Posts Tagged ‘science’
* 21st Century America summed up in a single headline: Why Is a Defense Contractor Paying for Sesame Street’s Parents-in-Jail Lesson?
* If Only This Goes On: science fiction and modernity in Russia.
* Intact fallout shelter discovered in California backyard. More links follow the image.
* Lucas and Spielberg announce film is dead. No, they’re not making another Indiana Jones; that’s really what they’re saying.
* California’s Online Education Bill SB 520 Passes Senate. You might know this better as the MOOC bill.
* The enemy within: Toddlers Killed More Americans Than Terrorists Did This Year.
* And SCOTUS says human genes cannot be patented. The good guys win a game!
* Coffee’s good for you again. Stay buzzed, America.
* This piece on MOOCs from Jonathan Dettman is really interesting, not least of all for its observations on running the university like a business:
According to this paradigm, the years spent at a university are not intended so much as to educate the student (either in the vocational sense or the liberal-arts sense of forming citizen-scholars), but rather to turn as many recruits as possible into “active alumni.” In the meantime, as much profit as possible should be extracted from the student, through amenities, food services, business partnerships, textbook sales, tuition, etc. Image and branding are extremely important to these efforts, but so is information. Universities now build data-driven profiles of prospective students in order to identify and recruit those most likely to be attracted to the university’s own carefully constructed market profile.
As I said on Twitter yesterday: they couldn’t have found a model that sounded a bit less… pyramid-schemey?
* This piece on epigenetics in Discover is really interesting, but my god, the reporting. It’s hard to imagine a piece that sensationalized these findings more.
* Announcing the MOOC Research Institute. Can’t we scale this up? You know, crowdsource it.
* Black Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have an unemployment rate of 21 percent, almost triple the national average.
* Simply put, 99 percent of the increase in employed persons seen in the last year was for individuals who had attended at least some college (this removes the negative change in employment for high school grads with no college to not produce a number above 100 percent). Among those who didn’t go to college, we actually lost 284,000 employed persons from May of 2012 to May of 2013. Within the college-going categories, about 60 percent of the increase went to those with a bachelor’s degree and 40 percent to those with an associate’s degree.
* The screenplay writes itself: Gustl Mollath was put in a psychiatric unit for claiming his wife was involved in money-laundering at the Bavarian bank. But seven years on evidence has emerged that could set him free.
* The headline reads, “New long distance quantum teleportation system ‘extremely reliable.’” So, the ansible is real, then?
* Because a bunch of us have been rewatching Star Trek lately: Voyager Inconsistencies. By the numbers it’s actually a little better than I thought.
* And the LEGO museum. At least there’s that.
“We want to be a leading university, and we wanted to attract faculty who think out of the box, and who are ambitious and creative,” said Ghazi Darkazalli, vice president of academic affairs. “We don’t want them to be worrying within the first five or six years whether they’re going to be tenured or not.”
Far better for them to spend those five or six years trying to get a TT job at another school.
* In practice, however, that doesn’t happen. The scholarships go towards “merit aid”, which is often, dismayingly enough, a polite way of saying that the college is helping to pay for wealthy kids to attend, even if they’re not particularly smart. Some 20% of students with GPAs below 2.0, for instance, receive merit aid. And at the same time, the “need aid” is carefully calibrated so that poor kids won’t take the colleges up on their offers… See also: Colleges Soak Poor U.S. Students as Aid Funneled to Rich.
* Food service workers in St. Louis have gone on strike. So might adjuncts in Chicago. Amazon workers sue over mandatory post-shift search. Cooper Union Students Occupy President’s Office To Protest Tuition.
* “Demolishing the Competition: The Longitudinal Link Between Competitive Video Games, Competitive Gambling, and Aggression,” a new study that will appear in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, found that aggressive behavior is tied to competition, not violence, in videogames and gambling, according to Forbes.
* Here’s another example — I’ve watched every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (several times) and I never noticed that Riker doesn’t know how to use a chair. When the guy sits down he pulls the chair back and dramatically slings his leg over the back of it like he’s mounting a freakin’ horse. He apparently does this all the time, regardless of the situation. It’s nuts.
* Lucas wanted Indiana Jones 2 to be a dinosaur movie. I honestly can’t decide if this is the best or the worst idea I’ve ever heard.
* The researchers note that either no debt or minimal debt appears to be the norm for white and Asian Ph.D. recipients, but not other groups. Black Ph.D. recipients in STEM fields are more than twice as likely as are white and Asian Ph.D. recipients to accrue more than $30,000 in debt in graduate school.
* It is starting to look as if the po-po are not going to be celebrating for long, as this crazymaking USA Today story lists neighbor after neighbor saying, “Oh, those girls? The ones trapped in that house for a decade? Yeah, we called the cops the first time we saw them being walked naked on a leash. F*ckers never came.” (Direct quote, probably.)
* What Lovecraft created was a specifically twentieth century idea: the universe as an empty, materialist one, in which there is no spiritual meaning to any actions and in which human existence is not significant in any way.
* And of course you had me at Vintage Science Ads from the 1950s-1960s.
Then, when you turn the corner and look at what hulks across the street from the main Cooper Union building, you can see where a huge amount of the money went: into a gratuitously glamorous and expensive New Academic Building, built at vast expense, with the aid of a $175 million mortgage which Cooper Union has no ability to repay.
The bland name for the building is a symptom of the fact that Cooper’s capital campaign, designed to raise the money for its construction, was a massive flop: no one gave remotely enough money to justify putting their name on the building. It’s also a symptom of the fact that no one on the board had any appetite for naming it after George Campbell, the main architect of the scheme which involved going massively into debt in order to construct this white elephant.
Campbell, pictured grinning widely in a now-notorious 2009 WSJ article, claimed that Cooper was a financial success story when in fact it was on the verge of collapse. He’s the single biggest individual villain in the Cooper story, and it’s a vicious irony that Cooper’s latest Form 990 shows him being paid $1,307,483 in 2011 — after he left Cooper’s presidency. (Cooper Union explainsthat the amount represents six years of “deferred compensation/retention payments”, but the timing couldn’t be worse.)
Campbell’s enablers and cheering squad were a small group of trustees, many of them Cooper-trained engineers gone Wall Street, who had so internalized the ethos of the financial world that it never occurred to them that they shouldn’t be constantly trying to get bigger and better and shinier. Campbell was paid $668,473 in his last year at Cooper — he was one of the highest-paid college presidents in the country, despite running a naturally small institution with serious space and money constraints. Board-member financiers enabled his dreams of growth and glory, hoping that some of the glamor from the newly-revitalized institution would reflect back on themselves. Naturally, when the whole project turned out to be a disaster, they scurried ignobly off the board as fast as they could.
* Duke University faculty members, frustrated with their administration and skeptical of the degrees to be awarded, have forced the institution to back out of a deal with nine other universities and 2U to create a pool of for-credit online classes for undergraduates.
* At this point, both parties really just represent different fractions of the 1%; Wall Street funds both, but where the Republicans are supported largely by business, especially the extractive industries, the Democratic Party has become that of the upper echelons of the professional and managerial classes: of university administrators, museum board directors, doctors, lawyers, designers and marketing consultants.
* The debt debate is reminiscent of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In a grand inversion, minor characters have usurped center stage, while the more important ones are out of sight. The Debt We Shouldn’t Pay.
* Also at NYRoB: Wikipedia’s Women Problem.
* The right to work less: Not only does the U.S. economy tend to produce lots of bad jobs, U.S. workers tend to spend far too much of their time doing them. In 2009, the average U.S. worker worked 1,681 hours compared to 1,390 in Germany. Germany’s experiments withkurzarbeit, a government program that provides income support to workers who accept reduced hours, has helped it avoid the problems of high and long-term unemployment that confront us here in the U.S. Instead of fighting for more work, much of which is likely to be bad, how about fighting for less work for everybody? This could be a very effective way to make sure that there are enough jobs to go around for everyone while limiting the amount of time workers spend in deadening, alienating labor.
* Science! “Our findings confirm that beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring,” the researchers wrote.
* What is the legal justification for signature strikes? What qualifies as a “signature” that would prompt a deadly strike? Do those being targeted have to pose a threat to the United States? And how many civilians have been killed in such strikes? The administration has rebuffed repeated requests from Congress to provide answers – even in secret.
* And just in from the local tourism board: 100 things to do in Wisconsin this summer.
* SFW (at least in my estimation) photography project depicting porn actresses with and without makeup. Discussion thread at MeFi, which links to a few more discussion threads at Reddit that are pretty soul-crushing.
* My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario… So what else am I supposed to do? Now I’m up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline. Also via MeFi.
* The Britannica Advantage was not only illusory, it also reflected the way in which the market economy always finds a way to turn things that are good in themselves into means to an end.
* And some more interesting SF from Eliezer Yudkowsky: “Three Worlds Collide.”
* Last year’s program copped to the death of Hollywood cinema-as-art. All that was left was looking backward over a once-hallowed institution and weeping over the corpse. This year, though, the tears have dried. What we see instead is a clear vision of the utility of cinema. The 85th Academy Awards, like no show before it, will elevate films that are openly ideological, weaponized tools of the state.
* And your headline of the decade: U.S. Government Plans To Air Drop Toxic Mice To Fight Snake Invasion.
* SNL wins a game: Djesus Uncrossed.
As early as this April, Yale plans to welcome a training center for interrogators to its campus.
The center’s primary goal would be to coach U.S. Special Forces on interviewing tactics designed to detect lies. Charles Morgan III, a professor of psychiatry who will head the project, calls these tactics “people skills.” These techniques would be honed using New Haven’s immigrant community as subjects.
* Freddie deBoer: I’ve been making the case (again and again and again) that the constantly-expressed notion that we’ll have full employment if people are just smart and go into STEM fields is empirically indefensible. Adam Kotsko: What is education actually for?
“Maddaddam begins where The Year of the Flood finishes and goes on from there,” she says. “It explores what happens when the conventional humans and the new creations find themselves in the same space. You can see that there might be some cultural misunderstandings.”
* Comics explained: the backstory of Rachel Summers. It couldn’t be simpler!
* Could our universe be located within the interior of a wormhole which itself is part of a black hole that lies within a much larger universe? And that universe is on the back of an even larger turtle…
* Obama says kill the penny. He would say that. He hates capitalism.
* Kidding on the square: another National Review blogger calls for the repeal of the 19th Amendment.
Halla Gunnarsdóttir, an adviser to the interior minister, explains the country’s anti-smut rationale to The Guardian:
“We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech…”
This is Iceland, after all. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir is the first openly lesbian government head in the world. It’s already illegal to print and distribute porn within the country, and since 2010, strip clubs have been prohibited as well…
* Great research opportunity for any PhD student studying science fiction, fantasy, horror, and/or utopia: the R.D. Mullen Fellowship. I loved the time I spent in that archive.
* CFP: The cultural impact of Dr. Who, at DePaul University. Saturday, May 4.
* On Getting a Ph.D. This is stirring, but all the same my unhappy advice hasn’t really changed since the last time a rebuttal to the just-don’t-go doomsayers was making the rounds.
* …But the most unfortunate part is that not one of the expert-amateurs seems to have given much thought to what MOOCs imply: that teachers are unnecessary. MOOCs don’t use teachers; they have curriculum designers and they have video presenters. Actors are the best for that latter role, seriously.
“If you want to take gender studies that’s fine. Go to a private school, and take it,” McCrory said. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
Again, I’d personally be very surprised if those gender studies classes weren’t paying for themselves and more.
* The wisdom of the market, in all its glorious efficiency: Confessions of a corporate spy.
* Over the last three months wind farms produced more electricity than any other power source in Spain for the first time ever, an industry group has said. To steal a line from Twitter: oh, if only we had wind!
ES: There’s a particular quote that I’ve seen as signatures in military forums or quoted, and for some reason military members identify it. That’s Tigh’s New Caprica silioquoy: “Which side are we on? We’re on the side of the demons, chief. We’re evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.” Why do you think that quote resonates with veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq in particular?
Parts 3 and 4 coming soon.
* The latest from Randall Munroe’s “What If?”: Will the Internet ever surpass FedEx’s bandwidth? What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies? What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool?
* Special pleading watch: nearly all of the 600 recess appointments since the Reagan presidency would have been nullified if the hyperformalist interpretation applied to Barack Obama were applied universally.
* Some local pride! Milwaukee in top ten list for best urban forests.
* It’s damn cold in Chicago: water is freezing to the sides of burning buildings.
- According to this link (which has information I cannot independently verify), the athletic budget for 2011 was $16 million, a 9.2% increase over the previous year. $9 million of that budget came from student fees.
- The reduction in faculty is expected to save $5.2 million.
* Lynda Barry’s course at the University of Wisconsin. I should be taking this.
* Liberal pundits and Republican congressmen agree: Barack Obama’s second inaugural was the most liberal speech of his presidency. They may be right. But just what kind of liberalism is this?
Obama’s speech was a far cry from the message of the modern Republican Party. But much of it would fit snugly in a handbook from Human Relations: Discrimination will not be tolerated. Active citizenship is everyone’s responsibility. Work harder.
* Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team – comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion – standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the US arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense. Would he, though? Would he really?
* Cheat to win: Virginia wants to rig the Electoral College too.
In addition to disenfranchising voters in dense areas, this would end the principle of “one person, one vote.” If Ohio operated under this scheme, for example, Obama would have received just 22 percent of the electoral votes, despite winning 52 percent of the popular vote in the state…
It’s also worth noting, again, that this constitutes a massive disenfranchisement of African American and other nonwhite voters, who tend to cluster near urban areas. When you couple this with the move on Monday to redraw the state’s electoral maps — eliminating one state senate district and packing black voters into another, diluting their strength — it’s as if Virginia Republicans are responding to Obama’s repeat victory in the state by building an electoral facsimile of Jim Crow.
* Brain scans performed on five former NFL players revealed images of the protein that causes football-related brain damage — the first time researchers have identified signs of the crippling disease in living players. The impending death of pro football. See also: Junior Seau’s Family Is Suing The NFL.
* There’s a gold rush going on right now. Man is breaking the earth, looking for natural gas — just as we always have. It’s a mad scene, with hucksters on every side of the issue. And that’s just on the surface. You won’t believe what’s happening underground. Thank You for Fracking.
* Rejected movie ideas: Age-Reversed Home Alone Reboot.
* Internet argument perfect storm: The woman who hired a hitman to murder her abusive husband.
* War machine decides blood is blood: Pentagon Lifts Ban on Women in Combat.
* And from the too-good-to-check file: The Fascinating Business Cards of 20 Famous People.