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Showing posts from 2017

Tourists through Time

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Have you ever thought about where the ancients went on vacation? Jude Knight over at English Historical Fiction has and its surprising where the first tourists with the time and money went for fun and adventure.

People began touring as soon as there was some place to go. From Egypt to Mesopotamia people began to travel just to see new things like the latest pyramid or temple.

Romans set up beach resorts, the rich headed up to the cooler northern climes to escape the summer heat and everyone traveled to the big city to see the sights.

In Medieval Europe, pilgrimages became all the rage and these took on a religious fervor and devotion. Everyone wanted to see the holy land - and these trips could last for months, if not years. Accommodations could be found at local inns or abbeys and, rumor has it, that the Knights Templar acted as a security force for devout travellers.

Once in Jerusalem you could purchase a holy relic or even something more permanent, like a tattoo. Rozzouk Tattoo has…

Google's Free Photo Editing Software is Really Free

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Google's photo editing software 'Nik' is now free to download. "Previously priced at $149, the now-free software gives users access to 'seven desktop plug-ins that provide a powerful range of photo editing capabilities -- from filter applications that improve color correction, to retouching and creative effects,'" says Open Culture.

I'm sure you're wondering what photo editing has to do with this blog, well, maybe not, because you should know how much I like visuals, and since we often write about visuals I wanted to offer you the Nik program if/when you need to do a comparative analysis.

When looking at these two separate photos, what are the subjects of these iconic scenes? Sex, adventure, science fiction, body image?

If you had to choose a second photo in order to do a comparison, what subject would you choose?

Who or what would you compare with Marilyn Monroe?

What kind of a photo would you look for to compare with ET against a blue moon?

The …

What do you know about your school?

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What happens to students at Diablo Valley College?

First, let's look at some statistics from 2013:

DVC has a total enrollment of 20,286 students - 52 percent were women, 48 percent were men.

DVC is pretty ethnically diverse. While 44 percent of students were white, 22% of students were Latino, 15 percent Asian, and six percent were African American. Minority enrollment is 64 percent of the total student body.

Most students at DVC (64 percent) are between the ages of 18-24, while 32 percent were between the ages of 25 to 64.

Scholarships or grant awards are received by one-third of students totaling about $2,477.

DVC costs $1,288 for in-state residents, while out-of-state students pay $7,925 - that's a 515% increase (2015/2016) - that's a topic for another post.

"The total tuition and living expense budget for in-state California residents to go to DVC is $19,750 for the 2015/2016 academic year. Out-of-state students who don't have California residence can expect a…

Farewell Cassini

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If you like science and dream of exploring the stars or going into space one day, then you are probably aware of the Cassini mission. The probe recently took its last photo just as it entered the Venus atmosphere, but before the camera faded to black it took many beautiful photos.

If you are not science buff, "Cassini-Huygens is one of the most ambitious missions NASA ever launched into space. Loaded with an array of powerful instruments and cameras, the spacecraft is capable of taking accurate measurements and detailed images in a variety of atmospheric conditions and light spectra."

Cassini reached Saturn in July 2004 and has been dubbed one of the most successful of NASA's many missions. It's "scripted death dive" occurred on September 15, 2017.

What are some of the missions biggest discoveries?

One of its moons, Enceladus, shows evidence of water-based ice and a subsurface ocean leading to speculation about the presence of life.

Another moon, Titan, has…

Roman Roads Visualized on Subway Grid

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I love maps. Ever since I was a kid, I would stare at them and think about what places like Copperopolis, Toad Suck, and Santa Claus look like. I mean does Santa live in Santa Claus, Indiana? I think not, but he probably doesn't live in Chicken, Alaska either....and somehow that brings me to Roman roads visualized as a subway map.

Here's the great thing about this project it was done by a college student just like you. Well, not exactly like you, but Sasha Trubetskoy is an undergrad at U. Chicago, and he created a "subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD."

Open Culture has provided a few links to larger maps for your viewing pleasure.

Trubetskov says "no sane Roman would use only roads where sea travel is available. Sailing was much cheaper and faster – a combination of horse and sailboat would get you from Rome to Byzantium in about 25 days, Rome to Carthage in 4-5 days." He also notes that money and time of year w…

Cleaning up ocean trash

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Everyday we read and see how the oceans are being overrun by trash and plastics. Animals are dying, people are surfing through garbage, and our coastlines are becoming waste dumps. Everybody gripes about plastics in the ocean, but does anybody do anything?

If Boyan Slat, a 22-year old college drop out, gets his way we will soon see a fleet of floating ocean trash collectors. "'We let the plastic come to us,' he says. The group hopes to eventually finance the operation by recycling the plastic and selling it as a branded product or raw material." Once the plastic arrives at the drifting garbage tank, it is funneled towards a central tank and then picked up monthly by ships.
But his critics believe that it is a waste of effort and too much money for something that in "10 to 20 years" will disappear. They also list "technical limitations and concerns such as harm to marine life. 'It’s not the best solution,' says Marcus Eriksen of the ocean nonpro…

Criticizing with kindness

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Can you be kind to your critics? You betcha...and it is especially important if you want them to listen to you, and if you want your readers to take you seriously.

If  you write counterarguments that are weak or insubstantial, all the better to dismiss them and lose ethos to boot. This is especially true if your readers are passionate about your subject.

Somewhere along the way you have to take on, and tackle, the strongest counterargument you can think of - and that can be difficult.

Daniel Dennett, one of today's best modern philosophers, asks "Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”

Here's his answer, word-for-word:
"How to compose a successful critical commentary:  "1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, 'Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.'  "2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are …

Didn't the ancients have any feelings?

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If you've ever read Roman, Old English, Medieval, or Renaissance lit, you may have noticed how devoid of feeling it is? Many of the ancient sagas from Homer to Iceland are filled with action, especially violent war-type action. But didn't any of these societies have any feelings? Of course, they must've by why don't they ever write about it? Is it because we expect everyone to reveal their every feeling on the page? Is this desire something that makes us modern?

I mean pick up a novel, open it to any page and read. Feelings are spread before us in almost every paragraph with gallons of ink. There are so many feelings that it sometimes takes the characters forever to DO anything.
"Literature certainly reflects the preoccupations of its time, but there is evidence that it may also reshape the minds of readers in unexpected ways. Stories that vault readers outside of their own lives and into characters’ inner experiences may sharpen readers’ general abilities to ima…

17 Majors Where you Might Not Find a Job

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Forbes just released a list of  "17 college majors that report higher unemployment." This report completed by PayScale, polled 962,956 workers between March 2014 and March 2016. What they found may or may not be surprising depending on your major, but it correlates with the idea that popular majors may not be the best choice when it comes to finding a job.

So let's take a look.

No. 1 - Physical Education Teaching. 56.4% underemployment.

No. 2. - Human Services. 55.6% underemployment.

No. 3 - Illustration. 54.7% underemployment.

No. 4 - Criminal Justice. 53% underemployment.

No. 5 - Project Management. 52.8% underemployment.

No. 6 - Radio/Television and Film Production. 52.6% underemployment.

No. 7 - Studio Art. 52.0% underemployment.

No. 8 - Health Care Administration. 51.8 % underemployment.

No. 9 - Education. 51.8% underemployment.

No. 10 - Human Development and Family Studies. 51.5% underemployment.

No. 11 - Creative Writing. 51.1% underemployment.

No. 12 - Animal Science. 51.1%…

Your tax dollars at work - Thanks NASA!

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NASA is a great program that produces technical wonders including freeze dried food (yuck) and cameras (YAY - including the one in your phone.

In the past few years we've been receiving photos from various space projects and some of them are just so stunning they look fake. But these are fake news photos! This picture of the moon in front of the sun was taken from NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite that sits a million miles away from Earth.

"In 2015, it looked back at its home planet and captured a series of images showing what rock band Pink Floyd refers to as the 'dark side' of the moon (more aptly known as the 'far side' of the moon) as it passed between the camera and Earth. It's an almost startling perspective from a satellite that has a primary mission of monitoring solar winds."
Here's one reminiscent of All Hallows Eve- the sun looks like an evil Jack-O-Lantern. This picture was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, whi…

April's Fool

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Did you ever wonder how April Fools Day came about? Did you think it was some Hallmark holiday, except they forgot to make the cards (April Fools). In reality, it is a very ancient tradition which even the Romans celebrated and they borrowed it from the Greeks.

Here's one of the accepted reasons for April Fools in the western world. The move from the Julian to the Georgian calendar - the what to the what you ask? We don't have enough space to devote to the change in calendars, but suffice to say that New Year's used to be celebrated in March and when we switched to the Georgian calendar it was moved to January 1. But there were the detractors who refused to celebrate New Year's in January. These people were made fun of as Fools, thus the spring day was created just for them.

Well, that's just one theory.

April Fools Day can be seen as a traditional spring festival celebrated in many cultures and taking many different forms, from our April Fools Day to the Hindu &qu…

Academia's Dirty Little Secret

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Do you still want to get a Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate in order to become a professor? Think again. Not only does it take a lot of time and resources, and while money may not be everything, you most likely will find yourself living in poverty, That's right, not poor, or lower middle class, but living in actual poverty.
Here's academia's dirty little secret.
Those professors that you respect and admire (hopefully), and who spend hours planning, grading, and teaching your classes, are most likely part-timers. Over half of all college instructors today are adjuncts. That means that they are not entitled to full-time pay or benefits even though many of them teach four, five, six, or even seven classes a semester in order to make a decent salary. 
Do you have any idea how much time it takes to teach five courses? Let's think about it. You need to get to those courses, which may be at one, two, or even three different campuses. You need to prep for those cou…

Fast learning artificial intelligence

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One of the things that have kept some experts from freaking out about Skynet and the takeover of human existence by artificial intelligence is that AI takes ten times longer to learn than humans. Well that is until now.

Google's Deep Mind just created an AI that learns at about the same pace as humans.
"If you’re unfamiliar with how deep learning works, it uses layers of neural networks to locate trends or patterns in data. If one layer identifies a pattern, that information will be sent to the next layer. This process continues until all the information is collected." The new way of AI thinking imitates the way human and animals learn, "replicating what happens in the prefrontal cortex and then, as a backup, in the hippocampus."

But not to worry, no AI has reached a true human level of thinking, at least not yet.

Robotics may soon take over all of our jobs, but "as AI gets better at learning, it can be taught more and more ways to improve our lives."…

Should we resurrect extinct species?

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Harvard says it's two years away from cloning a woolly mammoth. But maybe the question, should be, "Should we resurrect extinct species?"
"Advocates, like Vanessa Adams from the University of Queensland, hope that this resurrection will be beneficial not only for extinct species, but also for modern species and our environment. Adams studies how applying economic concepts, like bringing back an extinct animal that people would pay to see, can increase the effectiveness of on-ground conservation action, like raise money that can be used to conserve other endangered animals." But there are detractors. If we decide to bring back dinosaurs, mammoths, and dodos what will that do for animals currently on the endangered species list. Will we just forget about them because of the novelty of these "new" animals? Conservation budgets are already stretched pretty thin.
"In modeling the reintroduction of some recently extinct species, the scientists discover…

Teamwork according to Google

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Google has five tips for effective teamwork as discovered by their People Operation's Group. They asked 200 people in their Project Aristotle a series of questions hoping to figure out the proper mix of tech nerds to physicists to scholars to come up the proper ingredients for the perfect team.

But what they found was not what they expected. It wasn't the mix of PhDs that made a good team, but how they worked together. Is it just me but doesn't that seem obvious?

So what are Google's five keys to a successful group:

1. Psychological Safety. Are you free to safely take risks in your group or will you be ostracized or punished. Hopefully, your teammates are supportive and don't see risk takers as ignorant or disruptive.

2. Dependability. Anybody who has done a school project knows exactly what this means.

3. Structure and clarity. Does the group get the assignment (task), have a plan to accomplish the assignment, and will it be successful? If you can answer "yes&q…

Student Loan Forgiveness

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There is a lot of confusion about student loan forgiveness, so let's try to clear things up a bit.

In 2014, 37 million Americans had student loan debt that averaged $23,200. Depending on where you live and where you go to school your student loan debt may be larger - a lot larger.

I bet most college students are aware of student loan forgiveness programs, but they probably have no idea how they work.

Over at Student Loan Hero, Eric Roseberg has outlined the basics of student loan forgiveness - and it's something to think about.

Here's some of the basics (disclaimer: this stuff changes all the time, so stay caught up with new or revised forgiveness plans):

Student forgiveness plans apply mainly to federal student loans (Perkins loans are another matter), so all those loans you took out with Wells Fargo will NEVER qualify for forgiveness. Most banks are private institutions out to make money, so avoid taking a loan with them at all costs.

Federal loans for certain kinds of …

The Superman Explained

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This blog usually talks about DC's Superman, but this time let's talk about Nietzche's Übermensch, aka Superman.

What? Yes, you are supposed to take philosophy somewhere along your college academic path, and, in the words of Monty Python, "Now for something completely different . .  ."


Friedrich Nietzche is not examining physical strength (like the DC character), but the mind of the superman and claims that we can't possibly be the final product of evolution. So what might the man of the future be like? 
Nietzche felt supermen would make their own values, be independently minded, they might need to hurt people in the name of great things, selfish, reform men towards pagan values, not resentful, hard to understand, lonely, gentle towards the weak, sexually wicked, and all those characteristics were needed to lead mankind towards salvation through culture.
Who would you be mentally if you could be the "super" version of yourself?

100 Years of Progress

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Peter Diamandes writes a few fun facts about what life was like in 1917 compared with what life is like today. Here's a sampling:

1. World Literacy Rates
     - 1917: The world literacy rate was only 23%.
     - Today: Depending on estimates, the world literacy rate today is 86.1%.

2. Travel Time
     - 1917: It took 5 days to get from London to New York; 3.5 months to travel from London to Australia.
     - Today: A nonstop flight gets you from London to New York in a little over 8 hours, and you can fly from London to Australia in about a day, with just one stop.

3. Average Price of a U.S. House
     - 1917: The average price of a U.S. house was $5,000. ($111,584.29 when adjusted for inflation)
     - Today: As of 2010, the average price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $272,900.

4. Average Price of a Car in the U.S.
     - 1917: The average price of a car in the U.S. was $400 ($8,926.74 when adjusted for inflation)
     - Today: The average car price in the U.S. was $34,968 a…

The First Futurist

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Leonardo da Vinci thought about some really cool machines, which he recorded in a number of journals. From flying machines and war machines to water and land machines he was so far ahead of his time that many of his inventions would not be built until the 20th century.

Remember, Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 and died in 1519, so he was inventing things some 500 years before they could ever be built.

So let's take a look at how he saw the future, shall we?

da Vinci saw a ornithopter in our future which looks a lot like those early Wright Brothers planes that flew overhead in the late 19th century.

He envisioned the aerial screw or helicopter which wouldn't be built until the 20th century. He based his designs on the flight of bats and birds.

The tank wouldn't get here until the beginning of World War I in the early 20th century.

What da Vinci called a 33- barreled organ, or what we call a machine gun, arrived during the U.S. civil war and made gangster movies worth wa…