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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Feeling stressed here in Seattle. Y'all got any philosophy/mantras/tattoos that you get through when you're in a funk?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Race to Nowhere

A recent article from the Washington Post talks about a documentary by a lawyer who is raising kids, kids who are experiencing extreme stress due to pressure to succeed. This is pretty well what I remember from my high school experience back in the 90's.

From the article:

"It was as if their private worries had come to life on screen: Teenagers so pressured to get A's, to fill their college resumes with sports and music and language, they start losing their grip. Long nights of homework leave them exhausted. Stress becomes stomach pain and anorexia and depression. Some turn to cheating or pills. Others just give up...

... The film is attracting notice from New York to California, where mom-turned-filmmaker, Vicki Abeles, a 48-year-old lawyer, launched the documentary project as she set out to understand the stresses her children, now ages 16, 14 and 11, were experiencing.

One daughter had become physically sick as she struggled with the demands of school. Then, several months into Abeles's effort, a teenager in her community committed suicide after getting a failing math grade, a tragedy Abeles says intensified her commitment to making the film.

"I think there is tremendous pressure on all kids to get the grade, to get the test score ... which is creating an epidemic of unhealthy kids who are also arriving at college and at the workplace unprepared," Abeles said in an interview.

Race to Nowhere

Some of this Race to Nowhere has to do with the nature of professional schooling and the fact that you can still make a decent salary in America if you can get into and graduate from the "right" professional school - law school/med school/dental school.

However, the entire American high school - college - law school treadmill has severe problems associated with it, namely that the number of new lawyers minted every year far outstrips the actual demand for lawyers.

In law school, you need to get the highest grades and go to the best schools in order to get a high paying "BigLaw" job ($165,000 in NYC these days) when you get finished. Not that these jobs are pleasant, but they do allow you to pay off student loans.

For many new lawyers it's worse than a Race to Nowhere, given the overproduction of lawyers and the failure of the bubble economy to reflate.

The equation for this economy is Stress (High School) + More Stress (College) + Even More Stress (Law School) + Six Figure Debt = No Job + Six Figure Debt.

And one of the problems is that the higher education system, particularly law schools, only has to worry about the continued issuance of sovereign debt to fund the student loans. Law schools don't have to worry about whether the students can actually repay the debt. So tuition can go up year after year at a significant premium to the rate of inflation.

And the problem is continuing to get worse as the economy continues to fail to recover.

At least interest rates are low these days, right?

Okie can probably add his own insights from his entire law school/law firm adventures.

Friday, October 1, 2010

(Limited) Faster than Light Coordination Is Possible

Anyway, now that we have established that Spooky Action at a Distance exists, there is apparently still general consesus that you cannot have information exchanged faster than the speed of light.

From Wikipedia (Faster-Than-Light-Communication):

"Superluminal communication is the term used to describe the hypothetical process by which one might send information at faster-than-light (FTL) speeds. All empirical evidence found by scientific investigation indicates that it is impossible in reality."

Well, that's not quite right.

You might not be able to have direct superluminal communication, but you sure can have superluminal coordination.

First, you have to remember that we now established that quantum entanglement exists.

From Wikipedia (Quantum entanglement):

"However, in an entangled pair when the first particle is measured, the state of the other is known at the same time without measurement, regardless of the separation of the two particles. This knowledge of the second particle's state is at the heart of the debate. If the distance between particles is large enough, information or influence might be traveling faster than the speed of light which violates the principle of special relativity. One experiment that is in agreement with the effect of entanglement "traveling faster than light" was performed in 2008. This experiment found that the "speed" of quantum entanglement has a minimum lower bound of 10,000 times the speed of light.[5] However, because the method involves uncontrollable observation rather than controllable changing of state, no actual information is transmitted in this process. Therefore, the speed of light remains the communication speed limit."

Oh, and "minimum lower bound of 10,000 times the speed of light" really means that it's acually happening simultaneously regardless of where the entangled particles are located in the universe. This means that if one particle is in one galaxy, and it's entangled counterpart is in another galaxy, they will immediately influnce each other. Physical distance is completely irrelevant.

This expierment shows that there can now be some degree of coordination that occurs faster than the speed of light.

You can't send a message, but you can coordinate actions. Say you have two actors who are one light minute away from each other. Say there are two separate targets that they want each want to hit with a laser at the exact same time and the tagets that are located halfway between them, Target 1 and Target 2. They want to make sure that they each hit a different target, but they have each agreed that they will not decide beforehand which target to hit.

Now, if they each have an entangled particle of a pair, and one is found to have positive spin, the other will automatically have negative spin.

So, if they agree beforehand that they will each target and fire their laser at the same time (assuming their clocks are coordinated to the second) and they agree that they will not determine the spin of the particle until five seconds before their respective laser fires (to give them a few seconds to pick the right target), and they agree that the one who has the particle with negative spin will hit Target 1 and the one who has the particle with positive spin will hit Target 2 they will always each hit a different target.

And there you have faster than light coordination.

Neither actor has picked the target more than five seconds before firing, each target is 30 light seconds away from the lasers, and both targets will always be hit.

Coordination has occured faster than the speed of light.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits