Archive for July, 2010

Copy homework? Be a business major!

July 11, 2010

Homework is important in academia. It is how teachers get their students to become familiar with the kinds of problems of the subject and practice solving them. A study done at MIT used empirical evidence to show that students who do their homework are more likely to do well in their classes. The study also identified who was copying the answers to homework problems rather than doing the work. They, of course, didn’t do so well in the classes where they copied the answers. Interestingly, these homework copiers were much more likely to seek a degree in business.

I laughed at that, but then I began to realize it makes some sense and explains a few things.


Off with the mosquitoes, on with the gas mask

July 10, 2010

I started looking to alternatives to DEET since I get a mild rash where I apply it if I’m not careful to apply very little. I don’t even use a very concentrated formula, just 23%. Some research shows it’s a bit toxic, so I’d rather not buy more of it.

One alternative is a clip-on product from OFF!. It has nothing to apply to skin and uses a fan, so it is obviously distributing an airborne chemical that repels mosquitoes. The chemical is metofluthrin, which I know nothing about. Presumably, the product will work best when the vapors it puts out surround the person it is supposed to protect.

There is one catch: the package clearly warns the user not to inhale the vapor as it can have negative effects on the nervous system. If you’re going to use it, you might want a gas mask, too.

Urgent Message When Flashing

July 7, 2010

Here is a sign on I-95:


It reads: Highway Advisory Radio, 1630 AM, urgent message when flashing. Note how there is nothing by the sign or on it that can flash. This leads me to conclude that the building in the background is a strip club that provides a public service on the side.

Bring jobs back to the USA

July 2, 2010

I’ve been bothered for the past eight years or so by US companies moving existing jobs to or creating new ones abroad. Places where people aren’t paid as much. I have mentioned to family and friends how I think the government should do something to make the practice more expensive, but I never got around to writing a good essay on the matter.

Andy Grove has written a very nice essay. He focuses on why such action should be taken, and I think he makes a very compelling case.

While he does consider the negative effects, he does not consider where those effects will leave us if we keep finding other countries to do our work. We’ve moved a lot of manufacturing jobs to China. We’ve been moving engineering jobs abroad. Pretty soon, all we’ll have left are upper management jobs, and it’ll eventually make sense to move those, too. Of course, we’ve already given away how to engineer and build all the cool stuff, so new companies in far away lands are competing with companies that started here. On this path, the US eventually won’t be very relevant when it comes to hi-tech, or the jobs that go with it.

The only reason it won’t get that bad is that the process will lower the standard of living in the US far enough that we’ll be the cheap ones to employ. I think John Oliver already welcomed the US to the ranks of the third world. Free trade is not worth letting that happen.

The solution will require the government to hurt corporation’s short-term profits in favor of brining jobs back to the US. It is a long-term win for the US and its corporations. A trade war might even help rebuild our economy, much unlike the other wars the US is involved in.

False Steps

The Space Race as it might have been

You Control The Action!

High Frontier

the space colony simulation game

Simple Climate

Straightforwardly explaining climate change, so you can read, react and then get on with your life.