Author Archives: pappp

When the Culture War Comes For the kids

Source: Hacker News

Article note: That's a psychologically unhealthy onion right there. From the dysfunction of vast metropolitan clusterfucks, to metric-driven childhood, to weird cultural judgements on parents, through the perversity of slogan- progressivism, and back around. Repeatedly. All in one article. It's an interesting read because it makes nice, nuanced passes on the tension between providing children appropriate educations and using the education system for social projects, and between progressive ideals and ham-fisted, knee-jerk 'progressive' policy.
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Anti-Putin Politician Facing Kremlin Raid Uses Drone to Fly Hard Drives Away

Source: Hacker News

Article note: It's largely symbolic (because networks) but it's incredibly cyberpunk.
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Elsevier investigates hundreds of peer reviewers for manipulating citations

Source: Hacker News

Article note: No shit, the list of misconduct in TFA is basically standard operating practice as far as I can tell. Pressuring other researchers to cite your papers, and trying to maximize papers per experiment are basically preconditions for tenure now. Elsiver is an enormous part of how the incentive structure that leads to that kind of behavior came to be.
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California to force NCAA to pay athletes

Source: Boing Boing

Article note: It's a terrible headline (The law won't force the NCAA to pay anyone, it just makes it so profits from athletes' likeness go to the athletes, not the schools+NCAA), but it's a fight I'm hyped to see go down, just because the "football and basketball as exploitation-based profit centers" situation is one of the many inappropriate incentive structures that are fucking up academia.

The NCAA is notionally an "amateur" league, but the only thing amateur about it is that the athletes (who risk their health and even their lives) are unpaid, while the universities effectively own and operate wildly profitable pro sports teams.

California state senator Nancy Skinner [D] has cosponsored the The Fair Pay to Play Act, which entitles California college athletes to get paid for "the use of their name, image and likeness." The bill -- popular with both labor activists and free market ideologues -- passed the Assembly on Monday 72-0. Governor Newsom is expected to sign the bill in the next 30 days, and it would go into effect in 2023.

The NCAA and the colleges that back it strongly oppose the legislation. Athletes like LeBron James strongly support it (and James has received public support from Bernie Sanders: "College athletes are workers. Pay them.").

The colleges say it spells the end of California's participation in collegiate sports, predicting that California teams will be excluded from national play (they don't mention the possibility that other states will pass legislation similar to California's).

Reducing the importance of college sports to America's universities would be a net positive; American higher-ed has been wildly distorted by sports, with budgets and resources allocated to sports as a way of making alumni happy, without regard to the actual educational priorities of the institutions.

Skinner expects opponents to mount court challenges during that time, but she also anticipates a growing corps of allies.

Similar bills are in their infancy in state legislatures in Washington and Colorado, and United States Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina, introduced a federal bill this year that would allow college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness.

Skinner sees her bill as a catalyst rather than an end unto itself.

California Lawmakers Vote to Undo N.C.A.A. Amateurism [Billy Witz/New York Times]

(Image: Ervins Strauhmanis, CC-BY, modified)

(via Naked Capitalism)

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Some Chromebooks mistakenly declared themselves end-of-life last week

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: So the planned obsolescence thing is gross but not unexpected, but then second thought ... is there a list of Chromebooks going out of support, and whether or not it's easy to unlock their boot-loaders, because the EOL'd machines seem like a nice source of dirt cheap terminals...
If your new Chromebook told you it's past EOL, don't panic—as long as you were running Canary or Dev, that is. (If you were running Stable or Beta, you may continue panicking.)

Enlarge / If your new Chromebook told you it's past EOL, don't panic—as long as you were running Canary or Dev, that is. (If you were running Stable or Beta, you may continue panicking.) (credit: Valentina Palladino)

A lot of Chromebook and Chromebox users don't realize this, but all ChromeOS devices have an expiration date. Google's original policy was for devices to be supported for five years, but the company has recently extended that time to 6.5 years.

When your Chromebook or Chromebox approaches its built-in expiration date, it will warn you that it's time to go buy a new device entirely. Not long after that, it will refuse to apply any further security or feature updates. In addition to leaving users vulnerable to unpatched security exploits, this means that constantly evolving services such as Gmail will eventually stop working entirely.

Google has been working on a way to warn users six months ahead of time that their device's EOL date is approaching to allow them to plan with a little less time-sensitive desperation. But users running the Canary and Dev early-preview ChromeOS builds discovered a bug in the new code the hard way. After any reboot, brand-new devices started warning "this is the last automatic software and security update for this Chromebook. To get future updates, upgrade to a newer model."

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Insiders say an ambitious MIT Media Lab project is mostly smoke and mirrors

Source: Hacker News

Article note: From the grapevine I hear, for an extended period of time it has been an open secret that the Media Lab is primarily a hype machine, doing an inappropriate amount of things like hollow smoke-and-mirrors demos, outsourcing most of the actual R&D for flashy ideas they take credit for, etc. The fact that Joi Ito took a boatload of money from Jeffery Epstein and then tried to obscure it when people started asking questions makes it OK to talk about these things now, but I think we're seeing a disproportionate-looking response to their sketchy backing just because its an opening to go after an entity that is usually to media-savvy to criticize.
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After panic at game, Lexington schools will have these new rules for sporting events.

Source: Kentucky.com -- Education

Article note: I have only the "Don't train children to tolerate security theater" horse in this, but really? You had an autoimmune panic incident and your reaction includes "Outside food or drinks will not be allowed at games." and the response is anything other than making fun of the officials? Holy shit did the terrorists win.

After panic erupted at a Lexington football game last month when unaccompanied minor students falsely shouted that someone had a gun, Fayette County Public School officials have decided to enact … Click to Continue »

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Federal judge says terrorist watchlist is unconstitutional

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: Fuck yeah. Not just because this one case is bullshit, but because we desperately need precedent that due-process-free, transparency-free pre-crime bullshit doesn't pass constitutional muster in all the places it's creeping in on the back of pearl-clutching and low-hanging surveillance.
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker screens passengers at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on the day before Thanksgiving, the nation's busiest travel day on November 22, 2017 in New York City.

Enlarge / NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22: A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worker screens passengers at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) on the day before Thanksgiving, the nation's busiest travel day on November 22, 2017 in New York City. (credit: Spencer Platt | Getty Images)

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that the government's terrorism screening database (TSDB) is unconstitutional because people on the list are not given an adequate opportunity to contest their inclusion. The ruling is a victory for a group of almost 20 Muslim Americans who sued the government over the list in 2016.

"There is no independent review of a person's placement on the TSDB by a neutral decisionmaker," Judge Anthony Trenga wrote on Wednesday. "Individuals are not told whether or not they were or remain on the TSDB watchlist and are also not told the factual basis for their inclusion."

As a result, the judge concluded, the watchlist system is unconstitutional.

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College students think they learn less with an effective teaching method

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: Interesting, not surprising that students appear to learn more in active environments but like it less. The "forcing them to engage with the material" explanation for the learning more has always made sense to me. I suspect the distaste is largely that designing not-awful active learning exercises, especially ones that can be done in a normal classroom, is _hard_, and dragging yourself through hours of doing even good exercises is exhausting. Certainly the suppositions about students tending to approach education as a consumer seem likely as well. There's some side-stuff, like the frequency of no-effort textbook-slide lectures, and the various cultures of shaming people for asking questions (when people whine about "men trying to come up with clever questions" or "that chatty bitch who keeps restating what the instructor said to look smart" they are literally complaining about the audience tangibly engaging and integrating the material) that probably harm the effectiveness of lectures to factor in as well.
College students think they learn less with an effective teaching method

Enlarge (credit: US Dept. of Education)

One of the things that's amenable to scientific study is how we communicate information about science. Science education should, in theory at least, produce a scientifically literate public and prepare those most interested in the topic for advanced studies in their chosen field. That clearly hasn't worked out, so people have subjected science education itself to the scientific method.

What they've found is that an approach called active learning (also called active instruction) consistently produces the best results. This involves pushing students to work through problems and reason things out as an inherent part of the learning process.

Even though the science on that is clear, most college professors have remained committed to approaching class time as a lecture. In fact, a large number of instructors who try active learning end up going back to the standard lecture, and one of the reasons they cite is that the students prefer it that way. This sounds a bit like excuse making, so a group of instructors decided to test this belief using physics students. And it turns out professors weren't making an excuse. Even as understanding improved with active learning, the students felt they got more out of a traditional lecture.

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‘Nudging’ Looked Like It Could Help Solve Key Problems in Higher Ed. Now That’s Not So Clear.

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education | News

Article note: 1. Identify a positive correlate 2. Decide it's a silver bullet and invest heavily in it (either because you believe it or because doing so advances your career interests) 3. Discover it's far less effective than promised It's the ciiirrrrrcle of hype. This one is especially gross because it justifies tangible surveillance and pushes responsibility for student well-being onto instructors. And now that it's largely discredited, the administrative class is going to notice and justify a tsunami of cloying faux-personal spam as "nudges."

"Nudging" has been embraced as an elegant, low-cost way to fix thorny problems. New studies cast doubt on how widely applicable it really is.

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