Cooperation comes easily but thinking makes us selfish | Ars Technica.

That article got me really thinking about what that means for humans as a people.  Over the past 100 years we’ve increasingly moved away from collaborative working towards competitive.  That’s also been a move away from fulfilling and satisfying work.  As people become more selfish and greedy they pull even farther away from what actually makes them happy… connections with other people!

Facebook has started showing more ads, and it seems like they may be having trouble getting quality advertisers…

Funny Facebook Ad

 

It’s funny because I had to actually resist clicking on the link.  In the end, I did not.

Hunter turned Animal Activist

A recent episode of the excellent tv show, 30 days, put a life-long hunter living with a family of vegan animal rights activists. The episode itself was pretty emotional as it shows some of the truly horrific things that are done to animals as part of the food-making process in our country. To get prices down as low as possible a system of factory farming has developed that completely removes the humanity from the treatment of the animals. They are treated just like machines designed entirely to produce food for humans, with no respect for their rights as living creatures. It’s really terrible and it’s now starting to have dramatic effects on the health of humans consuming the food as well.

I’m not an extremist when it comes to the issues of animal rights. I understand that people have the right to choose what they eat and don’t eat, and I support personal choice in that regard. I do wish that more people actually knew what sort of acts are being committed on a daily basis in the production of their food though, and tv shows like this episode of 30 days will hopefully make a bit of a difference there. I also think it should be illegal to treat farm animals the way they are treated by factory farms.

I also have some personal experience with hunting, and I support the rights of people to do that. I went to highschool in North Dakota and while there I went hunting with my dad and friends. I was (and am) a very bad hunter and I never actually killed anything (it’s hard!) but overall I think the experience was a good one for me. I would not go hunting now, but I don’t feel guilty for having done it. All of the hunters I interacted with back then were very respectful of both the animals and the land. A lot of emphasis was placed on avoiding needless suffering, and we always picked up our spent shells and any other trash. In North Dakota at the time, one hunter could only legally kill one deer per year with a gun, and one additional using a bow. The gun season is also very short (only a couple of weeks) and many hunters are not skilled enough to actually kill a deer in that amount of time. It’s a lot harder than you might think, even with a rifle. They’re quick! The bow season was a few months long and most of our time hunting was spent using a bow. I’m sure other places have different rules.

Overall, I think the key is respect. Animals are, of course, not all human, but humans are animals. We are part of a natural ecosystem and we should remember our place in it. That sounds obvious to me, but somehow it’s not obvious to everyone. If we are respectful of the rights of animals to live a healthy and natural life (I won’t go so far as to say ‘happy’!), we’ll also be producing more healthy and natural food from them and that can only be a good thing for us as humans.

I first learned the basics of programming using Logo way back in 5th grade or so, writing simple scripts to make the cute little turtles move around the screen and draw simple pictures. It made basic programming concepts easy to grasp and even fun (for a kid like me) and it wasn’t until later in life that I realized how much I was actually learning from it.

That idea of teaching programming to kids early on has now been brought into the modern age with a new graphical programming system developed by MIT called Scratch. It looks pretty nifty.

The Oregon Trail

If you attended school in the United States in the 80s or 90s there’s a pretty good chance you played The Oregon Trail video game at some point. The game was simple by today’s standards but it was still much better than class! You had to help a group of settlers through the Oregon Trail hunting, dealing with disease, and dealing with other problems that would come up.

A company called MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) was the original developer of the game. It was started by the state of Minnesota and originally the game was only available to schools there. Eventually they branched out and offered it to schools nation-wide. The history of the company from the early 1970s on is pretty interesting and worth a read (it’s pretty short) if you have any pangs of nostalgia over The Oregon Trail.