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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

“Fake news” versus “Fake statistics” | The Online Citizen

This entry was posted in Opinion.  

A friend asked me – with all the hoohah on “fake news” – got “fake statistics” or not?

Photo: The Online Citizen
Well, from my experience analysing statistics for the last two decades or so – “fake statistics” are very very rare.
What we have are often:
  • no disclosure of the statistics
  • partial disclosure of the statistics
  • omitting statistics
  • changing the definition of the statistics
  • changing the time period of the statistics
  • not reporting statistics using international norms
  • changing the base population of the statistics
  • a combination of the above
Let me try to give some examples to illustrate the above.

“no disclosure of the statistics” – the HDB does not breakdown the price of HDB BTO flats into contruction, land and other costs. All that we know is that land is charged at market rates

“partial disclosure of the statistics” – the employment growth statistics are broken down into locals and foreigners, but not Singaporeans

“omitting statistics” – the GIC’s annualised returns are for up to 20 years in US$ – but not the annualised return from its inception in S$. In contrast, Temasek also discloses its annualised return from its inception in S$

“changing the definition of the statistics” – a part-time worker used to be defined as working not more than 30 hours a week – this was changed to 35 hours. So, arguably, by the stroke of a pen – both the categories of full-time and part-time workers’ median wages increased

Source: The Online Citizen

From rural to actuarial | Independent Online

"When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. This was the idiom young Sfundo Manyathi, a star achiever in the 2017 matric exams, said most accurately summed up is life and, more particularly, the last three years of high school" notes KwaZulu-Natal - IOL.

The confident pupil who recently matriculated from Star College in Durban, Sfundo Manyathi, who this year aims to pursue Actuarial Science at UCT. He scored a spectacular As in the NSC matric exams.
Photo: Supplied
Sfundo told The Mercury of his journey to achieving top marks in the 2017 NSC exams.
“I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet with Star College, which opened doors to a new and improved life for me,” said Sfundo. “I was taken from a relatively poor township (Ntuzuma), where everything was jovial and easy, to a place where everything was challenging and serious.”
Sfundo said despite the independent school being the best thing that had happened to him, it presented a number of challenges.
One of those was trying to fit in, socially and academically. 
“It took a while for me to change my colours from street smart to academically smart, making new friends all around the school and most importantly, knowing and loving my teachers,” the charismatic student said.
Sfundo was offered a full scholarship, free stay in the school’s dormitory, free books…

He said people at the school were generous with help and emotional support throughout his schooling there and he wanted to make his teachers proud...
The principal, Osman Karayvaaz, said Sfundo was a great motivation and inspiration to other pupils.

'Active Learning' Math Initiative Expands to 12 Universities | Inside Higher Ed

Photo: Doug Lederman
"A National Science Foundation-funded initiative aimed at expanding the use of "active learning" techniques in introductory mathematics courses is expanding from three to 12 universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities announced today" inform Doug Lederman, Editor at Inside Higher Ed.


The project, known as SEMINAL: Student Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning, has been led by San Diego State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which have reworked their math curricula to improve student success in early courses, particularly students from underrepresented minority groups.

The nine universities joining the effort are California State University, East Bay; California State University, Fullerton; Kennesaw State University; Loyola University; Morgan State University; Ohio State University; the University of Maryland at College Park; the University of Oklahoma; and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Machine Learning Engineers and Data Scientists Report Highest Job Satisfaction Among Data Professionals | Customer Think - Technology

Results from the Kaggle State of Data Science and Machine Learning survey of data professionals revealed that job satisfaction varies widely across job titles. Data professionals who reported the highest level of job satisfaction were: 1) Machine Learning Engineers, 2) Data Scientists and 3) Predictive Modeler. Data professionals who reported the lowest level of job satisfaction were: 1) Engineers, 2) DBA/Database Engineers and 3) Programmers.

Photo: Bob E. Hayes
"Kaggle conducted a survey in August 2017 of over 16,000 data professionals (2017 State of Data Science and Machine Learning). Their survey included a variety of questions about data science, machine learning, education and more" reports
Bob E. Hayes, PhD (Business Over Broadway) scientist, blogger and author on CXM and data science (TCE: Total Customer Experience, Beyond the Ultimate Question and Measuring Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty).

Photo: Customer Think

Kaggle released the raw survey data and many in the data science community have analyzed the data (see link above). I will be exploring their survey data over the next couple of months. When I find something interesting, I’ll be sure to post it here on my blog. Today’s post explores the difference among data professionals on their level of job satisfaction.

The Value of Job Satisfaction 
Job satisfaction is useful metric to study in business, often used to monitor and manage employee relationships. There is much evidence supporting the utility of using job satisfaction as a way to manage your business. For example, employees who are satisfied with their job also perform better on the job and will likely stay on the job (lower turnover) compared to employees who are dissatisfied with their job. Additionally, satisfied employees deliver a better experience to their customers compared to dissatisfied employees, ultimately improving other organizational outcomes like productivity and profit...

Job Satisfaction Varies by Data Science Job Title 
Results showed that data professionals are satisfied with their current job (Mean = 6.8). I found that 75% of the respondents indicated they were satisfied (ratings between 6 and 10 inclusive). Nearly 1 out of 5 (19.4%) data professionals indicated that they were very satisfied (ratings of 9 or 10) with their job. A quarter of the data professionals said they were dissatisfied with their current job.

Results showed that job satisfaction varies significantly across job titles.

Source: Customer Think

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Reality behind an Actuarial ‘Science’ Course… | Moneylife - Personal finance - Career

"Giri (my better half) always chides me for attempting to show things in poor light. But I cannot help it, can I? Even as I plan my annual trip to the US in February, I thought I must share certain happenings that will definitely be in the interest of the larger public" continues Moneylife

Photo: Moneylife
I know that Moneylife stands in the forefront when it comes to issues such as these, as part of its exemplary efforts in setting a new journalistic trend.
My nephew, who is based in Mumbai, was keen on his son pursuing a course in actuarial science. He sought my help, since he, somehow, believed that a seasoned academician like me will be of great help to him. I had already forewarned him about my activist instincts. Despite being a senior citizen, I have still managed to maintain my contacts in academia. It always helps. Thanks to social media networks, I have managed to stay connected.
As I began talking to one person after another, the real truth behind an actuarial science course started coming to light. It was, indeed, a shocker for me! Anyway, readers must have heard/ read about how an actuary is a most sought after person in the insurance industry and how actuaries draw huge sums of money as salaries and bonuses. Actuaries are responsible for using statistical methods to compute the amount of insurance premium. This is the main function of an actuary, though they have other roles like risk modelling, etc.
When I contacted Satish Nair (not his real name) through one of my acquaintances, he dropped a bombshell. Since pursuing an actuarial science course from India was next to impossible (I will come to it later), his daughter pursued a two-year actuarial science course from UK wiping out half of Satish’s  retirement funds. When she returned to India, hoping to land a plum job, there were no takers. After waiting for close to six months and twiddling her thumbs at home, Satish’s daughter managed to get a job in an insurance call centre (of all places) in Pune. Satish was fuming so much that if a kettle of cold water had been kept before of him, it would have heated up in no time.
So where is the problem? Why is doing an actuarial science course in India not such an exciting proposition? There are very few educational institutions that impart an actuarial science course in India. Of these, 50% offer courses that are not recognised by the industry. Gullible students get attracted to all the marketing nonsense being dished out by these institutions and end up wasting money, time and effort. Some of them end up ruining their career too.
Actually, there is a coterie that exists in an unofficial form. In one of the well-known institutes in India’s business capital that offers an actuarial science course, an outstanding student will take at least seven years to get a degree in actuarial science after his graduation—provided, he doesn’t lose interest halfway through the course.  
Source: Moneylife

Making a good career match | New Straits Times Online - Education

"AS Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) school-leavers close one chapter in their life and start another, they now face the daunting task of taking the next step — choose the right course of study" summarizes Zulita Mustafa, Specialist Writer at New Straits Times.
Nik Faiz Iskandar Nik Zahari conducting a motivational talk for SPM school-leavers.
Photo: New Straits Times Online

After a structured school system where students generally pursue either the science or arts stream, how best can they decide on the field of study and programme?

A profession should be chosen with great care and it should not be taken lightly. The decision is the first step towards determining the path the future will take.

Nurhanani Hazamah Anuar, 20, prefers sitting exams similar to those in secondary school and the Cambridge A Level (CAL) programme fits her requirements.

CAL is a 15- to 24-month programme and it is 100 per cent exam-based, so it is similar to SPM.

However, unlike SPM where students usually sign up for nine subjects, CAL allows a choice of a minimum of three subjects such as mathematics, further mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, economics, English literature, law and accounting.

Nurhanani, a second-year student at Taylor’s College, said it has been a relatively easy transition from secondary school and she has also enhanced her soft skills and embraced the chance of being the secretary of the CAL Student Council.

“Being involved in the council allows me to improve my skills in communicating, critical thinking, problem-solving and collaborating,” said Nurhanani, a Bank Negara scholar.

She plans to pursue a degree in accounting and finance at a university in the United Kingdom.

Another CAL student Low See Nee, 20, said he was initially keen on the Foundation of Science course at the International Medical University but finally decided on the CAL programme at INTI.

“A relative, who is an emergency department doctor, advised me to pursue the A levels programme as it is internationally recognised and therefore allows me to keep my options open.

“Besides, my focus is not only on academic performance but also gaining a wider social network among students,” said Low, who plans to pursue the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme at Monash University.

Antoine Xaverian Bonaventure, 20, has had his eye on a career in the field of science since secondary school, which influenced his decision to choose the Foundation in Science programme at Taylor’s University.

“It provides the most straightforward route to achieving my ambition to become a doctor. The curriculum integrates e-learning tools and interesting science projects so that students get exposure to basic human anatomy and physiology.

“The foundation programme helps me to become a well-rounded student who does not only excel academically but also in other areas.

“Since I plan to pursue the MBBS programme at Taylor’s University School of Medicine, the foundation course is the first step to reading medicine,” said Antoine.

A foundation in science programme focuses on science-related topics, concentrating on subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and information technology.

The course not only prepares one to pursue medicine but also pharmacy and dental studies.

Foundation programmes at a university provide an advantage in terms of placement of students in degree courses at the institution.

Source: New Straits Times Online

Monday, January 22, 2018

From undisciplined to interdisciplinary | MIT News

"Math professor Philippe Rigollet, once a “not very disciplined” student, moves between computer science and statistics" notes Larry Hardesty, computer science and technology writer at the MIT News Office.

Originally from the small town of Cluny, in the Burgundy region of France, Philippe Rigollet made the move to MIT in 2014.
Photo: Bryce Vickmark

In 1996, when he was a high school senior in the small town of Cluny, in the Burgundy region of France, Philippe Rigollet applied to several of the two-year preparatory schools that most French students attend before moving on to university. His transcript reported a stellar math grade of 19.5 out of 20, but in the small space allotted for comments, his math teacher had written “fainéant.”

Rigollet translates that word as “slacker.”

“They were really looking for slackers in those preparatory schools,” Rigollet says. “They didn’t want people who were burned out at the end of high school and couldn’t push it, because it was much harder.”

“Slacker” is not an epithet that people tend to associate with MIT professors, and Rigollet was tenured in the Department of Mathematics last year. He is also part of MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. But in high school, Rigollet says, “I was not very disciplined about learning stuff I didn’t want to learn.” 

Fortunately, there’s a lot that he has wanted to learn. His work is notable for its interdisciplinarity, moving back and forth between the fields of statistics and computer science and bringing insights from each to the other.

Rigollet was born in a rural French town with a population of only 365. His mother was a speech therapist, and his father taught grades two through five at the local elementary school. The 30-odd students in those four grades shared a single classroom, and during math class, Rigollet’s father would pose questions to each group in turn.

“That’s where I got used to being good at math,” Rigollet says. “I would try to listen to the harder questions from the upper class.”

The community was predominantly agrarian — “Raising chickens was a big thing,” Rigollet says — but his parents had a side line in door-to-door sales of health, beauty, and home-care products for Amway. Starting when Rigollet was 4, the family would attend Amway workshops in the U.S. for a week or two almost every year.

“That balanced out somehow the fact that I had a pretty limited perspective from where I grew up — the fact that I got to visit the United States,” Rigollet says.

“Going to the mall, having Taco Bell, it was just a dream for me.”

It also explains why, despite being educated entirely in France, Rigollet speaks such fluid, idiomatic English. “My first full sentence was ‘Can I have change for the game room?’” he says.

Mathematical freedom
On the strength of his placement exams, Rigollet earned a spot at a prestigious preparatory school in Lyon, which specialized in math and physics. He still had difficulty making himself learn stuff he didn’t want to learn, however: He excelled in math, but in physics, “I was just getting by,” he says.

“In physics, the rules were set a little too strongly for me,” he says. “Math allowed you more to have your own proof or your own way of thinking. It’s funny, because some people look for structure in math, and I’m looking for freedom. In what I’m doing now, I choose the model I want, and I do the math I want, and I do the description I want of these things.”...

For a statistician with an interest in computer science, however, a department of operations research and financial engineering was never a perfect fit. So in 2015, Rigollet moved to MIT. There he has continued to pursue parallel research tracks in pure statistics and machine learning. Some of his earliest work at MIT concerned statistical methods that could be used to optimize both the design of clinical trials and the targeting of ads to web users. More recently, he’s been investigating statistical techniques for interpreting data produced by the imaging technique known as cryoelectron microscopy, whose inventors were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Source: MIT News

Millikin math majors discuss plans for future careers | Millikin University

A mathematics degree prepares graduates for a number of rapidly growing positions, such as a mathematician, teacher, scientist, technology professional, engineer, statistician and more. 
Photo: Millikin University

According to, as of 2015, some of the top 10 fastest-growing positions in the United States are in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), showing how important a math degree can be when it comes to developing a career.

Recently, a few Millikin University mathematics majors shared their career aspirations and discussed the importance of applying knowledge they've gained.

Among the students was Ryan Sikora, a junior from Hickory Hills, Ill., who is studying mathematics actuarial science. Sikora, who passed the Society of Actuaries' Exam P (Probability) on his first attempt in September 2017, chose actuarial science to assess risk in insurance, finance and other industries and professions.

"I've put so much work in the studies I've been doing now, and seeing all that hard work pay off has been incredible," Sikora said. "The reason I chose math and particularly actuarial science is that growing up, I was a good numbers guy. It just made sense to me. My senior year in high school, I took my first statistics class and just fell in love with the material."

Millikin's Department of Mathematics prepares actuarial science majors for two Society of Actuaries' exams, as well as two of the Validation by Educational Experience (VEE) requirements of the Society of Actuaries. The pass rate on the exam Sikora took is about 30 to 40 percent, and most students have to take it more than once to get a passing score.

"When our students do actuarial science they take a lot of business courses and many of them get a finance minor," said Dr. Joe Stickles, chair of the Mathematics Department at Millikin. "Being a math major gives you the skills to be able to succeed in almost anything that is science-related, business-related, because it teaches you how to think."

Dr. Stickles added, "Some math majors go on to law school because law is very logical, so choosing a math major to go to law school is a good choice. Philosophy is a good choice, but also psychology. Psychology programs love math people because they don't have to teach them all of the statistics."...

Dr. Stickles noted the importance of exposing Millikin mathematics majors to different experiences so that they are able to make changes and have the foundation to do anything they want to do.

"We're very big on getting our students to be able to do things independently," Dr. Stickles said.

Source: Millikin University

Career Spotlight: Inside Actuarial Science | Knowledge Wharton Highschool

"How’s this for an unexpected new-year trend: actuarial science" inform Knowledge@Wharton High School.

Take, for instance, a January 2018 headline from News24, South Africa’s largest digital publisher. Takalani Bambela from Limpopo’s Tshivhase Secondary School near Johannesburg achieved the region’s top score in math and science on his matric exam. Matriculation or matric is a term commonly used in South Africa to refer to the final year of high school and the qualification received on graduating from high school. Bambela told News24 that he plans to study actuarial science at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, adding, “With actuarial science, I will be able to use the mathematical skills which I would have attained … to help local businesses assess and manage the risks that they will encounter along the journey of their businesses. This will result in local businesses growing … then there will be more inflow of money into our country resulting in our economy growing.”

A world away near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the U.S., Michelle McGrath, a senior at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, is on a similar career track. McGrath, who was recently accepted to the University of Pennsylvania, also plans to study actuarial science. “I discovered my desire to be an actuary when I enrolled in AP Statistics my junior year of high school,” says McGrath, who this year is tackling AP Economics to further explore her interest in business. “I liked that there were a lot of real-world applications that we explored in statistics, which is not common for many math classes. I always knew that I wanted to major in something relating to math in college. Once my teacher mentioned being an actuary to the class, I explored the aspects of the job and thought it’d be the perfect major for me.”

From Johannesburg to Philadelphia and beyond, actuarial science is in demand these days. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employment of actuaries is projected to grow 22% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. And actuaries often rank high on lists of top STEM careers, top-paying jobs and even best jobs for women.
Read more... 

Source: Knowledge Wharton Highschool

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Two exciting books to help build strong girls | Science Book a Day

It’s a scientific fact: Women rock! 


Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Girls Think of Everything:
Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women

In kitchens and living rooms, in garages and labs and basements, even in converted chicken coops, women and girls have invented ingenious innovations that have made our lives simpler and better. Their creations are some of the most enduring (the windshield wiper) and best loved (the chocolate chip cookie). What inspired these women, and just how did they turn their ideas into realities?

Features women inventors Ruth Wakefield, Mary Anderson, Stephanie Kwolek, Bette Nesmith Graham, Patsy O. Sherman, Ann Moore, Grace Murray Hopper, Margaret E. Knight, Jeanne Lee Crews, and Valerie L. Thomas, as well as young inventors ten-year-old Becky Schroeder and eleven-year-old Alexia Abernathy. Illustrated in vibrant collage by Caldecott Honor artist Melissa Sweet.

Women In Science by Rachel Ignotofsky.
A illustrated gift book profiling 50 famous women scientists from the ancient Greek mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer, Hypatia, to Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist.

Women in Science:
50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more! 


Source: Science Book a Day

10 New Books We Recommend This Week| New York Times - Book Review - Editors’ Choice

Follow on Twitter as @johnwilliamsnyt
"Among our recommended works of fiction this week is Ali Smith’s “Winter,” an “insubordinate folk tale” that continues her projected quartet tied to the seasons" summarizes John Williams, Daily Books Editor and Staff Writer.

Two classic novels, Nella Larsen’s “Passing” (1929) and George S. Schuyler’s “Black No More” (1931), have been reissued in time for Black History Month. Ruby Namdar’s “The Ruined House” is an intense novel about Jewish life that won Israel’s most lucrative literary award. And Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s “The World Goes On” is full of the sprawling sentences for which the Hungarian writer has become known. In nonfiction, a wide array of subjects: threats to democracy, ancient crafts, strategy during the Vietnam War, Ezra Pound in confinement and the Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee’s literary criticism.


How Democracies Die
HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. (Crown, $26.)
In this “lucid and essential” guide, two political scientists write about the norms that have sustained American democracy, and argue that President Trump has tried to eviscerate more than one of those norms. Our critic Jennifer Szalai, summarizing the book’s circumspect conclusion, writes: “There is no democratic paradise, no easy way out. Democracy, when it functions properly, is hard, grinding work. This message may not be as loud and as lurid as what passes for politics these days, but it might be the one we need to hear.” 

Late Essays: 2006-2017
LATE ESSAYS: 2006-2017, by J. M. Coetzee. (Viking, $28.)  
In his own work, the Nobel Prize-winning author may reinvent the rules of fiction, but his literary criticism hews to more traditional formulas, enriched with fascinating biographies of writers and brilliant psychologizing of their characters. The subjects of these 23 essays include Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” and Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” 

Source: New York Times 

Clever coder uses AI to make disturbingly cool music videos | TNW - Artificial Intelligence

What happens when you take a perfectly good neural network and, figuratively, stick a screwdriver in its brain? writes Tristan Greene, sailor gleefully writing about consumer-friendly artificial intelligence advances.

Photo: TNW
You get melancholy glitch-art music videos that turn talking heads into digital puppets.

A machine learning developer named Jeff Zito made a series of music videos using a deep learning network based on Face2Face. Originally developed to generate stunningly realistic image transfers, like controlling a digital Obama in real-time using your own facial movements, this project takes it in a different direction.

Sometimes the best AI isn’t good enough. When it comes to art, for example, computations and algorithms often don’t matter as much as chaos and noise do. By fiddling with the network’s controls – essentially introducing less-than-optimum parameters — Zito was able to generate stark videos that remind us of everything weird about Max Headroom.

Lord Over- Reflection 

We reached out to Zito to find out where his inspiration came from, he told us:
The intention was to create art, absolutely. Training these networks with hi-def images takes days on the cloud, which unfortunately is not free, so there’s not a lot of room to experiment in a purposeless way. We had a few unsuccessful attempts, which in this backwards world means producing content that’s too accurate and sterile, before we started to understand what kind of content to use and how to utilize it effectively.

Source: TNW and Lord Over Channel (YouTube)

Weaving Music Through Life and Learning | Coronado Times Newspaper

Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.” ~Yo-Yo Ma

"While most people seem to agree that music education is of great importance and value to teaching a well-rounded child, school districts across the country are cutting music programs. Typically, it’s one of the first areas to go when budget cuts loom over schools" continues Christ Church Day School.

Photo: Christ Church Day School

At Christ Church Day School, we believe participating in music helps stimulate the brain in unique ways, which help children learn and grow. This activity in itself helps them academically, but when you infuse music into all aspects of learning, the benefits are exponential. That’s why we’ve made music education part of our curriculum and learning environment.

Twice a week, our music teacher teaches a half-hour class where students learn rhythm, music history (including lessons on classical composers), and songs that they will sing for chapel and around the flagpole daily. They also prepare pieces for the Christmas program and the Spring Sing in May. This year’s Spring Sing will include music from and around 1957 to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary.

Music class is not limited to singing. Our kids love the hands-on opportunity to play music as well. Upper grades are taught to use recorders and large hand bells, and students use the smaller hand bells, which sound beautiful when ringing through the chapel.

Students who enjoy the performance aspect of singing can join the after-school choir club. This choir sings prepared pieces at chapel services on Tuesday’s communion service. In a very special opportunity last December, the choir sang at the Hotel del Coronado. At this holiday kickoff with Santa and tree decorating, the CCDS choir sang festive and meaningful holiday tunes as one of the choral groups invited from the community.

Drop in on CCDS any given day and you’ll hear music at some point. Around the flagpole we sing patriotic songs as well as more standard songs that are great for kids to learn and carry with them as they grow older.

Each classroom has their own ways they infuse music into their academic schedule. Older students like to listen to classical music on their earphones while they work, while the younger kids love to sing songs that help them learn things like the days of the week or practice their math skills.

Source: Coronado Times Newspaper 

Are Computers Becoming Better at Composing Music than Humans? | KQED - Arts

Photo: Rachael Myrow
"Artificial intelligence is all the rage these days in Silicon Valley  – and no wonder. There appears to be no end to the possible applications" according to Rachael Myrow, KQED’s Silicon Valley Arts Reporter.

Some say AI is simply freeing humans of the boring tasks, so we can pursue activities that bring us joy. But what if AI is better at those things, too? Like, writing music?

For starters, we’re way past the advent of computer-composed music. That hurdle was crossed back in 1957 when professors Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign programmed the “Illiac Suite for String Quartet,” on the ILLIAC I computer.

Another big moment in computer music history: 1996, when Brian Eno’s album “Generative Music 1” was released on floppy disk, an old form of data storage familiar to Baby Boomers.
Here’s Eno back in the day talking about it on the now defunct BBC Radio 3 program, Mixing It. “To explain this simply, in the computer there’s a little synthesizer, basically. What I do is provide sets of rules that tell the computer how to make that sound card work,” Eno says.
The music his programming generated was different every time the program was run, but the code essentially dictated the output.

Today, scientists at lots of tech companies are working on something a little more sophisticated. Neural networks develop their own rules from the materials they’re fed.
Research scientist Doug Eck runs a group at Google called Magenta. “I think that what we’re doing that’s different from previous attempts to apply technology and computation to art is really caring about machine learning, specifically. Deep neural networks. Recurrent neural networks. Reinforcement learning.  I guess the best way to put it is: it’s easier to help a machine learn to solve a problem with data than to try to build the solution in.”... 

Music with Artificial Intelligence 

It’s not bad. It’s not quite my cup of tea, either, but a lot of what makes music exciting to me is messy, idiosyncratic and specific to time and place. Then again, wait a few years, and it’s possible AI will be able to replicate that, too.

Source: KQED and Andrew Huang Channel (YouTube)

New England Music Academy is a hidden gem | Community Advocate

Melanie Petrucci
Photo: Bonnie Adams
"Tucked away in an inconspicuous location in Westborough, the New England Music Academy (NEMA) is situated in a warm environment where children and adults can learn and explore music in a fun and accessible way" notes Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter.

A NEMA instructor  with a student.
Photo: submitted

Located in the Westborough Shopping Plaza, 30 Lyman Street, Suite 50, NEMA welcomes anyone who wants to learn and experience music, to come for a visit, check out a class and “grow together in music.”

NEMA founder Deanna Wong was looking for a music program for her son who was four at the time.  She wanted the best of both worlds.  She wanted real music theory for her son but didn’t want it to be intimidating, heavy and complex.

“We found a music school that did just that while living in Colorado.  They taught a parent-child team where the parent would learn everything with their child and it was real music,” Wong enthusiastically shared. They were learning about quarter notes and time signatures and all elements of music and it was geared toward the young child – the four, five and six-year-old.

When her family moved back to the East Coast, she wanted the same experience for her younger son.

“Every child should have this opportunity,” Wong said, adding, “To have this much fun learning about real music, its foundational.”

Wong was at a turning point in her life and knew that opening her own school was what she wanted to do. She found a curriculum very similar to the one in Colorado which was first and foremost, fun, because that’s how children learn. The New England Music Academy was born.

In business since 2005, NEMA has flourished. It continues to grow and classes fill quickly.  They are also continuing to hire experienced teachers to better serve their students’ needs.

Source: Community Advocate

Kids learn better through play | Cyprus Mail - Entertainment

"Kids normally have to get physically involved to learn, enjoy the process of learning and want to continue learning" inform Maria Gregoriou, Author at Cyprus Mail.

Next Saturday the capital will offer kids three choices to get involved with a hands-on way of learning, that will have them discover what negative space in art is, dive into the wonderful world of music and see how pictures can become animated.

The workshop dealing with negative space in art will run at the Loukia and Michael Zampelas Art Museum from 10am until 1pm. Children from seven-years-old will investigate the aesthetic and conceptual abilities of the negative space while using plaster.

Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject – not the subject itself – forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space occasionally is used to artistic effect as the real subject of an image.

Artist Rebecca Efstathiou will help participants explore the plastic properties of gypsum – a soft sulfate mineral that is the main substance in plaster – by using various moulds. By the end of the workshop, the children will have created a series of small sculptures.

Efstathiou, who studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, primarily works with abstract oil paintings and oil on paper. In recent years her work has explored the boundaries of brush marks and surface relationship, where an inner event occurs simultaneously with an outside one to create a constant battle of control.

The music workshop of the day, under the name One Love, will welcome children from five to 10-years-old to get involved in the world of reggae music with musician Elenitsa Georgiou.

Georgiou will get the kids involved in musical games that will get their energy levels up as they move to reggae vibes. The two-hour workshop will include a small introduction to the genre, a chance for the kids to see how the guitar plays a part in reggae music, choreographies that will have the kids dancing to the rhythm while also enjoying the funny side of dancing, improvisation with percussion instruments, while also enabling the kids to become an orchestra with their bells.

Music teacher Georgiou received her bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki. She then went on to receive a masters in Music and Creative Arts in Education from the University of Exeter. Georgiou has also attended workshops in mime, physical theatre, teaching music to children and folktale storytelling. She has organised and participated in theatrical performances for adults and children and musical concerts, singing traditional songs.

Source: Cyprus Mail 

What History And Fiction Teach Us About Women And Power | NPR - Culture

Photo: Tania Lombrozo
Psychologist Tania Lombrozo considers two books: In one, we learn what ancient Greece can tell us about Twitter trolls and, in the other, we're shown a world in which women have power over men. 

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Two recent books, one a manifesto by British classicist and Cambridge professor Mary Beard, the other a work of fiction by novelist and game designer Naomi Alderman, address — in different ways — the difficult relationship between women and power. 

When are women's voices heard? When and how do women have influence in public and private spheres? 

On the face of it, their messages are starkly at odds. Beard points to a possible future in which we reconceptualize what it means to be powerful, and in so doing create room for women to make a greater difference in the world. Alderman paints a possible future in which women have power — but their power comes with the subversion of the other sex, ultimately no different from the power men wield today. 

Yet, in more subtle ways, both books reveal a common truth: that things can change. Looking at the historical and at the hypothetical are both ways to appreciate that the current structures of power are not permanent features of human experience, but structures that we perpetually create and transform.

Women and Power:
A Manifesto

Beard's slim but potent volume, Women and Power: A Manifesto, is based on two lectures that she delivered in 2014 and 2017, both focusing on the silencing of women's voices in the public sphere. Early in the book, Beard recounts the story of a second-century lecturer who asked his audience to consider the following horror:

"An entire community was struck by the following strange affliction: all the men suddenly got female voices, and no male — child or adult — could say anything in a manly way. Would not that seem terrible and harder to bear than any plague?"
Beard tells us that in likening female voices with a plague, the lecturer wasn't joking. Public speech — and the right to speak — were regarded as defining features of masculinity. To strip men of their manly voices was to strip them of power, a power that was not extended to women.

Beard's volume draws on ancient roots, but its aim is not to describe a foreign past. In fact, the past she describes is distressingly familiar. In tracing continuities between Medusa and Hillary Clinton, between the rape of Philomela and the trolls who violently threaten outspoken women on Twitter (including the author herself), Beard hopes to reveal "just how deeply embedded in Western culture are the mechanisms that silence women, that refuse to take them seriously, and that sever them...from the centres of power." 

And yet, her message is ultimately optimistic. "You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male," she writes. But what you can do — what we must do — is change the structure...

The Power
Naomi Alderman's novel The Power begins with a premise that recalls the transformation that struck such horror in Beard's second-century lecturer. But in Alderman's work of fiction, it is the women who have changed. All over the world, teenage girls are developing an electrostatic ability that allows them to shock and sometimes even control their (potentially male) victims.

The result is a radical shift in power. At the start of the book, a young girl kills her rapist. In Moldova, victims of sexual slavery kill their captors. As the power spreads to younger and older women, it is men who must be fearful in dark alleyways at night.

With women's greater capacity for physical domination comes greater power in multiple spheres of influence, including politics, religion, and organized crime. But the result is decidedly not a more nurturing and harmonious world. The atrocities remain familiar: corruption, misappropriation, harassment, even rape. It is simply that the victims are men, and the perpetrators women.

Source: NPR