Thursday, March 27, 2008
--Sudhir Venkatesh, Freakonomics blog, on what lawyers want
Private National Mortgage Acceptance will be run by Stanford L. Kurland, former president of Countrywide Financial Corporation, the largest American home-loan provider, the companies said Monday in a statement. BlackRock and Highfields will take stakes in the company, called PennyMac, and contribute to its mortgage investment funds.
--Bloomberg News on the world of second chances
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
--Bill Simmons, ESPN.com, on Ivy League fish out of water
Sunday, March 23, 2008
--Jennifer 8. Lee, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food
The contribution of organizations like Habitat for Humanity, who send Western volunteers to build homes in poor countries, has never been obvious to me. Is there a shortage of unskilled construction labor in developing countries of which I'm unaware? ...
Yesterday I mourned the extractive and self-serving quality of many student research trips. For me, two-week development adventures fall clearly in the tourism category as well. Is there an argument for these trips actually helping? If so, is the benefit even close to the best use of the thousands of dollars it took to get that person out there?
--Chris Blattman on narcissistic service trips
Thursday, March 20, 2008
And in yet more related news, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the pioneering developer of the World Wide Web, told the BBC he would switch Internet providers rather than have his usage monitored. He said:
I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that’s not going to get to my insurance company and I’m going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they’ve figured I’m looking at those books.
This is just the beginning of what is becoming a serious debate. There is a strong incentive for Internet providers to sell data for companies. Eventually, cellphone companies will start to face the same choice. If there is a G.P.S. unit in your phone, it will be able to keep track of what stores you visit, among many other things. How much would Honda pay to be able to send ads to people who’ve been in Toyota dealerships lately?
--Saul Hansell, NYT, on the coming privacy onslaught
When a student spotted Mr. Gosling on a street near campus, he said, “She looked at me in, like, horror. Like, ‘Wait a minute, you have a life?’ The idea that I would continue to exist — it was sort of a violation of her expectations.”
--Stephanie Rosenbloom, NYT, on the professor outside the classroom
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
--Melinda Henneberger, Slate, on why Silda Spitzer stood up there by Eliot Spitzer
Saturday, March 8, 2008
In a recent commentary in the journal Nature, two Cambridge University researchers reported that about a dozen of their colleagues had admitted to regular use of prescription drugs like Adderall, a stimulant, and Provigil, which promotes wakefulness, to improve their academic performance. ...
One person who posted anonymously on the Chronicle of Higher Education Web site said that a daily regimen of three 20-milligram doses of Adderall transformed his career: “I’m not talking about being able to work longer hours without sleep (although that helps),” the posting said. “I’m talking about being able to take on twice the responsibility, work twice as fast, write more effectively, manage better, be more attentive, devise better and more creative strategies.” ...
People already use legal performance enhancers, [Dr. Anjan Chatterjee] said, from high-octane cafe Americanos to the beta-blockers taken by musicians to ease stage fright, to antidepressants to improve mood. “So the question with all of these things is, Is this enhancement, or a matter of removing the cloud over our better selves?” he said.
The public backlash against brain-enhancement, if it comes, may hit home only after the practice becomes mainstream, Dr. Chatterjee suggested. “You can imagine a scenario in the future, when you’re applying for a job, and the employer says, ‘Sure, you’ve got the talent for this, but we require you to take Adderall.’ Now, maybe you do start to care about the ethical implications.”
--Benedict Carey, NYT, on the coming enhancement storm
Did Jon simply have bad luck? Apparently not. When another person, Steven, hears about Jon’s woes, he says drivers are missing in every category — “this is the same across the whole ecosystem.”
Then there’s Mike, who buys a laptop that has a reassuring “Windows Vista Capable” logo affixed. He thinks that he will be able to run Vista in all of its glory, as well as favorite Microsoft programs like Movie Maker. His report: “I personally got burned.” His new laptop — logo or no logo — lacks the necessary graphics chip and can run neither his favorite video-editing software nor anything but a hobbled version of Vista. “I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine,” he says.
It turns out that Mike is clearly not a naïf. He’s Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president who oversees Windows product management. And Jon, who is dismayed to learn that the drivers he needs don’t exist? That’s Jon A. Shirley, a Microsoft board member and former president and chief operating officer. And Steven, who reports that missing drivers are anything but exceptional, is in a good position to know: he’s Steven Sinofsky, the company’s senior vice president responsible for Windows.
--Randall Stross, NYT, on Vista victims close to home
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Superintendent Jorden Schiff said it started out as a prank. But as the eighth-graders began to get in trouble for taking up so much time, it turned into a protest about Thursday's shortened lunch period.
Schiff said the students were punished for holding up their peers and disrespecting lunch aides.
Schiff said some parents think a two-day detention went too far and others think it wasn't enough.
--NBC10 on when legal tender is no longer acceptable currency
Monday, March 3, 2008
--Jagdish Bhagwati, Financial Times, on interpreting wrong-headed protectionist rhetoric in the Democratic campaign
Saturday, March 1, 2008
--The Economist on the reasoning behind giving telecoms immunity for breaking eavesdropping laws