January 5th, 2012

(no subject)

M.I.T. Game-Changer: Free Online Education For All

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) will announce on Monday that they intend to launch an online learning initiative called M.I.T.x,which will offer the online teaching of M.I.T. courses free of charge to anyone in the world.

This sounds like a great thing. I don't believe that people will care about not having gotten a "real" degree as you can still get a credential that you've completed the set of courses. It will take some time to get set up of course, and people will have to check and see how good the courses really are, but there are some base expectations since they will be from MIT with regular MIT material.

M.I.T.x represents the next logical evolution in the mushrooming business of free online education by giving students an interactive experience as opposed to a simple videotaped lecture. Academic Earth (picked by Time Magazine as one of the 50 best websites of 2009) has cornered the market on free online education by making a smorgasbord of online course content – from prestigious universities such as Stanford and Princeton – accessible and free to anyone in the world. Users on Academic Earth can watch lectures from some of the brightest minds our universities have to offer from the comfort of their own computer screen. However, that is all they can do: watch. Khan Academy, another notable online education site, offers a largely free interactive experience to its users through assessments and exercises, but it limits itself to K-12 education. By contrast, M.I.T.x will combine the interactivity of the Khan Academy with the collegiate focus of Academic Earth, while drawing primarily from M.I.T.’s advanced course material.


I had not heard of Academic Earth or Khan Academy, but it sounds like good strides are being made to accommodate alternative learning. I do hope that other universities follow MIT's example. I enjoy watching the lectures on UCSD TV and I don't see a reason why people should have to travel to see these lectures in person.
We're doooomed.

What a fallout!

Want a spicy scandal? Oh my, South Africa is never short of those! There was a post here a long time ago about Helen Zille, the emblematic opposition leader, former mayor of Cape Town, and now premier of the Western Cape province. Frankly, I think Cape Town is in many respects one of Teh Bestest cities in Teh Werlds, OMGZ. But...

http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2011/12/28/zille-dana-argue-on-twitter-over-racist-cape-town
"DA leader Helen Zille has become the target of much criticism on Twitter after referring to musician Simphiwe Dana as a "professional black" in a heated debate over racism."

For the record, Simphiwe Dana's music is gorgeoustastic. And, though I'm supposed to be a political opponent to Ms Zille (being an ANCYL member, and all that...), I cannot twist my soul and deny that I do find many of her policies smart and pragmatic, and quite useful for her city and her province, and the country as a whole. One more thing, I think it's never good to have practically a one-party state like we've had for almost two decades now (ANC virtually pwning the whole political process, and all that). So, even though I should ideologically differ fundamentally from DA, I think their recent policy to open up more and move beyond their previously whites-only image, has earned them some deserved inroads into the black and coloured community (yep, those are terms that we do use here). And that's a good thing overall. We need more dissent and diversity, not less.

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USA VS Russia – give peace a chance!

We all remember a cold war.

USSR against USA. Communism against capitalism. Now, its still valid. Americans does not love us – Russians. It’s a real fact (just try new game “Call of Duty: Modern warfare 3”).

When I was yesterday in my bathroom I develop a new way to declare a peace in our country’s. We just need to be a ONE country. Russia + USA = most powerful nation in the world.

In this video I gives some aspects of my offer to Americans.  

Misleading charts

I came across this chart on The Heritage Foundation website which I think is particularly misleading.

It shows that the top 10% of earners pay 70% of the taxes, which is true but the problem is they are using a faulty metric, the number is meaningless. Let's add information to this concerning total control of wealth (source) and compare the two:
PercentileTaxesWealthDisparity
Top 1%38%43%-5%
Next 4%21%29%-8%
Next 5%11%11%0%
Remaining 90%30%17%13%


As we see here the top 10% pay 70% of the taxes but control 83% of total wealth. The Remaining 90% pay 30% of the taxes but only control 17% of total wealth. The bottom pay next to nothing because they don't have any income.

I know this metric isn't perfect either, but I believe it is closer to a meaningful number than the Heritage Foundation chart. I could not find data on total taxes so I know the numbers may be slightly different on the high end. So I ask, why shouldn't this chart be interpreted as a rationale for raising taxes on the top 5%? Is there a better metric that shows raising these taxes is unjustified?
Godzilla, default

Hope and Change, huh?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16430405

There's already been tries with this idea of the leaner, cheaper US military and fighting wars. The results in Iraq and Afghanistan utterly and comprehensively discredited this Rumsfeldian nonsense. Instead of cheaper, more effective wars the USA got protracted ugly wars where it was unable to either end the war quickly or provide a sufficient show of force to cow its enemies. The USA also got the absurdity of having to buy ammunition from other countries and a war without either adequate armor or sufficiently protective armor because its leaders were too cheap to buy it or to use it, and wars where it was undermanned so the USA had a war that was sufficiently cheap and not requiring any of the taxes to pay for it.

Remind me again where Obama's precisely differed from Bush in terms of these wars, again? I mean even his withdrawal from Iraq was on a timetable set by George Bush.....