Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spouting Off


  • These discussions on the blogosphere of inherent ability versus work ethic (oh, to have both!) such as at nanoscale views and CV, bring to mind my advice for college choice. As an undergraduate, there's not going to be lots of differences among good schools, state flagships included (Berkeley, UMich, UTexas, UVA, UNC, etc). *However*, that is to say there won't be much difference in terms of the quality of instruction, equipment, etc. The biggest difference will be among your fellow students. That's one reason many of these schools have honors programs. The better your peers, the more the instructor can expect of you, and that's important. Not only that, the environment you immerse yourselves is largely made up of your peers. I interview for my alma mater and they want to know whether the applicant would contribute to that environment. And one shouldn't just concern yourself with quality. If you're lucky enough to have the choice between Stanford and Harvard, there's no concern for which has better students. The issue then is the *type* of student the school attracts. I'm not that fond of those who go to Stanford. Yes it's a horrible generalization, but I've found people that go to Stanford are competitive, driven, and true believers in metrics (test scores, etc). Those that go to Harvard are more of a mix, usually a bit strange, not well rounded, but of course extremely talented in some way. So come all 'ye Googlers looking for school advice!

  • I'm starting to have some faith that this "voting site" for arXiv.org will be worth something.

  • Chad made me chuckle today with this quote about baseball (a sport which ranks with golf for watching, but which is otherwise fun to play):

    Back in the day, stat-wanking was mostly confined to baseball, which is so ridiculously boring that calculus seems like a fun way to spice things up.


  • Oceanographers have it easy. They always get to put cool pictures of them in exotic locales into their talks. But I had never heard of this ship that literally flips itself vertical in the middle of the ocean. Gizmodo has a nice YouTube video for you.

  • I just got a hold of the movie "Shut Up & Sing" about how those Dixie Chicks were so vulgar as to criticize our prez during a time of war. I really look forward to watching it.

  • The problem with digital cameras is the same as a fundamental problem in quantum mechanics. Don't believe me? Try and take a spontaneous picture of a young kid these days. Once they see the camera, they rush over *behind* camera to see the LCD viewfinder! You're lucky to get one picture.

5 comments:

Uncle Al said...

Education is manufacture - raw material, production (unit processes!), specs, laborers, infrastructure... market. No school boasts of the placement or incomes of its graduates. What constitutes navigation when given no destination?

MBA management is about process not product (e.g., ISO 900x). Accountancy values an enterprise upon liquidation - but enterprises are not run to be liquidated. Ravenous taxation reduces enterprise to bunkered defense.

Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" imploded America into a feminized Welfare State crying over its torn panties. Income redistribution! Diversity! A farm that slaughters its best and breeds its worst deserves to and will die. Horribly.

thm said...

The solution to the kids and digital cameras thing is to buy a camera that takes advantage of the fact that, unlike with film cameras, digital cameras do not need an optical image path between lens and viewfinder. Plenty of digicams--my Nikons certainly--let you flip the LCD screen out and twist it around, usually including entirely around. So kids (or adults) can both see the screen and be in range at once.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Stanford students suck. I should know, I used to teach them.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who is a former Harvard student described to me the typical Harvard student, which suspiciously mirrors your description of the Stanford students. While they were obviously bright people, they were automatons that lacked the creativity to beyond what was expected of them and they perceived themselves to be better than anyone else just because they were attending Harvard. There is more, but this covers the essence of the of the average Harvard student.

Angry said...

I'm sure Harvard has such people, as most elite schools will. But my experience is that Harvard has a somewhat eclectic collection. The over-achieving zealot in search of "better scores," but also the socially awkward genius dedicated to something for its own sake.

I'm not one to pursue (or defend) such generalities too frequently, but I am amazed at the extent to which my prejudice of Stanford students holds true. Of course, we could likewise explore other elite school's reputations: Cornell's "hard worker," Darmouth's "conservative," Brown's "lazy liberal," etc.