Friday Links

To complicate matters further, about half of the roughly forty-five known examples were discovered before the emergence of rigorous archaeological standards for documenting objects’ findspots and contexts. This means that we simply have no idea where—or even when—some of the most famous slave collars were originally found, such as the so-called Zoninus collar now in the collection of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

On the other hand, the specimens that were excavated more recently show a range of archaeological contexts so wide that it is almost impossible to make generalizations: some have been found still attached around a skeleton’s neck, indicating that “for some slaves at least, a metal neck collar was permanent,” while others have been found in trash heaps and gutters, perhaps discarded by successful fugitives.j

For all that, it is hard not to think that he would have been a more appealing character, at least aesthetically speaking, if he had lived 200 years earlier. In the 19th century McAfee might have composed "The Revolt of Islam" or a biography of William Tell in between keeping a pet bear in his Oxford rooms or fighting for Greek independence. Instead he both consumed and sold an enormous amount of drugs, wrote computer software, and ran unsuccessfully for the presidential nomination of a minor political party....

That evening's debate was memorable not least of all for McAfee's candor. In response to a question about what works of political philosophy had inspired the candidates, he flatly declared: "I come to you untutored in the great thinkers of libertarianism. The first book I ever read cover to cover was Darwin's Origin of Species at the age of 30. I read that book because I was dealing drugs in Mexico at the time and it was the only English-language book I could find."

In a case of l’esprit de l’escalier, I just worked out the perfect parenthetical addition to this piece that was published in Inside Story, responding to a string of pro-natalist pieces in the New York Times and elsewhere. The central point is that the economic model in which strong young workers support elderly retirees is outdated and will only become more so.

The model underlying the desire for a population pyramid is one in which physical work predominates. Young and strong, needing only on-the-job training, workers leave school at 14 and immediately start contributing to the economy. By 65, they are worn out and ready for retirement. In this model, the more young people, the better.

One of the most entertaining of these rumors was what historian John McMillan has called “the Great Banana Hoax of 1967.” In the spring of that year, publishers of underground papers printed a recipe for smoking banana peels. It involved freezing the peels, blending them into a pulp, baking the residue at 200 degrees, and then smoking it in a cigarette or pipe (The Berkeley Barb, March 17, 1967). This supposedly produced an experience similar to that of smoking marijuana.

It involved freezing the peels, blending them into a pulp, baking the residue at 200 degrees, and then smoking it in a cigarette or pipe (The Berkeley Barb, March 17, 1967). This supposedly produced an experience similar to that of smoking marijuana.

As fun, if not necessarily effective, as banana smoking might have been, it was not without risks. According to The Rag, two people were taken into custody for possession of what turned out to be a banana peel: according to the Los Angeles Free Press, Donald Arthur Snell of Santa Fe Springs, California, was charged with driving while under the influence of drugs—the drug being banana peel (Berkeley Barb, May 26, 1967).

But small gatherings like Doug’s party are a potential important source of transmission, though this has been really hard to measure. At least, unless you get clever, which is what a team led by Anupam Jena did in this article, appearing in JAMA Internal Medicine.

With coronavirus infections falling in the U.S., many people are eager to put the pandemic behind them. But it has inflicted wounds that won’t easily heal. In addition to killing 600,000 in the United States and afflicting an estimated 3.4 million or more with persistent symptoms, the pandemic threatens the health of vulnerable people devastated by the loss of jobs, homes and opportunities for the future. It will, almost certainly, cast a long shadow on American health, leading millions of people to live sicker and die younger due to increasing rates of poverty, hunger and housing insecurity.

It will, almost certainly, cast a long shadow on American health, leading millions of people to live sicker and die younger due to increasing rates of poverty, hunger and housing insecurity.

In particular, it will exacerbate the discrepancies already seen in the country between the wealth and health of Black and Hispanic Americans and those of white Americans. Indeed, new research published Wednesday in the BMJ shows just how wide that gap has grown. Life expectancy across the country plummeted by nearly two years from 2018 to 2020, the largest decline since 1943, when American troops were dying in World War II, according to the study. But while white Americans lost 1.36 years, Black Americans lost 3.25 years and Hispanic Americans lost 3.88 years. Given that life expectancy typically varies only by a month or two from year to year, losses of this magnitude are “pretty catastrophic,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and lead author of the study.

Western powers have reacted with alarm to the ICC’s recent attempts to open investigations outside Africa, heaping pressure on the court and leveling sanctions against it. In so doing, they have revealed the tacit understanding that international criminal law applies to some more than others.

Friday Links

(Laugh if you will, but archaeology has proven that the ancients who once inhabited the Iberian Peninsula greatly valued the lime-flavored nacho chip for its nutritive value, and they long afforded it primacy among chips.)

Since the U.S. doesn't have a statutory minimum of paid public holidays like most of the rest of the world, it will fall on employers to decide whether or not to actually honor America's Second Independence Day.

Friday Links

Shane Frederick has devised a cognitive reflection test – three questions in which there is an intuitive but wrong answer and a non-intuitive but right answer. He has found that even at the US’s top universities, less than half of students get all three questions right.

Lawmakers say covid’s disproportionate impact on California’s Black and Latino residents, who experienced higher rates of sickness and death, makes their request even more pressing.

Yet even in the age of the cruise missile, the bayonet remains. However obsolete on the battlefield, it’s an “attitudinal and behavioral” tool. The point is all about morale-building. Stone notes: “What has proved important is its role in motivating scared, and frequently isolated, soldiers to continue fighting when their instincts demand otherwise.”

Perhaps the most striking thing about this article is that there is only a passing mention of Bitcoin — and nothing about cryptocurrency more generally — even though these attacks are only possible because of cryptocurrency.

Friday Links

When it comes to Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), I do a lot of gushing.

We have maintained that cryptocurrencies do have a fundamental value, arising principally from their ability to potentially provide greater privacy and anonymity compared to the conventional banking system. But that feature is difficult to value, which makes cryptocurrency exchange rates volatile and subject to bubbles. In addition, that very feature makes these assets desirable for the conduct of illegal activities, which is likely to invite increasing surveillance and regulation. In turn, those controls will work to reduce the value of cryptocurrencies, not only for use in illicit transactions, but for legitimate users as well.

“One of the problems we face as scholars of lying is that everybody thinks they know how lying works,” says Hartwig, who coauthored a study of nonverbal cues to lying in the Annual Review of Psychology. Such overconfidence has led to serious miscarriages of justice, as Tankleff and Deskovic know all too well. “The mistakes of lie detection are costly to society and people victimized by misjudgments,” says Hartwig. “The stakes are really high.”

We have learned since [2008] that the present generation of economists has not figured out how the economy works …

The journal’s first issue was published recently and it contains 10 button-pushing essays that supply answers to questions including whether it’s OK to commit violence in order to save animals (yes), whether criminals should be be placed in medically induced comas (maybe), and whether in the end our lives have any meaning at all (no).

“I think this is good for a lot of us math teachers because it’s forced us to rethink what assessments are supposed to accomplish,” said Matthew Rector, a math teacher and department chair at Grant Union High School in Sacramento. “In the past, most of us have thought about assessments as ranking tools—give a kid a grade and move on. Assessments should be about moving mathematical knowledge forward.”

By the 1930s, the UCI had some reasons to be skittish about technological changes to the bicycle. The authors write that it was under pressure from bike manufacturers, which were ramping up production of safety bicycles to satisfy a growing Depression-era demand for cheap transportation.

Friday Links

But many students detest survey classes in general, and introductory U.S. history courses in particular.  They consider these sweeping introductions a colossal waste of time and money, a diversion from their real interests, and little more than a box checking exercise taken only to fulfill a requirement.  Typically large and impersonal, and, in the case of history, repetitive of classes that students took in high school, these are courses to ”get out of the way.”

But the value of an introductory class lies, I think, in instilling a particular way of thinking.  In history, that means recognizing:That everything – every concept, activity, institution, and social role -- has a history.

That “we can’t escape history”  -- that our lives are caught up in long-term historical processes and that many of society’s most pressing problems are rooted in the past decisions and actions.

That judging the past fairly is hard, since it requires us to recognize that the past is another country, with its own culture, circumstances, and moral frameworks.

That “nothing is inevitable until it happens,” that history is contingent and key events are the consequence of chance, personality, mindsets, individual and collective choices, and circumstances.

That “History is problem solving”; understanding the confluence of factors and conjuncture of forces that contribute to historical change, whether this involves the role of racism or fear of the Soviet Union play in the decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan or the influence of geography on the outcome of the Civil War.

The disappointing April jobs report released last week inspired many commentators to echo this analysis: The post-pandemic recovery is slowing down because government benefits are too generous.The business class is right to be scared. But it's not because the recovery is slowing.

The coming months are set to turn into a time of reckoning for bad employers. The unique dynamic of the pandemic recovery could prove quickly unsurvivable for companies that are inefficient, as well as those that offer low pay, toxic work environments, or abusive bosses.

Most people are inherently reluctant to change things, even when it could be to their benefit. We see this dynamic everywhere. People rarely switch jobs, even though job switchers often end up making more money as a result. Studies have found millions don't refinance their mortgage, even though it would save them significant money with no downside. Similarly, people rarely switch health insurance even if it would be to their financial benefit. People often go with whatever treatment center their doctor refers them to, even if shopping around could save them hundreds.

The pandemic though has forced people to rethink their plans. Pew Research found two thirds of unemployed people are seriously considering changing the field they work in.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of art are all the rage right at the moment. For the right price (sometimes millions of dollars!) you can acquire a record of ownership of a digital asset like an image or video. Your ownership is recorded in a blockchain. You’re not even buying the copyright to this image, you’re just buying the concept of owning it. Does that explanation make sense to you? Because it barely makes sense to me.

Right now there’s a statement you can sign on the mathematical community’s ties with the NSA — the US National Security Agency, one of the world’s largest employers of mathematicians.

Most discussions of fatigue at the turn of the twentieth century begin with neurasthenia (from a Greek term meaning nervous exhaustion), the diagnosis popularized by neurologist George M. Beard in 1869. Like other physicians at the time, Beard viewed the body as a machine powered by energy produced by the nerves. The depletion of that energy resulted in the condition he called neurasthenia.

Josephine Clara Goldmark’s landmark book Fatigue and Efficiency appeared in 1912. Chair of the Committee on the Legal Defense of Labor Laws of the National Consumers League, Goldmark had begun her study of fatigue several years earlier at the request of her brother-in-law Louis Brandeis (later the first Jewish justice on the U.S. Supreme Court), who was preparing his brief for Muller v. Oregon, the Supreme Court case that established the constitutionality of limiting women’s working hours. Although Goldmark noted that many factors contributed to industrial fatigue, including noise, speed, and monotony, she placed the greatest emphasis on the length of the working day.

The book also reflected contemporary beliefs about women’s bodies. Women “are less resistant to fatigue than men,” Goldmark wrote, “and their organisms suffer more gravely than men’s from the strains and stresses of industrial fatigue.”

Friday Links

“Together, these findings illustrate that the most common approach to diversity in higher education ironically reflects the preferences, and privileges the outcomes, of White Americans,” the study notes.

What must one believe in to be willing to borrow tens of thousands of dollars in order to pursue a certification of completion — a B.A.? What would a college have to promise in order to compel someone to do that? What would a bank have to believe to extend this person credit? Or the U.S. government, to guarantee such loans en masse — now roughly $2 trillion? And what would a society have to believe to sustain the system that keeps it all going?

"On 'snow days' or days when school buildings are closed due to an emergency, all students and families should plan on participating in remote learning," the NYC Department of Education said.

Two 19th century Belgian bibliographers heard about the Dewey Decimal System and asked to translate it into French. But rather than slavishly follow Dewey, they added some significant twists. Their system, first published in 1905 and still used today, is known as the Universal Decimal Classification.

The truth is the question of whether student debt should be canceled is largely irrelevant. Most student debt will be canceled sooner or later, because an ever-growing share of borrowers cannot possibly repay their loans. Ever. The only question that matters is whether President Biden and Democrats in Congress can grapple with reality and fix America's colossally stupid system of funding higher education.

Effectively, the IDR program (whose enrollment has grown steadily to about a fifth of borrowers) is a tacit admission that most student loans are never going to be paid off in full. Those who have not enrolled have seen far higher rates of default; on current trends most borrowers will be in IDR eventually, which is rapidly becoming a kind of ad hoc bankruptcy program for student borrowers. In a sense, the U.S. is starting to fund its higher education system with a payroll tax on people who go to college but are too poor to pay for it out of pocket — except we then force them to sit under an enormous load of basically imaginary debt for decades while doing it. This damages their credit, making it harder to get a job, a house, a car, and so on.

Friday Links

But there is a problem with the new authenticity standard. The people who made applying to college an elaborate performance, a nervous and yearslong exercise in self-construction have now decided that the end result of this elaborate performance must be “the real you.”

As we face a new struggle to get covid-19 vaccination rates up in this country, we need to remember that there is a group of people with virtually zero vaccine uptake. This group often congregates together in indoor gatherings, coming into close physical contact for extended periods. Fully 24% of Americans are part of this group. We call them children.

Even before the 1950s began, Meredith writes, the phrase “the Nifty Fifties” began circulating. On a much more ominous note, one Chicago Tribune writer warned that “with an eye to Russia, this next decade will be tagged either ‘The Friendly Fifties’—or ‘The final Fifty.” And a report from Hays, Kansas, explained that dust storms in that area had led residents to declare the start of the “Filthy ’50s,” a callback to the “Dirty ’30s.”

Instead of lamenting a demise of expertise, wouldn’t it be more productive to ask whether the language of expertise features characteristics that invite its audience to overlook or misread it?

But new research suggests schools that tighten security and surveillance in response to shootings or other acts of violence may worsen long-term discipline disparities and academic progress, particularly for Black students.Schools that maintain the closest watch on students have significantly higher suspension rates and lower math performance than schools that use a lighter touch, according to new research released at the annual American Educational Research Association conference earlier this month. The findings also suggest a high-surveillance culture at school can make it harder for educators to implement strategies like restorative justice intended to reduce discipline disparities for students of color.

And these consequences fell disproportionately on Black students, who were more than four times more likely than white students to attend a school with the highest level of surveillance.

Indeed, it was lost—an estimated 1000 pages of poetry and pictures—until partly rediscovered by a small boy named Dave, in an IKEA in suburban Stroughton, Massachussets.

Substantial portions were in use as a prop book on a VITTSJÖ shelf unit (appropriately, as this unit promises ‘an open, airy feel.’)

PowerShell prompts

In PowerShell, you modify your shell prompt by defining a function called prompt, generally in your profile.ps1 file (or wherever $PROFILE.CurrentUserAllHosts points to). Its return value is used as your prompt. I've spent a fair amount of time tinkering with mine, but currently there's nothing particularly special there, just the current time, path, and information about the Git repository the current path is part of, if applicable (courtesy of posh-git).

One thing I'm not entirely happy about here is that the path is sometimes far to long, and won't even fit within the width of my shell window. I'd like to find a way to truncate it if it's above a certain length, but haven't spent much time on this problem yet.

Import-Module posh-git

New-Alias which Get-Command
...
function prompt {
    $(if (Test-Path variable:/PSDebugContext) { '[DBG]: ' }
        else { '' }) + 
        "($(Get-Date -Format 'H:m:ss')) " +
        $(if ($NestedPromptLevel -ge 1) { '>>' }) + 
        $(Get-Location).Path + 
        $(Write-VcsStatus) +
        '> '
}

Friday Links

Yet, in district after district, Black families are largely choosing to continue learning from home, despite efforts to reopen their schools. Rather than using equity as a buzzword to gain moral high ground in the reopening debate, we believe that advocates and school officials should listen to and engage with Black families and trust their decision-making.

So how can I make such a brash counter-claim that tests, quizzes, and exams are not essential? McFarland mentions how proctoring is not optional if “the goal of an exam or test or assignment is to measure learning or skill mastery.”

This is where the big reveal comes: quizzes, tests, exams, assignments – none of those can measure learning or skill mastery. Not directly at least.

All forms of tests and assignments are designed to serve as this evidence in the form of a proxy for direct observation. The idea is that if you really learned something, you can take that knowledge and answer questions about it, or describe it, or do a project with it, or something along those lines. There are a wide range of assignment options that work well as a proxy, but exams and tests are usually questionable at best. This is especially true when they rely on one of the most popular forms: the multiple choice question.

The research is usually aimed at seeing how many students cheated, not finding out the likelihood that they will cheat on your specific test this Friday.

The reason for this is because those numbers probably wouldn’t be as scary as “5000% of students cheat!” This is important because the real concerns most critics have with proctoring technology are about the problems with racism, ableism, and privacy violations that students have reported. If you think that most of the students in your course would probably cheat, you kind of shrug at the possible problems and say “well, I have to do something.” But if someone were to say that there was a less-than-5% chance any given student would cheat on your specific exam, then suddenly, the problems you subject students to do not seem worth it.

But it is also not surprising that a younger generation of left intellectuals has turned against higher education, given that it has turned against them. Following years of austerity budgets and the systematic deprofessionalization of academic labor, millennials and their generational successors have found it harder and harder to get faculty positions. As for students, a college degree of some sort has become a near-universal standard for younger cohorts entering an increasingly credentialized labor market. For them, the university has meant neither an enriching intellectual experience that sets them on a path of humanistic, lifelong inquiry nor a path to middle-class economic stability, but rather escalating tuition for degrees of questionable value that sets them on a path of crushing, lifelong debt. Once popular on the right, the Bennett hypothesis is likely to find more and more of its adherents on the left.

But brains need not and should not be confined to our bodies. They can, and should, and sometimes do, reside elsewhere.

One place is in our habits. I invest into tracker funds by direct debit each month. Most of my investment is done without thinking. 

Strictly speaking, this isn’t optimal: stock markets aren’t fully efficient and tracker funds can be beaten by momentum and defensive stocks (pdf) (but, I suspect, not by any other strategy). Implementing such strategies, however, would require me to think. And if I did that I’d fall prey to the gazillion cognitive biases that I warn IC readers against.

But there is another more cynical case for universal voting. Democracy, which has come to be based on an ever-greater franchise, provides legitimacy to government and an orderly mechanism for resolving political conflict. Undermine those things, and violence and instability could spill out of control.

Sesame Street introduced Roosevelt Franklin in February 1970. He was created and originally voiced by Sesame Street actor Matt Robinson, who felt the show lacked content that would draw in Black kids. He told Ebony magazine in a 1970 interview that kids needed “more realism in black-oriented problems,” a concern echoed by others....

The Muppet was a hot topic behind the scenes. Other Black Sesame Street staffers felt he was too stereotypical, with one of the show’s advisers noting, “I like the idea of black muppets, [but not] this one-dimensional use of black muppets.” Robinson pushed back, advocating for the use of Black English as a way to meet kids where they were. Still, a 1973 article in Black World Magazine called the attempt “a gross misrepresentation of Black Language.” Later, a 1975 Freedomways article called out Roosevelt and his segments as “a chaos of ‘darky’ accents and racist stereotypes.”

Friday Links

The idea that education acts as a Matthew Effect that disproportionately benefits those who start with most is an uncomfortable but well-understood phenomenon. Everything we do in schools either widens the advantage gap between the most privileged and least privileged students, or narrows it. This is, I think, a real dichotomy: anything that, on balance, appears net neutral is in fact acting to keep the gap a yawning chasm of inequity.

Leaving a sock on the ground is a manifestation of a concept from physics you may have heard of: entropy. Entropy is a measure of how much energy is lost in a system. If a system loses too much energy, it will disintegrate into chaos. It takes only a little bit of energy to pick up one sock. But if you don’t take care of your yard, let pipes stay clogged and never fix electrical problems, it all adds up to a chaotic home that would take a lot of energy to fix. And that chaos will leach away your time and ability to accomplish other things.

ACP President Jacqueline Fincher, MD, MACP, says the new guidance reflects several years' worth of data that suggest that shorter antibiotic courses for these infections are just as effective as longer courses, and the growing recognition that overly long prescriptions are among the factors driving unnecessary antibiotic use and promoting antibiotic resistance."These are common infections that physicians and other clinicians treat every day," Fincher told CIDRAP News. "This is the low-hanging fruit that we can go ahead and grab and do something about while we look into other things."

Experts warn we are about to enter a new period of flux as the school year ends and more teachers consider whether to leave after another year of heightened stress. That could lead to a small but meaningful uptick in teachers leaving their schools.

“If the economy accelerates with all the government spending, as I anticipate it will, outside-of-teaching opportunities are going to look pretty good, so we may well face some staffing challenges,” said Dan Goldhaber, a leading researcher on teacher quality issues at the University of Washington. But, he emphasized, such challenges likely won’t be felt across the board, but rather in subjects like special education and math and science, as well as in schools with more low-income students and more students of color.

Actual incidents of intentional smallpox infection “may have occurred more frequently than scholars have previously acknowledged.”

Friday Links

Nobody likes paying taxes (well, maybe some oddballs do, but to each their own), but over the last few years, Corporate America has been enjoying the lightest tax burden in history. That needs to change.

Foresters used to remove dead wood because it was once thought of as unsightly. Today, keeping dead wood on the ground has become a priority in forests around the world.

The lockdown in South Africa made it possible to investigate the changes in second‐year students' performance in the Economics department at the University of Pretoria. In particular, we are interested in assessing what factors predict changes in students' performance after transitioning from face‐to‐face (F2F) to online learning. Our main objectives in answering this study question are to establish what study materials the students were able to access (i.e. slides, recordings, or live sessions) and how students got access to these materials (i.e. the infrastructure they used).

The First Amendment of the US Constitution limits the government—not private entities—from restricting free expression. This is why companies like Facebook and Twitter can moderate content—and also why they could suspend then-President Trump’s accounts during his last weeks in office. While many Americans applauded this move as an appropriate response to the violent Capitol insurrection, unexpected critics emerged in corners of the globe where the American version of free speech is considered, well, weird.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the move as “problematic,” saying that lawmakers, rather than social media CEOs, should regulate speech—the exact opposite of what the First Amendment allows....

France’s Finance Minister also said he was “shocked” by the decision, which he framed as “social media oligarchy” regulating speech. Leaders outside of Europe criticized the move as well.

Children are human beings, not economic commodities. Our response to the pandemic should not be guided by the gloomy speculations of misguided economists, but young people and those who know them. 

Of course, money matters; it is what gets workers through the door.  But whilst it is usually necessary to get a job done, it is not sufficient to get it done well, at least where contracts and worker supervision are incomplete.

In several other countries, filing your taxes is a lot easier. The government uses data it already has on your income to fill out your taxes. But in the United States, Intuit has spent millions each year lobbying against these simpler systems which would eliminate the need for their services. Tax industry lobbying was how the IRS’s Free File was initially created, with the IRS agreeing to leave it up to those companies.

“People who are actually ranked toward the bottom of the income distribution tend to think they’re ranked higher than they truly are. And those who are ranked toward the top believe they’re ranked lower than they actually are.”

Friday Links

Regrettably, the jet pack would never truly take off: Rocket belts were too expensive, not fuel efficient, and had an extremely short flight duration. The military stopped funding the project, and the rocket belt became a novelty.

Briefly, the researchers found a vas deferens between men treated with phosphodiesterase five inhibitors, like Viagra, and those treated with alprostadil.

Public health experts and the CDC agree that if you are vaccinated and in the company of people who aren’t — or if you don’t know their status — you should continue the safeguards of masking and maintaining your distance.

Putting all these developments together, "it is not unreasonable that we might have the capacity to develop a human embryo from fertilization to birth entirely outside the uterus," Paul Tesar, a developmental biologist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, told the Times. "Whether that is appropriate is a question for ethicists, regulators, and society."

Now, real Going Medieval heads know of course that there is no such thing as a chivalric code, and that chivalry in general has absolutely nothing to do with the treatment of women. Luckily, I have already written that for you, so I don’t need to do it again. What I do want to talk about is that while the idea of chivalry and knights on horses coming to the rescue of damsels in distress is made up, actually the comparison of knights to police is not actually so far off.

That is not, however, a good thing.

Friday Links

For a few decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, authors from across ideologies and genres published stories that today would be called “cli-fi,” or climate fiction. French author Jules Verne, best known for popular adventure stories like Around the World in 80 Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, penned a novel in 1889 called Sans Dessus Dessous about capitalists intentionally heating the Arctic to extract coal reserves. Mark Twain included a subplot of selling warm climates in his 1892 novel The American Claimant. Recently, literary scholar Steve Asselin reexamined these and dozens of other early cli-fi stories, finding several disquieting themes relevant to how we think about modern-day climate change.

Judged by the standard of Arrow’s ideal of complete state-contingent markets, we’ve seen astoundingly little useful financial innovation during my long lifetime.

Quakers – the Religious Society of Friends – are famously nonviolent. One wartime tactic bears their name, not because they created it but because it bears the same hallmarks of nonviolence: the quaker guns.

This is how it typically worked: find a log that was roughly the shape and size of an artillery gun barrel, paint it black, and maybe carve the end a bit so it looks like a muzzle. Prop it up, point it at your enemy, and trust them to come to the wrong conclusion.

Despite the theory’s intuitive appeal, standards-based reform does not work very well in reality. One key reason is that coordinating key aspects of education at the top of the system hamstrings discretion at the bottom. The illusion of a coherent, well-coordinated system is gained at the expense of teachers’ flexibility in tailoring instruction to serve their students. Classrooms are teeming with variation.

The media narratives Americans consume may shape their opinions about whether the events of January 6 constitute terrorism, to a startling degree.

It is estimated that only 10% of academic titles are available for university libraries to purchase as digital copies for their students, and the books which are available, are frequently placed under restrictive licensing, made available only in bundles, and sold to libraries at incredibly high costs for single user or one-year access. As a result, academic librarians have been left with no choice but to tell staff and students that it is not possible to acquire key texts, and lecturers have had to re-design their reading lists around what is available.

I think what he's saying is digital art is the Platonic ideal of a Veblen good.

But “ownership” of crypto art confers no actual rights, other than being able to say that you own the work. You don’t own the copyright, you don’t get a physical print, and anyone can look at the image on the web. There is merely a record in a public database saying that you own the work – really, it says you own the work at a specific URL.

“We the people” have gotten a bad reputation in the annals of democratic theory. Thinkers from Alexander Hamilton to Alexis de Tocqueville have identified an excess of democracy as the greatest threat to U.S. democracy. As recently as 2019, the Harvard scholars Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt fretted about “an overreliance on the ‘will of the people’”—a Hamilton phrase—in their bestseller, How Democracies Die.

“It’s quite simple, really: Daylight Saving Time is a hoax perpetrated by the liberal elite as a form of mind control and time manipulation in order to make us all complacent and ready to be sold into the sex trade,” Perkins explained. “It didn’t exist until 1992, when it was instituted by perverted infidel Bill Clinton so that he and his satanic cabal could have a masked satanic ceremony on the White House lawn — they use TV commercials with subliminal messaging to lull the populace into a deep sleep for 60 minutes while they douse each other in pig’s blood and engage in extramarital sex. Like I said, pretty obvious.”

(End note: the only honest way I’ve heard to increase your winnings in the lottery is this: pick numbers higher than 31. This won’t increase your chances of winning, but it may just increase the amount you win if you do. Many people use their birthdays when choosing numbers, so when the numbers 1 to 31 come up there may be more winners. More winners means a smaller share of the prize to each one. If you win with numbers above 31, you may just be sharing the prize with fewer people – and so winning more money. I have no idea if this technique actually works in practice because I don’t buy lottery tickets, but it’s a neat idea, and you probably won’t go to jail for trying it.)

This afternoon, I was updating the streaming apps on my 2020 LG CX OLED TV, something I do from time to time, but today was different. Out of nowhere, I saw (and heard) an ad for Ace Hardware start playing in the lower-left corner. It autoplayed with sound without any action on my part.

“It is difficult to envision an investment in K-12 education with a higher ceiling on its potential return than improving school leadership,” the report’s authors say.

Building Gopher services with Python

I've been working on a Gopher-based project in Python, because reasons. It was a refreshingly simple change from my usual web development work. Three evenings of work gave me a gopher server that presents all the content from a much more complex website.

Pituophis, a Python module for writing both Gopher servers and clients. Pituophis's default "handler" function acts as a basic Gopher server, publishing items in a specific directory to Gopherspace and uses an optional user-defined alternate handler function that responds when a missing file is requested. You can also replace the default handler and build your own Gopher application from the ground up.

One limitation of Pituophis compared to a web framework is the lack of a routing engine. That's easy enough to work around with a list of regular expressions and "controller" functions:

if request.path in ('', '/'):
    return homePage(request)

paths = [
    (re.compile('/image/([\w-]+)\.(gif|jpg|png)$', re.IGNORECASE), sendImage),
    (re.compile('/([a-z]{2})$'), statePage),
    (re.compile('/([a-z]{2})/([\w-]+)$'), cityPage),
]

for pat, func in paths:
    m = pat.match(request.path)
    if m:
        return func(request, m)

About Me

Developer at Brown University Library specializing in instructional design and technology, Python-based data science, and XML-driven web development.

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