MonthJune 2009

Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren’t Allowed to See on Google Maps

Dick Cheney’s House: The Vice President’s digs at Number One Observatory Circle are obscured through pixelation in Google Earth and Google Maps at the behest of the U.S. government. However, high-resolution photos and aerial surveys of the property are readily available on other Web sites. […]

The city of Utrecht in the Netherlands: Some sites say that the ban on this Dutch city was an apparent mistake, but it does hold relevance as an ancient city and has served as the religious center of the Netherlands since the eighth century. […]

HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) Antenna Array on the Alaska/Yukon Border: This is part of the site for HAARP, which studies ionospheric-radio science.Miscellaneous

Focus: Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren’t Allowed to See on Google Maps

(via Disinfo)

‘Monster movie’ baseball game posters from Japan

monster movie baseball poster marines vs. giants

More Pics

(via Pink Tentacle)

The summer of crop circles is just getting started

jellyfish crop circle

The 2009 crop circle ‘season’ started with abundance and now looks set to bring a summer of circles to Britain’s fields.

Whether made by human hands or an altogether different life form, no less than 20 formations have been spotted since the season began in April. This week alone two huge designs have mysteriously surfaced.

An intricate 150ft dragonfly appeared in a barley field near Yatesbury, Wiltshire, just days after a jellyfish design was cut into crops in Oxfordshire.

Daily Mail: Jellyfish, dragonflies and peace symbols: The summer of crop circles is just getting started

(via Electric Children)

The Improbable Rise and Fall of E-Gold – plus: Head of Asheville Liberty Dollar operation arrested

Jackson et al. very clearly made some serious mistakes in how they ran (or didn’t run) their business. But compare the history of PayPal with that of E-Gold. Did E-Gold deserve to fall so hard?

Timberlake, the economics professor, is convinced that Jackson’s radical dream, his goal of upsetting the economic status quo and overturning the government’s monopoly on money, is what really got E-Gold targeted.

“No matter how innocent a person is you can always find a law that government agents can use to convict him of something,” Timberlake says, “And this is a perfect example of it. Any time anybody tries to produce money, the federal government is going to be on their tail.”

Threat Level: Bullion and Bandits

Meanwhile: Head of Asheville Liberty Dollar operation arrested.

Wendy McElroy notes “The Dollars do not resemble fed-issued coins except for in being round and flat;moreover the website made it very clear that the Dollars were a means of exchange among like-minded individuals who rejected Federal Reserve Notes as monopoly money” and suggests that the indictment is worded in such a way that the government could conceivably be planning on seizing all Liberty Dollars in circulation: “They seem to be giving themselves the legal muscle to steal caches of precious metal from individuals/businesses.”

See The New Currency War for more background.

Malaysian utilities cutting off electricity to squatters

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has stepped up efforts to curb Non-Revenue Electricity (NRE) by dismantling illegal connections from squatter colonies here.
Its enforcement unit saw hundreds of metres of illegal wires being seized during a three-day operation from Tuesday.

Daily Express: Power thefts in 12 KK squatter areas

Via Robert Neuwirth, who writes:

If the point is to get people to pay, to turn non-revenue into revenue, then why not work with the squatters to create a solution. It’s such a simple thing, really. Just a slight change in mindset. The South African group Abahlali baseMjondolo has demonstrated in a series of reports that ripping out electrical lines in shantytowns causes deaths, as people return to using candles and lighting fires. There’s a cost in lost revenue and a cost in human lives.

The Learjet repo man

I wasn’t going to post this here, but I read this a couple days ago and am still thinking about it:

The charge was the attempted theft of a 707 jumbo jet and he was facing 20 years to life. The jet in question belonged to a Caribbean tour company that went bust. After a few missed payments, the bank had called Popovich, who had tracked the plane from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. The gig promised to be simple. Popovich even spotted the battered silver-and-blue jet on the tarmac as he taxied into Port Au Prince’s Toussaint L’Ouverture airport on a sweltering February afternoon. All he needed was an hour to check the avionics, an open runway and a flight plan. It hadn’t worked out that way.

By the third day of his imprisonment — sometime after the American embassy politely informed him that the bank employing him wouldn’t put up $100,000 in bail — details started to come back. The tracer fire pinging the plane’s wings like popcorn kernels. Men with bayonets slamming on the fuselage. A police cruiser skidding to a halt right in front of the jet, blocking the runway and preventing Nick from taking off. The cops beating him senseless and throwing him in Penitentier National prison. And now, here he was. […]

“I landed in Paris and contacted Arpels to see if we could work something out,” says Popovich. “Arpels tells me, ‘I’m Francois Arpels and this is Paris. You will never find the planes.’ I looked him right in the eye and told him, ‘Frankie, they are all but gone. Trust me.’ He hated the fact that I called him Frankie. That really got under his skin.”

Salon: The Learjet repo man

(via Cryptogon)

An open source personality testing system

International Personality Item Pool is a public domain personality testing system. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and other major personality testing systems are closed, proprietary systems – the scoring systems are opaque. They can’t be experimented with and modified or, most importantly, tested by those outside of the organizations who own them.

International Personality Item Pool is an open system for behavioral scientists, created by the Oregon Research Institute.

This IPIP Website is intended to provide rapid access to measures of individual differences, all in the public domain, to be developed conjointly among scientists worldwide. Later, the site may include raw data available for reanalysis; in addition, it should serve as a forum for the dissemination of psychometric ideas and research findings.

International Personality Item Pool web site.

The IPIP-NEO an online test from a doctor Portland State University .

The international personality item pool and the future of public-domain personality measures Academic paper. (PDF)

(Thanks Trevor!)

UN announces launch of world’s first tuition-free, online university

Mr. Reshef said that this University opened the gate to these people to continue their studies from home and at minimal cost by using open-source technology, open course materials, e-learning methods and peer-to-peer teaching.

Admission opened just over two weeks ago and without any promotion some 200 students from 52 countries have already registered, with a high school diploma and a sufficient level of English as entry requirements.

Students will be placed in classes of 20, after which they can log on to a weekly lecture, discuss its themes with their peers and take a test all online. There are voluntary professors, post-graduate students and students in other classes who can also offer advice and consultation.

The only charge to students is a $15 to $50 admission fee, depending on their country of origin, and a processing fee for every test ranging from $10 to $100. For the University to sustain its operation, it needs 15,000 students and $6 million, of which Mr. Reshef has donated $1 million of his own money.

UN News Centre: UN announces launch of world’s first tuition-free, online university

(via Mathpunk)

See also:

The Impending Demise of the University

Can Ivy League Education Be Provided for $20 a Month

The Impending Demise of the University

The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still a fixture of university life on many campuses. It’s a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture. They want an interactive education, not a broadcast one that might have been perfectly fine for the Industrial Age, or even for boomers. These students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities try to ignore them, they will do so at their peril.

Was the broadcast model ever effective for a plurality of students? Hasn’t it always been a substandard method?

Of course, universities play an important role in the sorting of individuals in society, through the admissions process and the awarding of degrees. One of the most important roles of the university is to screen human capital for future employers, and more broadly stratifying society. Those who get good marks in high school and on their SATs, who are proven to be hard workers and have other talents, get into the best universities. Those who graduate — better still with distinction — have a credential, to get the most desirable jobs or entrance to graduate programs. They have proven they have a degree of discipline and that they’re prepared to play by the rules.

But a credential and even the prestige of a university is rooted in its effectiveness as a learning institution. If these institutions are shown to be inferior learning environments to other alternatives their capacity to credential will surely diminish.

Edge: The Impending Demise of the University

(via Mathpunk)

That is what college is for: filtering applicants for employers – it doesn’t matter what they’ve learned or haven’t learned in college. Practically none of it will apply in the work force. Organizations just need a way to process applications, and universities provide that. At enourmous cost to students.

Small, more participatory liberal arts colleges have been around for decades, arguably providing better education than their “designer label” counterparts “taught in large class sizes by teaching assistants, largely through lectures” (as Brockman put it). It hasn’t exactly shaken the foundations yet.

Will the Internet and online education really be the breakthrough that undermines universities? I don’t know.

See also:

UN announces launch of world’s first tuition-free, online university

The end of the university as we know it

Can Ivy League Education Be Provided for $20 a Month

Future Shock documentary narrated by Orson Welles

This is a little known documentary based on the book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. This documentary came out in 1972 and features Orson Welles as the narrator. […]

As far as I can tell, this documentary is in the public domain. I took the liberty of uploading my videotape transfer to YouTube. It is in 5 parts, and you can view them below.

Oddculture: Alvin Toffler, Orson Welles, and Future Shock

(via OVO)

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