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

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.