When people driving cars kill people riding bikes

IMG_0031.JPGWhile I was in Chicago this past week for the professional technical conference some of us from Summersault were attending, we were walking to dinner one night and witnessed the driver of an SUV come within inches of hitting a cyclist. Despite the fact that the driver was rushing to turn through a yellow light, in typical big-city style, the driver of the SUV had the additional gall to yell at the cyclist to look out where she was going and then speed off. The biker was shaken up a bit but carried on fine, and we went on our way.

Not the most positive exchange, but at least the cyclist wasn't actually hit and hurt or killed. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the death of Earlham graduate Jessica Bullen after being struck by a driver in Madison, Wisconsin - her story and memorial fund are described here. Even more sadly, Jessica was a strong advocate (in a town that I consider quite biker-friendly already) for cyclists and worked to raise awareness for motorists that inattentive driving could result in a preventable injury or death. My life has been impacted in other ways by similar deaths - a good friend of my family started Fernside, a now internationally known center for grieving children, after her son was killed on his bike as a result of being struck by a car.
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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.

Kristol Pieing, Dialogue Redux

One of my blog entries that is most often commented upon is The Pieing of William Kristol, about the incident in March where Earlham Student Josh Medlin hit conservative commentator Kristol with some sort of pie. As the paper reported yesterday, Medlin pled guilty and will be required to perform community service and pay court costs. Fellow blogger and local attorney E. Thomas Kemp defended Medlin in the case, and it's good to see that it's mostly resolved in the eyes of the judicial process. I don't know Medlin personally, but the incident as a whole would seem to put him in a unique position to reflect on or even talk about some interesting issues related to dialogue and debate, direct and indirect activism, the nature of unintended consequences, and related topics - perhaps his community service could be an opportunity to make use of that.
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The Pieing of William Kristol

I always look forward to seeing the speakers that my alma mater, Earlham College, brings to Richmond, Indiana because they often bring perspective, insight, and experience that you just can't otherwise get living in a small Midwestern town. Tonight's event was no different: William Kristol (neo-conservative pundit, editor of the Weekly Standard, Bush/Quayle advisor, and member of the American Enterprise Institute) would be giving a talk entitled "America's Foreign Policy After 9-11" on campus free to the public. I appreciate that Earlham makes the effort to bring speakers and thinkers like Kristol who are so diametrically opposed (e.g. Ann Coulter) to so many members of the Earlham community on campus to present alternate, challenging and often infuriating points of view. And I usually appreciate that the Earlham community handles these encounters in such a principled and respectful way.

Oh wait, did I just say "principled and respectful"? I must have made a horrible mistake somewhere, because at tonight's talk, about 30 minutes into Kristol's speech, a student-looking person got up on stage and smacked Kristol square in the face with a pie.

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