Transmitting Chinese Cultural Values

I’ve been learning a bit of Asian history, since it is something I know little about. One question is about the role of ancient Chinese culture across other East Asian societies. Buddhism played a role in transmitting Chinese cultural and social values to both Korea and Japan. This is because the Buddhism that went to Korea and Japan carried with it a more intensely Chinese form of the philosophy than the version originally developed in India. Grigg’s entire thesis is the Buddhism of Japan, Zen, is derived from the Korean form (Seon), itself an import of the Chinese Chan form

An Engraved Invitation

It has suddenly become fashionable to assert that children must be taught cursive handwriting or there has been some sort of failure in their education. In fact, here’s a New York Times article on the topic, posted after I had written this. Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting? There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write. I am, here, drawing a distinction between cursive and

Chernobyl’s Liquidators

At this moment, thirty years ago, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near Pripyat, Ukraine, suffered a “catastrophic power increase,” commonly called a meltdown, that killed 31 people. This post is not to retell the story of Chernobyl. A magnificant 2006 documentary, The Battle of Chernobyl tells the story well enough and it has been uploaded to YouTube numerous times: One part of the story that still amazes me is the story of the Chernobyl Liquidators. The initial explosion shot radioactive debris for miles. An area known as the “Zone of Alienation” is contaminated, the area will be access controlled for

A Love Note to Kermit

Occasionally, I post some pictures and notes on hardware projects we have going on in the Cybernetics Laboratory, which is to say, my desk. One thing that always comes up a program called Kermit, originally built by Columbia University, now maintained by the Kermit Project. Kermit has been around since the early 1980s, but I learned of it in the early 1990s from BBSes. I would download stuff using XMODEM, but some BBS systems would offer Kermit as a file transfer protocol. I would learn a lot more about Kermit in the mid 1990s. My mother started a postgraduate program

One useless man posts on Facebook, two respond to it, and three or more become a flamewar

Facebook arguments are a great source of blogging material, so here we go. This weekend, someone posted the picture above showing a quote attributed to John Adams: In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. John Adams never said this. The confusion though is genuine. The line was written by Peter Stone for the character of John Adams in the 1969 musical, 1776. And the mythology surrounding it is great. Everyone thinks Adams wrote this: Wikiquote thinks he wrote

The Cuckoo's Egg, by Clifford Stoll (Doubleday, via the National Library of Medicine)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Egg

Over the weekend, I watched “The KGB, the Computer, and Me,” a NOVA dramatization of Cliff Stoll’s experience chasing down a 75 cent accounting error. I read the book, The Cuckoo’s Egg, back in the 90s, and it’s a great book, though the cookies didn’t turn out, when I made them. NOVA dramatizes the events fairly well, though Stoll is an interesting narrator. Someone put the NOVA episode on YouTube, so take an hour and watch it. Image by Doubleday, via the National Library of Medicine.