David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
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Kneel in Pray and Lose Your Chance to Meet the President

Fox News tweet Eagles kneeling.jpg_11780284_ver1.0_640_360Kneel and pray on the field and lose your visit to the White House, at least according to FoxNews.  The Trump-leaning news service tweeted this picture yesterday, implying that the decision to dis-invite this year’s Super Bowl winners from the White House was because team members had knelt during the Star Spangled Banner.  Seems that they couldn’t find any pictures of Eagle players taking a knee in protest (since none of them did so during the entire regular season).  So they included one of Zach Ertz kneeling for a quiet moment before an NFL football game in order to corrupt the story to their liking.

When challenged, FoxNews removed the tweet and apologized.

How Much Information?

Here is something from my seemingly endless preparation of The Quiet Revolution.  It’s a story that I often related to audiences to illustrate the changing nature of the information that we are using today and our need to redefine literacy.

VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, 1-Megabit-ChipThere was a study conducted by the University of California at Berkley called “How Much Information.” They discovered that the world generated five exabytes of information in 2002.

You are probably thinking,

If I knew what an exabyte was, I’m supposed I would be impressed.”

To clarify, if we added five exabytes of information to the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, it would require the building of 37,000 more Libraries of Congress to hold that year’s additional information. The kicker, however, is that only one one-hundredths of one percent (00.01%) of that information ever got printed. All the rest of the new information was digital, existing as 1s and 0s and residing on the memory cells of magnetic tape, disks, optical discs and integrated circuits; and requiring digital technology and technology skills to access and use that information. If more and more of our information is digital and networked, then we can take the paper out of our future workplace.

This also begs the question, “Why are we continuing to spend so much time continuing to teach our children how to use paper when we need to be teaching them how to use light – to use digital information?

Are We Worthy of Our Accomplishments?

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah HarariI’ve just started reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. Every page teaches me something extraordinary. For instance, for 97% of the time that Homo (humans) have been walking upright, there were several species of human living simultaneously. Homo sapiens, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo erectus, Homo denisova, to mention only a few. It’s only recently, in evolutionary time, that Homo sapiens has emerged as the sole species of human to inhabit the earth.

I just scanned the Amazon description for Harari’s next book, “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow,” and these sentences jumped out:

“Famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time in history, more people die today from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists, and criminals combined. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.”

It makes me wonder how we’ve accomplished so much to make our world more civil, and, apparently, so little to to civilize ourselves.  Are we worthy of our accomplishments?

Dentistry 2.0

3D Rendering captured with a camera mounted rod and assistive music - to boot.
3D Rendering captured with a camera mounted rod and assistive music
I went to the dentist yesterday, for a crown.  I am now using CornerStone Dental Associates in Shelby, NC.  Having used a dentist in the sophisticated city of Raleigh for years, I was not expecting much in this small city.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  Actually, I was overwhelmed.

Months ago, they identified a tooth with an abscess, which was no surprise to me.  Cornerstone sent me to a dentist in Gastonia for a root canal, since I needed it done right away and they did not have an immediate opening. I’d had a root canal and crown done in 1973 – an excruciating experience.  However, the procedure went well in Gastonia with very little pain, even though the dentist said it was an especially difficult one.

The cool part was the crown.  My dentist first ground the tooth down.  Not fun, but she let me listen to my music.  With that done, she started the process of creating the crown with a rod that had a tiny camera on the end.  Moving it around, she captured images of the tooth from every angle.  To help, a nearby computer played music in a major key.  If the camera was not getting a clear image for any reason, the tune changed to a minor key.  The computer was assisting her with music.  That blew me away.

Once they got the pictures, the computer created a three dimensional render of that tooth (nub), and the surrounding teeth (See picture).  The 3D rendered file was sent to a 3D milling machine, that carved my new crown out of a cube of composite resin.

Some glue and a little polishing and I was done.

All I can say is Wow!

A Question about Investigating Russian Meddling

There’s been a question, trying to form in the back of my head, like an itch I can’t reach, concerning our investigation of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. I do worry about Trump’s possible collusion with a foreign power and the corruption it would imply – though corruption seems to be the way of things in our capitals these days.

Social Media Vs. VOAI found that itch yesterday, as I was talking about it with my wife — and here it is.

What’s the difference between Russia’s efforts to sew distrust in our government with social media and our efforts to sew distrust in the Soviet/Russian government during the Cold War with Voice of America broadcasts?

There is an important difference, I believe. VOA sought to “win the attention and respect of listeners” behind the Iron Curtain by offering a “consistently reliable and authoritative source of news.” (Words from the VOA Charter of 1959.)

We wanted to help intelligent people in the USSR, to recognize true news and reject the Soviet propaganda.

Russia, on the other hand, wants to appeal to unintelligent Americans’ willingness to believe sensationalist propaganda and reject true news.

That’s the difference!

Perhaps, rather than investigating Russian meddling, we should be investigating education policy that wants students to memorize the right answers to questions, instead of teaching them the discipline of asking questions and the wisdom to question the answers.

Coworking Space in Shelby

I discovered something interesting, while leaving Hannah’s Coffee House yesterday. It was a flyer for a new company in Shelby called BizHub. It is a coworking space, opened last August, that serves professionals, creatives and organizations in the Shelby area who have a need for temporary work or meeting space. At BizHub, you and I can rent a desk, a conference room or an office for a week, a day or an hour – professional work space with high speed WiFi, printers, coffee and sodas, big screen TVs, etc and etc. Wikipedia describes coworking space as being “attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, independent scientists or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation.”

A friend of mine, Brian Russell, established the first coworking space in the research triangle, Carrboro Creative Coworking. Even though Carrboro was to far from Raleigh to be practical for my use, the concept fascinated me, as an independent home-office professional.

Jason, with whom I spoke at BizHub, said that they host meetings for groups who found coffeeshops too noisy. They also have business travelers who use their space for working while on the road, locals who need a formal office for a period of time and other professionals who simply need some work time away from their usual workplace.

I loved being an independent worker, what Dan Pink called a free-agent worker, and spaces like BIzHub make it a lot easier to do work independent of corporate or government direction.

Photo by David Warlick

Photos by David Warlick

IMG_1747 (1)

IMG_1748 (1)

Trust, Media & Democracy Survey

Critical Media Consumers
Graph 1

I recently ran across a Gallup/Knight Foundation survey entitled American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy.  The poll of more than 19,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and older attempts to measure how our changing information landscape has affected media trust in the U.S. and made it harder for the news media to fulfill their democratic responsibilities.  It is important to note that Trust, Media and Democracy was a nationally representative mail survey.  So a back-of-your-mind question should be, “Who took the trouble to share their views by mail?”

That said, a couple of things especially caught my attention.  First, it seems that younger respondents were more likely to consider the intentional spread of inaccurate information over the Internet and bias in the media to be a “Major Problem.”  See graph 1.

It leads me to wonder if we (educators) did a better job than we thought, over the past 10 to 15 years, of teaching our students to be critical media consumers.  Or perhaps it’s a result of a generation who is, unquestionably, more net-savvy than their elder.  Regardless, we have more work to do.

Fake News
Graph 2
What disturbs me is how many people do not really know what “Fake News” is.  Wikipedia defines it as

..a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person, and/or gain financially or politically, often using sensationalist, dishonest, or outright fabricated headlines.. (Wikipedia)

That pretty much aligns with my own understanding of “Fake News.” Yet 20% of Democrats believe that an accurate news story that casts a politician or political group in a negative light is “Fake News.” The percent is higher for Independents and Republicans. See graph 2

Fake News
Graph 3

This one surprised me, that the more conservative a person is, the more likely they are to consider “Fake News” to be a serious threat to democracy. See graph 3 and please explain this to me.

There is much more available through the PDF report, which you can download at: https://goo.gl/emk1EM

I created the graphs from the survey data using Create a Graph from the Department of Education web site.

Left, Right, Up & Down in U.S. Politics

I ran across an incredible web site today. As someone who is interested in politics, and especially its ongoing evolution, this really scratched an itch. It’s voteview.com and they record all rollcall votes cast by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, going back to the first congress of 1789-1791.

I was looking for data that I could visualize to indicate the degree to which Republicans and Democrats have crossed, implying times of compromise. But I found the following visualization on voteview.com that showed me exactly what I wanted to illustrate.

graphSm
Click to Enlarge

I have marked the region between 1940, marking the beginning of the Roosevelt/Wallace administration and 1980, marking the beginning of the Reagan/Bush era. You notice a lot of crossover between Republicans and Democrats. The Liberal to Conservative scale was determined by the DW-NOMINATE or Dynamic Weighted NOMINAl Three-step Estimation.  I call that period “the good old days,” because it is the period of U.S. political history with which I identify and measure current conditions.

Another interesting application of DW-NOMINATE is the geography data.  You can enter your zip code and you see the ideology of your district’s representatives.  The positions of the red or blue bars are based on the NOMINATE index value of your representatives during that particular congress.  Below and left shows the ideologies of representatives from Raleigh, North Carolina going back to my graduation from high school.  The right shows the ideologies of representatives from Cherryville, my home town, going back to high school.  I just think this is cool!

GeoRaleigh GeoRaleigh

Lewis, Jeffrey B., Keith Poole, Howard Rosenthal, Adam Boche, Aaron Rudkin, and Luke Sonnet (2017). Voteview: Representing places through time. https://voteview.com/

Lewis, Jeffrey B., Keith Poole, Howard Rosenthal, Adam Boche, Aaron Rudkin, and Luke Sonnet (2017). Voteview: Parties Overview . https://voteview.com/

Paul Ryan is only Partly Right – a Small Part

Entitlements Tag Crowd
A word cloud generated from the text of the articles I referenced here

At the end of last year, our government gave away $2 trillion in federal revenue over the next 10 years, most of it going to the rich and corporations, especially the real estate industry thanks to last minute tweaking of the bill.

NOW congressional leadership is worried about debt and deficit. Paul Ryan said, “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.”

He went on to say, “… it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, … that’s really where the problem lies.”

Our Speaker of the House is talking about Medicare and Medicaid and I think he gets it partly right. I base that on a recent article (http://53eig.ht/2DkPugh) from my favorite data journalists at FiveThirtyEight, whose news comes from the numbers instead of manipulative rhetoric.

He’s partly right in that aging and income are only partly responsible for rising health care costs – and that’s a small part. According to a recent study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, health care spending increased by $933.5 billion from 1996 to 2013. However only…

$133.3 billion came from increased population,
$269.5 billion from an aging population,

Disease prevalence and incidence resulted in a 2.4% reduction in spending while service utilization had no statistically significant effect at all.

The lion’s share came from price and intensity of service, accounting for $583.5 billion of health care spending. That’s pricing for prescription drugs and hospital mergers that reduce competition, among other factors.

The problem is not who’s getting the health care or who’s paying for it. The problem is a health care industry that seems free to bilk the American economy at a rate of 17.1% of our GDP. That’s a higher portion than any other country, except the Marshall Islands, who’s portion has shrunk from 30.8% (1995) to 17.1% (2014).

They need to address the health care industry, not who’s entitled to it.

Sources: https://goo.gl/QB1MYU, https://goo.gl/ZJpjQD, https://goo.gl/muTfJM,https://goo.gl/bsxp1Y, and https://goo.gl/yjrr4k

The Things that Catch my Eye

Google Street ViewNow this knocked me off my seat. Ever notice the automobiles people drive in your town or neighborhood? Using the same concepts that enable Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant to understand what they hear you say, scientists are designing computer systems that can understand what they see. It’s called “Deep Learning,” and it’s a form of machine learning, which falls under the broader umbrella of Artificial Intelligence.

Anyway, scientists from Stanford, Baylor and Rice Universities and the University of Michigan used images from Google Street View, 50 million of them, to infer the answers to questions about their communities and neighborhoods such as income, race, education and voting patterns. Specifically, they identified cars parked on the streets photographed by Google Street View cars and matched that with existing census and other survey data. The hard part, that required “Deep Learning,” was getting the technology to identify the make, model and year of all motor vehicles encountered.

One thing that they learned is that a neighborhood where pickup trucks outnumber sedans is 82% more likely to vote for a Republican in the next presidential election. Where sedans outnumber pickup trucks, 88% more likely to vote Democrat. So what do SUVs mean? ..and what about people with garages? ..and what television networks run the most pickup truck commercials?

I’ll be really interested when their computers can identify bicycles. ;-)

Source: Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (https://goo.gl/is2nSX)

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Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
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Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
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