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Showing posts from 2016

Why do we have an Electoral College?

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First, let's look at facts.

In the U.S.A. we do not elect presidents by popular vote. We elect electors who then cast their vote for the candidate. The number of Electoral College votes in each state is based on the total number of U.S. representatives and U.S. senators.

The 2016 presidential electoral results map shows you how the electors in each state will cast their votes. The red states represent where the Republican, Donald Trump will receive all the elector votes and the blue states indicate where the Democrat, Hillary Clinton will receive those votes. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win. Many are upset because it looks like Hillary Clinton will earn more popular votes--and this isn't the first time this has happened (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000).

So why do we have an electoral college if we don't elect the person who earned all the votes? The Electoral College was created by the writers of the constitution, and while we may think this is an antiquated vote aga…

What happens when work is a thing of the past?

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Elon Musk and other economists believe that automation will soon take so many jobs that governments will be forced to face the universal basic income (UBI).

While these experts believe a UBI is inevitable due to robots and artificial intelligence, it seems that we might consider what a society would look like without "gainful employment."

The CEO of Tesla's optimistic belief is that “People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things,” says Musk. “Certainly more leisure time.” But I have to wonder, is that what people want - endless leisure time to do interesting things?

If we drill down into this premise, what does a universal basic income actually mean? Does it mean people will choose whether they want to be educated or not? If we don't have to go to work, will schools close and then turn into bastions of the arts to enrich our inner and outer lives? That sounds great if people choose to do that, but then who needs schools even …

Jetsons here we come!

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Who are the Jetsons?

George Jetson had the greatest car ever when I was ten and now UBER is planning on taking commuting to the sky. Yup, you read that right they want to introduce VTOL aircraft "vertical take-off and landing" crafts to make commuting safer and cleaner.
According to Futurism. com "the concept is simple: Uber plans to provide a cost-effective and efficient ridesharing service in the sky. Commuters will ride a 'network of small, electric [VTOL aircraft] that will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities,' according to Uber’s paper. Not only that, this service is green as Uber’s VTOLs will run on electric propulsion systems with zero operational emissions." What about infrastructure? Easy. Uber VTOLs can take use roofs, existing parking structures, helipads, and unused land around freeways for vertistops or vertiports.

But what is this going to cost? "Uber believes VTOL trips won’t b…

How to Impress College Admissions Staff

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How do you give a stellar impression to your prospective college? It's not your admission essay, or your volunteer work, or your GPA . . . it's your social media presence. What!? That's right it's what you tweet, post, and blog. Huh? Oh, and I don't mean in a good way.

If your college uses social media to narrow the field of incoming freshman you could find yourself reeling when you receive that "Thanks, but no thanks" letter in the mail. At least that's what the good folks over at CNN are telling us as they go through some step-by-step questions.

1. Should I delete my social media account or make it private? CNN recommends delete, but I think that is a bit extreme. Private is probably a good idea because it narrows what comes up about you. BTW when was the last time you conducted a google search on yourself?

2.Do I have to delete every single party pic of me and my friends? Nah, just be sure you take down the ones that "exhibit poor judgement&quo…

The Internet is in flames

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Have you ever asked yourself why internet users are so angry? I have and upon reflection took down most of my social media accounts leaving only Facebook, where I have pared back on everyone except REAL friends and family, and Twitter, which is where all comic book people seem to post. Even so I still have to read or scroll past some of my family and friends' flame-filled rants. I admit I have been guilty of the same, but I really try resist throwing a scorching Molotov cocktail in the direction of those I don't agree with . . . most of the time. So why do we engage in this hateful kind of behavior?

In the infamous words of Mel Brooks, "C'mon, you do it, you know you do it and you're going to do it again." But why? Does it accomplish anything? Do you feel any better? Does anybody ever change their minds? The answers are simple: No, no, and no.
Live Science wrote, "online comments 'are extraordinarily aggressive without resolving anything.' this…

Are you sure college is right for you?

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Here's a fun fact: "For every 100 kids who start college, just 25 get degrees and attractive jobs. Some 45 drop out, and another 30 graduate but end up under- or unemployed"--at least that is what Market Watch is reporting--and those drop outs and underemployed have whopping amounts of student debt.

Too many students may be "book ready" once they leave college, but they can't even accomplish the fundamental real-world applications required by their major. Take the example of the MIT graduates (yes, that's plural) that could not use a wire, light bulb, and battery to make a light bulb work. Yikes.

It is important to get a hands-on education--that's why vocational studies are so important in high school. Oh, you don't know what vocational studies are? Well that's because wood shop, bookkeeping, nursing, and auto shop have been cut from K-12 education. Did you have electronics in high school? Could you build a basic computer? No? Yeah, that…

In Honor of Comic Comic Con and the Olympics

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Since I'm feeling sorry for myself after reading all the exciting posts from my friends at San Diego Comic Con, here's a comic website that will make you smile -- Comics with Problems. Today let's take a look at "The Insiders: The Marijuana Mystery".

This comic from 1991 features Holly, a gymnast aspiring to win the state championship, who has a crush on Mike, a popular jock and failing student. Holly offers to tutor Mike hoping he'll ask her to the prom, but instead he rewards her with marijuana. She takes one toke off a joint and immediately quits studying for tests and misses gymnastic's practice. When she makes it back to practice she gets injured and can't go to the state championships. After confessing to her best friend that all of her new problems are due to marijuana, there's a robot intervention.

Here's the facts laid out in this comic about marijuana abuse as delivered by Alpha the Robot:
[BEEP.] Marijuana impairs a person's th…

Saving Money While you Relax

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One thing you might miss once you move into the dorm is having those 363 channels your parents subscribed to at home for $176 per month. Yup, cable is expensive.

You also might think I wouldn't recommend TV, but after a hard day's working and studying sometimes you just have to veg in front of your own personal boob tube and it doesn't have to cost a bunch of money.

There are a few different ways to get free (or relatively free) television in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you have a laptop you can use that free high-speed wi fi in your dorm room to access Project Free TV. I have to admit I don't use it that much - I'm pretty old school - but I have used it on an iPad, it gets good reviews, but I'd beware of viruses.

Speaking of free wi-fi, another way to watch TV is to get a Roku with an initial investment of anywhere from $50 to $120 (Costco, BestBuy, Fry's). The Roku is a streaming tv service that attaches via your TV's HDMI port and comes with a re…

Kafkaesque - more than an unnecessarily frustrating experience

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In comics this season, we studied the graphic adaption of Kafka's Metamorphosis by Peter Kuper. In the story, a salesman wakes up and finds he has turned into a bug - seems the perfect premise for a graphic novel.

Kafka's novellas led to the creation of the adjective Kafkaesque which according to Mirriam means something "having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality, such as Kafkaesque bureaucratic delays" (we've all had those). The hoops one has to jump through are often so twisted and frustrating that success is pointless.

Kafka's many short stories have strange illogical, usually bureaucratic, twists that are worth reading. They reflect the disconnect in industrialized societies, the alienation that comes when life is reduced to working for faceless bureaucracies and corporations and being subjected to the rules and laws of the same. One strange twist in Kafka's Metamorphosis is that when Gregor discovers he's turned into a bug he …

When will we see these fashions on campus?

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Predicting the future is never easy and when we look back at 1930 clothing predictions for the new millennium it all seems so ridiculous, but these styles weren't created for laughs, these designers on history's cutting edge were serious.

What did they predict? Women will wear trousers (what a shock), climate controlled dresses, and even a headlight to "catch a man." The male narrator treats style for women as simply a way to attract the other sex. Maybe that's true in an evolutionary sort of way, but hey, if any guy saw the way I dressed on the weekends . . . not to mention sexuality in the 1930s could only be fathomed in the female/male variety. The one prediction designers of the 1930s seemed to get right was the portable phone--today's cell phone, except that only men would "wear" them.

Predictions are a sticky business and there have been a lot of bad ones. Remember Y2K when all the computers would stop working. Or the Mayan calendar crisis of…

Nine Habits from College that will Suck the Life out of your Wallet

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You made it! You're in college, living on your own in the dorms or sharing a space with your best friends. Things couldn't be better until reality hits.

InThe 9 Habits You Develop In College That Will Haunt Your Wallet, Maggie McGrath at Forbes talks about some real money drains, in other words how to just flush money directly down the toilet, especially if you rely on credit cards.

First off, the article doesn't mention a couple things: 1) set a budget and stick to it, and 2) use CASH whenever possible. Relying on plastic just makes it too easy to do the following nine BAD habits:

1. Eating in the dining hall for every meal. Well, this should read "Eating in the dining hall for every meal AFTER your meal plan has run out." Granted there isn't a gigantic kitchen in the dorms, but, heck, Top Ramen was invented for college students, wasn't it? If you have a freezer, get stuff you can nuke.

2. Late-night bingeing. Studying at 2:00 a.m.? Need some brain food? …

Welcome to 1984!

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FindFace is a facial recognition app developed by two Russians that boasts a 70 percent reliability rate.

Why is such an app necessary?

According to the creators using social media proiles it can help find missing people, your friends, or men or women that look like actors. In the case of the ersatz-famous you can send them a friend request and ask for a date. Talk about harassment?!
"It works by comparing photographs to profile pictures on Vkontakte, a social network popular in Russia and the former Soviet Union, with more than 200 million accounts. In the future, the designers imagine a world where people walking past you on the street could find your social network profile by sneaking a photograph of you, and shops, advertisers and the police could pick your face out of crowds and track you down via social networks.
          In the short time since the launch, Findface has amassed 500,000 users and processed nearly 3m searches." Harassment is exactly what has been report…

Top Ten Interview Questions

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You are getting ready to graduate and the ever-dreaded job interview is coming up. Interview Success Formula lists the Top Ten Interview Questions You Must Know How to Answer and it would be a good idea for you to prepare some responses before you hit the halls. Interview Success goes into some detail about how to answer the Top 10 Questions and provides real-world examples.

Here's a brief preview:

Interview Question 1. "Tell me something about yourself?"
A. Don't go blathering on. List your top characteristics and motivations and then connect them to specific job strengths related to the open position.

Interview Question 2. "Walk me through your resume."
A. Umm, yeah, you should know every component of your resume and have something pithy to say about each position, job skill, and experience. Be sure to highlight the items related to the job you are seeking.

Interview Question 3: "What makes you better than other candidates?"
A. Ugh, a real brai…

Humanities' New Definition

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Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? explores what it means to be human by looking at what it means to be an android. The big tell for androids; they can't empathize with each other, with humans or animals. To determine an andy from a human, there is the elaborate Voight Kampff test that measures empathetic response to a series of questions. Each question should elicit some kind of sympathetic response. If no dilation of the pupil or blush response, then you are dealing with an android.Seems pretty straight forward and since it's science fiction, we know it works (at least in the novel).

As humans empathy cues us to feed a crying child while an anguished look tells us to help out a pained friend and requires communication -- we can read both smiles (pleasure) and suffering (pain). It's more than just putting yourself in another's shoes, it's caring about what happens to the person in your sneakers.

At the University of Virginia, James Coan, ps…

Overcoming Challenges

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When writing a problem/solution essay, your biggest challenge is to get readers to take action. As a writer, how can you accomplish this?

Writers must give the problem presence. Authors can get readers to see and feel the problem by using anecdotes, startling quotes, stats, photographs and emotional appeals (pathos).

Writers must appeal to the values and interests of decision makers. Appeal to idealism or how your solution will benefit the decision maker. Appeal to the values of the audience. Show how the benefits outweigh the costs - especially if it's free. What have you got to lose?

Writers must overcome people's resistance to change. In order to do that, sometimes you have to emphasize the seriousness of the problem (give it presence). Stress the benefits of solving the problem and the lost potential if no action is taken. Show that risks are minimal and negative consequences unlikely.

Writers must predict consequences. Do not over promise. You must persuade your readers …

Why don't you talk to me?

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Sherry Turkle, an author and M.I.T. professor of Science, Technology, and Society recently wrote in "Stop Googling. Let's Talk" that college age students cannot carry on a face-to-face conversation.

She cites plenty of statistics to show that most believe that using "phones in social settings hurt the conversation," but apparently we either don't care, don't know how to carry on a conversation, or can't put them down.

There are plenty of anecdotes from young people who want the fairy tale life where families sit around the dinner table and share their day while speaking "enthusiastically" about the rule of three--at least three people must be conversing before you can check your phone.

According to Turkle, this loss of conversation leads to a loss of empathy and an inability to just be quiet with one's thoughts. We must be secure with ourselves before "we are able to really hear what other people have to say."

But all is not…

Wanna be my Valentin?

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Then you better learn how to spell ... and how to use whom while practicing good grammar.

Grammarly found that American adults prefer grammar over confidence when it comes to a potential date.

What? Who wants to date someone who can't spell hart (as in Valentine) correctly? Maybe he or she just typed in the wrong word, unless of course, you are a doe looking for love.

Who makes the most mistakes in their online profile - women. Who uses more words - men.

So why do you think that good grammar is more likely to help you win the heart of your future love?


August 29th started just like any other day . . .

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Pompeii, August 29, 79. The day begins with a slight rumbling coming from Mt. Vesuvius and things just get buried from there, literally. By the end of the day nothing visible remained of Pompeii or neighboring Herculaneum. Since its (re)discovery in 1599 historians and tourists alike have been fascinated by the former Roman tourist town.

Buried by tons of volcanic ash, and thereby preserved, tourists can now walk the streets past houses, shops, baths, aqueducts, amphitheaters, and villas. Pompeii was home to the rich and famous where one could see Kimbius Kardashius and her favorite senators and gladiators as they strolled the walkways and gardens enjoying beautiful weather, great outdoor sports and entertainment, sumptuous feasts, and delicate wines.

This video depicting the destruction of Pompeii was produced in conjunction with an exhibit called "A Day in Pompeii, held at the Melbourne Museum in 2009, [which] gave its more than 330,000 visitors a chance to experience Pompeii’s…

What is Critical Thinking?

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The New York Times article "Bosses Seek 'Critical Thinking' but what is that?" mentions that employers find critical thinking to be a valuable skill, but have a hard time defining what the term means.

Does it mean you should think inside the box? Outside the box? Break the rules? Bend the rules?

Job seekers complain that "critical thinking" is often listed as a requirement in a job posting, but they have no idea what the phrase means until they arrive at a job interview and discover that it sometimes means "forming your own opinion from a variety of sources" or even analyzing data with some kind of rubric.

Some bosses believe it is the ability to deal with problems found in the business world or to "accumulate data, analyze data, and synthesize it to make a balanced decision." That seems to reflect a belief in wanting problem-solving skills.

Most bosses say college graduates don't have critical thinking skills. They can regurgitate …