Monthly Archives: June 2011

The three skills high school graduates should have if they want a job…

…that weren’t mandatory a decade ago:

  1. Spanish
    Sure, you can get a job at McDonalds without speaking Spanish— so long as you aren’t competing against a Spanish speaker. But how are you going to move up into management, if you can’t communicate with your Spanish-speaking employees and customers?
  2. Web design
    When was the last time you saw a business that didn’t have a website? Even if you only know enough to update a Drupal site with current photos, you can quickly make yourself invaluable to an employer who doesn’t have these skills. Plus you can navigate the modern world much more easily if you can tell the difference between a web browser and a website. (It’s important to know, for example, that not everything you type into a computer is seen by Google.)
  3. Computer programming
    At a minimum, if you can think like a computer, you can make sense of the world better than most. With all the predictions that computer programmers would be outsourced to India, it turns out there’s still a lot of demand here in the US— while young lawyers are getting outsourced to India. Indeed, the more we use computers, the more demand there is for someone local who can automate this and customize that. And most companies with a website could use a little JavaScript tweak here or a slight bit of custom PHP there— or at least a bit of guidance as to what’s easy to do and what’s hard.

    But it’s not not just about being a professional programmer; knowing how computers work makes you a better doctor, lawyer, salesperson, manager, artist, or independent business owner. Because in all those cases you’re going to be working with computers. Just like Spanish, you can add computer programming to any resume and possibilities open up.

Don’t follow your dreams

Most people don’t form a self and then lead a life. They are called by a problem, and the self is constructed gradually by their calling.

This NY Times commentary struck a chord with me. I was always told to follow my dreams, but my dreams tend to either be pure science fiction or things that wouldn’t really make me happier if I achieved them.

Digital Archiving: paper is still best

The Internet Archive has announced a project to preserve physical copies of scanned books. There are two reasons for this. First, the original book is more authoritative than the scan. Second, books last longer than hard disks.

I find this interesting in the context of my Seventh Generation project. The letters I’m writing will be printed, but I’m planning to have electronic versions as well, hosted here at And I’m relying on the Internet Archive’s wayback machine to keep those available long since has gone away.