AI, Open Source Arguments All in One Article

This article in The Guardian is interesting for a number of reasons.  For one thing, it provides some further detail on the ongoing battle between scholars and companies regarding the open-sourcing of publications (making the journals free to the public as opposed to subscription based).  The article also hints at the AI capabilities of new data mining algorithms.  However, I was most interested (awestruck) by this sentence in the article, "The scale of new information in modern science is staggering: more than 1.5m scholarly articles are published every year and the volume of data doubles every three years."  Those are truly amazing numbers. 


Don't Let Your Past Weigh You Down

When we are young, I think (at least from my own perspective) we tend to live mostly in the present and near future.  As we get older, and perhaps it is only me speaking here, we tend to think more about our past.  We reminisce more often, which is a good thing; however, we also tend to fret about or relive past mistakes or choices (even good ones).  The (as I call it) "What if I had done this...or what if I had made this decision" syndrome can weigh us down.  In other words, instead of learning from our past mistakes and moving on, we get caught up in the past.  They act as chains which weigh us down in the present, lessening our ability to enjoy the present. 

With that said, I have always found it worthwhile to remind myself that the past no longer exists (except in my memories).  Sure my current life situation and personality make-up are the result of past choices; however, they are only a part.  The present and the future are the parts that I can still impact.

I'm sure that all of us are aware of that fact; it is a simple statement.  However, it is sometimes difficult for us to accept.  Nonetheless, in order for us to achieve the most, to be the best, etc...we need to latch onto it.

I can also understand (or at least I think I understand) that it is sometimes most difficult for older people to focus on the present, as most of their lives are behind them.  However, my advice to individuals of all ages would be the same.  Learn and let go.  Hold the joys and a bit of the sadness from times no more, but don't let the past overwhelm you.

Okay, those are my words of wisdom for the day.  :)

Here are some articles I wrote recently that you might enjoy:

U.S. Presidential Election: 5 Potential Game Changers

Virginia is for Stargazers 

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office.


Can You Increase Your I.Q.?

I'm sure most of you have read this article/research.  It is titled, "Plastic Brain Outsmarts Experts: Training Can Increase Fluid Intelligence, Once Thought to Be Fixed at Birth."  However, I just ran across it yesterday.  In short, it countermands established views that I.Q.'s are static (until late life when they drop off dramatically in some people). Instead, the researchers assert that adult I.Q.'s may in fact be malleable.  The articles lists the names of several of the researchers if you want to look further into the topic.  Also, there are several free versions of the dual-n-back games that are discussed in the article.  So, I don't come across as marketing a certain developer, I will leave it up to you to choose the game.  I tried the game out; it was fun. :)

                                                         Image of brain courtesy of Microsoft Office

P.S. You might also be interested in a new article I have written for YCN: "3 U.S. Government Websites to Bookmark"

Update (1/10/2013): This article in notes that two research studies, which were completed in 2012, fail to support the above hypothesis.  However, even more interesting, the largest of these studies noted a strong correlation between video game playing and some aspects of I.Q.


NFL and Safety (Concussions): My Thoughts

It seems that almost every article and radio comment about the NFL nowadays deals with some type of safety issue, ie. concussions, bounties, the intentional injuring of opposing players, etc.  However, it appears to me that most of these discussions, while interesting, only focus on a narrow topic, ie. are bounty systems ethical, should Kurt Warner have criticized the game that made him a star (courtesy of several discussions on ESPN radio), etc.  None of the ones that I have looked at focus on the larger topic of "The concussion issue aside, do football players have better/worse long-term health outlooks than the general population?"

I would break the topic down into 3 groups: 1) People who play football through high school
                                                                       2) People who play football through college
                                                                       3) People who play football professionally                                                                          

I would measure the health outcomes of these three groups against the health outcomes for the population in general.  I think this information is much more valuable to football players in particular and the general populace (eg. parents who are thinking about signing their kids up for little league football) than the hearsay, single person point of views that pervade the airwaves and newspapers.

For instance, if I had children (I do not), and was thinking about signing them up for little league football, I would be much more worried if Group #1 lives 5 years less than average or has 2X the chance of developing such and such conditions than I would be about one particular incident, which might not be reflective of the norm.  Ditto for the young men (and sometimes women) who are thinking about participating in high school, college, or professional football leagues.

As for the NFL, I think that it has an obligation to undertake these studies (at the professional level) if they have not been performed already.  If the NFL is reticent, then the NFLPA has an obligation to its player members to undertake these studies.  These organizations have a further obligation of giving the results to NFL prospects (and current players).  In other words, the NFLPA could say, "Okay, if you play football, you are 2X as likely to suffer from this disease, and 3X as likely to get this one, etc.  Oh, and by the way, some people might try to injure you on purpose."

Once the NFL and/or the NFLPA have given the information to the player, they have done their duty.  Players can decide for themselves whether the benefits are worth the risks.  Let's face it.  Everything we do in life carries some type of risk.  Most jobs in fact entail at least a minimal amount of risk.  Even a desk job comes with risks; if I sit in a chair and stare at a computer screen all day, I might be more prone to developing heart disease or other illnesses (as a result of a sedentary lifestyle).  As long as people are fully informed of the risks of a particular job, they should have the final say in whether they will perform that task.

Now of course, the company (or in this case the NFL), does have some obligation to look out for its employees.  Soldiers don't go into battle without helmets; workers don't go into hazardous areas without HAZMAT suits, and players should not get on the field unless they possess the latest in personal safety equipment.  Nonetheless, at some point, it is up to the player (or his/her parent) to make the final decision; it is up to them to decide if the risk is worth the reward.

As an aside, I apologize if this post meanders a bit.  I wanted to posit my true feelings on the issue.  So, what i have written comes off the top of my head; it is a reaction to what I've been hearing and reading.

Update: Thanks to Jax's blog, Raviolis & Waterworks, for pointing to this Fox Sports article by Alex Marvez discussing a NIOSH study of NFL players which shows that, on average, they live longer...The study might not cover all the bases, ie. compare players to other groups regarding non-life threatening diseases like arthritis; however, those studies are likely out there as well.

1st photo courtesy of Stephen Horncastle (photographer/owner) via Wikimedia Commons.  It is from and part of the public domain via a  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.
(photographer/owner) via Wikimedia Commons.  The image shows Roger Goodell at the 2009 NFL Draft.  Ms. O'Leary has authorized re-use of the photo via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

2nd photo courtesy of Marianne O'Leary (photographer/owner) via Wikimedia Commons.  The image shows Roger Goodell at the 2009 NFL Draft.  Ms. O'Leary has authorized re-use of the photo via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Fantasy Football: Cam Newton and Ben Roethlisberger Are Moving Up My Draft List

I know it is early summer (or maybe it's still technically spring) and NFL football is months away.  Maybe I'm having football withdrawals ;-).  Anyway, I still try to keep tabs on players and ponder draft strategies.  Anyway, as I was searching the Web for fantasy football related material, I noticed this article by Nader Ktait: Carolina Interest in Other Receivers is Not Surprising.

After reading the article, I thought a bit about which quarterbacks I would try to nab if my fantasy (snake) draft occurred today.  I decided that Cam Newton would be the 2nd QB on my list, right behind Aaron Rodgers and ahead of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Stafford, etc.  Cam was incredible last year, given the fact that he was a rookie.  I think he will be even better this year because a) his line and wr core should be improved and b) he has more experience.

A couple of weeks ago (or maybe even a few days ago), I would have placed Drew Brees in the 2nd spot.  However, there are just too many question marks in New Orleans right now...The biggest one being, "Will Drew Brees sign the franchise player tender offer/contract?"

As an aside, Ben Roethlisberger is moving up my fantasy draft QB list.  Over the past couple of years, Big Ben has been limited by his porous offensive line.  The Steelers draft pick-ups of David DeCastro and Mike Adams should help to bolster that offensive line.  Heck, those two pick-ups might turn a pretty bad offensive line into a very good one.  If that happens, watch out!  The Steelers have excellent wide receivers, an underrated tight end, and a decent running game (and yes, I know that the starting rb is coming off ACL surgery)...With that said, hmmm, I might move Roethlisberger into the top 5 before the season begins.

That's all for now...

Clip Art courtesy of Microsoft Office.


Thoughts for the Day

A First: 200 visitors in one day (yesterday).  

Sad note: Sorry to hear about Junior Seau's passing.

Of Interest: A new article I have written, Goodell's Suspensions of Four Players Will Hurt Several Teams

eLife--A Paradigm Shift in Scholarly Publishing?

I was reviewing recent emails from, and one of them pointed me to this blog post on ‘eLife’ Journal Takes Another Step Forward.  I think the project is commendable.  In short, a number of large, well-funded research foundations, including "the US Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the UK Wellcome Trust and Germany’s Max Planck Society," have teamed up with (at least 175) scientists to publish an open-source journal.  This appears to be a serious endeavor given the players involved and the apparent time and effort everyone is putting into this one.  In fact, per the blog post, "its backers hope that the publication will eventually rival Nature and Science as a top-tier journal."

As I have noted in the past, I am in favor of making all scholarly publications open to public purview without charge.  If the eLife venture is successful, it might entail a paradigm shift which leads other journals to take the open source route.  Only time will tell.  Regardless, the eLife project is something to keep an eye on in the coming months/years.