Link Roundup: Pessimism Edition

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You may or may not have heard of the coming Beepocalypse. It sounds like something out of a cheesy Sci-Fi channel movie like “Mansquito,” but the threat to man’s crops should bee colonies collapse is real. The part of the story that’s interesting to me is that, according to the article, the cause of the so-called Colony Collapse Disorder amongst bees may be cell phones.

That kind of begs the question — If we learned today that the likely cause for CCD was definitely cell phones — What would happen?

My guess is nothing. No way are the Telecoms going to give up their lucrative cell phone business, and no way would people individually and voluntarily give up their cell-phones. It’d be kind of ironic if mankind were done in by the simple everyday selfishness and self-importance of not being willing to cut down on cell phone usage, rather than say, nuclear war or some monstrous plague or a killer asteroid.

A few years back I remember hearing the SAT had added a new writing segment to the test. As it turns out, my initial thoughts have proven mostly true, at least according to this article in InsideHigherEd: The three/five paragraph essay format is ridiculously stultifying for anyone with any amount of independent thought or writing skill, and teaching students to write to a formula results in formulaic writing. The subtextual agenda of schools that requested adding the Writing exam, to boost up scores of minorities, doesn’t seem to have come about either, so many colleges simply ignore it altogether.

This essay was linked in the story as an example of a “perfect” essay according to the rubric. Sadly, it seems more like it was written by a non-native English speaker than someone with a mastery of the language… And, even more sadly, if the comments on the InsideHigherEd article are any indication, it’s actually deserving of such a high score compared to other essays students manage to pump out.

This last story, about Joshua Bell playing violin in the subway, has been making the rounds of late. It’s a pretty fascinating story, although worth noting that all of the conditions of the experiment, though presented in a fashion so as to obtain a “neutral” reaction from the audience — Are actually stacking the deck against any sort of substantial reaction.

I guess the bit that gets to people about the story is the realization that, in the shoes of the people in that subway, they wouldn’t have done anything different. I can’t say I would either. Alas venustas? Well, perhaps.

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