The Final Countdown

We are down to the final weeks before the end of Yingwen’s pregnancy. It is amazing we have made it this far. What am I saying “we”? It’s all due to Yingwen’s perseverance; enduring months of morning sickness, full-time bed rest, hospital stays, body changes, and the side effects of medication – for eight months so far! And that perseverance has paid off: Rather than having this kid three months early like we had feared, she has made it all the way to a reasonable range within this kid’s target due date.

I should start a baby pool. I’ll see if I can get a form put together for voting on the actual date. It could be any time between next week and late August if the due date of 8/18 is to be relied upon. But we all think it will be sooner rather than later, given the history of this whole thing.

We did find out that this will be another boy, and we have decided on a name: Dylan Alexander Lewis. Has a nice rhythm to it, don’t you think? Can’t wait to meet the guy.

We know that his three year old big brother Maxwell is looking forward to this. He knows how to say dì dì (弟弟) and point at mommy’s belly. He is only three, but seems to be very good with babies. He likes to hold babies on his lap and always wants to play with them. It’s unbelievably cute. I know he’ll be a good big brother.

iPod’s Educational Angle

Wired News: Duke Gives IPods to Freshmen

This is such a cool idea for distributing multimedia curriculum:

Students also will be able to use the devices to download course content, recorded lectures, foreign language lessons, audio books and music from a special Duke website modeled after iTunes. The school will supply voice recorders for some classes, enabling students to record notes while working in the field.

Imagine the implications – one could retreive supplimental course info at any time, from a centralized Intranet website, or possibly via kiosks, and have instant access to all their downloaded material at any time. Giving this technology to each students allows curriculum developers to really get creative and go after new directions in creating educational material.

The kiosk idea gets even more interesting now that I think about it. Imagine having a kiosk at an art museum or where visitors could just download an audio tour. Or how about a symphony hall, where visitors might be able to hear a pre-concert lecture and recorded versions of the music selections long after they’ve enjoyed the live performance. Of course, such a kiosk would somehow have to figure out how to just download a few specific files without trying to sync the whole damn iPod, but that seems like it would be a simple software issue. Alternately, downloads from a website would do the trick, but then you lose the physical presence effect of having a kiosk within the perimiter of a building.

Language learning comes in particularly handy with an iPod. I have imported all 32 of my Pimseleur Mandarin level 1 & 2 CDs into mine, and can review any lesson I want to work on at any time. I have 16 more CDs to add when level 3 arrives.

I think what Duke is doing here is outstanding, and I am betting that many more will follow. I wish that I had this kind of technology when I was in college. Heck, all I had was a Mac SE and access to a bunch of Quadras in our computer lab back at NEC. I mean, that was cool and all at the time, but iPods as a means of enhancing curriculum at a music conservatory is a no-brainer. It has to happen eventually…

A Shotgun and a Case of Coors

The Peking Duck: “No arms for china!”

Richard over at The Peking Duck opined:

Personally, I’d rather see the ban extended, especially considering its original purpose. I’m all for doing business with China’s companies and encouraging as much trade as possible. But building up Jiang’s army with high-tech weaponry — I just don’t see the justification, considering the country’s history of arms trafficking, not to mention its recent belligerent attitude.

Couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’d say that this is quite an understatement. China’s belligerent attitude is pretty far from a recent development – the threats against Taiwan have been constant since the late 1940s (give it a freakin’ rest already?), and I remember all too well the warm fuzzy feelings of fear and disgust when on my first trip to Kaohsiung back in 1996 China was lobbing missiles just a few miles off the coast and ranting about “washing Taiwan in a sea of blood.” Freakin’ psychos. I think we can all agree: Selling arms to China is like giving Dick Cheney a loaded shotgun and a case of Coors at an anti-Iraq-war rally. You’re just just asking for trouble.

Fool Me Once…

Yahoo! News – Bush: Re-Election Will Ensure U.S. Safety

President Bush said Tuesday his re-election will ensure safety for Americans as well as for those in the rest of the world in the war against terrorism.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Let’s see how the past four years have played out, shall we? Hmmm… first there was 9/11 which happened under Bush’s “watch”. Then we had our economy crumble. Terrorism is up. Our rights as American Citizens crumbling under things like the “Patriot” Act, separation of church and state eroding, rollback of women’s rights, rollback of environmental protection. What else am I missing? Oh yes right: blatant corruption. Bush’s close ties to Enron and the gouging of California during the fakey energy crisis, Cheney’s Halliburton war profiteering in Iraq, and all the other little gems that keep popping up.