Sunday, May 26, 2013

People tend to behave after a disaster

"In fact, Grand Rue melees were the exception, not the rule. Just as in New York after Sandy, responders and many journalists looking back on the postquake moment would highlight the lack of unrest in their after-action reports, often crediting their own presence, such as the UN adviser who told the Los Angeles Times: 'There has been no rioting over food, and we avoided people dying of hunger or thirst. This is no small accomplishment.' As Auf der Heide has written, 'Even when looting is not actually observed, that fact is often attributed to the extraordinary security measures that have been taken rather than the fact that such behavior is inherently uncommon.'”

If people assume there will be riots and such, they will send the military and police, rather than useful first responders who could actually help the people. This is an important article to help decide how to plan for disaster relief.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Are young people being screwed by our wonderful 21st century economic system?

"Two things make the problem more pressing now. The financial crisis and its aftermath had an unusually big effect on them. Many employers sack the newest hires first, so a recession raises youth joblessness disproportionately. The number of young people out of work in the OECD is almost a third higher than in 2007. Second, the emerging economies that have the largest and fastest-growing populations of young people also have the worst-run labour markets.
Why is this so important? A number of studies have found that people who begin their careers without work are likely to have lower wages and greater odds of future joblessness than those who don’t. A wage penalty of up to 20%, lasting for around 20 years, is common. The scarring seems to worsen fast with the length of joblessness and is handed down to the next generation, too - leading to a vicious cycle that weighs on growth dramatically.
Countries with the lowest youth jobless rates have a close relationship between education and work. Germany has a long tradition of high-quality vocational education and apprenticeships, which in recent years have helped it reduce youth unemployment despite only modest growth. Countries with high youth unemployment are short of such links."

One thing that helped the US after World War II was the GI bill that made it easy for returning soldiers to go right into school and get working skills.  We should be investing in our population rather than trying to squeeze the life out of our economies.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The case against school grades

" It's becoming increasingly clear that the rigid and judgmental foundation of modern education is the origin point for many of our worst qualities, making it harder for many to learn because of its negative reinforcement, encouraging those who do well to gradually favor the reward of an A over the discovery of new ways of thinking, and reinforcing harsh class divides that are only getting worse as the economy idles.
A 2002 study at the University of Michigan found that 80 percent of students surveyed based their self-worth on academic performance—more than cited family support as a source of self-esteem. A 2006 study at King’s College showed adolescents with low self-esteem were more likely to have poor health, be involved in criminal behavior, and earn less than their peers.  Since it’s overwhelmingly poor students who are prone to bad grades, a self-reinforcing loop is created. Poverty leads to bad grades and low self-esteem, which leads to more poverty and social dysfunction."

I agree.  School should be about how to be inquisitive, a good researcher, and to prepare you for being a functional adult.  You don't need grades for that.

remove traffic lights to make traffic move better? UK test

Fortunately, Poynton had a lot of space to make these circles. I can think of small towns in the US, like Prescott, Arizona, where there's just not enough space to do this.  But it's quite amazing that it works.