Monday, December 28, 2015

Apprencticeship vs Extended Secondary Vocational Education

I believe the contemporary American view (or really, default assumption) that:
  1. Higher education's purpose should be vocational
  2. The optimal form of vocational training is higher education

is a big, expensive mistake. I believe apprenticeship and on-the-job training is both more economical, and more effective, for providing most types of vocational training. And the mission of higher education (it is called "higher" for a reason) should be breadth of learning, cultivation of intellectual curiosity and development of analytical thinking.

Anyway, this quote from a chef, regarding the closing of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, is right on:

Jones said with the foodie boom, demand for chefs is higher than ever. He said Le Cordon Bleu grads aren’t ready to run a kitchen.

“Kids come out of culinary school and say: ‘I want a job as a sous chef.’ And I say, ‘No, you have to start at the bottom, like anyone else!’” Jones said.

Those entry-level jobs cutting, blanching and glacĂ©ing vegetables don’t pay very well. Jones said grads can come out of two years of culinary school with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

“You learn infinitely more in a restaurant like this, than you would anywhere else, virtually,” Jones said. “The idea that anyone would want to come into this industry with debt is ludicrous.”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Assortive Mating's Contribution to Income Inequality

For a long time, I've suspected that "assortive mating"--marrying someone from a similar socioeconomic background, educational institution and/or vocation--was an important contributor to income inequality. Far from the only one, and the factors are probably multiplicative, such that if the other factors were diminished, the contribution of assortive mating would be proportionately diminished. But nevertheless significant and worth considering.

This article makes the point, and claims statistically that something like 25% of income inequality may be explained by the contribution of assortive mating.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Don't Mythologize Scott Weiland

I deplore the tendency to mythologize the suffering artist. I really liked the op-ed by the ex-wife and mother of his children of Scott Weiland, recently deceased member of Stone Temple Pilots. Best quote:
Let's choose to make this the first time we don't glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don't have to come with it. Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Email, Texts and Probably IMs Should All Be Treated as Members of the Same Family

I like email. Email should always be considered the default workhorse of ordinary, textual communication. Texts have their place, mainly as a signal of urgency. I want a text only if it is time-sensitive--like, read and respond within 10 minutes, or the moment is lost.

Note that urgency may coincide with priority. It just means that the topic is time-limited. Could be "hey, I'm at the grocery store, is there anything you want me to get?" Or could be "I'm at the hospital, come see me".

So a text can serve as a reasonable proxy for urgency. What about priority?--i.e., it doesn't matter if you look at this in the next few minutes, but this is really important, so don't ignore it. Users of Outlook will be familiar with the red exclamation mark that indicates priority. Generally A Useful Thing. As far as I know, there is no widely-accepted equivalent in standard email. There should be.

Which brings me to my point: the distinction between email and text should be erased. They should both just be a message. Any message can have 2 distinct attributes, one for urgency, one for priority. The recipient can control the settings on their device accordingly. E.g.:
  • Most of the time, my phone would play a chime and pop up a window, for anything urgent.
  • At certain times, such as important meetings, I would suppress this and only do it if both urgent and priority.
  • In my case, I check email often enough, so no special settings for Priority alone--just iconic representation, a la the Outlook exclamation point.
It is not hard to imagine other refinements, such as only accepting Urgent + Priority from certain known contacts.

The last thing to consider is IM. I think that is a variation on urgency. It would be urgency, with an intention to conduct a more prolonged conversation. So if I received an IM request, but didn't feel like an extended conversation, rather than ignore it entirely, I could send a reply, but implicitly decline the IM, based on choosing to reply as standard urgent message.

I want all of these to be a subset of email, archived and searchable with all the same rules and tools that are well-established for email.

Oh, and one more thing--no proprietary forms of communications. Whatever is built into Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat should be a subset of email. The app of origin could just be an attribute (e.g., I might ignore emails from Twitter contacts).