Bill Gate’s Favorite Teacher Does It for Free

[image via azstarnet]

We really shouldn’t care what Bill Gates thinks since he’s the quintessential black swan, but I wanted to catch your eye with a Sully lede.

It is true though.  Bill Gates sits there with his kids and watches the screen as the disembodied voice of Sal Khan explains almost anything.

In short, Khan is a genius (three degrees from MIT and a Harvard MBA).  He retired early to teach math, chemistry, biology, physics, history, etc. to any interested party.  The format couldn’t be simpler.

What’s remarkable about Khan Academy, aside from its nonpareil word of mouth and burgeoning growth, is that it’s free and prizes brevity. Remember your mumbling macroeconomics teacher whose 50-minute monologue in a large auditorium could bore the dead? That isn’t Khan. He rarely cracks wise — if you want shtick, check out Darth Vader trying to teach Euclidean geometry on YouTube (“The Pythagorean theorem is your destiny!”) — but in less than 15 minutes Khan gets to the essence of the topics he’s carved out.

My favorite part is the knowledge map (powered by Google maps) which auto-updates as you complete competency exercises in various disciplines:

Khan is up to 1800+ lectures and I’ll let him explain his ambition:

My goal really is to keep making videos until the day I die (which will hopefully not be for at least another 50 or 60 years). Should give me time to make several tens of thousands of videos in pretty much every subject.

Go on. Let him teach you something already.

[David A. Kaplan @ Fortune via the Browser]

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December 2, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 1 comment.

Diddy’s Advice on How to Be Smooth

Good talk.

[via Rats Off!]

November 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

Guilty Gamer

You know I love indie video games.

Ultimately this here is a review of some recent indie video games, but it sure doesn’t start that way.

Video games are worth loving, but loving them comes with shame. Not passing regret or social embarrassment, but a sharp-edged physical guilt: the hunch-backed, raw-fingered, burning-eyed pain that comes at the sad and greasy end of an all-night binge. You have ostentatiously, really viciously wasted your life; you might as well have been masturbating for the last nine hours—your hands, at least, would feel better.

Waste is not a byproduct—it’s the point: playing video games is a revolt against life. All art forms, even the polite ones, are escapist in that each answers some fundamental objection to the world and its limits. Novels let you know, granting access to inner lives and narrative arcs otherwise hidden and guessed at. Films let you see, permitting you to stare at the world and its inhabitants as long and as hard and as many times as you want. The gratification provided by video games is particularly sweet because the objection that drives them is more urgent. What they offer is purpose […] To play them is to live in a world with knowable rules and achievable goals: to ask, Dear God, what should I do with my life? And be greeted with a tutorial, a pre-mission briefing, and a shot at a high score.

Well said.

[Read more from Gabriel Winslow-Yost @ n+1]

[Comic about Minecraft via Penny Arcade]

October 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.

Quote

My problem is that all things are increasingly interesting to me.

William Gibson a couple of nights ago at some talk or another.

Same here.

[via Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing]

[image via call2action]

October 6, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Smarts. Leave a comment.

How to be an Ass at Parties

Step 1.) Read Wikipedia’s List of Common Misconceptions.

Some Good ones:

  • George Washington did not have wooden teeth. According to a study of Washington’s four known dentures by a forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry, itself associated with the Smithsonian Museum), the dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).
  • Searing meat does not “seal in” moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Generally, meat is seared to create a brown crust with a rich flavor via the Maillard reaction.
  • It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any man-made object from the Moon. The misconception is believed to have been popularized by Richard Halliburton decades before the first moon landing.

Step 2.) This part is automatic. You’ll act like a total ass the next time someone mentions that lemmings are suicidal, Napoleon was short, or that George Washington Carver invented peanut butter.

Happy Trolling.

[List of Common Misconceptions via the Browser]

[image via Wikimedia Commons]

October 5, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Smarts. 7 comments.

John Lennon as an Old Man

Really fun piece of fiction here:

“Time for me mornin’ swim,” says Lennon, who has only just woken up. It is two p.m.

Lennon, who will turn 70 on October 9, remains enviably slim and has a deep late-summer tan. The longish hair is mostly white and a bit thinned out on top but becomingly so, in the manner of late-period Richard Harris. We stop at a crook in the creek where the waters slow and eddy, and where a stand of willows shades the bank scenically. Hung on a hook nailed to one of the trees is a handmade sign bearing the words “old mclennon’s swimmin hole.” Lennon hands me his cappuccino glass, drops his shorts, and Nestea-plunges backward into the water.

He re-emerges with a splash and a triumphant whoop, pushing his hair out of his face. Then he gently lowers himself back in, lying supine and semi-submerged, his penis bobbing upward, pointed right at me. “Alrighty then,” he says. “First question.”

I doubt seriously though that Lennon would’ve voted for Reagan.

[David Kamp @ Vanity Fair via the Browser]

[image via straight blast gym]

September 27, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.

Minimus

Do want.

[via personal communication with Elliott Austin]

September 25, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Video. 3 comments.

The Beautiful Game

Eugene says:

Every once in a while you come across writing so good, you can’t sit still as you’re reading it.

Fantastic way to introduce this article which is (partly) about the legend:

Pelé.

Excerpt:

If the crisis of having a body is that it’s resistant to our will, soccer exaggerates the crisis, moves what you want to do even further away from what you can do, then gives us athletes who do what they want to anyway. That may be why moments of beauty in soccer, compared to those in other sports, nearly always feel like consolations.

[Pelé as a Comedian by Brian Phillips via ReadingByEugene.com]

September 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.

Sagan-Man!

[xckd via the really good sports at Fuck Yeah Chemistry]

September 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Comics. Leave a comment.

Dope

Lance Armstrong taking the Pete Rose approach:

As long as I live, I will deny it. There was absolutely no way I forced people, encouraged people, told people, helped people, facilitated. Absolutely not. One hundred percent.

His choice of words here is interesting even though his grammar is abhorrant.

Personal opinion: People who say “100 percent,” regardless of context, are attempting to blow smoke up your ass.

My thoughts on this whole “Lance Thing” are scattered. You may not care at all, gentle reader. Be assured though that Armstrong’s handlers care deeply what you think, and for good reason. His legacy is at stake and by proxy, so is his charitable foundation. In fact, in the New York Times article mentioned below, there is this sense that his people don’t care what his transgressions are/were since ‘his good acts outweigh his bad ones.’ Sounds like a sideways admission of guilt to me.

Interesting excerpt from the great NYT article on the subject:

Jay Coakley, a sociologist and the author of “Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies,” said that he had no doubt that Mr. Armstrong was guilty of doping, but that it did not matter. For athletes, he said, the line between performance enhancement and medical treatment has become so fuzzy that it is impossible to discern.

“Deciding to use performance-enhancing substances and methods has nothing to do with lack of morality,” Mr. Coakley said. “It has to do with normative structure of elite sport, and the athlete’s commitment to his identity as an athlete.”

Such a great insight. It leads well into an NPR story I heard days later that chronicles Katherine Hamilton’s decision to opt out of sports entirely:

“There is an untold story,” she said, “about all the thousands … who make a conscious decision, that are really great athletes doing the right thing, working really hard — and they just drop out because they’re just not willing to do the things to your body and to go down that road.”

In other words, athletes who don’t just say no to drugs, but no to sport[.]

Doping may be a (very) roundabout way to help cancer patients, but it’s also the apparent cause of other types of societal illness.

[Bruce Weber and Juliet Macur @ the New York Times via the Browser]

[image via correct-weight-loss.net]

September 16, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 2 comments.

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