Notes from the Publisher

December 22, 2011

General / New App Available - The Herbalist


Bartlett Publishing just released our first iOS app, called The Herbalist.  This app provides information about herbs and how they are used by modern herbalists.  It allows searching the herbal database by malady and herbal action.  Check it out today!

February 27, 2010

General / Comments on the Website


For those that are wondering where the comments went on the website, they were handled by the external "Haloscan" system.  That system went defunct last month, and so our comments don't work.  If you want to comment on something (positive or negative), email me, and I'll just write it into the post as your comment (please indicate in the email that you want it on the website, so I won't inadvertantly publish private comments).  I actually have a download of all of the comments in an XML format, so if there was a comment thread you were interested in, let me know, and I'll send it to you.  Hopefully I'll have a new comment system up soon, but presently I don't have time to mess with it.


November 29, 2009

General / Learning

My wife shared this quote with me.  I don't entirely agree with it, but it is at least mostly true:

You learn to speak by speaking,
to study by studying,
to run by running,
to work by working;
and just so, you learn to love by loving.

All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.

- Saint Francis de Sales

October 06, 2009

General / Laps for Little Ones

Support the Little Light House by sponsoring us in Laps for Little Ones

The Little Light House is one of the best ministries I've ever been involved with.  They are a Christian, private, tuition-free school for special-needs kids.  That's right, the kids who go there don't have to pay anything at all.

This isn't day-care - it's an intensive, customized program for each child.  The school day lets out at 1PM, and the staff spends the rest of the day planning each child's next day.  When a child gets to school, they have a card of things that they are going to work on that day.  It's both extremely fun and extremely helpful for the children -- and the parents.

While our oldest son, Danny, was alive, he attended the Little Light House.  His world expanded so much while he was there.  His ability to play with others and interact and do new things hinged upon the teachers at the Little Light House and their love and their help.  Danny had to be fed through a tube, received many, many, many medications at specially-timed intervals, and, if everyone was lucky, he only threw up three times a day.  Yet the Little Light House had no problems seeing to his every need while he was there, and providing every manner of therapy.  At the Little Light House, they have physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and probably a lot of other therapies I'm not so familiar with.  And everything is done in a specifically Christian way.

Isaac had the same genetic defect that Danny had, and, had he lived long enough, would have enjoyed the services of the Little Light House as well.  As soon as we discovered his condition, we reserved him a spot there, because we knew that their help was the difference between night and day for us.

Below are pictures of Danny learning at the Little Light House.  Also, for those of you who didn't get to know Danny or Isaac, I pasted their memorial videos below.  In any case, please consider helping out the Little Light House - they have been a huge blessing to us, and to many, many, many other children.

You can donate now by going here.

Here is Danny's Memorial Video:

Isaac's Memorial Video:

A few pictures of Danny at the Little Light House if you don't have time for the video:

The picture below might look like playtime to you, but this was actually crucial for Danny.  He had problems touching a variety of surfaces - many different textures made him cry and gag and puke (yes, really).  The Little Light House worked with him to help him adjust his senses to be able to touch and play with a huge variety of textures.

September 05, 2009

General / A Passage for Isaac's Passing


Our pastor shared a story from the Bible at Isaac's graveside ceremony today.  I'll just paste it in for you:

And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. (2 Samuel 12:15-23)

November 26, 2008

General / Lectures from the Academy


Kelly Kilpatrick just recently posted a list of 100 great Ivy League lectures on a variety of subjects.  I haven't started watching them yet, but thought some of you might be interested.

HT to Denyse O'Leary

November 02, 2008

General / The Coming Homeschool Revolution


I am convinced that within the next five years we are going to see a mass exodus of children from the public school system into homeschooling.  Everywhere my wife and I go, when we meet new people, inevitably the question comes up - where do your kids go to school?  When we say "we are homeschooling," then, in every single case this year, the people talking to us get really excited and start asking a bunch of questions.  Inevitably, it is because one of their kids is having trouble in school and not getting the attention they need (or too much negative attention), and they are seriously considering homeschooling.

What is amazing about this is that, just 10 years ago, homeschooling was almost unheard of. It was one of those things practiced by weird parents with weird kids.  But now, almost everyone we talk to desperately wants to homeschool one or more of their children, but they often don't feel adequate and/or don't know how to get started.  As more and more families start to do this, the difficulties involved will be minimized, and the downsides will be eliminated. 

It is entirely possible that the liberal social agenda will be implemented in public schools over the next ten years.  It is equally possible that by the time they are done there won't be anyone left in the public schools to listen.

As a company, we are currently looking at the ways in which we can assist the homeschool community, so be watching.  We'll probably be announcing something in the coming months.

For those of you wanting to homeschool, don't be afraid!  It will be worth your time and effort.

Feel free to comment on this article if you need advice on how to start homeschooling.  My wife and I currently homeschool a 1st grader, but we are well-connected with the local homeschooling community.  I'm also interested for feedback on what you think are the needs of the homeschool community which can be addressed with technology, curriculum/content, and/or organization/planning.

August 15, 2008

General / If You're Going to Make a Microfiche Scanner...


If you're going to make a digital microfiche scanner to use with a computer, you should at least be kind enough to make it work at a high enough resolution to actually read the text!

June 02, 2008

General / Killing Reductionism - Part 1

One of the most dangerous yet tempting philosophies is reductionism.  Reductionism is a general concept which says that all reality must reduce to one or a few principles.  Physics, for instance, is the best example.  Within physics there is a constant drive to reduce all of physics to one or a few laws in operation which govern everything else.  Please note that while the examples we will use are based in physics, this concept extends beyond physics to a great many fields, which we will cover in later postings.

There are two things I don't like about reductionism:

  1. It is useless even if it is true
  2. It isn't true
In this post, we will cover the first of the above statements - reductionism is useless even if it is true.  Even if the major premise of reductionism is true - that is, all of the universe is based off of just one or a few principles, the concept of reductionism is useless in a practical sense.  The fact is that we encounter the world at a variety of levels of detail.  Looking at chemical reactions in terms of atoms and molecules is infinitely more practical than looking at chemical reactions in terms of quarks and neutrinos.  While it might be true that the quarks and neutrinos would depict a more accurate view of the reaction, from a practical standpoint, they are equivalent.  Actually, the chemical one is better because it is more readily understandable, and its explanation exists at the level of abstraction in which it is being performed.

Even more fun are things such as the ideal gas law.  The ideal gas law is a little quirky simply because it assumes (falsely) that gases do not take up any space.  The interesting thing is that, even with a patently false assumption, it is still a useful tool!  However, in order to use it appropriately, chemists must take into account the real properties of gases in combination with the ideal gas law.  Now, from a pure reductionist standpoint, this sort of thinking is ludicrous - why would you load in false assumptions just to balance them out with practical concerns later?  Why not just find the real laws of gases, and then operate accordingly?  The answer is that the ideal gas law does operate at a level of abstraction which is useful for solving problems, despite the fact that it makes false assumptions!  Depending on the problem being solved, sometimes we need to think abstractly enough as to steamroll real differences into nothingness, while at other times (usually when a project goes from R&D to Engineering) these differences need to be taken into account.  Sometimes these differences have no theoretical basis whatsoever, and are just the result of experience.

So, even if reductionism is true, there are three practical reasons to operate as if it were false:

  1. The level of abstraction when dealing with "the lowest level" makes the computations too hard for higher levels of abstraction
  2. The level of abstraction needed for thinking about problems may necessitate reasoning at higher levels, even if such reasoning makes use of false (and therefore blatantly anti-reductionistic) assumptions
  3. Since we are ignorant of a great many causes (both practical and theoretical), we will always have to deal with certain causes and effects in haphazard manners, in order to make up for the lack of knowledge on our part

In the next post, we will consider whether or not reductionism is even true.

June 01, 2008

General / Welcome to the New Blog


Welcome to Bartlett Publishing and our new blogs.  These blogs cover the areas which Bartlett Publishing specializes in, such as Technology, Theology, Intelligent Design, and Creationism.  This blog is for more personal, philosophical, and political views, whether or not they are related to our core publishing practices.  I hope you enjoy the conversation!