Saturday, September 16, 2006

This Week's Recommended Reading #18

From Ash:

It's a fun, eclectic list this week – informative and enjoyable articles you'll want to mention at the watercooler.


Okay, one wonk-y one before we get to the fun stuff: the report that should have gotten a lot of coverage, only received a bit, as far as I could tell. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development issued a comparative study of education, and its effects, of its 16-member nations. Turns out that it's an international phenomenon – secondary school drop-outs are much less likely to find work (56% are unemployed), and half of those who do find work earn about half as much as everyone else. Interestingly, the US is one of the countries where education has the most dramatic impact on your economic gain – the income disparity isn't as great elsewhere. (By the way, the link I've provided takes you to a study home page, from there, there are press releases, summaries, etc.)

The New York Times had this piece on buying students' papers on line, specifically to determine if the papers are any good. Basically, they decided they were terrible. It's an interesting analysis, but I wish they'd made more of a point about how the use of papers is plagarism, or had tried to actually track down the people who run these companies, to see what sort of justification they have for doing this.

The Least Recorded Society In History . . . Could Be Us?

This is one that should resonate with anyone who did a software upgrade and found they couldn't open old documents anymore.

The LA Times has an article that should fascinate and horrify both writers and historians alike. In it, they explore how the current goal of "a paperless" society may actually mean that 1,000 years from now, there were be less records of our society than those like the ancient Greeks. Why, because the Greeks used hard copy. All you have to do is learn the language to read it. We use software and hardware that even we consider obsolete the second it's out on a store shelf: historians of the future haven't got a chance. Haven't I always said, "I like paper."? Okay, you don't know that, but I have said it. Now, I have a reason why.

Cross-cultural Immigration Issues

If you are interested in any sort of cross-cultural considerations of American society, you should read this LAT piece, about how Somalian immigrants receive a crash-course in American life. Everything from history to the all-important skill of turning on a light switch. Really. You'll see the life of an immigrant – and your life, probably – in a new way.

Dog Lovers Won't Like These But You Should Read Them Anyway

According to the AP, Saudi Arabia has now banned dog and cat sales, because they are supposedly unclean animals not much better than vermin, and more importantly, the Prophet said so. But then there are the confused Islamic scholars who are not really sure what this is really about since they remind us that Mohammed did hate dogs, but he loved cats. (Actually, one of my favorite cat legends – While Mohammed was sitting, a cat fell asleep on his robe sleeve, so he cut the sleeve rather than disturb the cat.) Really, how can you not read an article with quotes like this: ". . . what's the point of dragging a dog behind you? . . . . This is blind emulation of the infidels."

And lest you think it's just the Saudis who are after dogs, there's an intriguing piece from the Los Angeles Times. In this one, almost 1,000 years ago, a Chinese emperor was furious that a town and its people had a name almost like his. So he forced the entire town to take on a new name, that's a homonym for "dog." 1,000 years later, they've had enough of the jokes and want their name changed back.

He's probably already found someone by now but . . .

FYI, Stephen Hawking is looking for a grad student to hire. Seriously.


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7:13 AM  

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