Thursday, January 13, 2005

Teachable Moment

I must devote some space to thanking Jason Giambi and numerous others in Major League Baseball for providing me with my health lesson on steroids. On Tuesday, the seventh graders read some basic factual information about what steroids are and how they affect one's body, and then I gave them a page of quotes from ballplayers about steroids in baseball. My classroom full of Yankee fans were familiar with the scandal surrounding Giambi's admission of using steroids. I had them write a one-page opinion piece with three choices:
  • how should MLB handle steroid use by players?
  • how should high schools handle steroid use by student athletes?
  • your friend confides that he or she might start using steroids; write a letter to him or her giving advice about steroids.

The kids, being my innocent, nerdy, justice-obsessed middle school babies, took a hard line on steroid use in professional sports and in high schools. They also came up with some compassionate ideas, like providing counselling for high school athletes caught using steroids. Then again, one of them recommended execution or punishment by the gods (I'm not making this up!) for MLB players who test positive for steroids... hmmm.

And one girl wrote a letter to a friend advising her to avoid steroids because of their health effects, like growing facial hair, deepening of the voice, etc. She made up a name for her friend - and just happened to use the first name of the seventh grade social studies teacher! The thought of this teacher using steroids is completely hilarious; we both got a good giggle out of the letter and the fact that the student chose her teacher's name (it's not a common name).

And now, the players' union has decided to tighten up its drug policy. Fantastic timing!


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Yahoo Boasts Size of Its Search Engine Index

Trying not to include any phallic analogies, Yahoo this week announced that its overall search engine index is much larger than Google’s and is the most in depth index of ‘web objects’ on the search market. On the Yahoo Search Blog, Yahoo disclosed that its index now includes 19.2 billion web documents, 1.6 billion images and more than 50 million audio and video files - over 20 billion items.

Yahoo is usually shy about disclosing the size of its search index, but the Yahoo Search Blog is celebrating its first year anniversary and Tim Mayer thought that somewhat of a retrospect was in order - since Yahoo has grown into its own as a search engine powerhouse over the past 365 days.

From the YSearchBlog : While we typically don’t disclose size (since we’ve always said that size is only one dimension of the quality of a search engine), for those who are curious this update includes just over 19.2 billion web documents, 1.6 billion images, and over 50 million audio and video files.

Note that as with all index updates we are still tuning things so you’ll continue to see some fluctuation in ranking over the next few weeks.

Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group, however, makes the distinction of quality over quantity What I, Joseph User, care about is accuracy, quality and relevance. The available index does matter in terms of bringing me a sufficient quantity of results. (And if I’m looking for something really obscure, having that thing in the index is obviously important, which may go to size.).

But there’s a major case of diminishing returns—there’s already way too much information online for people to assimilate. Throwing more volume at me does nothing but make my eyes glaze over. What I want is enough relevant results.”

Index schmindex, the moral of the story is what Yahoo has accomplished over the past year and what the next 12 months will bring with not only Yahoo Search, but the Yahoo Publishers Network, Yahoo LinkSpots, Yahoo Pay Per Call, and Site Explorer. What has Yahoo accomplished over the past year? Well, here’s Tim’s rundown :
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