Sunday, January 27, 2013

Some More Smiles...

...from reader Simi L. (who is himself a doctor):

Should Be Hallmark Cards!

Reader Simi L. sent me a collection of these.  A few favorites:

Unbundling Education and Certification...

American universities and colleges provide (allegedly) two distinct services that have always been bundled together:  they educate, and they certify (via the degree) that the education has actually been accomplished.  The convention has always been that if you want that certification (the degree), then you must attend class (the education) – even if you've already obtained that education through some other means (for instance, by education yourself). 

The University of Wisconsin is about to change that.  They're going to provide the certification (that degree) to anyone who can pass their tests for it.  In other words, they are going to unbundle the certification and the education.

This has the potential both for good and bad, like most things.  One possible good outcome: the emergence of specialized degrees, especially those aimed at certifying an individual's readiness for gainful employment.  This will be enabled by the relatively low cost of a certification program as compared to an entire curriculum.  Employment-focused degrees would be worth a lot to American industry if they're well done.  One possible bad outcome: the emergence of schlock degrees, wherein the only real requirement is forking over some money.  Just as for the schlock schools and correspondence courses that exist today, the education industry will have to develop defenses against these.  Probably the main defense will be the same one as today: the reputation of the issuing school.

More a capella...

I'm discovering that there is an entire (and well-populated!) genre, long-established, of a capella music where voices replace music that would ordinarily be played with instruments.  It's all new to me!  Here's a famous English ensemble: the Swingle Singers, singing Waltzing Matilda:

Zappa on Education...

Frank Zappa was an interesting man, far beyond his music, which is how I first came to know about him.  I still listen to his music frequently.  I think there's a lot of truth in this:


Between Friday and Saturday, we've had just over an inch of rain.  My new weather station software graphs rainfall rates, rather than cumulative precipitation – an interesting difference that I'm still getting used to.  The peak rate in this storm was about 15 hundredths of an inch (4mm) per hour.  On average, that's a light drizzle :)

That reminds me of the most intense rain Debbie and I have ever experienced.  We were just west of Hilo, up in the hills on the Big Island of Hawai'i.  We watched the storm cell approach, saw it dumping torrential rains on Hilo, and then it hit us.  I didn't have any instruments with me, but I did watch things like pots, buckets, etc. filling up.  I guessed the rate at about 4 inches (100mm) per hour, and that rate was sustained for 20 to 30 minutes.  The locals told us that this sort of rainstorm happens regularly; they didn't think of it as unusual at all!

And to validate that, I did a little googling – and discovered that the record one hour rainfall rate is 12 inches per hour.  It's a tie between Hawai'i and Missouri.  So the locals were right – the 4 inches per hour we saw was no big deal :)