Category Archives: Random

For Your Consideration : 4 Links : 12/23/2014

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1. The Year In Dinner : On keeping your loved ones fed, whether they like it or not.

Lately I’ve been making garlic shrimp with habanero-lime quinoa once a week or so. I get into grooves; they make me seem and feel more competent than I really am. I’m not even mad when my girlfriend is surprised at how well an ambitious-sounding meal turns out—I am, too. But this is much more a testament to my ability to follow instructions than it is a sign of any real aptitude. I know what smoked paprika is, and I know what it tastes like, but I have no fucking idea how to use it unless someone tells when and how much. This is not an improvisational exercise. I’m not painting a Pollack or playing jazz drums when I cook. I’m building a shed. Out of Lego.

But it’s still rewarding. You work on the Internet all day, trying and sometimes struggling to attach meaning and value to efforts that can seem inherently ephemeral and intangible, and it’s nice to come home and actually produce something, the value of which is self-evident: this is literally the thing that will keep you from going hungry. Do it well enough, and it’s something for you and your loved ones to actually look forward to, but at the very least, it is necessary. This is essential. You are helping people survive.

2. How To Be An Expert In A Changing World

If the world were static, we could have monotonically increasing confidence in our beliefs. The more (and more varied) experience a belief survived, the less likely it would be false. Most people implicitly believe something like this about their opinions. And they’re justified in doing so with opinions about things that don’t change much, like human nature. But you can’t trust your opinions in the same way about things that change, which could include practically everything else.

When experts are wrong, it’s often because they’re experts on an earlier version of the world.

Is it possible to avoid that? Can you protect yourself against obsolete beliefs? To some extent, yes. I spent almost a decade investing in early stage startups, and curiously enough protecting yourself against obsolete beliefs is exactly what you have to do to succeed as a startup investor. Most really good startup ideas look like bad ideas at first, and many of those look bad specifically because some change in the world just switched them from bad to good. I spent a lot of time learning to recognize such ideas, and the techniques I used may be applicable to ideas in general.

The first step is to have an explicit belief in change. People who fall victim to a monotonically increasing confidence in their opinions are implicitly concluding the world is static. If you consciously remind yourself it isn’t, you start to look for change.

3. The Truth About Teens And Privacy

Teens are not particularly concerned about organizational actors; rather, they wish to avoid paternalistic adults who use safety and protection as an excuse to monitor their everyday sociality.

Teens’ desire for privacy does not undermine their eagerness to participate in public. There’s a big difference between being in public and being public. Teens want to gather in public environments to socialize, but they don’t necessarily want every vocalized expression to be publicized. Yet, because being in a networked public — unlike gathering with friends in a public park — often makes interactions more visible to adults, mere participation in social media can blur these two dynamics. At first blush, the desire to be in public and have privacy seems like a contradiction. But understanding how teens conceptualize privacy and navigate social media is key to understanding what privacy means in a networked world, a world in which negotiating fuzzy boundaries is par for the course. Instead of signaling the end of privacy as we know it, teens’ engagement with social media highlights the complex interplay between privacy and publicity in the networked world we all live in now.

4. How The “Halo Effect” Turns Uncertainty Into False Certainty
My absolute favorite new podcast of 2014 is the You Are Not So Smart podcast. Wonderfully produced, voiced, and beautifully written. I can say the same for both books by David McRaney. If you are a fan of thinking about thinking and all the ways our jumble of neurons fails us in predictable ways (and thus how to combat it) you’ll love it too.

At best, you are only truly certain of a handful of things at any given time, and aside from mathematical proofs – two apples plus two apples equals four apples (and even that, in some circles, can be debated) – you’ve become accustomed to living a life in a fog of maybes.

Most of what we now know about the world replaced something that we thought we knew about the world, but it turned out we had no idea what we were talking about. This is especially true in science, our best tool for getting to the truth. It’s a constantly churning sea of uncertainty. Maybe this, maybe that – but definitely not this, unless… Nothing raises a scientist’s brow more than a pocket of certainty because it’s usually a sign that someone is very wrong.

Being certain is a metacognition, a thought concerning another thought, and the way we often bungle that process is not exclusively human. When an octopus reaches out for a scallop, she does so because somewhere in the chaos of her nervous system a level of certainty crossed some sort of threshold, a threshold that the rock next to the scallop did not. Thanks to that certainty threshold, most of the time she bites into food instead of gravel. We too take the world into our brains through our senses, and in that brain we too are mostly successful at determining the difference between things that are food and things that are not food, but not always. There’s even a Japanese game show where people compete to determine whether household objects are real or are facsimiles made of chocolate. Seriously, check out the YouTube video of a man gleefully biting off a hunk of edible door handle. Right up until he smiles, he’s just rolling the dice, uncertain.

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. – Carl Segan

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For Your Consideration : 4 Links : 12/16/2014

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1.  Atari Teenage Riot: The Inside Story Of Pong And The Video Game Industry’s Big Bang

That better game would be Pong, which was deceptively simple to pick up, but infuriatingly difficult to master (not least because a developmental hiccup meant that your paddle couldn’t defend all your territory in the original coin-operated version). Today it is considered one of the biggest arcade games in the world, responsible for the success of the video game industry, valued at $78.5 billion this year. Pong took video games out of windowless computer labs full of buttoned-up coders and brought it to the masses, and with it, Bushnell’s nascent company, Atari.

It would’ve been hard to imagine then, but games today are bigger than the global film industry, which had a 60-year head start. Pong is the reason that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 can make more than three times as much in its first five days on sale as The Avengers can in its first five days in theaters. But while today’s blockbuster games are largely created by hundred-strong teams at bankrolled developers, the men who created and crafted Pong embodied the bootstrap start-up culture that typifies the most exciting edges of today’s tech landscape. They were knocked back by old men in drab suits who said games weren’t going to be big business. But games were going to be big business, even those started in unassuming surroundings. And nothing was going to stop them.

2. Saving Our Daughters From An Army Of Princesses

What was going on here? My fellow mothers, women who once swore they would never be dependent on a man, smiled indulgently at daughters who warbled “So This Is Love” or insisted on being addressed as Snow White. The supermarket checkout clerk invariably greeted Daisy with “Hi, Princess.” The waitress at our local breakfast joint, a hipster with a pierced tongue and a skull tattooed on her neck, called Daisy’s “funny-face pancakes” her “princess meal”; the nice lady at Longs Drugs offered us a free balloon, then said, “I bet I know your favorite color!” and handed Daisy a pink one rather than letting her choose for herself. Then, shortly after Daisy’s third birthday, our high-priced pediatric dentist — the one whose practice was tricked out with comic books, DVDs, and arcade games — pointed to the exam chair and asked, “Would you like to sit in my special princess throne so I can sparkle your teeth?”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I snapped. “Do you have a princess drill, too?”

She looked at me as if I were the wicked stepmother.

But honestly: since when did every little girl become a princess? It wasn’t like this when I was a kid, and I was born back when feminism was still a mere twinkle in our mothers’ eyes. We did not dress head to toe in pink. We did not have our own miniature high heels. What’s more, I live in Berkeley, California: if princesses had infiltrated our little retro-hippie hamlet, imagine what was going on in places where women actually shaved their legs? As my little girl made her daily beeline for the dress-up corner of her preschool classroom, I fretted over what playing Little Mermaid, a character who actually gives up her voice to get a man, was teaching her.

[…]

Apparently, I had tapped into something larger than a few dime-store tiaras. Princesses are just a phase, after all. It’s not as though girls are still swanning about in their Sleeping Beauty gowns when they leave for college (at least most are not). But they did mark my daughter’s first foray into the mainstream culture, the first time the influences on her extended beyond the family. And what was the first thing that culture told her about being a girl? Not that she was competent, strong, creative, or smart but that every little girl wants — or should want — to be the Fairest of Them All.

[…]

Even as new educational and professional opportunities unfurl before my daughter and her peers, so does the path that encourages them to equate identity with image, self-expression with appearance, femininity with performance, pleasure with pleasing, and sexuality with sexualization. It feels both easier and harder to raise a girl in that new reality — and easier and harder to be one.

As with all of us, what I want for my daughter seems so simple: for her to grow up healthy, happy, and confident, with a clear sense of her own potential and the opportunity to fulfill it. Yet she lives in a world that tells her, whether she is three or thirty-three, that the surest way to get there is to look, well, like Cinderella.

3. As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up

Clearly, many workers feel threatened by technology. In a recent New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 who were not working, 37 percent of those who said they wanted a job said technology was a reason they did not have one. Even more — 46 percent — cited “lack of education or skills necessary for the jobs available.”

Self-driving vehicles are an example of the crosscurrents. They could put truck and taxi drivers out of work — or they could enable drivers to be more productive during the time they used to spend driving, which could earn them more money. But for the happier outcome to happen, the drivers would need the skills to do new types of jobs.

The challenge is evident for white-collar jobs, too. Ad sales agents and pilots are two jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will decline in number over the next decade. Flying a plane is largely automated today and will become more so. And at Google, the biggest seller of online ads, software does much of the selling and placing of search ads, meaning there is much less need for salespeople.

4. Study of poverty-ridden neighborhoods shows gentrification is not ruining enough of America

“Because the slow decline is more common and less visible, it is seldom remarked upon, while gentrification, when it happens – which is both unusual and dramatic – is far more evident change,” explains the report.

“There are more areas of poverty than areas undergoing gentrification, but that doesn’t mean that when communities do revitalize that people aren’t uprooted,” says Harold Simon, executive director of the National Housing Institute. “That kind of thing has happened all over the place.”

It’s not a matter of which is worse: gentrification or poverty. Americans should be concerned about both, says Simon.

Often the cities where gentrification occurs are also the cities where poverty slowly spreads across other neighborhoods. Take Brooklyn, for example. Over the last decade, Brooklyn went from having four of New York’s poorest neighborhoods to having five. At the same time, it went from having zero of New York’s richest neighborhoods to having two and was singled out as having the least affordable housing market.

 

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. – Epictetus

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For Your Consideration : 4 Links and an Infographic : 12/12/2014

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1. Why James Cameron’s Aliens is the best movie about technology.
Some great film writing on philosophical messages in sci-fi movies we love.

There are not many films on any topic that pull off the trifecta of big ideas, great moviemaking, and deep human resonance, let alone manage to be about technology. For my purposes, there are three that matter: Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Aliens.

[…]

Right now (if you’re still reading) you’re thinking, Tim, I love Aliens. But I don’t love it because it makes me think the thinky-thoughts. I love it because people blow shit up, get killed by aliens, then blow up more shit. There’s no way it carries a deep message about human beings and their relationship to technology. It’s not high art. It’s fun. And I say to you, it is both. You just haven’t noticed it until now.

[…]

That’s what technology is. It’s the world of things, some impossibly stupid, some smarter than we are, we have assembled around ourselves to cover over our fundamental weaknesses as a species. The strength we have, the advantage this gives us, is our ability to stand apart from the things we’ve made: to use them and set them aside; to make them prosthetic extensions of ourselves and to let them go.

2. The Ethical Dilemma Behind Reporting On The Data Released From The Sony Hack

From the beginning, Variety has not shied away from reporting on what has emerged from the data to date. That isn’t to say absolutely everything that pops up will be duly noted in our publication — personally identifiable information about execs, for instance, would be one no-no.

But my mounting misgivings have forced me to explain to myself what all this reporting is really about. While I found a lot to question about the rationales, ultimately I’ve arrived at an uneasy peace with why the leaks just can’t be ignored.

When ethical boundaries get murky, it’s only natural to grab for some sense of precedent. The one that comes to mind for me is a relatively recent example: the celebrity nude photo leak in October that besmirched the good names of everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Ariana Grande.

These young women clearly had their privacy invaded. There was a lot of justifiable hand-wringing in the press about the plight of these women, but why is there none of that for the corporations? Their privacy has been invaded as well, albeit in a different way.

Nude photos weren’t hacked at Sony, but it’s interesting that while nudity is deservedly considered to be crossing the line, financial records aren’t accorded a measure of respect as well. Rest assured that SPE chairman Michael Lynton would probably rather you see his private parts than the company’s movie budgets.

The difference between nude celebrity photos and the leaked Sony data, respectable media outlets will argue, is only the latter is “newsworthy.” But what does that really mean?

3. Swarm Weapons And The Future Of Conflict

Swarming is a seemingly amorphous, but deliberately structured, coordinated, strategic way to perform military strikes from all directions. It employs a sustainable pulsing of force and/or fire that is directed from both close-in and stand-off positions. It will work best — perhaps it will only work — if it is designed mainly around the deployment of myriad, small, dispersed, networked maneuver units. This calls for an organizational redesign — involving the creation of platoon-like pods joined in company-like clusters — that would keep but retool the most basic military unit structures. It is similar to the corporate redesign principle of flattening, which often removes or redesigns middle layers of management. This has proven successful in the ongoing revolution in business affairs and may prove equally useful in the military realm. From command and control of line units to logistics, profound shifts will have to occur to nurture this new way of war. This study examines the benefits — and also the costs and risks — of engaging in such serious doctrinal change. The emergence of a military doctrine based on swarming pods and clusters requires that defense policymakers develop new approaches to connectivity and control and achieve a new balance between the two. Far more than traditional approaches to battle, swarming clearly depends upon robust information flows. Securing these flows, therefore, can be seen as a necessary condition for successful swarming.

4. How Fixed Are Personality Traits After Age 30?

When psychologists talk about personality, they are usually referring to what are called the Big Five traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. These are our core characteristics, which generally don’t fluctuate depending on the particular mood we’re in. Some newer research in the emerging field of personality neuroscience suggests that these traits are biogenic, stemming from our genes, which helps explain why so many studies have found personality to be relatively stable. Research on identical twins, for example, shows that these five traits are largely heritable, with about 40 to 50 percent of our personality coming from our genes.

Some aspects of our personalities start to show up when we’re just days old, as Little writes in his book:

Such features of personality can be detected in the neonatal ward. If you make a loud noise near the newborns, what will they do? Some will orient toward the noise, and others will turn away. Those who are attracted to the noise end up being extraverts later in development; those who turn away are more likely to end up being introverts.

As we grow older, our personalities do evolve, of course; throughout adolescence and early adulthood, we change rapidly. One review of 152 longitudinal studies found the biggest changes in personality traits occur from childhood through the 20s. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, we can and do still change, but these changes come more slowly, and require more effort, said Paul T. Costa Jr., scientist emeritus at the laboratory of behavioral science at the National Institutes of Health.

Infographic – Highest Consumption of Selected Spirits (2012) : Unsurprisingly the USA is pretty boozy.

 

 

 

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James A. Baldwin

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For Your Consideration : 4 Links : 11/25/2014

Well, I missed my Friday 11/20 newsletter but I had a good reason… My daughter Olivia was born on 11/19 and I decided enjoy our first day with her instead of newslettering.

Now that she is home and everyone is doing well (and sleep is starting to happen) back we go to the links and thinking. This one is fairly kid/education focused.

Welcome to life Olivia. We are going to have a lot of fun together.

1. How To Land Your Kid In Therapy – Or: Perfect Is Worse Than Good Enough.

At first, I’ll admit, I was skeptical of their reports. Childhoods generally aren’t perfect—and if theirs had been, why would these people feel so lost and unsure of themselves? It went against everything I’d learned in my training.

But after working with these patients over time, I came to believe that no florid denial or distortion was going on. They truly did seem to have caring and loving parents, parents who gave them the freedom to “find themselves” and the encouragement to do anything they wanted in life. Parents who had driven carpools, and helped with homework each night, and intervened when there was a bully at school or a birthday invitation not received, and had gotten them tutors when they struggled in math, and music lessons when they expressed an interest in guitar (but let them quit when they lost that interest), and talked through their feelings when they broke the rules, instead of punishing them (“logical consequences” always stood in for punishment). In short, these were parents who had always been “attuned,” as we therapists like to say, and had made sure to guide my patients through any and all trials and tribulations of childhood. As an overwhelmed parent myself, I’d sit in session and secretly wonder how these fabulous parents had done it all.

Until, one day, another question occurred to me: Was it possible these parents had done too much?

2. I Can See The Matrix (if the Matrix were the media advertising landscape). One aspect of Media Literacy in  K – 12 Education.

“Who’s the target audience?” asks the teacher.

“Boys— our age,” responds a student. “They only showed boys in this ad.”

“And the music— it was like rap music, sung by boys,” chimes in another. “It’s sung in a kind of agressive way,” the student continues. “And the words, ‘In Yo’ Mouth’— that reminds me of ‘In Yo’ Face!'”

“What’s a synonym for ‘In Yo’ Face?'” asks the teacher, feigning ignorance.

The class erupts in laughter, and a chorus of replies follow as children call out their synonyms. The teacher flips open the thesaurus and adds some additional words: defiance, bravado, dare.

The teacher changes the pace. “In your notebooks, everybody take five minutes and write down one or two reasons why the producer chose this phrase for the Lego Mini Waffles campaign.” Notebooks fly open, pens get located and students get quickly down to writing. This is clearly something they have been doing regularly in this class. After five minutes, he asks students to read their ideas aloud. Six hands are in the air.

A dark-haired girl begins to read. “The producer wants to show that eating Lego Mini Waffles is a way of showing independence, being defiant.”

“The producer wants kids to think it’s cool to eat breakfast on the run, not with a plate, not sitting down,” reads another student.

“The producer might want to link Lego Mini Waffles with the attitude of ‘In Yo’ Face!’ because that daring attitude is so popular with kids nowadays,” says another boy.

After a few more such interpretations, the teacher wraps up the lesson. “So sometimes commercials can use people’s feelings— like defiance— to link to their products. For your critical viewing project tonight at home, I’d like you to look for a commercial that uses bravado — especially kids defying adults. If you find one, write down the name of a commercial and be prepared to describe it to us tomorrow.”

3. Ask Not What Your Toys Can Do – On Toys Enabling Open Ended Play

The highlight of my son’s speech therapy was always the bag of toys. Years ago, when he was a toddler and the therapist came to our house, he’d wait patiently as she took out one toy at a time and used each to help build language skills. Anxious to boost his progress, I watched her work and wrote down the name of her “tools.” I would then run to Toys R Us—and almost always, I would walk out empty-handed.

Toy stores, it turns out, are the worst place to buy toys. The educational aisle is even more upsetting, filled with battery-operated toys with cartridges, sounds, and styluses. What toy stores (and parents) need to understand better is that for a product to be an effective learning tool, the child has to be able to use it to make inquiries and attempt to answer them. However, in the case of educational toys, it’s the machine that is asking all the questions.

You will go out into the world, and nothing will be fair. It will shock you. You will have to figure out which battles are worth fighting for and you will realize everything in your life will be a choice. You will have the choice to fight or not to fight. You will have the choice to blend in or stand out. There will be moments when you will need to be brave. Moments when you will need to listen instead of speak, and moments when you will need to speak instead of listen- and you will need to know the difference. You will need to figure out how to love yourself, others and the world- in that order. Your heart will get blasted into a million pieces and, this will be one of those moments you will need to be brave, you will need to put it back together using yourself, others and the world- the very same things that shattered your heart to pieces in the first place. You will have the choice to let your defeats, embarrassments and failures define and weaken you, or make you a more empathetic and courageous human being.

 

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” – Shakespeare

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For Your Consideration : 4 Links : 11/11/2014

Now, there’s a reason why privacy is so craved universally and instinctively. It isn’t just a reflexive movement like breathing air or drinking water. The reason is that when we’re in a state where we can be monitored, where we can be watched, our behavior changes dramatically. The range of behavioral options that we consider when we think we’re being watched severely reduce. This is just a fact of human nature that has been recognized in social science and in literature and in religion and in virtually every field of discipline. There are dozens of psychological studies that prove that when somebody knows that they might be watched, the behavior they engage in is vastly more conformist and compliant. Human shame is a very powerful motivator, as is the desire to avoid it, and that’s the reason why people, when they’re in a state of being watched, make decisions not that are the byproduct of their own agency but that are about the expectations that others have of them or the mandates of societal orthodoxy.

This realization was exploited most powerfully for pragmatic ends by the 18th- century philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who set out to resolve an important problem ushered in by the industrial age, where, for the first time, institutions had become so large and centralized that they were no longer able to monitor and therefore control each one of their individual members, and the solution that he devised was an architectural design originally intended to be implemented in prisons that he called the panopticon, the primary attribute of which was the construction of an enormous tower in the center of the institution where whoever controlled the institution could at any moment watch any of the inmates, although they couldn’t watch all of them at all times. And crucial to this design was that the inmates could not actually see into the panopticon, into the tower, and so they never knew if they were being watched or even when. And what made him so excited about this discovery was that that would mean that the prisoners would have to assume that they were being watched at any given moment, which would be the ultimate enforcer for obedience and compliance. The 20th-century French philosopher Michel Foucault realized that that model could be used not just for prisons but for every institution that seeks to control human behavior: schools, hospitals, factories, workplaces. And what he said was that this mindset, this framework discovered by Bentham, was the key means of societal control for modern, Western societies, which no longer need the overt weapons of tyranny — punishing or imprisoning or killing dissidents, or legally compelling loyalty to a particular party — because mass surveillance creates a prison in the mind that is a much more subtle though much more effective means of fostering compliance with social norms or with social orthodoxy, much more effective than brute force could ever be.


Panopticon” by Jeremy Bentham – The works of Jeremy Bentham vol. IV, 172-3. Licensed under Public domain viaWikimedia Commons.

Somewhat ironically Jeremy Bentham was also the founder of Utilitarianism which holds its founding concept as “that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, usually defined as maximizing total benefit and reducing suffering or the negatives.”

2. All Technology is Assistive

Well — it’s worth saying again: All technology is assistive technology.Honestly — what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.

Making a persistent, overt distinction about “assistive tech” embodies the second-tier do-gooderism and banality that still dominate design work targeted toward “special needs.” “Assistive technology” implies a separate species of tools designed exclusively for those people with a rather narrow set of diagnostic “impairments” — impairments, in other words, that have been culturally designated as needing special attention, as being particularly, grossly abnormal. But are you sure your phone isn’t a crutch, as it were, for a whole lot of unexamined needs?

3. If you give a girl a puzzle

I hold a vision of being an “anti-princess dad” but I haven’t met my daughter yet and I’m of the belief she’ll let me know what kind of dad she needs me to be.

Attack the media and marketing that sell girls short, yes. Challenge a generation of parents who fail to think critically about the media and toys they provide their children. But let’s back off the attacks on girls and how they do girlhood.

There is a difference between a girl-centric business using “girl power” as a marketing gimmick and a business centered in authentic girl empowerment. May I suggest we think twice about bashing the intellectual capabilities of girls who play with Barbies, enjoy fashion and glam, or who by genetic lottery fit the beauty norm? None of those things are mutually exclusive to also liking or being good at STEM pursuits.

My Friends, fashion dolls are not the hill you want to die on. While definitely an imperfect toy that require parents to assist with unpacking messages, insisting fashion dolls are the root cause of the Failure of Girls demonstrates a profound lack in understanding how girls really play and think.

EVERY GIRL has a scientist inside of her. Girls are not the problem, we are. We’ve forgotten how to draw the curiosity out of her, we’ve stopping expecting it from her, and we’ve stopped giving her opportunities to explore it, experiment with it, and expand on it. We’ve listened to what the media wants us to believe about our troubled girls, and bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Girls know better, they are waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

4. Robot Deer Outsmart Illegal Hunters

If only Africa had the funds to deploy some robot decoy rhinos or gorillas…

Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are using realistic-looking robotic deer to catch poachers hunting illegally or during closed season.

The decoys can take as many as 1,000 shots before they need to be replaced according to officials, and operators are able to control their ear, tail and head movements from up to 50 feet away.

The Miami Herald reports that one man was arrested this weekend after shooting a robotic deer that police had set up as part of an operation targeting road-hunting activity.

“He crossed a ditch and walked up toward the fence carrying a rifle,” states an FWC report. “He placed the rifle on the fence to steady himself and shot at the replica.”

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.” – Chesterton

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For Your Consideration : 4 Links : 11/7/2014

JC Herz reports on the strange bedfellows to be found when you’re into “measurable, observable, repeatable” benchmarks.

“CrossFit’s a filter,” Dymmel says of the connections forged under the pull-up bar. “It’s the ability to suffer. Are they mailing it in on the workouts? Or are they really working hard?”

By design, CrossFit pushes people out of their comfort zones. The workouts are humbling. This in itself makes the whole notion of CrossFit anathema to people who’d rather not challenge themselves to physical ordeals in public, or perform less than perfectly in front of others. But then, the ability to miss a lift and be OK with it also squares with the Silicon Valley tech culture. “The ability to fail and fail well and be OK with it” is what appeals to Lisa Rutherford, a serial entrepreneur in Palo Alto.

2. When Bad Things Happen To Good Robots

I had no idea there was a place called the Hadal Zone.

“Nereus was lost doing what she was designed to do, exploring the deepest reaches of the ocean with a basket full of samples and a control room filled with scientists interacting actively for the first time with the Hadal seafloor. I am still stunned in disbelief by the whole experience and I feel as if I have lost a child. I’d greet Nereus each morning on deck, and wave goodbye to her as she was released to her long commute down to work each dive. She will be missed greatly.”

3. The App that would end math homework or: “The evolution of the calculator”

Dan Meyer, a former math teacher and Stanford PhD student in math education, summarized this hope in a recent blog post about PhotoMath. “It’s conceivable PhotoMath could be great for problems with verbs like ‘compute,’ ‘solve,’ and ‘evaluate.’ In some alternate universe where technology didn’t disappoint and PhotoMath worked perfectly, all the most fun verbs would then be left behind: ‘justify,’ ‘argue,’ ‘model,’ ‘generalize,’ ‘estimate,’ ‘construct,’ etc,” Meyer wrote. “In that alternate universe, we could quickly evaluate the value of our assignments: ‘Could PhotoMath solve this? Then why are we wasting our time?’”

In other words, we should root for both a perfect robot equation solver and hope that it catalyzes innovation in math education. But, as Meyer hints, the technology does disappoint. The ways the app doesn’t work paint a miniature portrait of what will be so confounding about a world laced with artificial intelligence produced by today’s tech industry.

4. E.B. White’s letter to a man who had lost faith in humanity – March 30, 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

Sincerely,
E. B. White

 

“One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” – Stephen Fry

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