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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

9 people who were way ahead of their time | Culture & Religion - Big Think

  • Sometimes, people are so far ahead of the curve that it takes everybody else hundreds of years to catch up to their ideas.
  • While many people are content to quietly sit back and flow with popular opinion, these nine thinkers let the world know what it was doing wrong, often with major consequences.
  • These great thinkers remind us that taking an unpopular, bold stance might not be madness.

These great thinkers remind us that taking an unpopular, bold stance might not be madness, observes Scotty Hendricks, Chicago based writer.

Photo: Big Think
It's been said that when you're one step ahead of the crowd you're a genius but that two steps ahead make you a crackpot. In some cases, people were so far ahead of their time that they would seem progressive even today, despite hundreds of years of history slowly working to catch up to them.

Here, we have nine scientific and social visionaries who were well ahead of everybody else. The names of others like them have been lost to history, buried under the weight of popular opinion. These bold few are the ones we know about.

Source: Big Think 

Letters to the Editor: Early math instruction | Opinion - San Francisco Chronicle

Regarding “New math pays dividends in S.F. schools” (Open Forum, Oct. 29): It was refreshing to read the article. 

Journalist Megyn Kelly speaks during the Fortune's Most Powerful Women conference in Dana Point, California, U.S., on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. The conference brings together leading women in business, government, philanthropy, education and the arts for conversations to inspire and deliver advice.
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg
However, I was disappointed that the focus was simply on middle school math. If children are to have a solid basis in mathematics, it should begin in first grade with emphasis on internalizing number facts such as addition and subtraction up to 20. As a former first-grade teacher, I was frustrated by the shallow curriculum I had to follow. I had to introduce a new concept each week, without the children having grasped the previous week’s math. Why a 6-year-old needs to be exposed to fractions and decimals when they don’t have the automaticity of knowing 10 + 2 is beyond my understanding. Thank you Alan Schoenfeld and Jo Boaler for encouraging the need to go “deeper” in mathematical concepts before continuing on to higher math. But I would suggest the foundational background of mathematics begin in first grade and continue onward. Perhaps then, students will be more prepared for higher math when they reach middle school.

Juanita Usher, Santa Cruz

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

New digital tool to support teachers is developed | MOOCs - The Centre for Global Higher Education

A paper due to be published in a special issue of the British Journal of Educational Technology on Learning Design in November 2018 shows how digital technology can support teachers by enabling collaboration.

The paper, co-authored by CGHE researchers Professor Diana Laurillard and Dr Eileen Kennedy from the UCL Institute of Education, assesses the potential of a new digital tool to develop and support a knowledge-building teaching professional community. The tool, called the Learning Designer, aims to help teachers design effective teaching methods by sharing pedagogic ideas and knowledge.

Teaching knowledge cannot be reduced to a set of guidelines or captured on video by ‘expert teachers’, the researchers point out. The Learning Designer promises an online, international system that draws on the insights and experiments of teachers testing innovations in multiple local contexts. This enables teachers to share teaching ideas across disciplines and understand how generic teaching ideas can be customised.

The researchers assessed the tool’s effectiveness through a number of international online events and a series of MOOCs. They found a high level of acceptance by teachers around the world and across all sectors, indicating a strong desire from teachers to be part of a professional collaborative community...

The researchers assessed the tool’s effectiveness through a number of international online events and a series of MOOCs. They found a high level of acceptance by teachers around the world and across all sectors, indicating a strong desire from teachers to be part of a professional collaborative community.

The next stage of the researchers’ project will be to develop the tool’s capacity to support peer review and collaboration on developing designs. They plan to integrate the tool with virtual learning environments and will also investigate its impact on learners.

The Learning Designer tool is free to use for all teachers and is available at
Read more... 

Source: The Centre for Global Higher Education

Why Women Need Net Neutrality | Celebrity - InStyle

Badass Women celebrates women who show up, speak up, and get things done, according to the only woman on the FCC, says Torey Van Oot, Freelance Writer at Self-Employed.

Photo: Courtesy Jessica Rosenworcel

As a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Jessica Rosenworcel is charged with regulating the nation’s radio, television, and phone industries. That means, she makes the rules that govern everything from your WIFI access to your wireless service. “Being able to see what's happening first in technology is extraordinary,” she says. “I feel like I've got a front row seat at the digital revolution, and every day I'm in awe at how new technologies are changing every aspect of social and commercial life.”

The role also puts the 47-year-old lawyer at the center of major policy debates surrounding net neutrality (an open internet for all) and telemedicine (two-way interaction between patients and doctors) all while also overseeing the rules that govern deciding who can own the local TV stations that deliver the nightly news to millions of homes. These are responsibilities she doesn’t take lightly...

But beyond that, she’s using her power and platform — whether through passing policy encouraging young girls to pursue STEM or launching her own new podcast — to increase representation and visibility of women throughout the communication and tech industries.
Read more... 

Source: InStyle 

IoT on Campus: Higher Ed Gets Smarter | Government Technology

In many ways, college campuses are the ultimate environment for the IoT to flourish. 

They operate much like small cities — with buildings and other facilities, transportation systems, waste and recycling, security personnel and more — and their inhabitants are digital natives who thrive on using technology to go about their daily lives or solve problems. 

DOWNLOAD this infographic to learn how IoT can help you transform your campus. 

Source: Government Technology  

Cranfield Aviation Training launches e-learning | IT-Online

At Cranfield Aviation Training, more than 6 000 students are certified per year.

With over 80 courses available to all flight deck, cabin crew personnel and flight engineers, Cranfield has remained relevant and embraced all advancements in the aviation industry over the past 20 years.

This is made evident with its recent training addition, a remote pilot license training for drones.

“We realised that the modern day learner is no longer content with training in a classroom environment,” says Mandy Tebbit, director for Cranfield Aviation Training. “To ensure our longevity as the leading provider of training in aviation, we needed to meet the demands of the new learner and embarked on a search for an e-learning platform that was feature rich yet cost-effective, and selected aNewSpring.”

She says that today’s learners want the flexibility and convenience that anywhere, anytime learning provides: “The classroom element will never disappear completely especially when it comes to courses that have a practical component. It also remains a preferred method among some of our older members when completing their annual recurrency training.”

Source: IT-Online

8 Student Personality Types in Distance Learning Part 2 | Online Education - Faculty Focus

The first part of this article spent time discussing some of the less motivated student personality types I have encountered through the years, as well as providing some context to the learning environment, acccording to Lieutenant Colonel (R) Jack T. Judy, assistant professor at the Army University’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC).  

Photo: Faculty Focus
Distance learning (DL) presents a unique set of challenges for instructors ranging from the basics like methodologies to interact with students, to motivating students to keep pace with the curriculum and help them balance the external challenges like family and work issues; student types being part of the equation. We already discussed “After the Fact Jack,” “Intermittent Irene,” “The Winger,” and “Coat Tail Tom,” so it’s time to explore some of the other types.

Related link

Photo: Faculty Focus
8 Student Personality Types in Distance Learning Part 1 by Lieutenant Colonel (R) Jack T. Judy, assistant professor at the Army University’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC).  
"Part two of this article addresses some of the more motivated personality types along with some approaches for them as well."

Source: Faculty Focus

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The 40 New Skills You Can Now Learn on LinkedIn Learning | Learning Blog - LinkedIn Learning

Paul Petrone, Editor - LinkedIn Learning writes, Each week presents a new opportunity for you and your team to learn the skills necessary to take on the next big challenge.

Photo:  Learning Blog - LinkedIn Learning

And, at LinkedIn Learning, we want to do everything we can to help make that happen.

So, each week, we add to our 13,000+ course library. And this past week was no different, as we added 33 new courses covering everything from IT security to data science to marketing to sales.

The new courses now available on LinkedIn Learning are:

Source: Learning Blog - LinkedIn Learning

Special program focuses on innovations of 2018 Nobel Prize laureates | Misericordia University

Who are the newest Nobel Laureates and what is the significance of the work that earned them such prestigious recognition? inform Misericordia University News.

The College of Arts and Sciences at Misericordia University will explore the accomplishments and innovations behind five Nobel Prize awards with the free program, "2018 Nobel Prize Award Winner Highlights," on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Dudrick and Muth Rooms 216 and 217 of Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall.

Members of the university will offer a fast-paced overview of each award and a snapshot of each Nobel Laureate, summarizing the work that led to the prize and its significance as presented in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, economics and peace. The program is open to the public.

"This is our second year of examining the people and innovations that have earned some of the world's most sought-after awards," said Heidi L.K. Manning, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "The Nobel prizes span a breadth of academic fields, from peace to science to economics, much like the liberal arts education we provide at Misericordia. We believe it is important for our students to be aware of the wide range of these groundbreaking achievements, from cancer research to combating war crimes. We feel it is beneficial to our students and community to be exposed to the latest discoveries in such a variety of areas." 

Grad Student Reads: The Professor Is In | GradHacker - Inside Higher Ed

Here's interesting blog post from GradHacker: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online.

Photo: Image by Flickr User Dimitry B. and used in the Creative Commons.
Preparing for the job market with the help of Karen Kelsky's book, The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. into a Job, says Carolyn TrietschPhD candidate in Entomology at Penn State.

If you are a graduate student and you want to get a job in academia, then you need The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. into a Job. Also, if you’re a graduate student like me, and you might be interested in academia but you really have no idea what kind of a job you’re heading towards, then this is still a really useful book.

The author, Karen Kelsky, Ph.D, is a former tenured professor who left academia and founded The Professor Is In, a website and counseling service aimed at helping Ph.D. students land jobs. Her book is a no-nonsense approach to navigating grad school and the job market. Published in 2015, the book is still relevant and full of useful tips and advice on how students can help themselves. (It has helped other GradHackers as well.)

She knows the job market is tough. She knows that advisors don’t always help, or may not even know how to help. What do you do in such tough circumstances? Her answer is simple: "Have your own back. Protect yourself" (28). And this is Kelsky’s aim and purpose: to teach us graduate students how to advocate for ourselves...

Though the book’s subtitle, "Turning your Ph.D. into a Job," appears broad at first, the book is actually focused on one specific type of job: a tenure track position. I was surprised at this, especially after reading part one, which is titled “Dark Times in the Academy.’ Part of the reason I picked up this book was because I thought it would help me explore jobs outside of academia, but that is not really its scope. Given that the author starts her book with facts and figures showing the decline of the academic job market and discusses her own decision to leave academia, I did not expect her to spend the next 300+ pages discussing how to get a job in the very same field she left.  

Additional resources 

The Professor Is In:
The Essential Guide To
Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job

Source: Inside Higher Ed

4 Reasons to Read 'Capitalism in America’ | Technology and Learning - Inside Higher Ed

Technology and Learning
Dr. Joshua Kim, Director of Digital Learning Initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL). insist, Why academics seem to be skeptical of an economic history co-authored by Alan Greenspan.

Capitalism in America:
A History by Alan Greenspan
and Adrian Wooldridge

People on campus are always asking me what I’m reading.

Last week, my answer to the reading query had been to say that I’m reading a book co-authored by Alan Greenspan about the history of American capitalism.

Typically, colleagues are polite about my book choices. They express interest. They mention similar books.

In the case of Capitalism in America, the local campus response has been less positive. The sticking point does not seem to be the subject. Everyone I know loves a good economic history.

Rather, the problem lies with the co-author. Why they wonder, would I want to read a book by Alan Greenspan?

The general campus consensus in my completely unscientific and non-representative sampling is that academics think that any book on economics by the former Chair of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006) is bound to be self-serving and ideological.  When I inform my campus colleagues that the book is neither, they don’t believe me...

Capitalism in America would make a fine book for today’s college students to read. They should know how far we have come. They should be exposed to ideas about the proper role of the market and of government, even if those ideas need to be thoroughly debated.

If this book is assigned, however, an effort needs to be made to convince our students that the future is exciting and scary and unknowable - but likely better than the past or the present.
Read more... 

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Monday, October 29, 2018

Cornwall and area teachers learn how to code at Teacher.con | Local News - Standard Freeholder

It was the teacher’s turn to learn on Saturday as Canada Learning Code came into town for Teacher.con, continues Standard Freeholder.

Nima Boscarina speaks to teachers about coding at the Teacher.con on Saturday October 27, 2018 at the Nav Centre in Cornwall, Ont. Lois
Photo: Ann Baker/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network
“We are a national program,” said Sharon Brown. “We are a national charity. We have been recipients of some very generous funds so we can offer Teacher.con. This is our 12th across the country.”

Brown said they started Teacher.con in June and groups varied from smaller ones like the one in Cornwall, into larger ones of over 100 teachers.

“It’s a multi-day experience,” she said. “We offer different platforms and different tools. It’s not just one way of coding, it is many ways of coding. We are looking at vocabularies that are standard to all coding. So very beginner basic levels for teachers, we have lesson plans.”

Brown said the lesson plans are all created by teachers to integrate coding lessons into specific areas and across grade levels. She added they had a lesson plan challenge across Canada where teachers could submit a sample lesson plan for coding...

Brown said the idea is for teachers to learn how to code so they can bring it back to their classrooms.

“We do talk about the importance of coding. Why coding? Why is this such an important skill,” said Brown. ”We believe it is a super-power, first of all. And it’s a digital literacy our learners need to be exposed to in order to understand this world we live in today. We hope this will help them become more than just consumers of technology, but creators with technology.

Source: Standard Freeholder

What is Generation Alpha? | Lifestyle - Newshub

Aziz Al-Sa'afin, has travelled all around the country as a roving reporter covering everything from breaking news to Fieldays reports, The first group who will be immersed in technology their entire lives.

Watch the video
Generation Alpha, born between 2010 and 2025, the children of Millennials, are the first group who will be immersed in technology their entire lives, summarizes Aziz Al-Sa'afin, travelled all around the country as a roving reporter covering everything from breaking news to Fieldays.

While their parents, the Millennials, are informally known as digital natives, many alphas will have a digital footprint before they even understand the term. 

Social media presenter Aziz Al-Sa'afin spoke to Duncan Garner. 
Read more... 

Source: Newshub

The steps universities must take to secure peace and reconciliation | Opinion - Times Higher Education (THE)

Higher education can play a lead role in mending past injustices in innovative and sustainable ways, says Joanna Newman, chief executive and secretary general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Photo: iStock
A new Indigenous map of Canada made its parliamentary debut in Ottawa earlier this month. In place of provincial borders lie markings of green, purple and yellow, each one representing Indigenous territories. Also marked are the names of the traditional languages where they are commonly spoken – Cree languages, Inuktitut and Ojibway, alongside many more.

The map is one part of Canada’s response to its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which recommended the creation of a “culturally appropriate” curriculum when it wrapped up in 2015.

It is also part of a recent history of governments around the world proving receptive to innovative approaches to peace and reconciliation.

Securing peace and reconciliation anywhere is an inherently complex pursuit. Yet it has fast become an issue that defines our time. Without it, countries are riven by conflict, communities are fragmented and people face undue suffering...

This month the Association of Commonwealth Universities launched the Peace and Reconciliation Network. This will provide resources and opportunities for higher education institutions to collaborate on research, teaching and learning and student and staff exchanges.
Bringing together common historical ties and diverse cultures, the network offers a global framework for progressive thinking, shared ideas, and even joint action, around higher education’s response to these challenges.

Source: Times Higher Education (THE) 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

5 Projects That Show How STEAM Can Shape the Future | Future of Learning - Singularity Hub

We tend to compartmentalize our understanding of the world into “subjects.” From a very young age, we are misled to believe that science is separate from art, which is separate from history, which is separate from economics, and so on, argues Raya Bidshahri, Founder & CEO of Awecademy, an online platform that gives young minds the opportunity to learn, connect and contribute to human progress.

Photo: NASA images/Shutterstock

However, a true understanding of the world and our place in it requires interconnections between many disciplines and ways of thinking. Global challenges, whether they be climate change or wealth inequality, cannot be tackled with a single isolated discipline, but rather require a convergence of subjects and thinking tools.

Such is where the convergence of science and arts is actually more natural than is often assumed. STEAM is an educational approach to learning that combines science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. The arts in this context refer not only to the fine arts, but also to the liberal arts and humanities.

STEM education by itself misses the development of critical 21st-century skills that are required as we head towards the Imagination Age and a creative economy. STEAM doesn’t only result in more meaningful learning, but also contributes to more divergent thinking, and consequently, creative innovation. It is also a powerful tool for communicating scientific thought and global issues to the general public.

The below artistic projects celebrate harmony between science and the arts.
Read more... 

Source: Singularity Hub

Philosopher of The Month: William Godwin [timeline] | OUPblog

Panumas King, marketing executive for philosophy at Oxford University Press summarizes, This October, the OUP Philosophy team honours William Godwin (1756–1836) as their Philosopher of the Month.

Photo: Caspar David Friedrich, Mondaufgang am Meer, Moonrise over the Sea, 1822. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Godwin was a moral and political philosopher and a prolific writer, best-known for his political treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’ and ‘Things as they were or Caleb Williams’, a political allegorical novel.

Born in East Anglia in 1756, Godwin came from the family of Religious Dissenting tradition and was trained to be a minister, following in his father’s footsteps. He had a change of heart and embarked on a literary career, espousing Enlightenment ideas. In 1796 he married Mary Wollstonecraft, the first major feminist philosopher and the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and their daughter Mary Shelley, the famous writer of the gothic novel, Frankenstein, was born the following year.

Godwin was a key figure in the British radical republican milieu. An Enquiry concerning Political Justice, published in 1793, established him as a proponent of philosophical anarchism. It was written during the British crisis in the 1790s when liberty and the questions about the sacred, natural rights of man were on everyone’s mind. Godwin argues that governments should be abolished since they oppress and infringe liberty. 

Source: OUPblog (blog)  

A Faculty Plea: Put Books Back in the Bookstore | Books and Publishing - Inside Higher Ed

Lindsay McKenzie, Technology Reporter at Inside Higher Ed reports, Unhappy with a new online-only book ordering system,  professors at Middlebury College are calling for books be put back on the shelves of their college bookstore.

The Middlebury College bookstore, when its shelves held textbooks.
Photo: Hope Allison, The Middlebury Campus

The Middlebury College bookstore doesn't look much like a bookstore anymore. The textbooks that once lined its shelves were cleared out earlier this year, making room for more Middlebury-branded sweatshirts, T-shirts and coffee mugs.

The bookstore, like many others at colleges across the country, had suffered from declining sales and stiff competition from large online retailers such as Amazon.

Bookstore manager Erin Jones-Poppe said it simply didn’t make sense for the store to keep stocking books.

"We cannot afford to continue in our current trajectory," she told the student newspaper, The Middlebury Campus, in 2017.

Last spring the bookstore switched to an online-only book ordering system, offered through MBS Textbook Exchange -- a company that was acquired by Barnes and Noble Education in 2017. Under the new system, students can still pick up their books from the bookstore -- they just have to order them online first. The system is supposed to provide better value for students. But faculty members at Middlebury say they want the old system back.

In a letter to the college administration, published in The Middlebury Campus on Oct. 11, faculty from the English and American literature and theater departments and 12 individual faculty members from other disciplines said the new online system had “a significant negative pedagogical impact.”...

Middlebury College is not alone in eliminating books from its bookstore in recent years.
Robert Batyko, social media and digital manager of the National Association of College Stores, said a few hundred institutions have moved course material ordering and delivery online. Nearly all the others do some combination of both online and physical textbook ordering and delivery, he said.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

The 6 Books This Clinical Psychologist Has All Her Students Read To Understand The Human Spirit | Personal Growth -

Photo: Kristina Hallett
Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, is a board-certified clinical psychologist, associate professor, executive coach, and author explains, A crash course on understanding this strange human species. 

Photo: Alina Hvostikova

You might be surprised to learn this, but training for mental health professionals typically focuses on standard textbooks, professional articles, and case material. What is not included in that training are any of the blockbuster books in the areas of personal growth and development. That's right—formal education in working with people and mental health does not include any mention of TED talks, self-help, or items that hit the New York Times best-sellers list that have been inspiring millions to take charge of their own wellness and growth.

For a profession that aims to meet people where they are and enhance their quality of life, this is a huge missed opportunity. This is not to suggest that professional mental health training abandon the science and wisdom of traditional training, nor is it an endorsement of all personal development literature across the board. But there is a wealth of knowledge available outside of peer-reviewed journals that can help us understand the nature of the human spirit. The best news? Anyone can access this information in order to understand how their mind works and learn strategies for change.

The following list highlights books I consider essential reading for everyone—required reading for my students, strongly recommended for my clients, and the subject of ongoing gifts to friends and family. By reading these six books, you will develop a new way to understand stress, reduce discomfort in social situations (and always know what to say!), face fear, and recognize the power of your thoughts to guide your actions. Most importantly, reading them is a way to truly know that you are not alone in your self-doubt and feelings of vulnerability. Each of these books interweaves science and personal experience, highlighting the courage in being who you are and learning ways to shift your perspective and thereby shift your life.
Read more... 


7 Essential Fall Books by and About Women Who Rock | Books - Vulture

Writing women into music history has taken some time, according to Amanda Wicks, Freelance Writer and Editor.

Photo: Vulture
NPR’s ongoing “Turning the Tables” series has been working to shift the canon with lists and essays aimed at rebalancing coverage, and other outlets have joined the effort. The industry has a ways to go — music festivals still book lopsided lineups, and country radio ignores and harasses women artists — but on bookshelves, women are beginning to elbow the Beatles and Stones homages out of the way. Collections like Woman Walk the Line and Pretty Good for a Girl rub spines with memoirs from indie goddesses Carrie Brownstein and Kim Gordon. Adding to that ever-growing list, here are seven new — and necessary — books by and about women artists and their momentous work.
Read more... 

Source: Vulture

6 New Books We Recommend This Week | Book Review - New York Times

Follow on Twitter as @GregoryCowles
Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times by Gregory Cowles, Senior Editor, Books.

Anybody interested in a quick survey of United States history could do worse than this week’s recommended titles. Start with Sean Wilentz’s “No Property in Man,” which argues that the Constitution’s framers took pains (however strangled or surreptitious they were) to ensure slavery’s eventual demise. Then move on to David W. Blight’s new biography of Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who as an orator became one of the towering figures of the abolition movement and lived three decades past emancipation to see the cusp of the 20th century. Then read Deborah Blum’s account of industrial food practices in the early 1900s, and of the government regulator who made it his mission to combat contamination and outright fraud. Finally, Derek Leebaert’s “Grand Improvisation” traces America’s rise as a superpower after World War II, and argues that Britain played a bigger role than is generally acknowledged.

If you’re looking for a more global perspective — or just for some fiction, after all that history — we also recommend a novel about sexual politics and fertility in traditional Indian society, and a historical novel about a mermaid on the loose in 18th-century London.

Source: New York Time  

Haruki Murakami: ‘You have to go through the darkness before you get to the light’ | Books + Interviews - The Guardian

His surreal stories are read by millions but the Japanese novelist is bemused by his celebrity. The eternal Nobel favourite reveals why his books appeal in times of chaos, inform Oliver Burkeman, Guardian writer. 

Haruki Murakami rises at 4am to write for five or six hours before a six-mile run and a swim.
Photo: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

The day before we meet in Manhattan, a woman stopped Haruki Murakami in Central Park, where he had come for his late-morning run. “Excuse me,” she said, “but aren’t you a very famous Japanese novelist?” A faintly odd way of putting the question, but Murakami responded in his usual equable manner. “I said ‘No, really I’m just a writer. But still, it’s nice to meet you!’ And then we shook hands. When people stop me like that, I feel very strange, because I’m just an ordinary guy. I don’t really understand why people want to meet me.”

It would be a mistake to interpret this as false modesty, but equally wrong to see it as genuine discomfort with fame: so far as it’s possible to tell, the 69-year-old Murakami neither relishes nor dislikes his global celebrity. His outlook, instead, is that of a curious if slightly bemused spectator – both of the surreal stories that emerge from his subconscious, and of the fact that they are devoured by readers in their millions, in Japanese and in translation. It’s surely no coincidence that the typical Murakami protagonist is a similarly detached observer: a placid, socially withdrawn and often nameless man in his mid-30s, who seems more intrigued than alarmed when an inexplicable phone call, or the search for a lost cat, leads him into a dreamlike parallel universe populated by exploding dogs, men in sheep costumes, enigmatic teenage girls and people with no faces.

Murakami has a theory that this mesmerising literary formula appeals particularly in times of political chaos. “I was so popular in the 1990s in Russia, at the time they were changing from the Soviet Union – there was big confusion, and people in confusion like my books,” he explains, sipping water in a conference room at the offices of his American literary agency. “In Germany, when the Berlin Wall fell down, there was confusion – and people liked my books.” If that’s right, Donald Trump’s America and Brexit Britain should prove especially fertile markets for his 14th novel, Killing Commendatore, a 674-page dose of high Murakami weirdness, translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen and published in the UK on 9 October...

The key moments in Murakami’s emergence as a writer share this sense of having arisen from somewhere beyond his conscious control. Born in 1949 in Kyoto, during the postwar American occupation of Japan, Murakami disappointed his parents by spurning a corporate career in favour of opening a jazz club in Tokyo, Peter Cat, named after his pet. A few years later he was in the stands at a baseball stadium watching the ball sail off the bat of an American player named Dave Hilton, when it suddenly occurred to him that he could write a novel, an epiphany that led to Hear the Wind Sing (1979). Soon after, when the Japanese literary magazine Gunzo woke him one weekend with a phone call informing him that the novel had been shortlisted for its new writers’ prize, he hung up, then went for a walk with his wife, Yoko. They found an injured pigeon, which they carried to the local police station. “That Sunday was bright and clear, and the trees, the buildings, and the shop windows sparkled beautifully in the spring sunlight,” he wrote years later. “That’s when it hit me. I was going to win the prize. And I was going to go on to become a novelist who would enjoy some degree of success. It was an audacious presumption, but I was sure at that moment that it would happen. Completely sure. Not in a theoretical way but directly and intuitively.”
Read more... 

Source: The Guardian

Browse a bookshop: London Review Bookshop, Bloomsbury | Books - The Guardian

Bestsellers and recommendations from one of London’s most literary corners, notes Anita Sethi, writer and journalist.

The London Review Bookshop, near the British Museum.
Photo: Alamy
The London Review Bookshop, which celebrated its 15th birthday this year, is located a stone’s throw from the British Museum, has a selection of more than 20,000 titles, and hosts more than 200 events a year. “It’s a place for people who love books to meet, talk, drink excellent tea and coffee and consume delicious cake at the London Review Cake Shop – and of course, to browse books,” says bookshop manager Natalia de la Ossa. “We look forward to finding you the books you know you need, and, more importantly, the ones you didn’t know you needed.”
Read more... 

Source: The Guardian

Haruhi Helps Crack a 25-Year-Old Mathematical Conundrum | Interest - Anime News Network

There's a long standing fan argument of the correct way to watch The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, as Anime News Network reports.

When the first anime season premiered on TV, the episodes were not shown in chronological order. The anime was then released on home video but with the episodes rearranged sequentially. The original episode order added an element of mystery to a series that already includes ESPers, time-travelers, and aliens. Given the supernatural events taking place left and right, there's an argument to be made about which episode order is more "correct."

A poster on 4chan's science message board posited a simple question in 2011, "which way is the most efficient way to watch every possible order of The Melancholy on Haruhi Suzumiya's 14 episodes?" No one expected the answer to have real-life applications outside of anime fandom, much less help crack a conundrum that's stumped mathematicians for the last 25 years.

Computer scientist and mathematician Robin Houston discovered the question on the Math and Science wikia page and tweeted about it on Tuesday. An anonymous 4chan poster had offered a solution to the question and inadvertently also helped solve part of a mathematical equation focusing on superpermutations...

Professional mathematicians have double-checked the anonymous poster's work and it checks out. Marquette University's Jay Pantone offered up a rewrite of the answer's proof for other mathematicians.  

Source: Anime News Network

Human Rights without humans: The final line between artificial and superhuman intelligences | Opinion - The Hill

Photo: Jose Mauricio Gaona
Jose Mauricio Gaona, O’Brien Fellow at the McGill Center for Human Rights (CHRLP), a Saul Hayes Fellow at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, and a Vanier Canada Scholar (Social Sciences, Humanities, and Research Council of Canada SSHRC) asks if we develop a conscious artificial being or a super-intelligent human being, what rights then prevail?

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Human intelligence precedes civilization; artificial and superhuman intelligences, however, will redefine it. Current research in artificial general intelligence (AGI) and intelligence enhancement (IE) seek to remove human error from their most ambitious technological quests. On the one hand, using evolutionary algorithms, AGI aims to develop a fully automated, increasingly independent, gradually cognitive, and eventually conscious artificial being. On the other hand, using neurotechnology, IE intends to create a super-intelligent and inherently different human being capable to counteract the inexorable ascension of machines in the next few years.

But what is the limit of such scientific enterprises? If we develop a conscious artificial being or a super-intelligent human being, what rights then prevail: human rights, artificial- or superhuman- rights? How far should we go to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, our ability to innovate, or other less noble yet often prevailing reasons such as productivity, greed, or power?...

As MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfssen explains, AI machine learning provides machines with sometimes a million-fold improvement in their performance enabling them to solve problems on their own. That is, outside human supervision, despite human nature and, ergo the risk.
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Source: The Hill