Generation We, the Millenials

This is a 4-minute plea from the generation that will take over from the boomers to vote in this election. Only the oldest of this largest generation in American history will get to vote, but now is the start of the takeover. Just in time.

Save yourself from shit

Cover image
Cover image

I really enjoy large non-fiction books about a single simple subjects. Salt, for example. Or networks. Or candy. Now one has come out about sewage. Rose George is an investigative journalist. I’ve got this one on order.

The story of civilization has been the story of separating you from your waste. British investigative journalist Rose George’s stunning—and nauseating—new book opens by explaining that a single gram of feces can contain “ten million viruses, one million bacteria, one thousand parasite cysts, and one hundred worm eggs.” Accidentally ingesting this cocktail causes 80 percent of all the sickness on earth.

Good games for math and physics

fantastic contraption
fantastic contraption
I don’t like to study, but I love to learn. Serious Games and Persuasive Games are two books I have been reading recently. They are about using games in education. I like this idea, and have written about it before.

Here are a couple of games. Try them out and see how well you can do.

It is good for math skills, especially geometry. It takes about 5 minutes.

Try another game that takes longer, and is good for physics. Lots of fun, but a big challenge.

My father, the President

Dad has been going on and on about his recent election to the local Golden Kiwanis volunteer club in Loveland, Colorado. Loveland is a great town, and people like Dad, taking over from people like him, have made it that way. Deliberate, safe, full of life, slow, and yet with just enough cosmopolitanism to make it purple instead of red(neck).

He insisted on having someone sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” because he was inaugurated on his birthday. Check out how the rabble responded. Tom Ryan for President!

He was elected President of a club where the average age is in the mid-80’s. Dad is a spry 78. He is on the tail end of this elderly-boom in the local culture. The younger (non “golden”) regular Kiwanis are not interested in shifting and renewing. New organizations will take over, such as my brother’s Optimist Club, where he is past president. I’m guessing between the members of my family, we have at least 100 memberships, and probably 20 past-presidencies. I’m currently in charge of about 800,000 $US for our local teacher’s organization JALT as Director of Treasury. Next month I step down. Dan, Dad, Ginger, and Marie. Let’s count them up.

Making Decisions

Jonah Lehrer over in Boston writes about how people make decisions. The most famous decider is in the White House, and goes with his gut, to the exclusion of obvious evidence to the contrary in some cases. John McCain is similar in style, preferring to make quick decisions and live with them without complaint. I think he expects us to do the same. Then there is Barak Obama, who weighs, things, ponders, evaluates and only then decides.

Which is the best style? Actually, scientists have been discovering that going with the gut, but also knowing how your own gut works, is the best.

Rather, it’s the willingness to engage in introspection, to cultivate what Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, calls “the art of self-overhearing

Voting and Elections

There are elections in the US coming up soon, and it looks likely that there will be elections here in Japan as well. I’m really saddened that in both of “my” countries, only about half the people vote. I have to spend a lot of time to vote in the US, and I can’t vote here in Japan, and I can’t understand people that CAN vote, but DON’T. Sad. Watch this YouTube video and see what these famous actors think.

Online Professors for Free

New York Times has an article about the best of online professors. Now that many universities are making their lectures available online for free, sometimes directly and sometimes through services like iTunesU, the next logical step is to separate the wheat from the chaff. Who are the best? Read the article.

Boycott Thomson Reuters

I use an excellent program for research, called Zotero. It helps me catalog everything I find about my research subjects into one easily accessed place. One of the best features is that it can pull the bibliographic information off a web page such as Amazon, and put it into a traditional format, such as APA or MLA. This has long been the most time-consuming part of research for me, getting all those niggly little commas, underlines, and dates, names and titles in the correct order and format. It helps tremendously. Highly recommended.

Now, Thomson Reuters, publishers of a similar software, endnote, are suing Zotero because Zotero can read endnote’s formatted files and put them into an open standard. (Reported by Liberal Education and EdTechPost). Trying to close down research by suing a company that can read files your customers make is unconscionable.

If you order Thomson Reuters textbooks, I urge you to switch to another brand.