Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse

"I don't ever wanna drink again, I just need a fried", so sad she didn't find one...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Carbon tax proposed in Australia

Australian government proposed a carbon tax that will be paid by all companies emitting CO2. If this will be devised this kind of tax has the potential to drive a "green" behaviour from all sides, since a reduction of VAT is also proposed in order to offset the total amount of collected taxes. For example, let's say a KW of energy costs 10 dollars, the VAT will be reduced by 1 dollar, but the energy produced from coal will be taxed supplementary by 2 dollars, as opposed to wind energy which will not be carbon taxed. So the coal energy will end up costing 11 dollars, but the wind one will cost 9 dollars (this is a pure imaginary example, I don't know the exact amount of VAT and the proposed tax, or the cost of energy). So greener products will become cheaper, thus the incentive to consume those ones. Note that Australia is one of the developed countries that didn't sign the Kyoto treaty (they consume a lot of coal), so the change in policy is significant. In my opinion, taxing all the types of pollution is the best way to obtain a reduction in the ecological pressure we put on the planet.

The original news can be read here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funky business and funky bac

I'm reading "Funky Business" a book written around 2000 that tries to describe the new business model that will take over all of us as the use of technology continues to rise. I have some mixed feelings about this book: on one hand I totally agree with their vision of empowered individuals that will challenge more and more all sorts of institutions of our society. The description of internet use and the possibilities it opens look already outdated today, after only a few years since they wrote the book. On the other hand, I don't like the extreme consumerism ideas they induce, where sky is the limit and the consumer is king. I guess the severe recession we still experience in Europe and U.S. and the prices of oil and other raw materials just show to all of us that we don't have unlimited resources and unlimited supply of money.

So once one understands the importance of education, it may be a good idea to try to improve the education system. An important part of any kind of improvement process is in my opinion a way to measure the results of your efforts. In the case of education the best way to measure the results of the system are national (or even international) tests, that's why I'm glad that this year the widespread fraud that plagued the high-school graduation exam (aka bacalaureat) was stopped. The results were not good at all, less then 50% of the students took the exam, but unless we face the truth of what the education system in Romania produces at this moment there is no chance to ever improve it.

Update: Gabi pointed out one of the best quotes from the book: "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bubble-sort with Hungarian ("Csángó") folk dance

If you ever got bored while studying sorting algorithms, this is a fun way to do it:

Now in order to evaluate complexity you need to see how tired the dancers are in the worst case scenario :)