Pal-Item forgets that framing trumps truth?

As the whole EDC mess swirls on and the gloves come off, the Palladium-Item, Richmond's local daily newspaper, has continued to insist that its role in fueling the fire of outrage over the EDC's affairs has just been about reporting the truth. It is with this sentiment that they've responded to public criticism of their aggressive coverage and editorializing, it is how they responded to concerns raised in an editorial board meeting I attended shortly after the initial series ran on their pages, and it is how managing editor Rich Jackson responds in an editorial column today. But Jackson and the rest of his staff surely know that the impact of their actions in this and every other matter they cover is not limited to the letter of the content they deliver; in a world of fast paced news delivery, short attention spans, and the need for sexy sound bites, the way the information is presented often has as much (if not more) impact than the "truth" that it might be trying to convey. In other words, the framing of an issue tends to trump the truth of an issue. This isn't their fault, but if credibility is important, it is their responsibility to acknowledge their role in that phenomenon.
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Switching to Parallax for home broadband

This is an unabashed plug for Parallax and their high speed wireless Internet access service. I complain enough on this blog about poor customer service experiences, so it's important to me that I document the rare but special times when I have a really positive experience. I'd been using Insight's cable broadband service, which costs $45/month and included somewhere around 3 MBps download and 400Kbps upload (your mileage may vary widely - learn about different connection technologies). It also malfunctioned every time my cat sneezed. Parallax's service is $40/month and includes 1 MBps download and 1 MBps upload (really nice for sending large files out or hosting something). Important: you don't need a wireless card to use this service - your home network can still be wired all the way. And they're local, which has a number of benefits. And they're reliable. And their customer service tends to be excellent. I know these things well since my business depends on them for mission critical network operations every day. So I didn't really know why I'd even waited as long as I had to get setup with their wireless service. (I did call Insight and ask them to make me a better offer...they couldn't.) The Parallax sales rep and installers treated me like a real human being, they worked fast and effectively, and the connection has worked great from day one. Thanks, Parallax, for being a quality local provider of a valued service!

Town Hall meeting with Mike Pence

IMG 0447The "Town Hall meeting" with Congressman Mike Pence this morning at the Leland Residence was fairly well attended (compared to similar such events, not as a function of the district's population) and interesting, I thought. Pence talked about his recent decision not to join the congressional leadership so that he could continue to pursue his ideals and issues (limited government, strong defense, "traditional moral values," etc.), about his two major concerns for the year (deficit reduction and border security) and the "War on Terror." The questions covered giving greater access to passports, whether every child in the country has the right to have healthcare, health insurance costs for small business and how we could change our culture and insurance system, energy concerns and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, whether being born in the U.S. should give you automatic citizenship, concerns over the abuse of executive privilege related to wiretaps and torture, the federal outlook on highway I-69, and others. As in the past, I appreciated Mr. Pence's time speaking with his constituents, and I admired greatly those who had the initiative to speak and question him. All of my photos from the meeting are here.

The Indiana Energy Conference

Last weekend I had the opportunity to head to Crawfordsville for the first session of the Indiana Energy Conference, a series of film showings, discussions, and presentations designed to help us explore our culture's relationship with energy. The conference was organized by my friend Frank Cicela, who has been a long time participant in the IshCon conferences I've been involved in putting on since 1999, and he and I have collaborated on a few other projects as well. The IEC comes out of our trip to the Peak Oil conference last fall, and so much of the content of this new event is derived from the excellent presentations and materials that we encountered back then. Frank did an excellent job putting it all together at the local community theatre, and we had at least 60 people from around the region show up ready to learn and discuss. I was running around doing lights and sound and greeting and popping popcorn so I didn't get to do a whole lot of networking myself, but I could tell there were some good conversations happening. You can see some photos from the event, as well as the amazing press coverage Frank has generated, on the success story page of the conference site. The conference continues throughout the month; make sure to stop in if you're in the area!

Teaching software engineering

Today is the first day of the course I'm co-teaching at Earlham this semester, CS345: Software Engineering. I'm excited to be back in a classroom again and thinking in new ways and on different levels about a topic that's very much a part of what I do every day for Summersault (and why Summersault exists at all). Like the last course I taught at Earlham, this is sure to be a challenge and a joy. Wish me luck! I'll hopefully have some time to post general thoughts about teaching software engineering here, but the course website will be my main tool for collecting and sharing information and resources related to the class.