Linky Friday #156: Work & Learn


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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53 Responses

  1. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    A1: I’m not 100% sure, but I think the claims of hypocrisy misrepresents the dispute. The complaint by the US government is that India’s laws favor domestic producers of solar panels, whereas US subsidies for solar energy are, AFAIK, neutral with respect to country of origin.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      The US government’s complaint is focused on India’s “local content” requirement for solar projects. I believe it’s a minimum of 30% of the panels must be manufactured in India. Also of note, the US has imposed a tariff on Chinese solar panels. In that case, China is subsidizing the production of silicon ingots and wafers, allowing those producers to operate at a loss.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        India seems big on locally manufactured tech goods. My last company had a major contract selling devices to the Indian government, and in order to get the deal we had to move our circuit board fabrication and assembly to plants in India.Report

  2. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    A5: The streaming music industry in Japan is in a very sad state. In the US, holdouts against streaming, like the Beatles and Bob Seger, are rare exceptions, but in Japan, the vast majority will have nothing to do with it. I would say that about 20% of Japanese albums, tops, are available on any streaming service.

    CDs are still pretty expensive, too. $20-25 is standard for a one-disc album, and singles cost around $10. If they’re still pulling in that kind of money, no wonder they don’t want to put their music up on a $10/month streaming service.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    E1: Education in continental Europe tends to lack the social component that it does in the United States. Even at the high school level, things like school dances, sports, or clubs are basically not existent. Most youth activities are handled by organizations outside of schools.

    E5: Saul noticed that a big problem is that the people really passionate about math or science are unlikely to end up teaching bellow the university level. Most would want to be attached to some university or other research organization or something else.

    H5: A related article on the ghost tenants of New York.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      E5: Ergo we should have an incentive for teachers to acquire a background in mathematics & it’s related pedagogy.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        And you try to get people to agree to the increase in taxes necessary to pay for those incentives. At the same time, the adjunct crisis in higher education might provide some incentive but most of the crisis seems to be in the humanities rather than the sciences. I still think that the drive that leads people to get higher degrees in math and sciences makes teaching at the secondary level unappealing. They want to use their knowledge to further science more than anything else.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          I can not tell you how many engineers & scientists I know who left their careers (or who want to) to go teach grade school/high school science & math. The desire is there, and they are happy to take extra classes to get certified to teach, but for a lot of them, they wait until they are at the end of their careers. They also tend to find themselves hired by private schools because of money and flexibility (they aren’t interested in being full time teachers, they just want to teach their subjects), etc.

          In the same vein, before we talk about tax levies to pay for incentives, perhaps we should make sure that teacher unions (or other school bureaucracy) won’t pitch a fit because the math/science teachers get a bump in pay, or because they want to be part time, etc.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            It is a very bad idea to let trolls teach anything.
            (So, naturally, I know one who owns a school. Not In America, of course. America has rules, and rules are annoying)Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    E5: Just rename it “shop math”.

    L4: Which is more important to you? Your job or your life?

    M3: Man this is total BS. You want folks to train on, hire folks, not require that your fellow students practice on you.Report

  5. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    E1: The “bit less posh” elements are mostly stuff American colleges would be better without. When I was looking at colleges for myself, lo those many years ago, I counted the absence of a football program as a positive. I am still some years away from my own kids’ college, but when the time comes a lack of “Elaborate food and other amenities” and of “Subsidized clubs and extracurricular activities” will be counted in the plus column. So will the absence of a bloated administration, if there are any schools like that left. My wife when to a Catholic college run by nuns. I am cautiously optimistic about that.

    I have been saying for years now that there is an opportunity here. We have established institutions of higher education priced beyond all reason through a combination of administrative bloat and irrelevant crap like absurdly fancy (and expensive) student amenities. At the same time there is a huge pool of teaching talent struggling to get by as adjuncts. Some collection of struggling adjuncts, backed by one of those visionary entrepreneurs we have in such abundance, could buy or lease a closed Catholic high school somewhere, draw straws on who has to be president, hire some secretaries and janitors to actually run the place, and open shop at reasonable tuition. Yes, I am over-simplifying. But the point stands that we have a glut of potential faculty and any number of eager potential students. There is no reason in principle this couldn’t be done. This is essentially what the Cooper Union was before the administrators seized control.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I like your idea and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. I think one issue is that many students expect the amenities for a variety of reasons. College and university life in the United States has always been more social than in continental Europe. Fraternities and football were importance since at least the late 19th century. The excessive amenities are just the latest manifestation of this trend. They are also a sign of the increased affluence. When most of your students always had a room of their own, its going to be hard to force them into sharing a room with one or more other people.

      The very elite colleges still tend towards being Spartan in their amenities. Its just difficult to get into them. The colleges and universities that have the most excessive amenities seem to be big state schools with a reputation for partying. Its part of the attraction.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        Yes, there are kids who will balance having a climbing wall in the student union against graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and go for the climbing wall. But I maintain a hopeful opinion of American youth that some won’t.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          Oh, and I would totally ship my kids over to Germany for college. There are some days I would do this for elementary school.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            It depends…can Germany return them? I’m looking for something a little more…permanent.

            EDIT: it occurs to me that since the country in question is Germany, this joke just turned out a little darker than I intended.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              there was a dude banished to Japan, of all places.
              Couldn’t get out even after the tsunami, poor guy…Report

            • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

              Well, my family is of Teutonic origin, and I belong to a bilingual church, where “bilingual” means both English and German. Some of them pop over to Germany on a regular basis, and our Christmas market is all about importing German junk food. (Stollen: Mmmm…) So the idea of shipping the kids over there doesn’t have quite the same connotation to me.

              Stereotypes of Germans are an interesting combination. There is the jackbooted Nazi, but there also in the long-haired intellectual. The prevailing stereotype in the 19th century was of clownish and a bit dim. The early pitcher George Zettlein was not, it was often observed, known for his “head work.” One paper attributed this to his Teutonic origin: what do you expect? There was a cottage industry of making fun of the accent of Chris Von der Ahe, the owner of the St. Louis club. There also was the claim that when building a team, you wanted Irish for the infield, since they were quick and clever, and Germans for the outfield, where you don’t need clever and they have the advantage that they will show up reasonably sober.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I don’t have the long haired intellectual as a German stereotype…
                (I’m not sure the germans even have that as a stereotype, honestly).
                I do have Prussian Nobility as a stereotype — the standard German shows-no-emotion military man.
                I ought… and sometimes might… have a German stereotype about people in biergardens, and guildsmen in general.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                I don’t have the long haired intellectual as a German stereotype…

                Think of Beethoven or Schiller. Perhaps this is only a stereotype in my head.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                To me, that guy is French. Perhaps Austrian, on a good day.

                And yes, I watched that drivel that the Germans put up as a candidate for the Oscars on Schiller. Oh, my god, how dreadfully dull can you make a movie intentionally??

                [Because I’m in pittsburgh, I was about the only person reading the subtitles in the theater]Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                The Austrians are artistic and refined (well, the Viennese are – rural Austrians are bumpkins, c.f. how Schwarzenegger’s accent plays back home). The Prussians are cold, clinical, and a bit ruthless.

                This is also the reputation of their national association football teams. Austria was Brazil before Brazil was Brazil, only primarily due to tactics rather than technique. Germany is always tough because everyone is guaranteed to be fit, well-trained, and knows their place in a meticulously organized side – but they only aspire to greatness when there’s the likes of a Beckenbauer who transcends those qualities.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Oh, I have friends there and lived there briefly for work. I like Germany. It’s just that “permanent” is a synonym for “final”, and, well, you know.

                Germans for the outfield, where you don’t need clever and they have the advantage that they will show up reasonably sober.

                …you must know different Germans than I do. They like to DRINK.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Ah, but the Germans get paid on Friday, and get sober by Monday.

                The scots irish don’t come back at all.

                (Old wisdom, but there’s a reason scotch irish places are often dry too, to this very day).Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Consider the comparison, though?Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                You forgot the Prussian Junker.Report

              • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

                …with the Prussian Vice.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      Complaining about student activity fees WRT college debts are like complaining about foreign aid WRT the national debt. I.e., they are a drop in the bucket.

      And sports teams, usually, are about break even. Colleges like to claim they ‘earn money’, but they do that only by schools dismissing a *lot* of intangible effort spent towards operating them.

      But, regardless of the fact that *I* think student sports are a complete waste of time and scamming students who work for them, *they* aren’t the problem, either.

      The reason colleges are so expensive is that we’ve built a system where the cost has absolutely no impact *at the time*, so there’s no shopping. And thus no incentive to make it cheaper. Which is something, incidentally, that we’ve all admitted was bad with health care, but we’ve failed to notice higher education works the same way.

      Another problem: It has been a buyer’s market in employment for *decades*, and thus employers like to invent nonsensical and idiotic hoops to make everyone jump through, because that is, in fact, how markets work. The problem here is that it was *such* a buyer’s market that they’ve invented a downright insane ‘You must have spent $30,000 on this completely unrelated thing before we’ll do business with you’ condition. And this increased demand has, of course, lead to increased price.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Company near here likes to hire contractors for various reasons. Funny thing is that a lot of the jobs the contractors are filling, had a person been hired for the job, that person would have to have a degree. But the contractors are not required to.

        Lets the company expand the employee pool, while giving them a great way to say, “We like your work, but that lack of degree, sorry, we can’t bring you on as a permanent hire.”Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

        You are right about the underlying cause of tuition inflation, but that money has to go somewhere. I also am confident that most of it goes to administrative bloat. The student amenities are the leftovers. Administrative bloat, however, is not necessarily easily visible. I posit that the climbing wall and gourmet student dining facilities serve as visible indicators. If I am taking my kid on the college recruitment tour, I can’t easily tell how much of the tuition goes to useless fake admin jobs, but I can easily see that climbing wall: the tour guide will make sure of that.

        Of course these are just proxies for “how much will we have to pay for this.” Were the prices posted at the front gate, there would be no need for proxies. I’m pretty sure, though, that the real prices are carefully obscured until later in the process.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Well, the climbing wall has to have a Climbing Wall Administrator (with a much fancier title), and s/he needs an assistant, and a couple of Work Study or Program Assistant positions, etc.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          My impression is that the common application form has also contributed, viz, colleges are now incentivized to have the lowest possible admit rates so that they can tout how selective they are – but students aren’t de-incentivized to apply to a dozen or more different colleges – in fact with such steep competition FROM people applying to multiple colleges, they’d better join the trend or risk not getting in anywhere.

          And if you get to the point where you’re only admitting 10 percent or less of your applicants… you start trying to look more shiny (or at least keep up with the Joneses) of everyone ELSE who is that selective… so you better have a climbing wall and gourmet dining. (Full disclosure, my employer has both of those things, and I personally think most rising costs in our niche of the market are related to other matters: employment ethics (IMO good), a perceived need to compete with non-academic institutions, salary-wise, or lose out on “the best people” in high up positions (meh), and a consistent policy of treating the endowment like a business (bleaaaaaaaaaah).)

          It really didn’t seem to me like a common application was a bad idea, but in practice it kind of makes admissions into even more of a (bloated) circus than it already was… on every side of the process.Report

          • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

            I have had occasion a few times to eat lunch at the community college down the road from my office. It isn’t exactly “gourmet” but it is extravagant compared with the cafeteria at University of California, Santa Barbara c. 1985.Report

          • Avatar dhex says:

            The reason colleges are so expensive is that we’ve built a system where the cost has absolutely no impact *at the time*, so there’s no shopping.

            ha, what?

            ok, so i’m administrative bloat, so let’s caveat that. feel free to disregard what i say next.

            of course there’s shopping on the part of students and families. there’s a tremendous amount of it. there’s now a lot of back and forth between school fin aid offices as parents bring offer from school a to school b to see if they’ll match it. and some are, particularly in the private sphere, where success is measured in ones and twos rather than hundreds of enrolled students.

            that shopping also involves intangibles, particularly in the private four year sector, where the differences are pretty negligible. you can poll students at these schools, and you’ll hear a lot of variations on “i took a tour and just felt like i was in the right place” kinda stuff.

            and of course families can (and do) also select on cost by attending a state school and/or cc for two years, then transferring to a four year to finish.

            but these are also the words of a self-serving parasite, so take them for what they’re worth…Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              The quote makes me think this was actually directed to @davidtc not @maribou maybe?Report

              • Avatar Maribou says:

                @glyph I suspect so. Especially considering I am also “administrative bloat” (except that I’m not, my job has been there for at least 50 years… but I still get counted in those “LOOK AT ALL THE ADMINISTRATORS” scare articles).Report

              • Avatar dhex says:

                yeah sorry forgot to @ that.

                librarians (and academic technologists and faculty support services in general) kinda get a raw deal from many sides (including faculty), especially in places where librarians gain tenure. why, i don’t know, but i don’t have the mind or heart to continue to try and understand such things.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Vassar College circa 1998-2002 was pretty Spartan especially in terms of today’s amenities but it was still costly (though not as much as it is now).

      We had one old gym and a newer and nicer gym but no rock climbing walls. There were really two dining options on campus and one of those did not accept meal point plans Monday-Thursday a good deal of the time.

      Though Vassar did finally start updating the dorms during my senior year.

      I think the Catholic school option is a no go. USF went from being a commuter school for local working class youths to trying very hard to attract students from abroad and also rich kids who could not get into better credentialed Bay Area schools. Plus they want to compete with Stanford and Cal.

      There are still plenty of commuting colleges but I think Lee is right. Many Americans use college and university as mini-contained universes to try adult life.

      You and Will also seem uncommonly cost conscious compared to other 18 year olds. I loved that Vassar did not have a Greek system or a Football team but my reasons were not related to costs. They were related to a dislike of bro-dude Greek culture.Report

  6. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    A5: I am always bemused by articles treating fax machines as quaint obsolete technology. Is my office alone in that we still use the fax machine regularly? We can’t be, since there are offices sending and receiving faxes to and from our machine. I will grant you that the legal industry is not traditionally on the cutting edge of this sort of thing, but still…

    Faxes have an advantage over emails. A physical piece of paper is harder to overlook than one of many items in an email inbox. If I am asking someone to do something, I am more confident if the request is in tangible form.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Fax technology has been granted certain legal “properties” that advantage it. Whether those properties are true is subject to some discussion. Examples: the receiving machine’s “I’ve got it” acknowledgement is treated as legally meaningful; a faxed signature has legal standing; use of the telephone network is assumed to prevent any sort of “man in the middle” attacks that might change the document between sender and receiver (that is, faxing is acceptable if chain of custody comes up). Governments have not been active opponents of fax because it includes no encryption, and wiretaps are straightforward.

      There’s been a lot of discussion here of late about the basic technologies needed for internet alternatives: strong encryption and public/private key schemes. Governments in general — and certainly the US government specifically — have been active opponents of putting strong encryption into private hands, in large part because it defeats wiretaps and search warrants.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Definitely some folk IT wisdom going on here.

        (1) use of the telephone network is assumed to prevent any sort of “man in the middle” attacks that might change the document between sender and receiver (that is, faxing is acceptable if chain of custody comes up).
        is in direct opposition to
        (2) Governments have not been active opponents of fax because it includes no encryption, and wiretaps are straightforward.

        If interception is trivially possible under (2), then alteration is trivially possible under (1). It really is amazingly hard to come up with any scenario where your opponent can intercept the transmission but not alter the received copy, and alter any replies sent to the originator so they get the impression their recipient saw an unaltered copy.

        Like, once you try actually fully describing such a scenario, you get into silly logic puzzle situations (the answer is that he was standing on a giant ice block that melted before his body was discovered). If your transport doesn’t fully protect confidentiality, integrity, and non-repudiation against an active attacker, then it doesn’t meaningfully protect any of them.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain says:

          Eavesdropping is straightforward under (2): making a recording that shows party A transmitted X to party B at a certain time. Actual interception to the degree that substitution is possible is an entirely different thing, and not something that the government has historically cared about. CALEA, the obvious example, requires that the network be able to deliver a copy of the bits to an external device, and possibly with an unknown latency; that device can’t inject bits.

          Compare fax to an e-mail attachment, where the entire content is stored at an indeterminate number of intermediate processors, any of which could — absent encryption technology — replace the attachment in whole or part.Report

  7. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    I1: The eye-rolling is a current version of an established pattern. Some new technology is expensive when it is introduced, so some people internalize that this is a luxury item even long past the point where the price has come down. They remember when people made conspicuous displays of car phones, so when they see that even Those People alleged to be poor have cell phones they conclude that poverty is a myth, overlooking that a low end cell phone is both within reach even of the poor, and necessary for them to have any shot at functioning in broader society. In the current instance, how can these people be in any genuine distress if they wish for access to modern communications technology? Well, actually it is pretty darned easy…Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      The internet: Literally the cheapest way for someone to send a message to another county in the entirety of human history, with no per-message cost at all and merely a subscription fee for access, which almost everyone in the western world is paying *already*.

      How dare poor people ask if they can borrow something that *literally costs nothing* for people to loan to them, just so they can send a message saying they’re, surprisingly, not dead!?

      What’s next, asking for access to the *air* so they can speak to other people? They’re damn lucky we let them have that air for breathing, but we don’t pay our taxes so they can *communicate* with others.

      To be a *little* fair, I suspect there might be some sort of cultural gap there with ‘wifi’, in that a lot of people *here* think of wifi as an additional thing to the internet, so are thinking ‘sure, access to the internet makes sense, but wifi is a luxury!’. (Which is idiotic, as wiring a building with the refugees living in it is *obviously* more expensive than just setting up a router. And, hell, a lot of them probably just have their *phones* or tablets with them. If they *had* wifi, they could have *looked up* where to buy sim cards.)

      But in nations that lagged behind and then caught up (and often went past us), they probably went straight to wifi and a lot of people maybe never had any sort of wired internet connection at all, just like a lot of them went straight to cell phones and skipped land lines. And also, considering they’re in a country whose language they don’t speak, ‘wifi’ is probably easy to say than ‘internet access’.Report

  8. Avatar Autolukos says:

    San Bernardino DA has apparently been taking legal advice from serial pro se litigants and/or tech advice form members of Congress, writes in a filing that the iPhone he wants to crack may be “a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernardino’s infrastructure.” (Spotted on Vikram’s Twitter)Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    E1: German Universities also don’t do any hand holding. It is very much a sink or swim environment.

    E2: I can see this being true for a variety of reasons. I imagine a lack of connections and now what being big factors. Our own Road Scholar also mentioned that he was the first person in his family to attend college and his family did not quite grasp the difference between a job or career. People with college educated parents learn about the importance of careers from Day One. I know other people who were the first in their families to attend college and never quite figured out how to get out the working-class job bubble. They always saw something like food service as something they can fall back on and they never quite learn to launch from that.

    H1: My mom was 34 when I was born. This was an exception to the rule in 1980. Now among college educated professionals being in your mid to late 30s is normal. When my parents attended college in 1964-1968, women talked about getting their MRS. degrees in an unironic fashion and women worked to “put hubby through” law school, med school, etc. and then stopped working. My dad was married once before he married my mom and it ended in divorce. So I was told get all the adult stuff out and be fine with living on your own. I think a lot of people born after 72 learned that kids come later in life. It seems natural that these people would flock to cities.
    I am 35 and childless. Cities are starting to look younger but there is still really no reason for me to move to the burbs. What would I do on the weekends? In the city, I can take a short walk to restaurants and bars, etc.Report

  10. Avatar Alan Scott says:

    E3: Very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, someone who can get perfects scores on a multiple choice test and bomb an essay test is perfectly possible, and something that the college admissions process probably wants to detect: It can be indicative of shallow learning that would leave a student ill-prepared for more rigorous college work.

    On the other hand, to score an essay in a standardized way requires an system that applies objective criteria to a fundamentally subjective product–and is often done by cheaply-hired temps. At least when someone gets a low score on a multiple-choice test, I know that they answered a bunch of questions wrong. If I see a low score on an essay test, that could mean any number of things, only about half of which means the test-taker lacks writing skills.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      At least when someone gets a low score on a multiple-choice test, I know that they answered a bunch of questions wrong.

      Or at least that they answered the questions “wrong.” This may or may not be the same thing.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      As an example, Richard Feynman’s description of working with some top physics students when he was in Brazil. They would do very well on a multiple-choice test because they’d been taught facts. But they hadn’t been taught a deeper understanding of the principles behind the facts, so when Feynman took them out of the comfort zone of responding to “What is -X-?” and applying their knowledge to a situation which is a real-world application of -X-, they floundered. They’d probably do just as poorly on an essay question.Report

  11. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Saw this on my FB feed.

    After reading it, I see no information regarding what exactly this “Holy Grail” of energy storage is (I assume there is an energy density, efficiency, or something along those lines that is the target), no information regarding what ARP-E thinks they’ve accomplished, no discussion of a prototype, or a methodology or mechanism, or any relevant research paper, etc. Nothing.

    This is a PR puff piece. There is zero information in this article to define the Holy Grail, or demonstrate/prove that ARP-E has actually done what it claims. Yet people are just going GaGa over this, doing the “NeeNer NeeNer to Tesla & Microsoft, praising Obama, etc.

    I’m happy to give credit where it’s due, but you’d think after all the time over the past 20+ years where a press release has sold the public some major breakthrough, only to have it flop (COUGHColdFusionCOUGH!), people would be a little more skeptical of claims absent proof.

    I’ve long grown tired of the scientific research PR people.Report

  12. Avatar notme says:

    Trudeau say Americans should pay more attention to the world

    Half the time these second rate countries complain that the US doesn’t do enough and the other half they complain we do too much and interfere. He complains about this but then pulled his country’s war planes form the coalition bombing ISIS.

  13. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    Re: AmCon response to E1: