Links for 2009-09-15

  • ""Giblets is detached," says Giblets. "Where is the warmth of the heart of the fiery fires of the human experience? Giblets demands more feeling!"
    "And though their love was deep and fierce and right and true it was doomed from the start," says me, "for she was only a lowly scullery maid, and he had been trampled to death by elephants.""
  • "I think every academic I know agrees that in the last instance, how much it costs to teach in a particular way or to maintain a curriculum of a particular design matters. No one is so ethereal that they reject in principle all discussion of the budgetary implications of curricular decisions. Equally, no one is so focused on finances that they think questions of intangible value are irrelevant. A purely budget-driven curriculum would be entirely consumer-oriented: you'd just move resources around to where the enrollments clustered most heavily, without trying to exercise any judgment about what students ought to learn or need to learn. The moment you set a requirement, structure a major or lay out a curriculum by criteria that are independent of what gets you the most paying matriculants for the least institutional expenditure, you're driven by values that aren't purely subject to budget. "
  • "Anybody heard of the idea of The Singularity? Roughly, it goes like this: technological progress builds on itself, and this self-reinforcing feedback loop is eventually going to come to a head where humanity makes a quantum leap into an unknowable and godlike transhuman technological future - possibly as early as the middle of this century. The name of the idea comes from mathematics, where approximately speaking a singularity is a place where a function rockets off to infinity. Alternately, some adherents of this type of thinking believe that progress is exponential; formally this doesn't result in a true singularity but in this type of scenario it makes little difference."
  • In this second essay I will strive to specify the issues, challenges, and problems that belong on a reform agenda, with as much specificity and precision as I can muster.
  • "Picture an entire city, a modern, wealthy place, in the richest country in the world, in which the vital services provided by libraries are withdrawn due to political brinksmanship and an unwillingness to spare one banker's bonus worth of tax-dollars to sustain an entire region's connection with human culture and knowledge and community.

    Think of it and ask yourself what the hell has happened to us. "

  • "Which scientists may be honored this year, and in the future? It's impossible to know for sure, since the selection process is notoriously secretive and often surprising. In fact, the names of nominees considered by the various Nobel committees aren't even revealed for 50 years. So in search of future Nobel laureates, we looked at winners of other prestigious prizes, and interviewed previous Nobel winners and other experts--and came up with the following list. "
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