March 2005 Archives

technologies and

The website of the forthcoming conference on Technology, Knowledge and Society presents a brief, crystal clear description of main issues of concern to religious and educational leaders. Scroll down the page to the section on "scope" and the issues are: Technologies, community, learners and knowledge.
Wish I could go.

Sister Dorothy Stang

Read today in the Houston Chronicle that the man in Brazil who is accused of ordering the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang surrendered and is under arrest. Sister Stang sacrificed her life for us, for Faith – into God. I have to say that we live surrounded by the greatness of women who see God among us. How can we ever fully comprehend the mysterious and powerful grace of Catholic religious sisters who take steps, passing through terrifying decisions that ground them more deeply in God. Sister Dorothy Stang, who are in heaven, pray for us.

So good that the Catholic

So good that the Catholic Church is visibly fighting in to abolish the death penalty. The Texas Catholic bishops are members of many coalitions, including the Texas Moratorium Network to stop the killing. The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is doing wonderful work, and you can follow my lead and send a small donation by clicking the "donate" button.

Last Sunday the one-hour Boston Legal episode featured Texas, with James Spader delivering a soul-rending plea to the judges in Texas to not kill. This review of the show gives a good account of the story. Really a wonderful show. It ends with Spader's and his colleague, Chelina, watching the execution. Horrifying and gripping television that is talking to Texas and helping the Catholic Bishops in their campaign.

Internet Access and Blind Rigidity

Houston's financially poor neighborhood, Pecan Park, has free wireless Internet access right now. Hurrah! And it is driving "respect for the free market" ignoramuses into though for-profit companies have made any effort at all to serve poor households.

Will Reed runs the not-for-profit "Technology For All" group here in Houston and, with enthusiastic support of our Mayor, Bill White, has installed a large antenna in the organiation's offices. It beams the singal directly to the Melcher Branch of the Public Library, about two-thirds of a mile way. Residents within a few hundered yards of either spot can pick up signals now. Within a monthn or two, Reed says, several residents, as well as a YMCA and other organizations, have agreed to install antennas to spread access across the entire neighborhood.

This project has the support also of Rice University, whose engineering students are involved in placement of antennas and testing new and powerful low-cost technologies. They are also documenting how much bandwidth they can push into the network. From Ed Knightly, the Rice Engineer who is leading his students in the installation: "It's inspiring to see our research get directly into the community."

Yes, Rep. Phil King, a Republican, has filed a massive telecommunications bill in austin this session that, in part, bans Texas cities from participating in wireless information networks. "In a free-market system, it's not acceptable to let public government compete with private businesses."

Further, Bill Gurley, a Silcon Valley-based venture capitalist with Benchmark Capital says of the technologies that "Technology for All" is intalling with the help of Rice University engineering students: "These are very disruptive low-cost technolgies, and its not in the incumbent telecommunication comapnies'best interest to embrace them. " He continues: "But they can be very beneficial to communities."

Seems like we have to choose: telecommunications companies or communities. In the best of all possible worlds, these two would be one and the same.


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