US Losing R&D Dominance To Asia?
If you have the intelligence to be a decent engineer, you can make an order of magnitude more money by going into investment banking, creating some fancy new backwards upside down derivative swap, and milking the rest of us dry. The fact that this is centered in NYC makes it a real drain on smart people going into other sectors in the US at the moment...
The Headaches of Cross-Platform Mobile Development
Adobe is trying to do this with Flashbuilder 4.5+. Write once, compile native for all platforms. They'll even take care of trying to make basic art assets (buttons, etc.) look appropriate.
Does it work yet? Eh...sorta. But it's a good idea in the current mobile environment, and a potentially lucrative niche to be in.
WikiLeaks 'a Clear and Present Danger,' Says WaPo
We are rapidly approaching the point at which the phrase "It has necessary secrets" can describe only failures. It is nearly impossible, and getting harder every day, to keep information under wraps. I'm tempted to simply say "Information wants to be free" and go with it, but the truth really is that modern technology makes information dissemination on huge scales so simple that we're just about to the point where any system that isn't 100% secure is never going to be able to prevent the entire world from knowing all its secrets. Shockingly, our military (and every other system constructed by humans) is not 100% secure.
Point is, the information compartmentalization crowd has already lost this one, they just haven't all admitted it yet. Future military planning needs to assume that the enemy will always know where we are and what we're doing. Success will depend on overwhelming force and perfect planning, not surprise. And yes, this probably does mean that low to medium level occupations, like we have in Iraq and Afghanistan, are doomed to failure.
How Do You Volunteer Professional Services?
I would advise against attempting to volunteer counseling outside of the culture in which you grew up and/or received your education and training. It is *very easy* to make things worse instead of better, especially when dealing with cultures that handle grief in a different manner from what you expect. There are a number of studies regarding our ("the West's") attempts to set up emergency counseling services after the tsunami at the end of 2004, and mostly they indicate that we hurt more than we helped. Cultural differences meant that our best efforts simply ended up confusing, frightening, and alienating the victims we were trying to help.
As for networking stuff...I suspect it would be really hard to volunteer those sorts of skills for a week. You'd need to find a group that had a specific and limited problem that you could assess and fix in a very short amount of time.
I'd say that you should stick to standard physical labor ala habitat for humanity, and/or just donate.
Eolas Sues World + Dog For AJAX Patent
Ivy League Computer Science Curricula Exposed
"Were there any big events that led to the current forms of licensing of medical practitioners, lawyers, engineers, etc., or did those things just develop gradually over the decades/centuries?"
Speaking for the legal profession (based on my memories of lectures from a respected professor of legal history, so take this with a grain of salt), it was largely a discriminatory desire to maintain a (white male protestant) monopoly on the profession that led to the current manifestation of the state bar associations and their examinations.
Around the turn of the century (1900), large numbers of well educated East European Jews were transplanting to the U.S. Many of them had legal training and practice, and began to set up legal practices in the U.S.
At the time, the state bars generally only required a term of apprenticeship and/or a recommendation from a current attorney in good standing to accept someone into the bar. The fledgling ABA saw a chance to seize a good deal of power by convincing the states that the influx of immigrants was a serious risk, and they should begin following ABA recommendations for accepting new members.
These recommendations initially included graduation from an ABA-accredited law school (which eventually grew to require four years of college before law school) and an examination, including an ABA-approved portion on federal law and general legal principles.
Does this lead to better lawyers? Not really. The exams in many states (all except CA have followed the ABA's recommendations...CA does have the exam, and the multistate portion, but does not require an accredited law school) have become largely pro forma, with pass rates over 80%.
Suffice it to say that there are still plenty of barred attorneys who aren't very good at their jobs.
The realm of software and web design and network management and all the rest should be careful to avoid examinations and requirements designed primarily to produce a monopoly on certain career paths, as these can easily be used to increase the costs of services and keep out unwanted or threatening groups, without ever increasing the quality of services provided.
Just my two cents.