In addition to lifting boxes and making copies like a well-trained monkey, I started a new job (and technically different, so I got two job, mon!) today. I’m filing the correspondence of some famous dude I’d never heard of, William Bullitt.
Megan the (6th-year, nearly-finished) philosopher and I met yesterday to start studying German again… it’s amazing how much you lose in a week and a half. I also drove around with Matt for a little while as he schmoozed with an old Jewish taylor; he has all those politician-like skills, so I need to remember not to trust him.
At home, I’ve been distracted from my science fiction lately by two things: Halo 2 and Wikipedia. The new playlists with the new maps were released yesterday, although they have way too much Team Slayer and Territories instead of the far more fun CTF and Assault. The new maps seem really great for CTF, especially, but I’ve only played a couple games of it on any of the five new maps.
As for Wikipedia, I started scrounging through old historiographical papers in order to edit articles; I added a small bit to “Modern Evolutionary Synthesis” and a large amount (probably too much) to “Atomism.” Both articles are still pretty poor, so I want to spend some time making them good, since they are some of the few things I actually know enough about to write both intelligently and extemporaneously. Also, there is no entry at all for G. Evelyn Hutchinson, although there are short entries for even some of his more obscure students (e.g., Ursula Cowgill, for whom Hutchinson wrote comparatively lackluster recommendations, as I discovered during my research paper last semester). I hope to remedy that with a modest article.
The Wikipedia model really does seem like a valuable way for academcis to spend their time. It’s not deep, but for most academic subjects, cutting-edge work is so esoteric that only other closely-related scholars even care about, much less understand, the work going on. Whereas even the most basic encyclopedia-level introductory information is hard to come by for obscure topics.
If and when I’m a professor, I’m going to have the final paper for all my classes be to create a well-written, well-referenced Wikipedia article. I know I would have put more into that kind of project than stupid undergrad research where you know it will never be useful to anyone, anywhere. And that’s something where a few books’ worth of reading, critical thinking and careful writing can actually yield a result that has lasting value. As an added bonus, it’s a way to support the ideals of free as in speech, a phrase and a concept of which I’ve been very enamored of late.
Even though I like Microsoft a lot more now than I did before I had XP (and I don’t begrudge them the right to make money from their products, despite misgivings about corporate power), there are still things about M$ that seem counter-productive to the greater good. Regarding the relationship between capitalism, Microsoft and open-source, I recently read the so-called Halloween document and found it to be extremely interesting, even if it’s very old news.
While I don’t have any doubts that History of Science is really the way to change the world, all the time I’ve spent reading /. articles lately make me think I need to invest some time learning to program, as well.
Reading: The Man in the High Castle
Listening: The Beatles, The Preachaholicz
Watching: Fantastic Four
Faith and I saw Fantastic Four tonight. I give it 4/10 (appropriately enough, I suppose). The reasons to see it are:
1. Human Torch (humor value)
2. Jessica Alba (though not her character)
The reasons not to include:
1. the pathetic, lame, awful, thin plot
2. the one-dimensional, whiny villain (Dr. Doom, no less, who should be rather complex and anything but whiny)
3. the acting, all around
I can’t wait till Sin City comes out on DVD, with all the special features and extensions. I pretty much feel about that movie the same way as my favorite critic David Edelstein (who even likes Mystery Men). Naturally, he feels about like I do about F4.