Via Sullivan, you can add a classic blunder after "never get involved in a land war in Asia:" never get into a staring contest with a Muppet.
The longest tennis match in history has ended:
When John Isner finally won the longest match in tennis history, he collapsed on the Wimbledon grass and then summoned one last burst of energy, springing to his feet to applaud along with the crowd.
The American hit a backhand winner to win the last of the match’s 980 points, and he took the fifth set Thursday against Nicolas Mahut, 70-68.
The first-round match took 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days, lasting so long it was suspended because of darkness — two nights in a row. Play resumed Thursday at 59-all and continued for more than an hour before Isner won 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68.
After a Strategy exam, Finance exam, Strategy team paper, project estimate for work, and...well, that's really all I did the last four days, come to think of it...I'm more or less back.
Herewith a quorum of things I noticed but didn't have time to note:
- The Washington Post reported yesterday that MC 900 Ft. Jesus—sorry, I meant an actual 30 m statue of Jesus—got struck by lightning Monday night and burned to the ground. Signpost to Armageddon? Probably not, but it has an element of Apocalyptic whimsy to it, don't you think?.
- Via Sullivan, the Vision of Humanity project's Global Peace Index puts New Zealand at the top and Iraq at the bottom. We're 85th (of 149); Britain is 31st; and Finalnd and Russia, countries I'm visiting in two weeks, are 9th and 146th, respectively. Check out the interactive map.
- The Economist's Gulliver blog linked to a Sunday Times (reg.req.) article about the beauty of window seats. I always get the window, if possible; so does Gulliver, apparently, and the Times author who wrote: "My favourite window-seat ride is crossing America — with the asphalt labyrinth of the crammed east coast giving way first to ceaseless Appalachian forest, then to the eerie geometric perfection of the farm-belt fields, then to the intimidating, jaw-dropping emptiness of the west, before the smog starts lapping at your window as California sprawls into view." Yep.
- Today has tremendous significance to my small and fuzzy family which I will relate later.
Back to the mines.
Via Bruce Schneier, an interesting experiment at Wharton School of Business showed students have a bias towards short-term gain—even in the face of certain disaster:
It’s not like the students don’t know what’s coming, either. When asked if they understand what’s going on, they always say, yeah, they get it: they’re about to get hit by an earthquake. So if it’s not stupidity or ignorance, why do the students keep losing? Kunreuther and Meyer believe the game demonstrates a psychological bias toward short-term maximization instead of long-term planning—a psychological bias all humans share.
Meyer has tried out the Quake simulation with groups of corporate executives, and the results are the same. The players always see the quake coming, and they always “have a difficult time translating that belief that it’s going to happen to a short-term action”—much the same way, in fact, that the government of Haiti failed to adequately prepare for the possibility of a major earthquake.
Though I wonder: since the experiment targeted business students and corporate executives, might there be some bias? I'd like to see the experiment repeated with a larger, more random sample.
Anyway, the results might explain how, for the next few days, I'm locking myself in my apartment to finish two exams and a research paper, all of which are due Monday.
Also known as my baby sister:
In a move calculated to let millions of people believe that taste has not fled the American continent altogether, Thomas Kinkade has filed for bankruptcy:
The Chapter 11 petition was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Jose in the name of the Kinkade production arm, Pacific Metro of Morgan Hill, Calif. It allows Pacific Metro to reorganize and puts an automatic stay on the collection of all judgments, including one for $3 million owed to Karen Hazlewood and Jeff Spinello.
"Kinkade is a … deadbeat," said their lawyer, Norman Yatooma, who accused the artist and his Los Angeles attorney, Dana Levitt, of "breaching their agreement" to pay up. "Kinkade's word is as worthless as his artwork. His lawyer is no better."
(Oh my god! It's a gazebo!)
From Matthew Yglesias, information about coffee consumption worldwide, which apparently peaks in Finland:
The Swedes are actually a bit less coffee-mad than the Finns, Norwegians, Danes, or Icelanders but as you can see here all the Nordic peoples drink a ton of coffee, in the Swedish case a bit less than twice as much per capita as Americans do. The Södermalm area of Stockholm where Mikael Blonkvist and Lisbeth Salander live and Millenium and Milton Security are headquartered is just littered with coffee houses like nothing I’ve ever seen in America (incidentally, this is where I stayed when I was in Stockholm on the recommendation of a blog reader—it’s a hugely fun neighborhood, definitely stay there if you visit). Personally, I drink way more coffee than the average American and find this aspect of Swedish life congenial. Even I, however, had to balk at the extreme quantity of coffee I was served in Finland where consumption is absolutely off the charts.
And another from math teacher Dan Meyer:
It is exceptionally easy for me to treat the skills and structures of mathematics as holy writ. My default state is to assume that every student shares my reverence for the stone tablets onto which the math gods originally etched the quadratic formula. It is a matter of daily discipline to ask myself, instead:
- what problem was the quadratic formula originally intended to solve?
- why is the quadratic formula the best way to solve that problem?
- how can I put my students in a position to discover the answers to (a) and (b) on their own?
This last is particularly intriguing because not only would I like those answers about the quadratic formula, I'd also like those answers about the Capital Asset Pricing Model and Black-Scholes.
Off to San Francisco this afternoon, to put off dealing with my head-exploding workload for three days. If the guy sitting in the row ahead of me leans back so I can't use my laptop, I will cry.
Exhibit the First: This morning on NPR, a "retired banker from Eagle River, Wis.," when interviewed about the retirement of Rep. David Obey (D-WI) claimed, "I think the majority of people up here are independent thinkers."
Exhibit the Second: via Gulliver, a study of airfare fluctuations in the U.S. market found airfares fluctuate millions of times per year for some city pairs in the U.S. For example, airfares between Atlanta and Las Vegas changed almost 2.5m times last year. Gulliver pointed out that this reflects intense price competition and really good pricing strategies. As for the number of changes? Multiply out the number of seats available times a modest frequency of changes (hundreds of seconds between changes for each seat) and you get into the millions. I'm interested what my marketing professor would say.
Exhibit the Third: via Sullivan, a Spanish mathemetician has examined marital breakups, complete with colorful charts.
Exhibit the Last: Glenview, Ill., police arrested four kids over the weekend for trying to tip cows at a local museum farm. The mathematical tie-in comes from the mass differential between a 500 kg cow and a 80 kg human. Said Wagner Farm director Todd Price, "cow tipping has never been a major concern, mostly because it's harder than people think."
I've heard of résumé padding, but, wow:
[Adam] Wheeler had never attended the exclusive Phillips Academy prep school in Andover or MIT. And his academic record at Harvard was far less dazzling than he claimed. Instead of straight A's, Wheeler had received some A's, a few B's and a D. His SAT scores were also much less impressive: 1160 and 1220, not the perfect 1600 he had claimed, according to court documents.
Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Del., was ordered held on $5,000 bail Tuesday after pleading not guilty to 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud and other charges. ... Wheeler was tossed from Harvard last fall after he tried to get the school's endorsement for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, and a professor reviewing his applications found evidence he had plagiarized from another professor, prosecutors say. Wheeler's parents gave him up to a Yale official who called to ask about their son's transfer application.
Prosecutor John Verner said in court Tuesday that Wheeler essentially stole $45,000 in financial aid, scholarship money and academic awards from Harvard.
Just thinking back to my application to Fuqua, I can't figure out how he faked his academic record. All the supporting documents, like transcripts, usually have to come directly from the institutions, for starters. Doesn't Harvard have control systems?
I needed to catch my breath this weekend, so The Daily Parker fell to the bottom of the stack. Here are some of the things that passed before my eyes in the last few days:
- Math teacher Dan Meyer gave a TED Talk in March suggesting improvements to how we teach math. He says we should teach kids how to reason, not just plug in formulae. As I'm going through the effects of bad mathematics education myself this term, his talk resonated.
- The Texas Taliban have made another tinfoil hat recommendation to the Texas School Board, this time to have textbooks explain to children "Threats of global government to individual freedom and liberty includ[ing] the votes of the U. N. General Assembly, the International Criminal Court, the U. N. Gun Ban proposal, forced redistribution of American wealth to third world countries, and global environmental initiatives."
- Melvin Conner, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Eduction, sums up new research in childhood cognitive development, including the worrying trend of earlier puberty and later emotional maturity.
- Scott Adams ruminates on brain management in ways I've noticed myself: "I also find it impossible to do any sort of creative writing while listening to music, perhaps for the same reason: Creativity springs from a deep examination of self, which you then generalize, and music seems to share that bandwidth."
There were a few others in there, too, which I'll post as soon as I remember them.