vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)
Just got hit up for money by my alma mater.

Unfortunately, the caller couldn't actually describe where the money would go. I've had this problem before - I don't want to give money which gets dumped into programs which don't return education for money. "Return on Investment" we call it in business - call it "Education on Investment"

- I don't want money poured into administration costs.

- I don't want money poured into technology "toys" which will be EOL'd in 3-5 years. Universities should be looking at the 15 - 100 year term.

- I don't want money poured into sports beyond intramurals. I *vehemently* dislike collegiate sports - it's my observation and opinion that they are a blight on the education system.

- I do want money given broadly to people who need it. My family was, loosely stated, too financially well off to really get need-based scholarships, but not actually wealthy enough to put us through college. So that left student loans. I don't really think that's appropriate. I'd rather see college be free (or extremely low cost) for anyone who needs it.

- I do want to prioritize certain academic pursuits and areas. The library can add to their collection on my dime; if there's a "researcher" fund which supports lazy grad students & their travels to conferences that's great; if there's a broad need or merit based scholarship, that's excellent as well. But I have limited interest in funding, e.g., business majors.

- I am torn about majors - the fine arts are financially nil, but provide great and lasting meaning to society; "liberal arts" provides the reflection of free people but don't help in the short term, and STEM provides money, short term success (ie within your lifetime), and can be really hard to get through. I don't know which I'd support.

Anyway.
vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)

Why are you always on the internet, vlion?

Because I read. This morning, to date-

This weekend, notable readings included-

I also worked through a portion of Carl Hewitt's dissertation, which was the PLANNER system for goal-finding, and a miscellany of articles from Hacker News.

This is why I internet: a sampling of essays from a variety of authors on a variety of topics (regrettably, most material online readily available is from what I am coming to think of as the Internet Point Of View, and has a hard time dealing with genuinely alternate ideas (partially because the alternate idea-people don't always get online too much (Parenthetically))).

vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)
Saw malka mention something about king Arthur and his knights a bit ago and it spawned this thought...

I reread a relatively "mature" Arthur (a decently non-bowlderized l'morte d'arthur translation) a while ago - year or two - and my take on it was that the adventures was remarkably childish.

My takeaway was that it would have been better to have gone questing for Better Commerce and Improving The Lands Of The Peasants rather than the ephemera of combat glories.

What glory Arthur? To be remembered as someone who raised a castle with a round table with remarkably adventure-addicted knights? or someone like Catherine the Great, who began encouraging Russian industries in the 1600s, all fire and vigor pushing forward out of the Dark Ages.

Ah well. Perhaps after two World Wars and Vietnam, war is not quite as wonderful, not quite as glorious as it was once.

...

Mar. 22nd, 2010 09:04 pm
vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)
I'm travelling right now; in north New Mexico.

It's bleak country. Not much here at this time of year, just dried grass and green trees. Spring hasn't come to San Miguel county. It's poor here too - I have not seen any signs of wealth outside of New Mexico Highlands University. Many, many, many people are in trailers. Not particularly dilapidated and horrible trailers like I see in trailer parks where I come from, but just...trailers. Dirt streets. State highways that are between 1.5 and 1 lanes on a mountain. Old buildings abandoned. Dogs sleeping on empty streets. The ditch for water is a groove in the middle of the road. Potholes in every street. Grass succeeding in its struggle against asphalt in places. I think this area has been depopulated. The poverty in the living places isn't the sort of redneck- or student-trashed poverty I am familiar with in my life. This is a sort of poverty that is simply living with less money. The sort of poverty that doesn't get an asphalt drive, but keeps things neat anyway.

The altitude agrees with me - it is near the altitude I lived at from 7 to 18 years of age. It feels like home. Driving up winding roads and seeing the 40-degree steep slopes with brush and trees on them is home. The poor living reminds me of when I was very little; 4? 5? 6?, and living in North Carolina. We'd go to businesses that worked out of homes, because people didn't have offices. It was a more rural way of life, but also a poorer one.

My dad made $14K per year when I was that age; he was paid well for his industry in that place and time (late 80s). We lived in a trailer in a former plantation - the family of the plantation owner was the family that rented out the trailer. There was a post office and about 5 homes nearby. Behind us were tobacco fields and corn fields; down the road in one direction was a swamp with spanish moss hanging off the trees; in the other direction was a river, which we would boat about upon, and occasionally catch 'croaker' fish. When we wanted a treat, we would get chicken necks from the Piggly-Wiggly (a grocery story), and catch up crabs with them. That was good eating. But the socio-economic strata I lived in was not so different from this county.

There's a profoundly deep sense of having come home. It's not home. It's a cheap motel room in north New Mexico, thousands of miles away from home. People mostly speak Spanish here and I have not seen one comic book store or computer geek store. There is all of one bookstore in this town. I don't fit in, really. But part of me, the part of me that loves trees and hunting and hiking, the part of me that isn't rich and will never fit in with the even moderately well-off - that part of me feels good here. I could 'get back to nature', buy a plot of land and learn how to farm enough to live off of.

I've been caught between the hunter and the programmer for a decade now. I wonder if I'll ever resolve this conflict. If there's a resolution possible.

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