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June 07 2011



Mr. Passos Coelho's center-right Social Democratic Party won the general election Sunday, defeating the Socialist Party of incumbent Prime Minister José Sócrates, but falling short of having a majority in Parliament.

Such a majority is key to pass harsh austerity measures set out under the aid program with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The next government has to present by the end of July a plan to significantly reduce corporate contributions to the social-security system; sell embattled bank Banco Português de Negócios; divest itself of state-owned assets; and reduce costs for dismissing workers, among other measures.



// oAnth

what a curse! - The next revenant [Wiedergänger] of amateurish economic reductionism and systematically imposed pauperism is announced to ravage its society.
Portugal's New Leader Vows Aggressive Reform - | 2011-06-07
Reposted bykrekkgroupbuys
Herr Luhmann, wie beurteilen Sie die zukünftige Entwicklung der Massenmedien?

Niklas Luhmann: Wenn man Massenmedien definiert als eine technisch einseitige Kommunikation, dann sehe ich nichts, was sich wesentlich ändern könnte. Für Massenmedien selber werden die aktuellen technischen Innovationen wie das Internet oder individuell wählbare Informationen wenig Bedeutung haben. Sie werden sich neben Massenmedien wie Tageszeitungen oder auch das Fernsehen setzen, sie jedoch nicht verdrängen. Das Internet mit seinen Kommunikationsmöglichkeiten ist auch, wenn es massenhaft als Medium genutzt wird, kein Massenmedium, denn es ist ja gerade keine einseitige technische Kommunikation, sondern kann individuell genutzt werden. Die Sorge, dass neue Medien die traditionellen ersetzen, ist so alt wie unbegründet: Die Schrift hat die mündliche Weitergabe nicht verdrängt und die Presse auch nicht den Brief.
Das Internet ist kein Massenmedium. Interview mit Niklas Luhmann 1997 | Systemtheorie | 2011-06-07

Project Euler

Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve.
Reposted fromsofias sofias

Frühstück (1926)

Sergei Lobovikov (1870-1941), Bromöldruck

(Gefunden bei yama-bato)

Reposted fromglaserei glaserei

Muqarnas in der Alhambra

Muqarnas sind ein Stilelement der islamischen Architektur. Sie bestehen aus einer großen Anzahl spitzbogenartiger Elemente, die in- und übereinander gesetzt sind und einen Übergang zwischen einer Nische oder einer Kuppel und der Wand bilden. Komplexe, kunstvoll ausgebildete Muquarnas erinnern an Tropfsteinhöhlen, man nennt sie daher auch Stalaktitendekoration.

Die Alhambra im spanischen Granada ist eines der beeindruckendsten Beispiele des maurischen Stils der islamischen Kunst.

Aus dem Flickr-Photostream von Marcomorphosis:

(Gefunden bei tonguedepressors | via booksnbuildings)

Eine grandiose Animation: Isfahan von Cristóbal Vila und seiner Firma Etérea. Die virtuelle arabische Architektur ist größtenteils inspiriert von Bauwerken in der iranischen Stadt Isfahan. | Das Making of.

Reposted fromglaserei glaserei

Learn to Program By Giving Yourself Open Ended Problems to Solve

Leonhard euler CTO James Somers wrote recently for The Atlantic about his multi-year struggle to learn programming. When he was a teenager, he started trying to learn with a book on C++.

"I imagined myself working montage-like through the book, smoothly accruing expertise one chapter at a time," Somers wrote. "What happened instead is that I burned out after a week." Somers writes that he repeated this process over and over again. He thought for a while that he just didn't have the right kind of brain for programming.

Eventually, though, he discovered Project Euler and his relationship to programming changed.


Project Euler is a series of computational problems, each building on the last. Each problem would be difficult and time consuming to solve by hand, so you need to write computer programs to solve them. It's structured like a game - you answer one problem, and you level up to the next.

You're only given a problem, and a text box to plug in an answer. Once you provide the correct answer to a problem, you are given access to a discussion forum based around that problem, but you're on your own to figure out how to solve them. You can use pretty much any programming language to solve the problem. The point is just to get an answer and learn the process.

"Those books that dragged me through a series of structured principles were just bad books. I should have ignored them," Somers wrote. "I should have just played."

Project Euler gave Somers a set of questions, and he was able to work on solving them on his own. It's an approach to learning math and programming that I've heard a lot about, and it's a good one. Here are some other good tips for teaching yourself new skills (not necessarily programming).

I like Project Euler and its approach to teaching computer science. But I the problems solved aren't immediately practical. Tools like Scratch (and its offspring Waterbear) make it possible to build games in only a few hours. With Google App Inventor you can make your own mobile applications. And you can quickly learn to make generative art with Processing. Project Euler is better than these at teaching computer science, but each of those projects makes the programming more immediately useful.

Has anyone seen anything that blends these approaches?


June 06 2011

Simon Johnson Half-Convinces Me That Christine Lagarde Would Be a Good IMF Head

Simon Johnson says Christine Lagarde wants to run the IMF so she can lemnd all its money to the Greeks, the Irish, the Portuguese, etc., and so rescue the German and the French banks:

Just a few years ago, euro-zone countries were at the forefront of those saying that the International Monetary Fund had lost its relevance and should be downsized. French authorities regarded the I.M.F. as so marginal that President Nicolas Sarkozy was happy to put forward the name of a potential rival, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as a candidate for its managing director, in fall 2007. Today the French government is working overtime to make sure that a Sarkozy loyalist, the leader of his economic team — Finance Minister Christine Lagarde — becomes the next managing director. Why do France and other euro-zone countries now care so much about who runs the I.M.F.?

The euro currency union has a serious problem, to be sure, with the likes of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but it is beyond bizarre that these countries are borrowing from the I.M.F.... Greece has a current account deficit, but its money, the euro, is one of the world’s hardest currencies — a reserve currency in which central banks and private business keep their rainy-day funds (as are dollars, yen, Swiss francs and, perhaps, British pounds). The euro zone as a whole does not have a current account deficit.

I vividly recall discussions with euro-zone authorities in 2007 — when I was chief economist at the I.M.F. — in which they argued that current-account imbalances within the euro zone had no meaning and were not the business of the I.M.F. Their argument was that the I.M.F. was not concerned with payment imbalances between the various American states (all, of course, using the dollar), and it should likewise back away from discussing the fact that some euro-zone countries, like Germany and the Netherlands, had large surpluses in their current accounts while Greece, Spain and others had big deficits.... As the euro is a reserve currency — and a highly regarded one; for example, it remains strong relative to the dollar — the I.M.F. is now essentially lending euros to the euro zone through its various bailout programs.

Does this make sense? No, unless you understand that the goal of these various bailouts is to ensure that German and French taxpayers do not realize the full extent of their losses or appreciate the ways in which their banks have been mismanaged...

I would say that spreading the losses over the IMF's entire capital base rather than making French and German taxpayers pay them is only a second-order goal. The first-order goal is to prevent another flight-to-safety and a Great Depression-scale sovereign debt crisis. Odds are that if you give the French and German taxpayers the choice between paying for the eurozone's financial crisis losses on the one hand and risking a much deeper depression on the other, they will risk deeper depression.

And that would be bad.

I fear Christine Lagarde as a bureaucrat who would bring the euro-sister an consensus to the IMF. Simon fears that she is someone who will not let Mediterranean Europe twist slowly, slowly in the wind.

Our fears cannot both be right.

And we are at a stage in which almost any stimulative policy moves by almost any organization with the political maneuvering room to undertake them is a good idea.

There are times to worry about moral hazard. This is not one of them.

Reposted from02myEcon-01 02myEcon-01

Learn how to code

Ein schöner Text darüber, wie Lernen im Umfeld von Computern funktionieren kann.

Nimmt Bezug auf Project Euler


// oAnth


What's especially neat about it is that someone who has never programmed -- someone who doesn't even know what a program is -- can learn to write code that solves this problem in less than three hours. I've seen it happen. All it takes is a little hunger. You just have to want the answer.

That's the pedagological ballgame: get your student to want to find something out. All that's left after that is to make yourself available for hints and questions. "That student is taught the best who is told the least."

It's like sitting a kid down at the ORIC-1. Kids are naturally curious. They love blank slates: a sandbox, a bag of LEGOs. Once you show them a little of what the machine can do they'll clamor for more. They'll want to know how to make that circle a little smaller or how to make that song go a little faster. They'll imagine a game in their head and then relentlessly fight to build it.

Along the way, of course, they'll start to pick up all the concepts you wanted to teach them in the first place. And those concepts will stick because they learned them not in a vacuum, but in the service of a problem they were itching to solve.

Project Euler, named for the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler, is popular (more than 150,000 users have submitted 2,630,835 solutions) precisely because Colin Hughes -- and later, a team of eight or nine hand-picked helpers -- crafted problems that lots of people get the itch to solve. And it's an effective teacher because those problems are arranged like the programs in the ORIC-1's manual, in what Hughes calls an "inductive chain":

The problems range in difficulty and for many the experience is inductive chain learning. That is, by solving one problem it will expose you to a new concept that allows you to undertake a previously inaccessible problem. So the determined participant will slowly but surely work his/her way through every problem.

This is an idea that's long been familiar to video game designers, who know that players have the most fun when they're pushed always to the edge of their ability. The trick is to craft a ladder of increasingly difficult levels, each one building on the last. New skills are introduced with an easier version of a challenge -- a quick demonstration that's hard to screw up -- and certified with a harder version, the idea being to only let players move on when they've shown that they're ready. The result is a gradual ratcheting up the learning curve.





Reposted fromschlingel schlingel

June 05 2011

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