How Many Shades of Gray?

Issues are rarely black & white. The more shades of gray, the more interesting the issue...and the harder it is to have a rational discussion.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

WSJ: What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?

Interesting read, even though it is a bit wordy.  I really liked this:
In November, a U.S. delegation visited, hoping to learn how Scandinavian educators used technology. Officials from the Education Department, the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians saw Finnish teachers with chalkboards instead of whiteboards, and lessons shown on overhead projectors instead of PowerPoint. Keith Krueger was less impressed by the technology than by the good teaching he saw. "You kind of wonder how could our country get to that?" says Mr. Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, an association of school technology officers that organized the trip.


Another good snippet:
Once school starts, the Finns are more self-reliant. While some U.S. parents fuss over accompanying their children to and from school, and arrange every play date and outing, young Finns do much more on their own. At the Ymmersta School in a nearby Helsinki suburb, some first-grade students trudge to school through a stand of evergreens in near darkness. At lunch, they pick out their own meals, which all schools give free, and carry the trays to lunch tables. There is no Internet filter in the school library. They can walk in their socks during class, but at home even the very young are expected to lace up their own skates or put on their own skis.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Who is paying taxes?

Very interesting stats on who is paying federal taxes.

I found it very interesting that 46.9% paid NO tax.......

Good photo of the Orion Nebula

For the astronomy or SF fans out there.

Full size is 12640 x 15546 pixels, but they have a few wallpaper size JPGs.

CWCID:   Bad Astronomy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lightly Loaded

Running a bit behind Marko and Jay, but I eventually got around to emptying my pockets.

Very thin All-Ett billfold, keys with Leatherman Micra, Puma locking-blade knife, Sony cell phone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Public Schools in Boston

I was reading "Geeky Mama blogs about school lottery" in today's Boston Globe.  I found this stat fascinating:
It’s dizzying, and daunting - perhaps too daunting for some, which may be one reason about one-quarter of the 80,000 school-age children in Boston don’t attend Boston public schools.
Think about that . . . ~ 1/4 of the school-age kids in Boston do NOT go to public school.  I wonder if any other towns in MA have similar stats?

Oh, and her blog is Braving the BPS Lottery.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Update: Outsourcing is not an option

Last week I provided a short review of Backblaze.  Since then the initial backup has been completed.

Overall, I was very pleased as it backed up 227 GB of data in less than a week.  So impressed I actually opened my virtual credit card and bought a subscription.

For $50/per year, an online backup service like Backblaze should be in everyone's armory.

So please don't outsource data protection to chance.  Do something!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Some health care stats to ponder . . .

"22,000 Americans die every year because they lack adequate health care coverage."

A few other stats....

Preventable Medicare hospital deaths:  195,000 per year  Not sure I believe this stat, but even if it is off by a factor of 10 that almost equals the first stat....  I found this very interesting:  "This Medicare population represented approximately 45 percent of all hospital admissions (excluding obstetric patients) in the U.S. from 2000 to 2002."  ( ).

Traffic fatalities:  In 2007, about 41K fatalities, of which ~13K were related to drunk driving ( )

Preventable life-style related deaths:

Smoking:  467,000 per year ( ).

Drinking:  Number of alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides: 22,073
               Number of alcoholic liver disease deaths: 13,050  ( )

And I love this example:

Why do LASIK surgery costs keep going down?
I'm getting LASIK eye surgery tomorrow, and while researching the procedure I ran across some interesting data. The cost of LASIK has decreased ~70% since its inception, despite significant technological breakthroughs that make it more effective and less risky. Meanwhile general health care costs have increased at an annual rate double, or more than double, the rate of inflation for the last two decades.
LASIK is normally not covered by insurance, so potential customers can, and do, shop for value.....

I hate to draw any radical conclusions from those numbers, but I'll give it a shot:  Perhaps the US should be dealing with other issues before directly tackling the health insurance "problem". Not only could we save money upfront, but it would make the overall cost problem a bit smaller....

For voters in Massachusetts, think about this when voting on Tuesday.