Ask HN: Ask HN: Is it worth a back-end developer’s time to get into web-design and HTML/CSS

Hacker News: Ask HN: Is it worth a back-end developer’s time to get into web-design and HTML/CSS? Yes!

Alan Kay on education

Scholastic.com: Face to Face: Alan Kay Still Waiting for the Revolution:

Q: Well, what should 21st-century education be about?
A: The most critical thing about the 20th and 21st centuries is that there’s a bunch of new invented ideas–many of them connected with modern civilization–that our nervous systems are not at all set up to automatically understand. Equal rights, for example. Or calculus. You won’t find these ideas in ancient or traditional societies.

If you take all the anthropological universals and lay them out, those are the things that you can expect children to learn from their environment–and they do. But the point of school is to teach all those things that are inventions and that are hard to learn because we’re not explicitly wired for them. Like reading and writing.

Virtually all learning difficulties that children face are caused by adults’ inability to set up reasonable environments for them. The biggest barrier to improving education for children, with or without computers, is the completely impoverished imaginations of most adults.

Followup link: Squeakland.org

Where social software and desktop role playing meet

Obsidian Portal – I have a few friends that would LOVE to dive into this.

Aaron’s daughter learns about project scope

And a little Flash to boot 🙂

Flash sounds like a perfect tool to teach programming. Others I’ve been reading about:

Alice

Scratch (scratch is built on Squeak Smalltalk – there are other educational environments/tools built with it as well)

Snake Wrangling for Kids

Pygame

My roots: LOGO and Commodore BASIC.

Interesting related article at O’Reilly: Why Johnny Can’t Program.

Another newspaper using Django to rapidly stand up a Web site

Train Crash Leads LA Times to Create Django Database on Deadline via Simon Willison

How I’m celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

There is a light snowfall gracing Philadelphia today. The kind of quiet snowfall that brings with it an invitation for some reflection.

Saturday I got up as if it was a work day and headed to class. In a Villanova FastForward class, you attend once a week, and participate in mandatory activities online. For this class that boils down to a weekly timed online quiz, on Tuesday, and a new discussion topic to participate in each week.

Turns out many of my earlier fears were unfounded, at least for this particular class. There was a good mix of people aged from around 20 to around 60. So I didn’t turn out to be the old guy at the bar. And I did participate in answering questions from Dr. Pohlhaus, our instructor. Still, there is a required oral report later in the semester – I won’t be able to pull off my usual avoidance of public speaking. Scary, but this is good practice for me. That’s the only way to get better at something.

The course is required of all students going to Villanova – Christian Theology: An IntroductionTHL 1050-101. I’m enjoying the subject matter. Which is good because in this short running class there are four books to read. I’ve needed to reacquaint myself with note taking while reading, I haven’t hand written so much in such a short span in years.

Particularly timely is Stephen J. Nichols’ “Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us About Suffering & Salvation”. Getting to listen to Blues in class and talk about how it relates to theology is terrific. I lucked out in my first course. The music angle makes this easier for me – Heavy Metal loving, horrific songwriting guitarist that I am.

Grace, redemption, and hope from suffering, oppression, sorrow and pain.

In a way – I realize now that is the story of my mom’s life. It is the story each of us are compelled to write for ourselves one way or another. And it is a story that has written itself out in big strokes through history time and again.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Thank you.

And here is to tomorrow.

While I don’t look at President Obama as the miracle worker some do – and nor do I think things are going to radically ‘change’ because he is president – it does mark a new day in America and a recognition that massive change has already taken place. There is reason to hope. While some feel hope is a wasted emotion – I know otherwise. As does history. Hope encourages us to act and to fight for something better. We’re all in this together.

Sing.

Who is the Fifth Cylon == Who is Number One?

Ask yourself, who today would argue, “I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Not many. Think about this – by participating on the Internet – logging on your client – you’ve already permitted yourself to be identified by a number.

Number Six’s pursuit of freedom and individuality gave fans of the show something to root for. As did finding who was the hidden Number One behind the Village.

When revealed, the answer drove many fans of The Prisoner crazy. I *love* the ending. There’s layers of meaning there. But I wasn’t living in that day and age, waiting, and waiting for the answer, only to be confounded once broadcast (far more shocking than the controversial Soprano’s ending (which was a cop out)).

Like The Prisoner, Battlestar Galactica explores themes about humanity, individuality, community, mob dynamics, fear, surveillance, soulless commercialism, politics, the good and evil within us all. I wonder when we find out who the Fifth Cylon is there will be a collective “meh” or outrage? You’d have to be brave to pull off what The Prisoner did. Very brave in this day and age. The Prisoner challenged us to think about the world we were creating for ourselves – our world as it exists today.

Number 6: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Village.
Number 6: What do you want?
Number 2: We want information.
Number 6: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want information… information… information.
Number 6: You won’t get it.
Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number 6: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Number 6: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are Number 6.
Number 6: I am not a number, I am a free man.
Number 2: Laughter.

Wired: R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan, The Prisoner’s TV Visionary

AMC is doing a new version of The Prisoner, due later this year. They have a blog where you can follow the production and the main site is well done. Lacking are links to the pre-existing Prisoner community of fan sites and that is criminal if you ask me.

Wired: The Prisoner Reboots the Panopticon for 21st Century

Related links:

The Prisoner Online

Six of One: The Prisoner Appreciation Society

RetroWeb: The Prisoner

Wikipedia entry for The Prisoner

– Be seeing you.

Rest in peace: Patrick McGoohan and Ricardo Montalban

“The Prisoner”, and “The Wrath of Khan”.

Patrick McGoohan 80

Tor.com: Will you be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered?

AMC has put all 17 original episodes of The Prisoner online!: The Prisoner 1967-1968

Ricardo Montalban 88

Wrote my first book review at Amazon.com

“Cool Menthol Woman – haiku and other verse” by Howard Hall

Howard’s blog is at nonbreakingspace.com.

As I mention in the review, I’m biased, Howard’s a friend, but I’m telling you straight – nonbreakingspace.com is one my favorite reads on the Web. And you’ll love the book. Buy it.