Addition to coin collection

I haven't been up to much lately. I did buy an expensive coin, the 2000 Library of Congress Bimetallic Ten Dollar. Its composition is 1/4 oz Au, 1/4 oz Pt. Here's a scan.

I started playing Utopia, or rather, nostalgia. The last time I played was Grade 10. I doubt anyone from back then (Paul, Roddy) is playing, but if you are, say hello or attack me. :P I'm on Legends 28:39; my place will be easy to figure out.

Then there's work. Work is interesting: I'm applying some theorems and skills I acquired in Graph Theory and CS241. And my coworkers like it. They like software that's better than the open-source alternatives. They like proofs of upper-bound running times and novel approaches to old problems. Work is great! Some things I'm doing may be good grad school material.

Oh, and I've been dreaming a lot. Long, coherent, narrative, sometimes poetic dreams in vivid technicolour. Like Kevin dreams. I wonder why... :P


Great but banned ad from Microsoft

Here's one of the best ads I've seen in a while. It certainly brought back some childhood memories and the kid within me... I remember doing that and imagining stuff like that when I was bored with school.


In defense of gifted education

Let's start with a question: are we all created equal?


Well, it really depends on what "born equal" means. If the meaning is taken to be "all men are born equal in dignity and rights" then it is yes. If the meaning is taken to be "all men are born with equal intellectual abilities" then the answer is a hard no. Some are offended by this, but let me pose some questions. Are we born equally tall? Physically strong? Beautiful? No of course, right? These are much less contentious. So why is intelligence so touchy? I think the answer is because in our society, intelligence is highly correlated with success.

The idea that some cannot achieve a high level of success almost regardless of how hard they try is denied by many. Yet studies show that this is very true. I'm not going to use footnotes since Wikipedia has already done that for us. Back on topic, studies show that IQ is the best predictor of future performance. Now this doesn't mean that IQ is a good indicator of future success, it just means it beats all the others. So before the smart ones start wearing a grin, remember that there is no substitute for hard work. Or is there?

Contrary to what most others may believe, I think there is a very good substitute for hard work, and I think that is high IQ (work is still needed, just not hard work). High IQ babies look at a novel object and get bored with a few glances, while average babies will be intrigued for much longer. Years later, the high IQ babies become schoolchildren and are bored with their lessons, their teachers, and probably their classmates as well. They'll think "d'oh, Mrs. Campbell is teaching that again for the 14th time" and begin daydreaming, doodling -- whatever relieves them of their boredom. If kept in such a stultifying environment, these minds will not attain their true potential. They will still do better on average than their peers but the point is that they do not reach their potential.

We want to nuture our bright minds, since it is known that a well-educated people fare better economically and hence we invest in education. So what's the best way to invest though? I think having a good gifted education program is essential to investing this money properly. Now, the main point coming from people that oppose gifted education is that it segregates the children, and violates the widely accepted clause of "all men are born equal." After all, why should these gifted children receive more resources (like better teachers) and therefore more investment money? This is where we go back to the question posed at the beginning of this post. Simply, we are not created equal when it comes to intelligence!

Here's a hastily thought-up analogy:

Basketball is what determines success and thus basketball teams, that of nations.
We want to invest in out nation's basketball team.
We want teach our children basketball, for a great team in the future.

Now, do we
  • spend equal resources on short children as very tall children? Illogical isn't it? The tall kids will be bored; they may start lifting the ball above their heads and grinning at the stunted kids frantically jumping. They tall ones will not develop their skills.
  • spend more resources on our very tall children? Logical isn't it? You know that the future all-stars will be tall. No, not all the tall kids will be excellent players, but the best players will be tall. In analogy with IQ, height isn't a great indicator of future basketball performance, but it is nevertheless the best indicator. Thus it is statistically wise to specially nuture our very tall children.
Sorry, this post is probably disorganized and unclear, but I don't feel like cleaning it up. =P
Time to sleep. Cha!


New year, new post

Yes, very late, but happy New Near! 新年あけおめ!

Sorry for not posting. I've been caught up in "family" things: a cousin from Shanghai is visiting, and my aunt opened up a restaurant. The weather is fine here, around 9 in the daytime and 4 in the evening.

I got Bao's awesome anime package in the mail a week or so ago, filled with food for slacking. After feasting, I started to think about Canada, about home. And the more I thought the more I came to miss it. Oh, in the vast fields of white (with some brown and black on the roadsides [ed.: don't spoil the image]) how I long to roll! T_T

Today, I decided when my last day of work would be: April 14th. I'm thinking of flying home around April 18-20th. I hope Bao's house is open from April 19-21st to May 1st... =P

In my spare time I was shopping and exploring Tokyo with my two cousins, playing games (Golden Sun 2, Civilization IV, Freespace 2, Freelancer, Super Mario RPG, Lego Star Wars, Windows Vista's Chess), eating too much, and eating too much too much [ed.: hard to read].

I also tried a new IQ test by highiqsociety.org, the Teaching Assistant Cubed, and got a questionable result. I tried it again and got 134. @_@