Saturday, December 26, 2015

...Came in Sight, Gath'ring Winter Fuel.



http://sageparnassus.blogspot.ca/2010/12/good-king-wenceslas.html
Thou and I shall see him dine...

Rather than buy ourselves and our young adult children gifts this Christmas, we decided to walk the walk.  You know.  That walk where you stop indulging yourself with increasingly frivolous items and actually reach out to help others not as fortunate.

http://maninthemaze.blogspot.ca/2011/12/good-king-wenceslas.htmlWe bought several Walmart gift cards with funds we would have used to buy our gifts for one another and our kids.   Then our daughter and daughter-in-law (who is pregnant with twins, our 10th and 11th grandchildren, so yes, we have more than enough blessings in our life), Mr. Wilkinson  and I went to our local Walmart yesterday, a beautiful Sunday morning.  Not quite knowing how to do what we wanted to do, just praying we’d get it right and not embarrass anyone or get arrested.  Our girls decided on an approach, took the gift cards, and my husband and I stood at a distance, ready to help if needed.
http://funniest-place.com/funny/people-of-walmart-the-best-of/
The girls walked along and watched the check-out lines, and when they felt a tug at their kind hearts, they went up to people ready to check out and asked,
“May I buy your groceries?”
The initial responses were ones of shock and disbelief...
(read on)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What You Think You Know of Star Wars ... ... is Wrong

http://decider.com/2015/12/11/the-radicalization-of-luke-skywalker-a-jedis-path-to-jihad/?_ga=1.27378172.1587666970.1438336254
A long time ago, a galaxy far, far away was governed by a republic. Government was passable, but decaying, and growing more corrupt every year. Dishonesty grew while the freedom and security of the people declined. “Rule of law”, the root of the word republic, became a faint memory and a bitter joke. One group, wanting to be left alone, declared itself a trade federation as it sought peaceful autonomy.

It was not to be. There existed a small clan of people who pass on enormous powers of violence and destruction in their very bloodline. They destroy the federation's ability to police itself and leave the galaxy, like Somalia, a chaotic disarray of squabbling warlords.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall 2015 Bridges

We had some strong bridges this year. A couple of them made the competition an exercise in weight-lifting as much as a design and construction challenge.

Watch Me! Watch Me!

Some students, excited about dance routines sent me here. This makes me sad: the thin gruel you put up with as entertainment. Imagine if Bruno Mars had the dance moves of Fred Astaire.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ISIS is Glamorous

http://www.clarionproject.org/news/islamic-state-isis-isil-propaganda-magazine-dabiq
At least that's what Virginia Postrel says
Confronting Islamic State requires an exercise largely unfamiliar to the American military’s hardheaded pragmatists: thinking carefully about the elusive, seductive magic of glamour. Making that task all the more difficult, it also demands recognizing the allure of ideas and images that baffle, offend or horrify most Westerners. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, glamour is in the mind of the audience.
...
“What inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Qur’an or religious teachings as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool,”
Unfortunately your average wannabe jihadist is in for a shock
It’s drudgery, subordination, infighting, hypocrisy and general messiness. “The reality on the ground is a world away from the glamour of well-produced recruitment videos,” wrote Maher, noting complaints about boredom and guard duty.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/427257/isis-help-desk-encryption-technologyOh and by the way, once they have you, you are not getting out.
Personally, I’m not sure there’s a worse fate than quitting your comfortable job to run off and join the caliphate, all psyched to defeat the infidels, only to be told you’re being stuck on the graveyard shift at the IT desk, and you start tomorrow, oh, and if you don’t like it they’ll put you in a cage.

Digital Pictures of Propellers Look Funny

Here's an animation to show you why.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a18207/why-digital-pictures-of-propellers-look-so-weird-explained-in-one-gif/

Monday, November 9, 2015

A venture capitalist searches for the purpose of school

Ted Dintersmith wants to re-imagine North American education.
They had stellar resumes, early career success (often in consulting, investment banking, or corporate America), and were driven to succeed. Yet such patently qualified people often proved hopeless in the world of innovation, and I couldn’t quite figure out why.
He's very excited about a "new" approach.
[The Future Project]’s strategy centers on a far more fundamental “flip.” They start by helping students define projects or, in their vernacular, dreams. Motivated by an ambitious personal goal, students are motivated to learn the skills, content, and character traits required to complete their self-directed initiatives. The shift in student engagement is stunning. Given a reason to learn, students bring energy to classroom assignments, and commit “free” time (including coming in on snow days!) to improve their writing, public speaking, project management, collaboration, and math skills.
I suspect he's more wrong than right. I suspect he either overestimates the motivation and creativity of a classroom of students or underestimates the amount of material good students learn in a year. But as school critics go, he's interesting.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Introducing Men Without Chests

C.S. Lewis wrote some of the most astoundingly insightful commentary on the modern world (which came before our present postmodern one). The Screwtape Letters or The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe are light and fun. The Four Loves or The Abolition of Man are more logical and demanding. Even more so for a troglodyte like me who misses half of the allusions. C.S.Lewis Doodle helps the flow with illustrations. Here is the first chapter of “The Abolition of Man” ending with this:
We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the spirited element: the head rules the belly through the chest ...It is an outrage that [men without chests] should be commonly spoke of as intellectuals. ... Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary. It is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so. ...We continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. ...we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and demand of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
Related: How Men Without Chests predicted the modern university's unsoundness

MMOs for N00bs

http://mmos.com/review/skyforge
Having now played three MMOs — one fairly fanatically — for, wow, a year now I am of course perfectly suited to explain the entire hobby to the rest of humanity.
That sounds expert enough for me.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Frontiers in Fuel Efficiency

https://www.flickr.com/photos/libramano/9458548795/in/photostream/
This spring I posted a link to a super fuel efficient spacecraft that made its way to the asteroid Ceres. Instead of a rocket engine, NASA gave it an ion drive.
Well, now a university student in Australia has made an ion drive that is 50% more fuel efficient than NASA's previous record-holder.
The existing record is NASA's High Power Electric Propulsion (HiPeP) with 9,600 seconds, but fueled by magnesium Neumann's drive managed an estimated 14,600 seconds of specific impulse. He says "Other metals have lower efficiency, but higher thrust. So you would need more fuel to get to Mars, but could get there faster."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Computers in the Class

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/14/laptops-in-classrooms_n_3756831.html
Do we want more or less?
Principals, politicians and the public have long been enthusiastic about technology modernizing the classroom. They want to prepare student for the future. I saw a study a year ago providing data to push back on the enthusiasm: computers encourage multi-tasking and distractions.
This year there is a bigger study: less speculation on causes, more detail about how much use is ideal.
These guys are more enthusiastic.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Poison-injecting robot submarines

http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/poison-robot-submarine

Queensland University of Technology has developed an autonomous, poison-injecting robot submarine to kill sea stars and save coral reefs.

The 21st century is upon us and autonomous assassination robots are here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why We Fall for Bogus Research


Take it away Megan. I can't improve on this:
...on Thursday, Science published the results of a project that aimed to replicate 100 famous studies -- and found that only about one-third of them held up. The others showed weaker effects, or failed to find the effect at all.
This is, to put it mildly, a problem. But it is not necessarily the problem that many people seem to assume...
My favorite line:
Journalists who find themselves tempted to write "studies show that people ..." should try replacing that phrase with "studies show that small groups of affluent psychology majors ..."
https://houseofsage.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/you-are-not-so-smart-summarized-part-1/

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Red Lightning


http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/08/26/amazing-red-lightning-photographed-from-space/
This is what you see when you look at weather from the other side.

It is only seen above a thunderstorm and it only lasts for 1/50th of a second.

Major Success

College major success rates, that is. Who earns, who works, who is full-time, who is in his field. Ben Casselman of FiveThirtyEight has compiled a list of 173 college majors and correlates it to how much new grads earn and how likely they are to use their degrees.

http://petroleum.mines.edu/graduate_program.html His method has a pretty big flaw (which he addresses in the details) that you should not miss. As long as you keep this in mind, the results are useful: is it possible that the average petroleum engineer is smarter, harder-working and more motivated than your average library science practitioner? Casselman compares average earnings for university grads to high-school only grads. Is that a similar pool of people?

I've made similar posts before.

The Amazing New Space-Age Material is ...Wood?

http://substance-en.etsmtl.ca/new-class-of-biomaterials-cellulose-nanocrystals/

OK, not exactly wood. If you take wood and extract cellulose, then extract from that nanocrystalline cellulose, you get a fiber that is as strong as steel but as light as water (1/3 as heavy as aluminum.)

Enlisting the Troops Against Invasive Species

One creative solution to invasive species:

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fusion Comes Together

I see two big headlines in the fusion world currently. Both of them rely on the idea of producing energy in pulses. The biggest project in the world, ITER, continually squeezes hydrogen until it fuses, then continuously removes the waste while continuously supplying more fuel. These smaller, private organizations hold the fuel in place magnetically and compress it with a pulse of mechanical inertia. Dan Gelbart (Laberge's boss when he was hatching his plan) used to say that innovative technologies proceed in batches and efficient development moves toward continuous processes.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/08/general-fusion-successfully.html
Steam Punk Fusion
General Fusion's innovation is that they crowd-sourced the solution to a tricky sealing problem. Progress seems to be proceeding according to the plan they boasted of three years ago: break-even* will be achieved in 2016 with viable power plant construction in the 2017-2022 range.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/08/helion-energy-raised-109-million-and.html
Helion Energy's big announcement is that it has raised $11 million and will raise $21M on the stock market. They claim they'll build a break-even machine in 2016! and a commercially viable machine in 2019! The final machine will be the size of a Mack truck, will produce 50 MW of power and will burn a combination of hydrogen (deuterium) and helium (He-3).

Helion spun off from this firm that wants to make fusion rocket engines.

*break-even (aka net-gain) means that it produces more energy in the fusion reaction than it takes to squeeze the atoms together.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Staying Healthy Amid Pressure Not To

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/05/the-week-in-pictures-trigger-warning-edition.php
For decades people have grumbled that university environments can be unhealthy. The Coddling of the American Mind (A reference to this pivotal work) in the Atlantic examines popular trends in the context of the powerfully successful psychological field of cognitive behavioral therapy. They make the case that emotional reasoning, trigger warnings, labeling microagressions and “catastrophizing” are literally harmful to mental health. Solutions could come from contemporary psychology or ancient philosophers like Marcus Aureluis* or Buddha.

*Relevant at 2:00, Aurelius at 4:20 of 33:00.

(Aug'15) McArdle adds: College as a consumer experience serves to "shelter" students from any benefit. 

(Sept'15) After a massive response, Lukianoff responds to the controversies in this video.
"Learn better how to argue fairly with yourself."
...In case the implications of that original article weren't big enough for you.
The Real Reason We Need to Stop Trying to Protect Everyone’s Feelings

(Jan'16) The habits start in high-school.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Do You Buy It?

"The internet is making our children stupid."

The Backyard Scientist

Mario Fireballs in high-res, slow motion video, home-made foundry, CO2 rocket launcher. Do I really need to add the “do not try this at home”, except, maybe the Lichtenberg figures. Maybe!

Drifting Tanks

If you thought drift cars were awesome, check out this from the Russian International Tank Biathlon. (Apparently, that last line translates to something like "You can't see that on YouTube." Russian speakers please advise in comments.)

Via the jaw-dropping military technology of Foxtrot Alpha.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Key to Understanding the World

In 1958, Leonard Read wrote a couple of pages on the seemingly mundane subject of how to make a pencil. “I, Pencil”, though an essay, works like Robert Frost's idea of a poem: it “begins in delight and ends in wisdom.”
If you had all the elements of a pencil right in front of you, could you make a pencil? It's not as easy as you might think. In fact, no single person on the face of the earth could do it without the help of countless others. And this is the key to understanding the world.
Here is a video adaptation.

Old-School High-Technology

While TED lectures are quickly dropping their fact-to-flash ratio into narcissistic preening territory, the high content, low pizzazz, ironically entertaining educational films of yesteryear are posted onto YouTube. Here is a 1936 film on transmissions that builds all the way from basic lever theory to the workings of a synchromesh manual shift transmission in 10 minutes.
h/t-Popular Mechanics

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Hidden Benefit of a Really Crappy Job

The best job I’ve ever had was cleaning deep fryers at McDonald’s at 4:30 in the morning. By “best,” I don’t mean most pleasant. Each morning, I would take a filtration device (basically a heavy bucket with a filter, on wheels) up to each deep fryer, empty the fryer’s oil into it and, while it churned away, I would scrub the sides and bottom of the fryer. After the filter was done working, I would pump the filtered oil back into the fryer and turn on the heating element to prepare it for that day’s cooking.
Read on.
http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/13/what-americans-lose-when-we-refuse-crap-jobs/

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ground-Breaking Study that Should Change Your Life


http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/chocolate-weight-loss
An important study has been published
This spring, Dr. Johannes Bohannon and a team of German scientists discovered that people on low-carbohydrate diets could lose weight faster if they used one weird trick: Eat a bar of chocolate every day.
Newsrooms around the world responded eagerly to Bohannon's findings.
"Excellent News: Chocolate Can Help You Lose Weight!" Huffington Post India declared in a report...Even Europe's highest-circulation newspaper, Bild, got in on the action, publishing a report titled "Slim by Chocolate!"
Journalists and readers looked past the too-good-to-be-true nature of the findings and devoured the story wholesale.
But Bohannon's research was a hoax.
The health study was deliberately faked to test the hypothesis that scientists and reporters rarely detect junk science. No one caught on to this ruse.
No, not the one about the chocolate, the study about the quality of science reporting in our news. Bottom line: you need to learn science, method and critical reasoning because your betters aren't going to do it for you.

Monday, July 6, 2015

How Much of Human Nature is Optional?

Rachel Ryan doesn't feel like a man... but she feels a little guilty of that fact. She thinks that gender is not a social construct and discovered that makes her transgressive!
Nowhere is this oppression more apparent than in the workplace. God forbid
http://ex-army.blogspot.ca/2013/01/social-construct-is-social-construct.html
a young, ambitious career woman admit to wanting romance and a family as much as she wants that corner office. Instead, feminist champions of our gender-neutral society encourage “single young women in their sexual prime” to suppress conventional female desires in favor of “more-important things… such as good grades and internships and job interviews and a financial future of their own.”

Since entering the professional world, I’ve found amusement in openly admitting to wanting a family in the not-so-distant future. After all, I’m a fan of shock-value, and this statement is almost always guaranteed to raise eyebrows.
She is also a social science type and reads journal articles.

How Scarce?

Economists vs Ecologists, moderated by Matt Ridley, who wears both hats.
Economists ... What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter's tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can't seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.
That frustration is heartily reciprocated. Ecologists think that economists espouse a sort of superstitious magic called "markets" or "prices" to avoid confronting the reality of limits to growth. The easiest way to raise a cheer in a conference of ecologists is to make a rude joke about economists.
http://csinvesting.org/2011/12/26/economics-and-qe2-explained-with-cartoons-a-future-case-study-amazon/

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Science with Tom

Every week, some article he read in a newspaper...rapped. I believe this guy gives off my level of cool.
(Aug'15) Plus Inside Out and My Charon-a

Monday, May 18, 2015

Science Fair Projects

http://freshscience.org.au/2013/low-cost-jet-ventilation-a-breath-of-fresh-air
Raymond Wang from St. George's high school in Vancouver has won the world's largest high school science fair. His project was to provide fresh air to airline passengers while sharing a minimum of germs from other passengers.

This is Raymond's second science fair project that went international. The first was in 2012 (grade 8), when he generated electricity from the impact of raindrops.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ready for Bed

Swiss researchers say that screen time before bed makes it hard to sleep. It's not just that reading and thinking gets your mind wound up (though I am sure that's part of it.) Exposing yourself to light messes with the body's melatonin production. Having a low level of melatonin keeps your body in daytime mode and keeps you from being ready to sleep.

The new research shows that light from laptop screens, cellphones or tablets causes more disruption of melatonin than other lights. I don't see any mention of what the control lighting is: incandescent? CFL? LED? television?

http://methanestudios.com/category/prints/page/2?item=6462Teenagers, already susceptible to confused sleep cycles, are especially affected.

My first thought: profitable app opportunity. Second thought: the app world is way ahead of me. From the comments:
"As for apps that filter blue light, I would recommend f.lux for OSX, iOS (iPhone/iPad) , Windows, and Linux, and Twilight or Lux for Android. I have tried others, but those are the best." -Andy

Saturday, May 16, 2015

All Fish are Cold-Blooded

http://www.anglingfish.net/opah/Except when they aren't. Biology teachers everywhere, adjust to the new reality.

The opah fish makes use of counter-flow heat exchange in the blood vessels coming from its gills to keep its internal temperature high. That keeps its muscles warm and lets it swim fast in the cold, deep water where it lives.

(July'15) It's not that warm. The opah keeps its temperature 4-5
°C above water temperature.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Spring 2015 Bridge Contest

Shooshten the Barbarian defeats Destructo-Bridge of Death II!
Do not learn bridge architecture from the Destructo-Bridge of Death II.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Little Airline Attempt at Green Redemption

This is an interesting claim that it takes more energy to drive than to fly. No doubt the devil is in the details. And not all the details are clearly stated.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a9913/how-much-dirtier-is-driving-compared-to-flying-16365688/
For example, I doubt if the associated costs of air travel are included: driving to the airport, building an airport and parking lot, handling baggage, training airline staff. Should the energy of manufacture of cars and airplanes be included? I am making it awfully complex, but pretty clearly the details favor the car.

It is also based on the average types of trips taken. Cars log most of their miles on short trips with single occupants. This is a worst-case scenario for cars (ridiculously so for airplanes. No-one flies to the corner store. Hardly anyone flies an airplane solo.) The conclusion that airplanes are a more efficient means of doing a car's transportation doesn't follow.

Even so, the progress is evocative. It prompts some interesting questions. How long does a trip need to be to make a plane more efficient? What if the car had two occupants? ...three? ...five? ...seven? How long can the trend continue?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Driving Faster, Better

Skip barber's race school is famous and has been since the 80's.

What I Learned:
1. Making time on a track is about how fast you do the straights. How fast you do the straights is about how fast you exit the corner (and enter the next corner.)
2. Go through corners fast by picking the right line. The right line makes your rear tires travel in a constant-radius arc, touching at the turn-in, apex and track-out. Precise placement counts.
3. I usually turn in too early. If you are going to make an error, it is better turn in late. (Better because it gives you more margin, so more options.) This surprised me.
4. Brake late. Brake hard. Keep braking into the turn, easing off as you get into the turn.

Some of these things you can practice on the street or in a parking lot: precise position, choosing a line within your lane, late braking, getting on the throttle and doing it all smoothly, so the net acceleration is constant in magnitude, so that your passenger doesn't spill his drink. If you want to know how your car will behave at its limit, go to a race school or an autocross. I know of two on the island.

You can't learn car control on the street. It's not because your skill or natural talent is too low. It is because if you are driving at 98% (or 80%) and a dog runs onto the road, or you hit gravel, or a tourist stops erratically in front of you, the crash that will happen is out of your control. There is nothing you can do but wreck that car, or kill that dog, or worse. Courage is about accepting worthwhile risks that are within your control. Approaching vehicle limits on public streets fails on both counts.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Go Play

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/14/theres-never-been-a-safer-time-to-be-a-kid-in-america/
They say parents these days are awfully protective, awfully afraid to take risks. Maybe we can relax a little.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Design: Generating Creative Ideos

David Kelley thinks everyone is creative, at least until the creativity is driven out. He teaches a course in creativity at Stanford University in the heart of the most famously creative city in the most creative industry in the most creative country. Peter Robinson interviews him on Uncommon Knowledge.
Kelley's 5 steps in the creative process (The video gives more detail at 12 minutes.)
  1. Empathize – bias for action: immerse yourself in the situation to be studied and see it from the typical user's perspective.
  2. Define – Explicitly define the problem to be solved, then iteratively re-define at as your project progresses.
  3. Ideate – with fluency and flexibility. Fluency says the way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas and flexibility says make them different from one another. Find your ideas from talking to users and experts, looking at other ideas and at the state-of-the-art.
  4. Prototype – make something physical that lets people experience your idea.
  5. Test – Put your prototype in front of your ultimate judges and see what they think. Take their suggestions and make it better.
More details in his book, his free 80-minute course or his YouTube videos.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Why You Need to Understand Statistics

While this is "honest" in the sense of not being fraud, it is not honest in the sense of giving you the truth. If your skill in logic and statistics is weak, you will certainly walk away believing a falsehood. I'm not sure that is accidental.
More likely, it's a battle: an epic struggle between universities and student. You, to get their education and degree. They to get your money. Their side seems more sophisticated.
http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/us-v-joe-bruno-indictment-why-are-so-many-politicians-untrustworthy/question-240690/?link=ibaf&q=&imgurl=http://terrystuff.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/lawyers.gif
 Once upon a time, we marketed law schools with a printed brochure or two. That changed with the advent of the new century and the internet. Now marketing is pervasive: web pages, emails, blog posts, and forums.

With increased marketing, some educators began to worry about how we presented ourselves to students. As a sometime social scientist, I was particularly concerned about the way in which some law schools reported median salaries without disclosing the number of graduates supplying that information. A school could report that it had employment information from 99% of its graduates, that 60% were in private practice, and that the median salary for those private practitioners was $120,000. Nowhere did the reader learn that only 45% of the graduates reported salary information.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Smarter Every Day at the Motocross Track

There are some really good YouTube video sites. My favorite science channel must be Smarter Every Day. In 3-8 minutes, Destin finds some interesting thing to describe and investigate. His giddy enthusiasm, unfailing wonder and wholesome, humble southern demeanor make it awesome*.
(Having a $100,000 camera that shoots 250,000 frames per second doesn't hurt, either.)
Here is Destin investigating angular momentum at the motocross track.
*Destin-approved vocabulary

Having watched every video, here is my annotated list of Smarter Every Day episodes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How is Work?

Have you heard of TED talks? Do you know people who won't shut up about TED talks. Well, you're right they can be overplayed and the moments of genius seem to be in decline. Even so, there are gems. Cringing awkward storytelling mixed with crisp insight: here is my favorite from six years ago.

If you want to know more about Mike Rowe and the state of work in North America, go here. For more stories, go here.

What's so bad about work, anyway? John Calvin got it right five hundred years ago. Work is only secondarily that stuff we do to put food on the table. “Follow your passions”, “Do what you love and the money will follow”: that's the third priority, at best. No, work is how we serve one another and a practical way to show love.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are There Moral Facts?

Compare
Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.
Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.
http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/r/right_and_wrong.asp
With
-Copying homework assignments is wrong.
-Cursing in school is inappropriate behavior.
-All men are created equal.
One of them must be wrong.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Two Views of Intelligence

http://ronalvesteffer.com/5-ways-to-work-smart-not-hard/
Do you think you're a natural at science? ...math? ...English? Sorry to hear that.
The mastery-oriented children, on the other hand, think intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work. They want to learn above all else. After all, if you believe that you can expand your intellectual skills, you want to do just that. Because slipups stem from a lack of effort or acquirable skills, not fixed ability, they can be remedied by perseverance. Challenges are energizing rather than intimidating; they offer opportunities to learn. Students with such a growth mind-set, we predicted, were destined for greater academic success and were quite likely to outperform their counterparts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The European Founding

(Formerly known as the "dark ages*" )
"We dismiss the achievements of our ancestors and fall short of them.They (the medievals) honored their ancestors and surpassed them" Anthony Esolen, 2015

*They were called "dark" because those who called themselves "the enlightenment" and their enthusiasts thought the dark ages were a time of ignorance, insularity and stagnation. The last 40 years of historical scholarship show that is not true. The remaining justification for calling them "dark" is that they are poorly recorded. They are poorly recorded because the enlightenment "scholars" destroyed their manuscripts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Brain Research


http://teenagebrain.blogspot.ca/

Humans grow, various parts at various rates. The brain is most difficult. It starts biggest and finishes last, which means it is still in full development in the late teens when the body looks pretty much fully grown.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"I Don't Know How You'll Survive When Our Genes Are Gone."


http://favim.com/image/33772/
The epic scale of the lyrics to the Big Bang Theory is no accident. The whole show is  a metaphor for the creation of the human race from Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. You see, recent research on the Neanderthal genome suggests interbreeding.

The genes for red hair and pale skin didn't match well enough to show a correlation, but I found a correlation for genes linked to other traits. There's a gene cluster linked to advanced mathematics skills, information processing, logic, analytical intelligence, concentration skills, obsession–compulsion and Asperger's syndrome. That cluster correlates very strongly.
and the bad news:
The hybridization was successful in the Stone Age, but the environment has changed. I found that modern culture selects for socialization but against the Neanderthal traits for mathematics and intelligence, ... I don't know how you'll survive when our genes are gone."
Feb'15 Apparently Asians got two helpings of Neanderthal genes.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Visiting Ceres in March

Not as dramatic as landing on a comet, but a first, just the same. In two months, NASA will orbit Ceres, the largest dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. The same craft has already orbited Vesta, the second largest. That will make it the first craft to orbit two celestial bodies. Plus, ion propulsion (Apr'15).
Doubleplus: 7 other space highlights expected this year
(May'15) Electromagnetic drives are tested and appear to work,  Puzzling though, do they violate Newton's third law?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Survivor Bias

http://youarenotsosmart.com/the-book/
Survivorship bias in a nutshell: If you look at a profession and think: "Wow, that is full of the most skillful, smart, dynamic and interesting people I've ever seen!", should you join that profession or avoid it? David McRaney says, "not so fast." The same thinking applies to aspiring actresses, WWII bombers and businesses.

Before you emulate the history of a famous company, Kahneman says, you should imagine going back in time when that company was just getting by and ask yourself if the outcome of its decisions were in any way predictable. If not, you are probably seeing patterns in hindsight where there was only chaos in the moment.

BTW, this is just one post. McRaney's blog (You Are Not So Smart) is full of long, interesting, thoughtful posts on how people think. He loves the counter-intuitive.