Category Archives: news

Freedom to criticize and quantify

How do people respond when a U.S. general presents testimony to congress that contains slides that are difficult to interpret? Well, some people respond constructively and make a project out of it. Others respond in ways that will probably be much less useful when it comes to interpreting future testimonies, such as controversial full page ads in newspapers. As far as I can tell, congress has yet to acknowledge the useful responses to General Patraeus’ presentation. They could use a bit of quantification I think. Unfortunately, they have acknowledged quite vehemently the ad taken out by MoveOn.org in the New York Times on September 10th. Now, I don’t know that much about the situation and I am not an active supporter of MoveOn. But, what the hell is the house doing wasting time passing a resolution in response to a newspaper advertisement? In my vision of how the U.S. government should work, congress would make laws not official declarations of their opinion of certain organizations. So what if an organization wants to spend its money expressing its opinions through advertisements? As long as such advertisements do not contain any false statements, I don’t see any problem with it. Shouldn’t freedom of speech include freedom from intimidation by the government to not express oneself in a particular way?

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Staying up to date without getting overwhelmed

My attitude about reading feeds tends to cycle. Occasionally, I go on a rampage and subscribe to a ton of feeds in Google Reader. Then for the next few days or weeks, I spend a lot of time trying to keep up with all of the feeds that I have subscribed to. Finally, I eventually start to feel overwhelmed and I stop following the feeds that I am subscribed to all together. This time around I have decided that I want to find some way to avoid through this cycle again. The realization that I came to today is that I subscribe to feeds for at least three reasons. Some feeds I subscribe to because I happen to read an article on a blog or website that was probably linked to from another blog and I feel like I would like to read an occasional article in the future. Other feeds I subscribe to to keep up with news that is important to me. These feeds include those from major news sites like the New York Times or my friends’ blogs. The third category of feed that I subscribe to are those from research journals and conferences that are related to my work (e.g. Nature, Science, Cell… biology related resources seem to be more organized online than those relating to machine learning/computer science ironically). These are, in some ways, the most important feeds to keep up with because maintaining an awareness of what researchers are working on in certain scientific fields is crucial to my work.

So, given this realization, I have just gone through all my feed subscriptions and given each of them one of three labels. One label is for feeds that I want to read occasionally when I have a few moments to spare. Placing feeds in this category will significantly reduce the stressfulness of keeping up with my feed subscriptions because I am effectively stating that I don’t care if I miss most of the articles that get posted to these feeds. The second label is for feeds that I want to try to keep up with so that I can stay current with news about my friends and the world. If I miss a post here and there it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I want to try not to miss too many. The third label is for feeds relating to my work that I want to really try to at least read the title of every post.

We will see how this scheme goes. How do you manage your feed subscriptions?