Friday Links

By 1941, the Russian dandelion, Taraxacum koksaghyz, supplied 30% of the USSR's rubber. During the Second World War, shortages of Havea rubber prompted other countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany, to begin cultivating dandelion rubber. Once the war was over and supplies returned to normal, these countries — including, ultimately, the Soviets — switched back to Hevea tree rubber because it was cheaper.

Giving at scale by the super-wealthy has done little to redistribute wealth from rich to poor, helping perpetuate social inequalities rather than remedying them, while paying considerable dividends to donors in the form of privilege and influence in society and politics, new research shows.

Corporal punishment in state schools in the UK was made illegal in 1986. This is the story about how it was eliminated in one Local Education Authority, Oxfordshire, before that.

My dad became CEO of Oxfordshire in 1978. He was young, and opposed corporal punishment, but knew, as he puts it, that “in a time of cuts, if I went to the politicians and asked them for money for canes they’d ask me how many I wanted, and did I want the luxury versions”. So he didn’t talk to them about corporal punishment.

“The toll of death is simply staggering — worse than I would have predicted,” said Arthur Caplan, founding head of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine. “Covid has been nothing short of the worst failure of public policy in modern memory.”...

All other causes of death pale in comparison to the coronavirus death toll. So far, the coronavirus has killed roughly three times as many people as accidents, lung ailments, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease did in 2019. And the coronavirus has outpaced the number of deaths from diabetes, kidney disease, pneumonia and suicide by even larger multiples.

Prosecutors who want to hold police accountable should seek the bird in the hand, not the two in the bush. They should select charges in these cases so that conviction is a real possibility and, therefore, a real constraint on future police behavior. One "guilty" verdict on manslaughter will do more to reshape officers' behavioral calculus than an endless stream of "not guilty" decisions on murder.

Bottom line: Many people don’t like needles, and that could further slow vaccination efforts as winter turns to spring when supplies are expected to multiply and efforts to get the hesitant to sign up for a dose will intensify.

“Fear of needles was one of the barriers that was a significant predictor of people saying, ‘I don’t think I will get this vaccine,’” said Jeanine Guidry, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who researches visual communication and conducted a survey of 500 people in July.

Mather had learned about inoculation more than a decade earlier, from an African man named Onesimus, whom he enslaved. When he asked if Onesimus had ever had smallpox, the man showed him a scar on his arm and explained that his community in Africa used infected material from one person to inoculate others against the disease. A few years later, Mather read a report from Turkey describing a similar procedure.

I remember last March, about three days into the shutdown when my Facebook newsfeed was filled with hilarious memes from parents who had been home teaching their children for a few days. The memes praised teachers, joked about suspending their own children, and immediately needing a vacation. As I saw these posts, I laughed along with them but thought to myself “this won’t last long”. And how right I was. People got amnesia and quick.

While all viruses find ways to evade the body’s defenses, a growing field of research suggests that the coronavirus unhinges the immune system more profoundly than previously realized.

A billionth of a century is approximately pi seconds. The diameter of the Earth is roughly half a billion inches. (Incidentally, one millionth of a century is about 52 and a half minutes. This microcentury is apparently the optimal time for a lecture: long enough to get into depth and detail; not so long that people fall asleep.)

In our view, as education researchers who specialize in science education, the learning sciences and educational assessment, we see an abundance of reasons to let states off the hook for testing this year....

Unfortunately, national experts and research findings indicate that high-stakes testing does not live up to its promise. Instead, research has shown serious negative side effects.

Friday Links

Fourier was an early socialist, envisioning a society divided into “phalanxes,” cooperative, self-sufficient communities composed of exactly 1,620 people—two of each of the 810 character types that he believed comprised the human race. In the mid-nineteenth century, Levi writes, around 200,000 people in the United States subscribed to Fourier’s political philosophy, and there were many Fourierist publications and groups in the United Kingdom and France, too.

In Harmony, children’s early education would take place largely in the kitchen, which should be outfitted with tools designed for small hands.

“In common with the rest of the population, the children should work with their tastes and thus be primarily involved in preparing their favorite foods: dishes such as sugared creams, compotes, cakes, jams, and fruits,” Levi writes.

Fourier even suggested replacing war with an enormous, months-long cooking contest, with alliances resulting in innovative combinations of dishes, and victory celebrated by the release of 300,000 Champagne corks. In response to those who might mock this vision, he noted that the cruelty and suffering of real-world war must surely be seen as more ridiculous.

Radiocarbon dating only works on organic material, so how do you accurately measure the last time rocks and sediment saw sunlight? Luminescence dating.

For decades now, families have been baffled by the E.F.C., the output of a federal formula that uses income and some household assets. Given that it doesn’t account for parents’ own student debts, for instance, plenty of people wondered whether the extra-large number was what they were supposed to pay for four years of college, not just one. It wasn’t.

I used to be virtual. Now I’m remote.

The way we describe our digitally mediated selves, the ones that whirl through computer screens like silks through a magician’s hands, has changed during the pandemic. The change is more than just a matter of terminology. It signals a shift in perception and perhaps in attitude. “Virtual” told us that distance doesn’t matter; “remote” says that it matters a lot. “Virtual” suggested freedom; “remote” suggests incarceration.

Consider three special dice: A, B, and C. On a fair roll, A is more likely to beat B. B is more likely to beat C. But C is more likely to beat A. These are nontransitive dice.

An analysis by the Georgetown center using College Scorecard data found that nurses with associate degrees from a community college in California make more than graduates of a dozen master’s degree programs at Harvard

That students don’t know their likely future incomes well before they graduate is particularly surprising given that getting a good job is now the No. 1 reason they say they go to college, according to a nationwide survey of freshmen by an institute at the University of California at Los Angeles — edging out “learn[ing] more about things that interest me” — and that 84 percent said it was very important or essential to them to be financially very well off.

Friday Links

Early childhood education and care is widely regarded as helping children’s academic, cognitive and social development. Our study, published in the journal Behavior Genetics, looked into whether attending preschool or childcare influences later academic achievement.

We found no statistically significant difference between the literacy and numeracy scores of school children who had attended preschool or childcare and children who didn’t. Nor did the duration of preschool or childcare attendance have an impact on later literacy and numeracy scores.

We did not look at the relations between social and emotional skills, and early childhood education and care.

Core rope memory was used for the Apollo Guidance Computer, the computer that ran all the navigation and controlled the spacecraft itself. For such a crucial function you needed as much reliability as possible. Because space (inside) was extremely limited, it needed to be extremely compact. And you really really did not want to accidentally wipe or overwrite it.

To meet all these criteria, the software for the guidance computer was literally hand-woven into it. The memory looked rope-like, hence the name, but really it consisted of clusters of wires (“ropes”) wrapped around magnetic cores. In contrast to normal computer memory, it wasn’t the cores but the configuration of the wires that carried all the information.

The bidders: Titus Flavius Claudius Sulpicianus, Pertinax’s father-in-law; Didius Julianus, the proconsul of North Africa. Sulpicianus was inside the Praetorian camp at the time and Julianus was not, so the advantage was his. He offered the enormous sum of 20,000 sesterces to each guard member. Guards at this time would have been paid about 2,500 sesterces a year, so you can imagine the size of this bid. But Julianus, immediately outside the encampment, shouted his bid: 25,000 sesterces each, ten years’ wages, if they would appoint him emperor instead. So they did.

Note that I keep saying viral RNA, not virus. We do not know if these kids were shedding live virus that was actively capable of infecting others. The authors did not do viral cultures or other infectivity assays. So the errors in the headline? The word contagious. Higher viral load does not necessarily mean more contagious.

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With schools reopening after COVID-19 closures, concerns about the safety and certainty of public schooling have driven some parents to consider alternatives to sending kids back to brick-and-mortar classrooms.

One option making headlines is the formation of “learning pods” also known as “pandemic pods.” Pandemic pods are small groups of children from different families who learn together outside of traditional school buildings.

While pandemic pods may seem relatively harmless, they are part of a growing trend towards education privatization that undermines public education and democracy.

As Election Day approaches, he confronts not only an incumbent Republican president flush with campaign cash but also a nearly two-century-old hazard of history. Since the 1830s, the vice presidency has become a dead end for Democratic aspirants to the White House. 

Interestingly, the middle-class parents we spoke to used NAPLAN as a tool designed for them to check on their children’s progress and help them improve. But the working-class parents we spoke to saw NAPLAN as a tool for governments, and didn’t use the results to judge their child’s progress or seek additional help based on the results.

All the working-class parents we spoke with saw NAPLAN as a tool for government to assess schools and teachers. Parents did not see NAPLAN testing or reporting as something for them.

Every student is guilty until the algorithm proves her innocence.

However, what could not be fixed in the remote teaching and learning model were the persistent infrastructure and network holes, glaring social-cultural inequities and social-community environments that are not conducive to learning.

Yes, there are racial inequalities in testing that should concern us. But no one – no one – was helped more by a strong SAT score than a poor black kid.

About Me

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