Archive | October, 2013

Chemistry, Physics, Peace, Medicine, Literature – why not a Nobel Prize for Computer Science, Collaboration, or Community Building?

11 Oct

Each year I keep my ears posted as National Public Radio (NPR) starts announcing the winners of the various Nobel Prizes. It is always interesting to hear and then read more about the recipients for each prize and what they are being recognized for.

This year as the announcements started I started pondering – Chemistry, Physics, Medicine… and wondered what’s missing is Computer Science. Full disclosure: my son is a Computer Science major in college and I thought… Computer Science is really on the cutting edge of many scientific, medical, financial and other practical applications today that are shaping the world. Thinking deeper I pondered if the Nobel Committee was setting up the Nobel Prizes “system” today they would probably have Computer Science in the mix. I wondered to myself, can they create a new Nobel Prize category for Computer Science?

Then I was pleasantly surprised that the Nobel Prize for Chemistry went to three scientists who had pioneered using computer science to do complex chemistry modeling. On one hand this was perhaps the Nobel Committee recognizing the emergence and importance of Computer Science, on the other hand, what happens’ next year when the Chemistry prize goes for a different applied use of Chemistry.

I wonder if the Nobel Committee has the flexibility, vision, and of course empowerment to create a new category a 21st century category or two or three of prizes.

If asked, I of course would suggest Computer Science. If given the option to recommend others perhaps I would go with Collaboration, Community Building and Volunteer Engagement.

What would you suggest?


Government Shutdown – what are the side benefits?

4 Oct

Living outside of Washington, DC and working several days a week “downtown” in Washington, DC, it has been an “interesting week” to say the least, perhaps I should say a bit “too interesting”.

On one hand my daughter’s AP Government class has had a lot to “talk” about, is the Government going to shut down? How long will it last? How will this impact my family and my friends’ families? Note: living in the Washington, DC area many families have one or more federal workers in their families – parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, the mother of one of a daughter’s best friends. Many have been furloughed (out of work) a few are in essential positions (have to work that much harder in new and different ways to keep essential systems – some automated – working).

The commute into DC is “different”. There are a few less cars on the back roads to the Metro. There are “way” less cars in the Metro Parking garage, we can park 1, 2, or even 3 floors further dawn. There is “always” a seat on the Metro (subway) going to work and coming from work Understandable going in to DC since I get on at the 2nd stop, pretty unusual coming back out during rush hour, I almost always have to stand, packed in.

Volunteering and “Random Acts of Kindness” are trending up this week. Parents that are Federal workers that were furloughed (not allowed to work) have had a bit more time to volunteer at their children’s schools, to visit elderly parents, to help a neighbor or add an extra pair of hands to help with that church outreach project. They have time, talent and expertise and (at least) a few days off. Note this is a short term benefit, hopefully these same parents and nonparents that are federal workers have some cash reserves and savings to help pay the bills and to cover emergencies during this period when they are not getting paid.

A few random thoughts…
— Do Congressional Offices – shut down when there is a Government Shutdown and no approved budget to meet their payroll?
— I know the Government Shutdown affects the Executive Branch agencies since friends are furloughed, but what about the White House staff? What percentage of their staff are “non-essential” workers.
— I am very glad that my mail is still being delivered.
— Will my Metro fees go up “again” to help cover the shortfall caused by reduced ridership during the Government shutdown?
— When will our Congress and the White House start “collaborating”? Doesn’t hurt to bang your heads against the wall every day?
— On one hand I love the “Balance of Power” hard wired into our government systems, the checks and balances.
— But I am currently reminded of the childhood “see-saw”
— The Republicans are on one side – The Democrats are on the other side of the proverbial See-Saw
— We start off gently rocking up and down, up and down or balancing, its working out…
— Then President Obama jumps on one side and the other “Party” gets stuck up in the air
— Good new “the view is nice”, bad news being stuck up in the air gets old after a while.
— Then a few more Republicans jump on their side and the Democrats and the White House is stuck up in the air
— Then “Pundits” start jumping on alternating on either side and up and down we go – one side or the other is stuck up in the air
— Or suddenly everyone jumps off one side and the other falls with a bang – that can hurt your pride – so you come up with a new strategy to “attack”.
— Sometime both sides make up and agree to work together towards a gentler, more balanced, more civil experience.
— In my childhood, I liked the See-Saw “game”. As an adult though I wonder if our elected representatives will learn the lessons of how to “play nice” with each other and think about the good of all.
–It is great to see local businesses “get it” many are offering reduced or half priced meals to furloughed (out of work) federal workers – hopefully a win-win – good for all.

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