Today marks the 49th anniversary of the dawn of the space age. On October 4th, 1957, Sputnik orbited the earth, igniting the space race and bringing us into a new era. Central to this new modernity is the increase in computational power that allows us to post and view this message. But if Moore’s Law states that computational power doubles every month, Shaw’s Corollary says that the number of software programs that can gum up the works triples in the same length of time.
I recently loaded a piece of software that was supposed to mediate the acrimonious relation between MicroSoft’s Outlook and Palm’s Desktop, allowing me to synch my handheld device to my laptop they way I choose. It worked for weeks until an automatic MicroSoft update detected my nefarious attempts to prove myself smarter than Bill Gates. It threw me off the ASTA server. Trying desperately to upload the latest list of attendees to this site, I ended up instead throttling my laptop and wailing to tech assist. Eventually I calmed down enough to recall the purpose of my activity–to communicate with other ASTA members–and that brought to mind Joshua Slocum’s words:
The time was when ships passing one another at sea backed their topsails and had a “gam,” and on parting fired guns; but those good old days have gone. People have hardly time nowadays to speak even on the broad ocean, where news is news, and as for a salute of guns, they cannot afford the powder. There are no poetry-enshrined freighters on the sea now; it is a prosy life when we have no time to bid one another good morning. — Sailing Alone Around the World, V
Sitting at our computers, we sometimes forget the quiet glory of backing our topsails, spending time together, talking among respected colleagues and friends, sharing news and ideas. Beyond the speakers and the agendas and all that looks to make this annual conference and education forum the best ever, is the core reason to attend the ASTA conference: to enjoy an old fashioned gam.
I eventually succeeded in uploading the latest attendee list and agenda. Please click on the links in the right hand column of the front page of this site to see them in pleasant anticipation of a few days amongst fellow tall ship sailors. — Posted by Eric J. Shaw, Ph.D., ASTA Education Director