Due to the holiday season and to the fact that I need to write some articles for publication, this blog will be updated only sporadically over the next two weeks. The regular schedule of weekday postings will resume after the New Year, on Tuesday, January 3rd.
Today, here are some short items.
New member of the family
On the right is Baxter, the latest addition to our family. We brought him home on Monday, December 19. He was born on September 14, which makes him just 3 months old.
My op-ed published
The Plain Dealer has today published an op-ed by me titled Has the intelligent design movement passed its peak? dealing with the Dover IDC case. Thanks to the fact that I have been writing about these things on this blog, it only took me an hour or two to collect all the information together and write the piece. This was one of the benefits I foresaw in maintaining this blog, that it could serve as a repository for ideas that could serve as a first draft for publications.
What was strange is that when I write for online posting, I put in links to the original sources of quotes, facts, etc. I had to strip all those out for the op-ed piece, so newspaper readers have to take my word for it that I was not making stuff up. So although online material is still viewed with skepticism in some quarters, the printed stuff actually has less information.
Cheap laptops for the world
Read about the new $100 laptops that can be powered by a hand crank and can be used in poor areas where there is little electricity. The machines will run open-source software.
You can see an image of the laptop here.
This strikes me as a wonderful gift to the poor areas of the world, because the machines will be given free to poor schoolchildren. The inventors (MIT’s Media Lab) should be credited for making their devices freely available. I think it is terrific when scientists, engineers, inventors, and universities use their tremendous skills for the benefit of those who do not have access to this kind of advanced knowledge.
Mona Lisa smile
From the BBC we learn that:
A computer has been used to decipher the enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, concluding that she was mainly happy.
The painting was analysed by a University of Amsterdam computer using “emotion recognition” software.
It concluded that the subject was 83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful and 2% angry, journal New Scientist was told.”
When I read that I was 64% intrigued, 25% amused, and 11% surprised.
The always helpful and tech-savvy people at Case are slowly nudging me into the 21st century. First Jeremy Smith got me started on blogging and now Aaron Shaffer (Manager of the Freedman Center) interviewed me for my first podcast.
A podcast, which has just been declared 2005’s Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, is defined as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player”. The word is derived from a combination of “broadcast” and “iPod”. The chief benefit of a podcast is that once downloaded, it can be listened to at your convenience.
Aaron and I spoke about blogging and a lot of other things, lasting for about an hour, just so that I could get a sense of how podcasting works. I will try my hand at it some time in the future, if I can think of something that would benefit more from the spoken rather than the written word.
If you are curious about what Aaron and I spoke about, or are curious to hear what I sound like on radio (hint: terrible), the podcast has been posted on the Freedman Center blog here.
I am not sure what I would use a podcast for, at the moment. It would have to be for something where actual sounds were preferable or easier to create than the written word. A dramatic reading of a speech of the kind done by Harold Pinter or an interview would be appropriate, as would be anything involving music. But do not fear. There will be no podcasts of me singing.
Looking back on 2005
One of the things I dislike about the end of the year are the dreary “year in review” features in the media. But I will make an exception for Tom Tomorrow.