One of my biggest gripes with higher education is the use of multiple choice exams. In September I first laid out my case against multiple choice exams and have since continued to build my case. Today I typed out some additional arguments against these exams and laid out a few recommendations to solve the many problems they present. Rather than keep the argument fragmented I decided to combine all my arguments into one piece, which can be found here.

Digg... Buried

I used to be an avid reader of social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit. The idea behind these types of communities is seemingly ingenious: let a democratic community decide what content makes it onto the front page and allow the community to control discussion of said content by masking troll posts and other garbage frequently found on internet chat boards. In theory, Digg and Reddit should help eliminate the media bias that seems to be more rampant than ever since readers should be able to see only the stories that are democratically elected as the best of the best.

Unfortunately, I read these websites less frequently now for a simple reason: they've deviated from what I described above. I'll contend that Digg and Reddit are now significantly more biased than any mainstream media source and that the garbage the community is supposed to control is as rampant as ever. For instance, on Reddit, at any given time I guarantee you can find stories that are pro-Ron Paul, anti-George Bush, anti-government, pro-Apple, anti-Microsoft, anti-religion, pro-atheism, and for some reason Reddit users seem to have a fetish with stories about people getting unfairly tazered. The content has gotten so biased and so predictable that it doesn't even seem worth my time any more. If someone went into a coma 50 years ago and woke up today, and their only source of information about the world was Digg and Reddit, their perception of the world would be so off the mark it would be unbelievable.

It seems that the underlying problem lies in the fact that Digg and Reddit are dominated by a niche audience and that the "democratic" system actually ends up scaring off everyone else. For example, on Digg, users have the ability to "bury" comments that they don't find worthy of being shown, effectively masking the comments from view. The original intention was to eliminate the garbage posts that pop up on internet message boards and to discourage trolls from wasting their time spamming the discussion. At first the system seemed to work great... but now the bury feature seems to be used primarily to mask opinion contrary to the Digg/Reddit mainstream. For instance, if you look at any given Digg submission on the main page, lets say one about Ron Paul... the comments will all appear to support the original submission, and a lot of the garbage you'd expect to be getting buried are actually getting "dugg," which basically means the community supports it. And forget about finding a decent discussion on Digg or Reddit; the comments section of these sites are just as bad as what you'd expect to find on Youtube or Yahoo Message Boards.

Sorry Digg and Reddit, the idea behind these websites is admirable, but they fail to deliver, and have certainly been a disappointment recently.
Every year Thanksgiving rolls around, followed by "Black Friday" and finally by my blog post poking fun of the outrageousness of such rampant consumerism. Last year I posted video footage of carnage at a Wal-Mart where shoppers, eager to get their hands on the latest electronics, toys and other unnecessary junk, literally trampled a woman and ended up sending her to the hospital on an ambulance. And a year later, it looks like people have learned nothing.

In Orlando, a person was punched in the face by another shopping trying to cram into Macy's for a 1 in 200 chance of winning a Macy's gift card. In New York, two men brawled over a cheap pair of shoes, which then drew in a crowd of hundreds of other shoppers apparently eager to witness the scuffle. Fortunately, police were able to break up the crowd, and the fight, without any major injuries (although who knows what happened to the shoes). Any my favorite... footage of the Boise Idaho Town Square at 1am on Friday Morning. The way these people are pushing and shoving you'd think they were starving and desperately trying to get some food for their families.

Turns out they were just trying to get 10% off on some merchandise... Sad.

Green PR

It looks like another "supermajor" oil corporation has jumped on the green bandwagon. I honestly feel like I've seen this commercial on TV a dozen or more times tonight.

Granted, Chevron is one of the better oil companies when it comes to investing in alternative energies, but I can't help but wonder what these companies are trying to accomplish with these advertisements? Less anger from consumers as oil and refined product prices go through the roof? Less pressure from the government as they try to crack down oil windfall profits? Or just to say "we care"? Honestly though, I think consumers are smarter than this PR. Its one thing to say "we're investing in alternative energies" but if the only way consumers know about it is by watching TV, I don't think it goes far enough.

Edit: I just saw the full version of the Chevron commercial. Everything else aside, this is a brilliant advertisement. Props to advertising firm McGarryBowen for putting it together.