21 December 2011

Digest: 21 Dec '11

This batch of links and excerpts is a bit on the older side. I got it all ready to publish then the new Blogger design ate it (twice), and I didn't get around to reassembling it until now. Apologies.
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Going to the Mat | Matt Johnson | ATF and Obama Administration have used Fast & Furious to push gun control

Nathan Torkington | Libraries: Where It All Went Wrong

Somebody needs to give a version of this talk to the USPS. (Short version: forget what you used to do. What are you doing right now to create value for users?)

NY Times | Sebastian Thrun | Leave the Driving to the Car, and Reap Benefits in Safety and Mobility

Koushik Dutta | The Unintended Effects of Driverless Cars
And if cars are receiving 20 times more actual use, that would imply that there would be 20 times less cars sold.[1] This is the kind of disruptive change that can reshape the automotive industry. The recent GM/Chrysler bailout may have been for naught.[3]

[3] Of course, car companies realize this. And I can guarantee you, they will lobby against driverless cars.
And yet the first out of the gate with driverless cars will see huge sales. Will car companies be able to effectively collude to keep them off the roads? In every jurisdiction? Once they've been shown to be safe in Singapore, Korea, Germany, Poland, and Sweden (let's say) are there enough lobbyists in all of K Street to keep them out of the US?

Sarasota Herald Tribune | Anthony Cormier & Matthew Doig | Unfit for Duty: How Florida's problem officers remain on the job
Part 2: Despite ‘moral character violations' — allegations of violence, drugs, theft and forcible sex — Florida officers keep their badges

[...] Even those officers with multiple offenses have been given chance after chance through a disciplinary system that has been reshaped in their favor by the state's politically influential police unions. As a result, officers around Florida carry personnel files that are anything but heroic.

Corrections officer Kurt Stout, already dogged by allegations he groped and had sex with prisoners, was arrested on allegations he raped two teenage girls. Nick Viaggio capped a string of violent outbursts at the Ocala Police Department by attacking his girlfriend in a crowded nightclub until bouncers dragged him away. Palm Beach County deputy Craig Knowles-Hiller, under investigation for sleeping with a 14-year old, had to explain why the girl's DNA was found on one of his sex toys.

In each case, state law enforcement officials let the men keep their badges.
(1) Where's Dexter Morgan when you need him?

(2) Do we want people with (potentially deadly) authority over citizens to be held to higher or lower standards than the rest of us? Very simple question, but a lot comes down to that.

The Bluth Company

How dare you, Rick Perry?!
Inside Higher Ed | Steve Kolowich | The Problem Solvers
“I think too much conversation about Khan Academy is about cute little videos," Khan said in an interview last week. “Most of our resources, almost two-thirds of [the staff], are engineers working on the exercises and analytics platform. That, I think, is what we’re most excited about.” [...]

Using math and computer science concepts decidedly more advanced than most of those in Khan’s video library, the Khan engineers have trained the website’s exercise platform how to predict, with startling accuracy, how likely it is that a student will correctly answer the next practice problem -- and whether that student will be able to solve the same type of problem a week, two weeks, and a month later.
The birth of quantitative education?

(Side note: has the introduction of quantitative techniques into a discipline ever not been opposed by the current practitioners? Outside of the natural sciences?)

IEEE Spectrum | Warren Toomy | The Strange Birth and Long Life of Unix: The classic operating system turns 40, and its progeny abound

The Money Illusion | Scott Sumner | Two anecdotes and a complaint

(About unemployment insurance. His fourth point is the most interesting.)

1 comment:

  1. The classic operating system turns 40, and its progeny abound

    Pretty good for a practical joke.