Here is a list of the 10 most viewed posts over the last 6 months. [Last updated 11 August 2015.]
4,506 - If ever you need a really comprehensive "title" drop-down
892 - Mathematics summer school closed in Turkey because it involved "education without permission"
362 - 16 bits per second - the bandwidth of consciousness
262 - My report from half way through Keith Devlin's Coursera "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" course
224 - Elegant word or tag-cloud creator
213 - Both episodes of Dylan Wiliam's "The Classroom Experiment" now available
193 - Prevent death on the roads by better treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea
105 - My end-of-course report from Keith Devlin's Coursera "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" course
53 - Using TrueCrypt instead of EFS to encrypt data on a laptop
49 - Peter Norvig's TED talk reflecting on creating and running the online AI course
On this page are links to articles (mostly) that have caught my eye that relate to the 2015 Labour leadership election, and what came next. I'm adding to it, as and when, sometimes in response to suggestions from readers. I've highlighted some that particularly stood out for me. (Highlighting is not endorsement.)
[For links relating to the 2016 Labour leadership contest, go here.]
Last updated, 27/7/2016
Work-shy dole scroungers is another of the informative, data-rich, "integrating" posts that dominate Flip Chart Fairy Tales (Business Bullshit, Corporate Crap and other stuff from the World of Work). The post's comparison of UK and US data is particularly interesting.
"In 2012, the number of working families in poverty overtook the number without work. (See previous post.) Among those households below the official poverty line, the working poor now outnumber the unemployed, retired and sick put together. Not only do the in-work poor outnumber the workless, nearly half of them are in families where all the adults have jobs.
Kyle, whom I used to work with at The Sheffield College, reminded me today of an email she'd sent me in August 2005, with her assessment of "The Facebook". If you've got anything similar in your email archives, feel free to paste it in as a comment to Kyle's piece.
From: Kyle McGrath
Sent: 11 August 2005 00:51
Subject: the facebook
Hope all is well with you...
I don't think you've mentioned *the facebook* yet in your fortnightly mailing? *the facebook* was brought to my attention a couple of months back by my niece, Sara, a high school Senior in N.Y. - headed towards SUNY Purchase as a freshman in September. Through *the facebook*, she has, over the past couple of months, already met the students that she will be living with and studying with in September, and they've formed a social community, and she is also in a developing learning community (of nerds)...
Not only do they know who is bringing the iron and who is bringing the ironing board - Sara tells me that they know a lot more interesting stuff that she's not prepared to divulge even to her favourite aunty.
FYI, the facebook concept is a development of the American high school Yearbook concept. The Yearbook is about who you are saying good-bye to (High School), whereas the Facebook has, over the past few years, been produced by some colleges to introduce (College/Uni) freshmen to each other.
I gather that *the facebook* serves both functions - Sara is in a community of people she is saying goobye to as well as in a community of people she is saying hello to.
*the facebook* doesn't translate particularly well to the U.K. - in America, kids normally have a firm College/Uni offer by April of their Senior year, so there is a six-month window for community building. Here, they dont' know until August (which, of course, sucks - what is going to happen to them between April and August, that is going to impact on their ability or aptitude?).
Nonetheless, from what I've seen *the facebook*, it is a shining example of how social networks can develop to support learning.
These days it takes a lot to impress me - and I'm impressed. http://www.thefacebook.com/
[Used with the permission of the author]
(Washington US-based Jim Farmer [biography, email jfx "AT" immagic "DOT" com] has contributed occasionally to Fortnightly Mailing over the years. This is the second of four Guest Contributions by Jim. The first is here.)
NSA and the Surveillance State have created an atmosphere of fear in the US for Washington politicians. If there is a single terrorist incident, having voted against budget increases or having failed to support NSA’s work could end a career. If there is a major revelation—such as the tapping of telephone lines of White House staff and of journalists that occurred in the 1970s—then having failed to vote for limiting the scope of NSA activities would make re-election difficult. And both are predicted.
Two public rallies in Washington in October and November – the Stop Watching Us Rally , and the subsequent Anonymous Washington Rally – can be viewed as proxy indicators of the political forces. Both were very small. But size is not everything, and the kinds of people involved in both – tech-savvy, highly educated individuals – are probably representative of a very significant and potentially very influential section of American opinion, as this article explains.
What can go wrong on a ski-trip?
Over Easter this year – with my friends B and A – I did a 9 day hut-to-hut ski-tour running roughly North to South across Hardangervidda, the huge high wild roadless plateau of central Norway, that is bounded to the North by the Hardanger glacier, and to the North and West by the innermost lobes of Hardangerfjord. (At one point the glacier and the sea are less than 10 km apart.)
I did a similar trip in completely different weather and snow conditions in 2008 with B and daughter M (from Haugestøl go Haukeliseter). This year we started at Hallingskeid on the Oslo to Bergen railway a little East of Finse and a bit before the trains begin their steep decent towards Bergen. For me the trip finished about 2 km short of the road at Haukeliseter after nearly 200 km. (For aficionados our route was Hallingskeid – Rembesdalseter – Kjeldebu – Dyranut – Hadlaskard – Torehytten – Tyssevasbu – Litlos – Hellevasbu – Haukeliseter.)
This Easter, central Norway was blessed with high pressure, leading to sunny, cloudless, cold and largely windless conditions. Lack of snow and previous strong winds meant that there was plenty of lumpy and grooved sastrugi to contend with, and a lot of hard and quite smooth unforgiving and sometimes shiny icy surfaces. And it was exceptionally cold, with -30C on some nights and daytime temperatures of between -23 and -5C.
In the continuation post below are a few pictures from the wonderful trip. But the purpose of this long post is to record what happened when things went wrong. I’m doing this partly to help others better to understand the anatomy of an accident, and partly to get what happened out of my system. What follows is a slightly edited version of something I wrote in Oslo on 1 April on the way home.
In this 50-minute session from the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival, Michael J. Sandel gets his audience (and viewers like me and you) thinking about the adverse civic and moral consequences of market mechanisms being introduced into so many areas of public and working life. At the same time he exemplifies a (very difficult to carry off) approach to large group learning.
Here is a rough transcription of Sandel's conclusion, which probably owes its impact to what came before it in the talk:
I think it is no accident that two things have been happening over the past 30 years. One is that what we've discussed today: the tendency to rely more and more on market mechanisms without any public debate. And something else that's been happening which is the hollowing out of public discourse in general. What passes for political discourse these days consists mainly of shouting matches on talk radio and cable TV, and ideological food fights in congress. People are frustrated by this. I think one of the reasons for this is our reluctance to engage in serious public debate about big and controversial moral questions.
But the result of that reluctance is that we have a public discourse that is either managerial and technocratic, which inspires no-one, or, when passion enters, we have shouting matches. People want a better kind of politics.
People want to elevate the terms of our public discourse. People want to address big things in public. So I think that the hollowing out of our public discourse, and the market triumphalist faith that has gone unexamined even after the financial crisis have a common solution. It's not an easy solution. But it's a new kind of politics of the common good that admits, that welcomes into public debate moral engagement on big tough controversial questions, not because we will all agree: we won't; but because it may teach us to listen and learn a little bit better, and it will also lift our sights from the rancour that inflicts our politics, to what I think is a more strenuous kind of citizenship; but also a more satisfying democratic pulic life.
Small addition to final paragraph made on 10 May 2013
Today I gave a talk at a conference in Berlin called Online Educa, in which I tried to meld the personal and the professional into one piece. So far as I could tell from the audience reaction this worked: but partially. (Link to the presentation I used [45 page 3 MB PDF, includes the script for the talk]; link to a somewhat "heavy breathing" video recording of the talk; link to other videos of talks at the conference on the Online Educa web site).
Below is a series of pictures I took yesterday (on 29 November) of sculptor Gunter Demnig and his co-worker embedding three Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) into the cobbles outside 52 Oderstrasse, in Neukölln, Berlin. The Stolpersteine commemorate Selma Lewin, Martha Meth and Max Meth, and the pictures show descendents of the family at the informal ceremony that was held, and childred from a local school who had become involved in researching Selma, Martha and Max. Eight further batches of Stolpersteine - 18 in total - were embedded by Demnig on the same day in Neukölln. Between Tuesday and Friday of this week a total of 115 Stolpersteine were laid outside 36 houses all over Berlin. [I am in the process of arranging Stolpersteine to be laid outside the block where my grandparents and great grandmother last lived in Berlin, before they were taken to Terezin in Autumn 1942.] You may also be interested in this May 2013 piece by Andreas Kluth, the Economist's Berlin Bureau Chief.
Engaging six minute piece in which Alan Yentob talks to Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle about the archive, and its mission to archive books as objects as well as to digitise them systematically. [No cloud based infrastructure yet for the the archive, by the look of things.]
See also this 2007 TED talk by Khale.