I have engineers and craftsmen in my heritage, I have been an engineer for decades, and now I manage a team of engineers. Engaged in a profession based in technology, I find myself overly familiar with the circumstances of my own arrival in this place and yet woefully ignorant of how we as a society have found ourselves here. Engineers create the machines and systems that shape and dominate our lives. They in turn are driven by a relentless onrush of information, science and technology.
This state of affairs would be a surpassing confusion to anybody who might have been dropped into its midst as an adult; the only way we all cope is to have grown up in it. But, how did it arise? Why is it like this? Is this the only way that it has to be?
I recently have been reading the more recent works of Neal Stephenson, who makes the onset of the scientific method (in Quicksilver) a much more human endeavor than any of my high school or college textbooks ever did. However, I find myself reading it with an encyclopedia open alongside. I tend to use Encarta, despite it's poor reputation among people who, like me, grew up with the Britannica in our father's library, because it has such a nice timeline feature.
This combination of adventure novel and encyclopedia has much to recommend it for the independent scholar. I wish that I had been able to use this technique in school..
Sunday, April 11, 2004
For people interested in limiting the crap that gets pumped out of our modern industrial food machine and directly into our ad-addled heads, the nutrition information at Restaurant List - Fast Foods and Franchises at DietFacts.com is required reading. Even if you are just limiting yourself to 2300 calories a day, high by any measure, you can only visit these places once or twice a week.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
What do diarists (or, these days, bloggers) say every day? What is worth remarking to the general public, or to history itself? It's different when you are writing for yourself. Then you can explore your private thoughts without regard to the appearance you wish to project or, even better, the person you wish to become. But… in public? How can it be anything other than base aggrandizement or vanity?