There are days that are technically not vacation, but because of the mores of society, become that way. And I come to the end of that day, bemused at how I could have spent so much of my afternoon, rather than working intently on a website that needs much updating, or a project that requires much thinking, instead reading (to my credit) a combination of recent-past news and articles in progressive sources, and (to my detriment) spending time looking at sports articles in wikipedia and CNN. Why would I do such a thing (the latter)? Is it a hearkening back to my old days in middle school of pouring over stats and absorbing the seeming-meaning in the mass of numbers? Or is it some sick desire to be present in the inanity of it all, a want to be consumed by all that I find wrong in this world? Most likely it simply reflects my interest in what I see to be a problem, a misplacement of our ideas of entertainment and culture, and a wish to think of ways either to 1) help fix it, or 2) stay far away from it. I don't have answers, nor do I have suggestions, not at this juncture. What follows are just flecks of thoughts, as I don't want to significantly contribute to the noise. * I realize that Asimov was more of a pulp science-fiction author than Herbert or Delany, and although I haven't read the book in question, but I doubt the dialogue in _I, Robot_ was as stilted and fake as the dialogue in the movie adaptation. * Solutions to the "large":http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1648472,00.html "problems":http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/1123-08.htm of our society will not come through legislation or top-down proclamations, but rather bottom-up via personal decisions by people not in power and by people in power. * With the No Child Left Behind Act comes bouts of testing, both at the state and the national level. Undoubtedly there will be comparisons of performance on state and national exams, as explored in an article from Friday's New York Times called "Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S.":http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/26/education/26tests.html. The results? In Alabama, 83 percent of the state's 4th graders scored at a proficient level on the state reading test, but only 22 percent scored at that level on the national test. A spokesman for the state Education Department had this to say: "Making comparisons to the NAEP [the national test] becomes very difficult without giving the impression that some states are not measuring up to others or to the nation." As if we shouldn't be having these impressions? As if having these impressions is somehow _bad_? * An interview on NPR from earlier this year regarding the trend to customized content and the dangers this brings: "TiVo, iPod, the Human Ego and the Future":http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4463062. More on this in future posts. More thoughtfulness in the future, I promise. fn1. A vacation where we worship the dollar and the "blackness":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_%28shopping%29 that it brings clanging and shuffling into the coffers of our retailers. fn2. My opinion only, of course. Other probably consider articles about "The Origins of Music: Innateness, Uniqueness, and Evolution" inane, and they're most entitled to that opinion. fn3. And I perhaps never will. fn4. A definite misnomer.