Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 5th, 2017

Mother-daughter carrot photo

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Actually, although the two are related, they are different varieties, as you can tell. The ginormous one is favored by the Chinese, and though it is large, it is tender, not woody. The carrot at the bottom is the variety I could find back in Pacific Grove.

Also I picked up garlic stems (never saw them in PG except for green garlic in the spring), winter melon (a summer-only thing in PG, and rare at that), chicken hearts (I could find them at Whole Foods in Monterey, but then they stopped carrying them), chicken feet (too much work to serve as a dish, but good when added to stock), Thai red chiles, long onion (see below for long onion compared to a regular scallion), and lots of Fuyu persimmons.

Mother and daughter

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2017 at 9:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

The Disappearing American Grad Student

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Nick Wingfield reports on one effect of how the US system of loading students with debt has transformed important fields of study:

There are two very different pictures of the students roaming the hallways and labs at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.

At the undergraduate level, 80 percent are United States residents. At the graduate level, the number is reversed: About 80 percent hail from India, China, Korea, Turkey and other foreign countries.

For graduate students far from home, the swirl of cultures is both reassuring and invigorating. “You’re comfortable everyone is going through the same struggles and journeys as you are,” said Vibhati Joshi of Mumbai, India, who’s in her final semester for a master’s degree in financial engineering. “It’s pretty exciting.”

The Tandon School — a consolidation of N.Y.U.’s science, technology, engineering and math programs on its Brooklyn campus — is an extreme example of how scarce Americans are in graduate programs in STEM. Overall, these programs have the highest percentage of international students of any broad academic field. In the fall of 2015, about 55 percent of all graduate students in mathematics, computer sciences and engineering were from abroad, according to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools and the Graduate Record Examinations Board.

In arts and humanities, the figure was about 16 percent; in business, a little more than 18 percent.

The dearth of Americans is even more pronounced in hot STEM fields like computer science, which serve as talent pipelines for the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft: About 64 percent of doctoral candidates and almost 68 percent in master’s programs last year were international students, according to an annual survey of American and Canadian universities by the Computing Research Association. In comparison, only about 9 percent of undergraduates in computer science were international students (perhaps, deans posit, because families are nervous about sending offspring who are barely adults across the ocean to study).

Many factors contribute to the gap, but a major one is the booming job market in technology. For the most part, Americans don’t see the need for an advanced degree when there are so many professional opportunities waiting for them. For some, the price is just too high when they have so much student debt already.

“You can believe that U.S. bachelor’s students, if they’re good, can go get a job at Microsoft or Google with a bachelor’s degree,” said Edward D. Lazowska, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington.

Hadi Partovi, a tech investor, received his master’s in computer science from Harvard in the 1990s. His roommate did not. They both got job offers from the same company. “Master’s grads are valued more, but not enough more for American students to get a master’s degree,” said Mr. Partovi, a founder of Code.org, a nonprofit that promotes computer science in grade school and high school.

Universities and employers are eager to tap the pool of international talent that helps them stay competitive globally, and graduate programs have a financial incentive in attracting them: Demand from abroad is so high, administrators don’t see a need to offer as much tuition assistance.

There’s concern, though, that the current climate around immigration could jeopardize that flow of talent. Incidents of xenophobia, hostile political rhetoric and President Trump’s attempts at banning travelers from some Muslim-majority countries may be weighing on the minds of potential applicants.

The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, for example, saw a 30 percent decrease in international applications to its professional master’s program for this semester, according to the dean, Joseph J. Helble. Dr. Helble surveyed more than two dozen engineering deans earlier this year, and three quarters of them said they, too, had seen significant drops in international graduate applications. But enrollment, he said, was not off. . .

Continue reading.

Advanced nations understand that an educated and healthy citizenry is vital to national strength and well-being, and those nations make sure that all citizens have ready access to healthcare and education, seeing those benefits as an investment in the nation’s future.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2017 at 7:51 am

Posted in Education, Government

The Slow Death of the Firm

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Nick Tomaino writes in Medium:

Most people think of Bitcoin as a digital asset, but it can be thought of as something more general than that: a decentralized organization. Years from now, Satoshi’s creation may be looked at as a catalyst for the slow death of the firm.

Why do firms exist?

Economists typically suggest that firms exist for two main reasons: to minimize transaction costs and to aggregate capital and people. Ronald Coase wrote about the firm’s ability to minimize transaction costs in 1937 in his famous essay “The Nature of the Firm.” Seventy five years later, Nicholas Vitalari and Haydn Shaughnessy wrote about the firm’s ability to aggregate capital and people in the Elastic Enterprise. In addition to the economic arguments, some argue that firms provide people with structure and stability (i.e. job security), which risk-averse humans inherently seek.

Firms have played an important role in society for decades for these reasons (and likely a variety of others). Despite their prominence, most people dislike them.

Bitcoin thrives with no firm

In January of 2009, Satoshi released software that combined cryptography and incentives to offer users a digital service (a ledger to store and transfer value) that persists over time without any central party behind it. There is no firm behind Bitcoin; there’s simply code (rules for organization) and incentives (the BTC token) that brings together many different participants who are all incentivized to contribute their time and resources to maintain the service.

Bitcoin relies on proof-of-work consensus to secure the network and align the workers in the network. There are three types of workers in the network: miners, developers, and users. The miners work is measured objectively and that work gets compensated directly from the protocol: hash power contributed to the network earns BTC. To be a miner, you just need electricity and an Internet connection and you can earn BTC. Miners are the only group of workers that get paid directly from the protocol and the other two groups (developers and users) work indirectly for the protocol if they own BTC. If developers and users add value through coding, holding, or marketing, they add value to BTC and the BTC they own appreciates.

This new organizational structure has resulted in close to $100B worth of value creation (today the total market value of Bitcoin is now larger than the market capitalization of Goldman Sachs).

So what?

Bitcoin is the first example of an organizational structure that has the beneficial characteristics of the firm (minimizing transaction costs, aggregating capital and mindshare, and providing job security for contributors) combined with some new characteristics: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2017 at 7:43 am

Without net neutrality in Portugal, mobile internet is bundled like a cable package

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Michael J. Coren reports in Quartz what happens when net neutrality goes overboard, which seems to be the goal of the GOP. Well worth reading. It begins:

The principle of net neutrality is simple: companies that connect you to the internet must treat all content equally. In policy terms, that means the government ensures internet service providers do not block, slow, or otherwise discriminate against certain content or applications.

In the US, this policy was enshrined in the Open Internet Order in 2015, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed its strongest net neutrality policies to date. The current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is now preparing to roll those back. His main objection, Pai told PBS, is that the rules hinder investment in expanding broadband. “My concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas,” he said.

The proposal has sparked a backlash by critics who say it will result in a rich and poor internet. Companies willing to pay ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast will get faster, favored service. Companies unable or unwilling to fork out the cash will find it hard to compete, while customers may see their internet service offered in tiered “bundles,” similar to the way television channels are grouped by cable providers.

Consider Spain and Portugal. Lisbon-based telecommunications firm MEO has been rolling out mobile packages (link in Portuguese) that provide users with data plans limited to specific apps. Customers will pay more for using data for apps outside the package relative to those in the preferred packages. It was not clear if companies paid to be included in the packages.

“[That’s] a huge advantage for entrenched companies, but it totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation,” wrote Silicon Valley congressional representative Ro Khanna on Twitter. “This is what’s at stake and that’s why we have to save net neutrality.”

Read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2017 at 6:49 am

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