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Current Topic: Society

End the University as We Know It
Topic: Society 11:13 am EDT, Apr 29, 2009

GRADUATE education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

European colleges seem to be doing right in the sense that students often switch between schools depending on what they are studying at the time. The whole idea of "ranking" is very loose that they don't really care about what school you graduated from since a lot of knowledge is shared between them. Unlike in Asia where reputation is more important and within departments, there are a lot of politics based on reputation and funding.

I believe GaTech's Threads program is a great step in the right direction along with Penn State's school of IST.

End the University as We Know It

moot wins, Time Inc. loses
Topic: Society 1:44 pm EDT, Apr 28, 2009

This morning published the final result for their annual TIME 100 Poll. Time reports that the new owner of the title ‘Worlds’s most influential person, is moot’. What TIME doesn’t say is that their poll was so totally manipulated that the results of the poll are not an indication of who is the most influential, but instead they stand as a monument to Time’s incompetence.

A great analysis of the Anon hack on's poll. It scars me to think that Australia allows online voting to elect government officials.

What Anonymous realized was that if they always labeled the unknown scanned text with the same word - and if they did this thousands and thousands of times eventually a large percentage of the unknown words would be mislabeled with their word. All they had to do was look at the two words in the captcha, enter the proper label for the ‘easy’ one (presumably that would be the one that the two optical scanners would agree upon) and enter the word “penis” for the hard one. If they did this often enough, then soon a significant percentage of the images would be labeled as ‘penis’ and the ability to autovote would be restored (one side effect, that was not lost on Anonymous, was the notion that for years to come there would be a number of digital books with the word ‘penis’ randomly inserted throughout the text.

ReCaptcha claims they can prevent a 'penis flood' attack... Only time will tell...

moot wins, Time Inc. loses

Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom [TED Talk]
Topic: Society 8:00 pm EST, Feb 18, 2009

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.

Everyone should watch TED talks; especially this one.

Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom [TED Talk]

Bill Gates releases mosquitoes into audience
Topic: Society 1:37 pm EST, Feb  5, 2009

"Bill Gates just released mosquitos into the audience at TED and said, 'Not only poor people should experience this.'"

Note to self... don't ever attend a preso given by bill g.

Bill Gates releases mosquitoes into audience

Travel time to major cities: A global map of Accessibility
Topic: Society 10:51 pm EST, Dec 29, 2008

As seen in the description of the accessibility model, the cost or friction surface is derived from several spatial datasets that represent roads, terrain, shipping lanes, land cover and any other geographic features that should be considered when estimating the travel time to the target locations. This webpage lists the data sources that were used in this particular accessibility model, data for the target locations and data for the friction surface.

Travel time to major cities: A global map of Accessibility

Mao offered U.S. 10 million women ...
Topic: Society 1:14 pm EST, Feb 19, 2008

-- Amid a discussion of trade in 1973, Chinese leader Mao Zedong made what U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a novel proposition: sending tens of thousands, even 10 million, Chinese women to the United States.

Chinese leader Mao Zedong, here depicted in an Andy Warhol painting, offered women to the U.S.

"You know, China is a very poor country," Mao said, according to a document released by the State Department's historian office.

"We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands."

A few minutes later, Mao circled back to the offer. "Do you want our Chinese women?" he asked. "We can give you 10 million."

After Kissinger noted Mao was "improving his offer," the chairman said, "We have too many women. ... They give birth to children and our children are too many."

"It is such a novel proposition," Kissinger replied in his discussion with Mao in Beijing. "We will have to study it.


Mao offered U.S. 10 million women ...

A Visit to the Creation Museum, 11/10/07 - a photoset on Flickr
Topic: Society 10:47 am EST, Nov 16, 2007

A photo collection from some kid's visit to a creationism museum. The title's and commentary make it rather interesting.

Apparently God is an Average Student

Hey, it's not me. Look at this report card! It's all "Cs"! Sure, he could probably do better if he applied himself, but then why should he? When you're already omnipotent and all-knowing, you don't exactly have to make the extra effort, now, do you? That said, I'm personally holding out for an Eternal Plan that's all As. It's not too much to ask for some quality work from one's creator.

A Thorny Problem

Follow the "logic" here.

International Brotherhood of Ark Builders, Local 122 Takes its Contractually Provided 15-Minute Break

Yes, they know Noah's in a rush. But it's in the contract.
Don't worry. God dealt with them. Yes, He was the world's first union-buster.

The Names of the Two Biggest Rock Bands in the Immediate Post-Flood Era

I have all their albums.

A Visit to the Creation Museum, 11/10/07 - a photoset on Flickr

Lessig video on ending corruption - Boing Boing
Topic: Society 6:49 pm EDT, Oct  5, 2007

In this youtube, Larry Lessig appears on Danish TV to explain his new cause, devoting the next ten years to ending government corruption. Lessig is downright inspirational on the subject, calling on us to set aside our cynical instinct that tells us that money will always control government and use technology to expose corruption and rally citizens to end it.

Lessig video on ending corruption - Boing Boing

Cellular freedom: bill would cut early termination fees, hidden charges
Topic: Society 12:42 pm EDT, Sep 11, 2007

Sen. Klobuchar believes that the bill would bring much-needed change to the cellular industry. "The rules governing our wireless industry are a relic of the 1980s, when cell phones were a luxury item that fit in a briefcase instead of a pocket," Sen. Klobuchar said in a statement. "Early termination fees are a family budget-buster; families should be able to terminate service without outrageous fees; know if their cell phone will work on their drives and in their home and office; and understand what to expect in their monthly bills once you pile on charges and fees. It's a simple matter of fairness."

I was just discussing with a friend last week how locking cell phones should be illegal. Hopefully some changes are put in place soon.

Cellular freedom: bill would cut early termination fees, hidden charges

Homeland Security tests automated 'Hostile Intent' detector
Topic: Society 11:38 am EDT, Aug 13, 2007

The Department of Homeland Security is hoping to overcome that limitation by automating the identification of individuals whose behavior suggests they pose a threat via a program dubbed "Hostile Intent."

Pretty soon the "Thought Police" will be able to arrest you for a "Thought Crime".

The software is pretty cool. So is the mood driven PONG. [ Video Link ]

But the spectrum of human emotion can not be lumped into a few categories.

Donnie: Life isn't that simple. I mean who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.
Kitty Farmer: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.
Donnie: Okay. But you're not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!

Homeland Security tests automated 'Hostile Intent' detector

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