Google finance chief quits in order to travel the world

This march, Google’s chief finance officer, Patrick Pichette, announced his early retirement on Google +. In an unprecedented move, he has chosen to spend his time traveling the world instead. The idea apparently came to him on a hiking trip on Mount Kilimanjaro. In a world where idleness and leisure are equally disregarded in the favour of productivity and wealth accumulation, Pichette’s decision can serve as an example to all of us. Perhaps climbing the ranks of a multi-billion dollar institution sounds like paradise to you, but don’t forget to consider paradise itself.

Read an excerpt of the article written by CONOR DOUGHERTY:

SAN FRANCISCO — Patrick Pichette, Google’s chief financial officer, is retiring to spend more time with his family. Seriously. On Tuesday Mr. Pichette announced the news of his retirement on Google’s social network, Google Plus. Then, in what Google’s chief executive, Larry Page, described as ‘‘a most unconventional leaving notice,’’ he tried to convince the cynics that he was, indeed, retiring to spend time with his family. ‘‘We give a lot to our jobs,’’ he wrote, adding: ‘‘And while I am not looking for sympathy, I want to share my thought process because so many people struggle to strike the right balance between work and personal life.’’ more

Privacy Pitfalls as Education Apps Spread Haphazardly

Digital learning aids have long been on the market, but the latest learning apps are getting cleverer – cheap to download, easy to use and marketed directly to teachers without the hassle of being approved by school boards. In this age, schools have no control, and often no idea of what teaching and learning aids are being used in their classrooms, posing a huge risk for the students. Not only is the students’ learning often unmonitored, their personal records are often available for public access. Recent data breaches in several school districts have frightened teachers and parents alike. Many school districts are privately testing and often banning some of the most popular teaching apps, but the multi-billion dollar industry is not taking a hit. Most of the companies are offering teachers free access to apps that excel in adaptive learning, tailored to each individual student; for the teachers, the pros simply outweigh the cons.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Natasha Singer:

At school districts across the country, the chief technology officers responsible for safeguarding student data are tearing their collective hair out. Scores of education technology start-ups, their pockets full from a rush of venture capital, are marketing new digital learning tools directly to teachers — with many offering them free to get a foothold in schools. That has enabled educators nationwide to experiment with a host of novel ‘‘adaptive learning’’ products, like math and foreign language apps that record and analyze students’ online activities to personalize their lessons. But the new digital tools have also left school district technology directors scrambling to keep track of which companies are collecting students’ information — and how they are using it. more

At hotels, a trend for day-only vacations

In a super-fast, super-busy world with little time for rest, forget relaxation, the latest in holidaying is the “daycation”. More and more hotels are offering day rates for 6-8 hours in a room and access to the hotels’ pools, spas, saunas, etc. While useful for business travelers, sex workers and backpackers, the tactic mostly benefits hotels themselves. Standard overnight rates and check in times leave unoccupied rooms languishing, while the daycation concept allows unoccupied rooms to be used to the fullest extent. A true innovation in a trembling economy.

Read an excerpt of the article written by ELAINE GLUSAC:

f the ‘‘staycation’’ was the travel industry’s response to the Great Recession, the ‘‘daycation’’ is perhaps another sign of recovery from it. Rather than hotel overnight stays, daycation deals sell travelers access to a hotel — sometimes to a room, other times to amenities such as pools or spas — on a short-term, usually daylong, basis. The website and app HotelsByDay, introduced in February, lists hotel rooms in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that are available for six to eight hours at less than standard overnight rates. more

Aids for the Indecisive, When Options Abound

Indecision is supposedly a vice, but the indecisive amongst us have a reprieve – a new generation of decision making apps are coming to our rescue. One of these, ChoiceMap, uses an interactive interface in conjunction with decision making algorithms to allow us to make the most rational choice in every possible situation. Decision Buddy takes the concept one step further to include group decisions. On the other hand, Decide Now takes the math right out of it, acting more as a digital 8-Ball. Simply ask the app what to choose, and it’ll tell you – no deliberation required.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Kit Eaton:

For the indecisive among us, help is on the way. A new generation of apps meant to help with day-to-day decision making is here. Assuming you can decide which to use, these apps may help bring some order to your life. Perhaps the smartest decision-making app I’ve used is ChoiceMap, because it’s easy to use and it makes it feel as if your decision has been intelligently considered by the app’s algorithms. ChoiceMap, which is free for iOS, tries to make the process as smooth as possible. To start, you describe a choice to make or use one of the app’s many templates on diverse topics, like choosing baby names or which phone carrier to use. more

Next Step for Anirban Lahiri, India’s Top Golfer: U.S. Debut

This piece explores the life and mind of Anirban Lahiri, one of India’s top golf players, having won several titles in the past year alone. As the youngest Indian player to win a major international tournament, Lahiri has big shoes to fill. His predecessors, Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh were well into their 30s when they won their titles, so Lahiri has the added pressure of youth. But for Lahiri, time is foremost a gift. He fondly recalls his childhood on military golf courses, and draws inspiration from those plays.

Read an excerpt of the article written by KAREN CROUSE:

First came Jordan Spieth, who won his first PGA Tour event as a teenager. He was followed by Patrick Reed, 24, who became the youngest winner of a World Golf Championships event here last year. Last month, Brooks Koepka, 24, won the Phoenix Open, and Daniel Berger, 21, lost in a playoff on Monday in the Honda Classic. Need further proof that professional golf’s youth boom is in full flower? Meet Anirban Lahiri, a 27-year-old from India who will make his United States debut this week at the Cadillac Championship at Doral. Lahiri, the No. 1 player on the Asian Tour, has four victories in the past 11 months, including the Malaysian and Indian Opens. more


Some Owners of Private Colleges Turn a Tidy Profit by Going Nonprofit

For profit colleges have been a menace in the world of higher education for many decades now, but Patricia Cohen explores how the latest move towards exploiting college students has been for these colleges to claim not-for-profit status. The tax exempt salaries of these college officials hit 6 to 7 figures annually, while saddling young college students with debt that their degrees do not help pay back. But the government is not far behind the chase – for-profit schools that cannot prove that the educations their students receive will enable them to repay student loans can have their state funding cut off. But not-for-profit schools are not subjected to such scrutiny, making the switch even more beneficial for money-hungry universities.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Patricia Cohen:

After a recent government crackdown on the multibillion-dollar career-training industry, stricter limits on student aid and devastating publicity about students hobbled by debt and useless credentials, some for-profit schools simply shut down. But a few others have instead dropped out of the for-profit business altogether, in favor of a more traditional approach to running a higher education institution. And the nonprofit sector, it turns out, can still be quite profitable. Consider Keiser University in Florida. In 2011, the Keiser family, the school’s founder and owner, sold it to a tiny nonprofit called Everglades College, which it had created. more

F.A.A. Rules Would Limit Commercial Drone Use

In a recent move, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed new rules for unmanned aircrafts used for commercial purposes. These new rules could impose severe restrictions on the drones used by amazon, google, and other companies. Commercial drones, an emerging industry unlike any other, could radically change the way we think about goods and services. But along with it comes the threat of surveillance, invasion of privacy and occupational dangers. The FAA considers these dangers significant enough to impose large scale restrictions on the use of such technology. It’s interesting that the theoretical misuse of commercial drones and microdrones does not hold a candle to armed drones used to murder civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, yet those remain curiously unregulated and unchecked.

Read an excerpt of the email written by Scott Shane:

In an attempt to bring order to increasingly chaotic skies, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight and keep their aircraft in sight. Announced Sunday, the rules, though less restrictive than the current ones, appear to prohibit for now the kind of drone delivery services being explored by Amazon, Google and other companies, since the operator or assigned observers must be able to see the drone at all times without binoculars. But company officials believe the line-of-sight requirement could be relaxed in the future to accommodate delivery services. The proposed regulations would cover only nonrecreational unmanned aircraft weighing up to 55 pounds and would not apply to the recreational use of drones, which have become hugely popular with hobbyists and are covered by other rules. more

College’s Priceless Value

Frank Bruni explores the question of education for education’s sake. Considering that the Senator of Wisconsin recently proposed cuts to university funding, behind claims that they are not dedicated to boosting the work force, the question of education is in the air. Certain schools of thought clearly favour utility over intellectual curiosity, but Bruni believes that a good education does more than simply secure one a job. A good education is a gateway to a holistic existence, signaling personal growth. So why do we value productivity over curiosity? Why is education a means and not an end?

Read an excerpt of the article written by Frank Bruni:

What’s the most transformative educational experience you’ve had? I was asked this question recently, and for a few seconds it stumped me, mainly because I’ve never viewed learning as a collection of eureka moments. It’s a continuum, a lifelong awakening to the complexity of the world. But then something did come to mind, not a discrete lesson but a moving image, complete with soundtrack. I saw a woman named Anne Hall swooning and swaying as she stood at the front of a classroom in Chapel Hill, N.C., and explained the rawness and majesty of emotion in ‘‘King Lear.’’ I heard three words: ‘‘Stay a little.’’ They’re Lear’s plea to Cordelia, the truest of his three daughters, as she slips away. When Hall recited them aloud, it wasn’t just her voice that trembled. It was all of her. more

Private equity firms begin a frenzied race for young investment bankers

This piece explores the fast expanding world for junior investment bankers, the hottest commodity in the finance world. Recruited barely out of undergrad, young investment bankers are commanding high salaries as private equity firms like the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital are tripping over themselves to hire the newest talent first. At the same time, Silicon Valley has an equal hold on young entrepreneurs, but equity firms remain the most lucrative in terms of compensation, hitting 6 figures with ease.

Read an excerpt of the article written by WILLIAM ALDEN AND SYDNEY EMBER:

They are only in their early to mid-20s, but some young bankers on Wall Street are the most sought-after financiers around, with lucrative pay packages dangling before them. Junior investment bankers who graduated from college only last year are being madly courted by private equity firms like Apollo Global Management, the Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group in a scramble that kicked off last weekend. After back-to-back interviews, many are now fielding offers for jobs that won’t start until the summer of 2016. This process has become an annual rite by private equity firms, which raise money from investors (like pension funds) to buy entire companies. more

Straight talk for white men

In this piece, Nicholas Kristoff explores the unconscious biases than rule our daily lives from supermarket music to the weather. He notes that white men, one of the most privileged groups in the world, tend to feel largely indignant about the attribution of privilege, claiming that it does not exist in supposed level playing field. He explores gendered biases, down to the way professors are judged on He cites several studies, proving that race and gender on the same resume affects call back rates, even if all that is different is the name (for example, Evan Smith as opposed to Lakisha Jones). The writer invites people with privilege, especially white men to work towards acknowledging systemic biases and the institutional power they hold over marginalized groups.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Nicholas Kristoff:

Supermarket shoppers are more likely to buy French wine when French music is playing, and to buy German wine when they hear German music. That’s true even though only 14 percent of shoppers say they noticed the music, a study finds. Researchers discovered that candidates for medical school interviewed on sunny days received much higher ratings than those interviewed on rainy days. Being interviewed on a rainy day was a setback equivalent to having an MCAT score 10 percent lower, according to a new book called ‘‘Everyday Bias,’’ by Howard J. Ross. Those studies are a reminder that we humans are perhaps less rational than we would like to think, and more prone to the buffeting of unconscious influences. That’s something for those of us who are white men to reflect on when we’re accused of ‘‘privilege.’’ White men sometimes feel besieged and baffled by these suggestions of systematic advantage. more


When we lynched Mexicans

This Op-ed by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb explores some of the lesser known racial tensions that have rocked the past century. Lynching, the act of publicly hanging, burning or flaying of marginalized people, in a spectacle of white supremacy, has historically targeted black people, given the history of slavery in the US. This piece sheds light on the fact that lynchers targeted many other ethnic minorities as well, especially Mexican people. Mexican immigrants in the southern and western US have been uniquely dispossessed, colonized minorities in their own historical lands. Local authorities and deputized citizens were usually the perpetrators of the lynchings of Mexican people. Under the guise of halting revolutionary actions, rangers in Texas and surrounding states have razed entire towns of Mexicans, lynching thousands. This history of racial violence has carried into the 21st century, if not in public records then at the very least, in cultural consciousness.

Read an excerpt of the article written by William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb:

The recent release of a landmark report on the history of lynching in the United States is a welcome contribution to the struggle over American collective memory. Few groups have suffered more systematic mistreatment, abuse and murder than African-Americans, the focus of the report. One dimension of mob violence that is often overlooked, however, is that lynchers targeted many other racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, including Native Americans, Italians, Chinese and, especially, Mexicans. Americans are largely unaware that Mexicans were frequently the targets of lynch mobs, from the mid-19th century until well into the 20th century, second only to African-Americans in the scale and scope of the crimes. more


A watch that tries to slow things down

Time is a fast depleting commodity, especially in the corporate world. Corvin Lask, and Chris Noerskau have founded ‘Slow Watches’, a watch company with a unique design. Slow watches have no minute arm or ticking sound, but a single arm on a 24 point dial. The idea is to destroy the idea that “every second counts” and instead, remind the wearer to slow down and look at the bigger picture. The business itself is run in a slow manner, away from retailers and industry fairs, selling only online. John Sean Doyle, a professor of positive psychology at North Carolina State University endorses the product, claiming that slow watches are a brilliant way to remind the body to dial itself back and enjoy time.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Jake Cigainero:

PARIS — No minute hand, no ticking second hand to sound the constant passing of time, and no declarative logo to mark the wearer. Just a single hand on a 24-hour dial points to the time on the modern, minimalist, Swiss-made Slow watch. Making just one full rotation every 24 hours, the solitary hand moving at half the speed of a regular analog timepiece is intended to serve as a reminder to the wearer to slow down. With 12 noon in the standard position, and the midnight hour directly south on the round watch face, each tick mark between the hours indicates a quarter hour. Creating Slow was a way for Corvin Lask and Christopher Noerskau, the company’s founders, to take control of their own time. Before introducing the watch, Mr. Lask worked in digital marketing and Mr. Noerskau in brand management and licensing for Puma. more


My own life

This insightful Op-ed by Oliver Sacks gives the reader a glimpse into his struggle with cancer. Faced with his own mortality, he ruminates on how to live his life to its fullest, most productive best. He employs the philosophy of David Hume, regarding detachment from the present, and chooses instead to deepen his connections with the landscape, with the people around him and with himself. He claims, instead, to detach himself from negative aspects of the world around him, paying little attention to sensationalist news or the inevitability of climate change. Rather, he prefers to put his limited time to experiencing life in its entirety.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Oliver Sacks:

A month ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out: A few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent. I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted. more

A conversation with Richard Price

This piece reads as a delightful conversation with Richard Price, author of ‘Clockers’. It gives the reader an insight into Price’s own reading list, what authors he admires and which he doesn’t. He also gives us a look into his childhood with books, the ones he loved and which he hated. He shares his views on iPad reading, claiming it has made him inattentive. He also suggests never reading a powerful novel in the process of writing your own. One would assume it would inspire the author, but he claims it only distracts.

Read an excerpt of the article written by JILLIAN TAMAKI:

RICHARD PRICE The author of ‘Clockers’ and, as Harry Brandt, ‘The Whites’ regrets reading ‘Sophie’s Choice’ in 1982: ‘Never ever read a powerful novel when you’re trying to write a novel of your own.’ Q. What books are currently on your night stand? A. Hans Fallada’s ‘‘Every Man Dies Alone,’’ William Carlos Williams’s 1937 novel ‘‘White Mule’’ and a collection of his short fiction called ‘‘The Doctor Stories,’’ compiled by Robert Coles. Louise Glück’s collected poems. Atticus Lish’s ‘‘Preparation for the Next Life.’’ Elaine Pagels’s ‘‘Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation.’’ ‘‘Archaeology for Dummies.’’ more


36 Hours in: Beijing

Justin Bergman explores Beijing, a few years past its 2008 Olympics and a few years before its next bid for the Winter Olympics in 2022. The article highlights the confluence of the modern and the traditional in a city of migrants. The writer explores the how the luxurious architecture and sports cars coexist with ancient Buddhist temples. He notes the street life, from clothes shacks to dumpling carts and game huts that serve local liquors. On the other hand gentrification has taken hold of the city, turning old factories into trendy cafes, ensuring neighborhoods are revamped for wealthier clients. Local shacks are eviscerated by new breweries developing craft beers. Yet, the claims are that developers are trying to retain the flavor of the neighborhoods, marrying the old to the new. One way or another, Beijing begs to be remembered.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Justin Bergman:

It seems like only yesterday that Beijing had its much-ballyhooed ‘‘coming out’’ party — the 2008 Summer Olympics — but things don’t slow down much in China’s frenetic capital. Already, the city is eyeing another Olympics bid (it is one of two finalists for the 2022 Winter Games) and planning a $13 billion airport that is expected to be among the busiest in the world when it opens in 2019. And yet compared with China’s other vertical megacities, Beijing is still a traditionalist at heart. The city may have fantastic new sculptural monuments designed by Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas, but to truly understand Beijing, one has to delve into the remaining hutong neighborhoods — traditional alleyways lined with courtyard homes — and smell the sweet potatoes roasting on coal fires in the winter. more

A counterterrorism officer and a Muslim comedian walk into a school

This article written by Katrin Bennhold begins with introducing Humza Arhad, a Muslim comedian, who, working with the police, mocks jihadis, in his efforts to prevent students from running of to Syria and joining the Islamic State. He asserts himself as a British citizen, who doesn't want people to lose their lives. He lays emphasis on religion and prays daily, but ridicules jihadis. He created ‘‘Diary of a Bad Man’’, a YouTube satire of life as a young British Asian that rapidly attracted a mass teenage following.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Katrin Bennhold:

Humza Arshad pokes fun at Pakistani accents and emotional soccer fans. He jokes about his weight, his voice and his own mother. But mostly, he laughs at jihadists. ‘‘Have you noticed how in those terrorist videos they’re always sitting on the floor?’’ Mr. Arshad asked a group of high school students the other day. ‘‘What’s up with that? I swear they can afford a chair.’’ And their pants: ‘‘Always coming up to here,’’ he said, pointing at his shin, ‘‘like, did you borrow this from your little brother or something?’’ Mr. Arshad, 29, is no ordinary comedian. A practicing Muslim in hip-hop gear whose YouTube videos have drawn millions of views, he is the centerpiece of the British government’s latest and perhaps cleverest effort to prevent students from running off to Syria and joining the Islamic State. more

U.S. schools turning to propane-powered buses

In this article, Diana Cardwell writes about the growing use of propane-peered buses by U.S. schools. they believe that such buses are healthier, cleaner burning, cheaper and much quieter than the diesel option. The fuel is becoming popular for use in smaller motorized equipment like lawn mowers, especially at golf courses near residences because the lower noise allows work to start earlier. With the school buses, that relative quiet may offer a different benefit, helping to the children, and the ride, more orderly and easier to manage.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Diana Cardwell:

For many Americans, propane is that stuff from the home improvement store that fuels backyard barbecues and patio dinners. But in a growing number of cities across the country, it is what gets children to school. Of the top 25 school bus markets, 19 have propane-fueled vehicles in their fleets, including New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia and Phoenix. Boston just bought 86 of the alternative-fuel buses for the fall, while in the Mesa County Valley district in Grand Junction, Colo., administrators recently signed a five-year, $30 million contract that includes 122 propane buses. more


Focusing on work to attract colleges’ eye

In this article, Ron Lieber writes about the use of work in an undergraduate applicant’s admission essay. Writing about social class is difficult, given how mixed up adolescents often are about identity. Yet it is this very reluctance that makes tackling the topic a risk worth taking at schools where it is hard to stand out from the thousands of other applicants. He mentions some essays of applicants which left Chris Lanser stunned. Lanser feels that there are valuable life skills and people skills to be gained in the workplace.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Ron Lieber:

Of the 1,200 or so undergraduate admission essays that Chris Lanser reads each year at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, maybe 10 are about work. This is not much of a surprise. Many applicants have never worked. Those with plenty of money may be afraid of calling attention to their good fortune. And writing about social class is difficult, given how mixed up adolescents often are about identity. Yet it is this very reluctance that makes tackling the topic a risk worth taking at schools where it is hard to stand out from the thousands of other applicants. more

The power of hope is real

Nicholas Kristof writes about the power of hope for the poor, in this article. Evidence shows that aid can overcome disease, boost literacy and save lives. Poverty causes stress and depression and lack of hope, and stress and depression and lack of hope, in turn, cause poverty. Researchers are now studying whether exposure to religion might have a similar effect, improving economic outcomes. A large-scale experiment shows, with rigorous evidence, what works to lift people out of the most extreme poverty. And it’s exhilarating that one of the lessons may be so simple and human: the power of hope.

Read an excerpt of the article written by Nicholas Kristof:

An awkward truth for bleeding hearts like myself is that there has never been much rigorous evidence that outside aid can sustainably lift people out of poverty. Sure, evidence is overwhelming that aid can overcome disease, boost literacy and save lives. But raising incomes is trickier — and the evidence in that arena has been squishier. Now that’s changing. A vast randomized trial — the gold standard of evidence — involving 21,000 people in six countries suggests that a particular aid package called the graduation program (because it aims to graduate people from poverty) gives very poor families a significant boost that continues after the program ends. Indeed, it’s an investment. more


Robots will always need us

Nicholas Carr writes about humans and robots, stating that that it seems obvious: The best way to get rid of human error is to get rid of humans. But that assumption, however fashionable, is itself erroneous. . Computers are wonderful at following instructions, but they’re terrible at improvisation. Their talents end at the limits of their programming. Human skill has no such constraints. Carr feels that we should view computers as our partners, with complementary abilities, not as our replacements

Read an excerpt of the article written by Nicholas Carr:

‘Human beings are ashamed to have been born instead of made,’’ wrote the philosopher Günther Anders in 1956. Our shame has only deepened as our machines have grown more adept. Every day we’re reminded of the superiority of our computers. Self-driving cars don’t fall victim to distractions or road rage. Robotic trains don’t speed out of control. Algorithms don’t suffer the cognitive biases that cloud the judgments of doctors, accountants and lawyers. more