Davos Newbies Home

Science woes 

Via Universal Rule I came across physics professor Jonathan Katz’s lucid account of why you shouldn’t become a scientist. “The first thing for any young person (which means anyone who does not have a permanent job in science) to do is to pursue another career. This will spare you the misery of disappointed expectations. Young Americans have generally woken up to the bad prospects and absence of a reasonable middle class career path in science and are deserting it. If you haven’t yet, then join them. Leave graduate school to people from India and China, for whom the prospects at home are even worse. I have known more people whose lives have been ruined by getting a Ph.D. in physics than by drugs.”

What struck me was how much Katz’s analysis varies from the view from Britain. Over here, the US is seen as a land of plenty to which Britain’s science community can only dream of aspiring.

The bloggers song  

I’ll guess this is the first time Dave Winer has ever been in a lyric. A very funny and rather professional song about blogging: “Blank page, nothin’ to say, just pictures of my cats today. Thought about the war a bunch, now let me tell you what I had for lunch.”

And jingo was his name-o 

“It’s not that easy to be a jingoist in the era of globalization.” Floyd Norris makes some nice points out of the ridiculous story of French’s Mustard protesting that it isn’t French (it’s actually British).

The real enemy 

Richard Gayle: “I believe the real enemy is not someone who disagrees with me. It is anyone who tries to hamper the path I feel that civilization is now traveling. Diversity of opinions and viewpoints. Open communication. Speedy transmission of information. Rapid creation of social networks. Adaptive communities. Bottom-up rather than top-down approaches to problem solving. Emergent behaviors. These are tools that will hurry us along the path we are heading. I believe that just as these principles cut across political lines and economic principles, civilization’s enemies will be found on both sides of the political spectrum and in different economic strata.”

PowerPoint corrupts absolutely  

The non pareil Edward Tufte dissects a Boeing PowerPoint slide on the Columbia disaster. “Some tables are difficult to read because of the grid prisons surrounding the entries in the spreadsheet, and it is difficult to make comparisons of numbers across the table. Bullets lists are used throughout, with up to 5 levels of hierarchy on a single page of 10 or 12 lines. Consequently the reasoning is broken up into stupefying fragments both within and between the many slides.”

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