Ivy League Admissions Are a Sham: Confessions of a Harvard Gatekeeper
Overblown clickbaity headline but am bookmarking as evidence to be used in a future blog post.
social-inequality  social-engineering 
7 days ago
Project Zero: Exploiting the DRAM rowhammer bug to gain kernel privileges
Just amazing, and frustrating from the point of view of a programmer who generally tries to build secure systems. Use ECC RAM, kids.
hardware  hacking  security  operating-systems  exploits 
18 days ago
The Next Internet Is TV - The Awl
<< it’s not too hard to imagine how Content Internet’s web abandonment accelerates. Following a brief and painful period of can’t-beat-em-join-em soul searching, companies with the most financial and operational freedom experiment with channels in apps. “More people are over there, but we are here, so why don’t we go over there?” managers will ask-splain in tense meetings. These companies suddenly reach more people than ever. Some of them figure out how to make a lot of money in the process, either from some sort of revenue sharing or through sponsored content. They begin to see their websites as Just One More App, and realize that fewer people are using them, proportionally, than before. Eventually they might even symbolically close their websites, finishing the job they started when they all stopped paying attention to what their front pages looked like. Then, they will do a whole lot of what they already do, according to the demands of their new venues. They will report news and tell stories and post garbage and make mistakes. They will be given new metrics that are both more shallow and more urgent than ever before; they will adapt to them, all the while avoiding, as is tradition, honest discussions about the relationship between success and quality and self-respect. They will learn to cater to the structures within which they are working and come up with some new forms. Some of what worked in print didn’t work on the web; some of what worked on the web didn’t work on social media; some of what worked on social media won’t work in these apps. (If you think Facebook had a distorting effect on news as a mere referrer, just wait until it’s a host.)
In this future, what publications will have done individually is adapt to survive; what they will have helped do together is take the grand weird promises of writing and reporting and film and art on the internet and consolidated them into a set of business interests that most closely resemble the TV industry. Which sounds extremely lucrative! TV makes a lot of money, and there’s a lot of excellent TV. But TV is also a byzantine nightmare of conflict and compromise and trash and waste and legacy. The prospect of Facebook, for example, as a primary host for news organizations, not just an outsized source of traffic, is depressing even if you like Facebook. A new generation of artists and creative people ceding the still-fresh dream of direct compensation and independence to mediated advertising arrangements with accidentally enormous middlemen apps that have no special interest in publishing beyond value extraction through advertising is the early internet utopian’s worst-case scenario. >>
internet  media  culture  social-software  futurism  via:brad-delong 
18 days ago
A Union Charter Flunks Out: Randi Weingarten’s model school closes after years of failure.
<< "Our schools will show real, quantifiable student achievement and with those results finally dispel the misguided and simplistic notion that the union contract is an impediment to success." So declared teachers union chief Randi Weingarten in 2005 upon launching the United Federation of Teachers charter school in Brooklyn, New York. The UFT quietly let slip last week that this showcase K-8 charter school is closing after a legacy of failure. >>

To be taken with the standard grain of salt that this is the WSJ. OTOH if your media diet consists mostly of teacher's union partisans who blame public school failure on reformers and over-reliance on testing, you will see approximately zero coverage of this event, so consider this a dose of external sanity checking.
education  labor  public-policy  charter-schools 
19 days ago
Advice and Fallacies | Matt Mullenweg
<<It gets backs to the fallacy we talked about and agreed to avoid at the [WordPress.com leads] meetup, which is the business equivalent of Great Man Theory: the idea that a deficiency in the business or product will be solved by hiring someone senior to be in charge of that thing. Example: Automattic is bad at marketing, we should hire a CMO. (99% of the time when this is suggested it means an external person, because if anyone internal was good the problem wouldn’t exist.) It’s an easy thing for anyone to fall into, you can see it in [a recent internal thread].

This must work sometimes, because it seems to be a near-universal affliction of VCs on startup boards. It also is a little bit of a bikeshed, because while it can be difficult to understand or feel like you can have an influence on something fundamental to the product, like say the signup flow, most VCs have large professional networks and can have long and vigorous discussions talking about potential people who are executives in a given area and their first or second degree connections to them. Of course, like many of us, VCs are consumers of tech media which tends to ascribe all the success of an organization to a single person (like Sheryl Sandberg for Facebook not falling apart, or Adam Bain for revenue at Twitter). However often the problem has root causes more fundamental than a single person could shift.

I subscribe to a more environment-driven approach, that if you break down a problem into its component parts you can address them individually, often with relatively simple next steps, and build things from the ground up, rather than the top down.>>
management  social-organization  business  hiring  labor  software-development  silicon-valley  psychology 
23 days ago
Empire of the Institute - NYTimes.com
<<MIT students developed a style that was either wonderfully pragmatic or disgustingly lacking in rigor, depending on your tastes: models derived from microfoundations were always the goal, but when observed experience was clearly at odds with what the models predicted, you’d just impose realistic behavior and leave its ultimate explanation as a project for the future.>>
economics  mit  krugman  history  academia 
27 days ago
The Way Into Chaos: Book One of the Great Way,by Harry Connolly
Finished 2015-02-18. Brisk enough but I find the ratio of interesting fantastic conceits to grinding plot gears too low. Will probably not read the rest.
booklog  finished:2015  fiction  fantasy-fiction 
5 weeks ago
The preference for potential - PsycNET - Display Record
<<When people seek to impress others, they often do so by highlighting individual achievements. Despite the intuitive appeal of this strategy, we demonstrate that people often prefer potential rather than achievement when evaluating others. Indeed, compared with references to achievement (e.g., “this person has won an award for his work”), references to potential (e.g., “this person could win an award for his work”) appear to stimulate greater interest and processing, which can translate into more favorable reactions. This tendency creates a phenomenon whereby the potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing. We document this preference for potential in laboratory and field experiments, using targets ranging from athletes to comedians to graduate school applicants and measures ranging from salary allocations to online ad clicks to admission decisions. >>

Paywalled, alas.
psychology  economics  via:marginalrevolution 
5 weeks ago
More SF restaurants settle with the city over fraudulent employee health surcharges | SF Politics
<<City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced another batch of settlements with restaurants that have been fraudulently using surcharges on customers’ bills to cover their city-required employee health coverage and using some of that money to simply pad their profits.>>
san-francisco  business  taxes  fraud 
5 weeks ago
Is teaching about instruction or selection? - The Journal of Brief Ideas
<<We propose a co-immunity theory of teaching, where attempts by a teacher to alter student neuronal structure to accommodate cultural ideas and practices is sort of a reverse to the function of the immune system, which exists to preserve the physical self, while teaching episodes are designed to alter the mental self.>>

It's not really science (well at best it is a prelude to the hypothesis phase of science) but provocative anyway.
education  cognitive-science 
5 weeks ago
Quantopian - Research: Investing in Women-led Fortune 1000 Companies
Via HN, which pithily summarized the result as: "Women-led co's in Fortune 1000 Outperform S&P over 300% since 2002". Now obviously over any given interval you can probably find subgroups which outperform the mean but this finding is at least suggestive.
sexual-inequality  economics  business  management  via:hackernews 
6 weeks ago
Running in the Family, by Michael Ondaatje
Finished 2015-02-09. Lent to me by a friend. Rather loose and impressionistic; some well-written passages; overall Ondaatje is probably a better poet than author of narrative prose but still this is a fine book.
memoirs  booklog  finished:2015  sri-lanka 
6 weeks ago
Fork Yeah! The Rise and Development of illumos - YouTube
Skip to 33:00 for a classic rant culminating in an aphoristic summary of Oracle: "shit mediocrity, inflict misery, lie our asses off, screw our customers, and make a whole shitload of money."
computing  history  videos  sun  solaris  oracle  culture  silicon-valley 
6 weeks ago
Who invented the iPhone: The public and common origin of private innovation | P2P Foundation
<<The truly central and demanding question is obviously this: If most of what we have today is attributable to knowledge advances that we all inherit in common, why, specifically, should this gift of our collective history not more generously benefit all members of society?>>
technological-progress  economics  public-policy  economic-inequality 
6 weeks ago
“Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from - Salon.com
An important subject, upon which the entire media complex is more or less completely silent. Meanwhile many of these writers feel safe attacking Silicon Valley, for example, as a cesspit of privilege and nepotism.
literature  culture  social-inequality  economic-inequality 
7 weeks ago
Save us from Washington's visionaries - Le Monde diplomatique - English edition
<<Although Obama’s “don’t do stupid shit” may never rank with Washington’s Farewell Address or the Monroe Doctrine in the history books, George W. Bush might have profited from having some comparable axiom taped to his laptop.>>
foreign-policy  united-states 
7 weeks ago
An Agenda for Empirical Cyber Crime Research | USENIX
<<Computer security is a field that is fundamentally co-dependent—driven to respond by the actions of adversaries. This dance fuels both the research community and a multi-billion-dollar computer security industry. However, to date most efforts have focused on the technical components of this battle: identifying new vulnerabilities, exploits, and attacks, building and deploying new defenses, and so on. In this talk, I will argue for a complementary research agenda based on understanding the business models that drive today's Internet attacks, deconstructing the underlying value chain for attackers and ultimately using this information to better focus on security interventions. I will provide a rough sketch of the modern cyber-criminal ecosystem, describe its dependencies, and highlight some of the key open questions that motivate our focus. Using a range of activities, including our own completed studies, work in progress, and work in development, I'll illustrate how many of these questions can be tackled empirically. Along the way, I'll discuss the real and significant challenges in conducting this sort of research and how we address these issues in practice. Finally, I'll play pundit and predict where the greatest opportunities for impact are likely to be found.

Stefan Savage is a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.>>
computer-science  security  economics 
8 weeks ago
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