The Highs and Low of Educational Achievement

The Awesome: , genius, has written an article on rule-set evolution that has the world talking. Dr. Von, Jeff Vail, John Robb, Rick Klau, and ZenPundit discuss Understanding Evolved Strategies for System-Wide Coordination on Noisy Environments. Here’s a taste:

Since it is harder to determine the majority state for initial conditions with an approximately equal number of 1’s and 0’s, the initial conditions are chosen with some with bias. They are distributed evenly from an initial condition of all 1’s to an initial condition of all 0’s. There are always the same number of initial conditions with a majority of 1’s as there are with a majority of 0’s.

Every time step the rule is tested for convergence by checking the next time step without noise, to see if all units are in the same state. If the system has reached a consensus, and remains so in the next time step, then the updating is halted. If it has converged to the correct state for that initial condition, it is counted as a success. If no consensus is reached after 2N time steps, it is assumed to have failed on that initial condition.

The best part? It was written while Alex was in high school.

Scroll down for a low…

On the other side of honor, I came across a particularly glaring example of plagiarism today. Worse, it was structured in such a way that the downstream effects could have been exceptionally negative had I not caught it in time. Plagiarism, which in this case involved page after page of verbatim copying from Wikipedia, is a serious offense. That is was so poorly done just adds insult to injury.

If the offending portion

A weblog is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles, which are normally in reverse chronological order. Although most early weblogs were manually updated, tools to automate the maintenance of such sites made them accessible to a much larger population, and the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of “blogging.” Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software on regular web hosting services.

Like other media, blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.

A blog has certain attributes that distinguish it from a standard web page. It allows for easy creation of new pages: new data are entered into a simple form (usually with the title, the category, and the body of the article) and then submitted. Automated templates take care of adding the article to the home page, creating the new full article page (Permalink), and adding the article to the appropriate date-based or category-based archive. It allows for easy filtering of content for various presentations: by date, category, author, or other attributes. It allows the administrator to invite and add other authors, whose permission and access are easily managed.
Blogs are different from forums or newsgroups. Only the author or authoring group can create new subjects for discussion on a blog. A network of blogs can function like a forum in that every entity in the blog network can create subjects of their class. Such networks require interlinking to function, so a group blog with multiple people holding posting rights is now becoming more common. Even where others post to a blog, the blog owners or editors will initiate and frame discussion, manipulating the situation to their specification.

While straight text and hyperlinks dominate, some blogs emphasize images (such as webcomics and photoblogs) or videos (videoblogging). Some textual blogs link to audio files (podcasting). A notable niche is the MP3 blog, which specializes in posting music from specific genres. New words have been coined for many of these content-oriented blogs, such as “moblog” (for “mobile blog”).

Importance of Blogging
The first broadly popular American blogs emerged in 2001: Andrew Sullivan’s, Ron Gunzburger’s, Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire and Jerome Armstrong’s MyDD. They were all blogging primarily on politics.
The importance of the blogging community, and its relationship to larger society, gained rapidly increasing importance. Established schools of journalism began researching blogging and noting the differences between journalism and blogging. This gave greater credibility to blogs as a medium of news dissemination. Though often seen as partisan gossips, bloggers sometimes lead the way in bringing key information to the public light. This puts the mainstream media in the unusual position of reacting to news that bloggers generate.

Since 2003, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping, and spinning news stories. The Iraq war saw both left-wing and right-wing bloggers taking measured and passionate points of view that did not reflect the traditional left-right divide.

Blogging to express opinions on war and other issues by established politicians and political candidates, such as Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, cemented blogs’ role as a news source. Meanwhile, an increasing number of experts blogged, making blogs a source of in-depth analysis. For example, J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, writes a popular blog, Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal. It covers political, technical, and economic issues, as well as criticism of their coverage in the media.

In 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services, and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Even politicians not actively campaigning began to blog to bond with constituents.

Many bloggers differentiate themselves from the mainstream media, while others are members of that media working through a different channel. Some institutions see blogging as a means of “getting around the filter” and pushing messages directly to the public. Some critics worry that bloggers respect neither copyright nor the role of the mass media in presenting society with credible news.

Bloggers’ credibility problem, however, can be an advantage for the bloggers and for the mainstream journalists who take an interest in them. News organizations are sometimes reluctant to tell stories that will upset important people. But when bloggers or activists make sensational claims, then they become stories themselves, and journalists can use them as cover for reporting the underlying scandals.

seems really, really close to this Wikipedia article, that’s because it is.

Mexico Decriminalizes Marijuana. Good.

Mexico to Decriminalize Pot, Cocaine, and Heroin,” by Noel Randewich, Reuters, 29 April 2006,

President Fox, of the Mexican United States, isn’t only repealing almost criminal laws that destroy families

Possessing marijuana, cocaine and even heroin will no longer be a crime in Mexico if they are in small amounts for personal use under new reforms passed by Congress that quickly drew U.S. criticism.

The measure given final passage 53-26 by senators in a late night session on Thursday is aimed at letting police focus on their battle against major drug dealers, and President Vicente Fox is expected to sign it into law.

The Mexican United States: Lands of Freedom

He’s also mimicking Chief Justice John Roberts.

Like John Roberts, who correctly saw no reason why “international law” should decide a nation’s drug policies, Mexico’s policies are likewise being enacted without kowtowing to foreign powers.

The legislation came as a shock to Washington, which counts on Mexico’s support in its war against drug smuggling gangs who move massive quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines through Mexico to U.S. consumers.

“I would say any law that decriminalizes dangerous drugs is not very helpful,” said Judith Bryan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. “Drugs are dangerous. We don’t think it is the appropriate way to go.”

She said U.S. officials were still studying the reforms, under which police will not penalize people for possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of opium, 25 milligrams of heroin or 500 milligrams of cocaine.

Fox has been seen as a loyal ally of the United States in the war on drugs, but the reforms could create new tensions.

A delegation from the U.S. House of Representatives visited Mexico last week and met with senior officials to discuss drug control issues, but was told nothing of the planned legislative changes, said Michelle Gress, a House subcommittee counsel who was part of the visiting team. “We were not informed,” she said.

Unfortunatley, it is on drug policies where our federal government acts most profoundly against its Constitution. Our Constitution guarantees individual rights and states rights, but the federal government runs over both in order to enforce “the one right way” over our fifty United States.

This isn’t just anti-federalist. It’s against our long term interests, too, by making territorially expansion more difficult and hampering the Continental adoption of the English language.

Instead, our central government is wrapped up in Health Mullahism, going the wrong way on free market medications.

Mexico City gets freedom. Does Washingon?

Republican Senators Understand Barnett’s "Flows"

Grand strategist Thomas PM Barnett defines four “flows” of the contemporary world

(1) the movement of people from the Gap to the Core;
(2) the movement of energy from the Gap to the New Core;
(3) the movement of money from the Old Core to the New Core;
(4) the exporting of security that only America can provide to the Gap

Now the Republican Senate identifies two more

(5) the movement of clean air from the New Core to the Old Core
(6) the movement of terrorism from the Gap to the Core

and is about to speed up one, and decrease the other

Barnett’s third flow, as well as the two tdaxp flows, are on display in a Senate Republican proposal

Most American taxpayers would get $100 rebate checks to offset the pain of higher pump prices for gasoline, under an amendment Senate Republicans hope to bring to a vote soon.

However, the GOP energy package may face tough sledding because it also includes a controversial proposal to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil exploration, which most Democrats and some moderate Republicans oppose.

“Our plan would give taxpayers a hundred dollar gas tax holiday rebate check to help ease the pain that they’re feeling at the pump,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced Thursday.

This is an amazingly good idea.

  • It will make the New Core’s (Argentina, China, etc) rise easier, by not making them compete with the Old Core for energy sources that the Old Core doesn’t need.
  • It sets an environmental standard that the people of the New Core will see and demand for themselves.
  • It prevents the worst of the Gap, which invariably comes from oil-producing states, from destabilizing the Core

The $100 rebate for expensive gas is a great idea because it paves the way for a geogreen gas tax. As I proposed last year, and reiterated again this week, we need a high tax on gasoline that is rebated in direct payments of heads of households. This has the benefit of discouraging gasoline consumption, while not taking discretionary spending dollars away from average Americans.

In particular, this plan is much better than the insane Democrat Party alternative which would suspend the gas tax. At a moment when the American people are most aware of the dangers of dependency on foreign oil, the Democrats want to encourage that dependency by encouraging oil consumption.

The Democrats’ plan is as terrible as it is hypocritical, for a party that supposedly cares about the environment.

So, in conclusion, tdaxp applauds the Republican Senates for proposing this first step towards a Barnettian, geogreen solution to our oil woes. And tdaxp condemns the Democrats who would harm our environment, and our national security, by supercharging oil consumption.

Think geostrategy. Think environmentalism. Think “geogreen.” And think Republican.

The Abortion of Tolerable European Islam

Chirol’s recent three part series on the Third World in the United States (I,II, and III) warn us of the dangers of importing dysfunctional cultures to the developed world. “Connectivity” is not the answer to cultures that been destroyed. Especially if the new host culture is its inflexible.

Germans in a Brothel
(No Blasphemous Imagery, Inshallah!)

Which is why the Islamization of Europe is idiotic.

I’m sympathetic towards immigration, and I have traditionally supported Turkey-in-Europe. But all over Europe, we see violent resistance by Muslim immigrants (and their descendants) combined with insane government actions.

The application of terrorism to the mundane is now a Muslim-European tradition. Not only was Theo van Gogh murdered for speech that did not pass the Islamist test, now his replacement has been attacked, too. And a brothel has been threatened by anti cartoonist Muslim thugs for having the wrong images on their display.

European governments are responding with that mix of heartlessness and counter-productiveness which marked their efforts in the World Wars. The Netherlands wonder if modest Muslim women should be ineligible for the social safety net. And Finland turns on its own, and may arrest cartoonists in an effort to pre-emptively surrender.

Turkey’s marriage to the European Union would have been one of the greatest moves in geopolitical history. But with the inability of Europe to mainstream its Muslim population, it maybe a journey too far.

Keep Gas Prices High Forever

The current high prices for oil and gas gives us a great opportunity. They focus the minds of Americans on the great problems in the world today.

The American People will make great sacrifices to achieve a Goal, but will not tolerate meaningless hardship. The currently high prices are meaningless. They represent nothing more than the fluctuations of supply and demand, instability and war.

President Bush should turn this around. He should announce that gas prices will never come back down: that we will never subsidize Oil-Tyrants again. He should do this with a new federal gas tax, which will floor the price of gas at five dollars per gallon.

This money should not go to the general treasury. Instead, it should be immediately divided evenly given to heads of household as a monthly check. Immediately, this would make those who consume a lot of gas (and thus support the destructive policies of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela) subsidize those who do not so contribute to geopolitical instability. Better, it would encourage the economy to swiftly move to other sources of motor power.

In Praise of Students and Good Teachers

Poor Teaching Quality Deters Students,” by Cyndi White, Daily Nebraskan, 24 April 2006, page 4,

This semester, I’m blessed with two extremely good teachers. Because of these class leaders, who teach Creativity, Talent, & Expertise and Scope & Methods, I can academically write and present much better than before. I owe these two individuals a lot.

Indeed, the knowledge of what such great instructors can do leads me to give this extended quote from UNL’s student newspaper on the effects of bad teachers:

To be quite blunt, with a few exceptions, my classes this semester are pure crap. My projection or displacement or whatever defense mechanism I was obviously displaying didn’t stop there. I began thinking … which is never good for me.

This semester, I’ve found myself wondering if professors actually know how to teach. I realize I’m overstepping my bounds, speaking outside my meager knowledge of anything, but even as a dumb college student, I know what real learning is about, and I haven’t been doing much of it this semester.

I do want, however, to take a moment to acknowledge our, the students’, shortcomings in this entire professor/student exchange.

We’re lazy, apathetic, ask terrible questions, fall asleep in class, come to class starved or just plain don’t come to class at all.

But in my experience and interactions with other students, I’ve come to realize there are two main reasons why we don’t come to class or, if we do, are unengaged: We’re either too hung over from the night before, or we’re just plain bored.

And, honestly, I find it to usually be the latter.

In preparation for this rant, I looked at numerous other college newspapers around the country. It became almost ridiculous how many stories about inept professors came to my immediate attention. Students around the nation are agreeing that while they have great professors, they also have a multitude of terrible professors. And this isn’t even looking at all the professor rating Web sites there are. It seems sad we need so many.

The list of complaints I found, compiled primarily between the Elon Pendulum and the Harvard Crimson, look something like this: The `bad’ professors are boring, read directly from PowerPoint slides, speak in monotone and don’t offer creative assignments.

My observations are similar. In one class, for example, we have readings every night, and in class we discuss those readings. We’re led by the professor, poked and prodded to get to a place he/she wants us to be. Occasionally we get into interesting discussions, but we’re never challenged.

This isn’t meant to suggest that all, or even most, of our professors are bad. As we all know, there are some amazing professors here that believe in us, motivate us and encourage us. One such professor in one of my oversized lecture classes is incredible.

Her lectures are never boring, they’re engaging, and she keeps us laughing. What makes these professors different than the others is their obvious love for teaching and for students.

I’m not so presumptuous and audacious that I believe I can or would ever want to tell professors how to teach. Their judgment is far superior to my own, but maybe students and professors can make a pseudo-contract of sorts. We’ll try to show up to class hung over less, if you try to engage us a little more, at least those of us who care – and I swear we exist.

If I’m going to fight for loans and more scholarships and pay $1,200 per class, along with so many other students, please, help us get a little more bang for our dang buck.

Cyndi isn’t just correct — her column shows the effects of bad teachers.

Students of a bad teacher are likely to rate themselves as less smart than students of a good one. Students learn helplessness, learn not to try, and not to give up.

This does not have to be. Students do great work all of the time, but university classes are not arranged to provoke great work. In spite of contemporary epistemologies such as constructivism, interpretivism, and instrumentalism, too many instructors act as if they have “universal” correct answers. They force students to memorize facts, instead of exploiting the natural desire to work and learn.

Educational style matters, too. Typical classroom instruction is useless. Students leave no smarter than they entered — they’re able to put the right answers to multiple choice questions, and that’s it. Students intituively know this, and sensible minimize the amount of effort they put into classes.

One success story, from today: a class democratically voted to double its workload. Students get to college by having a strong internal locus of control — they are hard workers and enjoy learning. Yet so many professors don’t recognize this. Instead, they treat students like prisoners incapable of learning, and then act surprised when students jump through the minimum number of hoops necessary. Or (the opposite exchange) instructors may not challenge students at all, and then be surprised when students don’t respect their classes.

I take my responsibilities as an instructor seriously. I take educational psychology classes (such as adolescent psychology, creativity, talent, & expertise, and human cognition & instruction to expose myself to better teaching methods, and frankly I find that these classes are more useful in getting across political science concepts (my department of study) than do actual polisci classes.

This raises deeper questions: Why have the Modern University System at all? Field “experts” who teach poorly do little good, as field novices who teach well would be more useful for students. Concepts like tenure protect the Leftist academics class more than they protect open speech Already there are serious calls to restructure science education: now for the rest of undergraduate education, too.

Legalize Prostitution to Prevent a Repeat of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Fiasco

First, the facts:

“Incall(1hr) $300 * special $250*;GFE
Incall(1/2hr) $175
**Additional hours 250

Overnight Companions $1200 *4 hrs*-
$1850 *12 hours*
– $3150 *24 hrs*

Swing Clubs $350 1hr ( $200 per additional hour)

The content of this site does not represent an offer for prostitution.
Please understand that money exchange for escort is for time and companionship only!
Time together may include services such as escorting, modeling, exotic non medical massage, strip performance, fetish or fantasy role play.
No fees or tips will be solicited, quoted, negotiated, considered or collected in exchange for sexual conduct as defined by New Jersey and New York Laws.
Anything else that may occur is a matter of personal choice between two or more consenting adults of legal age, and is not contracted for, nor requested to be contracted for or compensated for in any manner.”
Bunny Hole Entertainment
“New Jersey / New York Female Escorts In and out Call”

Next, the theory:

Some who work for Bunny Hole Entertainment are prositutes. She are convicted criminals. That much is clear. But little else about the Duke Lacrosse Rape case is.

In order to avoid this degree of confusion and similar episodes of sexual revenge among disadvantaged communities, the solution is obvious: legalize prostitution.

The dreams of those on the Right and the Left who would create a New Style of Man, those who (unlike CS Lewis) hate girls dancing, we are stuck with humans and human nature. Humans are not robots born blank, like a naked computer. Rather, as researches like Hibbing and Kurzban, we have built-in computer code that makes us human.

We should not rage at each other for weaknesses, or despise each other for faults. Rather, as God said in Leviticus:

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we are to love one another, while maintaining the concept of government, we should strive to minimize pain while not pretending we can make perfect people. Anti-prostitution laws are thus suspect, not only because they weaken true moral prohibitions, not only because they make criminals out of make criminals out of men and women who commit no violence, not only because they limit the reach of the law by increasing those who are hesitant to go to the law, but because if prostitution is criminal, then more prostitutes will be criminals.

This isn’t just a tautology. , for instance, is a sexual predator. She’s also a prostitute. Because prostitution is unregulated, there’s no quick online database one can bring up to certify that someone isn’t HIV positive, or sexual predator, or even an illegal immigrant (if you care about border security). Such open laws are also likely to crack down on racially motivated witch-hunts.

Nor is there a contradiction between legalized prostitution and religosity. Iraq is one of the most religious states in the world, for instance, yet its free government recently legalized that service industry.

We can pretend that sexualization is a recent phenomenon and will soon go away (which is rather unlikely), or we make laws for humanity as it is.

Let’s hope we choose correctly.

White House Subverts Democratically Elected Government

“Iraq After Jaafari,” by Tony Karon, Time, 20 April 2006,,8599,1185825,00.html (from No More Mister Nice Blog).

This is so bad that it’s almost hilarious.

Ngo Dinh Diem Jean Baptiste
January 3, 1910 – November 2, 1963
President of the Republic of Viet Nam

Because of inaction by his “ally” John Kennedy, the democratically elected President of Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, was murdered in a military coup. The echoes of this would shatter America’s morale in Vietnam. While future Vietnamese Presidents came and went, all remembered that the weak and gimped defense of its friend, Ngo Dinh Diem.

President Bush, in one of his increasingly Kennedyesque moments, may have just sabotaged the Iraq War in the same way:

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari announced Thursday that he would refer his nomination for a second term back to the United Iraqi Alliance, the dominant Shi’ite bloc in the new legislature. That opens the way for the Alliance to select a new candidate and break the deadlock created by the refusal of the Kurdish, Sunni and secular blocs, backed by the U.S., to accept a second Jaafari term.

Sistani may have also been spurred to intervene by ominous talk in Baghdad that a group of secular, once-exiled politicians previously favored by the U.S. were planning to seize power and seek U.S. backing. Former U.S.-appointed Prime Minister Iyad Allawi suggested on Iraqi TV last weekend that Iraqi political leaders, despite being marginalized by the Iraqi electorate, might have to create an extra-constitutional “emergency government.” One of his key allies, acting speaker of parliament Adnan Pachachi, told reporters that such a government would not be based either on the constitution or on the election results — results, he claimed, which didn’t necessarily reflect the true will of the Iraqi people . Such a move would likely provoke a violent Shi’ite reaction, if not full-scale civil war, which the moderate Sistani would be anxious to avoid.

Bush has been trying to marginalize the democratic government of Iraq for months now, and this is a new step. By pushing out Jaafari, who successfully turned the Mahdi Army against al Sadr, Bush moves us even closer to the Terrorists in Iraq and away from the loyalty forces that are the keys to victory.

Threatening our allies with a coup is sickening. Doing so to stop the outcome of a free election is worse. Trusting Bush with Phase IV operations in Iraq has been disastrous.

President Bush’s first term — including beginning our response to the Long War, the liberation of Afghanistan, the liberation of Iraq (including the disbanding of Iraq’s Army) — will go down as one of the greatest in American history. With the sole exceptions of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, Bush’s second term thus far is one of the worst.