Earth and Moon have the same water

The earth and moon have the same water. This has implications for how we think not only the two formed but the solar system itself formed. One possible explanation involves Jupiter making a trip into the inner solar system. _Scientific American_ has [the story](

Educational Inequalities

The New York Times has published a commentary about the increasing inequality in the American education system, starting from pre-school and running through university. The piece doesn’t quite strike me as lining everything up as much as I would like. That is, the commentary consists of a series of statistics and tableaus that, more than anything, sketch out various dimensions of inequality, but I could not, by the end, quite pull it altogether. I think the consensus is in that public funding of education has faced a perfectly awful set of convergences: first, the de-funding of education both through strategic moves by conservatives as well as through economic downturns; second, the imposition of a vast array of unfunded mandates which go hand-in-hand with, third, the rise of a management class in education that is more invested in “assessments” and “outcomes” than in anything called “teaching.” Thus, what money still flows into education is increasingly siphoned off into a bureaucracy that spends little actual time with students but is more focused on “keeping teachers in line” which seems to suit the mood of at least some part of the public. (Yup, like education’s ills are all due to mostly average to under-paid people whose ambition in life is to help kids the way their teachers helped them. Terrible thing, cycles of virtue.)

What [Strauss’ commentary][nyt] does well, however, is to capture the complexity of the situation. The fact is, these kinds of situations, products of a large, complex democracy, have a lot of moving parts. (American agriculture and the farm bill also spring to mind as having *wayyy* more moving parts than you might think.) I don’t pretend even to begin to have anything more than a limited understanding, as revealed above.


Encrypting Email

If anyone is wondering how to make your email a bit safer from the variety of prying eyes that have turned up recently, I would like to recommend this [basic write-up at Ars Technica][ars]. The overview is good, but the article gets a bit lost when it comes to narrating the procedures involved.

Unfortunately, since encryption really requires an investment by both the transmitter and the receiver, I don’t see it gaining much traction until it becomes dead simple and baked into things like mail applications. Those who use services that are not free may get this sooner than those who rely upon advertising-supported services. After all, if Google (or Hotmail or whomever) can’t data mine you, then they can’t sell you. (And, hey, if you think I’m being snooty here, I’m not. I also rely on GMail for some chunk of my email infrastructure — if anyone can recommend a reasonably-priced IMAP mail provider, I would gladly try it out.)


Louisiana’s Matrixed Future

I once had a successful business person tell me that whenever you saw a matrix, you knew the situation was dire. It’s not that this person wasn’t interested in complexity; he just honestly felt that business matrices were almost never about thinking. It looks like Louisiana has a matrix, and it looks like this:

First Louisiana Matrix

*Click to embiggen, if you like.*

There is also an accompanying brochure for the *Fostering Innovation through Research and Science in Louisiana* initiative (program?). It shortens to: *FIRST Louisiana*. It has some ties to Louisiana’s “blue ocean” initiative, which reads like the same thing every other state is pursuing — thus turning the waters red — and so I guess this complement makes sense in that regard.

Subject: 2+2+2=7 !!!

Teacher: If I gave you 2 cats and another 2 cats and another 2, how many will you have?

Johnny: Seven, Sir.

Teacher: No, listen carefully.

If I gave you 2 cats, and another 2 cats and another 2, how many will you have?

Johnny: Seven.

Teacher: Let me put it to you differently.

If I gave you 2 apples, and another 2 apples and another 2, how many will you have?

Johnny: Six.

Teacher: Good. Now if I gave you 2 cats, and another 2 cats and another 2, how many will you have?

Johnny: Seven!!!

A very angry Teacher: Where in the hell do you get seven from?!?!?

A very angry Johnny: Because, I’ve already got a freakin’ cat!!!

A Little PMI

A little *pointwise mutual information* goes a long way, as [Burr Settles makes clear][] in his discussion of the terms *geek* and *nerd*. How does he distinguish between the noun that is also a verb (something he doesn’t really discuss and I would, hmm, kinda geek out on)? He concludes:

> In broad strokes, it seems to me that geeky words are more about stuff (e.g., “#stuff”), while nerdy words are more about ideas (e.g., “hypothesis”). Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas. Of course, geeks can collect ideas and nerds play with stuff, too. Plus, they aren’t two distinct personalities as much as different aspects of personality.

But you gotta really check out the graph. It’s really pretty astonishing.

[Burr Settles makes clear]:


Having read the [Wired article about MapBox][w], I tried my hand at making a map using the web UI. It requires some planning and some patience, but I can see some utility. I set out to make a map of all the crawfish boat makers, but I need the lat/long coordinates to place markers. (I’ll have to dig those numbers up.) In the mean time, here’s my map of the Louisiana prairies:


Day One

First day of the big push to finish _The Makers of Things_ (also known as “the boat book” to many). 200 words. Not as much as I would like, but I got through two texts that I wanted to examine for possible use in the book: Meli’s _Thinking with Objects_ and Lloyd’s _Cognitive Variations_.

Two Minutes

When Yung-Hsing and I were avid NBA watchers, following our beloved Pacers of old, we used to love to cry out “Two minutes! Two minutes!” just the way the announcer at Market Arena did. [James Clear has a nice post][] on Quora about just how much you can get done in two minutes. Mostly, it comes down to the idea that you can start just about anything in two minutes and that thinking of simply getting started is a nice way to lower the threshold to larger projects or changes you want to make. Here are some Clear’s examples:

> **Want to become a better writer?** Just write one sentence (2–Minute Rule), and you’ll often find yourself writing for an hour.
> **Want to eat healthier?** Just eat one piece of fruit (2–Minute Rule), and you’ll often find yourself inspired to make a healthy salad as well.
> **Want to make reading a habit?** Just read the first page of a new book (2–Minute Rule), and before you know it, the first three chapters have flown by.
> **Want to run three times a week?** Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, just get your running shoes on and get out the door (2–Minute Rule), and you’ll end up putting mileage on your legs instead of popcorn in your stomach.

[James Clear has a nice post]: