September 30th, 2005

dead wombat

How I wish that there were more than 24 hours in a day

Me and Jello Biafra, yeah.

I managed to enter and verify the rest of my box o'work last night, finishing up around 0130 this morning. I sent the resulting file in, and chose to drive up to North Minneapolis to turn in the box because I knew if I waited until later in the morning after I'd gotten 5-6 hours of sleep I'd be trying to fight my way downtown through unfamiliar streets or get logjammed on I-94, and I didn't like either of those two options. Got back home and into bed by 0230, which means I'm minimally functional today...and that only because I used up one of my emergency cans of Boss Coffee this morning. Aggghhh. At least I have a better idea how long it takes to whip out a box of records now, so I shouldn't have to pull another late night blitz like this again.

On the to-do list: finishing up my apazine for the collation tomorrow and getting a full night's sleep so I can crank on the data entry in the morning before I head over to David & Judies for the ritual assembly of the disty. This will be StippleAPA 215, and it gives me a warm feeling to know that I've been there for most of it.

I also need to pack up the CDs and the copy of The Sims Deluxe Edition that sold on eBay this week, as well as throw some more stuff up there. I'm seriously considering selling my copy of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, which seemed to lose its freshness fairly quickly in terms of game play...while it had similarities to the Civilization series of games, having to work within the constraints of each faction's political/social/economic system became very frustrating very quickly, so I can't say I'll miss it a lot. As it is, the net from this week's auctions ought to keep the Kia in gas for the next week, especially since I'm not planning on driving around a whole lot.

As much as I love Iowa...

...I think building an indoor rain forest over by Iowa City and the Coralville Mall is just completely fscking stupid. Everyone knows Bismarck, North Dakota would be much more suitable. Aggravating the stupidity is that Senator Chuck Grassley (R(sic)-Iowa) thinks that every red-blooded American should dig into their wallets and pony up some of their hard-earned shekels to help pay for this stupidity, appropriately renamed the Pork Forest by local opponents.

Well, what was once buried among the obscure earmarks of a bloated, logorrheic transportation appropriation act has been brought to national attention thanks to the Porkbusters project. Perhaps all too predictably, Iowahawk rises to the defense of the project and its funding. RTWT.

Throwing money at schools using the curve instead of the fastball

Joanne Jacobs talks about a Mitt Romney initiative aimed at giving middle school/high school kids $100 laptops. She's skeptical about this, quoting the Boston Globe (of all papers) to the effect that Maine has shown no objective benefit to giving 7th and 8th graders laptops. She's also not sure a $100 laptop is possible.

Well, I agree with her on the former point, but on the latter point I'd say a $100 laptop isn't out of the question. The low-end Palm Zires go for less than $100, and can handle spreadsheets, calculators and text documents, and I think it would be quite possible to expand on that to come up with something like the Apple Newton from a few years back. As long as you're willing to settle for something that's on the trailing edge of technology and uses open source software, you could quite possibly come up with a laptop or palmtop with foldout keyboard for $100...because Massachusetts wouldn't be the only market for something like that. UPDATE: More about the $100 laptop project here at the Speculist (including a link to the FAQ). Via Instapundit.

However, the real question is whether this is going to increase test scores or even improve kids' base of knowledge, and I'm pretty sure it won't, unless the bright boys at MIT manage to come up with software that can drill kids in English and arithmetic until they have those skills down pat. Otherwise, you're just finding another way to throw good money after bad.