Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Wisdom of Crowds

Scientific American reports on how to "to tap the wisdom of the crowd in your head." Read the article here.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus visits UNC

"Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh in 1983, shared the Nobel Prize with the bank for creating and implementing the concept of microcredit: giving small loans to the poor to help them start or grow businesses and climb out of poverty. The Office of International Affairs, through its Global Education Distinguished Speakers Series, and Kenan-Flagler sponsored the event."

Watch the lecture here.

"Going Dutch -- How I Learned to Love the European Welfare State"

Russell Shorto contrasts life in the collectivist Dutch economy versus the individual-supporting American economy. It is a long read, but worth it. An illustrative quote:
Then, too, one downside of a collectivist society, of which the Dutch themselves complain, is that people tend to become slaves to consensus and conformity. I asked a management consultant and a longtime American expat, Buford Alexander, former director of McKinsey & Company in the Netherlands, for his thoughts on this. “If you tell a Dutch person you’re going to raise his taxes by 500 euros and that it will go to help the poor, he’ll say O.K.,” he said. “But if you say he’s going to get a 500-euro tax cut, with the idea that he will give it to the poor, he won’t do it. The Dutch don’t do such things on their own. They believe they should be handled by the system. To an American, that’s a lack of individual initiative.”
Read the article here.

"U.S. Births Hint at Bias for Boys in Some Asians"

Read the article here.

Sleeping with a snorer can damage your hearing

A few quotes
...One study from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that spouses of snorers woke up, at least partially, an average of 21 times an hour, nearly as often as the 27 times the snorers were awakened by their sleep apnea episodes...

...Second-hand snoring also may take a toll on hearing. In a pilot study of just four snorers in Kingston, Ontario, all the patients had slept next to a snorer for at least 15 years. The study showed that the bed partners had significant noise-induced hearing loss in the one ear that was most exposed to the snoring...

...To find out if second-hand snoring is taking a meaningful toll on your health, doctors suggest taking a “sleep vacation” from your partner by moving into another room to determine if your sleep, mood and daytime alertness improves...
Read the article here.

Golfing + Physics = Fun

"THE CLASSROOM The Rocket Park Mini Golf course, loop-de-loops and all, which opens Saturday at the Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows, Queens." Read the article here.

"A Plant That Thrives When Used as a Toilet"

Find out more about the Borneo pitcher plant here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Canada's ObamaCare Precedent"

Here's a well-written argument against nationalized health care:

...Such stories are common. For example, Sylvia de Vries, an Ontario woman, had a 40-pound fluid-filled tumor removed from her abdomen by an American surgeon in 2006. Her Michigan doctor estimated that she was within weeks of dying, but she was still on a wait list for a Canadian specialist.

Indeed, Canada's provincial governments themselves rely on American medicine. Between 2006 and 2008, Ontario sent more than 160 patients to New York and Michigan for emergency neurosurgery -- described by the Globe and Mail newspaper as "broken necks, burst aneurysms and other types of bleeding in or around the brain..."
Read the article here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Next Test: Value of $125,000-a-Year Teachers"

The NY Times asks a question that many economists have pondered:
So what kind of teachers could a school get if it paid them $125,000 a year?

An accomplished violist who infuses her music lessons with the neuroscience of why one needs to practice, and creatively worded instructions like, “Pass the melody gently, as if it were a bowl of Jell-O!”A self-described “explorer” from Arizona who spent three decades honing her craft at public, private, urban and rural schools.

Two with Ivy League degrees. And Joe Carbone, a phys ed teacher, who has the most unusual résumé of the bunch, having worked as Kobe Bryant’s personal trainer.“Developed Kobe from 185 lbs. to 225 lbs. of pure muscle over eight years,” it reads.

They are members of an eight-teacher dream team, lured to an innovative charter school that will open in Washington Heights in September with salaries that would make most teachers drop their chalk and swoon; $125,000...

...The school, called the Equity Project, is premised on the theory that excellent teachers — and not revolutionary technology, talented principals or small class size — are the critical ingredient for success. Experts hope it could offer a window into some of the most pressing and elusive questions in education: Is a collection of superb teachers enough to make a great school? Are six-figure salaries the way to get them? And just what makes a teacher great?..
Read the entire article here.

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .