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.
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.
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.
FITBIT FOR CRUISES: Carnival has developed Fitbit-style bracelets that link to personal information, and applied them to cruises. The result: Millions of passengers on Carnival ships will soon be using a similar but more advanced system that allows travelers to do everything from plan vacations to open stateroom doors to order poolside cocktails.
Cruisers will be able to pay for food, drinks and merchandise simply by having their credit card-connected Ocean Medallion in their pocket.
Carnival’s disks, each laser-etched with the guest’s name, will also power a new, shipwide gambling platform.
WEDDING TECH: For many couples, wedding planning is a frustrating monthslong project that requires sifting through masses of details and costs on venues, services and products. The field is crowded with small, local businesses that are predominantly low tech and survive on word-of-mouth recommendations. However, the overall industry is large, with $58 billion in revenue, with an average $26,500 per wedding.
Lover.ly has been able to build a database of 65,000 vendors. A virtual wedding planners assembles a list of vendors based on a couple’s criteria, and the couples receive it within 48 hours of purchasing a service. Couples are charged from $10 to $399, and vendors $10 per client lead. Lover.ly is also beta testing its chatbot.
Another app, LadyMarry developed its own artificial intelligence bot to streamline communications between the company, vendors and couples. LadyMarry had been used to plan 90,000 weddings. It is free for couples; the company charges vendors 15-45%, depending on the location and service.
Carats & Cake partnered with the payment platform Stripe to offer online invoicing and bill paying. It has 20,000 member businesses; about 300,000 couples used the site in 2016.
PALLIATIVE CARE: In a life changing event like a permanent disability, life is not extra difficult now, but only uniquely difficult, as all lives are. Suffering is simply a “variation on a theme we all deal with — to be human is really hard.” Don’t we all treat suffering as a disruption to existence, instead of an inevitable part of it? what would happen if you could “reincorporate your version of reality, of normalcy, to accommodate suffering.”
We call ancient sculptures with missing limbs art: monumental, beautiful and important, but we’d never seen them whole. Medicine didn’t think about bodies this way. Embedded in words like “disability” and “rehabilitation” was a less generous view: “There was an aberrant moment in your life and, with some help, you could get back to what you were, or approximate it.” So, instead of regarding injuries as something to get over, try to get into them, to see life as its own novel challenge, like traveling through a country whose language you don’t speak.
All palliative-care departments and home-hospice agencies believe patients’ wishes should be honored, but Zen Hospice’s small size allows it to “actualize” these ideals more fully. Sharpen the essential set of questions: What is a good death? How do you judge? In the end, what matters?
After reading a thoughtful book, I find it tough to remember what I actually read a couple of weeks later. So after reading Zero to One by Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, I decided to write down three nuggets for entrepreneurs worthy to chew over. If you don’t see yourself as an entrepreneur, take advice from Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn: we are all entrepreneurs of not only our businesses, but also our personal and professional lives.
Are We Making Vertical or Horizontal Progress?
I tend to think about progress as generally making something faster and better – faster computers or higher buildings. However, Thiel splits it into two:
Horizontal progress (traditional idea of progress) is replication or globalization. China built railroads and cities in 20 years that took the United States 100 years by copying. But is there anything new here?
Vertical progress (technological progress) are new inventions that change the way we live: the wheel, horse-drawn carriages, automobiles, planes, rockets, and computers.
Entrepreneurs make vertical progress. Most large corporations make horizontal progress.
Is the Future Definite or Indefinite? Optimistic or Pessimistic?
The view in China is definite and pessimistic. Its economy has been growing in leaps and bounds, but by following the footsteps of American growth the past century. Rapid growth is unsustainable, so what is next?
American baby boomers saw the world as definite and optimistic. Job security is guaranteed as long as you worked hard and moved up the ranks.
Europe is currently in an indefinite and pessimistic mood. The population is aging and growth is slowing, but unsure of what will happen.
Americans are indefinitely optimistic. College graduates are taught to diversify their skill sets and wear many hats. Who knows where the bright future will take them next?
These views lead us to the power law, which advises you to make as few investments as possible because 20% of investments reap you 80% of the benefits (Pareto). So should we invest our money and time in a few successful endeavors or in many to hedge our bets? Which view is best to navigate today’s world?
How Do We Uncover the World’s Secrets to Find Success? There are three different types of goals:
“Goals that can be satisfied with minimal effort”
“Goals that can be satisfied with serious effort”
“Goals that cannot be satisfied, no matter how much effort one makes”
Entrepreneurs who find goals that can be satisfied with serious effort are the Facebooks and Googles of today.
Do you agree with Thiel’s interpretation of the entrepreneurial world? Are there other concepts you found helpful in starting and managing your business or career?
7 LANGUAGE MAPS: Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India. English comes next with 527 million native speakers. Arabic is used by nearly 100 million more native speakers than Spanish.
If you randomly select two people in Cameroon, there is a 97% likelihood that they will have different mother tongues. In the United States, there is only a 33 percent likelihood that this is going to happen.
Most languages are spoken only by a handful of people. That’s why about half of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the century. About 3% of the world’s population accounts for 96% of all languages spoken today. Out of all languages in the world, 2,000 have fewer than 1,000 native speakers.
VERTICAL VIDEOS: We live in a horizontal world, and most action happens from left to right. Vertical videos feel claustrophobic, because often they feature one or two people occupying the full frame, and not much of the landscape to show what lies beyond. Our eyes are horizontal: the human field of vision is wider than it is tall, so it is only natural that our videos match that shape.
Our eyes may be horizontal, but our hands are best suited to holding objects vertically, which is why phones, tablets and, in the predigital age, our books and other documents were usually oriented in portrait mode. Watching horizontal video on a phone’s vertical screen is a minor annoyance. With a horizontal video, you have to awkwardly flip your phone sideways so the entire image fills the screen, or you can keep your phone vertical and tolerate the huge black bars displayed above and below the picture.
Many people didn’t reorient their phones to watch horizontal videos in full-screen mode. They found it so uncomfortable to hold the phone the other way, and they didn’t want to keep switching their phones back and forth.
We live in the era of personal video. Shouldn’t we celebrate videos that match the shape of our bodies?