A new website called Facestat, enables you for free to upload a picture of yourself and have random individuals (what some call *crowd sourcing*) evaluate your photo for your trustworthiness. (They also guess your wealth, intelligence, age, martial status, ethnicity, weight, political orientation, state of drunkenness at time photo was taken, gender, attractiveness, and humorousness) Facestat uses an Amazon.com service called Mechanical Turk that hires individuals for a few cents per piece of work to evaluate a relatively easy task (Mechanical Turk was used to help map the surface of Mars and determine which were craters).
For a fuller story see the WSJ blog story “Do people think you look trustworthy?“
I blogged earlier about the fascinating story of a world class violinist playing in the Washington Subway (“Pearls Before Breakfast: can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out” (Washington Post, 4/8/07, p. w10, Gene Weingarten) The story was indirectly about the cocoons that we live in such that 1000 commuters in Washington, DC, almost without exception, didn’t hear or stop to listen to the sublime beauty of violin virtuoso Joshua Bell who was busking in the Washington Metro as an experiment. One has to assume that these cocoons affect not only hearing Joshua Bell but also our ability to connect with friends and strangers.
Now comes a related experiment. If you put up a world class painting (by Tuymans) on a pedestrian street in Antwerp (in Belgium) will people stop to notice it?
See the results:
The art experiment either also indicates the cocoons we live in, or indicates that we only recognize true ‘art’ when someone tells us it is art by hanging it in a museum.
Posted in antwerp, art, belgium, luc tuymans, Netherlands, pearls before breakfast, washington post, YouTube
Tagged antwerp, art, luc tuymans, pearls before breakfast, washington post, YouTube
Robert D. Putnam and daughter Lara Putnam (historian at Pitt) comment on the kerfuffle regarding Barack Obama’s inartful description of poor whites being bitter and clinging to religion in response to their bleak economic circumstances.
They note that, while much of the debate has focused on small town vs. big city respondents, the issues really relate to class gaps within the white community not city v. rural.
They asserts that the “growing disparity in formative experiences portends a more caste-like America, in which children’s life chances are increasingly dictated by their parents’ social class. The playing field is tilted more and more against the have-nots.”
As the Putnams note: “The real question is not ginned-up outrage over Barack Obama’s choice of words to describe the very real hardships facing many Americans in towns and cities of all sizes. The real question is whether his optimistic insistence that “Yes We Can” will resonate in those still-struggling Pennsylvania cities and towns that suffered a body blow with the loss of steel mills and factories a generation ago. Mr. Obama’s work as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago was predicated on the belief that even in communities beset by disinvestment, job loss and chronic frustration, self-confidence can be restored, collective bonds can be rebuilt and political efficacy regained.” They indicate that we’ll know soon enough if this message of hope resonates among white working class residents in these devastated PA communities.
The Op-Ed, which appeared Sunday (4/20/08) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, called “The Growing Class Gap” can be found here.
Posted in Barack Obama, bitter, campaign, class gap, community organizing, election, lara putnam, pennsylvania, pitt, pittsburgh post-gazette, politics, president, religion, robert putnam, university of pittsburgh, working class, yes we can
Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers in a data rich paper conclude three things:
a) the rich are happier;
(b) rich countries are happier;
(c) economic growth is associated with greater happiness for their citizens; and
(d) they find little evidence for the “relative income hypothesis” (that happiness depends more on one’s income relative to others in one’s country or community than it does on absolute levels of income).
Justin Wolfers is blogging about the paper at Freakonomics blog. There are to be several posts, but this is the first post. The paper is also summarized in today’s New York Times, featuring a nice graphic, The authors also discussed the research on CNBC (4/16/08).
The paper by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers (both at Penn’s Wharton School) has the rather academic title of “Economic Growth and Subjective Well-being: Regressing the Easterlin Paradox“
Earlier post on this subject available here discussing paper by Angus Deaton on this topic; Deaton’s conclusions were partially the same but he found a cut-off point beyond which economic growth did not lead to increases in happiness, perhaps because of the destabilizing impact of the growth.
Posted in angus deaton, betsey stevenson, CNBC, economic growth, happiness, income, justin wolfers, new york times, penn, subjective wellbeing, university of pennsylvania, wealth
John Bridgeland, of Civic Enterprises, discussed their recent report Engaged for Success which highlights the importance of “service learning” in preventing at-risk youth from dropping out of school.
(I must disclose my biases: I was the Senate policy point person on the enactment of the National Service Trust Act of 1993 that created AmeriCorps, and worked for Senator Kennedy. Senator Kennedy, understandably was an ardent advocate of service learning, which as the name implies combines service and learning and can be used for students from kindergarten through college. For example, youth can monitor pollution in a local stream, thereby learning about scientific measurement or interview elderly shut-ins about their youth and learn about American history in the process. Findings show that youth learn far more when there is an educational “pull”, in other words when the learning is required for a task they want to do, than the traditional educational “push” model that tells youth to learn some skill under the expectation that they’ll need it down the road for an important task.)
Civic Enterprises’ research shows a mismatch between interest in service learning and availability of programs. Notably: “Eighty-two percent of all service-learning students said their view of school improved because of their service-learning classes, and 77 percent said that service learning had a big effect on motivating them to work hard. Furthermore, 64 percent of service-learning students claimed that service learning would have a fairly or very big effect on keeping them from dropping out of school.” But, “[a]lthough high-quality service-learning programs are cropping up across the nation, such programs are still unjustifiably rare. Eighty-three percent of students said that if their school offered it, they would enroll in a service-learning program. Yet only 16 percent of all students, and only 8 percent of students at low- performing schools, reported that their school offered service learning. All too often students do not have access to, or do not even know about, such programs offered by their schools.”
Civic Enterprises’ findings are also summarized in John Bridgeland’s Op-ed “The key to keeping teens in school” (Christian Science Monitor, 4/15/08) and his PowerPoint presentation of their findings.
It’s been fascinating in the exit polls from the 2008 presidential primaries observing the age gradient for Obama supporters. Children of Boomers support Obama significantly more than their parents and the Boomers in turn are more likely to support Obama than their parents.
Now the Obama campaign is putting this to good use.
The New York Times reported on children persuading their parental Superdelegates to vote for Obama. (See: “Young Obama Backers Twist Parents’ Arms” 4/18/08)
Now comes a wonderful grassroots-developed video of kids pleading for their parents to support Obama.
Children have persuaded us to give up smoking, and recycle. Why shouldn’t their hope inspire us now to vote?
In Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon University in the Fall of 2007, facing pancreatic cancer and the likelihood that he would only live a month or two, Randy summed up his life’s wisdom for his kids (then 1,2, and 5). He gave his lecture to several hundred in a CMU auditorium, but it has now been viewed on YouTube by millions of Americans. It’s enormously inspiring, tear-rendering and well worth your time if you haven’t seen it.
His Last Lecture is now fleshed out in a book of the same name (co-written with Jeff Zaslow, the WSJ reporter that brought his lecture to widespread prominence) and he recently filmed an ABC News Special with Diane Sawyer. His comments are immensely wise for a 47 year old.
Randy Pausch alas died in his home last night (July 25, 2008) as reported by Diane Sawyer on GMA. Randy Pausch’s home page is here.
He lived a vibrant life to the end, giving a charge to the graduating seniors at his beloved Carnegie Mellon University just in June 2008
and providing moving testimony to Congress on supporting pancreatic cancer research to help future innocent victims (3/13/08).
- When there’s an elephant in the room introduce him
- Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.
- If there’s anything I want to do so badly, I should have already done it.
- We can’t change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I’m not as depressed as you think I should be, I’m sorry to disappoint you.
- Work and play well together.
- Tell The Truth. All The Time. No one is pure evil.
- Be willing to apologize. Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I’m sorry that I hurt you. 3) How do I make it better? It’s the third part that people tend to forget…. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.
- Show gratitude. Gratitude is a simple but powerful thing.
- Find the best in everybody…. Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you. It might even take years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting.
- If you want to achieve your dreams, you better learn to work and play well with others…[you have] to live with integrity.
- Collaboration, treating others with respect.
- Never found anger a way to make things better.
- How do you get people to help you? You can’t get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I’ll take an earnest person over a hip person any day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term.
- Loyalty is a two-way street.
- Get a feedback loop and listen to it. Your feedback loop can be this dorky spreadsheet thing I did, or it can just be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is the listening to it.
- Persistence and hard work.
- When you are doing something badly and no one’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones still telling you they love you and care.
- Don’t bail: the best gold is at the bottom of barrels of crap
- Don’t complain, Just work harder. [showing picture on screen] That’s a picture of Jackie Robinson. It was in his contract not to complain, even when the fans spit on him. You can spend it complaining or playing the game hard. The latter is likely to be more effective.
- Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted…. I probably got more from that dream [of playing professional football] and not accomplishing it than I got from any of the ones that I did accomplish.
- Fun, wonder, living your dream.
- Decide if you’re a Tigger or an Eyeore. I’m a Tigger.
- It is not about achieving your dreams but living your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.
- Never underestimate the importance of having fun. I’m dying and I’m having fun. And I’m going to keep having fun every day, because there’s no other way to play it….Having fun for me is like a fish talking about the importance of water. I don’t know how it is like not to have fun…
- Never lose the child-like wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us. Help others.
- You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs. But at the end of the day, a whole lot of people will have a whole lot of fun.
- Better to fail spectacularly than do something mediocre. [Randy Pausch gave out a First Penguin award each year when he was teaching to the biggest failure in trying something big and new because he thought this should be celebrated. First Penguins are the ones that risk that the water might be too cold.]
- Parenting and kids.
- The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard is from flight attendants. If things get really tough, grab your own oxygen mask first.
- About his pancreatic cancer: It’s unlucky, but it not unfair. We all stand on a dartboard and some of us randomly get hit by pancreatic cancer. But my children won’t have me for them and that’s not fair.
- Someone’s going to push my family off a cliff pretty soon and I won’t be there to catch them and that breaks my heart. But I have some time to sew some nets to cushion the fall so that seems like the best and highest use of my time and I better get to work.
- I’m sorry I won’t be around to raise my kids. It makes me very sad but I can’t change that fact, so I did everything I could with the time I have and the time I had to help other people.
- Importance of people instead of things. Told story of buying new convertible that he was so proud of and taking niece and nephew for a ride. Randy’s sister, the kid’s mother was telling them how important it was to keep car pristine and kids were laughing because at the same time he was pouring a can of orange soda on the back seats. His sister asked what are you doing and he said “it’s just a thing.” And nephew Chris wound up being really grateful because he had flu and wound up throwing up on way home. “And I don’t care how much joy you get out of owning a shiny new thing; it’s not as good I felt from making sure that an 8 year old didn’t have to feel guilty for having the flu.”
- [not a direct quote] but Randy implores parents to always indulge your children’s wild ideas (he talks about how important it was that his parents let him decorate his walls with math formulas, despite the negative impact on their house’s resale value) He says: “If you’re going to have childhood dreams you should have great parents who let you pursue them and express your creativity.”
- It is Important to have specific childhood dreams. (For example, Randy wanted to play football in the NFL, write an article for the World Book Encyclopedia, experience the Weightlessness of Zero Gravity, be Captain Kirk from Star Trek, work for the Disney Company.)
- Be good at something; it makes you valuable…. Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.
- I’ve never understood pity and self-pity as an emotion. We have a finite amount of time. Whether short or long, it doesn’t matter. Life is to be lived.
- To be cliché, death is a part of life and it’s going to happen to all of us. I have the blessing of getting a little bit of advance notice and I am able to optimize my use of time down the home stretch.
Posted in ABC, ABC News, book, brown university, carnegie mellon university, CMU, diane sawyer, excerpts, last lecture, life wisdom, pausch, quotes, randy, randy pausch
Tagged ABC, ABC News, book, brown university, carnegie mellon university, CMU, diane sawyer, excerpts, last lecture, life wisdom, pausch, quotes, randy, randy pausch