Monthly Archives: January 2006

Study: College students lack literacy for complex tasks

CNN ran an article on how American college students are not able to perform these complex, real-life tasks.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

Without “proficient” skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

It is well-known over here that fresh grads lack some of such skills and have to pick them up on-the-job if such is the nature of their job. But there is no “life-skills” module in school and textbook examples are, well, pretty textbook. You can hardly find maths texts or assignments that ask you to compare credit card rates, your spending habits and find a suitable match. Nor do literature teachers or language teachers have a habit of doing in-depth analysis of newspaper ediorials. Much general knowledge is needed to properly interpret such articles anyway, and students are seldom known for the depth or breadth of their general knowledge.

This is why mentoring can be very beneficial for fresh grads who have just started work.

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Lack of control over genetic engineering

Genetic engineering gives some people the creeps, with unknown side effects from these mutants. Now we also have to deal with mutant crops spreading the modified genes into where you thought it was safe.

CNN ran an article on how a government department in USA has been neglecting their duty.

Still, many scientists worry that biotechnology crops will inadvertently cross-pollinate with conventionally grown crops. That poses a particular problem for organic farmers who charge a premium to guarantee customers their groceries are free of genetic engineering.

The audit did not find any environmental harm but said the USDA’s inadequate safeguards “increase the risk that genetically engineered organisms will inadvertently persist in the environment before they are deemed safe to grow without regulation.”

A logical next question will be: Are there mutant animals running around as well? Resident Evil is a bit extreme, but what about animals bred to produce drugs in their milk? Will you be taking in more than is good for you when you drink milk that comes from a supposedly unmodified farm animal that accidentally crossed with a mutant?

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Best blonde joke ever

Haha! This has to be the best blonde joke ever! I guess technology can be too much for some people to handle!

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Spoof of Memoirs of a Geisha

Popular movies sometimes attract fans who will do a parody of the movie or modify part of it for laughs. I haven't read the book or seen the movie so I don't know how good it is, but since Memoirs of a Geisha has a spoof it might be worth watching? Is this a good rule of thumb? I dunno…

But here's the spoof:

http://www.youtube.com/watch.php?v=_AQvqsZFgDY

I'm quite sure Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li don't look this ugly on screen… The entry on imdb says it is a beautiful movie. Might be worth watching.

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Prosperity Gospel in New York

New York Times ran an article on how prosperity gospel is gaining popularity in New York City. What is prosperity gospel? It is a teaching in churches that God will bless everyone with wealth and health if you are faithful, that you are not doing the right thing if you are poor or sick.

It is a theology that is excoriated in many Christian circles but is becoming increasingly visible in this country, according to religious scholars. Now, it is beginning to establish a foothold in New York City, where capitalism has long been religion. 

The theology taps into the country’s self-help culture, said William C. Martin, a professor emeritus of religion and public policy at Rice University in Houston. “One of the goals of America is for you to become prosperous,” he said. “For the church to put a blessing on that and say, ‘God wants you to be rich,’ is quite appealing.”

Prosperity is indeed prominent in the Old Testament, but the hardship experienced by Jesus’ followers is prominent in the New Testament, said Professor John Jefferson Davis Jr., who teaches systematic theology and Christian ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, an evangelical institution outside Boston. “Part of the problem is things are out of focus here, and what Jesus makes very clear and central, self-denial and bearing your cross, is somehow left on the cutting-room floor.” 

I can’t imagine our Straits Times daring to post anything that presents a negative view to any religion, no matter how objective. Then again, it is hard to get such quotes in Singapore that clearly condemns a teaching. Except those that have been banned by law.

Wall Watchers, an evangelical organization that monitors the finances of Christian ministries, gave Mr. Dollar’s organization an “F” grade for financial transparency in its yearly report and urged donors not to give to it and similar groups. World Changers officials say members can inspect audited financial statements on the church’s finances if they desire, but they declined to release them to The New York Times.

Sounds like NKF? Even sadded, because this involves religion.

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Dogs can smell cancer

There is an article on New York Times on dogs being trained to detect differences in the breath of cancer sufferers and healthy people. This could be a cheap and fast preliminary test for cancer, though not 100% accurate.

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Cockeyed.com

Stumbled onto cockeyed.com, where you can find wacky photos. Such as those in the How much is inside category.

Indeed, how much can you fit into a can of shaving cream? Can you really fit a million dollars into a suitcase just like you see in movies? How can you easily dry out wet laundry? How absorbant are tampons?

This is the kind of science experiment that teachers should encourage their students to do, to encourage creativity and curiosity in them. But I don't think their mums will be happy having their household items abused in the name of science.

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