Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Why does the white man have so much cargo?

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Jared Diamond began his quest to discover the roots of inequality when an acquaintance, native to Papua New Guinea, asked why the white men had so much more “cargo” than the people of Papua New Guinea.  The theories that arose out of his study were published in the book “Guns, Germs and Steel”.

National Geographic did a documentary series based on Jared Diamonds book, which explores Diamond’s conclusions on why some civilizations have historically enjoyed tremendous prosperity and development while others languished.  The three part series is an intriguing study of Diamonds exploration – well worth watching.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


The BBC Wants Your Sounds

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I find myself strangely inoculated to pictures.  It is not that I don’t appreciate pictures.  I have a great fondness for images, but they do not easily transport me to another time or place.  I imagine my condition is not unique to me.  A picture has the handicap of being framed by other sights which remind you that you are only looking at a picture.  We have also, for the most part, become sophisticated enough about pictures that we can see it not merely as a representation of something that exists or existed in space and time, but we evaluate it’s qualities as a picture: the framing, the color balance, the resolution, exposure, etc… which detaches us from the reality of the thing represented.

Sound is quite a different experience for me and I would wager others as well.  Perhaps the most notable reason is that if one closes their eyes and places headphones over their ears, there is considerably less sensory data to alert the mind to the fact that one is not where the ears suggest.

All this to say that the BBC is compiling a “Sound Map”.  They are collecting sound submissions from all over the world and placing them in their respective positions on a global map.  It does not take much imagination to come up with a great many  sure to be rejected submissions.  I am not sure what the filtering process is.  The BBC’s stated objective is not only to provide a way for visitors to experience the world, but also to preserve sounds that are going extinct.  So if you are looking to experiencing a little bit of the world while relaxing on the couch, or if you have some sounds that represent where you are, pay the sound map a visit.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Art, Education, Media

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Well, maybe you do, but Professor Richard D. Wolf doesn’t think many people can claim to understand economics. Fortunately he is kind enough to make eight lectures on the subject available.  The Lectures are focused on the current economic crisis and work off the underlying contention that Capitalism is inherently unstable.  I became aware of Wolff’s website through an interview at Truth Driven Thinking , which provides a nice introduction to Wolff and his beliefs (worth listening to before diving into an eight lecture series).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm

More Free Knowledge and Entertainment

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As a kid, one of the few things almost as exciting as getting a new toy was rediscovering an old one.  Little has change now that I’m an adult.  This evening I rediscovered Learn Out’s free audio library.  Check it out.  You will find a wealth of great books available to download for free.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 3, 2010 at 1:03 am

Life as a Logic Test

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Try the google search “Logic” or “Analyzing Arguments” and you will get disappointing results, unless of course, you are searching for information on Apple’s audio software LOGIC – there are a few good resources on that subject.  The art and science of reasoning is unfortunately not a popular enough subject to warrant developing good resources.

Fortunately there are law students out there and these lawyers-to-be are required to take the LSAT and before taking the LSAT they need logic training.  Why just lawyers though?  Don’t we all use and abuse logic?  Don’t we all need to sharpen our reasoning skills?

Enter LSAT Logic In Everyday Life, a short podcast that takes popular arguments (e.g. “Substance X is good for you because it is ‘natural’.”) and analyzes them as though they were on the LSAT.  Hosted by Andrew Brody and provided by Princeton review, LSAT Logic In Everyday Life is a great resource for keeping the brain’s logical muscles exercised.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 2, 2010 at 11:17 am

The Real Adam Smith and Public Education As Propaganda

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No diet of reading is complete without a little Chomsky sprinkled in there. I recently came across an interview in which he gives a “soundbite” presentation of some of the ideas that he has repeatedly covered.

In particular, the interview touches on Chomsky’s assertion that the popular understanding of Adam Smith is a blatent distortion of what the author of Wealth Of Nations really believed. “Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.”

In the last third of the interview, Chomsky shares his views on mass education and its propaganda aims. “Mass education was designed to turn independent farmers into docile, passive tools of production… Emerson once said something about how we’re educating them to keep them from our throats. If you don’t educate them, what we call “education,” they’re going to take control — “they” being what Alexander Hamilton called the “great beast,” namely the people. The anti-democratic thrust of opinion in what are called democratic societies is really ferocious. And for good reason. Because the freer the society gets, the more dangerous the great beast becomes and the more you have to be careful to cage it somehow.”

So, if you are in the mood for some poking and prodding at established norms, check out the rest of the interview.

Written by Aaron Nee

March 10, 2010 at 2:32 am