Register.UK: D-Wave heads for New Mexico.
“In other words, conventional supercomputers can only do so much nuke-simulation, and if quantum annealing works as it says on the box, it’ll help give the US a shiny new arsenal without having to actually blow things up.”
The Economist: The right to fright.
Ridiculous. Have none of these kids ever seen “Animal House”? Yale has the “Skull and Bones” group on-campus. Reality is completely weirder than National Lampoon - college teaches valuable lessons in this vein. I give you the immortal John Belushi on propriety ...
Later: Seems Yale is also succumbing to ‘microaggression theory.’ I’ve warned folks, this latest psycho-fashion is becoming pervasive on college campuses. It has no theory by which empirical tests can be performed.
Medium/Benloulou: Why I dropped out of design school.
Sounds like things haven’t changed at design schools. Back in the day, this used to be the fashionable-but-socially-approved “no-work” degree to have, for daughters who were ‘creative’ amongst the Ivy League set.
Aeon: Reading should not carry a health warning.
“At universities around the world, students are claiming that reading books can unsettle them to the point of becoming depressed, traumatised or even suicidal.” Today’s students sound like ‘70’s parents, wanting to hide certain magazines behind solid shelves. I think there are solid arguments to be made for age appropriate reading (some books cannot be appreciated without meaningful life experience). Yet I hear of wide swaths of college freshmen popping Adderall and Xanax like Pez. Different world from mine - I’d say the education system needs a rethink, if kids are drugged up to their eyeballs.
PS Mag: Confessions of a For-Profit College Inspector.
“Debt was what everyone paid off with lucrative post-college careers.” This idea was starting to grow moss even when I attended college.
BillMoyers: The GOP and the Rise of Anti-Knowledge.
“English unfortunately doesn’t have a precise word for the German “Fachidiot,” a narrowly specialized person accomplished in his own field but a blithering idiot outside it.” However - we know ‘em when we see ‘em. Some of us, anyways. Fachidiot is now permanently in my lexicon ...
Later: You know, I take that back. When below the Mason-Dixon Line in America (the “South”), the term “Yankee” can conform pretty well to fachidiot. Southerners think Northerners are very smart with “book-learnin’”, but don’t have the God-given wits to accomplish any basic tasks. “How smart can you be, if you can’t chop wood or adjust a carb?”
Religion Dispatches: Handwritten Draft of King James Bible Reveals Secrets of Its Creation.
“The King James companies worked at integrating the orientations of these two editions, but they also had the profound literary example of William Tyndale, who finished the first complete English translation of the New Testament (an accomplishment which led to his execution in 1536). A literary genius whose influence on the language is arguably second only to Shakespeare’s, Tyndale lent the King James translators such phrases as ‘lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil,’ ‘eat, drink and be merry,’ ‘my brother’s keeper,’ ‘it came to pass,’ ‘the salt of the earth,’ ‘the signs of the times’—and perhaps most sublimely, ‘let there be light,’ among many others.”
ArtDaily: German experts aim for end-of-year repair of boy pharaoh Tutankhamun beard.
Hmmm. Seeing the photo, I wonder which came first, the mask or the mummy? Surely it had to be made for the circumference of the final mummification product.
PS Mag: The Unbelievable Power of the Home-Schooling Lobby.
Archaeology News Network: Reeves - Tutankhamun’s treasures may have originally belonged to Nefertiti
Making the most of his time in the spotlight. Hope he’s right.
OpenCulture: 20 New Lines from The Epic of Gilgamesh Discovered in Iraq, Adding New Details.
Boss. I still suspect we’ll learn more of early Bible tales, in the archaeology of Iraq.
The Atlantic: When Schools Overlook Introverts - Why Quiet Time is Important for the Learning Proces
Important. In our world of helicopter parents and planned childhoods, I stand shocked. I could never have been the person I am, if I wasn’t able to lie with my back on the grass for hours and stare at the clouds. BY MYSELF.
Guardian.UK: Shady dealings of William Shakespeare’s father ‘helped to fund son’s
There seem to be two tracks on ol’ Shakes. One is doing serious research, the other is expending efforts to deny his existence.
The Atlantic: The Best Job Candidates Don’t Always Have College Degrees.
“Many companies find that skills-based pre-employment tests are better predictors of success on the job.” The airlines saw this most starkly in the ‘60’s and 70’s, though they did virtually nothing about it. They lost some of the best veteran stick-and-rudder flyers by pushing a degree restriction on pilots. Never overlook ‘naturals.’
History: 4,000-Year-Old Egyptian Manuscript Found.
“The drawings are believed to predate by 1,000 years those found in the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead,’ another, more famous ancient funerary text that dates from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1500 B.C.).” The Book of Two Ways. Can’t wait to hear more.
New Republic: Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere.
This has sort of been true forever. Second tier, and even state universities turn out better graduates ... more adaptable ones. With the challenges to liberal arts curricula, however, I’d imagine moderns are not quite as adaptable as in previous decades. I had problems with interns even in the ‘90’s, as I’ve related before.
Archaeology News Network: Handwriting analysis reveals unknown Magna Carta scribe.
“According to Treharne, her research suggests the Salisbury Magna Carta was not just received and preserved at Salisbury, but that the Salisbury Magna Carta was written at Salisbury by one of the cathedral’s own scribes.” So the King’s clerk didn’t end up with carpal tunnel.
BBC: The mysterious origins of punctuation.
“For as long as anyone could remember, the Greeks had written their texts so that their letters ran together withnospacesorpunctuation and without any distinction between lowercase and capitals. It was up to the reader to pick their way through this unforgiving mass of letters to discover where each word or sentence ended and the next began.” My eyes cross thinking about it.
SciAm: Will Artificial Intelligence Surpass Our Own?
“He turned to face the machine. ‘Is there a God?’
The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.
Archaeology News Network: Scanning technology identifies artifacts in Jamestown graves.
Amazing, what they’ve done here.
Harpers: The Neoliberal Arts.
“This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person.” Good read. Read ‘o the day.
NPR: Oliver Sacks, Renowned Neurologist And Author, Dies At 82.
Guardian.UK: Black holes have a way out, says Stephen Hawking.
“The existence of alternative histories with black holes suggests this might be possible. The hole would need to be large and if it was rotating it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn’t come back to our universe. So although I’m keen on space flight, I’m not going to try that.” So, when this Universe turns into a puddle of lukewarm dark goo, we just find a black hole to travel through.
Aeon: Is archaeology better off without religion?
The Atlantic: How Trigger Warnings Are Hurting Mental Health on Campus.
“During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: ‘America is the land of opportunity’ and ‘I believe the most qualified person should get the job.’” Sounds psychotic.
Later: There’s even a website for microaggressions; what one might playfully call a ‘niggardly* view of microaggression’. Then again, even Christopher Hitchens dropped the term ‘niggardly’ because of widespread misunderstanding of the term. It interfered with comprehension by raising too many hackles - even though it was used legitimately.
I have to laugh, Wikipedia on ‘microaggression theory’: Psychologist and Columbia University professor Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.” I assume that word was pointedly chosen? The term ‘denigrating’ is, of course, built upon ‘niger’, Latin for ‘blacken’. Followup on how others perceive ‘denigrate’ in StackExchange.
I have a difficult time disassociating intent from aggression. Every definition I come across implies intentional harm of another. Yet microaggression is trying to divorce itself from intent, in order to throw a wider net. If we are all microaggressors, as current theory seems to indicate ... do we all just shut up? Institutionalized victimhood and guilt, at the same time? The history that we read, the classical canon, everything is filled with what would be termed ‘microaggressions’ today. Do we close down schools? Do we stop reading the past? All this seems to be doing is guaranteeing ‘microaggression detectives’ employment into perpetuity. Realistic, pragmatic bars must be set. Because someone says something, doesn’t confirm that they mean it. Four years of liberal arts school used to inoculate against this kind of thing, once upon a time.
When my stuttering returns, as it occasionally does, microaggression (as I understand it) occurs. People get impatient and put words in my mouth, I can see some think ‘handicapped’ or ‘mentally challenged’, etc. etc. There were times in the past where I found those microaggressions depressing. I don’t anymore, because without direct experience in being a stutterer, a non-stutterer will never understand the malady. Never. So microaggression for me, is something I will have to live with. And for the most part, I just ignore it. Because someone behaves ‘microaggressively’, it doesn’t preclude empathy. So when my stutter returns, I can be frustrated with myself, but I’m almost never offended by others. I do my best to help them help me communicate clearly. Basically, I grew up and refused the self-definition of ‘victim’ that so many others seem to want to press around my ears. I’m a survivor, and damned proud of it.
*‘Niggard’ is from Old Norse, meaning ‘excessively concerned over small matters’, and has no racial or color connotations, though many find it offensive because it sounds similar to the common epithet. Given that, be careful who’s around when you’re trying to restore data on a dying drive, muttering ‘miserable bits’ under your breath.