of 17 Carbondale area blogs indicates that only five are less than a week old. The average age of the most recent post is 52 days. Throw out the four most stale blogs and the last update age is still a whopping 26 days.
I believe that a blog will have a greater chance of being successful when it can maintain a certain degree of freshness. Isn't that just common sense? Readers won't revisit a blog if it is not updated between visits. Daily updating is certainly a achievable. Lots of bloggers do it and have something interesting to say, share, or announce every day. Weekly updates should be a minimum expectation. Bloggers could do us all a favor by deleting their dead blogs or contributing to group blogs like Bytelife.
Even getting authors to share a blogspace is difficult. As probably the one blogger in southern Illinois who has tried the most to live and advocate the blogging discipline, Dave More, recently indicated here in Bytelife that group blogging has yet to really succeed.
I could be wrong about the perceived value of blogs that are seldom updated. Greg Linden in Geeking with Greg offers an interesting take on blog staleness. He says "It seems that old news is news after all." Then again, Greg's blog's last post whan this commentary was written was six months old.
Time will tell.
Till then, blog on...
Labels: blogs and blogging
Sunday, January 14, 2007
New Blogger, New Bytelife
As a team blog, the (New) Carbondaley Dispatch experiment failed for several reasons.... 1) Peter G. resumed his original blog, with a new name and renewed dedication; 2) My own posts tended to dominate the Dispatch, 3) Other local bloggers, like Cindy, Shawn, and others continued posting their own local observations on their own blogs. . . . Which is great.
But I still hanker after a blog that brings together different voices, like the Peoria and Champaign blogs, for instance. Illini Pundit is doing something nice with Drupal.
Meanwhile, the Shawnee Net "Drupal" News & Views portal, has a convenient blogging feature that everyone can use.
So, I hope that Tom, just bill, Lucy is Lefty, and other keen observers of the Carbondale scene will chime in here or there. Keeping it local.
Invitations to local bloggers and neophytes to join the Carbondale Bytelife Team Blog.
If you want to participate, but didn't get an "invitation," send an email request to Bytelife.
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