Out of the Forest

March 29, 2007, 5:26 pm
Filed under: beliefs

Kathy Sierra, tech blogger and co-author of my favorite Java learner’s guide, has cancelled all speaking engagements and suspended her blogging due to the endless threats of death and sexual violence directed at her in her blog’s comments section. You can read her entry about it here, but beware it is very graphic in its content. Says Kathy:

To all of you were meant to be at my tutorial today at ETech, or my keynote tomorrow, you have my deepest apologies. If you want to do something about it–do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”. I would never be for censoring speech–these people can say all the misogynistic, vile, tasteless things they like–but we must preserve that line where words and images become threats of violence. Freedom of speech–however distasteful and rude the speech may be, is crucial. But when those words contain threats of harm or death, they can destroy a life.

Bloggers are often hesitant to delete comments from their blog, lest they be accused of being proponents of “censorship”, or unable to accept criticism. But criticism is one thing, and threats are quite another. No one has the right to threaten violence. Furthermore, in my opinion, Kathy is well within her rights to maintain whatever level of civility she desires in the comment section of her private blog. And I would hope that fellow bloggers and readers would agree to accept such a level of “censorship”.


March 23, 2007, 10:33 pm
Filed under: retro computers


Excuse me while I geek out for a moment…

Back in the day, when I was growing up in the 80’s, one of my favorite shows on PBS (and I had many favorite PBS shows) was Computer Chronicles. This show really helped inspire my love for computers and computer science, which is my career today. Every week geeky people with bad hair would show up to discuss a particular computer-related event, product, or issue. And this was in the good old days of computers, when different brands of PCs had personality and weren’t all clones of each other. I lived for the show, but unfortunately my PBS station (OETA out of Oklahoma City) was not very consistent with its programming schedule, so it was mostly blind luck if I ever got to see it.

Happily for all of us, some generous person has made many of the show’s most popular episodes availabe online at the internet archive. You really should check some of them out. Particularly the Apple II Forever show, where the Apple IIgs, my very first computer, is prominently featured.

March 23, 2007, 10:27 pm
Filed under: vegetarianism

A new report this week revealed the rather horrific caloric content of many Chinese restaurant dishes, even the vegetarian ones. This is a shame, as I’ve really been enjoying Chinese food lately.

Being vegetarian has forced me to try some new things, and I’ve particularly enjoyed a local restaurant’s version of Buddha’s delight, a dish long enjoyed by Buddhist monks. Reading the list of common ingredients, I find myself wondering just what exactly I’ve been eating. Daylily buds? Bamboo fungus?

March 23, 2007, 10:20 pm
Filed under: beliefs

This week Episcopal bishops  rejected the Anglican Communion’s demand that US parishes be placed under international leadership.  The letter from the Episcopal bishops contained these rather refreshing lines:

We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God.

I like it when Christians speak with love, empathy, and compassion.  You know, like Jesus did.  It can really move me sometimes.

Unfortunately, I’m more often in agreement with the famous Mahatma Ghandi quote:  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

March 17, 2007, 5:09 pm
Filed under: music

I’ve long been a fan of Icelandic singer Bjork, so I’m thrilled to read she has a new album coming out in May.

Until then, you really should check out this video for a song off her last album, particularly you cat lovers…

March 17, 2007, 5:03 pm
Filed under: haiku


            between pickets

a peace lily

March 13, 2007, 9:49 pm
Filed under: beliefs

A group of Buddhist monks in Malaysia are struggling with an ant infestation problem. The monks are not permitted, according to religious guidelines, to harm the creatures, yet the insects are making meditation very difficult, and painful. So, alternative measures are sought:

An attempt to remove them using a vacuum cleaner failed, so the Buddhist community is appealing for help.

They cannot encourage anyone to harm the ants, but the chief monk says that if someone turns up unbidden and deals with them without the monks’ involvement then that is the will of the universe.

If I were going to be religious, Buddhism would be high on my list of choices. The commitment to peace and enlightenment, and the devotion to end suffering, are concepts I can embrace. But kindness to ants and other insects and arachnids would be challenging, and as this incident proves, rather impractical. I mean, how much suffering do such creatures really endure? I wouldn’t step on or kill every bug I saw, but if they were biting me, I certainly would.