Ben Langhinrichs

February, 2007
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Sat 24 Feb 2007, 09:42 PM
I left yesterday (Friday) from Cleveland at 10am, and had a very long layover in Atlanta, which was made more pleasant eventually by the arrival of Rocky Oliver and his 15 year old daughter, Kris.  We were all travelling together, and we managed to get three exit seats next to each other, which made the long trip to Düsseldorf much more pleasant.  We arrived at about 7am, where we were met by Bernfried Geiger, our host from Bundled KnowHow, and a good friend besides.  Bernfried and his wonderful wife, Birgit, had agreed to take us to Trier, a city said to be the oldest in Germany.  I don't think any of us realized how long the trip would take, but Birgit cheerfully drove us all through miles and miles of countryside and the occasional traffic jam, while Rocky, Kris and I kept fading away in the back seat due to lack of sleep.


Old Roman Gate in Trier, Germany

When we finally arrived, it was clear it had been worth the effort.  This is the old Roman gate, originally built in about 300AD, which still stands at the entrance to Trier.  The town itself is one of those wonderful mixes between old and new that you find in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.  There are modern shops nestled under buildings that have been around hundreds of years.  The justaposition is sometimes jarring, sometimes entertaining.

Old and new in Trier, Germany

One of the two highlights, for me, was seeing the cathedral.  It was started in 384AD, but not finished for centuries.  It is hard to capture the whole building, but here is a door that really appealed to me.

Doorway on the old Cathedral

The other highlight took me completely by surprise.  As we were leaving Trier, Bernfried drove us over to the old Roman arena.  It was unbelievable.

The amazing arena

More later, when I am less tired.

Copyright © 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

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Thu 22 Feb 2007, 11:56 AM
I would strongly encourage you to read the article Living with autism in a world made for others and watch the video created by Amanda Baggs.  Amazing and powerful and touching.



Caution: Read the article first, as the early part of the video, in Amanda's native language, is hard to understand without the context.

Copyright © 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

Wed 21 Feb 2007, 11:28 AM
Dick Cheney was speaking in Tokyo today and said he wants the United States to finish its mission in Iraq and "return with honor".  I wish it were possible, but I think that moment is long gone, as we never should have started this war, which was evident long before we did, at least to me.  But the part that rankles me enough to blog about it is his assertion that Americans would not back a "policy of retreat".  It rankles me enough to stand up and say, "Yes, I do."  I may not like it, and for a while I thought we might have to stay just to fix the incredible mess we have made there, but I don't think we are doing anything of the kind.  I think we are now fighting this war, and will go on fighting it for another couple of years, just so Dick Cheney and George Bush don't have to stop it themselves.  Cowardly and dishonorable is what I call that.  I personally don't think Americans will back a policy of letting more Americans and Iraqis die so that Dick Cheney doesn't get a Loss in the Win/Loss column of his personal ego, and can instead pin it on whoever inherits this mess.

Do I think it will be pretty when we pull out, as we inevitably eventually will?  No, I think it will be a bloodbath, but I think it will be no matter when we leave, and I think our being there will only prolong the madness, especially if Iran moves closer to fighting a proxy war through Iraq, and if we get sucked into that conflict.  Sad as it may be, I think the best we can do now is pull out and let the locals sort it out among themselves.  I wouldn't be surprised if we wind up with a fundamentalist, anti-American government, but I think that is even more inevitable if we stay.

So, as an American citizen, a voter and a tax payer, I say I back a policy of retreat.  It makes me sad, but that is how I feel.

Copyright © 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

Tue 20 Feb 2007, 11:42 AM
When I was quite young, my parents gave me an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas one year.  (My parents were big believers in not reinforcing sex stereotypes)  I loved the Easy-Bake Over, as it allowed me to make cake whenever I wanted.  The coolest thing was that the oven worked with only the heat of an ordinary lightbulb.

It was only this year that I became aware of the obvious.  What made an Easy-Bake Oven work so well was that an ordinary incandescent lightbulb gives off 95% of its energy as heat, not light.  Great for toy ovens, that is pretty lousy for both the environment and our nonrenewable resources.  So, I was glad to see that Australia is trying to completely phase out the incandescent lightbulb by 2010 in favor of more efficient Compact Fluorescent bulbs.

I am also glad I have a real oven now.  I think I'll go make some cake.

Copyright © 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

Fri 16 Feb 2007, 05:49 PM
I was standing in our kitchen with my two sons, 11 and 16, and my wife came in and mentioned that our daughter was on a plane to Dayton, but would text message us when she got in.  I asked something like, "Does that mean the message will show up on our phone?"  My two sons just stared at me.  The older one asked, "How long have you had a cell phone, Dad?"

Oh well, back to my cave before the saber tooth tiger gets me.

Copyright © 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

Thu 15 Feb 2007, 03:02 PM
George Washington one dollar coinThe United States has tried a couple of times before to convince its people that they (we) should use dollar coins, to a resounding lack of success.  There have been various reasons for this lack of success, but at least one problem has been that people have collected the coins rather than using them.  Another problem was that people objected to the size of the coins (the Susan B. Anthony was impossible to tell from a quarter without looking, and while the Sacagawea was better, it was still hard to distinguish from other coins).

So, the U.S. Mint plans to combat these problems by putting out a new series of coins featuring U.S. presidents, which will be the exact same size, weight and color as the Sacagawea.

In other words, combat the problem of people collecting the coins by making them even more appealing and collectable, and combat the problem of the coins being the wrong size by making them the same size as the ones that failed last time.  I guess I just don't quite get it.  How is this supposed to work again?


Copyright © 2007 Genii Software Ltd.