Monthly Archives: March 2009

Ada Lovelace Day: Esther Dyson

"take it away!" by Esthr on FlickrToday is Ada Lovelace Day, a celebration of women in tech. Ada was a mathematician and the world’s first programmer; in the mid-19th Century she wrote technical documentation and programs for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

This year, Suw Charman-Anderson made a pledge: “I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.” Over 1,800 people agreed, and so here you are. Continue reading

clearing the plate so we may fill it

Brad makes an excellent point:

There is an incredible amount of value in a clean slate and an empty inbox every day. Instead of burning up hours on an endless stream of interesting (but ultimately useless) content, I am faced with a blank page and a free block of time to write, code, design, create and explore on a much more frequent basis.

I suffer from a plague of options. It used to be sufficient just to weed out the ones I wasn’t capable of pursuing. Then I filtered out those I found uninteresting. Now it’s gotten to the point where I have to choose between Awesome Opportunity A and Amazing Situation B, and it’s hard work.

For instance, I stopped being a GeekDad last month. I hadn’t been writing much for them anyway, but declaring it over meant that I could unsubscribe from mailing lists, close my “story ideas” file, clear the Moo Cards out of my wallet, and generally stop worrying so much about missing (self-imposed) deadlines. I was a little sad to lose the opportunity, but I was overjoyed at this new clear space in my life. My inbox actually reached zero!

I’ve also decided not to worry so much about the kinds of opportunities I’m offered. When I have a dozen choices for college, any one of which will give me the opportunity to learn what I need, it doesn’t matter so much if one of them doesn’t turn out. (Mind you, MIT would have been impressive. It’s just that wherever I end up will be just as useful.)

Instead, I’m creating more. Note that I didn’t say starting more projects, because that way lies madness. The focus now is working, not starting. Completion, not ideas. If you know me at all, you know how difficult that can be.

when “non-dairy” gets scary

milk gone badI just had to pass along this post at The Ethicurean about Milk Protein Concentrates (MPCs) and their effect on the US dairy industry. It’s worth a read, but I’ll cut right to the really scary part:

Perhaps because of MPCs’ sketchy origins, they have never been approved as a food ingredient by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (They are, however, a common ingredient in some brands of glue.) The FDA has a list of additives it allows in processed food – the GRAS list, for Generally Recognized as Safe – and MPCs ain’t on it. That means the FDA hasn’t carried out safety tests on MPCs, as the law requires for any additive on the GRAS list.

I was therefore surprised to learn that MPCs are widely used in dairy products manufactured and sold in the United States. Kraft Singles have them, as did most other brands of processed cheese slices that I checked in the grocery store last night. Some snack foods, coffee creamers, candies, and nutritional drinks have them. They’re not approved by the FDA as a food ingredient, but they’re in a whole lot of food.

Yeeeeah. And we wonder why we end up with food scares and recalls. Pay attention to where your food comes from, kids.

[from The Linkery via John]

Tell 3 Campaign

This is a really good idea:

Why is this important? It’s important because California voted to get rid of marriage rights for our community. It’s important because 29 other states have done the same. It’s important because LGBT people get fired from their jobs just for being who they are, kids get beat up in school for seeming “queer” while school administrators do nothing about it, and same-sex couples can’t foster or adopt while children in need go without homes. Isn’t it getting old?

The good news is that equality is coming into style. We don’t have as many supporters as we need (yet), but the community of straight allies is growing. LGBT visibility has brought a lot of progress, but the research we’ve seen says that being out and visible is not enough (read it here if you don’t believe us). What changes people’s hearts and minds and gets them to support equality is having had personal, close relationships with gay people. Relationships where – through conversations – straight people learn what it’s like to be LGBT.

Yes, the fifteen-year-olds of this country are overwhelmingly supportive of our rights. But if we don’t want to wait around for today’s teenagers to become middle-aged before we get equality, we’re going to have to get more people to support us. And the best way to do that is by Telling 3.