Category Archives: News of the Weird

Why We Need to Look Back — and Ahead

There are two different articles in today’s New York Times that I would consider must reading for anyone interested in better understanding who we are, who we have been, and who we may become. The first, “Obama and the Debt,” outlines Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz’s interpretations of the current crisis, and of its Constitutional […]

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Numbers game

Twice in the same week, I’ve been named one of the top education activists/tweeters in the U.S! What does this mean? Nothing, of course. But it still feels nice. You can decide for yourself if there’s any merit to either list — the one where I’m #22, or the one where I’m #13. Either way, […]

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Robots in Classrooms?

You know you’re a little obsessed with an issue when a news story about artificial intelligence in the prisons of today gets you thinking about robots in the classrooms of tomorrow.

But there it was — a weekend piece in the New York Times about a training exercise at a penitentiary in West Virginia, at which artificial intelligence (AI) software was being used to recognize faces, gestures and patterns of group behavior. “When two groups of inmates moved toward each other,” we learn, “the experimental computer system sent an alert — a text message — to a corrections officer that warned of a potential incident and gave the location.” Then I read the lines that concerned me: “The computers cannot do anything more than officers who constantly watch surveillance monitors under ideal conditions. But in practice, officers are often distracted. When shifts change, an observation that is worth passing along may be forgotten. But machines do not blink or forget. They are tireless assistants. . . At work or school, the technology opens the door to a computerized supervisor that is always watching. Are you paying attention, goofing off or daydreaming?”

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Gone Fishin’

Back September 2 . . .

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How to Start a Movement, Part II

Last week, I shared a video from TED about how to start a movement. This Tuesday, my wife and I went to see the new movie Cyrus, and I watched the exact same principle unfold again. See for yourself (the clip is less than two minutes long, and it’s funny): As with the TED video, […]

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And now for something completely different . . .

My 11-month old son, Leo, just got a new toy that says it “helps teach motor skills and an early understanding of cause and effect.”Cause and effect? Is that sort of specificity in a toy description cool, or just weird?

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Spies in Suburbia

In case you missed it, the New York Times today reported the arrest of 11 people accused of participating in a Russian espionage ring. Ten of the accused appeared to their neighbors to be “ordinary couples,” leading to this all-time quotable: “They couldn’t have been spies,” said one neighbor. “Look what she did with the […]

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