Education and Hope

The following is by David Orr from a ‘Foreword’ in a new book by David Hicks, Educating for Hope in Troubled Times: Climate Change and the Transition to a Post-carbon Future (London: Institute of Education Press, 2014) Education is an essential function of civilization. Its essence is simple: to equip the young for the many …

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Identity

 In a world where 2 billion more people have entered the workforce since 1989, the insecurity of those suddenly forced to compete that much harder was always bound to grow. If you’re one of the beneficiaries of this massive upheaval, you’re fine. But for the millions who fear they are losing out, and who see …

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Citizenfour and Sisu

NYBooks: … In an interview about Citizenfour with the New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, Snowden has said that his action seemed to him necessary because the American officials charged with the relevant oversight had abdicated their responsibility. He meant that President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and the intelligence committees in the House of Representatives …

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A Clever Control Supporting Claims that Exercise Improve Cognition

Many studies over the years have found that aerobic exercise improves cognitive performance. The following are just a sample of those published in the last 12 months: “Mind racing: The influence of exercise on long-term memory consolidation“, published in Memory, found that aerobic exercise improved the learning of procedures or written text whether the subjects …

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Plastic Houses

There’s an old saying to the effect that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Good advice for bloggers, I think. If you are “out there” and visible, you should think twice about digging in to someone for something that you could be dug into yourself. There’s also a variation on the …

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RFC: The khmer project: what are we, and what are our goals?

As we think about the next few years of khmer development, it is helpful to explore what khmer is, and what our goals for khmer development are. This can provide guiding principles for development, refactoring, extension, funding requests, and collaborations. Comments solicited! Links: khmer github repo: https://github.com/ged-lab/khmer/ khmer docs: http://khmer.readthedocs.org/ Definition khmer is an open …

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20 years @15 percent: does Harvard discriminate against Asian-Americans?

  This is the brief filed yesterday against Harvard, alleging discrimination against Asian-American applicants. A related suit was filed against UNC, with perhaps another to come against Wisconsin. Re: the graph above, note that Caltech has race-blind admissions. … Harvard is engaging in racial balancing. Over an extended period, Harvard’s admission and enrollment figures for …

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Embarassing Behavior

I made one of my contributions to the food movement this week stopping by McDonald’s for my once-a-year Big Mac. This observation could provoke a tangent on the “once-a-year” theme and whether or not my need to point that out reflects some sort of guilt feelings about frequenting such an icon of the industrial food …

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“Easy A’s” gets an F

I have written in the past about problems with reports on the teacher preparation industry issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality (see here and here, for example).  In order to keep its name in front of the media in-between the releases of its annual major report on teacher preparation, NCTQ has released a …

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Petrodollars to the Rescue! Equatorial Guinea to Host 2015 African Nations Cup

The Confederation of African Football has announced that Equatorial Guinea will replace Morocco as host nation for the 2015 African Nations Cup, the continent’s oldest and most prestigious international tournament. The decision followed “fraternal and fruitful discussions” between CAF and Equatorial Guinea’s President Obiang, according to CAF’s official statement. Matches will be played in Malabo, …

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de novo mutations and autism

These results suggest that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in high functioning males may be a different condition than ASD in low-IQ males and females. They also suggest many gene targets in which small “nicks” could result in lower IQ. I believe that at least part of “normal” population variation in IQ is due to effects …

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Wandering physicists

This is funny, and does capture the tendency of physicists (not just old ones) to wander into other fields. But the cartoon avoids the hard question (perhaps best addressed by historians of science) as to the actual value brought to other fields by physicists. See, for example, Physicists can do stuff, Prometheus in the basement, …

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The Movement

Last week I watched an old BBC documentary about Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting “The Death of Marat.” (Since this puts us in late 18th century France, it will help if you silently pronounce David as Dah-VEED and Marat as Mah-RAH throughout the rest of this blog.) Simon Schama was prattling on about how Marat was …

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Virunga, Congo

Oil companies are circling Virunga National Park in the Congo, home to several endangered wildlife species such as mountain gorillas.  The oil company thugs stoop to bribery and murder.  The Government is silent saying they must support anything that will lift their people out of poverty.  One could be more impressed if they were putting …

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Japan’s Folly

Japan’s economy has been in the doldrums for years.  So what are they doing? Their central bank is buying government debt just like the US Fed was doing.  Supposedly, these purchases keep interest rates low and stimulate borrowing and growth.  But the evidence is to the contrary in  a country with zero interest rates and …

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Brussels Riots

Riots broke out a few days ago in Brussels as people protested the government’s austerity policies. In Europe when people are fed up, they riot while in the U.S. our low income people accept their fate and believe it is their fault. Austerity policy has not worked anywhere in Europe, but they hold to it …

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Adaptive evolution and non-coding regions

This morning I attended an excellent talk: Adaptive Evolution of Gene Expression (see paper and video below), by Hunter Fraser of Stanford. His results support the hypothesis that non-coding regions of the genome play at least as large a role in evolution and heritable variation as protein coding genes. From an information-theoretic perspective, it seems …

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Belief and Experience

A post-election message by Harry Cook How lovely it would be to trade belief and believing for experience and reason. That was the great contribution of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who birthed an America that, like the autumnal doe, takes care of its young, its weak and those however disadvantaged through no fault of their own. …

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What Are Universities For?

Stefan Collini, professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge offers some considerations in his 2012 book of the same title. His erudite, yet conversational style made for a quick and enjoyable, yet thought provoking read. The last third of the book are previously written essays in response to major reports emanating from efforts …

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Linearize That!

For whatever reason, I’ve seen a bunch of questions posted on various fora boiling down to “How do I linearize <insert grossly nonlinear function>?” Whether by coincidence or due to some virtual viral epidemic, I’ve seen three or four in the past week that involved logarithms. So, without further ado, here is the quick solution: …

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