Diane Ravitch on The Daily Show.
Ravitch is the queen. If only the government would listen…
We would also address poverty directly. We would increase the minimum wage and make post-secondary education cheap or free, and we’d improve improve unemployment benefits and offer free job-training to the unemployed.
Poverty is one of the few social ills where throwing money at the problem really does seem to work.
These are not radical, liberal ideas. In fact, in Europe most of them are associated with the more conservative parties, and many of them were associated with the American Republican party in the 80s. But the United States’s political climate is so different from anywhere else in the industrialized world that I fear we will just continue to get farther behind in education (and in % of people living in poverty) until we decide to make some big domestic investments.
Watch a free 90 minute HD concert film from our recent Tension 2013 tour, presented by Vevo. Filmed at Staples Center in Los Angeles 11/8/13.
Nine Inch Nails: Tension, an expanded Blu-ray/DVD/digital release, is coming in Spring 2014 with tons of extra content, 5.1 surround sound, and more. Sign up at nin.com/tension to be notified as soon as pre-orders go live.
On the National Security Agency’s site, there is a timeline dedicated to the most significant events in cryptologic history. Among its many entries: November 4, 1952, the day the NSA itself was created; December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; and the earliest event that is commemorated, the U.S. State Department’s decision to hire a 23-year-old Indiana native, Herbert O. Yardley, on November 16, 1912, just prior to the outbreak of World War I.
An ambitious young man with a background as a railroad telegraph operator, Yardley quickly showed a talent for breaking codes. After proving himself able to decipher an ostensibly secret message to President Woodrow Wilson, he decided to spend his career improving the security of U.S. government communications. Soon after, he began breaking the codes of other governments in anticipation of war. He would ultimately spy on the communications of foreigners and U.S. citizens in peacetime, and head a secret surveillance agency headquartered in a New York City brownstone.
But Yardley wasn’t just the progenitor of the trade practiced at the NSA today. He was also the surveillance state’s first betrayer, as loathed by insiders in his day as Edward Snowden is in ours.
Read more. [Image: NSA]
Beyond “The Selfish Gene” to “The Selfish Network”
The grasshopper is the gene, and the locust is the networked swarm.
David Dobbs has a very interesting article out in Aeon about the incompleteness of “selfish gene” theory and the rise of an idea called “genetic accommodation”. Accommodation is the appearance of a trait, say larger muscles or faster running, in response to the environment, within a single generation (it sounds Lamarckian, but it’s not). Dobbs’ article is full of some pretty high-level biology, but it’s a very crucial lesson on the realities of natural selection in complex creatures and complex populations.
Chances are, if you’re a student of genetics and evolution, you know about Richard Dawkins and “the selfish gene”. This theory, and the book of the same name, places the gene at the center of evolution, and presents the organism, you or I, as vehicles for their replication and selection. It is beautifully written, well thought-out, and it made Dawkins the star he is today.
Unfortunately, the idea of “selfish genes” is incomplete, at least according to many modern evolutionary biologists. In complex creatures, there are a host of changes in appearance, ability and behavior (so-called “phenotypes”) that do not result from discrete genetic mutations, but rather from changes in how those genes are expressed, and these often show in the same generation, not just in offspring.
Dobbs gives us the example of the locust and the grasshopper, which ( I did not know this), are the same species! When food goes scarce, the lone hopper morphs into a swarming species that can lay waste to fields at Biblical proportions. These changes are not at the level of DNA changes within the gene, they manifest in how that DNA is read and turned into proteins or whatever the gene product turns out to be.
There are two important keys here: 1) Genomes are full of mutations and differences, most of which are silent and don’t contribute to natural selection, and 2) in complicated creatures such as us, genes are subject to complex, squishy, variable networks, and it’s mutations in many genes within and between networks that often lead to phenotypes.
That’s an incomplete oversimplification itself, but if you’d like to dig deeper, read this PZ Myers piece on how evolution is about networks. As for me? I’ve studied molecular genetics for about ten years now, and while Dobbs is right that the simple “selfish gene” idea needs work, gene expression differences are also dependent on genes, and those genes can be mutated and selected, or not, so after a while this whole networked snake begins to eat its own tail.
Evolution is hard. Most people, if they even accept it, don’t get far enough in biology classes to see just how hard it is. In school, we begin our study of genetics with the study of Mendel’s peas, a simple and idealized example to demonstrate how statistics and ratios are at play in the distribution of genes. But then almost instantly, if we go on with our studies, we learn that these idealized scenarios are incomplete, and that’s not how the real world of natural selection and population genetics works. So we look for where our rules are broken, and we apply new, often complex, rules to fill in the gaps.
This is how science itself works. Our idealized classroom scenarios, like Dawkins’ “selfish gene” or Mendel’s peas, are important tools to have in our toolbox, but they are incomplete. It is important that learn to identify their deficiencies, and to use new observations to create new tools … and with them we are always working to build a better house.
Which we then hope is not flattened by a locust swarm.
Check out Die, Selfish Gene, Die by David Dobbs. What do you think?
… Y’see, now, y’see, I’m looking at this, thinking, squares fit together better than circles, so, say, if you wanted a box of donuts, a full box, you could probably fit more square donuts in than circle donuts if the circumference of the circle touched the each of the corners of the square donut.
So you might end up with more donuts.
But then I also think… Does the square or round donut have a greater donut volume? Is the number of donuts better than the entire donut mass as a whole?
A round donut with radius R1 occupies the same space as a square donut with side 2R1. If the center circle of a round donut has a radius R2 and the hole of a square donut has a side 2R2, then the area of a round donut is πR12 - πr22. The area of a square donut would be then 4R12 - 4R22. This doesn’t say much, but in general and throwing numbers, a full box of square donuts has more donut per donut than a full box of round donuts.
The interesting thing is knowing exactly how much more donut per donut we have. Assuming first a small center hole (R2 = R1/4) and replacing in the proper expressions, we have a 27,6% more donut in the square one (Round: 15πR12/16 ≃ 2,94R12, square: 15R12/4 = 3,75R12). Now, assuming a large center hole (R2 = 3R1/4) we have a 27,7% more donut in the square one (Round: 7πR12/16 ≃ 1,37R12, square: 7R12/4 = 1,75R12). This tells us that, approximately, we’ll have a 27% bigger donut if it’s square than if it’s round.
tl;dr: Square donuts have a 27% more donut per donut in the same space as a round one.
Thank you donut side of Tumblr.
Disney Star Wars Princesses by Ralph Sevelius
+you know what the suns all about when the lights go out+