Technology makes us dumber

I got a new phone. In order to call my parents, I press a button, and then I say “mom and dad”, and it calls them for me. As I observed last week, Google allows dumb people to do things that they would otherwise be incapable of doing. And now my phone relieves me of even the mental exercise of pressing number buttons, and of remembering a phone number.

When I was teaching College Algebra, I became convinced that calculators were leading to dumber students being able to pass math classes. I am now becoming more and more convinced that computers in general are allowing dumber people to survive the evolutionary process, but that they are also making the rest of us dumber. I think I’m a pretty smart person, but I can’t remember my parents’ phone number, because I don’t have to. I have trouble writing (by hand) a page of text, because I have been typing so long that that much writing makes my hand cramp up. It’s really quite pathetic.

Of course, technology allows me to be physically unfit also, but that’s hardly a new thing. The phone just got me thinking. Or, perhaps, it enabled me not to have to think …

Apache training, day 5

Day 5 of the Apache training has normally been pretty rushed, and an opportunity to cover last minute stuff before people dashed off to the airport. Well, I’ve decided to add real content to day 5, so that 1) people really feel that they are missing something if they leave early, and 2) so that the notes that they have to take with them are actually worthwhile for that last day.

So, I’ve added quite a bit about mod_dav, mod_rewrite, and mod_proxy, as well as a complete treatment of migrating to Apache 2.0.

I suppose I really aught to write some “slides” for this content, but I tend to consider that somewhat less important, so I’ll just probably have all the examples up on the screen while I talk about stuff.

Apache Training

Past the half-way mark in the Apache training class. Things are going well. Having an intelligent student makes all the differentce between a frustrating week and an enjoyable week. Having a student with Unix experience makes things even better. This has been an enjoyable week so far.

Weird thing happened this week. Elections coming up in Kenya on the 27th, and there are two people that really have a chance of winning. Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the son of the first president, and hand-picked by the current president to be his succsssor, and Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki used to be the current president’s vice president, but was fired a few years back. Kibaki was involved in a pretty serious car accident yesterday. The official story is that he is not badly hurt, but he was flown to London for treatment, which seems more serious than the fractured arm and sprained ankle that they are reporting. It seems rather suspicious, in a country where politicians have been involved in “accidents” as they rose to power. But today Kibaki assured people that there was nothing underhanded about the accident – that it really was a normal accident.

And today we had the first real snow of the year. There’s quite a bit of accumulation, and the roads were kind of a mess on the way home. People were driving 35 about the whole way, which got annoying real fast, but was probably just as well.

Listen, Port, Bindaddress

Yesterday started training again. I find myself wondering, yet again, why the default configuration file uses ‘Port 80’ rather than ‘Listen 80’, while the documentation says that Port and Bindaddress are deprecated. I’ll have to experiment with setting Listen, and not setting Port, and see if any bad things happen. The only strange thing that comes to mind is that Port has a default value of 80, so if we leave it out entirely, it is still set to 80. I think.

These classes invariably bring up something in the docs that could be done better. Which is pretty cool. It’s like these folks are contributing to Apache just by virtue of letting me talk at them. 😉

Pres. Lincoln

I have been reading my great great grandfather’s diary (Isaac F Nace, Company F, 128th Pennsylvania, Union Army), and today I came across this:

Fri, April 10th, 1863

Weather very fine. Pres. Lincoln had a review of the 11th and 12th army Corps. We were taken out about 9 A.M. and had to wait till about 8 in P.M. when the President together with General Hooker made their apearance to review our corps. After the review was over we proceeded to our camp tired and hungry. Subscribed for a picture giving the names of our company & battles we were in. Have to pay $1.00 for the picture.

Chrisman Cab, Vintner’s reserve

Just a quick note before I forget to mention it. I was at Chrisman Mill tasting room yesterday, and tasted the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon, which just released. It was wonderful, but very very tannic. Chris says that it will age gracefully 25 or 30 years. Like I have that kind of patience. But I will try very very hard. I bought two bottles, and will try to keep them as long as I possibly can.

I also tasted the Vintner’s reserve, which is all Kentucky Chambourcin. It was fantastic. It is a light-bodied red, with all the fruitiness of a Beaujolais (Not a nouveau. Not that kind of Beaujolais. Think Beaujolais Villages.) It has not released yet. I know that there is an exceedingly limited quantity. I should have gone ahead and bought a bottle for her to hold for me. I hope I don’t miss it.

Anyways, if you want the cab, you better go quick.

Apparently the mead lasted less than a week, and I missed it. Darn. Maybe some of the local wine stores got some. I’ll have to check next week.


Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day,
The sun obliquely shoots his burning Ray
The hungry judges soon the sentence sign
And wretches hang that jury-men may dine

–The Rape of the Lock, Alexander Pope, 3:19ff

Cline Old Vines Zin

The Cline Old Vines Zinfandel is always a pleasure. Grown on vines that are somewhere in the 50-100 year age range, the wine is robust, big bodies, and powerful in the mouth. It always has that wonderful peppery zinfandel aroma and taste, and lots of good earthy smells.

The first time I visited Sonoma, I stopped first at Cline, which is down at the south end of the valley. I think that the sign said you were allowed to taste 4 wines, or something like that, and it was supposed to be a half ounce of each, perhaps. Well, the guy that was pouring that day was feeling generous, and I believe I probably had 8 half-glasses of wine – perhaps even more – before I was done. It made the rest of the day very interesting, and I have, since then, had a warm place in my heart for Cline.

And, of course, one of the wines I tasted that day was the Old Vines Zin, which has been a favorite of mine ever since, and I get it almost every time it is in stock and ye olde wine shop.

The particular zin I had this time was a 2000, and I’m afraid I have no idea what I paid for it, but I seem to recall it was in the $11 range. Perhaps a little more.


My various attempts to keep up a web site with my tasting notes have proved rather fruitless. The technology is just hard enough to use that I don’t stay disciplined, so I fall behind, and it goes down hill from there.

I’ve started using Movable Type for another project, and it seems to really work for me. So perhaps this will encourage me to stay up on this.

So, watch this space, and I’ll try really hard to keep notes on everything I taste. Of course, this is primarily for my own benefit, since I seem to have a memory like a seive lately, and can’t remember from one day to the next what I tasted.

The Margin Is Too Narrow