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Archive: February 19, 2003

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Back in the Elevator

Wednesday,  02/19/03  09:23 AM

I few days ago I posted In the Elevator and asked for your feedback.  Many of you responded - thanks! - and the consensus was that Ms. X would be intrigued.  That is good.  However, a few of you also felt it was "harsh".  That is not so good.  So I ruminated on this for a bit...

I think the problem was the word “dumb”.  It doesn't only mean “not smart”, it also conveys “bad”.  The strange weird amazing thing about intelligence is that unlike many other human attributes, there is an implied moral judgment.  Just because you're tall or blond or left-handed or blue-eyed, doesn't make you “better”. You could equally be short or brunette or right-handed or brown-eyed.  But smart is perceived as better than not as smart.  This is a tough thing to get around.  People identify smarter with better, and so adjectives which mean “not as smart” also have the connotation “bad”.  This is not accidental, in fact it is deeply significant and relevant.

So - what to do?  Well, first, I've amended In the Elevator to use "less intelligent" and "not as smart" instead of "dumb" and "dumber".  Perhaps you could check it out and tell me if this is an improvement.  Second, the idea that "not as smart" = "not as good" deserves some air time.  I've actually planned a whole section of the book on "Why is This a Problem", after all, it doesn't follow that just because humans are becoming less intelligent, this is bad.  Humans are also becoming taller and heavier, and this doesn't seem bad (except possibly to furniture manufacturers).

I played around with adding something about dumb=bad to the elevator statement, and then I realized it is not necessary.  (And it would consume two or three floors... :)  Although there can be debate on this point - and there will be in the book - most people accept that IF humans are becoming less intelligent, THEN that's a bad thing.  Showing the premise is true is the job of part one ("What's Happening?") and showing the conclusion follows is part three ("Why is This a Problem?").  In between we have part two ("Why Isn't This Obvious") which discusses the masking effects shielding the problem.

[Please see Baby Steps if you have no idea what's going on here...]

© 2003-2017 Ole Eichhorn


Wednesday,  02/19/03  05:28 PM

Jordan's CarI have a public service announcement.  My daughter Jordan now has her driving permit (Congratulations!)  If you are driving in Northwest Los Angeles and you see a blue Volvo station wagon, you have been warned.

Have you ever wondered what the makers of kids' software are smoking?  This morning my daughter Megan was watching Dora the Explorer on Nickelodeon, and she saw an ad for a game on the Nick Jr. website.  She came running into my office to go online and play the game.  That's when it started.  Twenty minutes later she was happily playing the game, and I was back to work.  What happened in the meantime was not pretty.

We launch our browser and go to  We immediately see Dora, and click on her.  A new window opens, and we get a dialog box telling us there is a new version of Flash available.  Forget Flash, we just want to play the game, right?  I hit Cancel and on we go.  Except we don't because next we get a message telling us we need a newer version of the Shockwave plug-in.  So be it.  Click the "Upgrade" button.  Now we get a 5MB download, then nothing happens.  Oh, yeah, I have to go find the file and double-click it to install.  Okay, found the file, double-clicked it, installed, all cool.  Now we can play the game!  Nope.  Now we get a gratuitous message welcoming us to Shockwave.  Okay, welcome it is, click okay.  Now I get a registration form!  Man, I want to play a game here, okay?  Register me another day.  Sheesh.  Hit cancel.  The browser goes to!  Seriously, what are these people thinking?  We're trying to play a game here.  Back at the Nick Jr. website we now get a message in the browser window telling us 3D Groove is being downloaded.  What?!  Okay, whatever.  Now we can play, here we go...  Close, but no cigar.  After the download completes we get the following message: "3D Groove SX is compatible with OS X in Classic Mode only".  I am not making this up.  Now, I happen to understand this message, but how many parents are going to deal with this?  Okay, so I quit the browser and relaunch in Classic mode.  (If you're not a Mac aficionado, feel free to use this example the next time a Machead tells you how much simpler Macs are than Windows.)  You know what happens next, right?  Yep, now we have to upgrade our Classic version of Shockwave.  Which isn't that easy, because after you download it, where the heck does it go when there's no Classic desktop?  After a little searching with Sherlock I find the Shockwave Installer, install it, and now we're going to be happy, right?  Noooo - now we get the registration dialog again.  Hey, I don't want to register, I want to play the game.  Onward...  And we get the 3D Groove is being downloaded message again...  And this time - finally! - the game starts.  Man.

The sad thing is, this is no exception.  Software is still too hard to use.  Especially if you're a parent.


Wednesday,  02/19/03  11:03 PM

No America's Cup today, the wind was too shifty.  Previously TNZ announced they were replacing tactician Hamish Pepper with backup helmsman Bertrand Pace.  The change makes sense; Pace has beaten [Alinghi helmsman] Russell Coutts before and is an aggressive starter, which TNZ badly needs being down 3-0 in the best of nine.

Can you even believe what Kobe Bryant is doing?  Tonight he scored 40 against the Jazz, making his seventh straight game with at least 40, and eleventh with at least 35.  This is Jordanesque, to say the least.  Last night he scored 52 against the Rockets to lead the Lakers to a double-overtime win over Houston, pulling them into playoff position with a performance that featured a gravity-defying monster dunk over 7'6" Yao Ming.  Whew.

Microsoft has bought Connectix, the innovative company which makes Virtual PC.  They claim this as evidence of their support for the Mac platform, but I'm suspicious; if you take away Virtual PC then Apple can't claim Windows programs run on a Mac anymore.  Would have made more sense if Apple had bought them...

So perhaps you think newspapers are outdated?  Well, I do.  I haven't taken a daily paper for five years.  But here in L.A. we're getting a new one - The L.A. Examiner is being reborn, courtesy of ex-mayor (and ex-gubernatorial candidate) Richard Riordan.  This project grew out of Riordan's dissatisfaction with the liberal L.A. Times, and is headed by Ken Layne and Matt Welch, the journalists who founded the L.A. Examiner blog.  These bloggers are going the wrong way - back to paper.  Oh well, they do have a great site.  They're hoping to emulate Ira Stoll, who founded the website to counterbalance the N.Y.Times, then went on to start the New York Sun about a year ago.

P.S. My first job was delivering papers for the L.A. Herald Examiner.  It was heavy.

Glen Reynolds, the InstaPundit, has an op-ed piece in the Guardian (U.K newspaper).  Interesting becuase 1) Glen leans right and the Guardian leans left, 2) Glen is a blogger and the Guardian is a newspaper, 3) Glen is interesting.  Read it!

LGF points to: Human Shields Limp into Baghdad.  Charles comments "I hope someone was filming this trip; it sounds like a combination of Spinal Tap and The Big Bus.  But dumber."  Yep.  And speaking of filming trips, if you have broadband, check out Evan Coyne Maloney's antiwar protest vlog.  It speaks for itself.

Dave Winer thinks Teoma is as good as Google.  Nope.  They can't even find me.  Google can!


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