How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang

Comparing the academic industry with a rather disparate industry, thereby highlighting a number of shortcomings of the current situation in academia.

Also see Marcio von Muhlen: We Need a Github of Science, documenting the “Profzi”-scheme.


Alexandre Afonso

In 2000, economist Steven Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh published an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics about the internal wage structure of a Chicago drug gang. This piece would later serve as a basis for a chapter in Levitt’s (and Dubner’s) best seller Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.) The title of the chapter, “Why drug dealers still live with their moms”, was based on the finding that the income distribution within gangs was extremely skewed in favor  of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities, let’s say at McDonald’s. They calculated 3.30 dollars as the hourly rate, that is, well below a living wage (that’s why they still live with their moms). [2]

If you take into account the risk of being shot by rival gangs, ending up in jail or…

View original post 2,048 more words

NASA Shutdown due to USA Government Shutdown

The world largest economy shut down its most prestigious space center agency.


Wikipedia provides some background information here: government shutdown. Regarding NASA it says: NASA will furlough 98% of its staff, leaving fewer than 600 out of more than 18,000 employees on the job. NASA will continue to support the astronauts on the International Space Station and the agency will maintain spacecraft that have already launched. However, work with unmanned spacecraft will be minimal. The Hubble Space Telescope, Curiosity and Opportunity Mars rovers will continue to operate, but analysis of the data it collects will cease.

Added 18-Oct-2013: NASA is online again.

India is now the third largest Smartphone market in the world – Android Authority

An article in Android Authority from 26-Jun-2013, India is now the third largest Smartphone market in the world, states that:

  1. There are 14 major carriers listed for India, including two state owned providers. None have over 180 million subscribers.
  2. The smartphone market in India is expanding at about 160% annually, compared to overall world growth of about 40%.
  3. India is growing over four times as fast as everyone else, even outpacing China (86% growth year over year), and lapping the US handily (19%).
  4. Android is used on about 90% of hardware made for India last quarter.

More facts on India in CIA World Factbook, like:

  1. Telephones – main lines in use: 32.685 million (2011)
  2. Telephones – mobile cellular: 893.862 million (2011)

This means that almost 30-times more people in India have a mobile phone than a landline phone. The year 2011 numbers for Germany are 51.8 million vs. 108.7 million, i.e., 1:2. The numbers for USA for the same year are 146 million vs. 290.3 million.

China Built 600 Dams per Year Since 1950

According Los Angeles Times China built 600 dams per year on average. This trend will continue.

According Wikipedia, or Jie Cai’s Master Thesis, China has the largest potential for hydropower in the world and currently ranks first in hydroelectric generating capacity with about 200,000 MW online.

Below picture is from Edward Burtynsky.
Image from Edward Burtynsky