Thursday, June 27, 2002
Be careful in how you interpret this study-- its findings are broadly similar to the results of this other study (that gave birth to my PhD project).

The Register rightly points out that it could be that people with higher IQs are drawn to music. What bothers me is that I've already seen journalists and webloggers on the Internet interpret the music study as meaning that learning how to play music causes a higher IQ. That study does nothing of the sort.

Even the London cabbie study doesn't quite say that-- it mere corrolates the time spent doing The Knowledge with the size of the enlarged hippocampus. Again, not causality.


Sunday, June 23, 2002
When I started reading (and listening to) these books, my friends looked on in horror. But now, 2 years on, it seems that they've become such a cultural touchstone for the Wal-Mart crowd (and the USA at large) that Time has written an article about the new eschatology.

Keep in mind that they're some of the most flaccid, crudely written books ever, but they are phenomenally popular. And although popular does not equal good, it does equal cultural moment.

And yes, I've read nine of them. The new one isn't out yet in the UK...


Thursday, June 20, 2002
Rely on the web to provide a little comic relief to a pretty ridiculous day. B3ta.com and BadPhotoShoppery.com have lots of junk, but just enough images that make me laugh out loud.


Thursday, June 13, 2002
An article in the Economist this week discusses the problems that inhere in attempts to increase uptake of higher education. It contains this quote, which I think just about sums up the entire article: 'The increase in numbers appears to have reduced the average quality of a university education.' Now, there's no indication of what metrics were used to gauge this 'dip' in quality, nor what they mean by 'quality' to begin with.

Spurious, probably.

What I find most upsetting is the article's Cassandra-like wail that we're stealing good people from primary and secondary education in order to have enough people to teach at universities and colleges. Has nobody let the Economist know about the glut of PhDs that's been plaguing the Westernised world for the past 15 years? It's so bad now that for one full-time position at a community college in the US, a colleague of mine had to read through close to 200 applications! Most of them were PhDs. If the Economist (a magazine that I usually respect quite a bit) wants to rely on facile supply-demand arguments to defend its clearly threatened elitist posturing, that's fine. Just hire someone to do some fact checking first, please.


Thursday, June 06, 2002
Thank God this is not my mother. Exhibits A, B, and C. (You'll need Real Player to hear these)


Everything is available, anytime, anywhere.

It's one of the strange, slightly disturbing things about living in a world like this, in a time like this, that I can walk down the street and pull out my Archos 20 GB Jukebox and listen to any CD I've ever purchased, or if I feel more like doing something more edifying, I can listen to an audiobook that I've downloaded (Now playing...). With my Palm Pilot, laptop, and mobile phone added to the equation, my life is almost entirely portable.

While I love the easy access to the data that helps constitute my daily life, I find this compression disconcerting. I'm not making nostalgic appeals to some Neil Postman-ish past that never existed; I just find that I don't associate place and task anymore. I can imagine myself doing work just about anywhere I am (teaching an online class contributes to this), and as a result, I think I feel guilty about not working more.

Not to say that I'd give up my info-shell... I like having my Rosemary Clooney around when I need her.














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