The Language Wars

Jeffrey Mitchell:

Do apostrophes matter, even though “nothing matters” in the end? German Lopez thinks they do. Is the period “no longer how we finish our sentences”? So says Jeff Guo. If you’re an editor like me, you notice writing about little things like apostrophes and periods, especially when you see it in big news outlets. First, in Vox in January, came “Apostrophes, explained.” Then, in the Washington Post in June, came “Stop. Using. Periods. Period.” Lopez and Guo are on opposite sides in the long-running “language wars” over English usage between prescriptivists, who (as caricatured) believe that nothing is right in usage except what their outmoded rules permit, and descriptivists, who (as caricatured) believe that nothing can ever be wrong. Those wars aren’t news if you follow the story of English, but how the two writers took their positions did seem new. In each article, I saw an oddness and wondered what it might mean about the state of battle.

More than one-third of schoolchildren are homeless in shadow of Silicon Valley

Alastair Gee:

Every night for the past year or so, Adriana and Omar Chavez have slept in an RV parked in East Palo Alto, a downtrodden community in Silicon Valley.

On a recent morning before sunrise, they emerged on to the empty street. Omar showed his phone to his wife: 7.07am. “Shall I wake up the girls?” he said, his breath visible in the freezing air.

He headed inside to rouse their three daughters, huddled together in the low-ceilinged bed just above the driver’s cab, and ready them for school.

Time to Reform the Kangaroo Courts on Campus

Robert Shibley:

The University of Minnesota football team’s dramatic walkout in protest of what they saw as unfair treatment of 10 fellow players in a campus sexual-assault investigation came to an end on Dec. 17. But it made national headlines for imperiling the team’s trip to the Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl and for the players’ demands that their accused teammates receive a “fair hearing”.

Death, politics, and Vincent van Gogh: 2016 as seen through the lens of Wikipedia

Ed Erhart, Samantha Lien:

Anecdotally, 2016 was a year of transition and change in much of the western world. Some events could be described as tragedy, others as cause for celebration.
Regardless of how you feel about this year, Wikipedia editors were there to help you understand what happened in 2016 and then some. Without further ado, here is 2016 as seen through the most-edited articles on the English Wikipedia, both for the full year and by month.

As might be expected, politics features heavily—given the vote on ‘Brexit’, which seems likely to end in the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, and the United States’ presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Four of the top five most-edited articles related to the American election.

A number of celebrities, politicians, and household names passed away, like David Bowie, Prince, politician Jo Cox, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, boxer Muhammad Ali, and singer Christina Grimmie. All showed up in either the full list of most-edited by year/by month breakdowns, but are dwarfed by the article on deaths in 2016. Similar to last year, it was by far the most-edited of the year.[1]

Prof prevails in FOIA fight for race-based admissions data

Anthony Gockowski:

An extended legal battle between the University of Arkansas and one its law professors has come to a close after the school agreed to let him study the effects of race-based admissions policies.

Campus Reform initially reported in November 2015 that law professor Robert Steinbuch was provided with heavily redacted data in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he had filed with his school seeking to obtain an internal spreadsheet the law school maintains to conduct analyses of admissions.

“What are we to make of these dramatic differences between my snapshot and the administration’s?” Tweet This

However, when Steinbuch’s FOIA request was returned, he was surprised to learn that the school had redacted information about race, LSAT scores, and undergraduate GPA, telling Campus Reform at the time that “they took out essentially all of the relevant information.”

Steinbuch later sued the school’s administration on the grounds that it had violated the state’s FOIA statute, simultaneously alleging that he had also faced retaliation from two fellow professors in an effort to discourage his research, which they complained could be “distressing” to students.

New Report: Health Wearable Devices Pose New Consumer and Privacy Risks

Center for digital democracy:

Personal health wearable devices that consumers are using to monitor their heart rates, sleep patterns, calories, and even stress levels raise new privacy and security risks, according to a report released today by researchers at American University and the Center for Digital Democracy. Watches, fitness bands, and so-called “smart” clothing, linked to apps and mobile devices, are part of a growing “connected-health” system in the U.S., promising to provide people with more efficient ways to manage their own health. But while consumers may think that federal laws will protect their personal health information collected by wearables, the report found that the weak and fragmented health-privacy regulatory system fails to provide adequate safeguards. The report, Health Wearable Devices in the Big Data Era: Ensuring Privacy, Security, and Consumer Protection, provides an overview and analysis of the major features, key players, and trends that are shaping the new consumer-wearable and connected-health marketplace.

Housing Gains Highlight Economic Divide

Laura Kusisto:

The volatile housing market of the past 15 years is widening the divide between pricey urban and coastal areas and more affordable inland regions, creating large swaths of winners and losers based largely on geography.

Average U.S. home prices rose 5.6% in the 12 months through October, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which covers some of the U.S.’s largest metropolitan areas.

History majors no longer have to take foreign language classes or classes on European, North American and U.S. history and can choose to specialize in a topic or region

Lily Werlinich:

Katrin Schultheiss, the chair of the history department, said faculty made the changes to the requirements largely due to enrollment pressures. She said by becoming more flexible and more responsive to students’ interests, the department hopes to recruit students who might not have decided to major in history otherwise.

“I think the main gain for students is that they have a great deal more flexibility than they had before, and they can adapt it to whatever their plans are for the future,” Schultheiss said. “Whatever they want to do, there’s a way to make the history department work for them.”

The history department had 153 majors in 2011, but enrollment has dropped significantly since then: Only 72 undergraduate students majored in history in 2015 and 83 students majored in 2016, according to GW’s institutional research office.

A freshman who says he has a 4.0 announces his plans to drop out and denounces college as a scam — setting off a debate on his soon-to-be-former campus and elsewhere.

Scott Jaschik:

Billy Willson finished his first (and his last) semester at Kansas State University this week — and in so doing has set off a debate there and beyond on the value of college and of general education in particular.

In a Facebook post, he announced that he was dropping out, despite having earned a 4.0 grade point average. He said that he would start his own business and learn more from that experience than anything he could hope to achieve at Kansas State or any college. He ran a photo of himself giving the finger to Kansas State, although he’s since said he really wants to be doing that to all of higher education.

Many Inside Higher Ed readers will likely find his comments insulting and ill informed, and some faculty members and students at K-State have pointed out that he wrote some things that are factually questionable. But Willson is attracting many fans online as his Facebook post has gone viral — and trashing course requirements and general education seems to be a big part of Willson’s appeal.

The Asian American ‘advantage’ that is actually an illusion

Jeff Guo:

Asian Americans seem to offer proof that minorities can prosper — and even leapfrog whites — if they work hard and jump through the right hoops. For that reason, Asian Americans have often been invoked as a way to excuse the income gaps between whites and blacks or whites and Hispanics.

But why do typical Asian American households outearn typical white households? Like many statistics showing an Asian American advantage, this fact proves illusory upon closer examination. A common explanation is that Asian Americans are better educated. While that’s true, there’s another factor that can completely account for the income gap between Asians and whites.

Civics: Amazon Echo and the Hot Tub Murder

Tom Dotan and Reed Albergotti:

Be careful what you say around your Amazon Echo. Your words may be recorded and used against you in court.

In what may be the first case of its kind, police investigating a murder in Bentonville, Arkansas, issued a warrant to Amazon.com to turn over audio and other records from an Echo. The device in question belongs to James Andrew Bates, who was charged earlier this year with first-degree murder. The victim, Victor Collins, was found dead in Mr. Bates’ hot tub one Sunday morning in November of last year.

The Takeaway
Internet of Things devices that are always listening are emerging as a new tool for police, raising the prospect of more battles between tech companies and law enforcement. In this case, Arkansas detectives got a search warrant for an Amazon Echo in the house where a man was murdered late last year.

According to court records, Amazon twice declined to hand over information the Echo transmitted to its servers. The company did hand over Mr. Bates’ account information and purchase history. Police also said they took the device and extracted data off it, the records show. Amazon did not respond to questions about the case or how it responded to the search warrant.

Mr. Bates pleaded not guilty in April and is out on bail. The case is due to go to trial in early 2017, according to Mr. Bates’ defense attorney. Police referred questions to the prosecutor’s office, which didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Best Maps of 2016

Greg Miller:

It’s been a good year for map lovers. Whether you’re into old maps, new maps, or new ways of interacting with old maps, there was much to cheer about in 2016.

Lots of great historical maps became more accessible this year. One of the world’s great private map collections is now open to the public at Stanford University. The Central Intelligence Agency, which isn’t exactly known for sharing, released a slew of historical maps to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its Cartography Center. Here at All Over the Map, we were excited to publish a few maps that haven’t been readily available online, including secret Japanese military maps and a map used in 1783 at the Treaty of Paris to negotiate the borders of the brand-new United States of America.

It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the innovative and beautifully designed maps being made these days. And thanks to the proliferation of digital cartography tools, lots of non-cartographers are making maps now too. This year, scientists mapped the rise of “megaregions”—clusters of interconnected cities—and documented the increasingly fragmented areas of Earth that can’t be reached by road. Journalists got into the act too, making sophisticated and attractive maps to examine everything from the presidential election to the aerial surveillance of U.S. cities.

American Studies: A Sad Tale of Academic Decline

Charles Kupfer:

Sometimes a pop culture class becomes an extramural joke, such as the “Zombie Studies” courses that were all the rage a few years ago. And sometimes an American Studies professor decides to use the classroom for “social activism” where the idea is to substitute studying with protesting.

I might chuckle if I weren’t employed and mentally invested in the field, and if I did not have residual respect for the open-minded, pragmatic approaches which marked American Studies for the first decades of its existence. But sadly, for the last generation, American Studies—beset by a nagging awareness that making interdisciplinarity the norm when studying culture became mission accomplished at least 20 years ago—has scooted pell-mell towards politicization in a misbegotten effort to remain relevant.

The result today is an academic sub-specialty wedded to a tightly-corseted belief that the United States represents the locus of sin (racism, sexism, colonialism, and the like) in the modern world, and that any study of America should restrict itself to call-outs and condemnations. American Studies now serves chiefly as validation system for academicians who know their findings in advance: racism, sexism, and imperialism.

Increasingly, the field is hostile to scholars who don’t want to use it just to berate American traditions and signal their imagined virtue.

Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

Northwestern Study Finds Music Education Changes The Teen Brain

Becky Vevea

“There’s 41 of you here, and 41 minds have to be completely locked into what we’re doing in order for us to get that sound,” teacher Kelsey Tortorice tells her students at UIC College Prep, a campus of the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools in Chicago.

A new study by the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University revealed music instruction, and studying music in general, changes the teenage brain, so long as students participate for at least two years.

The researchers found that studying music alters teen brains in a way that makes them better able to focus and process sound — a development that’s particularly important for learning.

To Boost the Economy, Help Students First

Sheila Bair:

Donald J. Trump has made bold and provocative campaign promises on taxes, trade, immigration and infrastructure. These pledges are all in service of bolstering our economic future. While we hope these initiatives will help our economic prospects, there is one important measure missing from the debate. And it could have an even more immediate and direct impact on economic growth: student debt relief.

Student debt now stands at $1.3 trillion. More than half of student borrowers are unable to repay their loans according to the original terms. In a well-intended but poorly executed effort to make college broadly accessible, the government has lent freely to students, with little attention to whether they can repay those loans. The result is millions of young people with debt they cannot afford.

I honestly thought of myself as simply American’: DNA testing shocks college students

Susan Svrlugo:

More than 1,500 people have had genetic testing done at West Chester University, part of a campuswide DNA Discussion Project. Anita Foeman, a professor of communication studies at the public university in Pennsylvania, hoped to use the project to build connections among people. Students in a freshman honors class took the test this fall, and many were surprised when the results upended their self-identity.

Urban Dictionary: linux

Urban Dictionary:

If Operating Systems Ran The Airlines…

UNIX Airways

Everyone brings one piece of the plane along when they come to the airport. They all go out on the runway and put the plane together piece by piece, arguing non-stop about what kind of plane they are supposed to be building.

Air DOS

Everybody pushes the airplane until it glides, then they jump on and let the plane coast until it hits the ground again. Then they push again, jump on again, and so on…

At the University of Oregon, no more free speech for professors on subjects such as race, religion, sexual orientation

Eugene Volokh:

1. Last week, the University of Oregon made clear to its faculty: If you say things about race, sexual orientation, sex, religion and so on that enough people find offensive, you could get suspended (and, following the logic of the analysis) even fired. This can happen even to tenured faculty members; even more clearly, it can happen to anyone else. It’s not limited to personal insults. It’s not limited to deliberate racism or bigotry.

This time it involved someone making herself up as a black man at a costume party (as it happens, doing so in order to try to send an antiracist message). But according to the university’s logic, a faculty member could be disciplined for displaying the Mohammed cartoons, if it caused enough of a furor. Or a faculty member could be disciplined for suggesting that homosexuality may be immoral or dangerous. Or for stating that biological males who view themselves as female should be viewed as men, not as women. Or for suggesting that there are, on average, biological differences in temperament or talents between men and women.

Making Sense of the News: News Literacy Lessons for Digital Citizens

g, The State University of New York:

Who is this class for: We are thrilled to make this course available for anybody who is interested in learning how to evaluate the quality of news and journalism in order to judge the reliability of information and make informed judgment. It is an online version of the News Literacy curriculum developed at Stony Brook University in New York and the University of Hong Kong. More than 15,000 university students in ten countries have taken it over the last ten years. We have been constantly updating our course material by incorporating the impact of the growing popularity of smart phones and social media services around the world. We hope you enjoy the course!

The Ambition Interviews: A Table of Contents

Rebecca Rosen:

The Ambition Interviews began as a project between two friends, Hana Schank and Elizabeth Wallace, who had attended Northwestern University in the early ’90s. What had happened, they wondered, to all of their brilliant, hard-working friends from their college days? Had life come together as they had hoped? They reached out to 37 other members of their sorority’s graduating class, and those conversations became the foundation of the essays we now present.

We recommend starting with Hana’s introduction essay, which details the project, and from there the essays—listed here—can be read in any order.

Students Matter

Will Fitzhugh, via a kind email:

Thanks to American Educator for E.D. Hirsch’s new article on the necessity of a coherent curriculum in the elementary grades. Everything he writes on this is sensible and of the greatest value.

But why oh why is the effort of the student always left out? I was a much
better teacher with a student who paid attention in class and did the
homework, and a much less effective teacher with a student who did
not pay attention in class and did not do the homework.

Yet, for some reason, the student has no place in our
discussions of teacher effectiveness, school reform, etc.

Imagine discussing the performance of a football team and never mentioning
what any of the players did on the field, or their degree of attention to the coach,
and their own preparedness for the part they played in games.

Yet from the way we discuss reform in education, there must be the assumption
that students have no part to play in their schooling.

This makes no sense at all. What could be the reason for it?

The Concord Review.

Number of businesses, organizations ‘adopting’ Madison schools at an all-time high; Academic Improvement?

Doug Erickson:

Each partner is asked to make a commitment of at least one year and to make a contribution of some sort, whether human, financial or material, Bartzen said. A financial donation is not a requirement for participation, she said.

Partners provide many things, such as tutors, mentors, in-kind donations, guest speakers, lunch buddies and off-site space for occasional school-related functions.

“The small things are just as important as the big things,” Bartzen said. “It really is all about developing long-term relationships. If a financial piece is possible, that’s wonderful, but a donation of the size given by Great Lakes is not the norm.”

For more information on adopting a school or donating to the foundation, go to fmps.org.

Problem of ‘whiteness’ pales in comparison to problem of free speech

Chris Rickert:

If I were Santa Claus, my Christmas gifts to Republican state Rep. Dave Murphy and Republican state Sen. Steve Nass would be vouchers to enroll in the UW-Madison class “The Problem of Whiteness.”

According to a course description, it offers the chance to wonder “what it really means to be white” and asks: “Since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it?”

For the professor teaching the class and other identity politics-obsessed UW faculty, I’d provide bus tickets to some struggling rural hamlets in Murphy’s and Nass’ districts, where if whiteness is a problem, pretty much everybody is problematic — even if the real problems have less to do with race than with garden-variety social dysfunction and lack of income.

Maybe then conservative legislators would stop measuring academia according to their politics, and ivory tower academics would stop conflating teaching with pontification.

Catching crumbs from the table

Ted Chiang:

Catching crumbs from the table
JACEY
It has been 25 years since a report of original research was last submitted to our editors for publication, making this an appropriate time to revisit the question that was so widely debated then: what is the role of human scientists in an age when the frontiers of scientific inquiry have moved beyond the comprehensibility of humans?

No doubt many of our subscribers remember reading papers whose authors were the first individuals ever to obtain the results they described. But as metahumans began to dominate experimental research, they increasingly made their findings available only via DNT (digital neural transfer), leaving journals to publish second-hand accounts translated into human language.

Without DNT, humans could not fully grasp earlier developments nor effectively utilize the new tools needed to conduct research, while metahumans continued to improve DNT and rely on it even more. Journals for human audiences were reduced to vehicles of popularization, and poor ones at that, as even the most brilliant humans found themselves puzzled by translations of the latest findings.

Why time management is ruining our lives

Oliver Burkeman:

The eternal human struggle to live meaningfully in the face of inevitable death entered its newest phase one Monday in the summer of 2007, when employees of Google gathered to hear a talk by a writer and self-avowed geek named Merlin Mann. Their biggest professional problem was email, the digital blight that was colonising more and more of their hours, squeezing out time for more important work, or for having a life. And Mann, a rising star of the “personal productivity” movement, seemed like he might have found the answer.

He called his system “Inbox Zero”, and the basic idea was simple enough. Most of us get into bad habits with email: we check our messages every few minutes, read them and feel vaguely stressed about them, but take little or no action, so they pile up into an even more stress-inducing heap. Instead, Mann advised his audience that day at Google’s Silicon Valley campus, every time you visit your inbox, you should systematically “process to zero”. Clarify the action each message requires – a reply, an entry on your to-do list, or just filing it away. Perform that action. Repeat until no emails remain. Then close your inbox, and get on with living.

The Freedom of Speech at the University of Oregon

Josh Blackman:

Nancy Shurtz, a tenured professor at the University of Oregon Law School, wore black face to a halloween party. Her costume, which also included a white lab coat and stethoscope, was meant as some sort of social commentary about the book “Black Man in a White Coat.” Nearly two dozen of Shurtz’s colleagues called on her to resign. Shurtz was suspended with pay, pending an investigation. That investigation came to a close on November 30.

Yesterday, the Provost of the University of Oregon released a statement, along with a redacted version of the investigative report, explaining why Shurtz can be disciplined consistent with the First Amendment and principles of academic freedom. Here is the Provost’s summary:

Milwaukee to open college-access centers in high schools

Annysa Johnson:

“Persistence.”

It was the final page of the PowerPoint presentation, and all eyes were on Kimberly Easley.

For the better part of an hour, student advisers Easley and Tre’Quan Martin had run a class of mostly ninth-graders through a primer highlighting much of what they’ll need to do over the next four years to graduate, get into college and succeed there.

Get good grades. Take part in extracurricular activities. Volunteer. Save money. Research colleges and career paths. Fill out the FAFSA. Pursue every scholarship possible.

You could see, for a teenager, how it could all be overwhelming. And then they landed on that final page: “Persistence.”

“That is probably the most important thing we want you to walk away with, because without that you really can’t achieve anything,” said Easley, a first-generation college graduate who weathered her own challenges — poverty, an absentee father, a drug-using mother — en route to a master’s degree from Alverno College.

“I could have used (that as) my crutch … for not going to college and not being successful,” Easley said.

On Citizenship And Detention Camps

Eyder Peralta:

When he was in prison, Lorenzo Palma strongly suspected he was an American citizen. He had spent his whole life in the United States, and he knew his grandfather was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1914.

Palma had served five years for an assault conviction and was about to be released on parole, but immigration officials had stopped his release because they wanted to deport him. They said he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

So in the summer of 2014, Palma found himself among dozens of inmates about to face an immigration judge in Huntsville, Texas. “They would sit us by groups of 10 and they would start deporting left and right,” he said.

A far cry from the Apostle Paul, who declared his Roman citizenship when he was about to be beaten (Acts 22)

US government starts asking foreign travelers to disclose their social media accounts

Nick Statt:

The US Customs and Border Protection has started demanding that foreign travelers hand over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media account information upon entering the country, according to a report from Politico. The new policy follows a proposal laid out back in June and applies only to those travelers who enter the US temporarily without a visa through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, process. The goal, the government says, is to “identify potential threats,” a spokesperson tells Politico.

ACTIVISTS FEAR THE POLICY COULD BE A THREAT TO HUMAN RIGHTS
The new policy went into effect on Tuesday, and the request is currently “optional.” It asks foreign travelers to “enter information associated with your online presence,” and offers a drop-down menu allowing participants to enter in account names for most major social networks, including LinkedIn and even Google+.

UNICEF: One child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen

aljazeera:

Saada governorate, the most heavily bombed region in Yemen, has the world’s highest stunting rates among children, affecting eight out of 10 in some areas, it said.

Stunting – where a child is short for their age – is another sign of chronic malnourishment and has irreversible consequences for both physical health and cognitive function.

Other governorates – Hodeida, Taiz, Hajjah and Lahej – were also badly affected after 20 months of war, UNICEF said.

The Minimalist Beauty of a Renaissance-Era Geometry Book

Julia Friedman:

In Perspectiva Corporum Regularium, Jamnitzer rotates and carves each of the solids to demonstrate how they might function as the building blocks of the world. Though science has since demonstrated the atom to be the most basic part of all matter, Jamnitzer’s studies possess a captivating artistic merit. With the manipulation, repetition, and layering of basic shapes, they seem like distant precursors to Minimalism and its concerns.

Jamnitzer sometimes sketches solids in sculptural positioning — a shape upon a pedestal — enhancing an understanding of the three-dimensional form in space. The resulting manipulations are often so varied it can be hard to discern from which Platonic solid they originated. This is Jamnitzer’s point: to show that all matter might be constituted by these primary shapes. Although our understanding of the essence of matter has changed, interestingly, the underlying concept of building blocks has not. All matter is constituted of molecules made of atoms, adding up to their own kind of minimal, molecular geometry.

Information Geometry

John Baez

Information geometry is the study of ‘stochastic manifolds’, which are spaces where each point is a hypothesis about some state of affairs. This subject, usually considered a branch of statistics, has important applications to machine learning and somewhat unexpected connections to evolutionary biology. To learn this subject, I’m writing a series of articles on it. You can navigate forwards and back through these using the blue arrows. And by clicking the links that say “on Azimuth”, you can see blog entries containing these articles. Those let you read comments about my articles—and also make comments or ask questions of your own!

Charlotte School Law students accuse school of keeping them in the dark about school problems

Mike Gordon:

Margaret Kocaj has one more semester before she earns her degree from Charlotte School of Law.

Now she doesn’t know whether she will get a diploma or even if she has a school.

On Monday, Kocaj and CSL’s 700 other students at the for-profit school learned that the Department of Education will cut off millions of dollars in student loans and other financial assistance on Dec. 31. That’s money that most of the students need to continue their classes.

The government’s reason: a “substantial and persistent” failure by Charlotte School of Law to meet admission and curriculum standards while intentionally misleading current and prospective students about the extent of its problems.

Percentage of Young Americans Living With Parents Rises to 75-Year High

Chris Kirkham:

Almost 40% of young Americans were living with their parents, siblings or other relatives in 2015, the largest percentage since 1940, according to an analysis of census data by real estate tracker Trulia.

Despite a rebounding economy and recent job growth, the share of those between the ages of 18 and 34 doubling up with parents or other family members has been rising since 2005. Back then, before the start of the last recession, roughly one out of three were living with family.

The trend runs counter to that of previous economic cycles, when after a recession-related spike, the number of younger Americans living with relatives declined as the economy improved.

College Student Earns 4.0 GPA,Then Drops Out: “You Are Being Scammed!”

The mind unleashed:

“Now that I’ve finished my first semester I think it’s safe to say… FUCK COLLEGE. Now before all you of you go batshit crazy… I have a few points to make.

1. Yes I have dropped out after finishing my first semester (with a 4.0 GPA). And it’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Not because I am averse to learning, but actually the exact opposite.

2. YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED. You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will see it some day. Heck you may have already seen it if you’ve been through college. You are being put thousands into debt to learn things you will never even use. Wasting 4 years of your life to be stuck at a paycheck that grows slower than the rate of inflation. Paying $200 for a $6 textbook. Being taught by teacher’s who have never done what they’re teaching. Average income has increased 5x over the last 40 years while cost of college has increased 18x. You’re spending thousands of dollars to learn information you won’t ever even use just to get a piece of paper. I once even had an engineer tell me “I learned more in my first 30 days working than in my 5 years of college.” What does that tell you about this system? There are about a million more ways you’re being scammed into this.. just watch the video i’m gonna comment if you want to see more.

An Open Letter To The Virginia Tech Community

Charles Murray:

Last week, the president of Virginia Tech, Tim Sands, published an “open letter to the Virginia Tech community” defending lectures delivered by deplorable people like me (I’m speaking on the themes of Coming Apart on March 25). Bravo for President Sands’s defense of intellectual freedom. But I confess that I was not entirely satisfied with his characterization of my work. So I’m writing an open letter of my own.

Dear Virginia Tech community,

Since President Sands has just published an open letter making a serious allegation against me, it seems appropriate to respond. The allegation: “Dr. Murray is well known for his controversial and largely discredited work linking measures of intelligence to heredity, and specifically to race and ethnicity — a flawed socioeconomic theory that has been used by some to justify fascism, racism and eugenics.”

Bullying Culture

Fred Smith

Game begins with the San Fernando Valley Patriots, a small public policy group that sought 501(c)4 tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. A routine matter taking only a few months for most non-profit organizations, the Patriots’ application was delayed as they were required to meet a series of demands for supporting information. The Obama administration, it turns out, was displeased with right-of-center groups’ opposition to its initiatives, and that attitude worked its way down to federal agencies.

For many years, commercial speech has been regulated to prevent fraud, but the newer goal of regulating political speech was a harder climb. Courts, in particular, protected political speech for much of the nation’s early history. Still, given the growing distrust of big businesses, campaign finance laws gained political momentum. As Strassel notes, some free speech advocates came to favor disclosure of advocacy organizations’ donor information. After all, what could be wrong with “transparency?”

Republicans were slow to recognize the threat posed by such mandates, though it has been clear for more than half-a-century. In one of the key court cases, Alabama officials, irate over the NAACP’s role in the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, demanded the state chapter disclose its membership and donors. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down this attack as a violation of the rights to privacy and free association.

Coding a Deep Neural Network to Steer a Car: Step By Step

Oliver Cameron:

You may have seen this incredible video from NVIDIA, one of our Nanodegreepartners, which highlights their efforts of teaching a car how to drive using only cameras and deep learning. The second challenge for the Udacity Self-Driving Car initiative is to replicate these results using a convolutional neural network that you design and build! End-to-end solutions like this, where a single network takes raw input (camera imagery) and produces a direct steering command, are considered the holy-grail of current autonomous vehicle technology.
 
 The top scoring network (measured by how close the steering angles generated were to a human) for Challenge #2 was built by the amazing Ilya Edrenkin, a Senior Researcher at Yandex. He generously wrote an iPython Notebook explaining how his neural network was constructed, and I thought it needed to be shared with the world. Enjoy!

K-12 Governance Rhetoric (lacks Spending Differences)

Jared Bernstein & Ben Spielberg:

DeVos and other ideological enemies of teachers unions may well try to block that vision. But as most education policy gets hashed out at the local level, they will hopefully fail. The desire for cross-sector collaboration with a goal of promoting equity for all students is growing, and fostering that growth will deliver a big win for our children.

Choice schools often spend substantially less per student than traditional, no choice schools.

Judgment, Moral Offense and Value-Free Science.

Explanatory Colombo M, et al. Rev Philos Psychol. 2016.

A popular view in philosophy of science contends that scientific reasoning is objective to the extent that the appraisal of scientific hypotheses is not influenced by moral, political, economic, or social values, but only by the available evidence. A large body of results in the psychology of motivated-reasoning has put pressure on the empirical adequacy of this view. The present study extends this body of results by providing direct evidence that the moral offensiveness of a scientific hypothesis biases explanatory judgment along several dimensions, even when prior credence in the hypothesis is controlled for. Furthermore, it is shown that this bias is insensitive to an economic incentive to be accurate in the evaluation of the evidence. These results contribute to call into question the attainability of the ideal of a value-free science.

Texas can be a pioneer in education savings accounts

Mack Morris:

Fortunately, educational reforms that expand choices and opportunities for families look to be a top issue during the upcoming Texas legislative session, and most promising of all is legislation creating education savings accounts.

These accounts would give parents more control over how they spend their education tax dollars so that they can choose education options that best fit their child’s needs.

Five states have already adopted education savings account programs, with Arizona, Florida, and Nevada having the most robust programs.

The Texas program, as suggested by former Arlington state Rep. Kent Grusendorf, would most closely follow the Nevada model.

Schools face tougher task in finding teachers

Dave Umhoefer and Sarah Hauer:

But the steep decline in the number of teacher candidates started before Act 10’s passage, it follows a national trend, and Wisconsin is faring better than its neighbors, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examination found.

Experts say root causes of the drop include tougher training and licensure requirements and tight school district budgets at a time when high student-loan debt and an improved economy are sending graduates into other fields.

Act 10’s chief contribution to the continuing trend: a cloud of pessimism hanging over the much-changed profession.

Oconomowoc thought differently regarding teacher time and compensation.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Public pension costs projected to reach 30 percent of payroll

Peter Wong:

Oregon’s public-pension contribution rate has an 80 percent likelihood of exceeding 30 percent of payroll within the next few years, according to an analysis presented to the system’s governing board.

The projection was offered by Milliman, the firm that does the actuarial work for the Public Employees Retirement System, as the agency and lawmakers consider how they can deal with rising costs.

Those increased payroll costs will mean less money available for other government services, or potentially higher taxes.

The PERS board and agency staff say that policy changes are up to the Legislature, but through Milliman, they can analyze potential effects of various proposals. Milliman has offered such reports already.

A legislative work group has reviewed proposals for the 2017 session, which gets down to business starting Feb. 6.

The base rate set by the board for employer contributions the 2017-19 budget cycle is already at 20.8 percent. Although none of Oregon’s more than 900 government employers pays that rate, it is an indicator of upward trends – more than 3 percentage points greater than the current rate.

Actual rates paid by employers hinge on the mix of employees hired before and after August 2003 – when lawmakers made pension benefits less generous for future workers – and the employer’s proportion of public safety employees, who qualify for greater benefits.

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

William Deresiewicz

It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house.

It’s not surprising that it took me so long to discover the extent of my miseducation, because the last thing an elite education will teach you is its own inadequacy. As two dozen years at Yale and Columbia have shown me, elite colleges relentlessly encourage their students to flatter themselves for being there, and for what being there can do for them. The advantages of an elite education are indeed undeniable. You learn to think, at least in certain ways, and you make the contacts needed to launch yourself into a life rich in all of society’s most cherished rewards. To consider that while some opportunities are being created, others are being cancelled and that while some abilities are being developed, others are being crippled is, within this context, not only outrageous, but inconceivable.

Google facing FTC scrutiny over privacy — yet again

Craig Timberg:

Consumer advocates have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging that Google violated user privacy through a policy change that gives the company more leeway to build profiles of people as they browse the Web and use Google services.
 
 The complaint, submitted Thursday by Consumer Watchdog and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, alleges that Google acted in a “highly deceptive manner” in changing its privacy policy in June to allow the merging of data collected by various services owned by the company, such as Google Maps, Google search and the DoubleClick online advertising service. The result, the groups say, allows for the gathering of more comprehensive information on most people who use the Web.

Civics, Rahm & Uber: In lawsuit settlement, Emanuel admits using personal email for public business

Bill Ruthhart, Hal Dardick and Jeff Coen:

Political strategist David Plouffe also knew to use one of Emanuel’s personal accounts when he lobbied the mayor on behalf of Uber in November 2015. A deal was in place for Uber to operate at Chicago airports, but Plouffe emailed about an extra fee to be imposed by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and about signage that needed to be placed on Uber vehicles doing pickups at O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport.

“Sure this comes as much of a surprise to you as us, since there was an agreement in place,” wrote Plouffe, campaign manager in 2008 for President Barack Obama, for whom Emanuel worked for as chief of staff.

Emanuel directed Plouffe, Uber’s vice president of policy and strategy, to email two staffers, since he was out of the country. “Impossible for me to address from China.”

The messages also showed Emanuel communicating with a wide array of power brokers both in business and politics.

A Troubling Combination: Depression, Poverty, and Parenting

Childtrends:

There is a troubling trend that researchers have identified again and again – low-income parents, especially single mothers, have higher rates of depression and depressive symptoms than their higher-income counterparts. A new Child Trends’ study found that more than half of a group of low-income mothers in Maryland felt down, depressed, or hopeless in the past year and almost a third had those feelings combined with a lack of interest or pleasure in doing things

More views on California surnames of semifinalists

Steve Sailer

A) A rabbi checked out the potentially Jewish names for PSAT semifinalists in 2012 (see my Taki’s Magazine column “The East Rises in the West”) and came up with a range of 81 to 125 Jewish surnames, or 4 to 6 percent out of 1,950. I have to believe that this is way down from the percent of Jewish National Merit semifinalists in California in the 1970s. Has California’s Jewish community shrunk just in relative terms, or in absolute terms (Portland, here we come?). Has marrying shiksas diluted the gene pool? Do Jewish kids try less hard now? But they seemed to be pretty heavy dope smokers at Beverly Hills H.S. in 1975? Or have Asians raised the test scores at the high end?

B) My Taki column is on PSAT semifinalists in California in 2011, but I found on College Confidential an analysis of the 2010 California semifinalists, and if you can’t trust anonymous posters on College Confidential, whom can you trust?

More On The Department Of Education’s Decision To Cut Off Federal Student Loans For Charlotte Law School

Paul Carron:

“This is potentially a cataclysmic event for legal education. The Department of Education’s reasoning could easily be extended to other law schools,” Paul Caron, an associate dean and professor at Pepperdine School of Law, wrote in an email to the ABA Journal. “Hopefully, today’s action by the DOE will finally cause law schools to confront the existential crisis facing legal education,” says Caron, who writes at Tax Law Prof Blog.

Year in a Word: Snowflake

Miranda Green:

Snowflake

(Noun) A derogatory term for someone deemed too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own, particularly in universities and other forums once known for robust debate

The riotous parties and occasional deep thought that were traditionally part of student life have, according to those who throw the insult “snowflake” at an entire generation, given way to whingeing about points of view deemed offensive.

Where once students might have placed a pilfered traffic cone over the head of a historical statue, they now campaign to excise the names of founders and benefactors from their institutions and to disinvite lecturers on contentious subjects.

The censorious trend prompted pungent attacks on oversensitive millennials. This, by the novelist Bret Easton Ellis, catches the flavour: “Oh, little snowflakes, when did you all become grandmothers and society matrons, clutching your pearls in horror at someone who has an opinion about something . . . you snivelling little weak-ass narcissists?”

Like all powerful weapons, calling someone a snowflake has been adapted for general use. It is even co-opted by the other side. President-elect Donald Trump was called “the most special snowflake of them all” for protesting that the theatre should be a “safe place” after his running mate Mike Pence was booed at the musical Hamilton.

UMinn Football Coach Thought He’d Be Fired for Standing Up for Players in Rape Case

Jillian Kay Melchior

Last week, members of the University of Minnesota football team threatened to boycott the team’s bowl game because 10 of their teammates were suspended for an alleged sexual assault even though a police investigation into the claims yielded no charges.

The coach of the team now says he knew his job was on the line when, against the wishes of his administration, he threw his support behind his players who feared their teammates’ constitutional rights were being violated.

“I want everybody to understand, the boycott was around the due process, period,” coach Tracy Claeys told reporters this weekend.

In an interview with WCOO Radio the same day, Claeys recounted talking to his team “all about the different fallouts. One was that we might not be able to play in the bowl game. Two is that we knew there was going to be a group who took the stance that we were being pro-sexual assault, which we’re not. And then I told them there’s a great chance I could lose my job over this.”

University says no due process owed to professor who sang ‘sexual’ Beach Boys song

Jorin Burkhart:

The University of Kentucky is warning faculty that it can take action against them for alleged wrongdoing without a formal hearing – as long as their tenure isn’t involved.

A spokesperson for the administration told The College Fix that its punishment of Prof. Buck Ryan – for a murky but nonsexual incident with a student – is permissible under a recent federal court ruling.

Ryan claimed in a Lexington Herald-Leader op-ed this weekend that he was punished for singing a Beach Boys song to a group of Chinese students because its lyrics were judged “sexual in nature” by the administration.

Although the China trip during which the incident took place was more than a year ago, the case only surfaced Friday.

Students of Color Conference turns into ‘oppression Olympics,’ leads to fights, canceled sessions

Kate Hardiman:

UCLA student Jacqueline Alvarez told The College Fix as much in a recent telephone interview, standing behind an op-ed she wrote in the Daily Bruin campus newspaper detailing the same.

She described the conference not only as an “oppression Olympics” but also “a safe space gone wrong” in her opinion article.

Ralph Washington, president of UC Student Association, which organized and hosted the conference, confirmed there were “tensions” at the mid-November gathering, and that its schedule was altered.

“The Students of Color Conference is always a space when tensions get a little high,” he said in a phone interview with The College Fix. “This mirrors that nature of our lived experiences. But this year there was a lot of harm thrown around to the various organizers, and some people came into the conference without understanding what the theme of the conference was. There are constructive things that we can do to prevent this happening in the future.”

“I think that sometimes in conferences schedules are changed to meet a more pressing need. It isn’t a problem when those who are organizing the conference change things around to meet the needs of participants,” Washington said.

How one education nonprofit is seeking to create a groundswell of parent engagement

Erin Hinrichs:

When Rashad Turner stepped down from his leadership role with Black Lives Matter in the city of St. Paul in early September, he pinned his decision on a single point of contention: National leadership of both BLM and the NAACP had recently called for a moratorium on charter schools, a move that he, fundamentally, didn’t agree with.

A strong supporter of charter schools and education reform, he told media he felt the movement had been “hijacked.” He could no longer be affiliated with a cause, he explained, that was prioritizing an attack on charters — many of which are successfully serving marginalized students — over an attack on the root causes of the achievement gap, such as the disproportionate number of suspensions and expulsions of children of color in local schools.

One solution to failing K-12 schools? Let universities help

Anna Phillips and Sonali Kohli:

When Horace Mann Middle School principal Orlando Johnson thinks about the eighth-graders he sent off to high school last year, he worries about how they will fare.

Only about 1% of Horace Mann students in that grade and the ones below it tested at grade level in math. At the end of the year, the eighth-grade math teacher was dismissed for ineffective teaching. Sixth- and seventh-graders, meanwhile, were learning math from long-term substitutes.

Related: credit for non Madison School District courses.

“placing adult-centric politics over systemic school improvement”

Laura Waters:

Plenty, according to members of the “Save Camden High School” cadre, who have rebranded themselves under the New Jersey Communities United banner and are planning a confrontation tonight at the Camden Board of Education meeting. Instead of following Sheriff Wilson’s example of placing children’s academic needs on top, this group has decided a years-old, dead-end debate will be its issue du jour, even if it’s to the detriment of students. More broadly, the group’s members represent a microcosm of those who masquerade as social justice warriors while placing adult-centric politics over systemic school improvement.

Eight years ago the Star Ledger described the debilitated state of the “Castle on the Hill”: “emergency scaffolding protects students entering and leaving the school from pieces of plaster and masonry falling off the decaying high school. A new chain-link fence keeps pedestrians clear of other portions of the wall, and broken windows dot the three-story facade.” More recent problems–as shown in the school district’s own video– include cracked steps, crumbling infrastructure, leaking pipes, “indoor vegetation growth,” and an ancient boiler that has required over a million dollars in chewing gum and bailing wire.

Related: “an emphasis on adult employment“.

Venezuela Follows India’s Example and Voids Half of Its Cash

Anatoly Kurmanaev:

CARACAS, Venezuela—Venezuela is taking nearly half the country’s bank notes out of circulation beginning Wednesday, threatening to ruin the holidays season for Venezuelans already suffering from dire cash shortages, hyperinflation and an economic meltdown.

The country’s largest bill, worth 100 bolivars or just 3 U.S. cents on the black market, is to become illegal, in a move designed to combat contraband along Venezuela’s borders, the government said.

President Nicolás Maduro said outlawing the notes would destroy what he claims are Colombian smuggling mafias that hoard bolivars to buy price-controlled food and gasoline in Venezuela, which is then resold at a markup. Mr. Maduro said Monday night he was closing the Colombian border until Thursday night to prevent stacks of bolivars from making it back to the country.

Legislators criticize UW-Madison professor’s course on race, tweets about shooting of officers

Nico Savidge:

“The state has a lot of different priorities when it comes to funding things,” Murphy said. “Is funding a course that’s about ‘The Problem of Whiteness’ … a high priority? I’ve got a feeling it’s not.”

School officials defended the course on Monday after Nass, a frequent critic of the university, derided it in an email to Republican legislators.

“The course title refers to the challenge of understanding white identity and non-white identity across the globe,” the university wrote in a statement Monday night. It is not mandatory, and “will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues,” officials said.

But the controversy escalated Tuesday when Murphy also drew attention to tweets from the course’s instructor, professor Damon Sajnani, in a news release.

In one tweet, posted the night last July when five police officers were killed by a gunman in Dallas, Sajnani included a photo of news coverage of the shooting and wrote, “Is the uprising finally starting? Is this style of protest gonna go viral?”

Failure at the top: How power undermines collaborative performance.

Hildreth, John Angus D.; Anderson, Cameron:

All too commonly, we see groups of leaders fail to accomplish their stated goals when working together—legislators who cannot agree on a bill, heads of state who cannot draft meaningful environmental policy, or boards of trustees who make disastrous decisions for their school. The current research examines whether groups of leaders fail as often as they do in part because of the power each leader is accustomed to possessing among his or her constituents. In multiple studies we found that high power individuals, when working together in groups, performed worse than did other groups: individuals randomly assigned power in an initial task were less creative when they then worked together in groups on a subsequent task (Studies 1A and 4). Individuals with higher power who worked together in groups were also less likely to reach agreement on a difficult negotiation task, whether these groups comprised actual executives from an extant organization (Study 2) or participants randomly assigned power in the laboratory (Study 3). Mediation analyses suggest that groups of high power individuals performed worse because they fought over their relative status in the group, were less focused on the task, and shared information with each other less effectively. However, high power individuals were more effective when working on tasks that required less coordination: they were more creative (Studies 1B and 4) and persisted longer on a difficult task than other groups. Therefore, group processes are the key problem for groups of high power individuals when they work together.

How Macy’s dismantled everything once right about department stores

Lee Petersen

Decades of distinct market knowledge ended up devalued and then simply disappeared, rolled up into a singular corporate branding and buying approach. But the forces of finance pushed for chain-wide savings ahead of doing something that might have helped the category: Staying closer than ever to shoppers. In effect, Macy’s stopped doing the one thing it was good at doing better than anyone else — something that might have saved it from obsolescence during tough times, from recessions to Amazon’s looming dominance in e-commerce.

The embrace of such a top-down strategy destroyed a once effective bottom-up buying and merchandising approach that was not only capable of meeting the unique market needs of local shoppers, but thrilling and delighting them as well. You might argue that Federated had Big Data before Big Data was a thing: It just wasn’t the kind of data visible at the corporate level. It was Big Data disaggregated — data inside the minds of experienced employees, the kind of local market knowledge a top-down buying process doesn’t really have. Corporate buyers might go on some store visits to flyover country, but a few field visits would never replace local knowledge gained from years of being on the sales floor.

The Price Of Federalism: Social Security Checks Are Being Reduced for Unpaid Student Debt

Josh Mitchell

In the year through September 2015, about 114,000 Americans age 50 and older had their Social Security benefits reduced to offset defaulted student loans. That figure—which includes 38,000 people age 65 or older—has risen 440% since 2002.

The report highlights the growing number of baby boomers who are entering retirement with student debt, many of them in default on loans from decades ago. About 4 in 10 borrowers whose Social Security checks were garnished have held the debt for at least 20 years, the report said. Most of the borrowers took out the loans to pay for their own educations, though a big share borrowed to help pay for their children’s schooling.

World Class Publication offers Expanded Summer Program for High School Students

A world-class history quarterly, The Concord Review, holds a writing workshop for high school students.

Sudbury, Massachusetts—December 13, 2016

———

College bound high school students can now learn from one of the best sources in the country. The Concord Review [tcr.org] is offering several two-week intensive expository writing workshops. The workshops will be held on the campus of Regis College, just west of Boston in Weston, Massachusetts and—for the first time—in Seoul, South Korea.

This will be the fourth year of their Summer Program writing and research workshops, but they are greatly expanded over previous years. There will be two sessions in Boston, in early and late June with 24 seats in each session. Each session runs for two weeks, and includes both boarding students and day students.

“We had such strong response last year when we announced the course, and such positive feedback after the sessions, that we felt expanding the program was the right thing to do.” said Steven Lee, Summer Program Manager for TCR. “Several students told us they wished the program lasted longer!”

“As a former History teacher, I know the challenges for students doing longer research papers in most classrooms.” said Will Fitzhugh, TCR’s Founder and Editor in Chief. “But many students are fully capable of this level of work. The pages of TCR are full of examples. And students are hungry for instruction on how to improve. We are pleased to provide advanced instruction for motivated young scholars.

The sessions are led by History and expository writing instructors with advanced degrees in their topics. Some are former TCR authors. “I select the instructors with an eye toward very strong academic credentials coupled with an appreciation for secondary students and for the study of History.” says Fitzhugh.

During the program, students attend interactive group classes, have individual meetings with the instructors, attend a question-and-answer session with past authors, work in research and writing sessions, visit historical sites, see documentaries on various topics in history, and read past Concord Review essays.

“Steven has ensured that we have not only a strong academic program, but good venues for the classes and good activities.” Hours of instruction and study are balanced with trips to historical sites and other activities. “Steven has done an excellent job as Manager of the Summer Program,” said Fitzhugh. “He shares my interest in highest-quality education and providing opportunities for students to excel in academic writing.” He has also provided a critical link in connecting with interest from students in Asia, and has established the first international TCR Summer Program session to be held this year in Seoul, South Korea.

“There is a great deal of interest in Korea, China, and elsewhere outside the U.S. in the kind of English-language, advanced-writing TCR celebrates.” said Lee. “We are very excited to make this move. We had several students in last year’s session from Korea and we expect that this will make participation easier for more scholars.”

The venue for the Boston sessions is Regis College. Boarding students will stay in the dormitories, and join day students in Regis classrooms, library, and dining hall.

“The Concord Review provides a splendid forum for the best student work in history.” says Diane Ravitch, Senior Scholar at New York University. “It deserves the support of everyone in the country who cares about improving the study of history in the schools.” Other supporters include noted Historians Arthur Schlesinger. Jr. and David McCullough, and Dean of Admissions at Harvard College, William Fitzsimmons.

“We are fortunate that we have always had a large number of supporters who admire the work of our authors, and believe in our mission.” said Fitzhugh. “Now we can directly help young scholars develop their potential. It’s very gratifying.”

The Concord Review has been, since 1987, the only journal in the world for the academic history papers of secondary students, now with 1,219 essays [average length 7,400 words] by students from 44 states and 40 other countries.

About forty percent of students published in The Concord Review have been admitted to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford or Yale, and many have gone to other highly selective colleges—MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, the London School of Economics, Caltech, and so forth. The Dean of Admissions at Harvard has written: “We have been very happy to have reprints of essays published in The Concord Review, submitted by a number of our applicants over the years, to add to the information we consider in making admission decisions…All of us here in the Admissions Office are big fans of The Concord Review.”

Students who work on research papers during the TCR Summer Program are not guaranteed to be published in the journal, but the work they will do gives them an advantage in preparation for expository writing in college over their peers who do not have such practice.

There are very few opportunities for high school students to work on serious term papers in history. Most of the emphasis is on STEM and personal writing, and usually high school teachers have so many students that they cannot possibly find the time to advise students on a 5,000-word history paper. A national study, commissioned by The Concord Review, found that a very large majority of high school teachers do not assign term papers, and colleges only ask for the 500-word personal essay. As a result almost all of our high school graduates arrive in college never having written a serious research paper. This is the reason so many colleges, even Harvard and Stanford, now require a writing course for all their first-year students.

There are currently seats available in all sessions, but last year’s course filled up quickly, so Lee recommends that students register as soon as possible. “I had a great time working this year with the amazingly bright and hard-working students our program attracts. I’m really looking forward to the 2017 sessions!”

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University Offering Course on ‘The Problem of Whiteness’

Via a kind reader:

Professor sells ‘George Bush is the real terrorist’ t-shirts

Elizabeth Harrington

The University of Wisconsin is offering a course this spring on the “Problem of Whiteness,” which is taught by a radical assistant professor who believes America is a terrorist state.

The course will cover institutional racism and “what it means to be #woke.”

Damon Sajnani, an assistant professor in UW-Madison’s African Cultural Studies department, is teaching the course.

“Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white?” the course description states. “If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’ But here is your chance!”

“In Frantz Fanon’s famous White Skin Black Mask (1952), his chapter ‘Look, a Negro!’ interrogated the meaning and experience of coming to know oneself as Black under the constant scrutiny of the white gaze,” the course description continues. “It is an experience concomitant with W.E.B. Du Bois’s observation that under systemic racism, even well-meaning whites are constantly asking, in one way or another, ‘what is it like to be a problem?’ But, Like Richard Wright’s quote above, philosopher George Yancy’s book, Look, a White! (2010), turns the question around, and rightly returns ‘the problem of whiteness’ to white people. After all, since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it? Our class begins here.”

The course is part of “Critical Whiteness Studies,” and will attempt to offer solutions to the “problem of whiteness.”

“We will come together with our socially ascribed identities of Black, white, mixed and other and, with the problem properly in its place we will ask ourselves and our allies, what are we going to do with it?”

“Critical Whiteness Studies aims to understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy,” the course description reads. “Our class will break away from the standard US-centric frame, and consider how whiteness is constructed globally, with particular attention to paradigmatic cases like South Africa.”

The class will also cover how white people “consciously and unconsciously perpetuate institutional racism and how this not only devastates communities of color but also perpetuates the oppression of most white folks along the lines of class and gender.”

“In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, ‘treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.’”

Sajnani also teaches a course on “Global Hip Hop and Social Justice.”

Aside from his assistant professor role at UW-Madison, Sajnani runs “Justus League Records,” a political rap group that calls for revolution. He calls it the “The Dope Poet Society,” so-called “Hip Hop revolutionaries in the struggle to save the world!”

Justus League sells t-shirts that read “George Bush is the real terrorist.” Sajnani has written anti-capitalist pieces arguing that America is a “global terrorist.”

In the article “Jay-Z is 1%, Not HipHop,” Sajnani criticizes the rapper for being too pro-America and identifying with “an oligarchy whose interests are antithetical to Black liberation.”

“America is the reigning, though waning, seat of capitalist imperialism,” he writes. “Among other things, it is an enslaver of Africans, exterminator of aboriginals, environmental devastator, global terrorist, captain of neo-colonialism and chief beneficiary of these crimes.”

“To be pro-American does not mean that you support Americans, but that you buy into the propaganda that allows the richest Americans to collude with the richest global elites elsewhere, to the detriment of the world’s people including the majority of Americans,” Sajnani continues. “American culture is the set of beliefs, practices and ways of living that support America as such.”

Sajnani calls Jay-Z and President Barack Obama “mouthpieces for imperialism.”

“Don’t get it twisted, the struggle continues,” he concludes.

Sajnani changed his profile picture on Facebook to Fidel Castro the day after the Communist dictator’s death. The picture reads, “Keep it classy mi gente. Rest in freedom to the REAL most interesting man in the world.”

He also posted a picture of a 1950s-esque American family serving turkey for Thanksgiving with the words “Genocide, terrorism, small pox, colonization, torture” written in blood over it.

Request for comment from the university was not immediately returned.

Source: University Offering Course on ‘The Problem of Whiteness’

Private Online Education In China With Foreign Teachers

Bloomberg:

Mi’s goal was to deliver not the cheapest way to study, but rather the most efficient way to learn for the time and money invested. She knew Chinese parents would pay if they saw their children actually learning, rather than wasting time with poor teachers or programs. Most parents have a single offspring because of the country’s one-child policy, they value education and they want their child to be able to work beyond China.

Mi brought in Lane Litz, who had worked in three countries on how children learn second languages, to lead development of a standardized curriculum so the company would have control over what was taught. The team worked on easy-to-use software that would allow students in China to learn from native English speakers a half world away with real-time audio and video links.

Plagiarism and Academia: Personal Experience

Bruce Schneier

A paper published in the December 2004 issue of the SIGCSE Bulletin, “Cryptanalysis of some encryption/cipher schemes using related key attack,” by Khawaja Amer Hayat, Umar Waqar Anis, and S. Tauseef-ur-Rehman, is the same as a paper that John Kelsey, David Wagner, and I published in 1997.

It’s clearly plagiarism. Sentences have been reworded or summarized a bit and many typos have been introduced, but otherwise it’s the same paper. It’s copied, with the same section, paragraph, and sentence structure — right down to the same mathematical variable names. It has the same quirks in the way references are cited. And so on.

We wrote two papers on the topic; this is the second. They don’t list either of our papers in their bibliography. They do have a lurking reference to “[KSW96]” (the first of our two papers) in the body of their introduction and design principles, presumably copied from our text; but a full citation for “[KSW96]” isn’t in their bibliography. Perhaps they were worried that one of the referees would read the papers listed in their bibliography, and notice the plagiarism.

The Pension Gap: How a pension deal went wrong and cost California taxpayers billions

Jack Dolan

Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. The state employees’ pension fund, they said, would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full.

They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come.

This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined.

And it’s more than 30 times what the state paid for retirement benefits in 2000, before the effects of the new pension law, SB 400, had kicked in, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The Pension Gap: How a pension deal went wrong and cost California taxpayers billions

Jack Dolan

Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. The state employees’ pension fund, they said, would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full.

They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come.

This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined.

And it’s more than 30 times what the state paid for retirement benefits in 2000, before the effects of the new pension law, SB 400, had kicked in, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The Pension Gap: How a pension deal went wrong and cost California taxpayers billions

Jack Dolan

Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. The state employees’ pension fund, they said, would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full.

They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come.

This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined.

And it’s more than 30 times what the state paid for retirement benefits in 2000, before the effects of the new pension law, SB 400, had kicked in, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The Pension Gap: How a pension deal went wrong and cost California taxpayers billions

Jack Dolan

Proponents sold the measure in 1999 with the promise that it would impose no new costs on California taxpayers. The state employees’ pension fund, they said, would grow fast enough to pay the bill in full.

They were off — by billions of dollars — and taxpayers will bear the consequences for decades to come.

This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined.

And it’s more than 30 times what the state paid for retirement benefits in 2000, before the effects of the new pension law, SB 400, had kicked in, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Commentary On Expectations And K-12 Governance Diversity

Rahm Emanuel:

Fight the toughest battle: The toughest nut for urban school districts to crack is high school, but again, investing in quality is the key. While we have backed quality charter options in Chicago, we have also invested in quality through magnet, military, IB and STEM schools to the point that 50 percent of our kids attend one of these models. IB and STEM programs in particular are proven to raise graduation and college enrollment rates for students of all racial and income backgrounds. In fact, our IB-enrolled students boast a nearly 100 percent graduation rate, and 81 percent enroll in college, a higher rate than their peers.

Failure is not an option: Children get only one chance at a good education. We closed failing charter and neighborhood schools and expanded those with higher quality. The incoming presidential administration should promote proven programs to turn around failing schools. In Chicago, in partnership with the Academy for Urban School Leadership, we worked to turn around 14 failing schools. Today, roughly 80 percent of these schools have attained high-performing quality ratings.

Propublica links on Rahm Emanuel.

Recovery School District now tracking how many students switch schools midyear because of special-education needs

Marta Jewson:

For the first time since New Orleans charter schools started using a common enrollment system, the Recovery School District is tracking how many students transfer schools in the middle of the year due to special-education needs.

Such transfers aren’t new, enrollment director Gaby Fighetti said. Before, they were handled under a catch-all category in which principals at each school agreed to the transfer. As a result, there was no way to know exactly how many students moved due to special-education needs.

Public schools are required to serve any student who walks through their doors — including those with severe disabilities, who generally cost more to educate because they require special attention.

Civic & Jury Duty

Emily Roden:

That’s when Mr. Tillerson began to speak. Humbly, delicately, and without an ounce of condescension toward those who disagreed, he began walking us all through the details of the case. I even recall being moved by his thorough explanation about the nature of doubt and the standards set forth by our justice system. With great patience, this man who strikes multi-billion dollar deals with foreign heads of state brought our scrappy jury together to bring a sexual predator to justice and to deliver justice for a scared and deeply wounded little girl.

A local nonprofit was instrumental in fostering that young girl through this process, providing her counseling and legal help. I was so struck by their mission that I toured their facility the week following the case in order to learn how I could donate and volunteer to their cause.

On a whim, I decided to reach out to Mr. Tillerson to encourage him to do the same. I found an email for him online and sent him a note, touting the role this agency played in our trial and urging him to consider supporting the great work that they do. To my surprise, I received an email back thanking me for my note, my jury service, and ensuring me that he would contact the agency. I later received a call from the director of that nonprofit to let me know that Mr. Tillerson followed-through and gave a generous donation.

Campus Climate

Kieran Corcoran

A Cornell student claims she was ambushed, thrown to the ground and abused for being a Republican who publicly backed Donald Trump.

Olivia Corn, a sophomore who is chair of the Cornell Republicans, says she was attacked from behind the day after the election, and called a “racist bitch”.

Cornell Police are investigating the alleged attack, which happened late at night, when it was too dark for Corn to properly identify her attacker.

Minnesota Higher Ed Office Says Udacity’s Nanodegrees Might Violate State Law

Jeffrey Young:

Udacity touts its nanodegree as a new kind of credential—so new, that it defies traditional classifications and laws. But officials in Minnesota say the professional program could still fall under state regulations designed for degree programs, which would require Udacity to register with the state if it wants to offer online courses to its residents.

The state’s Office of Higher Education sent a letter to Udacity officials last month notifying the company that Minnesota law requires schools offering degrees to “register with our office prior to offering distance education programs to residents of Minnesota.” Education providers that fail to register “must not advertise or operate in Minnesota,” or else face an injunction or fines, says the letter signed by Betsy Talbot, Manager of Institutional Licensing and Registration for the state office. The letter asked Udacity to provide more information about its programs.

A Syrian Child Transforms

Catrin Einhorn & Jodi Kantor:

As soon as Bayan Mohammad, a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, arrived here last winter, she began her transformation. In her first hour of ice-skating, she managed to glide on her own. She made fast friends with girls different from any she had ever known. New to competitive sports, she propelled herself down the school track so fast that she was soon collecting ribbons.

Bayan glued herself to the movie “Annie,” the ballet “Cinderella” and episodes of “Wheel of Fortune,” all stories of metamorphosis. As her English went from halting to chatty, she ticked off everything she hungered to do: An overnight school trip. Gymnastics lessons. Building a snowman — no, a snow-woman.

“I just want to be Canadian,” she said.
The volunteers resettling her family — a group of teachers, pediatricians and other friends and neighbors spurred by devastating images of young refugees and casualties of war — watched Bayan with wonder. Her parents, Abdullah and Eman Mohammad, a former grocery store owner and a nurse from a rural village, felt both pride and alarm.

Where the Wealthy and Poor Live in U.S.’s Major Cities

Linda Poon:

Across the metropolises of the United States, the middle class is shrinking. In 9 out of every 10 cities, the share of adults living in middle-income households has fallen.

It’s an ongoing phenomenon that’s a key factor in dividing the nation between the rich and poor. When you zoom into some of the most populous cities with some of the highest income gaps, as mapping-software company Esri did in a new interactive project, “Wealth Divides,” the geography of where the poor and rich live, and how their neighborhoods are divided, is even more staggering.

Using data from state and federal governments, the team mapped the median household income of each census tract in five cities: New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Census tracts in light blue have a median household income between $100,000 and $150,000, while those in darker blue represent more than $150,000. Those colored in orange represent median household incomes of less than $100,000. The darker the shade, the lower the income.

CityLab looked at three of the mapped cities, all ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. in terms of income inequality.

Facebook’s secret rules of deletion

Till Krause und Hannes Grassegger

Facebook refuses to disclose the criteria that deletions are based on. SZ-Magazin has gained access to some of these rules. We show you some excerpts here – and explain them.

Introductory words

These are excerpts of internal documents that explain to content moderators what they need to do. To protect our sources, we have made visual edits to maintain confidentiality. While the rules are constantly changing, these documents provide the first-ever insights into the current guidelines that Facebook applies to delete contents.

College Board faces rocky path after CEO pushes new vision for SAT

Renee Dudley

Finishing the redesign quickly was essential. If the overhaul were ready by March 2015, he wrote in a later email to senior employees, then the New York-based College Board could win new business and counter the most popular college entrance exam in America, the ACT.

Perhaps the biggest change was the new test’s focus on the Common Core, the controversial set of learning standards that Coleman himself helped create. The new SAT, he wrote, would “show a striking alignment” to the standards, which set expectations for what American students from kindergarten through high school should learn to prepare for college or a career. The standards have been fully adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia – and are changing how and what millions of children are taught.

What the world can learn from the latest PISA test results

The Economist:

But Estonia has also taken a deliberately inclusive approach, argues Mart Laidmets, a senior official at its ministry of education. It tries to avoid at all costs having pupils repeat years of school. Holding pupils back can help. But too often it is used as an excuse not to teach difficult kids. It may also reflect bias or discrimination. In countries such as Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, poor boys are especially prone to being kept back a year, despite decent academic achievements.

Estonia, like Finland and Canada, also tries to keep selection by ability to a minimum. It delays “tracking” children into academic or vocational routes until they are 15 or 16 years old. Mr Laidmets argues that it helps pupils find jobs later in life, since better maths and literacy make it easier for them to adapt to changes in the labour market and to earn new skills.

By contrast, where pupils are diverted from an academic track at an early age, whether towards a vocational school or a less rigorous class in the same school, the gap between rich and poor children tends to be wider. In the Netherlands pupils at vocational schools have results equivalent to about three years less of schooling than their peers at general schools. “The more academically selective you are the more socially selective you become”, says Andreas Schleicher, the head of education at the OECD.

All of which suggests what countries should not do. But are there any sure-fire tips from the best performers? Or is their success just down to pushy parents and tuition after school?

Culture matters but so, too, does policy, says Lucy Crehan, author of “Cleverlands”, a new book on PISA-besting countries. She points out that most of these states delay formal schooling until children are six or seven. Instead they use early-years education to prepare children for school through play-based learning and by focusing on social skills. Then they keep pupils in academic courses until the age of 16. Even Singapore, which does divert some pupils to a vocational track at the age of 13, ensures that pupils in those schools keep up high standards in reading and maths.

Top performers also focus their time and effort on what goes on in the classroom, rather than the structure of the school system. For while test scores and pupils’ economic background are linked across the OECD, so too are specific things that the best schools and teachers do (see chart 3).

What Does A High School Diploma Prove?

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas:

The question was straightforward: Is it possible for a student to make it all the way through his or her senior year, be given a high school diploma – and be illiterate?

Fran Rabinowitz testifies

Fran Rabinowitz, the leader of Connecticut’s largest school district, took a deep breath and then responded to the Superior Court judge’s question.

“Yes,” testified Rabinowitz, the superintendent of public schools in Bridgeport, which awards diplomas to about 1,000 students each year. “I would hope it doesn’t happen, but I can’t say with complete certainty that it hasn’t happened or doesn’t happen.”

Graduation rates in struggling school districts have been rising for years.

But among the 72 percent of Connecticut students in the Class of 2010 who went on to college, at least 22 percent had to take non-credit courses to learn reading, writing or math skills they should have acquired in high school. Among the 58 percent of Bridgeport’s Class of 2010 who went to college, at least half had to take a remedial course. It’s unclear whether things have improved along with the graduation rates since then, because the state has not made public updated data.

Wandering Towards a Goal How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?

fxqi:

The goals of the Foundational Questions Institute’s Essay Contest (the “Contest”) are to:
Encourage and support rigorous, innovative, and influential thinking about foundational questions in physics and cosmology;

Identify and reward top thinkers in foundational questions; and,

Provide an arena for discussion and exchange of ideas regarding foundational questions.

For examples of previous FQXi contests, please see the list to the left.

BUILDING A PRISON-TO-SCHOOL PIPELINE Formerly incarcerated undergrads started a group on campus to offer mentoring, support, and advocacy to other onetime inmates.

Larissa MacFarquhar:

The first day of his first semester at the University of California, Berkeley, Danny Murillo walked into the Cesar Chavez building and saw a white man with tattoos on his arms. Something about the man felt familiar. He could tell from the tattoos that the man was, like him, from Los Angeles, and he was around his own age, mid-thirties, but it was something else that he recognized. He went up to the man and said, “Damn, I feel old around all these youngsters.” The man said, “Yeah, me, too.” Murillo said, “I haven’t been in school for a long time.” The man said, “Yeah, me, too.” Murillo said, “I was on vacation.” The man said, “Yeah, me, too.” Murillo said, “I was in the Pelican Bay shu.” The man said, “Yeah, me, too.”

The Pelican Bay shu—Security Housing Unit—is where California sends some of its most recalcitrant inmates. Both Murillo and the white man, Steven Czifra, had spent much of their lives in prison, including many years in solitary confinement, but by the time they met they were pretty sure they were never going back. Neither had finished high school—Czifra got sent to juvenile hall at twelve—but now they were undergraduates at U.C. Berkeley. They knew that although most people who had lived lives like theirs were still in prison, many were capable—given the right advice, incentives, and money—of making it to college and leaving prison forever. They started talking, and during the next few months they formed a plan to get those people out.

Psychiatrists Must Face Possibility That Medications Hurt More Than They Help

Scientific American Blog

Reporter Sarah G. Miller notes in “1 in 6 Americans Takes a Psychiatric Drug” that prescriptions for mental illness keep surging. As of 2013, almost 17 percent of Americans were taking at least one psychiatric drug, up from 10 percent in 2011, according to a new study. Miller elaborates:

“Antidepressants were the most common type of psychiatric drug in the survey, with 12 percent of adults reporting that they filled prescriptions for these drugs… In addition, 8.3 percent of adults were prescribed drugs from a group that included sedatives, hypnotics and anti-anxiety drugs, and 1.6 percent of adults were given antipsychotics.”

Higher Education & The American Dream

Ainsley O’Connell:

The engine that used to drive the American Dream is in danger of grinding to a halt. Nine out of 10 children born in 1940 went on to earn more than their parents, according to research published last week. But just half of children born in 1980, who are now in their mid-30s, can say the same today.

“The idea that you’re going to do better than your parents defines the American Dream,” says Howard Wolfson, a former political strategist who now oversees education initiatives for Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by billionaire Mike Bloomberg. “For a lot of people, that’s not happening.”

A refreshing look in the mirror for MPS

Who likes talking about what you’re doing wrong? Pretty much nobody, and that has certainly applied to educators and education institutions for many years, both locally and nationally. Everyone has opinions on what should be changed; few are willing to look in the mirror.

But schools are one of the best examples of places where candidness and self-reflection about what’s not working are assets, provided they are paired with willingness to change and improve.

I offer here a national example that smells to me of unwillingness to focus on how to make progress and a local example that offers a hopeful step toward frank discussion and significant change.

In the last couple of decades, several international tests have measured how students in a few dozen nations are doing in reading, math, science and occasionally in other areas. The most prominent of them is known as PISA and is run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris.

Rocket AI: 2016’s Most Notorious AI Launch and the Problem with AI Hype

Riva-Melissa Tez

It’s 3 AM on a warm Thursday night in December, a usually quiet street in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is bustling with activity, as a cohort of 200 artificial intelligence researchers leave in single-file out of a sprawling yellow mansion. The police count heads as the researchers film the procession on their phones and tweet #rocketai.

The guest list looked like the results of a search for most popular AI authors on arXiv. Every major corporate and academic AI lab was in attendance — Google DeepMind, Open AI, Facebook AI Research, Google Brain, Stanford University, MIT, U of Montreal, as well as a multitude of other AI start-ups and investors from around the world — all in town for the 30th annual NIPS conference.

NIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems) has become the academic and industry AI conference, growing near-exponentially over the past decade as corporate sponsors fight to keep the loyalty of their engineers and aggressively recruit others. Corporates plan months in advance to parade their capital expenditure and technical talent. Tickets for the main conference, despite nearly doubling in quantity since last year, sold out more than 6 weeks before the event.

Institute for Advanced Study: The First 100 Years

Georg Dyson:

In 1916, social theorist Thorstein Veblen called for the post-war institution of “academic houses of refuge… where teachers and students of all nationalities, including Americans with the rest, may pursue their chosen work.” In 1923, Oswald Veblen contacted Simon Flexner, who suggested “you might speak with my brother, Mr. Abraham Flexner,” thus bringing in Louis Bamberger and Carrie Fuld, whose fortunes had been launched selling distressed merchandise out of a Newark storefront in 1892. In this public lecture, George Dyson, Director’s Visitor (2002–03), explores how as a flood of distressed intellectuals began fleeing Europe, the Veblens, the Flexners, and the Bambergers opened a department store for the freedom of ideas.

15 Racist Classroom Presentations That Will Make You Never Want to Send Your Kids to College

Antonia Okafor:

Last week, BuzzFeed came out with an article titled “19 School PowerPoint Presentations that Give Zero F***s.” The list was essentially a tribute to Millennials “bold” enough to call out racism with more racism. Apparently, if you are white and living in America, then your privilege must be checked by these woke college kids.

According to the article, here are the unforgivable crimes committed by “white people” being taught at your local community college campus:

The Man Who Reduced Homelessness In Utah By 91%

Christina Farr:

Lloyd Pendleton grew up on a ranch in rural Utah, an upbringing that taught him values like rugged individualism and self-reliance. When Pendleton saw a homeless person on the street during visits to Salt Lake City, he recalled wondering why they didn’t just get a job.

This kind of thinking is so prevalent in the United States, a country with more than 500,000 homeless people, a quarter of them children, that it was once named the most pervasive myth about homelessness. Pendleton’s thinking didn’t budge until later in life.

After a stint at Ford Motors, he got a job with the Mormon church, where he was offered the opportunity to help out with the state’s largest center for homelessness. He eventually became the director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force. “I became aware of this new approach called the ‘harm reduction model,'” Pendleton told the audience at TEDMED in Palm Springs, CA, last week. “They were passing out clean needles and condoms, which I initially thought was a stupid idea.”

New Diversity Initiatives Hurt the University of Wisconsin’s Campus Climate

W Lee Hansen:

At the school where I taught for almost 35 years, the University of Wisconsin—Madison, campus leaders continue their rush to respond to the BlackOut demands put forth by black student leaders last spring. As at many other universities in recent years, the administration has chosen to placate student radicals in ways that balkanize the campus and interfere with its educational mission.

The latest example is the creation of a center for black students in the university’s centrally located, historic Red Gym. According to the Dean of Students, Lori Berquam, “its goal is to provide black students in particular with a place to study, collaborate, and get support from staff members in the Multicultural Student Center, another office in the Red Gym.” She added that students of all races will be welcome in the center.

How A Rust Belt Native and Silicon Valley Technologist Is Re-Thinking American Manufacturing –

Kim-Mai Cutler:

Q: So what can be done from a policy perspective to support this type of labor?

This breaks down to a number of problems.
You need to find highly-skilled labor. The highly-skilled operators and CAM programmers? There’s not enough of them that are being created. Companies in the U.S. are shortsighted. They should just pay people to go to school. You have to remember that most of these people don’t have a lot of money. There’s a disconnect. In Germany, there are government subsidies for vocational training. We should have tax credits for this. If you train people a certain amount for a certification, you would get it back in tax credits if people leave. Companies can’t do it on their own though. The margins at a company like Flextronics are like 6 percent gross. So they are trying to squeeze every little penny out of it. In the long run, this is a big risk to them.

San Antonio became a national leader in mental health care by working together as a community.

The story was reported by Scott Helman, Maria Cramer, Jenna Russell, Michael Rezendes, and Todd Wallack of the Globe Spotlight Team. It was written by Helman.

“It always feels like it’s forever to get there on a call like this,” Williams says from the driver’s seat.

EMTs are inside the modern brick house when Williams and Sabo pull up. Williams finds the boyfriend. Sabo heads for the bedroom.

A woman in a blue tank top and white athletic socks sits on a black folding chair. Minutes earlier she’d stood on that chair and put her neck through a slipknot hung from the ceiling rafters. The rope now lies at the foot of her unmade bed.

“I’m good,” she says to Sabo, her speech slurred. Her boyfriend overreacted to a Halloween joke, she says.

Sabo doesn’t buy it. He pries further, his gentle tone more social worker than cop. He learns that she struggles with alcohol, had attempted suicide before, and takes psychiatric medication. He’s leaning in close now, almost whispering.

What Do Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools?

Samuel Barrows, Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West:

Over the past 25 years, charter schools have offered an increasing number of families an alternative to their local district schools. The charter option has proven particularly popular in large cities, but charter-school growth is often constrained by state laws that limit the number of students the sector can serve. In the 2016 election, for example, voters in Massachusetts rejected a ballot question that would have allowed further expansion of charters in communities that had reached the state’s enrollment ceiling.

Government surveillance, whistleblowing, and security engineering

diracdeltas

[Update (12/14/16): Reuters has specified that the rootkit was implemented as a Linux kernel module. Wow.]

Yesterday morning, Reuters dropped a news story revealing that Yahoo installed a backdoor on their own infrastructure in 2015 in compliance with a secret order from either the FBI or the NSA. While we all know that the US government routinely asks tech companies for surveillance help, a couple aspects of the Yahoo story stand out: