Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘technology is magic

Saturday Morning Links, Just Like When We Were Kids

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* The Department of English invites applications for an entry-level, tenure-track Assistant Professor position in medieval literature, language, and culture, primarily British, before 1500. Marquette English is hiring!

* Maybe my new favorite page on the Internet: r/DaystromInstitute’s list of long-running Star Trek what-ifs and what-abouts.

* I think I’ve linked this thread before, at least a different version of it: “I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.”

* Syllabus as Manifesto: A Critical Approach to Classroom Culture.

* Creative Destruction: Tech and the evolution of the desk, 1985-2014.

* Bousquet breathes some fire: This change in appointment types is not accidental or caused by outside forces. The adjunctification of faculty appointment has been an intentional shock treatment by campus administrations. Of course, there may be some claims regarding saving money; however, most critical observers note that “saving” on $70,000 faculty salaries generates a vast, expensive need for $80,000- to $120,000-per-year accountants, IT staff members, and HR specialists, plus a few $270,000 associate provosts. Not to mention the $500,000 bonus awarded to the president for meeting the board’s permatemping target and successfully hiding the consequences from students, parents, and the public. It should be obvious to most of us that any money left over from bloating the administration is generally directed to consultants, construction, and business partnerships.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a recent survey that questioned the correlation between internships and full employment upon graduation.The findings were astonishing. Hiring rates for those who had chosen to complete an unpaid internship (37%) were almost the same for those who had not completed any internship at all (35%). Students who had any history of a paid internship, on the other hand, were far more likely (63%) to secure employment.

“It’s a horrible irony that at the very moment the world has become more complex, we’re encouraging our young people to be highly specialized in one task.”

* What’s wrong with college? Plenty. What’s wrong with journalism about college? Everything.

* Casinos are the autoimmune disease of city planning. They destroy everything else in the area, then die when the host is dead.

* From nuclear bombs to killer robots: how amoral technologies become immoral weapons.

Preliminary Studies Show Potential Health Risk For Babies Born Near Fracking Sites.

* …white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

* AAUP writes Chancellor Phyllis Wise over the Salaita firing.

* BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren won’t save us.

* Will Zephyr Teachout save us?

* Unskew the polls! Democratic Senate edition.

* Today in climate change neologisms: “Megadroughts.”

* California, before and after drought.

* The arc of history is long, but: “Doctor Who ‘lesbian-lizard’ kiss will not face investigation.”

A unique experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe—including whether we live in a hologram.

Asst. Principal Fined for Changing His Son’s Failing Grades 11 Times. This story has everything:

According to the New York Daily News, Ali has been reassigned away from Bread and Roses, but has not been placed at a new school. He remains on the Department of Education’s payroll with a $104,437 annual salary.

The school, the Daily News reports, is expected to close by 2016 for poor performance.

* Study suggests autism rates have plateaued since 1990.

* ALS Foundation floats trademarking the concept of an “ice bucket challenge,” but immediately gets talked out of it.

* Thoughtcrime watch: Dorchester County discovers one of its teachers is a novelist, completely flips its wig.

* Fox developing a drama about a world without sleep.

* The inexorable march of progress: This Cheap Exoskeleton Lets You Sit Wherever You Want Without a Chair.

* The way we die now.

* Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker: What’s the point of studying history?

The Politics Of Every Major U.S. Religion, In One Chart. Way to claim the vital center, Catholics!

* It sounds like you just selected easily measured metrics and increased them, rather than trying to make the experience good.

​The 12 Most Obnoxious Dungeons & Dragons Monsters.

* Suddenly I’m up on top of the world: They’re rebooting Greatest American Hero.

* An Annotated Reading Of Multiversity #1.

* How the growing generation gap is changing the face of fandom.

* A eulogy for Twitter. Twitter as misery factory.

Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine Mitt Romney running for president, forever.

Why Aren’t Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person.

* And just this once, everybody lives: Family Cleans House, Finds Pet Tortoise Missing Since 1982.

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Sunday Links

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Sunday links.

* How Neil Armstrong ruined science fiction.

* Increasing cell phone use may be largely responsible for highway fatality numbers that remain static in the face of widespread safety improvements. If you’re looking for hyperbolic commentary on this subject, check out Matt Yglesias and the good people at MetaFilter, none of whom have ever used their cell phones while driving, of course not, no sir.

* Curing blindness by implanting a tooth in the eye. Also via MeFi.

* And Buster Bluth stars in Ctrl, about a man who can use keyboard commands to modify his life.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 19, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Infinite Linkdump Thursday

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Truly this is a summer of infinite linkdumps. Things will only get worse once summer camp starts.

* Glad to see pseudo-liveblogging tenure denial II has the happy ending I was expecting.

* Raleigh slime monster update.

* The Universal Translator is here! This is pretty amazing.

* Push is a simple sidescroller with a unique “cosmic distortion” gimmick.

* ‘How Beckham Blew It’: Inside the L.A. Galaxy.

* Bank runs, Amish style. Not a hoax, not an imaginary story.

* Yo La Tengo rocks the Twitter.

Written by gerrycanavan

July 2, 2009 at 4:01 am

Friday Links

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Missed another day this week. We apologize for the inconvenience.

* Major gay-rights victory in Iowa (!) today as the state’s Supreme Court unanimously rules in favor of marriage equality. Some commentary from Daily Kos, Matt Yglesias, and Washington Monthly. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects presidential politics in 2012—given Iowa’s importance in the primary process Republican candidates may feel significant pressure to move to the left on this issue. Iowa is now the third state where gay marriage (as opposed to some version of civil union) is legal, joining Massachusetts and Connecticut.

* Wild new technology demoed at TED. It’s a projector that turns basically any surface into a touchscreen, including your own body.

* National Catholic Reporter has a report out this week demonstrating the decades-old origins of the Catholic Church’s priest scandal. My sense is that this continues to badly hurt the reputation of Catholicism, though perhaps I just run with a bad crowd. Via Cogitamus.

* Because Bush’s DOJ bungled the prosecution of Ted Stevens, the Alaska GOP wants a do-over election. That sounds reasonable. That’s usually how these things are handled, right?

* Also on the Sarah Palin beat the poetry of Sarah Palin and the poetry of Glenn Beck. Via MetaFilter.

“Challenge to a Cynic”

You are a cynic.
Because show me where
I have ever said
That there’s absolute proof
That nothing that man
Has ever conducted
Or engaged in,
Has had any effect,
Or no effect,
On climate change.

Hope for the Locked-In

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Hope for the Locked-In: Amazing story from Esquire about new technology that offers hope to those suffering from Locked-In Syndrome that they may one day be able to communicate again. Just gut-wrenching. Via MeFi.

It’s been six weeks since I first watched Erik do his speech exercises in Dr. Kennedy’s lab, and in that short time he’s become much more adept at making the computer obey his commands. Back in early April, he was having trouble producing a single vowel sound consistently. Now he’s stringing together chains of two, even three vowels at a time, and he’s making far fewer errors. Kennedy asks a research aide to reconfigure the software so Erik can roam around the “vowel space” with total freedom.

“Try uh-ah,” Kennedy says. The cursor jumps around the screen from hut to hat, and the deep computer voice echoes the trembling sound that Erik’s brain is trying to produce.

Next he tries uh-oh and then uh-oo, and makes them both perfectly.

Kennedy puts his face right in front of Erik’s. “You can really do it when you want to,” he says ecstatically. “This time I want you to go from oe to oo and then up to ee.” The hard ee sound is the vowel Erik has been having the most trouble with. To make it, he has to think about spreading the edges of his lips and stretching his cheeks. The part of the premotor cortex that controls the cheeks is right next to the region that controls the lips, tongue, and jaw, where Erik’s implant sits, but Kennedy suspects the cheek neurons may still be too far away for the implant to catch their firing signals. Nevertheless, when Erik practices tying together an oe-oo-ee nine times in a row, he nails it on six, only failing on the other three tests because of a cough or a spasm. It’s hardly speech, but Kennedy and Guenther are now on the verge of introducing their new computational model designed to allow Erik to produce consonants as well, and eventually real, meaningful sentences. But even with just vowels, there is a lot he should soon be able to say. In the 1950s, a Swedish linguist named Gunnar Fant demonstrated that you can string together the sorts of vowellike sounds that Erik can already make to form slurred but comprehensible speech.

Kennedy pulls up a program on his computer screen to show me. It’s the same vowel map Erik has been navigating with his mind, only Kennedy can now control it with his mouse. As he loops his cursor around the screen, a sound comes out of the speaker: “Ow-uuuuuuh-oo. Ai-uuuuuh-oo.” He makes it again, and this time I hear it: “How are you? I love you.” And again:

“How are you? I love you.”

“How are you? I love you.”

“How are you? I love you.”

Dr. Kennedy turns to Erik, who has been watching us the whole time. “I’d like him to be able to say that to his father.”

Erik’s body shivers in one of his regular, and painful, muscle spasms, and then sinks back into his wheelchair. The session is over, but Eddie hasn’t yet returned from his walk. Kennedy plays some Ozzy Osbourne, and the two of us sit in the corner making small talk about the Atlanta traffic. There’s nothing for Erik to do but stare at the wall and listen and wait.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 8, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Spring Break Sci-Fi Links

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We’re in the Spring Break stretch now; I have an hour of class tomorrow and then at last we’re all free. Let’s celebrate with a few sci-fi links.

* Holy shit: Scientists have developed a computerised mind-reading technique which lets them accurately predict the images that people are looking at by using scanners to study brain activity.

* One year till midnight: character stills from the upcoming Watchmen movie.

* Three seasons of Battlestar Galactica in eight minutes.

* How to repopulate a world without men.

Cross Alzheimer’s Off Your List of Things to Fear

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This is amazing: researchers have discovered a treatment that dramatically reverses the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s within minutes of injection.

1) Aubrey de Grey was right; we really are all going to live forever.

2) I smell a great potential origin for a superintelligent superhero. Or supervillain. Or zombie epidemic.

Via Boing Boing.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 12, 2008 at 8:42 am