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Steve S
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Al keeps talking about this inconvenient truth.
 
New study: manmade global warming already causing a significant increase in extreme weather. We need #ClimateAction: http://ow.ly/Mc5su
Human emissions are responsible for about 75 percent of especially hot days and 18 percent of unusually heavy precipitation, according to a new report.
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Didn't you hear?  He has a big house, so Global Warming is a hoax.
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Commentary from +Michael Chui:

"""
So, there's a component of the point being made here that I don't agree with: namely that Ferguson failed to cut expenses. The appropriate response is to increase spending. That's how you make money. They even spent it in the right place: you improve your existing means of gaining revenue. The issue here isn't economic at all. It's entirely an ethical problem.

That's why the apparently merely economic decision to choose against taxing businesses isn't; it was an ethical decision. Choosing to diversify their revenue sources would have provided for opportunities to change business strategies in the face of ethical dilemmas. When you don't have such a plural design, you find yourself with self-reinforcing loops as described here.

This is fundamentally the point of pluralism. Pluralism isn't about having more views for the sake of more views, as the "two sides to every story" media insists on. It's about having a useful alternative when you find out that you're wrong. In science, it's an alternate hypothesis. This is the distinction in climate change denialism, for instance, or creationism: these aren't useful alternatives. Pluralism in climate change debates isn't "it's happening" or "it's not happening": it's "we should move to nuclear" versus "we should move to wind and solar".
"""
 
A fascinating piece on the economic geography of St Louis: how race, real estate and zoning history, tax increment financed bonds, predatory fines, and constraints on municipalities (e.g. Missouri's Prop 13 equivalent) fit together.

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The story of Emerson Electric’s disappearing data center and the financial malfeasance of the Ferguson city government shows how tools of governance that were intended to harness the power of the market to advance racial equality have often had the opposite effect. In Ferguson, TIF bonds are serviced by regressive taxes and fines levied on black motorists. In Fergsuon, commercial real-estate taxes are so low that a Fortune 500 company foregoes tax abatements in the name of fairness, while the city taxes the consumption of ordinary consumers to fill its coffers and those who cannot afford to pay their fines go to jail. In Ferguson, economic development has been collateralized by the citizenry.
"""
The Missouri city—home to a multinational corporation—was so starved for cash that it extracted revenue from its poorest residents. A look beyond the death of Michael Brown, to the century of public policy that helped produce it.
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I like animals just fine, but I'm not a fan of PETA. This makes me even less of one.
 
Happy to see #animalrights  activists call +PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) out on their bigoted bullshit:

"Examples of Arpaio’s abusive treatment of inmates are too extensive to list here (including “Tent City” in 135 degree heat, use of chain-gangs, and many others). While Arpaio’s specific form of racist abuse makes PETA and Anderson’s gesture of support particularly egregious, support for any jail or prison is problematic for an organization promoting veganism from an animal rights perspective.
Embracing a radical social analysis means challenging and critiquing all societal assumption. And supporting liberation of all living things means freeing all humans from the cages of prisons."
PETA and their celebrity spokesperson Pamela Anderson made headlines this week by traveling to Pheonix to promote Sheriff Joe Arpaio. For those that don't know, "Sheriff Joe" has been widely critic...
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PETA's version of Greenpeace's Nazca Lines fiasco.
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Interesting graph.
 
+Yonatan Zunger almost every graph in this article is an animation, but it has a nice G+ default image. I wonder if the problem with sharing PDFs is picking the image. Shouldn't they just be a page?
As the Supreme Court considers extending same-sex marriage rights to all Americans, we look at the patterns of social change that have tranformed the nation.
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Someone doesn't understand that fascism is right-wing.
 
Actually, since most people lean Democratic and relatively few people are atheists, I suspect most American Christians are Democrats.

But, then, they're probably not real Christians.
"It is so extreme, it is waking people up.” 
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+Tim Counts sometimes I wonder if there isn't cynical, jaded calculation going on behind a crazy veneer.  Granted - Hanlon's Razor and all that.  But still.  I wonder.
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I wonder how far we are from the point where replacements are so much better than the originals that people are tempted...
 
Here, the MIT professor who makes legs for thousands of people even though, as prescribed by the Bible for all neo-cobblers, he walks around without feet, explains why lack of disability should be a basic human right, available to all people who choose to live without.
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+Andres Soolo - sure, but that's not due to bacteria.  But now we're killing a silly nitpick with more nitpicking :)
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Always interesting.
 
My Monday posting is about "Potential Game Changers for the Near Future"... all sorts of developments - mostly in sci-tech - that could profoundly alter our prospects for a rich and prosperous and sane future.  Developments you should be aware-of!
Chinese scientists have reported editing the genomes of human embryos. “Some say that gene editing in embryos could have a bright future because it could eradicate devastating genetic diseases before a baby is born. Others sa...
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Ironically, I anticipate the technology eventually being used to make agriculture about as non-local as possible within the confines of Earth. I imagine that the minimum ecological footprint possible would be in the form of roaming boats powered by energy kites at altitude (similar to Makani power).

They're basically slowly moving sailboats, where the wind power is mainly used to power 24/7 LED lighting rather than propelling the boat.

Such crop growing boats could travel parallel to the coast, periodically unloading crops and taking up waste at port.

To me, it's a good combination of taking advantage of the ocean's potential for wind power while keeping humans in safe, compact, dense cities on land.
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Obama's refusal to deal with our recent history of torture is among his biggest failings.
 
In a blistering editorial published in the Monday edition of the New York Times, the editorial page editors are calling upon the Justice Department to open an investigation into the torture practices committed during the administration of President George W. Bush with an eye towards prosecuting those who “committed torture and other serious crimes,” along with former Vice President Dick Cheney and other major administration officials.
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Headline missing comma.
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It's not a choice between a thriving economy and a viable ecosystem.
 
Nobel prize winning economist and "The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them" author Joseph Stiglitz explains how we can combat climate change by investing in sustainable infrastructure.
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The law is obviously idiotic, but this analysis right on point.
 
I've read and thought a lot about the role of student evaluations in the evaluation of professors. Part of that is because, well, I was a college student for 11 years and I've been a professor for 14 years (full disclosure: I'm a tenured, full professor of business at the University of Cincinnati).

More than that, however, is the kind of research I've done, which has examined the operational drivers of service quality. My dissertation examined how various attributes of both the technology and the customer service representative influence customers' perceptions of online customer service experiences.

I've also co-authored one of the seminal (ahem) papers on what defines services ("Unified Services Theory" (2006) available here:  http://craigfroehle.com/posted/S&F_UST_2006.pdf) and, perhaps more crucially here, what defines a customer.

In some ways, students can indeed be customers some of the time; they may meet all the criteria in that paper. They provide inputs into the service production process and they (sometimes) determine whether or not the service provider (the university) gets paid for providing the service. However, there's a big "but" when it comes to many students:

They are not the only customers that must be satisfied by the educational process.

Other customers, either direct or indirect, include employers (who must be satisfied with what the students know when they hire them) and the students' parents (when the parents helped foot the tuition bill). In the case of public universities that receive state or local funds to support educational activities, or when a student receives federal student aid (e.g., Pell grants), then the public is also a customer of that student's education. All of these customers have to be satisfied, not just the student.

How does this relate to the issue of the importance of student evaluations? In several ways...

First, students tend to not know what they should know. That is inherent in being a student. Their ability to judge a professor or a course on its usefulness and relevance during the last week of the course is completely inadequate. A student may take months or years to comprehend the utility of the knowledge gained in any particular university course. Moreover, any one course is often not a complete treatise on a topic; the knowledge gained therein has to be synthesized across that gained in other courses to provide the complete benefit.

Think of it as a series of foot-long pieces of rope. Individually, they can be useful, but not terribly so. But, tied together to form a net, they can provide much greater support and a foundation for larger undertakings.

Second, going back to the Unified Services Theory paper, one of the students' key inputs is effort. Most learning requires effort. Some learning can happen passively, but that can't be solely relied upon in most college courses (not if one hopes to attain a reasonable degree of mastery). Students themselves tend to be poor judges of the amount of effort they put into a course. Despite that, they often evaluate a course relative to the effort they think they put into it. The more effort, the higher the grade they expect. If there is a disconnect between the effort they perceive they put in and the grade they ultimately expect to earn, that dissonance produces dissatisfaction.

Finally, as the NPR story describes, there are studies indicating that students' assessments of professors bear little resemblance to the amount of learning that actually happens. Students "liking" a professor can actually lead to less learning, all other things held constant, as the Pellizzari study showed. This suggests that students' evaluations of professors is actually at odds with the outcomes that all the customers of the educational service want, which is for the student to become more educated.

All told, this Iowa bill is an abominably bad idea. I expect it to fail, but the very fact that the idea made it this far suggests a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of Iowa legislators about how education happens.
A bill in the Iowa state Senate would rate and fire professors based solely on student evaluations. Research suggests that's not such a good idea.
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A logical extension of making education only available to the rich, ensure that grades are meaningless too. Meritocracy is so passe
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From the "it's funny because it's true" department...
 
“Seriously, the Washington Hilton is great. And I bet when the president walked in and saw all those bellhops, he thought, finally, some decent security.

Let’s give it up for the Secret Service. I don’t want to be too hard on those guys. You know, because they’re the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot.”

A+
The 'Saturday Night Live' comedian went after all the usual suspects.
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It failed to be FB, in much the same way that I failed to get into a car accident this morning.
Last month, Google announced that it's changing...
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....woah.  +Yonatan Zunger - give us waffles!
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I am once again using Google+.
Introduction
  1. If what I say is unclear, try taking it at face value. I tend to be blunt.
  2. If it still makes no sense, consider that I have a dry, sometimes dark, sense of humor.
  3. Maybe you're not the one who's supposed to understand.
I speak only for myself, not anyone else. I do not seek to insult, but I recognize that it's sometimes a foreseeable consequence, and I'm ok with that.
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There are two one-star reviews which talk about an incident in which the owner was supposedly rude. These are off-putting, but I am suspicious about their authenticity. The reason for my suspicion is that I can't find any evidence that the reviewers actually exist. They never reviewed anything else, and the one that provided details for their G+ profile has no signs of using the account. The one detail it offers -- the name of his college -- is gratuitously mentioned in the review. There are also details that are possible but demographically unlikely, such as graduating college, moving to Fairfield and already being married. Also, this college graduate wrote the entire review in lowercase, as if to make it look different from the other review. I'm sorry, but I don't think this is legit and I've reported both reviews. It looks to me like the two reviews came from a single person writing about an incident that likely did not happen. I haven't tried this place yet, so I'm completely neutral. When I try it, I'll come back and adjust my rating.
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Public - 2 weeks ago
reviewed 2 weeks ago
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