July 9th, 2009


Cheers for Sotomayor

This will make it a lot harder for the Republicans to keep whinging about how "unfit" she is.

American Bar Association Gives Sonia Sotomayor Its Highest Rating
James Oliphant and David G. Savage, The Los Angeles Times: "Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has received the stamp of approval from the American Bar Assn. less than a week before her confirmation hearing begins on Capitol Hill. Sotomayor, a sitting federal appeals judge in New York, was deemed 'well qualified. to serve as an associate justice on the high court by an ABA panel -- the highest rating the national attorney organization bestows."

Reducing Car Use

Yesterday I was out of the house much of the day, so I'm catching up on "Save the World Wednesdays." This week's challenge:
For one full day this week, don't use (or ride in) a car. That's right ... leave the car at home and either walk, ride a bicycle or take public transportation (or even ... stay home). One full day ... 24 hours ... no car.

OR ... if you are already car free, write a post about not using a car. Include such topics as how to make it work, drawbacks and solutions, and why it's better for the environment.

We used to go into town every day. We can't afford to do that anymore. So, now we have two days per week for shopping and errands, usually Monday and Friday. Sometimes we add social trips, usually on Saturday or Sunday. About once a month we make it up to the big farmer's market in Champaign, which is on Saturday mornings. On a typical week, we drive on less than half the days.

This has its ups and downs. It limits my access to the post office, which I need for work; but as more and more publishers switch to electronic submissions, that problem shrinks. It is much less of an issue now than just two or three years ago. We also have more time to do things at home, such as writing and yardwork.

If we could afford to go out more, we probably would. But I'd consider keeping one day a week for staying at home; it's a useful contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and fossil fuel dependency. (Because we live in a rural area, it is not possible for us to be completely car-free.)

Do you have days when you don't use your car(s)?

Family Skills: Things to Say Often

Communication is a vital part of family life. Long conversations are important, but some of the most important things to say are short. These are a few things that family members should be able to say under the appropriate circumstances:

1) I love you.
2) I'm proud of you.
3) Is something bothering you?
4) I'm sorry.
5) What was your day like?
6) I need your help.
7) I appreciate you doing that.
8) Don't worry about it, I'll do that.
9) I'm confident you can handle it.
10) Good job!
11) What do you think?
12) Drive safely.

Poem: "Miss Turing Passes the Test"

This poem came out of the July 7, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from marina_bonomi and siliconshaman, and selected in the generally sponsored poetry poll. Allusions in this poem refer to the Turing Test, intended to distinguish artificial intelligence. This is an early-generation ratbot.

Miss Turing Passes the Test

In the end, it was not intelligence
that convinced them.

They were testing the ratbot –
rodent brain wired to robot body –
when it got loose
and raced madly around the lab

while the girlbot
stood screaming on a chair.

Poem: "I, Schrodinger"

This poem came out of the July 7, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from siliconshaman and chosen in the generally sponsored poetry poll. siliconshaman wondered how an augmented cat would view humans. Apparently, about the same as an ordinary cat. The name of the cat refers to a famous quantum experiment, Schrodinger's Cat.

I, Schrodinger

I am tabby, distant kin of the ounce.
Though scientists made me to be their tool,
I am no leaf in some genetic pool.
They are the ones, someday, I shall denounce.
My whiskers arch; I tense; at last I pounce!
The mouse I catch is plastic, smooth and cool.
It gives me pleasure. Don’t call me a fool.
I know myself – a self – and that’s what counts.

Come feed me, scientist! Come clean my mess!
Then let me return to my avatar.
(The stealthy hunter leaves a false address.)
Across these screens, I roam where mountains are,
Gray tabby descended of ounce, oh yes –
Descended, perhaps, not so very far.