Letters from Home
It's My Opinion and It's Very True...
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
- Oscar Wilde
Wolf made this for his brother using 3D Max
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Simple economic theory argues that as you raise the price of something, you'll get a higher supply. If wool fetched $10 a pound, farmers would produce more of it than if it fetched $5. Further, optimal herd mixes are different for maximising mutton production than for wool production, so if the price of wool rises, you'll expect to see a decreased supply of mutton. Simple, really.
So, as part of the women's rights movement, women have been getting ever more equal pay. Not surprisingly, as the price of female labour has increased, the supply has gone up dramatically. Female labour force participation rates rose from 21% in 1900 to 60% in 2000. Given that women make up about 50% of the population, this represents a vast increase in the supply of labour.
Of course, at the same time, this also represents a lot of mothers not staying home with their children. I believe you agree with me that, for a society, this is suboptimum. It shouldn't, however, be surprising - raise the price of female labour in the formal economy, and you'll get more female labour in the formal economy - and less female labour in the informal economy (that is, child-raising).
So, here's the thought. If society would be better off with more stay-at-home moms (and I believe it would) would society be justified in enforcing sex-discrimination in pay scales? For example, in prosecuting businesses that paid women more than 80% of the wage a man in the equivalent job received?
If not, why not? What about justifying it in terms of birth rates and pension fund solvency? Social security goes bankrupt in 40 years, after all. There is a strong correlation between increased labour force participation and decreased birth rates. If we wish to encourage births, we might do so by discouraging female labour force participation (again, via lowered pay scales). Give the government 5 years to finish arguing over the details and enact the laws, another 5 years to have society react, and then 25 for the resulting children to make their way out of university, and we might potentially see a population bulge hitting prime earnings years just after the baby boomers have made maximum demands on the system.
I don't think it's a good idea, but it occurred to me that it was a potential solution to certain problems, and I thought you mind find the idea interesting.
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Please see city-journal.org/html/14_4_reimagining.html for some great buildings.
None will ever be built, I fear, but...wow. Wouldn't it be nice if they were? Honestly, where did this weird fixation on modernist architecture come from? Who told people this was a good idea?! Arg!
*cough* Sorry, I feel better now.
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Thomas de Zengotita’s book (Mediated) sounds quite interesting, and I definitely agree with the sentiments expressed toward today’s culture; however, I would have to wonder: does he believe this has not always been the case?
Throughout history, hero figures have always existed: Jesus, the pope, Napoleon I, et cetera. When de Zengotita says that through the media we have become more full-time actors than real humans, I would be interested in his definition of "real humans" – since the beginning of recorded history, the history books are full of people, and how did those people get into the history books? They were interviewed, or people who knew what happened were interviewed, or people who were good at making up a story were interviewed. Narcissistic human interaction has existed since language.
For the last 2,000 years, humanity has worshipped the Christ. Different cultures may have different ideas of Christ, but for the most part they believed he existed, and believed it so fervently that they were willing to fight wars over it. Some people claim even today that God has spoken to them, or that Jesus will come again. Is this any different from today’s TV heroes? Rather than aspiring to be on Oprah’s talk show, we aspired to get an in with God, and go to heaven.
More recently on the theme of Religion, Jesus apparently was not enough, so the Pope was introduced – an infallible leader of the Catholic Church, a divine figure, considered to be the best humanity had to offer, someone who was in communion with God - also, a figure shut away from the public eye for the most part, which is useful for preserving notions of infallibility. Even people who had never seen the pope worshipped him. At least today we know roughly what our heroes look like.
Napoleon is a good example of when the Media would have been beneficial. When he was making a run for power, he had just suffered a major defeat in Egypt – however he traveled faster than the news, and became powerful enough to discredit it when the news showed up. After he was in power, the French people worshipped Napoleon almost to the point of promoting him to godly status – after all, they promoted him to Emperor quickly enough. They worshipped him so much that when he returned from his exile on the aisle of Elba, even after him being publicly exiled there after a humiliating defeat, he was instated as emperor of France again after simply giving a short speech to the men sent to kill him.
Jesus, in spite of the narcissistic belief of millions that he would come again in their lifetime, has yet to make his second coming, and the pope may as well not exist for all the import he has on day to day life – even in today’s world of visual media, it took serious health problems for the current pope’s picture to make it into a newspaper. Napoleon, for his part, was worshipped in the past, but that’s died out. While he will always be considered one of the "heroes" of the past, more have come in to take others places - there’s only room for so many great historical figures.
See also Reality Is So Passé: The "Flattered Self" Is Chic (in the Information/Technology section) for more reviews of de Zengotita's book.
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I received this spammed email today. Computer generated? Drug-fuelled? Hard to tell...
Most of student's aren't familiar with how boards are run, so can't tell whether having been to China's "better" schools, should develop one's taste in the important sciences, or just fill the space, when such geologies are rendered "unlivable" when a wave hits. That Tsunami was one example, but there's several students still missing. Was it their fault to be unable in vacationing elsewhere?
The financial meltdowns in recent history might have lessened a nation's burden, but also prepared the historian for examining just how such events really signified more than is realised.
As a student of History, there's a need to properly equate one's study to the period in question, and further both significant post meltdown events, while also those from which are documented when, at least, rationalising what's almost impossible to describe.
When one's not there, I'd quickly check whether events can be proven, so seems unlikely in spending more hours on the phone, or rather less in the Lab.
That's what gets me down, and now, when I can't decide which rational to pursue, am more than 78% likely having coffee at Starbucks. It's good enough - at a price, and the handy atmosphere, lends itself well to wall-hangings that the Babylonians didn't get.
Sure, this might be speculation, but when such events take over, then why can't this "preclusion" also?
Seems as if students suffer too much............
I ran across a very interesting quote:
Suddenly, this changed. Now it is as if a steelworker could afford his own blast furnace or rolling mill, an automobile worker his own assembly line. By strict Marxist definitions, capitalism ended sometime in the early 1990s. This is a development that has not received adequate attention.
I hadn't thought abut it in that way before, but I believe it to be accurate.
Check out the weird returned mail message I received!
Interesting - the professor mentioned she lost her purse, but the setup was really weird. She told us that after class last week she stopped to talk to a friend who is also a professor here, and that they were talking about the election, and how they both agreed with each other. Then she said she went to the "little girls room", and drove home, but realized she'd left her purse somewhere when she tried to pay a toll at a booth on the way home.
She described her frantic search, looking in classrooms, restrooms, and trashcans, her talks with the police, et cetera, then when she got home, there was a message from someone who'd found it. She arranged to pick it up, and all her money, credit cards, and notes were there. As she finished telling the story, there was a pause, as the class tried to work out the moral. Finally, the guy that sits next to me spoke up.
"So...what? What's the moral of the story? The girl who found it voted for Bush?" The professor seemed surprised. "No, of course, well, I mean...I just meant that there's some nice people in the world!"
Uh, kay. I mean, I'm glad she got her purse back, but she went way out of her way to make it clear that she'd been talking to another professor who ALSO didn't like Bush. ...and? Weird. (Actually, the way she told us about visiting the toilet before driving home was pretty weird, but vaguely justifiable since that's where she'd left it.) Of course, this is also the professor who randomly told us that she had a friend who had directed a porn movie, for no particular reason. Um, good for you? And also the professor who, after sneezing violently muttered, "Wow! That felt good. Now I feel like a cigarette and a shower." It's really quite traumatizing.
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Well, one midterm down.
Was for my telecoms class. It was actually kind of fun - I haven't had any telecoms courses in a couple of semesters, and it was nice to be reminded of why I'm majoring in this - its easy and interesting. The test was mainly on various forms of multiplexing, mainly T1s, which combine 24 64kb/s channels into a single 1.544Mb/s channel using time division multiplexing. Basically it interleaves time slices of the channels (which might be a phone call, but these days are more likely to be data) to form a pattern (called a frame). Nothing too complex, although when you begin to combine T1s into T3s, and so on it does get more interesting.
For people who understand the topic, and I don't really see why anyone whose taking these classes shouldn't understand it, since it isn't hard, the exam should have been easy, as it was for me. Sadly, for many people in the class (and it's a 400 level class!), it's all a bit mystifying tothem.
I find that a bit sad. It's actually a cool subject, when you can visualise what's going on in your head. For example with a T1, you get a speed of 1.544Mb/s, which means that each bit lasts for 1/1,544,000 seconds, or 647.7 nanoseconds. Since each sample is 8 bits, an entire sample takes up 5.2 microseconds. So, for 5.2 microseconds the T1 transmits a sample from channel 1, the next 5.2 microseconds it transmits a sample from channel 2. After 125 microseconds, it's transmitted an 8 bit sample from each channel (or 192 bits in all), adds a single framing bit to keep things synchronized, and repeats. Those 193 bits are the base unit of T1s, and are called a frame. A frame contains a sample from every channel, and take 125 microseconds to transmit. 125 microseconds goes into 1 second 8,000 times, which means that we can transmit the state of every channel 8,000 times per second. By Nyquists theorem (which Stan mentioned, although I don't know if you recall), you have to sample an analog signal at twice the highest frequency in it if you want to be able to reconstruct it. The telephone system filters your voice so it cuts off everything above 4000Hz (nothing above that can be transmitted by a telephone - one reason some muzak sounds so odd is that high-pitched notes are filtered out.) So Nyquist says we have to sample voices on the telephone system 8,000 times per second - which is precisely the number of samples a T1 can transmit in a second. Convenient, yes? :-)
8 bits in a sample, and 8,000 samples a second, means 64,000 bits per second (64kb/s) per channel. Add the framing bits (there's 1 for every frame, so 8,000 framing bits a second), and we get 64kb/s * 24 channels + 8kb/s = 1.544Mb/s. Or if you prefer, 8 bits per sample, and 24 channels sampled at a time = 8 * 24 = 192 bits. Add 1 framing bit = 193 bits per frame. 8,000 frames per second = 8,000 * 193 = 1.544Mb/s.
Everything fits into one perfectly neat, absolutely tidy little package. In some ways, it reminds me of chemistry, only without the endless special cases and exceptions (there are this many electrons in this shell, except for those elements under these conditions, which means that although this normally bonds to that, it doesn't...).
Sorry for the digression (I'm sure you don't care), but...is that so hard? And we've talked about nothing else for the entire term so far. The professor has talked about it at endless length, the textbook explains it in detail, the professor has handed out slides, we could take a sheet (two sides) of notes into the exam, and 70% of the test was on nothing else. Worse, the rest of the test was VERY closely related. But people will still fail the test.
Oh well. Anyhow, I was a little worried about the test because it was the first bit of assessment in the class, and I didn't know what sort of stuff the professor would ask. Answer: very easy stuff. :-) Even if he grades very strictly, I've got an A, no question. (I think I aced it, but I don't know how picky he'll be about wording.)
Now I just get to hang around the computer labs until 6pm, until Management class. My case is all done (thanks again!), so it'll give me a good chance to work on my technical writing homework due tomorrow.
I'll be glad when this week is over...although I think I said that about each of the last few weeks too. I'll be glad when this semester is over...
Wolf also made this for Cody using 3DS Max
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