Honoring Women Who Keep ERA Alive: Jennifer McLeod

‘Fair Share’ Housing: Round Three

Marking the Birth Of Electronic Music

Pursue Your Career and Lifestyle Dreams

Trenton Computer Festival Hits 3-0

A Machine Made in Our Own Image: Eric Baum

Giving it Away? New Rules for Non-Profits

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Bart Jackson, Kathleen McGinn Spring, and Sally

Friedman were prepared for the April 13, 2005 issue of U.S. 1

Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
Honoring Women Who Keep ERA Alive: Jennifer McLeod

She had brilliance, spunk and courage. She was a woman ahead of her

time who left an indelible mark on America.

Alice Stokes Paul, the architect of some of the most significant

achievements of women in this century, would have been 100 years old

in 1985. That was the year when the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation

was launched to honor her legacy and perpetuate her work. It is

located, appropriately enough, at Paulsdale, the property in Mount

Laurel where the suffragist/women’s rights activist Paul was born, and

where she died in 1977. After 2003 the organization was renamed the

Alice Paul Institute to best reflect its mission and programs.

On Wednesday, April 13, at 6 p.m. Alice Paul Institute’s Alice Paul

Equality Awards Dinner takes place at the Hyatt Regency Princeton.

Cost: $85. Call 856-231-1885 or E-mail info@alicepaul.org. Honoring

the Institute’s namesake, the highlight of the dinner is the awarding

of first Alice Paul Equity Awards to four women who have demonstrated

their own long-standing commitment to advance women’s equality in New

Jersey.

Being honored are Vivian Sanks King of Newark, vice president of legal

management and general counsel to the University of Medicine and

Dentistry in New Jersey; Ruth B. Mandel of Princeton, director of the

Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University; the Honorable

Sylvia B. Pressler of Bergen County, judge of the Superior Court’s

Appellate Division (retired); and Jennifer S. Macleod of Princeton

Junction, national coordinator of the ERA network.

"This event recognizes the living legacy of Alice Paul, who was such a

courageous leader in the fight for equal rights for women," says

Princeton attorney M. Elaine Jacoby, co-chair of the dinner committee

for the event and a member of the board of the Alice Paul Institute.

"Each of our honorees, by her example, encourages our young women to

become leaders."

For Jennifer Macleod, the Alice Paul mandate has always resonated. And

despite numerous other honors in her long and lustrous career as an

advocate for women’s rights, the Princeton Junction woman suggests

that the Equality Award has special meaning.

Macleod, born an American citizen in London, where her family owned

the legendary Selfridge’s Department Store, she received her B.A. in

psychology from Radcliffe College, then earned a Ph.D. in research

psychology from Columbia. Her professional life has been devoted to

social psychology and management consulting with large doses of

service in promoting women’s equality. And while she is officially

retired from management consulting with a firm she founded and headed,

Macleod is definitely not at rest.

"There is so much work to do," says this indefatigable crusader, who

co-founded and served as first president of Central New Jersey’s NOW

in 1969. "A 2002 survey revealed that 72 percent of Americans think

our Constitution guarantees equal rights for women, and that’s wrong.

Gender equality is actually a glaring omission in our Constitution,

and one with tremendous implications."

Macleod notes that because women do not have Constitutionally-mandated

equal right, they lose the bedrock protections they should have. "My

daughter and granddaughter lack those equal rights," says Macleod,

whose efforts on behalf of women have has even included the sit-in

that resulted in Princeton’s Nassau Inn opening its luncheon

restaurant to women back in 1970.

Some of this honoree’s most urgent work has been as a leader of the

nationwide campaign to ad the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S.

Constitution during the modern years of the New Jersey campaign, from

1969 to 1974.

"It’s still a front-burner issue to get the legislation that can

complete the ratification," says Macleod, who has served as the

national coordinator of the ongoing campaign since 2000. Macleod also

manages the organization’s web site, www.ERACampaign.net.

Macleod’s work is in keeping with the proud legacy of Alice Paul. Born

in 1885 into a Quaker family through which she learned the principles

of equality, Paul attended Moorestown Friends School and Swarthmore

College in Pennsylvania. She would later earn a Ph.D. and three law

degrees to better enable her to champion the suffragist movement.

In 1916, Paul founded the National Woman’s Party, which worked to gain

suffrage for women through a constitutional amendment.

From 1923 through her 1972, a period of nearly 50 years, Paul

continued her fight for women’s rights by introducing the Equal Rights

Amendment, which she authored, into every session of Congress. It was

finally passed in 1972 for ratification by the states. "Nothing is

complicated about ordinary equality," Alice Paul once said. And

generations of women – and men – have come to understand the

profundity of that notion.

Today, the campaign goes on because of the ongoing efforts of leaders

like Macleod and the other women being honored tonight.

King has championed health issues for women of all ages in her

capacity as the chief legal officer for UMDNJ, and has been active on

the Governor’s Advisory Council on AIDS which is epidemic among women.

For Dr. Ruth Mandel of the Eagleton Institute, women’s issues are

always a priority. Under her stewardship, the Institute developed its

Center for Women and Politics where Mandel herself is a senior

scholar.

Retired Judge Sylvia Pressler holds the distinction of being the one

of the first women Superior Court judges in the state, and only the

second woman to serve on the Appellate Division. Through her

pioneering legal decisions, the rights of women and girls in New

Jersey have been significantly expanded.

Rhonda Carboni, president of the Alice Paul Institute, summarizes the

meaning of the April 13 awards, and the choice of honorees: "Alice

Paul dedicated her entire life to the cause of women’s rights," says

Carboni. "The Institute is so proud to honor four women who, through

their own lives and work, have followed in her footsteps and been an

inspiration to our own and future generations."

— Sally Friedman

Top Of Page
‘Fair Share’ Housing: Round Three

When the state Supreme Court handed down the infamous Mount Laurel

decision in l975, and again in l983, most municipalities were

dumbstruck. The l975 ruling ordered each municipality to shoulder its

"fair share of the regional need for low and moderate income housing."

By l983, seeing that most towns were still dawdling, the court

reinforced its initial ruling, demanding target dates for specific

numbers of units. Fortunately for Princeton Borough and Princeton

Township, such construction had been a tradition dating back to the

l930s.

The third and newest round of fair share responsibilities is just

being published by the state’s Council On Affordable Housing. In hopes

of exploring just what this will mean to the borough and the township,

the Princeton Area League of Women Voters sponsors a free panel, "What

is the Future of Affordable Housing in Princeton?," on Wednesday,

April 13, at 6:45 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. Call

609-924-8822.

Panelists include Alan Mallach of the National Housing Institute;

Douglas Massey of the Woodrow Wilson School; Ellen Ritchie of the New

Jersey Council on Affordable Housing (COAH); and David Kinsey of the

Princeton-based municipal planning firm Kinsey & Hand.

While Kinsey’s planning advice has guided scores of municipalities

throughout the state, his involvement with Princeton is more than

professional. Born and raised in Princeton, he attended Dartmouth,

earning a B.A. in government and architecture in l969. Returning to

Princeton, he obtained a graduate degree in public affairs and

international relations. His firm, Kinsey and Hand, has offices at 14

Aiken Street and specializes in, among other things, COAH compliance.

"Princeton Borough and Township both had begun their commitment to

affordable housing long before the state began any mandates," says

Kinsey. It is a commitment of which the community can be justifiably

proud. Notes Township Affordable Housing coordinator Christy Peacock:

"This is not a business model. No business would undertake such an

effort for financial gain, but giving everybody a chance to live in

the area provides a human component to our town and is simply the

right thing to do."

Early efforts. Tracing Princeton’s affordable housing history, Kinsey

points to the l930s, when Franklin Terrace opened with 10 rental

units, as the decade in which the town began to construct below market

cost housing. This was followed by Maple Terrace in the 1940s, Hageman

Homes in the 1950s, Elm Court – with 88 units – in the 1980s. Also in

the 1980s, the borough build its first occupant-owned units, including

a half dozen on Hamilton Avenue and another half dozen on or near John

Street.

The township got in on the act in the 1970s, putting up 339 rental

units between 1976 and 1978. "When the Mount Laurel Decision came

through in l975, we really had a leg up," says Peacock.

COAH mandates. Formed in l985, the Council on Affordable Housing began

establishing actual target numbers for each municipality. Towns could

reach their compliance quota of affordable units by either building

new construction or by renovating existing units. Most towns opt to

renovate up to code as many units as possible, Kinsey says, because

it’s so much cheaper. But there is also a human element at work.

Peacock notes that "with all these baby-boomer seniors trying to live

in their own homes, the renovation process becomes important in

letting them stay."

After setting the housing targets, COAH oversees each town’s

compliance efforts, and re-sets them when necessary. Three rounds of

adjustment have been presented statewide, based on population

projections. The first round of quota figures was fixed in l987 and

lasted until 1993. The 1993 adjustment lasted theoretically until l999

when a third round of official figures was to be set. But, because of

governmental foot-dragging, the third round is just now coming into

play.

So what are Princeton Borough and Township’s quotas? "We haven’t a

clue," says Peacock. "The figures just aren’t out yet."

Lee Solow, the regional planning director for Princeton Borough and

Township, notes that "The university is the last missing piece of the

puzzle. Every piece of new construction demands a share of affordable

housing units, and we just don’t have the university’s projections

yet."

Additional adjustments. "The Princeton zip code dances all over the

map," says Kinsey. "The affordable housing formulas have been based on

zip codes, which in our case just doesn’t reflect our condition."

Because of this unintentional gerrymandering, the number of jobs and

people in the borough were artificially raised.

Therefore, COAH should be lowering the Borough’s obligation in the

reassessment. Looking at the boom that is Princeton, it is

understandable how difficult a task it is to project any area’s

affordable housing needs, let alone low income housing for the whole

state.

Princeton’s leg up. As of the last census, Princeton Borough’s 14,203

residents and the Township’s 16,027 gives the combined community a

30,230 population. Currently, the Borough and Township provide 805

units of affordable housing within their borders. This number should

probably put the municipalities in compliance, but may not. This is

so, at least in part, because houses built before the Mount Laurel

decision are not counted toward compliance. Therefore, of the

Township’s 558 low and moderate housing units, only 381 will receive

COAH credit. Even so, Princeton is far closer to compliance than are

most municipalities in the Garden State.

Future strategies. "Princeton’s real problem is that we are totally

built out," says Peacock. "Therefore, with our space limitations we

must be very creative to meet our COAH obligations."

Kinsey offers two tactics. Since l990, Princeton Borough zoning law

states that when five or more units of any construction are built, one

of every five must be an affordable housing unit. This is a law that

must be continued and more strictly enforced, he insists.

Secondly, Kinsey views the Princeton Hospital’s several properties as

presenting "a once-in-a-generation opportunity for affordable housing

– and much else." There could be both profitable and

publicly-beneficial uses for the hospital’s buildings – or for the

ground under them – after the hospital moves, which it is expected to

do within a few years.

Planning director Solow does not foresee vast changes to the look of

the borough or the township in meeting COAH obligations. "We have many

opportunities to add a few housing units to already existing

low-income communities," he says. "And we also still have many units

that can be renovated." He also points out that the population boom is

over for both the township and borough. "At absolute maximum, we

estimate a 2,000 person growth in the community over the next 10 years

– historically, this is normal fluctuation," he says.

What affordable housing isn’t. Many residents mistake affordable

housing for a state handout. That is dead wrong. Affordable housing

dwellers merely qualify to purchase the unit based on a below average

income. A one person householder with a gross income of $16,191 or

less qualifies for a very low income unit.

Annual earnings between $16,192 and $27,818 qualifies an individual

for low income housing. A person with a $22,254 income who meets other

requirements may qualify for a 5.5 percent, 30-year mortgage to

purchase a $38,000 condo. Home association dues are $189.95 and taxes

are $66.47 each month. That’s if a slot is available.

Moderate income qualifying ranges are from $27,819 to $44,058. A

$40,000 a year earner may qualify for one of the Griggs Farms units at

on Route 206 and Cherry Hill Road. With the same rate mortgage, he can

buy a $109,109 condo with a $97.97 monthly homeowners fee and $190

monthly taxes.

Builders have traditionally groaned under the burden of COAH

requirements, and they tend not to be popular with homeowners either.

Townships sometimes only grant permits for market rate housing if

contractors also agree to build a mitigating number of low income

units. Homeowners sometimes see this affordable housing as increasing

already burdensome property taxes.

On the other hand, as Peacock points out, the job of government is to

take care of its people. And while the Princetons took an early lead

in putting up affordable roofs, the soaring price of houses within

their borders means that the challenge of housing the workers who make

the municipalities work – the policemen and teachers, waiters and

recent graduates – is far from over.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Marking the Birth Of Electronic Music

It is well known that the Sarnoff Corporation, both under its current

name and going back, when it operated as RCA Labs, has played – and is

playing – a huge role in bringing the world its most popular

electronic devices, including radio, television, color television, and

high definition television (HGTV). What is less well known is

Sarnoff’s role in developing the world’s first electronic music

synthesizer using binary sequencing.

On Thursday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m., in Sarnoff Corporation’s

Auditorium, there is an evening devoted to devoted to the invention

and sounds of the first electronic music synthesizer, which uses the

same technique used in synthesizers today. There is no cost. Call

609-924-2636.

Highlighting the occasion is Princeton University Professor Emeritus

Milton Babbitt, who has won a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur

Fellowship for his pioneering work in serial composition, and who

continues to teach at the Juilliard School. He discusses his

experiences working with RCA’s staff in composing and recording music

on the synthesizer. Throughout the evening, recordings of music

composed on and for the synthesizer by Babbitt and members of the RCA

Labs will be played.

Alex Magoun, Sarnoff’s librarian, who also speaks at the event, notes

that RCA chairman David Sarnoff announced the Mark I on January 31,

1955, where he encouraged "the engineer and the artist [to] join

forces and seek to understand the terminology and problems of each

other in order to advance together." Designed and built at RCA’s

Laboratories on Route 1, the Mark I was intended to reduce costs for

recording mood, lounge, and soundtrack music. It is now preserved by

the Smithsonian Institution.

The Mark II featured magnetic tape recording and was intended for the

world’s largest record manufacturer, RCA Victor. When RCA Victor

balked, the company donated the three-ton instrument to the Electronic

Music Center of Columbia and Princeton Universities in 1959. Princeton

University professor Milton Babbitt, Charles Wuorinen, and other

serial composers used the Mark II not for the production of pop music

but to realize their theories of modern composition.

In addition Babbitt’s recollections and Magoun’s talk on the history

of the synthesizer, Rebecca Mercuri, a Radcliffe fellow, explains its

operation.

Top Of Page
Pursue Your Career and Lifestyle Dreams

Make a list of priorities, and maintaining good health often comes up

first. If good health isn’t at the top of the list, family probably

claims the top spot. Coming in no lower than fifth for most people

would be nurturing friendships. Possibly unstated, in part because it

may seem so completely out of reach, is finding deeply satisfying

work.

So why do so many people grab a fast food lunch while rushing between

appointments, work past their children’s bedtimes day after day, lose

track of college chums, and manage to watch television for 20 hours a

week while swearing they have no time to exercise. And why do so many

people spend years – sometimes decades – in jobs that drain the life

out of them?

Anne Marie Segaric provides some answers when she speaks at the "A+

Life Pow-Wow" at the Princeton Arts Council on Thursday, April 14, at

7:30 p.m. Also speaking is Galia Gichon, founder of Down to Earth

Finances. Euna Kwon Brossman, a contributing writer for U.S. 1

newspaper, moderates.

A New York City-based job coach and Cornell graduate, Segaric

(Segaric.com) lists some of the top things people want to do,

but keep putting off, as keeping in touch with friends, taking care of

health, looking for a new job, paying bills, cleaning, and paperwork.

All of these tasks are important, but it could be argued that looking

for a really good job is the most important. This is so because it

affects every other part of life – including health and relationships.

While many people spend only three or four waking hours a day at home,

most central New Jersey workers spend 10 to 12 hours a day either at

work or commuting to work – and may spend one or two of the hours they

have at home completing work-related projects.

Finding a job that is a good fit in every way can improve attitude,

reduce anxiety and its effects on health, and ensure adequate time for

exercise, preparing healthy meals, and spending quality time with

family and friends.

On her website Segaric quotes the often-cited statistic that 50

percent of the population are deeply unhappy in their jobs. She

acknowledges that most people are afraid to make the change. The top

reason, in her opinion, is that they don’t believe that it is possible

to do work they love and make a decent amount of money.

It is, she insists, and provides advice in her new booklet, "107 Tips

for Changing Your Career While Still Paying the Bills." Some advice on

getting started:

Pretend it’s five years into the future. Write a letter to a friend

you have not seen in awhile and tell them what you’ve been doing for

the past 5 years. Describe your career and personal life to get an all

around picture.

Survey friends and family. Ask five people whose opinion you trust to

tell you what kinds of jobs they see you doing. You’d be surprised how

often others know you better than you know yourself!

What do you value? To be completely satisfied and fulfilled with our

daily activities, they must be oriented around what we value. List the

top 10 things you value such as learning, guiding, self-expression,

order. Then choose the three you couldn’t live without. What kind of

job would let you honor those three values 80 percent of the time?

What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies? Is there something

you’re always doing for friends and neighbors just because you love

doing it? Maybe that hobby is your life’s calling.

Top Of Page
Trenton Computer Festival Hits 3-0

‘You mean I’m actually going to have a computer in my very own home?"

asked the astonished WHWH on-air personality who interviewed Allen

Katz in l976. The concept seemed science fictional. College of New

Jersey professor Katz had been asked to come on the air and explain

the first Trenton Computer Festival, which he and cohort Sol Libes

were launching.

By l989, when Bill Gates stepped up to the podium as keynote speaker,

the Trenton Computer Festival, was already the nation’s oldest and

largest computer show. It had outgrown its original home, at Trenton

State, now the College of New Jersey, and had moved to a larger

exposition hall. But this year, for its 30th anniversary, the show

returns to its home.

And so, on Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17, at 10 a.m. technical

wizards, geeks, browsers, and anyone interested in hearing informed

predictions on the future of computing can gather back at the College

of New Jersey to fondle the newest tech toys and learn the latest from

the most revered gurus. Cost: $15. Visit

www.TrentonComputerFestival.com.

"This show, more than any other, will go beyond personal computers and

software to reflect the whole new digital direction we are taking,"

says Katz.

By dint of long association, Katz has become necessarily both an

historian and prophet of the cyber revolution. A native of Montclair,

he attended the New Jersey Institute of Technology, earning an

electrical engineering degree in l964. He earned his master’s at

Rutgers and returned to NJIT for his Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

For the last 33 years Katz has taught at the College of New Jersey,

while at the same time using his skills to lead colleagues and

students into several enterprises.

In l976 he founded his first company, Hamilton-based Linearizer

Technology, which improves amplifiers by providing a microwave

distortion correction. In l99l he began a microcomputer firm which,

according to Katz, was "well, a bit of a mistake."

A computer pioneer, Katz looks into the future of computing:

Death of the book? "Right now the college (TCNJ) is planning a new

massive library," says Katz. "But I’ve got to wonder just how much use

all those paper volumes are going to get when so much material is

available online." Katz admits that snuggling up by the fire with a

good laptop creates eye strain than comfort, but he predicts that a

solution to the strain of reading most computer screens will arrive

very soon.

The online access explosion, as Katz calls it, allows so much

information to be gained so rapidly that the younger generation

already finds no need to use any other method. He points out that

virtually everyone under age 25 would leave neither home nor bedroom

without his iPod.

No hands? Already, our cars, homes and most of our major work tools

are computerized to some extent. "You can currently go to Radio Shack

and buy a wireless module that will integrate your heat, AC, music,

lights, doors, and locks all according to your programmable whims,"

says Katz. "Within 15 years such programming will be standard, making

homes much more cost efficient."

The auto-piloted auto, touted since the l950s, could soon be a

reality, he insists. Using the same RFID techniques employed in

identification technologies, guidance systems can be made to pick up

certain spots and obstacles on the road, as well as overall

directions.

While digital enhancement itself is typically cheap, the adjustment

invariably carries a high price tag. "Look at E-Z Pass," says Katz.

"It is arguably the best motoring system upgrade in 15 years, but they

still cannot get the thing to pay for itself."

Implanted information? Probably the most frightening part of the

digital invasion is what Katz terms the biological revolution. The

technology for implanting everything from communicators to information

evaluators is near at hand, he says. While many may squirm at the

Orwellian possibilities, imagine what teenager wouldn’t jump at the

opportunity of having his pals’ cell phone numbers and his music

library, not only at his fingertips, but in them.

Software outshining hardware? In 1890, as the horseless carriage

dawned, America boasted over 1,000 automobile makers. Within fewer

than 50 years that number had dwindled to a mere handful.

"The computer industry," says Katz," has already passed through this

cycle." Hardware will in all likelihood expand with the market, and

software companies will bloom as new niches become available.

Better marketing? Computers are so poorly marketed that if they

weren’t so innovative, no one would buy them. Imagine if you had a few

thousand burning in your pocket as you entered an automobile

dealership.

Then imagine that the salesman had the auto on hand, but he wouldn’t

let you test drive it. He wouldn’t let you see it. You could only

purchase it blind, take it home in a crate, and then if you found it

unsatisfactory, pack it up and ship it back. Silly as it sounds, that

is the way most computers are sold.

"Dells seem nice. Gateways seem nice. But in most cases the buyer has

no chance to compare or be shown the features," says Katz. "Hopefully

events like our Festival will bring about more hands-on selling."

Will the Hackers Win? As the digital realm grows bigger and better,

identity theft and viruses will correspondingly become a bigger and

bigger problem. "Dedicated virus hunters and ID theft methods are

always improving," says Katz, "but most likely these problems are very

much here to stay and to be combatted."

The problematic interface of man and machine is not new. People cede

control to some black box for the sake of ease, speed, and

convenience; then want to grab it back when they perceive control

ebbing away. But despite worry over glitches and loss of privacy,

computer technology is especially seductive. The Trenton Computer

Festival provides a look at the best of what’s out there, and at what

is coming down the road.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
A Machine Made in Our Own Image: Eric Baum

Man has made computers in his own image, it has been said, because he

had no other schematic with which to work. The machines’ often

frustrating processes, their compacting of data into a single

hardwired response, have all been pirated from their creators’ little

gray cells and etched into that large gray box engulfing our desktops.

After all, the only cognitive patterns the inventor could ever

imagined were his own.

Thus, following the maxim that to improve a creation one must study

the creator, Eric Baum delves into the deepest levels of humanity in

his talk "What is Thought?" on Saturday, April 16, at 11:20 a.m. at

the Trenton Computer Festival at the College of New Jersey. Cost: $15.

Visit www.TrentonComputer Festival.com. Taking the title from his

recent book published by MIT Press, Baum’s lecture unites human and

computer "thought" process as analogous. He then separates the two and

squares one off against the other, demonstrating the historical

advantage of creator over the creation.

Since he was growing up, in Princeton, Baum says he was always

pondering things from a different angle. Graduating from Harvard in

l978 with a B.S. in physics, he returned to his home town to earn a

Ph.D in physics from Princeton University.

Baum is now dedicating his time to independent research while still

remaining firmly rooted in academia. "I think I’m still an adjunct

professor at Columbia," he says. But above all, Baum is an , inventor,

and discoverer. As part of his human thought replication process, he

has developed the popular computer games "Go" and "Sokoban."

For most of us the study of human thought might seem to begin with the

brain. But for Baum, the source springs from much more basic levels.

Simplicity, Watson. As with so much in the universe, it is the most

basic elements that embody the power. The simple structure of the atom

is bound by and can unleash the greatest force. Correspondingly, for

Baum, the entire process of thought resolves itself into a series of

binary choices. Do this or do that. Make this decision or that.

The power, as with the atom, comes in massive complex unifications of

these simple elements. When millions of these mental binary

computations join together to form thought modules, we can judge and

choose how to take action. Can I climb this tree? Which branches would

hold my weight?

Biological grounding. The brain, clever as it is, could not possibly,

with any amount of speed, compute each of the possible selections

required to make even a single active decision. Imagine looking at a

bunch of colored patches, computing them all into the fact that this

was a tree, and that you might possibly climb it, based on an overall

assessment of your physical prowess, the thickness of each branch, and

its distance from the ground. By the time you figured it out, the wolf

would have devoured you on the ground.

To keep you quick, and away from the wolf’s jaws, your mind would have

to be planted with modules of pre-computed thought. These

pre-programmed thought modules, reasons Baum, sift through the

overwhelming number of choices, and present to our minds only those

few that have meaning. And this meaning is the really sweet part of

human thought.

Meaning is that marvelous computational compacting of all of our

world’s structure, which allows us to swiftly compartmentalize and

choose. One glance: a thousand computations: this is a tree. Boom. And

where does all this marvelously compacted data get stored for easy

access? In the genome, says Baum. All, or at least many, of

humankind’s learned knowledge is passed along through the genetic

code. Somehow, we hold an instinct – or genetically passed module –

that draws back our foot from the dangerous precipice.

Up to the mind. The human mind is the selector and executor of thought

modules delivered by the genome. "Additionally our minds are endlessly

re-programmed by experience, folk tales, bedtime stories, and

religious teachings," says Baum. "They are the new software." We build

new code and pass it on.

But what keeps our verbal code brief and manageable is that, unlike a

computer algorithm, each piece is invested with this shortcut of

meaning. Each possibility presented to us in life comes weighted by

the meaning given it both by our DNA within and by our mind’s

re-programming from the environment. We are not aware of these

meaningful summaries, which attend our every decision. They just flood

in naturally.

As proof of this heritage of meaning, Baum points to our language.

"Note that so much of our speech is filled with metaphor," he says.

"That is because we are constantly referencing these modules of

previously computed thought." We think, and say "this situation is

akin to that one."

Computer competitive. "Interestingly, Microsoft Office has more binary

circuitry than human DNA," says Baum. "If we had to compute each of

our choices by the brain and DNA alone, we wouldn’t even do as well as

our PCs" The good news is that we don’t have to. We have eons of

evolutionary hardwiring to compress and shortcut our cognitive

processes.

Baum admits that it seems impossible to make a computer that can

compete with those reusable computational thought models gifted us by

evolution. The concept of stacking up programming equivalent to the

human modules of meaning is daunting indeed.

"But you know," says Baum, "in my research recently I have had a

glimmer of hope." He thinks that it could be possible to teach

computers to use some of the shortcuts that speed the human brain to

not only recognize the wolf, but to almost simultaneously assess the

degree of danger he poses, and to plot – and execute – a getaway.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Giving it Away? New Rules for Non-Profits

With the post-tsunami tidal wave in charitable giving, now may be a

particularly apt time to study the new and proposed laws that govern

how charities operate. The legal landscape will be explored on

Wednesday, April 20, at 8 a.m. at the Green Acres Country Club on

Route 206 in Lawrenceville.

The subject: "Hot Topics in the Laws Affecting Non-Profits." Sponsored

by the Princeton Community Foundation and Lawrence-based insurance

firm Borden Perlman, this seminar features Jennifer Hauge, deputy

director of Newark-based Pro Bono Partnership, and fellow senior staff

attorney Nancy Eberhardt. Call 609-219-1800.

In addition to offering workshops and literature, Pro Bono Partnership

also matches charities with volunteer lawyers throughout the New

Jersey and New York. Its attorneys offer aid in incorporation

procedures, contractual proceedings, and IRS obligations. For more

information about this organization call 973-273-0600 or visit

www.ProBonoPartnership.org.

Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments