Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

It’s Constitution Day

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Senator Orrin Hatch and Joseph Stuart both have things to say about it that I think should be widely read.

Of course, I’m not sure how many people will go to the articles from here who wouldn’t have already seen them.

A billion here, a trillion there …

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

… and soon it becomes harder to personalize the visualization.

News you can use

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Looking for a job? Be sure to check out a Microsoft education standard you probably weren’t aware of: rating competence in humor.

Miscellany 8

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Airplane! was a remake – who knew?

The Japanese have extended their alphabet. As if there weren’t enough characters already.

The last veteran of The Great Escape has died. I remember reading Paul Brickhill’s book in high school, before I saw the movie.

Everyone talks about using good passwords, but everyone uses ‘password’ or their mother’s maiden name, rather than using something harder to guess.

A comparison of features between the Rosetta Stone and the iPad? I have to believe that there’s a larger market for the iPad, though.

I remember a song from sometime in the 60s with a line in the chorus that went, “Ride, ride, ride the wild surf!” Somehow, I don’t believe that this is what they were singing about.

One of those timeless messages

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Message to Garcia

A Message to Garcia is a standard topic in leadership courses, at least in the ones I attended back in the 1970s. Lt. Rowan is held up as someone to emulate, although the assistance he received sometimes left him with so little control over his situation that he was concerned about where he was being taken.

I’d never read Rowan’s description of his trip, so that was interesting, and re-reading Hubbard’s essay was also interesting – I picked up on his examples about grammar and punctuation this time, partly because I had just read an essay on that topic, and partly because I’ve written about that particular topic myself.

A professional of thesis sample

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

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Maybe I’m confused …

Friday, December 4th, 2009

But, isn’t this what Larry Summers lost his job over?

Another hobby to occupy me

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

I’ve wanted to do luthiery for a few years. I’ve built one kit ukulele, which was fun, but didn’t come out as nicely as I’d like. I’m not doing anything currently, but I’d like to get more involved in building instruments. Among other things, I have a broken Kamaka soprano ukulele I was given by a friend that I’d like to repair.

I ran across Kathy Matsushita’s amateur luthiery page some years ago, then lost the link. I found it again recently, and there are some new things on it.

Another option is classes; at least one of the local luthiers has run classes in which you build a guitar from scratch over the course of a few months. Too bad I can’t afford to do that.

Miscellany 2

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Gerard Vanderleun has a marvelous advertisement from Johnny Walker on his site. The video is over five minutes in length, and it, and Gerard’s comments, are well worth the time.

Technology marches on, and as usual, technology in service of selling things often advances most rapidly. After all, website advertisements had to show up before adblockers could be developed.

Want to read faster? The video at the link describes a method of decoupling your speech center, which is useful because vocalizing as you read will limit your reading speed to the fastest you can imagine speaking. Follow the link beneath it, though, because there’s more good information there.

Better thinking through chemistry. I can’t vouch for accuracy, or even worth, but it’s the sort of thing I find interesting to read and think about. It’s another avenue for personal improvement, but not one I’ve really investigated. There’s another avenue I’m not even going to consider, no matter how desirable it may become in the near future, until I have adequate assurances that I can’t be hacked. With reference to the link above about flash cookies, isn’t it reasonable to assume that even something like computer implants to improve your vision will be hijacked to present advertisements as soon as they start becoming prevalent? I found the first article a few links down into this site, which has some interesting articles. So far, I’ve particularly enjoyed Signs That You’re A Bad Programmer.

Forbes Magazine has ranked West Point as the number one college in the country. The Air Force Academy ranked seventh, and Navy came in at thirtieth. Back when I attended Navy, we took it more or less as an article of faith that we, and Air Force, were better academically than Army because all West Point instructors were active-duty military, while Navy and Air Force had a mix of active-duty military and civilian instructors. I have no idea if that’s still the case. One factor in the rankings, apparently, is the site, which many people consider to be a “sour-grapes” site.

Gaius has some interesting numbers about the size of the National Health Service in Britain. Apparently, it employs about 2% of the British populace, and is either the third or the fifth largest employer in the world. This is the model of efficiency being held up as something to emulate?

More news from across the pond: More than thirty people are injured in a collision on a roller coaster. This, of course, demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of capitalism, given that there could not have been a collision if the operators had only waited until one car was back in the station before starting the next one. Or maybe it’s because the first car wouldn’t have stopped if essential maintenance had been performed. Then again, it’s the first such accident in 86 years – that’s not a bad safety record.

Staying with British news, Dennis the Menace is now taking after his American counterpart, in that he is no longer an antisocial bully. I’m not sure how I feel about this – one the one hand, it removes a role model, as far as making a change today removes 58 years of presence. On the other, it’s a stifling of free expression, not that there is anything like our Constitutional guarantee of free speech over in England.

The British newspapers have their share of silly articles to distract people, too. Here’s an example: a composite picture of the ideal pet, comprised of “49 per cent dog, 35 per cent cat, nine per cent horse and seven per cent rabbit.” I’ve seen this sort of thing before, but it was done better. Perhaps more honestly, it appealed to me more. Back in 1978, I got to take some leave in England after one of my patrols. I picked up a copy of a newspaper which had an article describing the ideal woman as envisioned by a group of men and women. I don’t remember if it was a celebrity “team,” or just some of their reporters/columnists. They chose the legs from one woman, torso from another, and so one, and had at least one composited photo published in the article. I believe they also had photos of the “source material.” As I said, I found it much more appealing.

It’s always the little things

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

I just finished “Darwin’s Lost World,” which I’d checked out from my local library. It’s a fascinating book, and the author, Martin Brasier, shows that wonderful dry English with throughout.

The book is an attempt to explicate the depths of time, where fossils hadn’t been known to exist – estimates were that the first 80% of the time life has been on earth had no fossils. That turns out to be incorrect. Life follows a power-law distribution – the smaller the organism, the more of them there are. The author is one of the pioneers in investigating micro-fossils and seeing how they explicate the early history of life.

The wit is something that makes the subject better for me. In the description of a multinational expedition to some cliffs in Siberia, for which the transportation scared expedition members more experienced than Mr. Brasier, we find the following:

We jumped down onto the beach. I was tempted to kiss the ground. As it happened, I was obliged to do just that – in a dysenteric sort of way.

A footnote explains that many in the expedition came down with Giardia, which provided them with a new slang meaning for the term, “Cambrian explosion.”

In the section titled “A steppe in the right direction,” we find commentary on the requirement that he acquire a taste for arak (fermented mare’s milk – his description of it is quite evocative) to avoid offending their hosts, finishing with the comment, “And social suicide was something we dared not commit, marooned as we were, in the middle of the steppes of Outer Mongolia. The social niceties of Mongolia can matter very much indeed.”

At one point, he cites a portion of an article written in 1902 by Jephro Teall (channelling my inner Dave Barry for a moment, that sounds like a good name for a rock band).

Apart from my delight in his drolleries, I thought the book was actually quite good. Contrary to expectations, microscopic fossils seem to be better preserved in older rocks, which has allowed the history of early life to be extended to perhaps 3000 million years ago. He covers the difficulties in identifying such fossils, the key question often being not “What does this remind us of?” but “What is this, really?” He covers some of the mistakes made by himself and others in other publications, and does it all in a manner I quite enjoyed.

If you have any desire to read about evolution, particularly about very early evolution, you should consider this book.