Accidentally Posted

I seemed to have accidentally posted a draft before it was ready, I apologize to anyone who saw the post, "Firsts." It wasn't supposed to go up yet. Maybe in August.



Ears Making Noise?

Did you know your ears make noise? And people want to use the noise as identification?

Called otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), the ear-generated sounds emanate from within the spiral-shaped cochlea in the inner ear. They are thought to be produced by the motion of hair cells within the outer part of the cochlea.
My hearing and speech class at MIT, 6.551, went over this phenomenon. Your ear contains an active amplifier that can also create sound. Under normal conditions the emissions are very pure tones that occur at frequencies specific to each ear. The 6.551 professors had a few interesting anecdotes about the OAEs - one knew a conductor who memorized the frequency of one of his OAEs, and used it for "perfect pitch."

IIRC, though, not everyone's ears have OAEs. Aside from the problems mentioned in the article above, the Wikipedia article goes over a few details that could hamper using OAEs for biometric passwords. Another, small issue is that your ears have different OAEs, so you'd have to calibrate any system for both ears.



I have been a bit surprised about the topics in my Dutch language courses. My previous foreign language courses were in high school, and American high schools avoid controversial topics. My Dutch courses tackle the difficult topics head-on. Our most recent lesson, "Are you married?", briefly went over some of the differences between marriage in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Weak English translation:
Dutch teacher: Do you have children?
Female student: No, after all I am not yet married.
Male teacher: Must you be married before you can have kids? Do you really need that? Is it really necessary?
Female student: Maybe not in the Netherlands, but in my society that is absolutely necessary.
Male teacher: What happens if a women is expecting a child while she isn't married?
Female student: Then you must immediately marry. Preferably with the father of the child.
Teacher: Not so long ago that also held for the Netherlands...the last 30 years, though, have seen many changes to marriage. People still marry, but frequently they'll live together first...You can also register with the government as "living together." Then you will be treated almost the same as if you are married, and it is a bit easier.
Another student: What is the difference between marriage and living together in the government's policy.
Teacher: That is indeed small, it is mostly the vows you've taken.

Aside from marriage, the book also goes over the population policy of the government, parties, alcohol, the police, and how the Dutch are friendly but difficult to know really well. I do not believe the policy on drugs is mentioned.

I'm not sure what to think about mentioning controversial topics with public opinions in the language course. They are only a small part of the course. I also think it is critical for immigrants to know about government policies and the values of the people. I think it is important that people make informed choices about where they live, the values of the people they live with, and what policies they support with their tax money. People are given a chance to share what their own country values during the discussion classes.

On the other hand, language courses are required for the spouses and other family members of any long-term immigrants. No one knows enough Dutch to explain the complex ideas behind the social values. It feels a bit like the government is forcing public opinion down the throats of minorities.

In the bigger picture, though, the language courses are one of the least controversial aspects of immigrating. Dutch law requires most new immigrants to watch a social orientation video containing gay men kissing and women on a crowded top-less beach. The video is so racy that an edited version of it was made specifically for Middle Eastern countries.

(I'm waiting for the sequel before I see it. I hear there is going to be an action sequence involving sheep)