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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

28 June - Netvibes 1 - 3

:bystander effect::bystander effect: (Photo credit: zyphichore)San Diego, CASan Diego, CA (Photo credit: Oggie Dog)Palisades CliffsPalisades Cliffs (Photo credit: ianqui)Entergy OutagesEntergy Outages (Photo credit: fieldsofgarlic)Dennis Kucinich speaking at an SEIU event.Dennis Kucinich speaking at an SEIU event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)English: Davis-Besse Nuclear Power StationEnglish: Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


(100) BPS Research Digest

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(100) Deep Sea News



UVA has its president back. But the fight to save our universities has only just begun.

Helen Dragas, the rector of the Board of Visitors, which runs the university, had requested Sullivan’s resignation two weeks ago in a botched attempt to circumvent usual board procedures. Sullivan resigned quickly, quietly, and with dignity. Sullivan stayed out of the way as news leaked out that the ouster was ideologically driven, executed by a tiny cabal of extremely wealthy alumni, and against the wishes of almost every student, alumnus, and faculty member of the university.
Apparently, Dragas wanted a president who would act more like a corporate CEO, someone who would push the university toward radical change, ignore pleasantries like orchestrating consensus among faculty and students, and roll out online gimmicks with reckless abandon.
Dragas demanded top-down control and a rapid transition to a consumer model of diploma generation and online content distribution. She wished to pare down the subjects of inquiry to those that demonstrate clear undergraduate demand and yield marketable skills.

Not Really

We should absolutely be looking into why the costs of higher education have risen so dramatically, but too many people wrongly place the blame on courses or programs they consider "underperforming". I believe that German was one of programs on Dragas' hit list, but language departments are usually not a drain on university resources because they require very little in terms of infrastructure (as versus the hard sciences), teach lots of students, and tend to have lower pay scales than many other departments. The idea that humanities and social sciences are a drain on university resources is a myth. This essay lays it out quite well:


Professors' salaries also do not account for rising costs. Not only have faculty salaries barely kept up with inflation over the last 30 years, the ranks of tenure-track faculty have fallen precipitously; universities now rely heavily on part-time and adjunct faculty typically paid very low wages. The only real exception is business schools, where salaries across the board can be double that of other faculty members, even for adjuncts.

Where should we look, then, for explanations of the rising costs? I am not aware of any comprehensive study that has pinned this down but the most likely culprits are administrative costs and student services. Universities these days are populated with rising numbers of associate deans, associate vice chancellors and other employees who do not teach but rather supervise and handle administrative matters. They typically make much higher salaries than the people actually doing the teaching. And the array of services available to students is also astonishing and costly - special, well-staffed centers for student groups, huge athletic programs, and learning technology programs that often push hard for online instruction that helps justify their existence. This makes me sound like a Luddite and I'm not; I've taught online and think it can work if done right. And some of those administrators and student services are necessary or at least beneficial to students. But these are the sectors of the university that have grown right along with those rising costs, so when people like Dragas go after German they are barking up the wrong tree. That's why it's important to have someone like Sullivan in charge at UVA, who is knowledgeable about how universities work and who takes the long-term view. Cutting a program like German might make Dragas and others feel like something constructive has been done but that is an illusion; it would do nothing to contain costs and would limit students' access to courses.

A final note: I've noticed that the same people who harp on faculty salaries and call for "efficiency" in higher ed. like to talk about accountability and assessment as part of the answer. At my university and many others, far from aiding efficiency, assessment is an enormous drain on resources. We have expensive assessment management software, we fund two full-time administrative positions just to manage assessment (at a cost of over $150,000 a year), and countless hours of faculty and administrative time are lost every year inputting and analyzing assessment that in my estimation tells us nothing that good teachers can't figure out on their own.
John Farnham
The entire thrust of No Child Left Behind was to deter actual learning in the classroom by harassing instructors with 'testing' regimes which overrode basic sense with overwhelming mandatory content and no interest in sparking imagination or cooperating with the student to point out techniques to aid learning. Since the Dumbing Down has been accomplished - at the behest of the business community and those wishing to repress analysis of policy, such as UNESCO - the time has come to harass centres of 'higher learning'.
And of course, dysfunctional techniques to impair literacy and realistic worldview proliferate.
Higher costs may well be simple class warfare against any but the rich.

Hot Israeli chick with gun occupies internet

It's not that Israel is finding new ways to expel Palestinians, it's that no one cares
In the past two years a new ploy has been in regular use, the protests against discrimination notwithstanding. Yet despite a number of articles, its media stock value has remained low. Those suspected of being Palestinians or related to Palestinians receive visas to "Palestinian Authority only," though, like tens of thousands of Jewish and evangelist Christian tourists, they are bona fide citizens of Western states friendly to Israel, first and foremost the United States.

True, they are not prevented from moving through areas designated as "C" (areas that make up 60 percent of the West Bank and are under double and triple Israeli control ) in order to be in what is officially defined as PA territory. But they are, by underreported routine, denied entry anywhere else (East Jerusalem, the Galilee, the "Triangle" region of Israeli Arab towns, places that lie west of the Separation Fence, etc. ), although (or perhaps because ) they have family, friends and property there, not to mention churches and mosques. And their foreign ministries are doing nothing on their behalf.

D.C.’s Marijuana Reform Rabbi
 Kahn and his wife, nurse Stephanie Reifkind Kahn, watched her parents suffer and die—Jules Reifkind of multiple sclerosis in 2005 and Libby Reifkind of cancer in 2009. The Reifkinds’ doctors had recommended marijuana to ease their symptoms, but they lived in states where medical marijuana was illegal, making it nearly impossible for them to obtain the drug. Jules did use it a few times, probably getting it from a caregiver, his daughter remembers, and it reduced his pain and muscle spasms.

After the deaths of Jules and Libby Reifkind, the Kahns made it their mission to ease the suffering of others who might benefit from medical marijuana. For the past two years, they have been laying the groundwork for a legal dispensary for medical marijuana in Washington.

Berlusconi's political era nearing an end The Italian parliament is debating a package of austerity measures demanded by the European Union, and its passage is expected to be followed by an announcement that Prime Minister Silvio ...

The $15-billion ambition to reshape Manhattan's skyline
Oxford scored an important victory in late October when it conscripted luxury goods maker Coach as a lead tenant, signing it up to occupy more than one-third of the first tower and ensuring work will proceed in the new year

The Elliot Lake situation is a national embarrassment
Absent a clear chain of command, people were more focused on process than on getting the job done.
( Hm. FEMA was a streamlined agency that could. Then came Homeland InSecurity and protocol...and TSA. 
The Con clusterfuck continues via Me Too politics  )
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