Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Daily Dozen

  1. dragon iPhone app transcribes speech into e-mail, SMS.  It’s free for a limited time.  I just downloaded this last night and, while not perfect, works surprisingly well.  If you have an iPhone and are reading this today, give it a try.  You can’t beat the price.  More on this here.
  2. Gadling’s top ten travel products of 2009.  Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 3GS made the list.  So did Tom Bihn’s TriStar -- a bag I’ve been drooling over for some time now.  I would have chosen Canon’s S90 over the Olympus E-P1, but both represent nice changes in higher-end compact cameras.
  3. GMU prof Charles Rowley has started blogging.  Check it out.
  4. Attacks in Pakistan since 9/11.  Very sad and sobering statistics.
  5. Approaching a tax milestone – payroll tax about to surpass personal income tax.
  6. How the iPhone could reboot education.  Mentioned are applications for taking in-class polls,  sharing contact info, and looking up campus info.  I’m currently studying for law school exams and have found the “Law in a Flash”  flash card apps (I have four of them for this semester) invaluable.  Just wait until tablets (hopefully from Apple) starting hitting the scene.  I hadn’t thought about it before, but I wonder if requiring students to buy an iPod Touch and a few choice apps would be reasonable for me to do once I become a professor?  I wonder how well these could be used to conduct economic experiments?  I’ve shared thoughts with a few profs here at GMU about setting up a portable experimental lab using netbooks.  I wonder if you could do a similar thing on a smaller scale using iPod Touches?
  7. Physicists disagree about climate change.  “At risk of sounding  v smug, my views have changed only a little. I already thought the consensus was more fragile than it appeared. That’s just a general truth about modern science. I was already skeptical of climate models because I knew how easily modelers fool themselves. I began to believe the consensus was not just fragile but wrong when I heard the story of the Yamal tree ring data — the long refusal to supply the raw data and, when the researcher’s hand was forced and the data finally supplied, the way it contradicted the claims that had been made.”
  8. The best outlining tool?  OneNote.  Agreed!  I’ve certainly found nothing better.
  9. What’s wrong with renting rather than owning a home?  Nothing if you ask me.  Owning can entail significant opportunity cost: “If you buy one home you can not purchase another home unless you sell yours. This money is taken away from other areas of your life. Unless your income significantly increases this will mean- less traveling, less toys, less flashier wardrobe, less nights out on the town, and less money in general to spend. Are you willing to accept this smaller monthly cash flow? Is there any where else you would to spend or invest your money?”  And not just your money, but your time.  (I’ve always rented and lived very close to work.)  For me, I’ve always rented and preferred building equity in more liquid investments.  I also used my excess cash flow to invest in travel and education.  I doubt I would have had many of these opportunities if I had owned a home.  I might have had a higher net worth by now, but would not have been richer.
  10. One year, one world, one bag.  Go, See, Run, Eat, Drink is one woman’s account of a year of one-bag world travel. Here’s the midway gear update…  175 days of traveling, 13 countries visited, …  Oh, and her bag is an Aeronaut. See this post for packing info.”  I gotta admit, I’m more than a little envious.
  11. Swiss choose fear over freedom.  A thoughtful reaction to laïcité and Switzerland’s recent ban on the construction of minarets.  “[I]ts virtue of efficacy is merely perceived. It has, in fact, failed in every incarnation, and worsened the problems of faith it attempts to solve. We need not look across the whole sweep of history for evidence, as the past century provides ample examples. When faith and the faithful are denied full participation in civic life, they don't fade from it: instead, they seek alternative means to influence it. At its best, this takes the form of faith-inspired peaceful protest. At its worst, it takes the form of faith-inspired terror. Switzerland, and every nation grappling with questions of faith in public life, must be aware of repression's baleful track record.”
  12. How magazines might look on a touchscreen tablet.  Very cool.  I would love to see academic articles put onto a similar platform that would allow you to interact and explore the background data and link to references.  

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