Don’t Dissect the Frog, Build It

Nicholas Negroponte, on how synthesis can be better for learning than analysis:

On April 11, 1970, Seymour Papert held a symposium at MIT called “Teaching Children Thinking” and placed a new stake in the groundwork of epistemology. His notion was based on using computers as engines which children would teach and thus learn by teaching. He moved the locus of interest from how computers can teach to how children learn. This astonishingly simple idea simmered for almost fifteen years before it came to life through PCs. Today, when almost 30 percent of all American homes contain a personal computer, the idea really has come into its time.

Certainly, some learning derives from great teaching and telling a good story. We all remember our good teachers. But a major measure of learning results from exploration, from re-inventing the wheel and finding out for yourself. Until the computer, the tools and toys for these experiences were limited, special-purpose apparatuses, frequently administered with extreme control and regimentation (my excuse for not learning chemistry).

The computer changed this radically. All of a sudden, learning by doing has become the standard rather than the exception. Since computer simulation of just about anything is now possible, one need not learn about a frog by dissecting it. Instead, children can be asked to design frogs, to build an animal with froglike behavior, to modify that behavior, to simulate the muscles, to play with the frog.


Funding of Media Lab research from Interlego A/S, the Danish company that owns Lego in the US, has resulted in an important contribution to products in Lego’s Dacta division (“LEGO TC Logo” and “Control Lab”), which have been used in elementary and secondary schools by more than one million children. The computer-controllable Lego allows children to endow their physical constructs with behavior. Both anecdotal evidence and careful testing results reveal that this constructivist (as Papert calls it) approach has an extraordinary reach, across a wide range of cognitive and learning styles. In fact, many children said to be learning disabled flourish here. Perhaps we have been more “teaching disabled” than “learning disabled.”


Parity Purchasing Power

I was pleasantly surprised to see this notification at the top of React for Beginner’s site:

Parity purchasing power discout at React for Beginners

It said:

Hey! I noticed you are coming from Indonesia where this course may be a bit expensive.

I support Parity Purchasing Power — I want to make this course affordable for everyone around the world.

If you need it, use the code INDONESIALOVE for an extra 52% off the listed prices.

Parity purchasing power is something I haven’t heard before. According to The Balance:

Purchasing power parity is an economic theory that states residents of one country should be able to buy the goods and services at the same price as inhabitants of any other nation over time.


Purchasing power parity is used in many situations. The most common method is to adjust for the price differences between countries. For example, China produced $10.98 trillion in goods and services in 2015. The U.S. produced $17.95 trillion. You cannot compare the two without taking into account the fact that the cost of living in China is much lower than in the United States.

For example, a McDonald’s Big Mac costs $5.04. In China, you can get the same thing for only $2.79. People in China don’t need as much income because it costs less to live. For more fun comparisons, see The Economist’s Big Mac Index.

Being Muslim in the NBA

The Undefeated:

Dieng: One time at Arizona State as soon as we finished practice at their practice facility, everybody takes a shower. And after showering, ‘Ticket’ (then-teammate Kevin Garnett) was there, K.G. So, we were in the locker room, me and him. So, I was in the shower, I got out and I began praying. So, he was listening to his music while he was taking shower, and I was praying. Soon as he got out the first thing he did was turn the music down. And he waited until when I finished and he was like, ‘Yo, G, I got it. I respect this. I’m sorry. I said, ‘No, no, you’re good. The music doesn’t bother me.’ He’s like, ‘I respect [your religion].’ This means a lot to me, considering the fact that you come here and stick with what you believe. So, some people respect that.

Hakeem Olajuwon’s quotes there are also interesting to me because he sounded much more mellowed out compared to the others.

Jakarta is Sinking

The New York Times:

“Nobody here believes in the greater good, because there is so much corruption, so much posturing about serving the public when what gets done only serves private interests,” as Sidney Jones, the director of the local Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, put it. “There is no trust.”

Hydrologists say the city has only a decade to halt its sinking. If it can’t, northern Jakarta, with its millions of residents, will end up underwater, along with much of the nation’s economy. Eventually, barring wholesale change and an infrastructural revolution, Jakarta won’t be able to build walls high enough to hold back the rivers, canals and the rising Java Sea.

I don’t live in Jakarta and personally try to not visit unless absolutely necessary. I did not know that things are this bad, though.

[…] The most ambitious move by the city is the construction of what’s called the Coastal Wall, now rising like a black cliff from Jakarta Bay. It’s a quasi-temporary barrier to hold back the rising sea and compensate for subsidence — built extra high because, like the rest of North Jakarta, it is expected to sink, too. With subsidence at the current rate, the Coastal Wall itself may be underwater by 2030.

Even more alarming, Mr. Brinkman showed me one spot along the waterfront where the wall ends and all that holds back the sea is a low, crumbling concrete rampart. The water was only a couple of feet below the top when we peered over the embankment.

“If this wall breaks, there’s simply no holding back the Java Sea,” said Mr. Brinkman, gesturing from the rampart toward the city. “Jakarta will flood all the way to the center of town, six kilometers from here. I could take you to 20 other places just like this.”


Forgotten Isle

I was happily exploring one of the magnificent kingdoms in Super Mario Odyssey when, bam, I hear the music of my people:

This gamelan and suling background song with its odd time signature sounds quite soothing to me, perhaps because of regional familiarity. I wonder what it sounds like for those unfamiliar with this type of music.


Tree Research

There is a Muhammad saying about a giant tree,

“In Paradise there is a tree in whose shade a rider could travel for a hundred years without crossing it.”

According to this World Building StackExchange conversation, a horse rider can realistically travel about 50 km a day. This means the shade being mentioned is more than 1,825,000 km long, or a radius of 3,650,000 km assuming a circular overall shade shape.

There is a unit of distance mostly used to measure the size of stars called Solar radius. As the name says, it is based on the radius of our sun, so 1 Solar radius equals to about 695,700 kilometres.

That tree has a Solar radii of 5.25, which according to this NASA page, is around the size of the MU1 Scorpii star.

الله اعلم