In silico veritas.

A slice of the ‘net, vol. 1

Posted: December 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Politics, Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Here are a few things that have piqued my interest of late.

How Perception of Time Relates to Decision-Making

This lecture by Professor Philip Zimbardo, he of the infamous Stanford prison experiment, is absolutely fascinating. The video is well worth the ten minutes of your time it’ll take. I couldn’t help but think of my own time-perception leanings — I’m past-positive and present-hedonistic, primarily — as well as nod in agreement/self-recognition in the segment about how education must change in the face of an increasingly digitalized generation. What’s your perception of time, and how has it affected the way you live your life?

Saudi Arabia’s Creeping Liberalization

Or so we can hope. It’s actually kind of exciting to see this move forward, as I wrote briefly about the unveiling three years ago of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (mentioned in the article). The article does an excellent job of portraying Saudi Arabia as on a precipice of sorts — either this newest liberalization initiative will succeed and open the door for future efforts, or it could backfire horrifically and give broad political cover for the religious hardliners in the political establishment.

Want a Job? Give Yourself One

The New York Times examines a growing trend, and one I might very well be joining myself: recent college grads starting up their own businesses rather than shopping their résumés around hundreds of times to no avail.

Read the rest of this entry »

What would you cut?

Posted: November 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

This interactive budget deficit feature from the New York Times has been making the rounds in conjunction with multiple élite perspectives on the recently-announced Simpson-Bowles plan. Reuters’ Felix Salmon criticized the tool for what he saw as artificially limiting various budget and tax options. My own deficit-busting plan is here:

While I’m no budgetary expert — and as such am in little position to pass judgment on the validity of Salmon’s criticisms of the NYT’s budget tool — I found it an informative experience. And I think this is where Salmon’s criticisms miss their mark. While Atlantic readers, or avid NYT or Reuters readers, might have identified some of the same deficiencies as Salmon brings up and indeed might even sympathize with them, the NYT’s tool is still factually correct in its summarization of the major details and probable effects of various budgetary and taxation options. That’s good enough for 98% of people using this tool.

I suspect that that was the entire point: to move the deficit debate from the realm of the abstract, even for the reasonably well-informed, into a concrete and manipulable entity in order to move the public discourse onwards and upwards. The built-in Twitter integration is key in spreading the deficit-busting fun from one predisposed policy wonk to his friends and family, and on and on from there until suddenly average Americans are talking seriously about previously arcane concepts like capping Medicare growth to 1% above GDP growth starting in 2013. That can only be a good thing.