Archive for May 13th 2012

At the KSC VIP site

I missed it, but apparently the Endeavour space shuttle was powered down on Friday, marking the absolute end of the shuttle program:

Endeavour Unplugged – Last Picture Show from the Flight Deck of a Living Space Shuttle Orbiter

I’ve seen several shuttle launches, many of them from the VIP site at the Kennedy Space Centre, including Endeavour’s first flight. It’s well past time that they were retired for a cheaper and more reliable replacement, but seeing the last of them turned off is still a sad day.

Oh, here’s the view from said VIP site:

Space Shuttle Launch

I looked at KDP recently and noticed that I’ve had my first refund from someone who bought one of my short stories. Which was an interesting coincidence because I also requested my first refund; I clicked to buy a book that was on a free e-book list and then realised it was no longer free, so I had to request the money back.

This is one reason why I don’t like the whole KDP ‘free day’ idea; before KDP Select if a book went free it usually stayed that way for some time because it was due to price-matching the book at another site and if the price increased at that site the change took a while to filter back. Now, though, a book can be for sale one day, free the next and back to the original price on the third… so by the time we read a post saying that it’s free and go to buy it we have to check that it really is still free first.

Fred Reed has a great post about schooling:

Enstupidation

There are two things I remember about school. First, sitting in a classroom being lectured on things I really couldn’t care about while wishing I could get out and start doing something useful with my life. Second, in the classes that did interest me, having to put up with the kids who had no great academic leaning and didn’t want to be there; life was much better in the last few years when those kids all left.

The peculiar part is that many of the teachers had a dazzling ability to take subjects which were inherently interesting and make them boring as heck. I hated Shakespeare in school, but since leaving I’ve seen many of his plays performed. Studying the Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths Act of 18-who-knows-what bored the hell out of me, but I have entire book shelves full of history books here. Kids enter school curious and eager to learn, and one of the greatest successes of the school system is the way they beat that curiosity out of them.

What particularly bugged me about history was that recent history, within about fifty years of the time we were at school, was considered beyond the pale. We were taught much about the Romans, but nothing about recent events in our own country. I can understand that historians may not be able to thoroughly analyse historical events until those involved have had the time and inclination to record their experiences, but we weren’t even taught about the recent history of our own Empire, the last vestiges of which were collapsing on TV news.

I certainly learned some useful things at school, but so much of it was just a huge waste of time that I could have put to better use myself. One of the reasons I don’t have kids is that I wouldn’t want to unless I had the time to home-school them so they wouldn’t have to go through the same experience themselves.