Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Humor Me

Posted: May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I could not resist adding this interesting joke that occurred to me a day or so ago.    CONTEXT:  Our standard fare on Sunday evenings is FYO or Fix Your Own.  So, I was making myself a peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise, cheese and banana sandwich.  My wife says “YUK” so I know what you are thinking too, but you should not knock what you have not tried.  Anyway, the kind of sandwich is not really relevant to the “joke”, “quip”, or whatever you want to call it.

As I was making my sandwich, my wife said, “I better be making myself something to eat.  You know, I don’t like eating alone.”  to which I replied “I guess that makes you a bank.”

I am not usually that quick, so I had to include it in my blog.

Cecil

PS.  I guess it is not that clever if you don’t get it.  You see, Banks don’t like it when people default on loans called “eating a loan”.

Rise of the Machine Age

Posted: February 12, 2012 in Philosophy, psychology
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You can write this off to my enjoyment of science fiction if you like.  The predictive ability of future prognosticators is notoriously poor so you can ignore me on that basis if you like.  But, I think the facts about the direction of our world situation make this scenario plausible if not exactly on target.  They are:
1) There is an ever increasing demand for oil which is a depletable resource.  Known resources are limited.
2)  The population of the world continues to increase and there is a limit to its growth.  The resources of the earth are not infinite.  The larger the population, the faster resources are depleted.
3)  Most people don’t care about what will happen in a 100 years.  Most of us only care what will happen in our lifetime.  This makes the first two facts of little concern to most people.
4) Human caused or natural, the warming of the planet several degrees will not allow humans to sustain their current rate of growth.
5) Information technology, materials engineering, and robotic technology are advancing at an enormous rate.
6) The economic systems and human systems addicted to the concept of growth is unlikely to change without external pressure to do so.  The pressure could come too late to save the human race or at least most of it.

We like to view the human as the pinnacle of evolutionary achievement or the favored creation of God.  It is hard to reconcile this with the statements above.  Is there anything in the works that might save this evolutionary progress?  Possibly.

We are honing in on artificial intelligence.  We are beginning to understand aspects of consciousness.  We are beginning to create machines that can repair other machines.  We are about to harness a world wide network of intelligence that can be tapped electronically.  Machines are not as sensitive to changes in the environment.  If they acquire intelligence, consciousness, they just may be more rational than humans.  So, when the human race dies out, it will be our creation that takes on the next evolutionary step of the universe.  Who knows, machines which can currently read DNA and store it electronically may in fact create a digital replica to integrate with their design.
Now you think I am crazy?  Well only if you have not engaged in thinking that evolution may not yet be finished.  Only if you just assumed humans were as good as it can get.  Only if you don’t want to think about the sad state of affairs we are making, fouling our own nest, the world.  You may think I am being pessimistic about the future.  In fact, it seems to me I am being optimistic thinking that there just might be something in the future that will be better, fairer, more just, smarter, and concerned about consequences than the current model of human.  If an intelligent robot could be repaired indefinitely, its longer view time horizon might make it much more serious about treating the world better.  And, as a machine, it would be in much better condition to explore other worlds. We won’t be around to see if any of this makes sense, but we still have hope the ingenuity of the human species won’t be wasted in a grand global melt down.

 For an excellent video to see why I hold these beliefs, go to
NEXT WORD: FUTURE INTELLIGENCE


I have heard the story, and repeated it myself a number of times, about how the position of Superintendent of Schools got started. It makes sense to me. It goes something like this.

Somewhere, sometime in the past, there was a small school that had a single teacher for all the grades, a typical one-room school house. In the winter, in addition to the responsibility to teach, the teacher had to keep the building warm by keeping the fire going in the pot-belly stove. She, and to begin with they were all women, also had the responsibility to keep the place tidy which included sweeping and emptying the trash as needed. Even at this time, a school board was responsible for hiring the teacher, paying her, and mediating issues of underwriting the costs associated with running a school. Somewhere, someplace, one of these boards, being generous and concerned about the welfare of their teacher, decided to hire someone to help with the chores, do the sweeping and clean up, and keep the stove stoked and ready for school before the teacher even arrived. They were called the school superintendent, what today we would call the custodian. Not to be outdone, this practice caught on, easing the burden on the teacher so she could concentrate on teaching.

In some school, the board happened to hire a rather overqualified and talented person, one with initiative and a outgoing personality. Since this person was not tied down to the classroom, he, most likely a he, socialized with members of the board and discussed the issues of the day including the need to enlarge the school or even build a second one. Before long, the board, feeling the stress of needing to grow, sought some help. They decided to hire this janitor for a bigger role. He was not to be just the custodian, but an adviser to the board since he was in and around the school a lot. In this special relationship with the board, he promoted the idea of a bigger job with more pay as their agent in dealing with the issues of the day. Persuasive, they went along this easy path and hired him. Now, instead of being the school superintendent, he became the Superintendent of the School. Using his special access to the board while the teacher was busy in the classroom, his position became important. It became a filter through which the board understood what was going on in the school. His job developed to be the most important position in that district. At this point, he became the arbiter of information, the boss of the teacher, the chief honcho in the school district. As the schools grew, as they began to hire male teachers, the male teachers began to see administrative positions as the logical way to advance, to make more money, to have power to influence the direction of education. And it was not long before programs to train men how to be administrators developed to provide legitimacy to the role of administrator. Now, the building superintendent is supposed to also be an expert in educational theory as well as finance, and public relations.

This is how I have heard that the building superintendent became the most important person in a school district, a position paying several times what a teacher is paid as though the corporate model was the most appropriate model for education.  An administrator doesn’t have to grade papers or prepare for tomorrows classes.  An administrator can participate in civil sector activities during the day without having to arrange for a substitute.  An administrator doesn’t have to evaluate and grade students although he might have to evaluate teachers.  It is easy to forget what it is like to be a teacher, to prepare for a class knowing that the night before their students probably watched at least one TV show that costs thousands of dollars to produce.

Education would be more effective it administrators taught classes they had to prepare for and teachers would be more effective if part of their time was in participation with the administrative aspects of education.  As described above, we somehow got things mixed up.