OpenStreetMaps is a classic grass-roots effort. People have sweat blood making OSM work, proving the "business" model, working out the kinks, and donating immeasurable time towards making this a success. Now that somebody has done the dirty work to prove that this method of crowd-sourcing maps can work, Google trots out its sexy service that will grab the buzz, divert the resources, advertise interest away and steal the user cycles towards improving its own closed proprietary maps. Yes, that's correct, proprietary -- there's no guarantee that what you do will remain freely available.
Has everyone forgotten the CDDB debacle? Quoting wiki: "The original software behind CDDB was released under the GNU General Public License, and many people submitted CD information thinking the service would also remain free." Those of you who remember will recognize what an understatement that is. Needless to say, those users were wrong and one day they found that all their effort was suddenly swallowed up and they were being asked to pay for access to the data they submitted.
I don't believe Google is evil and I don't work with OSM, but if Google is not evil it has to realize the negative impacts its actions can have on the kinds of grassroots open-source efforts it claims to support. Google is not stepping in to use its resources to do what the crowd cannot -- it will end up undercutting a project where the crowd was doing just fine on its own. And the ordinary Joes need to realize what is going on and channel their efforts to the project where they will own the product. OpenStreetMap.
I think the problem with that is that many mathematicians would say that arithmetic really isn't math, just like spelling isn't English or lit crit. Certainly anyone who has taken a real course in algebra (i.e. the one you take as a senior in college as a math major, as opposed to what's in 8th/9th grade) will be quick to point out that it has essentially nothing to do with what you were told algebra was.
As a CS prof at various schools, I've taught a discrete math called "Foundations of Computer Science" as a first course in the major, and I've taught a variety of programming courses with different titles as the first course. I completely agree that most of the meat of CS first out in your CS3 class (although at my current school we actually teach design patterns and real OOD in our CS2 class).
Instead of fighting over the course name that should be in HS, I think it's a lot more important to try and establish what course _content_ should be in HS, MS and Elementary school. LOGO was used by elementary school kids in the 70s and 80s, and BASIC and/or Pascal were taught in high schools in the 80s (as many have noted). Modern tools like Storytelling Alice and Scratch (an heir apparent to LOGO) are amazing tools that can teach elementary/middle school kids to write plays and learn geometry while introducing them to programming in an amazingly rich way. And they're free.
These tools are so far beyond what I learned on it's amazing. So why are we in the dark ages?
We had almost the same situation occur in a freshman class I was teaching at a top-10 CS program in 2000 or so. About 500 students in the class, blatantly clear evidence of massive cheating on a tiny assignment. So our deal was: fess up and you'll take a 0 grade on the assignment (2% of your final grade) with no other consequences; you don't and we get evidence then we'll prosecute. In the end about 30% of the class admitted to it. The sad/ironic thing was that there was only obvious evidence against about 7% of the class, and almost none of those 7% asked for the deal, so we still had to prosecute most of them.
I agree. Chuck Close is an absolutely first rate artist who has had absolutely horrible luck with his health, including at one point being reduced to holding the brush in his mouth. He's had to reinvent himself multiple times, and each time he chose a brand new style instead of trying to do things the way he did before. Changing media or style I think is a far more likely route to success than trying to do the same thing.
So when can we expect the GPU port of the nam-shub to protect us from the Cult of A5h3rah?
BTW - I do check the efficacy of your charity before I give.
I think it's a great idea for people to check out their charities carefully before donating. Unfortunately, there are a few wasteful and even corrupt charities out there. However, if you're using charity navigator, make sure you read their fine print: at present they only catalog 4500 charities, only organizations with about $500k private donations each year, only organizations with budgets of $1M+ per year. This is not meant to say anything bad about charity navigator; they are offering a tremendous service that is greatly needed. But when you search for an organization and it's not there, it could be that they're just too small to be on their map.
When I donate, I look for the organizations that seem to get the most work done with the least overhead and who can benefit the most from smaller donations from non-rich people like me. That almost always comes out being the small grassroots organizations that were formed up because individual community members decided to take things in their own hands (mostly because the nat'l orgs or nat'l gov't weren't doing their job). They have very small staff (under 20, often under 5), and budgets that are impossibly tiny to even cover their payroll.
These organizations will never make charity navigator's list. So, like with all tools, make sure you know what charity navigator does and doesn't do. And if you want to really want to change things, donate to groups that are too small to be on that list.
I don't think you're comparing apples to apples there. You're saying that the specialized skills that you learn from Contra won't help you with Quake 3, which I think is mostly true, though there clearly is some benefit to prior video game experiences help you learn new video games.
I think the real question is more like "does playing a game that requires you to keep track of lots of little jobs at the same time, help you get better at keeping track of lots of little jobs at the same time", and to me the answer would seem to be yes. That sort of these guys' philosophy http://cognitiveme.com/ but they do it with normal flash games instead of developing brain-specific games. The other thing nice about them is that they don't make outrageous claims like "we're improving your IQ" or pretend that the best way to measure the state of your brain is to give it an age in years, or anything else that's just so "out there" that you know it's not going to hold up under any scrutiny.
Certainly there are lots of "Brain Exercise" people out there who are selling snake oil, but it's just as stupid to paint the entire industry with a broad brush on the basis of a single study of people spending 30 minutes a week playing a brain game instead of surfing. Interestingly enough, if you look at the AP version who actually interviewed a scientist not involved with the study or the industry, you get a bit more nuance: http://health.yahoo.com/news/ap/eu_med_brain_games.html
"There is precious little evidence to suggest the skills used in these games transfer to the real world," said Art Kramer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois. He was not linked to the study and has no ties to any companies that make brain training games.
Kramer had several reservations about the BBC study's methodology and said some brain games had small effects in improving people's cognitive skills. "Learning is very specific," he said. "Unless the component you are trained in actually exists in the real world, any transfer will be pretty minimal."
Instead of playing brain games, Kramer said people would be better off getting some exercise. He said physical activity can spark new connections between neurons and produce new brain cells. "Fitness changes the building blocks of the brain's structure," he said.
Still, Kramer said some brain training games worked better than others. He said some games made by Posit Science had shown modest benefits, including improved memory in older people.
I've also found that a lot of university libraries will have staff and equipment in their rare books room that is appropriate to this task. Having said that, what they told me to do is what everyone else has said: snap and stitch, and what they felt they could offer was a more secure rig to hold the camera and more even lighting for the exposure.
In the future, you're going to get computers as prizes in breakfast cereals. You'll throw them out because your house will be littered with them.