Kids are Expensive

KIDS ARE EXPENSIVE: American families will shell out an average of $233,610 from birth through age 17 — or about $13,000 a year. The ballooning price tag, a 3% increase, comes at a time when day-care costs can exceed university tuitions and homes prices have skyrocketed to record highs. (Washington Post)

  • Families in urban areas in the Northeast, such as New York and Boston, were likely to pay even more — an average of $253,770, or roughly $14,000 a year — because of higher housing and child-care costs.
  • Lower-income families are likely to spend $212,300 per child through age 17, while higher-income families will spend more than double that, or about $454,770.
  • Families in rural areas, meanwhile, are likely to spend 24% less than their counterparts in urban areas in the Northeast.

Credit: Washington Post

PERSONALIZED LEARNING FOR 6-12 GRADES: A nationwide pilot program, one that could indicate just how deeply and how quickly the personalized-learning trend will penetrate the average classroom. Indeed, despite the buzz around personalized learning, there’s no simple recipe for success, and the common ingredients — such as adaptive-learning technology and student control over learning — can backfire if poorly implemented. (Wired)

  • One early November afternoon in an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, a class of ninth-graders sat at computers for a 45-minute session of personalized learning time. Many watched instructional videos or worked with adaptive-learning software that adjusted lessons based on each student’s proficiency. Other than a few murmured conversations and the clicking of keyboards, the only sound was mellow acoustic guitar music played on their teacher’s laptop.
  • By offloading some rote learning to a computer—such as memorizing the steps of cell division or the formulas for sine, cosine and tangent—we can make the most of the connections between teachers and kids. We want more of those interactions to be about big ideas, deeper learning and the sort of feedback that you can only get from a real, live adult.

Curated by CLAI

Boredom is Good; Speed Reading Not So Much

“I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” ~Woody Allen

BOREDOM: What if boredom is a meaningful experience—one that propels us to states of deeper thoughtfulness or creativity? Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation.

  • Bored subjects came up with more ideas than a nonbored control group, and their ideas were often more creative. Subjects who took an “associative thought” word test came up with more answers when they’d been forced to watch a dull screensaver.
  • The problem is that these days we don’t wrestle with these slow moments. We eliminate them. “We try to extinguish every moment of boredom in our lives with mobile devices.” This might relieve us temporarily, but it shuts down the deeper thinking that can come from staring down the doldrums.
Image result for Boredom

Credit: Wayne Miller/Magnum USA, 1955 

SPEED READING: Skilled readers know more about language, including many words and structures that occur in print but not in speech. They also have greater “background knowledge,” familiarity with the structure and content of what is being read. We acquire this information in the act of reading itself—not by training our eyes to rotate in opposite directions, playing brain exercise games, or breathing diaphragmatically. Just reading.

  • Boustrophedon (Ancient Greek method): Texts were written bidirectionally, left to right on one line, then right to left on the next. This method would seem to allow reading to proceed continuously, uninterrupted by line sweeps. Try it.
    Here we have a nice normal first line.
    .siht ekil nettirw eb dluoc enil txen ehT
  • Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP): A text is presented at a single location on a screen, one word (or sometimes a few) at a time. It was developed for research purposes in the 1960s. College students could read with RSVP at up to 700 words per minute with good comprehension, about triple their normal speeds. Alas, the experiments also found that subjects could only sustain reading at high speeds with good comprehension for short bursts.

Curated by CLAI
Courtesy of WIRED

Welcome Google AI & Gab

SMART SEARCH: Ask Google’s search app “What is the fastest bird on Earth?,” and it will tell you, “Peregrine falcon. According to YouTube, the peregrine falcon has a maximum recorded airspeed of 389 kilometers per hour.” Google’s search engine pinpoints a YouTube video describing the five fastest birds on the planet and then extracts just the information you’re looking for. It doesn’t mention those other four birds.

Deep neutral nets are pattern recognition systems that can learn to perform specific tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data. In this case, they’ve learned to take a long sentence or paragraph from a relevant page on the web and extract the upshot—the information you’re looking for.

Image result for Gab

GAB: Gab is a new social network built like a hybrid of Twitter and Reddit — posts are capped at 300 characters, and the crowd votes to boost or demote posts in the feed. Think of Gab as the Make America Great Again of social sites: It’s a throwback to the freewheeling norms of the old internet, before Twitter started cracking down on harassment and Reddit cleaned out its darkest corners.

Since its debut in August, it has emerged as a digital safe space for the far right, where white nationalists, conspiracy-theorist YouTubers, and minivan majority moms can gather without liberal interference.

Curated by CLAI

Beauty in Age & Street Signs

2017 Pirelli Calendar: The calendar, a collector’s item that is produced annually and delivered free to a select group of high-powered clients and members of the fashion elite, is the second in the company’s history to subvert its decades-long tradition of displaying scantily clad models in campily suggestive poses.

  • For 2017, the calendar stepped up the game by concentrating more pointedly on age, and in the process flouting fashion’s last taboo. Evidently the bias against age, long endemic to Hollywood and the fashion runways, no longer applies to style marketing campaigns.
  • Helen Mirren peers imperiously from inside a high collar that lends her an aura of majesty. Nicole Kidman confronts the camera, her features slightly furrowed, her muscular arms hugging the back of a chair. Charlotte Rampling does each of those A-list stars one better, her pale skin and famously hooded eyes devoid of discernible makeup.

Julianne Moore. Credit: Peter Lindbergh

I LOVE NEW YORK: The bright placards were dreamed up and placed there by the state to promote tourism, each brandishing New York’s cheerful and familiar credo: “I Love N.Y.” But there is one problem: The federal government says the signs are illegal. The signs are out of compliance with signage rules because they are so big and crammed with words and information that they are dangerous distractions to drivers.

New York State Thruway sign. Credit: Mike Groll, AP

Curated by CLAI

Amazon Snowmobile & NYPD Smart Car

AMAZON’S SNOWMOBILE: Amazon’s new service makes Google Fiber seem slow. And it rides on 18 wheels. The tractor trailer will transport your data to Amazon’s own data centers. The Snowmobile is designed to shuttle as many as 100 petabytes–around 100,000 terabytes–per truck. That’s enough storage to hold five copies of the Internet Archive (a comprehensive backup of the web both present and past), which contains “only” about 18.5 petabytes of unique data. Snowmobile acts like a giant hard drive that comes to you.

NYPD’S SMART FLEET: Clown cars? Midget cars? The city cannot seem to get enough of the tiny, bean-shaped vehicles, which look like curiously shrunken cousins of the iconic New York Police Department patrol car. The two-seat Smart Fortwos are taking the place of three-wheeled scooters that for decades have had their own peculiar place in the city’s vast fleet of otherwise muscular police vehicles.

  • The Smart cars, though, are safer, cheaper and easier to operate. The officers appreciate the air-conditioning. There is also another unexpected benefit: As the Police Department has sought to project its friendlier side in an era of low crime, the Smart car has been an effective icebreaker.
  • Among the department’s fleet of thousands of vehicles, the Smart car is quite possibly the only one that has its picture routinely shared on social media, described as “adorable” or, in the case of one parked in the West Village, “Cuuuuuute.”
  • “It’s just so approachable,” said Robert S. Martinez, the deputy commissioner for support services, who oversees the department’s vehicles. “People want to take pictures with it. People want to hug it, they want to kiss it. It’s just amazing.”