Archive for August, 2014

“Checkmate” in Vegas

August 28, 2014

The New York Times, Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE ARTS

BOOKS OF THE TIMES, by Janet Maslin

This is a review of the book: Leaving Money and Privacy on the Table:  “What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data–Lifeblood of Big Business–and the End of Privacy as We Know It, by Adam Tanner”

Casinos like Caesars know a lot about their best customers.

The “biggest issue this book addresses is how and when that information  should be used.

A lot of  “What Stays in Vegas” is about the data digging or online advertising outfits that might sell Caesars information about its customers. These businesses span a wide spectrum, from super-sleazy to merely profit motivated.  At the ‘creepy’ end of things..are blackmail sites like Instant Checkmate, which has sent out messages like this: RISK ALERT:Very Negative Information Was Added to Your Online File…”

Checkmate is a game position in chess where the king is threatened with capture and there is no way to remove the threat. Checkmating the opponent wins the game.  (Edited from Wikipedia.)

The Unlevel Field

August 28, 2014

The Economist August 9th, 2014

The Unlevel Field: India’s civil service exams

Delhi–Fights over English speak to deeper problems in Education

“For weeks angry students, most of whom went to Hindi schools, have been taking to the streets of Delhi, the capital, in protests over India’a national language.  That language is, of course,  English…They claimed it discriminated against candidates who had not gone to English-language schools.  On August 4th the government buckled, saying that this year, marks for an English-language portion of the test would not count.

It has hardly mollfied the students.  Many want the Civil Serices Aptitude Test scrapped altogether.  ‘We are not against English or maths,’ says Janardan Mishra, a 22-year-old graduate from Allahabadm inperfecly colloquial English.  ‘We want only a level playing field.’…

As for the students, their complaints run deeper than language wars. A senior bureaucrat who used to teach at the civil service’s national acadamy was blunt abut the real problem the protesters faced. ‘They’re going to miserable schools which teach them nothing.”

A level playing field is desirable; an unlevel one not fair, one side playing football might have to  kick a ball uphill, the other downhill, or there could be problems side to side.