10 Jan

Cocktail Party Physics – i think that i shall never see / a carbon offset as lovely as a tree

I overhead an exasperated parent the other day: “The kid just won’t stop asking ‘why’ all the time. Everything I say, she challenges. She’s driving me absolutely nuts.”

We need more kids like that.

I know, easy for me to say since I’m childless by choice, but I really do believe that the biggest danger we face as a society is a populace that doesn’t want to think for themselves. I am more than happy to have students challenge me about the material I teach. In reality, though, they spend a lot more time challenging me on my attendance policy, my lack of understanding that they missed class due to a hangover, my grading policy, and my refusal to allow ‘do-overs’ for tests that didn’t produce the desired scores. Most disppointingly, so many test answers are phrases regurgitated directly back from my notes with no evidence that the writer spent even a few seconds considering what those words meant and whether they were right.

As I tell my students over and over again: If you don’t understand something, the last thing you should do is repeat it.

via Cocktail Party Physics – i think that i shall never see / a carbon offset as lovely as a tree. I loved every little in nook and cranny she explored from just a couple of simple marketing statements.

06 Dec

TIME – Modern-Marriage Report: Not as Necessary Yet Still Desired

In fact, statistically speaking, a young man of William’s age — if not his royal English heritage — might be just as likely not to get married, yet. In 1960, the year before Princess Diana, William’s mother, was born, nearly 70% of American adults were married; now only about half are. Eight times as many children are born out of wedlock. Back then, two-thirds of 20-somethings were married; in 2008 just 26% were. And college graduates are now far more likely to marry (64%) than those with no higher education (48%).

When an institution so central to human experience suddenly changes shape in the space of a generation or two, it’s worth trying to figure out why. This fall the Pew Research Center, in association with TIME, conducted a nationwide poll exploring the contours of modern marriage and the new American family, posing questions about what people want and expect out of marriage and family life, why they enter into committed relationships and what they gain from them. What we found is that marriage, whatever its social, spiritual or symbolic appeal, is in purely practical terms just not as necessary as it used to be. Neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children — yet marriage remains revered and desired.

via TIME – Modern-Marriage Report: Not as Necessary Yet Still Desired. There is all kinds of crazy awesome statistics in here. For instance, 41% of children in 2008 were born to unwed mothers. The gap between the wealth and non-wealthy is more evidence to growing divide between the haves and have-nots.

08 Nov

TED.com – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Inside a school for suicide bombers

Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy takes on a terrifying question: How does the Taliban convince children to become suicide bombers? Propaganda footage from a training camp is intercut with her interviews of young camp graduates. A shocking vision.

via TED.com – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Inside a school for suicide bombers. A really great 6 minutes of film.

18 Apr

Why So Few Women in Silicon Valley? – NYTimes.com

WOMEN now outnumber men at elite colleges, law schools, medical schools and in the overall work force. Yet a stark imbalance of the sexes persists in the high-tech world, where change typically happens at breakneck speed.

via Why So Few Women in Silicon Valley? – NYTimes.com. Not only did the article discuss the challenges women face in the technology realm but also how women have to face the difficult decision of children or career and women can be happy choosing a career.