Saturday, January 08, 2005

Brief Guide to the D.C. Beltway

I moved up to my aunt's today. She's been kind enough to lend me a room while I look for an apartment in Maryland where I will be starting my new job on Monday. I have been up in the Northern Virginia/D.C./Maryland area many times in the last couple of years looking for work and picking up my cousin's car (a word of advice - don't travel in D.C. with two cars without a method of communicating between them other than hand signals), so I've become somewhat familiar with the area, but particularly familiar with the D.C. beltway. My sister and I were riding in my car while my mother and father were riding in his truck (we had walkie talkies this time). As we approached the Springfield interchange - an infamously bad area, where 495 (the beltway), 395, and 95 meet, that is always under construction - I was tempted to get on the walkie talkie and start the following tour-guide spiel:

Welcome to the Springfield Interchange, your gateway drug to the traffic nightmare hallucination that is the D.C. Beltway. Remember, east is north, north is west, and no, I don’t know why they can’t say inner and outer loop when they are labeled as such once you get on them. Once you are on the beltway, please note the purpose of each lane. The far right lane is for merging into and out of traffic unless you want to be sideswiped by someone who is trying to merge into traffic. The lanes have speed limits (moving from right to left) of 65, 70, 75, and bat out of hell. Please note that the posted limit of 55 is observed only when flashing blue police lights are visible. The speed limit is 60 if a police car is visible but does not have its lights on. Any gap between you and the car in front of you that is greater than 1 car length (when traffic is moving) or 1/3 car length (when traffic is close to a stand still) will be filled. These are the unwritten rules of the road here on the D.C. beltway. Please keep them in mind as you count the hours sitting in traffic that you will never, ever get back.

Random Quote of the Day - Jan 8, 2005

Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold... in space.

- Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Gender Confused Genie

Gender Genie seems a bit confused as to what I am. When I rant about women's clothing or talk about children, I'm female. Otherwise, I'm male. My stuck in sci-fi post was overwhelmingly male. I even ran my Florida post through as a blog entry, non-fiction, and fiction (since it's a fictional blog post structured like a nonfiction article) and it was male everytime. Even my fiction is male. No wonder I can't get a date.

Children Designed to Learn

GNXP-SF posted an interesting link. A some scientists were given a question: What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it? It's an interesting question, particularly when asked of people who prove usually have to prove their own claims. I randomly clicked on one. While I normally don't agree with psychologists (for various reasons), this one gave an answer similar to what I've been saying for years - that children are designed to learn. Her answer is more about conciousness in children, but she discusses specifically how childhood "is a protected period in which we are free to learn without being forced to act". At a very basic level, adults are there to make children and build a society in which humans can thrive (some are better at this than others). Children, not being capable of making more children and having a very limited ability (particularly early on) to contribute to society must have some purpose other than "survive to adulthood". Otherwise, childhood would be much shorter since protecting a child uses up a lot of parental and societal resources. Childhood is widely accepted as a time for learning. I don't think it's a huge leap to say that children, therefore, as designed to learn.

I have met people who think that children appear smarter because they have more time on their hands. I say children appear smarter (or are smarter, depending on how you want to define intelligence) because they are more able to learn as well as more accepting of what they do learn. The younger a child is, the fewer assumptions they make based on previous experience, so the more open they are to new ideas. This is why adults, even ones used to computers, may have more difficulty with a computer than their young children. Adults come in with so many assumptions about how things should work that it gets in the way of figuring out how they actually work.

Back before technology and society changed so rapidly, it was possible for a child to learn most everything it needed to know prior to reaching adulthood. As adults, they could then apply that knowledge almost instinctively. They could still learn as adults, of course, but their was less to learn and not nearly as much urgency. These days, however, things change so rapidly that the decreased learning capacity of adults is much more evident. Three years olds are learning to use computers. And my mom still can't get the hang of double-clicking.