New on Parents’ To-Do List: Checking Children’s Credit History

Yuka Hayashi:

Parents have a new item to add to their financial to-do list: check their child’s credit history.

A new federal law going into effect in September will make it easier for families to combat the growing problem of identity fraud of minors, allowing them to make inquiries about credit files in their child’s name and freeze a file at no cost.

Data-security experts say children are increasingly targeted by thieves who steal their Social Security numbers to create fake or “synthetic” identities, then open credit cards, take out loans or apply for public assistance. One credit-reporting company, Experian , EXPGY +1.20% estimates such identity theft will affect one in four children before they become an adult.

The ability to check children’s credit reports is part of a broader banking law that also allowed unlimited, free credit freezes for adults, a response to a massive data breach at Equifax Inc. EFX +0.98% last September.

Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History: The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.

Louis Menand:

In February, 1989, Francis Fukuyama gave a talk on international relations at the University of Chicago. Fukuyama was thirty-six years old, and on his way from a job at the RAND Corporation, in Santa Monica, where he had worked as an expert on Soviet foreign policy, to a post as the deputy director of policy planning at the State Department, in Washington.

It was a good moment for talking about international relations, and a good moment for Soviet experts especially, because, two months earlier, on December 7, 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev had announced, in a speech at the United Nations, that the Soviet Union would no longer intervene in the affairs of its Eastern European satellite states. Those nations could now become democratic. It was the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

At RAND, Fukuyama had produced focussed analyses of Soviet policy. In Chicago, he permitted himself to think big. His talk came to the attention of Owen Harries, an editor at a Washington journal called The National Interest, and Harries offered to publish it. The article was titled “The End of History?” It came out in the summer of 1989, and it turned the foreign-policy world on its ear.

When Digital Platforms Become Censors

Glenn Reynolds:

Call 2018 the “Year of Deplatforming.” The internet was once celebrated for allowing fresh new voices to escape the control of gatekeepers. But this year, the internet giants decided to slam the gates on a number of people and ideas they don’t like. If you rely on someone else’s platform to express unpopular ideas, especially ideas on the right, you’re now at risk. This raises troubling questions, not only for free speech but for the future of American politics and media.

The most famous victim of deplatforming is, not coincidentally, the least popular: Alex Jones, the radio host known for promoting outrageous conspiracy theories about everything from vaccinations to the Sandy Hook massacre. In a concerted action earlier this month aimed at loosely defined “hate speech,” Facebook , Apple , Spotify and YouTube removed from their services most of the material by Mr. Jones and his InfoWars network. Twitter recently followed suit with a seven-day suspension.

Apple cited its “terms of use” in removing InfoWars from its iTunes podcast listings but couldn’t explain why it didn’t remove the InfoWars app, which shares the same content, from its App Store. YouTube made general reference to its “terms of service and community guidelines,” but didn’t say what Mr. Jones had done wrong. Facebook’s reasons were similarly vague.

Their evasiveness isn’t hard to explain. After all, Mr. Jones isn’t doing anything different from what he has been doing for years. The real reason for his removal is that technology companies don’t like his views and have come under increasing pressure to deny him the use of their platforms.

Nor is it just Alex Jones who’s been subjected to digital unpersoning lately. The Austin-based “crypto-anarchist” Cody Wilson creates and distributes designs for guns that can be produced using 3-D printers. Shopify recently shut down the online storefront of Mr. Wilson’s company, Defense Distributed.

Those Who Can Do, Can’t Teach

Adam Grant:

If you want to be great at something, learn from the best. What could be better than studying physics under Albert Einstein?

A lot, it turns out. Three years after publishing his first landmark paper on relativity, Einstein taught his debut course at the University of Bern. He wasn’t able to attract much interest in the esoteric subject of thermodynamics: Just three students signed up, and they were all friends of his. The next semester he had to cancel the class after only one student enrolled. A few years later, when Einstein pursued a position at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the president raised concerns about his lackluster teaching skills. Einstein eventually got the job after a friend vouched for him, but the friend admitted, “He is not a fine talker.” As his biographer Walter Isaacson summarized, “Einstein was never an inspired teacher, and his lectures tended to be regarded as disorganized.”

Although it’s often said that those who can’t do teach, the reality is that the best doers are often the worst teachers.

Two decades ago, I arrived at Harvard as an undergraduate excited to soak up the brilliance of professors who had won Nobels and Pulitzers. But by the end of the first month of my freshman year, it was clear that these world-class experts were my worst teachers. My distinguished art history professor raved about Michelangelo’s pietra serena molding but didn’t articulate why it was significant. My renowned astrophysics professor taught us how the universe seemed to be expanding, but never bothered to explain what it was expanding into (still waiting for someone to demystify that one).

Swift Gene-Editing Method May Revolutionize Treatments for Cancer and Infectious Diseases

Gina Kolata:

For the first time, scientists have found a way to efficiently and precisely remove genes from white blood cells of the immune system and to insert beneficial replacements, all in far less time than it normally takes to edit genes.

If the technique can be replicated in other labs, experts said, it may open up profound new possibilities for treating an array of diseases, including cancer, infections like H.I.V. and autoimmune conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The new work, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, “is a major advance,” said Dr. John Wherry, director of the Institute of Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study.

But because the technique is so new, no patients have yet been treated with white blood cells engineered with it.

France Takes On Cellphone Addiction With a Ban in Schools

Sam Schechner:

Solal Paroux’s friends all have smartphones, and the 12-year-old Parisian has been needling his parents to get him one too. But his parents are resisting.

And now they have the law on their side.

When school starts up in September, a new French law will ban students ranging roughly from ages 3 to 15 from using smartphones anywhere on school grounds, with only narrow exceptions.

The law is one of the most sweeping attempts yet to address growing concerns among parents and educators that a generation of children is growing up addicted to the mobile devices in their pockets.

“Children don’t have the maturity” for smartphones, said Valérie Paroux, Solal’s mother. “Some adults don’t either.”

Spending more money on schools doesn’t help students learn

Will Flanders:

The results were staggering, even after accounting for other demographic and socioeconomic factors that can impact student performance.

All three types of spending were related to either negative proficiency or null proficiency gains for students. None of the types of spending examined were found to correlate with better student outcomes. Of the three, perhaps the least surprising is that more spending on non-teaching staff leads to worse student outcomes. The growth of the education bureaucracy has received increased attention in recent years, with school districts putting more and more money into positions that do not directly touch the classroom. Our research here shows that this is counterproductive if the goal is to improve student performance.

More surprising is that teacher pay and overall spending are negatively related to student outcomes. Wisconsin is a state that ranks relatively high in funding equity across school districts, and more funds are directed toward school districts with more difficult populations. The same can be said for teacher pay, which is often higher in school districts with proportionally more challenging students. So while we wouldn’t claim that additional dollars actually hurt student achievement, we would say that they certainly don’t seem to help. This finding is consistent with much of the research on school finance, which tends to show null or very small positive effects on performance. School funding has increased immensely since the 1970s, and we appear to have crossed the threshold of diminishing returns, whereby additional spending does not lead to commensurate increases in student performance.

The main point is that throwing more money at any of the areas examined here in public schools is not likely to have a positive impact on student outcomes. So how can the public be convinced that more money is not the answer? A recent poll where we asked respondents if they knew how much was spent per student in Wisconsin schools may help to illuminate the problem. The vast majority, more than 80 percent, of respondents underestimated spending. But when these respondents were then told the true amount of spending per student, they became much more likely to say we are already spending enough. More spending always sounds good prima facie, but providing people with the tangible numbers of what we already spend appears to sober them up.

“The Becks, possibly out of exasperation with the Ivy League boys the museum kept sending them as field assistants”

Jonathan Meiburg:

The hall was the brainchild of Frank Chapman, the visionary chairman of the museum’s Department of Ornithology, and Leonard C. Sanford, a deep-pocketed New Haven surgeon with an ornithology habit. Chapman arrived at the museum as a volunteer in 1887 and didn’t retire until 1942, at age 78. He more or less acquired Sanford along the way: in 1912, Chapman convinced him to store his personal collection of bird skins at the museum and installed him in an office next to Chapman’s as an unofficial member of the staff.

It was a shrewd, if unconventional, move. Sanford was well-connected, ambitious, persuasive, and competitive, especially with his friends at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Robert Cushman Murphy, who came to the museum as a young man in 1912 and later chaired the department after Chapman retired, noted that Sanford “particularly enjoyed possessing things which the other fellow did not have, and partly because the other fellow did not have them.”

Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media

Sirin Kale:

For 17-year-old Mary Amanuel, from London, it happened in Tesco. “We were in year 7,” she remembers, “and my friend had made an Instagram account. As we were buying stuff, she was counting the amounts of likes she’d got on a post. ‘Oooh, 40 likes. 42 likes.’ I just thought: ‘This is ridiculous.’”

Isabelle, an 18-year-old student from Bedfordshire who doesn’t want to disclose her surname, turned against social media when her classmates became zombified. “Everyone switched off from conversation. It became: ‘Can I have your number to text you?’ Something got lost in terms of speaking face to face. And I thought: ‘I don’t really want to be swept up in that.’” For 15-year-old Emily Sharp, from Staines in Surrey, watching bullying online was the final straw. “It wasn’t nice. That deterred me from using it.”

It is widely believed that young people are hopelessly devoted to social media. Teenagers, according to this stereotype, tweet, gram, Snap and scroll. But for every young person hunched over a screen, there are others for whom social media no longer holds such an allure. These teens are turning their backs on the technology – and there are more of them than you might think.

Is There Any Such Thing as an Illegal Teacher Strike?

Mike Antonucci:

Teachers from seven school districts in Washington State are on strike, with Seattle on the brink. The news isn’t entirely grim, since Spokane did reach a tentative agreement.

Strikes by public employees are illegal in Washington, though it’s a particularly pointless law since violating it carries no penalties.

I’m opposed to virtually all anti-strike laws. Back when West Virginia teachers were striking illegally, I shared with you the one measure I use to judge when a strike should be illegal: If you have to call in the National Guard to replace them, then they should not be allowed to strike.

Asian-American Students Suing Harvard Over Affirmative Action Win Justice Dept. Support

Katie Benner:

The Justice Department lent its support on Thursday to students who are suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies that they claim discriminate against Asian-American applicants, in a case that could have far-reaching consequences for the use of affirmative action in college admissions.

In a so-called statement of interest, the department supported the claims of the plaintiffs, a group of Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard. They contend that Harvard has systematically discriminated against them by artificially capping the number of qualified Asian-Americans from attending the school in order to advance less qualified students of other races.

“Harvard has failed to carry its demanding burden to show that its use of race does not inflict unlawful racial discrimination on Asian-Americans,” the Justice Department said in its filing.

The filing said that Harvard “uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Milwaukee County retirees could lose cost-of-living increases as unfunded pension liability grows

Don Behm:

A Milwaukee County pension reform task force has recommended the possible elimination of 2% annual cost-of-living increases now added to thousands of retirees’ pension payments at a cost of up to $20 million a year.

The proposal comes as the county’s unfunded liability for the pension commitments it already has made to retirees and current employees has swelled to at least $550 million this year, officials said.

In response, the county’s annual pension contribution — a total of the year’s general pension system operating costs and an amount for the unfunded liability — has steadily increased in recent years from $27.4 million in 2012 to $72.6 million this year, budget documents show.

The portion of the payment designated for the unfunded liability alone has grown from $10.23 million in 2012 to $53.23 million in 2018.

Milwaukee County Pension Scandal Primer.

China Signals End to Child Birth Limits by 2020 at Latest


China’s parliament struck “family planning” policies from the latest draft of a sweeping civil code slated for adoption in 2020, the clearest signal yet that the leadership is moving to end limits on the number of children families can have.

A new draft of the Civil Code submitted Monday to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress removed all “family planning-related content,” according a report published Tuesday in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper. That would suggest that the decades-old birth restrictions wouldn’t be enforced after the law goes into effect, since the code is intended to govern all aspects of private life from contracts to company registrations to marriages.

Related: Choose life.

Race-Based School Criteria Roils Asian-Americans–Again

Janie Har:

Time and again, Chinese-American students consistently delivered top academic scores, only to be denied admission to their dream school. Parents bemoaned what they saw as an unfair racial advantage given to black and Latino children while their own children were overlooked.

“Every year hundreds of Chinese-American parents would be in anguish,” said Lee Cheng, a 46-year-old intellectual property attorney, who sought to end the practice. “I remember the disappointment in some of my friends who were the kids of immigrants, of very, very poor people who worked in Chinatown.”

This may sound like the fights going on today over testing in elite public schools in New York City or lawsuits against prestigious universities such as Harvard over affirmative action.

But the scenario played out more than three decades ago on the other side of the country over a public high school, demonstrating the enduring nature of a controversy in which Asian-Americans have played a key role despite some feeling shut out of the broader conversation.

Welcome Students, Let’s Talk About Confederate Statues

Cameron McWhirter and Melissa Korn:

Shadé Shepard recently attended an orientation session addressing the slave-owner connections of her new college, Sewanee.

Also known as the University of the South, the liberal-arts school in the Tennessee mountains was conceived by slave owners who didn’t want their sons going North for an education, and many ex-Confederates taught there after the Civil War.

“I appreciated them being blunt about it,” said Ms. Shepard, an 18-year-old African-American first-year student from Washington, D.C. Life on the predominantly white campus “will definitely take some adjusting,” she said, though so far, people have been welcoming.

The toppling of a Confederate statue by protesters on Monday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the latest skirmish in an intense debate over the future of such monuments and imagery on southern campuses. Institutions from Virginia to Mississippi are trying to come to terms with statues, markers and building names linked to their Confederate past, without alienating alumni and donors.

The bridge of desperation

Katy Watson:

Laura is getting paid 30,000 pesos ($10) for her hair. It’ll be sold on to make extensions or wigs.

“It’s the first time I’ve done it,” she says with a mixture of nervousness and embarrassment. She’s come for the day from the town of Rubio, about an hour from the border.

Laura is selling her hair because her eldest daughter, eight-year-old Andrea, has diabetes and the family needs to raise money to pay for her insulin which she takes three times a day. The family has run out of supplies and it’s been three days since little Andrea last had her shots. Jhon’s salary as a saddler doesn’t always stretch to pay for his daughter’s drugs.

“There’s no medicine, it’s hard,” says Laura. “People are dying in Venezuela because they can’t get the medicines they need.”

After five minutes of cutting, the family heads off to find a pharmacy. At first glance you can’t tell Laura’s had most of her hair removed. The hair-cutter has left a thin layer of long hair on top to hide the truth. Laura admits she feels a bit sad.

“It will pay for something at least,” she says. Her husband Jhon says they’re looking for a “pirate” pharmacy – an informal stall that sells drugs in plastic cabinets on the street. Insulin pens will be cheaper there than in a walk-in drug store.

Socialism and Venezuela.

Milwaukee’s Public School Barricade

Wall Street Journal:

We wrote in 2015 about how MPS blocked charter and private school purchases of empty school buildings, which prevented high-performing schools like St. Marcus Lutheran from expanding. The state legislature then passed a law ordering the city and school district to sell vacant public school buildings.

Well, what do you know, the district still hasn’t sold a single vacant building to other schools despite 13 letters of interest from private and charter operators for 11 vacant buildings, according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Following protests from the teachers’ union, a local zoning board denied a bid by Right Step, a private school for children expelled from Milwaukee public schools. The city hasn’t even classified many unused buildings as “vacant.”

Milwaukee’s recalcitrance is denying thousands of students a better education—St. Marcus Lutheran alone has 264 students on its wait list—while draining tax dollars. Annual utility bills for vacant buildings cost $1 million, and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty calculates that the district could recover $5 million from selling its unoccupied real estate.

Related: a conversation with Henry Tyson.

Pro-Democracy Party Slams Communist Party ‘Brainwashing’ in Hong Kong Textbooks

Radio Free Asia:

A pro-democracy party in Hong Kong has hit out at newly published school textbooks backed by the Chinese government as “biased,” and aimed at “brainwashing” students.

The books and teaching materials published by Educational Publishing, which is wholly controlled by Beijing’s Central Liaison Office in the city, contain a biased account of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, according to activists who led the movement.

The account of the 79-day civil disobedience movement for fully democratic elections offers only quotes from four opponents and relegates movement co-founder and Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai to the status of “supporter.”

The group said that even textbooks not published by the company had begun using terminology that is approved by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to describe the histories of Hong Kong and China.

According to Demosisto committee member Isaac Cheng, a history textbook published by Marshall Cavendish describes Hong Kong as being “occupied” during British colonial rule.

He said the 1919 student-led May 4th movement protesting against the Chinese government’s weak response to the Treaty of Versailles that handed territory in the eastern province of Shandong to Japan had been misrepresented.

“For example, there is a sentence added in at the end which describes the May 4th movement as a patriotic movement close to Chinese people’s hearts, but makes no mention of the emphasis in the May 4th movement on fighting for democracy and westernization,” Cheng told RFA.

Common STDs Hit New U.S. Record

Joseph Williams:

IN A DISTURBING national trend, the number of three common sexually transmitted diseases hit a record high last year, with nearly 2.3 million cases reported in the U.S. – eclipsing the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Comparing data from 2013 with 2017’s preliminary data showed “steep, sustained increases” in reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, the CDC said, also warning that gonorrhea is showing signs of becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

“We are sliding backward,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement. “It is evident the systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.”

Civics: Using supervised machine learning to quantify political rhetoric

Adam Hughes:

Using the 11,000 posts coded by Mechanical Turk workers, we split the data into five equally sized portions and trained the model five separate times, each time omitting a different 20% of the data so we could check how well the model did. Not only did this process help determine whether the models worked, but it also helped us determine prediction thresholds that provided us with the greatest balance between precision and recall. The full results of the cross validation process are shown here. Finally, in addition to cross-validation, we also compared our model’s predictions for the 1,100 posts that Center researchers labeled themselves, to make sure that our models agreed not only with the Mechanical Turk workers, but our own judgments as well.

Once we had our predictions, we decided to step back from the individual posts and take a look at the overall rates at which congressional Facebook posts took sides or went local. To do so, we computed the overall weighted proportions of posts that contained each of our topics, based on the machine learning models as well as the Mechanical Turk coders and in-house researchers, and compared the three different overall estimates. Happily, they all seemed to match closely.

Finally, we used these data to look at patterns in which members of Congress took sides, who went local and how the Facebook audience reacted to different kinds of posts. But our research doesn’t have to be the last word on this. We think other researchers and scholars interested in Congress might have their own ideas about how to use these data, so we’re publishing a dataset that contains our estimates of the rate at which individual members of Congress expressed opposition, expressed support or discussed local topics on Facebook. The dataset covers the full 114th Congress and the first year of the 115th Congress and is available here. (You’ll just need to create an account first.)

Please cite the dataset as: van Kessel, Patrick, Adam G. Hughes, and Solomon Messing. 2018. “Taking Sides on Facebook: How Congressional Outreach Changed Under President Trump.” Dataset: Pew Research Center.

Sex, Steroids, And Arnold: The Story Of The Gym That Shaped America

David Davis:

When did the modern-day fitness movement really begin in the U.S.?

Maybe our infatuation with getting in shape can be traced to when President-elect John F. Kennedy published an article in Sports Illustrated titled “The Soft American,” urging “the United States to move forward with a national program to improve the fitness of all Americans.” Or perhaps in 1982, when Jane Fonda donned Spandex and leggings and released the first of her best-selling workout videos. Cynics might cite the first time athletes gobbled down blue Dianabol pills, the first “mainstream” steroid, back in the 1950s.

Another candidate: That day in 1965 when Joe Gold, a crusty Merchant Marine from East Los Angeles, opened a workout space for hardcore weightlifters and bodybuilders on a desolate street in Venice Beach.

The original Gold’s Gym was a squat sweatbox that Joe and a few of his pals built from cinder blocks. Gold himself crafted the equipment that he and his fellow “Muscleheads” used to shape their flesh into cathedrals of strength. The gym spawned Pumping Iron, one of the most popular and critically acclaimed documentaries in modern times; redefined the masculine look in everything from commercials to modeling to movies; helped establish Southern California as the nation’s fitness capital; and shaped the ascent of one Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Why you should consider applying for grad school right now

Robert Wiblin:

pplication deadlines for US PhD programs are coming up over the next month (as of Nov 2017). We think many of our readers who are considering grad school at some point in the next few years should apply this year.

We’re writing this informal list of pros and cons now because a number of people we’ve recently given career coaching to have been much more reluctant to apply for grad school than we think is justified.

Why should they take the option seriously?

New Teaching Notes from Our World in Data

Esteban Ortiz-Ospina:

Over the last years we heard from many teachers and lecturers who use our work in their teaching, and in our recent survey we learned (here) more about what you need from us for teaching.

Responding to your request I am currently developing new resources to support those who use Our World in Data in teaching and learning about global development. As part of this effort, I have put together a brand new set of teaching notes for five of our most popular topics.

These new teaching notes provide a narrative around key interactive data visualizations so that we hope you can directly use these slides for your classes.

Here is the list of the slide decks we have produced so far. These are like lecture slides: Just click on the topic you are interested in and move through the slides with the arrow keys on your keyboard.

China economy FAQ


Almost every day now, if you check Twitter, some founder or VC or journalist will have made the trip out to Shenzhen only to come back saying “CHINA IS SO AHEAD !!11!!1”. It’s hard to judge the veracity of these statements, since China and it’s economy seem so opaque to most people living in the West. People don’t even know where to start reading about it.

After a month or so of reading books and talking to people, here’s my “getting started” guide to learning about China. My aim with this blog post is to share general pointers that guide you where to look.

History and Background
For a broad description of the main differences between ‘Western’ societies and others, try reading about WEIRD psychology, the World Values Survey or the social impact of Christianity during the middle ages. The last book is good, because it explains the development of the concept of ‘human rights’.

China was a relatively isolated society until the 19th century, that saw itself almost as a world unto itself. The system of the Chinese emperor and mandarins had been in power for thousands of years. For the pragmatic mindset and cyclical view of history that evolved in this period, try The Art of War.

For a first encounter with the British “barbarians” — missionaries, diplomats and opium traders — in the 19th century, which eventually led to the fall of the Qing dynasty, try Imperial Twilight.

The New Reading Environment  Each this is not to say or in other words a dull sword wielded against willful misunderstanding

n plus one:

HAVE EDITORS EVER KNOWN SO MUCH about their readers? And known, in particular, how little and how badly they read? Today even the Weekly Standard and Democracy: A Journal of Ideas announce up front how long it takes to get through one of their online articles, like a warning, or a dare to cull the weak. Newspaper and magazine editors track page views, unique page views, time on-site, and, for the publishers willing to pay thousands a year, scroll depth — the exact point at which readers give up. Twitter, meanwhile, is a scrolling record of bad reading habits. Retweets of pieces one hasn’t finished; parts of pieces one wants to read but isn’t ready to endorse; fragments that cause one to click away in disgust. A reader argues with a stranger about whether they’ve actually read the piece, only to discover that the stranger is the author. The author, a reader herself, knows all about bad reading habits.
The intimacy between online writers and readers determines how we read and write. As late as the 1990s, despite the lurid fan pages and dank chat rooms of the early internet, there was presumed to be a gulf between these two constituencies. Even with Fox News ascendant and internet news ever more dominant, mass media institutions remained monolithic enough to manufacture consent. The first decade of the 21st century was a transitional one in terms of reader-writer relations, its habits now as foreign as those of Edward R. Murrow’s America. Gone are the happy days when we dialed up to submit a comment to, only to be abused by Glenn Greenwald or destroyed — respectfully — by the academics at Crooked Timber. Back then, we could not have imagined feeling nostalgic for the blogosphere, a term we mocked for years until we found it charming and utopian. Blogs felt like gatherings of the like-minded, or at least the not completely random. Even those who stridently disagreed shared some basic premises and context — why else would they be spending time in the comments section of a blog that looked like 1996? Today’s internet, by contrast, is arbitrary and charmless. On social media, criticism once confined to the comments now comes as free-range abuse directed at other readers. Readers can address all parties instantaneously — writers, editors, publishers, and the world. And so writers who publish online peer into the fishbowl of readerly reception. Drop in some flakes and watch the fish swarm.

The inescapable weight of my $100,000 student debt

MH Miller:

On Halloween in 2008, about six weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, my mother called me from Michigan to tell me that my father had lost his job in the sales department of Visteon, an auto parts supplier for Ford. Two months later, my mother lost her job working for the city of Troy, a suburb about half an hour from Detroit. From there our lives seemed to accelerate, the terrible events compounding fast enough to elude immediate understanding. By June, my parents, unable to find any work in the state where they spent their entire lives, moved to New York, where my sister and I were both in school. A month later, the mortgage on my childhood home went into default.

After several months of unemployment, my mother got a job in New York City, fundraising for a children’s choir. In the summer of 2010, I completed my studies at New York University, where I received a BA and an MA in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt, for which my father was a guarantor. My father was still unemployed and my mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She continued working, though her employer was clearly perturbed that she would have to take off every Friday for chemotherapy. To compensate for the lost time, on Mondays she rode early buses into the city from the Bronx, where, after months of harrowing uncertainty, my parents had settled. She wanted to be in the office first thing.

23andMe will no longer let app developers read your DNA data

Christina Farr:

23andMe, which provides DNA testing kits for consumers, is telling outside app developers that they’ll no longer have access to the company’s raw genomic data.

Developers of health apps, weight loss services and quantified self tests have been able to use 23andMe’s anonymized data sets since 2012, when the company announced the opening of its application programming interface (API). The idea was to “allow authorized developers to build a broad range of new applications and tools for the 23andMe community,” the company said at the time.

But on Thursday, 23andMe sent an email to developers, informing them that the API was being disabled in two weeks and that apps will only be able to use reports generated by the company and not the hard data.

“We’re updating our API program to focus on apps that build on the interpretations and results we provide to our customers,” 23andMe said in the email, which was viewed by CNBC.

Google Search Result bias commentary

Eric Weinstein:

This denial is ominous.

Google regularly biases search in countless political ways (Anti-gun, anti-extremist, pro-multiculturalism, etc…) according to many experiments I‘ve run and does so in a fashion that is so transparently obvious as to be comical.

Many edication organizations use Google services.

Mainland Chinese university bars two Hong Kong human rights lawyers from teaching regular course there

Alvin Lum:

A source said the two barristers Peking University objected to were human rights lawyer Hectar Pun and Cheung Yiu-leung, vice-chairman of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group. They were not allowed to teach the common law course and asked to be replaced, despite having done so for several years. Both have not replied to Post requests for comment.

But a few other members from the group who had also taught on the month-long programme, which ran annually at the university from 2011, were not blacklisted. The course still went ahead this year.

Dykes revealed he was not allowed to attend the closing ceremony of the course in Beijing in June, which he had intended to join to “get to the bottom of the refusal” of the two members continuing their lectures.

Researchers replicate just 13 of 21 social science experiments published in top journals

Joel Achenbach:

The “reproducibility crisis” in science is erupting again. A research project attempted to replicate 21 social science experiments published between 2010 and 2015 in the prestigious journals Science and Nature. Only 13 replication attempts succeeded. The other eight were duds, with no observed effects consistent with the original findings.

The failures do not necessarily mean the original results were erroneous, as the authors of this latest replication effort note. There could have been gremlins of some type in the second try. But the authors also noted that even in the replications that succeeded, the observed effect was on average only about 75 percent as large as the first time around.

The researchers conclude that there is a systematic bias in published findings, “partly due to false positives and partly due to the overestimated effect sizes of true positives.”

Summer Teen Employment

Bill McBride:

Here is a look at the change in teen employment over time.

The graph below shows the participation rate and employment-population ratio for those 16 to 19 years old.

The graph is Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA), to show the seasonal hiring of teenagers during the summer.

A few observations:

1) Although teen employment has recovered some since the great recession, overall teen employment has been trending down. This is probably because more people are staying in school (a long term positive for the economy).

What is the Real Value of $100 in Metropolitan Areas?

Alex Muresianu Erica York:

In May, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released new data covering differences in purchasing power in different metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas in 2016. In layman’s terms, the data compares how much $100 can buy in different regions of the country. This post focuses on comparing the purchasing power in different metropolitan areas around the country.

There are large differences in price level by region. In general, the regions where $100 buys the least are concentrated around large cities in the Northeast and California. Conversely, $100 stretches the most in the rural areas of the Midwest and the Southeast.

Student Debt Is Worse for Women

Julia Piper:

As an undergraduate at Christopher Newport University, Kelcie Chandler did not know that there was a significant difference in how much debt women and men hold after graduating from college. But she did notice that her female classmates were much more likely to talk about their debt than were the men she knew.

Women talked about “what kinds of jobs they were getting, and the pay for those jobs, and being concerned about whether or not they can pay rent, and pay for their groceries and their car payment, and also student loans.”

One question, she noticed, was on a lot of female students’ minds — “Am I going to be paying off these debts until I die?” Though the question may have been posed hyperbolically, it does reflect the daunting task students face upon graduation.

What High School Applications and Acceptance Offers Tell Us About Chicago’s System of Schools

Jason Weeby:

Before digging into the research on Chicago’s education system and talking to many of the city’s leaders for a current project at Bellwether, I categorized the district as largely traditional with a decent sized charter sector. What I learned was that Chicago has more school types and school choice than I realized, especially at the high school level. It turns out that while most of the headlines regarding the district have been about scandals and violence, a lot of people have been focused on making sure more kids go to better schools faster.

That fact was reinforced when I looked at a recent report from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research on the first round of applications and offers from Chicago’s brand new high school unified enrollment system. Neerav Kingsland provides a good take on the results. I just want to reiterate one point and add a few more observations.

The Incredible, Rage-Inducing Inside Story of America’s Student Debt Machine

Ryann Liebenthal:

When Leigh McIlvaine first learned that her student loan debt could be forgiven, she was thrilled. In 2008, at age 27, she’d earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota. She’d accrued just under $70,000 in debt, though she wasn’t too worried—that’s what it took to invest in her future. But graduating at the height of the recession, she found that the kind of decent-paying public-sector job she’d anticipated pursuing was suddenly closed off by budget and hiring freezes. She landed a gig at a nonprofit in Washington, DC, earning a $46,000 salary. Still, she was happy to live on that amount if it was the cost of doing the work she believed in.

At the time, she paid about $350 each month to stay in a decrepit house with several roommates, more than $100 for utilities, and $60 for her cellphone bill. On top of that, her loan bill averaged about $850 per month. “Rent was hard enough to come up with,” she recalled. Then one day while researching her options, she read about something called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) plan. At the time, Congress had just come up with a couple of options for borrowers with federal loans. They could get on an income-based repayment plan and have their student loans expunged after 25 years. Or, for borrowers working public service jobs—as social workers, nurses, nonprofit employees—there was another possibility: They could have their debt forgiven after making 10 years’ worth of on-time payments.

District Spending Is About to Get a Lot More Transparent. Are You Ready?

David A. DeSchryver & Noelle Ellerson Ng:

The federal government has never asked this of districts, and few superintendents have thought through the mechanics of the work at the school level. Hard questions are cascading across the country: What to do with shared school costs? What about centrally purchased items? Do existing charts of accounts adequately capture the information required by law? All of these are sticky questions that administrators must soon resolve.
In the short term, superintendents and principals will need to get on the same page about current district allocation policies and practices, why some schools appear to get more resources than others, and how this all aligns with the stated vision and mission of the district.

Consider, for example, a scenario where Elementary School A receives $250 more per pupil than Elementary School B down the road. Why is that happening? Perhaps School A serves more students with learning disabilities. If so, why is that the case? Perhaps High School C benefits from more state and local per-pupil revenue than a neighboring school because of an effort to better serve regional workforce technology campaigns. Is that a fair distribution of resources? If the allocations seem to contradict the district’s stated objectives, what will be done to adjust the investment strategy?

The earlier that district leaders begin to pay attention to these matters, the less disruptive the new reporting and transparency will be for school and district staff faced with new questions from the public.

“Click here to kill everybody”

Hannah Kuchler:

The early architects of the internet did not want it to kill anybody. In cyber security expert Bruce Schneier’s new book, David Clark, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recalls their philosophy: “It is not that we didn’t think about security. We knew that there were untrustworthy people out there, and we thought we could exclude them”.

Schneier describes how the internet, developed as a gated community, is now a battleground where these untrustworthy people cause great harm: harnessing computers to kill by crashing cars, disabling power plants and perhaps, soon enough, using bioprinters to cause epidemics.

The clumsily-named internet of things, which Schneier rechristens the barely more elegant Internet+, is growing fast: between 20bn to 75bn devices could be online by 2020, depending on the estimate. This mushrooming hands more power to hackers, while cyber defenders struggle to protect the internet.

The NSA Continues to Violate Americans’ Internet Privacy Rights

Patrick Toomey:

A federal court will be scrutinizing one of the National Security Agency’s worst spying programs on Monday. The case has the potential to restore crucial privacy protections for the millions of Americans who use the internet to communicate with family, friends, and others overseas.

The unconstitutional surveillance program at issue is called PRISM, under which the NSA, FBI, and CIA gather and search through Americans’ international emails, internet calls, and chats without obtaining a warrant. When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on PRISM in 2013, the program included at least nine major internet companies, including Facebook, Google, Apple, and Skype. Today, it very likely includes an even broader set of companies.

Network-Based Businesses Will Disrupt All Sectors of the Economy

Mike Maples:

Today, I am convinced that:

Software-defined networks will be the most valuable businesses, displacing traditional corporations as central actors.
Networks can bring exponential improvements in prosperity throughout the world.
Networks will encounter fierce resistance from traditional businesses, governments, and other parts of society that don’t want a different future.

Inside James Dyson’s all-or-nothing quest for an electric car

Stuart McGurk:

“No. In Singapore 40 per cent of all graduates are engineers. They encourage it. They don’t encourage it here.” So not because it’s cheaper? “In Singapore the average wage is double that in England and the land four times the price.” It is fair to say that neither of these things are true of Malaysia.

He has not yet, he says, made a call on where the Dyson car will be made. “But I’ll have to soon.”

Dyson does not believe that businesses should pay tax on profits. He believes it should be far easier to fire people.

Some Techies Are Shunning Silicon Valley for the Japanese Dream

Pavel Alpeyev:

Still, for businesses that do try to lure workers from overseas, the buzz around Japan helps.

Mercari Inc., operator of a hit online flea market in Japan, this spring was able to hire 33 new graduates from the Indian Institutes of Technology, a top-notch network of engineering schools whose students tend to have their pick of the world’s tech employers. Alumni include Silicon Valley celebrities like Google Chief Executive Office Sundar Pichai and Sun Microsystems’ co-founder Vinod Khosla.

Mercari, which went public in June, plans to expand its 100-plus engineering force by 1,000 in the next three years and needs foreigners to fill some of those roles.

Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound

Maryanne Wolf:

Look around on your next plane trip. The iPad is the new pacifier for babies and toddlers. Younger school-aged children read stories on smartphones; older boys don’t read at all, but hunch over video games. Parents and other passengers read on Kindles or skim a flotilla of email and news feeds. Unbeknownst to most of us, an invisible, game-changing transformation links everyone in this picture: the neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing – a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult.

As work in neurosciences indicates, the acquisition of literacy necessitated a new circuit in our species’ brain more than 6,000 years ago. That circuit evolved from a very simple mechanism for decoding basic information, like the number of goats in one’s herd, to the present, highly elaborated reading brain. My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight. Research surfacing in many

Machine Learning for Middle Schoolers

Stephen Wolfram:

A year ago I published a book entitled An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language—as part of my effort to teach computational thinking to the next generation. I just published the second edition of the book—with (among other things) a significantly extended section on modern machine learning.

I originally expected my book’s readers would be high schoolers and up. But it’s actually also found a significant audience among middle schoolers (11- to 14-year-olds). So the question now is: can one teach the core concepts of modern machine learning even to middle schoolers? Well, the interesting thing is that—thanks to the whole technology stack we’ve now got in the Wolfram Language—the answer seems to be “yes”!

The Humanities Are in Crisis Students are abandoning humanities majors, turning to degrees they think yield far better job prospects. But they’re wrong.

Benjamin Schmidt:

People have been proclaiming the imminent extinction of the humanities for decades. A best-selling volume in 1964 warned that a science-focused world left no room for humane pursuits, even as Baby Boomers began to flood the English and history departments of new universities. Allan Bloom warned about academics putting liberal ideology before scholarship in 1987; humanities degrees quickly rose. While coverage of individual academic disciplines like musicology, history, or comparative literature often deals with the substance of scholarship, talk of the humanities in general always seems to focus on their imminent extinction. In 2010, Wayne Bivens-Tatum provided a useful walk through the first 50 years of the humanities crisis, until about 1980. Because of this long history, I’ve always been skeptical of claims that the humanities are in retreat.

Actually, the humanities aren’t in crisis.

But something different has been happening with the humanities since the 2008 financial crisis. Five years ago, I argued that the humanities were still near long-term norms in their number of majors. But since then, I’ve been watching the numbers from the Department of Education, and every year, things look worse. Almost every humanities field has seen a rapid drop in majors: History is down about 45 percent from its 2007 peak, while the number of English majors has fallen by nearly half since the late 1990s. Student majors have dropped, rapidly, at a variety of types of institutions. Declines have hit almost every field in the humanities (with one interesting exception) and related social sciences, they have not stabilized with the economic recovery, and they appear to reflect a new set of student priorities, which are being formed even before they see the inside of a college classroom.

Top geneticist loses £3.5-million grant in first test of landmark bullying policy

Holly Else:

One of the world’s largest research-funding charities has revoked a £3.5-million (US$4.5-million) grant awarded to a top cancer geneticist, Nazneen Rahman, following allegations that she bullied scientists and other staff members when she worked at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.

The decision to pull the funding represents the first implementation of a pioneering anti-bullying and anti-harassment policy that the charity — the Wellcome Trust in London — introduced in June. Wellcome says that it learnt in July that Rahman had resigned following an independent investigation into the bullying allegations.

“My team and I will complete our Wellcome-funded research prior to my leaving ICR in October,” Rahman told Nature. “We are working with ICR and Wellcome to ensure science and patients can benefit from our work.”

What You Need to Know Before Considering a PhD

Rachel Thomas:

Understanding Opportunity Costs

I grossly underestimated how much I could learn by working in industry. I believed the falsehood that the best way to always keep learning is to stay in academia, and I didn’t have a good grasp on the opportunity costs of doing a PhD. My undergraduate experience had been magical, and I had always both excelled at and enjoyed being in school. The idea of getting paid to be in school sounded like a sweet deal!

As I wrote about here, I later realized that my traditional academic success was actually a weakness, as I’d learned how to solve problems I was given, but not how to how to find and scope interesting problems on my own. I think for many top students (my former self included), getting a PhD feels like a “safe” option: it’s a well-defined path to doing something considered prestigious. But this can just be a way of postponing many necessary personal milestones: of learning to define and set your own goals apart from a structured academic system and of connecting more deeply with your own intrinsic motivations and values.

At the time, I felt like I was learning a lot during my PhD: taking advanced courses, reading papers, conducting research, regularly giving presentations, organizing two conferences in my field, coordinating a student-run graduate course, serving as an elected representative for grad students in my department, and writing a thesis. In hindsight, all of these were part of a narrower range of skills than I realized, and many of these skills were less transferable than I’d hoped. For instance, academic writing is very different from the type of writing I do through my blogging (which reaches a much wider audience!), and understanding academic politics was very different from startup politics, since the structure and incentives are so different.

The Twisty Top-Down Policy Path To The Classroom

Peter Greene:

From Outcome Based Education (remember the 90s?) to Common Core to ESSA to a hundred policy initiatives on the state level, the story is usually the same: Policymakers create a policy for K-12 education, it rolls out into the real world, and before too long those same policymakers are declaring, “That’s not what we meant at all.” Explanations generally include “You’re doing it wrong” or “Maybe we should have put a bigger PR push behind it” or “The teachers union thwarted us.” Common Core fans still claim that all Common Core problems are because of trouble with the implementation.

Somehow policymakers never land on another possibility– that the policy they created was lousy. But good or bad, education policy follows a twisty path from the Halls of Power where it’s created to Actual Classrooms where teachers have to live with it. Here are all the twists that can lead to trouble

Common Core Collaborators: Six Organizational Portraits

Richard Phelps, via a kind email:

Historical, financial and media analyses of the organization that spawned the Common Core Initiative, the two copyright holders, two of the paid proselytizers, and the delivery vehicle, where the reputed CC “architect” now runs things (for a cool annual salary of well over a $million).

Real Clear Propaganda: Bellwether’s Education News Bias by Richard P. Phelps:

Education news aggregation at the RealClearEducation (RCE) website purports to be journalistic, independent, thorough and somewhat representative of the whole. During a period from 2014 to 2016, however, it was run directly by leaders of the DC consulting group Bellwether Education Partners (BEP). During that period, RCE’s selection of source material was lopsidedly skewed toward those issues and perspectives favored by those allied with BEP. Except for some occasional instances of pandering to the more politically well connected among the opposition, RealClearEducation was about as biased a news source as was humanly possible to construct. Its coverage of the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI), in particular, ranged from blatant promotion to a variety of disingenuously framed news and opinion pieces featuring individuals and organizations receiving funds from Common Core’s donor groups, without revealing their conflict of interest. Bellwether’s behavior in managing a news outlet raises larger questions about the trustworthiness of information provided by education policy funders and recipients, the incestuous nature of the interlocking interests at both ends of the funding, and the almost total absence of the vast majority of the US population from some education policy discussions.

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and Institute: Influence for Hire by Richard P. Phelps:

According to a recent publicly available filing with the Internal Revenue Service, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation is “the nation’s leader in advancing educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.” The mission statement for the legally separate but commonly owned Thomas B. Fordham Institute uses exactly the same words. Moreover, the two organizations share the same board of trustees. All of which would lead one to believe that the two entities—foundation and institute—should be considered two parts of the same whole.

The Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association: Whom do they serve? by Richard P. Phelps:

he Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA) are member associations headquartered in Washington, DC. They are also co-owners of the Common Core Standards—the controversial educational content standards that most US states have incorporated, in whole or in part, into their K–12 education programs.1

Yet, despite what their names might suggest, they are not government entities, even though most of their members are elected or appointed state government officials. Peter Wood explain

Does College Board deserve public subsidies? by Richard P. Phelps:

The century-old College Entrance Examination Board (College Board) sponsors, develops, and administers standardized testing programs, most famously the “SAT suite of tests,” which includes the SAT college admission test and the “pre-SAT,” or PSAT, and the more than thirty Advanced- Placement (AP) courses and exams that high-school students take for college credit.
In its own words,
We are a mission-driven, not-for-profit membership organization made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading colleges, schools, and other educational organizations. Through our programs and initiatives, we expand opportunities for students and challenge them to own their future

… Our primary goals are to improve college and career readiness and increase access to opportunity for all students through focused assessments, rigorous instruction, personalized practice, breaking barriers to college entry, and access to better planning tools and skills needed most for tomorrow’s lobs.1

The Organization Named Achieve: Cradle of Common Core Cronyism by Richard P. Phelps:

Achieve is corporate America’s direct connection to national education policy. Mainstream business leaders seem to trust it, and their foundations give it money. Achieve lists all of the following as contributors:1

Arconic Foundation; AT&T Foundation; The Battelle Foundation; Bayer USA Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; The Boeing Company; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation; Chevron; The Cisco Foundation; DuPont; ExxonMobil; The GE Foundation; GSK; IBM Corporation; Intel Foundation; The Joyce Foundation; The Leona & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; Lumina Foundation; Microsoft; PwC Charitable Foundation; The Prudential Foundation; S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; State Farm Insurance Companies; Travelers Foundation; and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

TOPICALTOP STORY UW System’s budget proposal tailors to Republicans’ demand for campus accountability

Kelly Meyerhofer

The University of Wisconsin System is asking for $107 million more in state money, three-quarters of which would be outcomes-based, rewarding or punishing campuses based on how well they meet performance metrics such as student access, progress toward completion, “workforce contributions” and operating efficiencies.

The 2019-21 budget proposal, released by the UW System Monday afternoon, is tailored to Republicans’ demand for more accountability from universities. It also does not raise tuition, something Republicans have shown little appetite in supporting.

The UW Board of Regents, almost all of whom were appointed by Gov. Scott Walker, will consider it during the board’s Aug. 23 meeting in Madison.

In the two-year operating budget proposal, $82.5 million would be divvied up among the System’s campuses based on each institution’s performance in 16 measures developed by the regents. Each campus determines how much weight to assign each metric, so long as the measures within each of the four goals passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature equal 25 percent.

How Heroin Came for Middle-Class Moms

Hayley Krischer:

Donna* is from the suburbs. She says so proudly. A really nice town not far from Philadelphia. Donna grew up in a nice middle-class family. She wrote poetry. She had shoulder-length blonde hair and a job at the board of social services.

Today Donna is in a group therapy session at Family First, an outpatient substance abuse program for women.

In 2011, after she gave birth to her son Marco*, now six, a doctor prescribed the then-25-year-old Donna Oxycodone and Xanax for chronic back pain. Donna paid the doctor in cash. It was a “pill mill,” where doctors doled out prescriptions like candy. Her family knew that she was taking a lot of pills, but it wasn’t some drug dealer she was seeing. This was a doctor, after all. And the pills helped. Still, her mother didn’t like it. Her mother thought it was going to lead to something else.

This went on for a while, taking pills without any real issue. And then in 2013, Donna got into a very bad car accident. More prescriptions. Severe depression. A suicide attempt. A stint in rehab. Someone reported the doctor at the pill mill to the DEA and the place shut down. Maybe things were looking up.

Life expectancy declines seen in U.S. and other high-income countries

Lisa arapaport:

Life expectancy is declining in high-income countries worldwide, driven in part by the effects of the opioid epidemic on younger adults in the U.S. and the impact of a severe flu season on older adults in other nations, two new studies suggest.

A man is seen in silhouette walking a dog at Cunningham Park in the Queens borough of New York U.S., January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Life expectancy is a measure of the health and wellbeing of a population. Widespread or sustained declines in life expectancy may signal problems in a nation’s social and economic conditions or in the provision or quality of its healthcare services, researchers write in The BMJ.

The first study looked at trends across 18 high-income countries and found that most countries experienced declines in life expectancy in 2015. This is the first time in recent decades that so many high-income countries simultaneously experienced declines in life expectancy for both men and women.

Out of 18 countries in the study, 12 experienced life expectancy declines among men and 11 experienced life expectancy declines among women.

The Student Debt Problem Is Worse Than We Imagined

Ben Miller:

Millions of students will arrive on college campuses soon, and they will share a similar burden: college debt. The typical student borrower will take out $6,600 in a single year, averaging $22,000 in debt by graduation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

There are two ways to measure whether borrowers can repay those loans: There’s what the federal government looks at to judge colleges, and then there’s the real story. The latter is coming to light, and it’s not pretty.

Consider the official statistics: Of borrowers who started repaying in 2012, just over 10 percent had defaulted three years later. That’s not too bad — but it’s not the whole story. Federal data never before released shows that the default rate continued climbing to 16 percent over the next two years, after official tracking ended, meaning more than 841,000 borrowers were in default. Nearly as many were severely delinquent or not repaying their loans (for reasons besides going back to school or being in the military). The share of students facing serious struggles rose to 30 percent over all.

The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids

Alexandra Lange:

Parents obsess over their children’s playdates, kindergarten curriculum, and every bump and bruise, but the toys, classrooms, playgrounds, and neighborhoods little ones engage with are just as important. These objects and spaces encode decades, even centuries of changing ideas about what makes for good child-rearing-and what does not. Do you choose wooden toys, or plastic, or, increasingly, digital? What do youngsters lose when seesaws are deemed too dangerous and slides are designed primarily for safety? How can the built environment help children cultivate independence? In these debates, parents, educators, and kids themselves are often caught in the middle.

Support for Universal School Vouchers Skyrockets

Corey DeAngelis:

EducationNext just released its 12th annual survey of public opinion. The nationally representative survey, administered in May 2018, finds that 54 percent of the general public supports private school vouchers for all students. This result is up 9 percentage points (20 percent) from 2017. On the other hand, only 43 percent of the survey respondents support income-targeted vouchers. This is great news for all families. Here’s why.

Advocating K-12 Non Diverse Governance

Melissa Benn:

Unlikely as it might sound, one of the most electric political meetings I have ever attended was a lecture on the Finnish educational system given by Pasi Sahlberg, the Finnish educator and author, in London in the spring of 2012. Sahlberg, who was speaking to a packed committee room 14 of the House of Commons – the most magnificent of a run of grand meeting rooms that directly overlook the Thames – has a rather laconic manner of delivery. However, in this particular instance, his flat speaking style proved the perfect vehicle for an unexpectedly radical message.

Sahlberg described how Finnish education had evolved, in the postwar period, from a steeply hierarchical one, rather like our own, made up of private, selective and less-well regarded “local” schools, to become a system in which every child attends the “common school”. The long march to educational reform was partly initiated to strengthen the Finnish nation after the second world war, and to defend it against Russian incursions in particular.

Finland’s politicians and educational figures recognised that a profoundly unequal education system did not simply reproduce inequality down the generations, but weakened the fabric of the nation itself. Following a long period of discussion – which drew in figures from the political right and left, educators and academics – Finland abolished its fee-paying schools and instituted a nationwide comprehensive system from the early 1970s onwards. Not only did such reforms lead to the closing of the attainment gap between the richest and poorest students, it also turned Finland into one of the global educational success stories of the modern era.

I was recently reminded of this meeting when reading a short pamphlet published in November 1964 by the Young Fabian authors Howard Glennerster and Richard Pryke on “the public schools”. Much of the pamphlet covers the same ground occasionally trod today by the odd brave soul: the social divisiveness bred by a parallel school system for the better-off; the disproportionate access of privately educated pupils to Oxford and Cambridge and then to the top jobs in society; the dispersal of bursaries largely to the cash-strapped middle class; and the numerous canny tax schemes enjoyed by both private school parents and the schools themselves that amount to large state subsidies to the most privileged in society. The pamphlet ended by dismissing the foolishness of those who say that state schools should “catch up” with the private sector. The answer was integration.

Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model has long tolerated disastrous reding results.

The Student Debt Problem Is Worse Than We Imagined

Ben Miller:

Millions of students will arrive on college campuses soon, and they will share a similar burden: college debt. The typical student borrower will take out $6,600 in a single year, averaging $22,000 in debt by graduation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

There are two ways to measure whether borrowers can repay those loans: There’s what the federal government looks at to judge colleges, and then there’s the real story. The latter is coming to light, and it’s not pretty.

Consider the official statistics: Of borrowers who started repaying in 2012, just over 10 percent had defaulted three years later. That’s not too bad — but it’s not the whole story. Federal data never before released shows that the default rate continued climbing to 16 percent over the next two years, after official tracking ended, meaning more than 841,000 borrowers were in default. Nearly as many were severely delinquent or not repaying their loans (for reasons besides going back to school or being in the military). The share of students facing serious struggles rose to 30 percent over all.

How Technology Grows (a Restatement of Definite Optimism)

Dan Wang:

I consider Definite Optimism as Human Capital to be my most creative piece. Unfortunately, it’s oblique and meandering. So I thought to write a followup to lay out its premises more directly and to offer a restatement of its ideas.
 The goal of both pieces is to broaden the terms in which we discuss “technology.” Technology should be understood in three distinct forms: as processes embedded into tools (like pots, pans, and stoves); explicit instructions (like recipes); and as process knowledge, or what we can also refer to as tacit knowledge, know-how, and technical experience. Process knowledge is the kind of knowledge that’s hard to write down as an instruction. You can give someone a well-equipped kitchen and an extraordinarily detailed recipe, but unless he already has some cooking experience, we shouldn’t expect him to prepare a great dish.
 I submit that we have two big biases when we talk about technology. First, we think about it too much in terms of tools and recipes, when really we should think about it more in terms of process knowledge and technical experience. Second, most of us focus too much on the digital world and not enough on the industrial world. Our obsession with the digital world has pushed our expectation of the technological future in the direction of cyberpunk dystopia; I hope instead that we can look forward to a joyful vision of the technological future, driven by advances in industry.
 This is one of my longer essays; the final section summarizes the main points.
 Process knowledge is represented by an experienced workforce. I’ve been studying the semiconductor industry, and that has helped to clarify my thoughts on technological innovation more broadly. It’s easy to identify all three forms of technology in the production of semiconductors: tools, instructions, and process knowledge. The three firms most responsible for executing Moore’s Law—TSMC, Intel, and Samsung—make full use of each of these tools. Each of them invest north of $10 billion a year to push forward that technological frontier.

Phone Numbers Were Never Meant as ID. Now We’re All At Risk

Lily Hay Newman:

 “The bottom line is society needs identifiers,” says Jeremy Grant, coordinator of the Better Identity Coalition, an industry collaboration that includes Visa, Bank of America, Aetna, and Symantec. “We just have to make sure that knowledge of an identifier can’t be used to somehow take over the authenticator. And a phone number is only an identifier; in most cases, it’s public.”
 Think of your usernames and passwords. The former are generally public knowledge; it’s how people know who you are. But you keep the latter guarded, because it’s how you prove who you are.
 The use of phone numbers as both lock and key has led to the rise, in recent years, of so-called SIM swapping attacks, in which an attacker steals your phone number. When you add two-factor authentication to an account and receive your codes through SMS texts, they go to the attacker instead, along with any calls and texts intended for the victim. Sometimes attackers even use inside sources at carriers who will transfer numbers for them.

The Scientists Who Starved to Death Surrounded By Food


In the early part of the 20th century, in between the two World Wars, Vavilov travelled far and wide across five continents, visiting 64 countries in total, collecting varieties of plants and food crop specimens. He taught himself 15 languages so that he could speak with native farmers. After nearly a decade of travels and hundreds of trips later, Vavilov founded the Pavlovsk Experimental Station as part of the Institute of Plant Industry situated in Pavlovsk in Leningrad in what is now St. Petersburg.

Dear Academia, I loved you, but I’m leaving you. This relationship is hurting me.

Lenny Teytelman:

It’s not the chasing you around for sometimes thousands of miles, leaving behind my family and friends over and over to follow you. It isn’t even because of the neglect or the mistreatment, the living in less than ideal or even normal dwellings because you had so few resources to sustain me, the lack of acknowledgment, appreciation, or respect for what I offered you. I spent my best (and peak reproductive) years with you, hoping that we could get to the point where we could finally settle down before it was too late for me. All of this took so much longer than you promised at the beginning of our relationship. No matter how hard I worked, you kept moving the target, saying “Oh I’ll commit when…”, but the list just kept growing. I sacrificed time, money, and sometimes physical and mental health to devote myself to you. And, believe me, there were others in line…promising commitment, stability, and respect. But I ignored them. I ignored the red flags. I had invested so much. I didn’t want to give up on us. You were just so damn…interesting…and I loved the people you connected me to. You really have a way of attracting wonderful people to you. People that care. I saw them start to drop away; start to distance themselves from you (or perhaps you from them). It started to become less clear what it was I had to do to stay with you, what you wanted out of me. It started to become apparent that you would not necessarily be there for me in the future.

Wells Fargo Closes Florida Politician’s Account Due To Marijuana Donations

Tom Angell:

It’s well known that many banks are reluctant to open accounts for marijuana businesses out of fear of running afoul of the U.S’s government’s continued criminalization of the drug.

But one major institution just took the financial services industry’s cannabis cash paranoia a step further, saying—in what appears to be a first—that it won’t do business with a political candidate because she has received donations from cannabis industry interests.

Commentary on Student Fees and Diversity Advocate Spending

Toni Airaksinen:

Two weeks ago, school officials confirmed that 20 students have been hired, at an estimated annual cost of up to $42,000. Reached by Campus Reform, a spokesman claimed that the project is not funded by taxpayers, but rather, by the Student Services Fee.

That $376-per-quarter fee is not optional. Over a standard four-year degree, the fee amounts to at least $4,512—more if a student takes longer to graduate.

Despite mounting criticism of the program since Campus Reform initially broke the story, UCLA has since chosen to hire even more students, announcing on Tuesday that it hopes to recruit an unspecified number of graduate students to the program, too.

“Attention friends of IGR! We have re-opened applications for GRADUATE students who want to be paid Diversity Peer Leaders for 2018-2019! Check out the application… and please share it with friends!” notes the August 14 Facebook post.

UCLA declined to disclose how many additional students they seek to hire. With 20 undergraduates already hired, it’s unclear if they seek to hire an equal number of graduate students, or perhaps just a handful to watch over the younger students.

Civics: Muslim American woman sues US border cops: Gimme back my seized iPhone’s data! Legal action seeks info copied during airport search

Shaun Nichols:

An American woman is suing the US government’s Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection to get the data border agents copied from her phone.

Rejhane Lazoja said that when she landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on February 26 after a nine-hour transatlantic flight, she was subjected to a secondary screening by CBP agents who, over the course of the inspection, seized her iPhone 6S Plus.

While the phone was returned to Lazoja in July, her attorneys want to know what data was copied. Believing the search to have been illegal, she is now suing the CBP to have any copied data from the phone returned to her as personal property.

“The seizure, retention, and any sharing of her property without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a warrant have violated Ms Lazoja’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, and are at odds with recent Supreme Court holdings as well as District Court and Court of Appeals decisions scrutinizing CBP’s practices of seizing digital storage devices without a warrant,” the filing [PDF] reads.

US govt doesn’t think people have intelligence to decipher news, hence censorship


As Twitter and Facebook are criticized over censorship and constant finger-pointing at Russia, RT’s Max Keiser speaks to the senior editor of the Grayzone Project, Max Blumenthal, who sums up the reality of the situation.
In this episode of Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the fact that despite there being an avalanche of information today, it’s actually more difficult to be educated about what’s going on in the world than it was in the 60s.

Civics: Why FBI Directors Want to Be Autonomous and Unaccountable

Ira Stoll:

The best explanation of the firing of FBI director James Comey and of the subsequent investigation by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller may just come from a social scientist who died years before President Trump took office.

When James Q. Wilson died in 2012, he was remembered primarily for his influential 1982 Atlantic article with George Kelling, “Broken Windows: The Police And Neighborhood Safety,” advocating police tactics focused on maintaining order and reducing fear.

It turns out, though, that Wilson—whose colleagues in the government department at Harvard included Henry Kissinger and Daniel Patrick Moynihan—also wrote a whole book about the FBI.

That book, The Investigators: Managing FBI And Narcotics Agents, was published in 1978 by Basic Books and funded in part by a grant from Irving Kristol’s company, National Affairs, Inc. It is based on in part on Professor Wilson’s personal experience as an adviser to FBI director Clarence Kelley, who served from 1973 to 1978.

Its insights relevant to Comey and Mueller come in a chapter considering the motivation of FBI executives, and of government officials in general. Wilson writes, “In my view, it is the desire for autonomy, and not for large budgets, new powers, or additional employees, that is the dominant motive of public executives.”

What does Wilson mean by “autonomy”? His book explains, “An agency is autonomous to the degree it can act independently of some or all of the groups that have the authority to constrain it.” Autonomy comes “by acquiring sufficient good will and prestige as to make attacks on oneself or one’s agency costly for one’s critics.”

Facebook addiction linked to staking your self-worth on social acceptance

Eric Dolan:

More than one billion people use Facebook to connect with others and maintain social relationships. But new research suggests that the social networking website can have an addictive side for some.

A study published in Computers in Human Behavior found that people who believed they needed to be socially accepted in order to have worth as a person were at higher risk of using Facebook in compulsive and maladaptive way.

Previous research has examined the relationship between self-esteem and Facebook use. The researchers from Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology sought to expand on the prior work by examining contingencies of self-worth, meaning the contingencies which are viewed as primary sources of self-esteem.

These contingencies are social acceptance, physical appearance, outdoing others in competition, academic competence, family love and support, being a virtuous or moral person, and God’s love. For those who view social acceptance as an important contingency, feelings of self-worth depend on the approval of others.

A New Comintern for the New Era: The CCP International Department from Bucharest to Reykjavík

Jichang Lulu and Martin Hála:

The finance ministry told Kvennablaðið that human rights were not discussed in Bjarni’s meeting with the ILD. The conversation was about Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, among other topics.

Roads of Influence
On the same day that news about the ILD meeting reached the Icelandic public, Björn Bjarnason, a journalist and Independence Party politician who was a minister under six cabinets, published an op-ed on China in Morgunblaðið. Titled “Chinese Pressure, Near and Far,” the article calls on Iceland to maintain its indepndence in the face of pressures it can expect once it assumes the Arctic Council chairmanship next year.

Björn’s piece notes China’s interest in becoming a ‘polar great power’ (极地强国), officially proclaimed at Xi Jinping’s 2014 speech in Hobart. He discusses the case of Greenland, where certain aspects of the PRC’s interests, such as CCCC’s possible involvement in airport development and General Nice (俊安集团)’s attempt to buy a derelict naval base, have led to Danish and American concerns. In Iceland, he points to the long-delayed Kárhóll Chinese-Icelandic Aurora Observatory project, predicting its eventual opening will attract international attention as a sign of China’s assertiveness in the Arctic. Kárhóll will give China “an important foothold” in Iceland.

Björn places the PRC’s Arctic interests within the context of a push for global influence, and mentions the newly introduced anti-interference legislation in Australia.

This company hired anyone who applied. Now it’s starting a movement

Eillie Anzilotti:

“We did background checks–I don’t know how I missed it,” Hookway says. But Coley was a good worker and trustworthy; Hookway didn’t want to fire him. So he didn’t. Today, Coley is a manager at CleanCraft. “I’ve got around 50 stories like that,” Hookway says. Over the course of his time running his company, he’s found that giving jobs to people with barriers to employment like a criminal record, a practice often called fair hiring or second-chance hiring, has proven to be good for his business.

In general, he says, when people like Coley come on the job, they work hard, knowing that in labor landscape that overwhelmingly turns its back on ex-offenders–just 12.5% of employers say they will accept applications from someone with a record–they’ve found a fortunate situation. Soon, the lines between workers with a criminal record and those without blur.

What Did Ada Lovelace’s Program Actually Do?

Two Bit History:

The story of Microsoft’s founding is one of the most famous episodes in computing history. In 1975, Paul Allen flew out to Albuquerque to demonstrate the BASIC interpreter that he and Bill Gates had written for the Altair microcomputer. Because neither of them had a working Altair, Allen and Gates tested their interpreter using an emulator that they wrote and ran on Harvard’s computer system. The emulator was based on nothing more than the published specifications for the Intel 8080 processor. When Allen finally ran their interpreter on a real Altair—in front of the person he and Gates hoped would buy their software—he had no idea if it would work. But it did. The next month, Allen and Gates officially founded their new company.

Over a century before Allen and Gates wrote their BASIC interpreter, Ada Lovelace wrote and published a computer program. She, too, wrote a program for a computer that had only been described to her. But her program, unlike the Microsoft BASIC interpreter, was never run, because the computer she was targeting was never built.

Google Employees Are Organizing To Protest The Company’s Secret, Censored Search Engine For China

Caroline O’Donovan:

Google employees are demanding greater transparency from their employer and confronting management with their ethical concerns about a project named Dragonfly, a controversial censored search app for the Chinese market.

Employees are circulating a list of demands for the company in a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News (posted in full, below), calling for an ethics review structure with rank-and-file employee representatives, the appointment of ombudspeople, and an ethical assessment of Google projects including Dragonfly and Maven, Google’s contract with the Pentagon to build AI-assisted drone technology.

“Many of us believe that Dragonfly poses a threat to freedom of expression and political dissent globally, and violates our AI principles,” two employees wrote in an email distributing the demand list.

“But this is not about Dragonfly specifically,” the email continues. “While we support and will join with concerned Googlers in resisting this effort, we need to be clear: Individual employees organizing against the latest dubious project cannot be our only safeguard against unethical decisions. This amounts to unsustainable ethics whack-a-mole, and assumes employees know about a project to begin with.”

Why so many people who need the government hate it

Sean Illing:

President Ronald Reagan uttered those words in his 1981 inaugural address to the country. He was referring specifically to the government’s role in helping bring the US out of an economic crisis. But since then, it’s become a kind of blanket truism in Republican circles. The government is a perennial boogeyman, and the main policy objective on the right has been to reduce the role of government in public life.

But there’s a problem: Many who accept this dogma are the very people who need the government the most. Research shows, for instance, that Republican states are disproportionately dependent on federal aid. Yet many Republican voters appear blissfully unaware of this contradiction.

In her new book The Government-Citizen Disconnect, Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler investigates this paradox. She looks at historical government data as well as surveys of Americans’ experiences with 21 federal social policies, including food stamps, Social Security, Medicaid, and the home mortgage interest deduction.

Wisconsin DPI hasn’t revoked teacher’s license in 1 out of 5 immoral conduct cases

Matthew DeFour:

The Department of Public Instruction has declined to revoke the license of a teacher accused of immoral conduct 88 times, or in only one out of every five cases, since State Superintendent Tony Evers took office a decade ago.

In a greater number of cases, 150 out of the 432 investigations opened since July 2009, the department revoked or denied teacher licenses after investigating allegations of immoral conduct.

Another 121 investigations are on hold because the teacher’s license expired while the investigation was ongoing. DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy emphasized none of the teachers in those cases are still in the classroom. The final 73 cases remain open.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has turned license revocation into an issue in the governor’s race between Evers and Gov. Scott Walker, spending roughly $1 million on TV ads over a two-week span featuring three of those 88 cases in which the department didn’t revoke a license.

Who needs democracy when you have data? Here’s how China rules using data, AI, and internet surveillance.

Christina Larson:

In 1955, science fiction writer Isaac Asimov published a short story about an experiment in “electronic democracy,” in which a single citizen, selected to represent an entire population, responded to questions generated by a computer named Multivac. The machine took this data and calculated the results of an election that therefore never needed to happen. Asimov’s story was set in Bloomington, Indiana, but today an approximation of Multivac is being built in China.

For any authoritarian regime, “there is a basic problem for the center of figuring out what’s going on at lower levels and across society,” says Deborah Seligsohn, a political scientist and China expert at Villanova University in Philadelphia. How do you effectively govern a country that’s home to one in five people on the planet, with an increasingly complex economy and society, if you don’t allow public debate, civil activism, and electoral feedback? How do you gather enough information to actually make decisions? And how does a government that doesn’t invite its citizens to participate still engender trust and bend public behavior without putting police on every doorstep?

The dangers of illiberal liberalism

The Economist:

If ever there was a vivid illustration of illiberal liberalism, it was the response to one of the essays in this very series. After The Economist published an article by Kathleen Stock, reader in philosophy at the University of Sussex, which sensitively questioned whether “self-declaration alone could reasonably be the only criterion of being trans”, the Sussex Students’ Union denounced her as a transphobe. In the union’s original statement, it declared “we will not tolerate hate on our campus.” “Trans and non-binary lives are not a debate.”

These key tropes—“we will not tolerate” and “this is not a debate”—are now frequently deployed to curtail discussion of issues deemed to be taboo, invariably to “protect” people deemed vulnerable from speech deemed hateful. This secular version of blasphemy follows a sacred script, written by those who consider themselves liberals. Dare to query it and you’ll be damned.

Economics Professor Expelled for ‘Politically Harmful’ Expressions, Including Estimate of Staggering Cost to Maintain the Communist Party Apparatus

China Change:

Yang Shaozheng (杨绍政), a couple of months shy of 49, was for 11 years a professor of good standing in the College of Economics at Guizhou University. He taught game theory and advanced microeconomics, focused his research on optimization theory and mechanism design theory, and managed numerous provincial- and state-funded research projects. On August 15, however, Guizhou University made a decision to expel him for “long-running publication and spreading online of politically mistaken speech, writing a large number of politically harmful articles, and creating a deleterious influence on campus and in society.” He was also guilty of “being unrepentant” and refusing to accept “educational help.”

Prior to this, last November, Yang was suspended from teaching and banned from advising graduate students. According to a personal statement he published online, Yang repeatedly approached the administration and the university’s Party Office to demand a formal statement of reasons for the sanctions. In each case he was fobbed off or refused. His written appeal to the university president was ignored.

The Challenges of Creating World-Class Universities in China

Jia Song:

The obsession with internationalization had resulted in priority being given to overseas scholars and graduates and has diminished many top domestic universities to second or third-class status. Most domestic PhD graduates have faced discrimination in the academic job market in the past few years—the quality of these graduates is not recognized, even by the universities that educated them. The academic employment market is sending a clear message that domestic universities are incapable of producing good, qualified academics, so more students are choosing to study in developed countries. As a result, the challenge domestic universities face is that many of the best students are going abroad for graduate study.

The Last Guardians of China’s Women-Only Script

Yin Yujun:

He Jinghua opens a faded notebook bound with cotton thread. Inside, lyrics written in a spidery script run down the page, incomprehensible to the average Mandarin speaker. In her wheelchair, which she’s used since a stroke left her paralyzed two years ago, the 84-year-old begins to sing.

As the mournful sounds escape her lips, tears stream down her weathered face. Her mind goes back 22 years to when she lost her youngest son in a road accident. “These books contain my sorrow,” He Jinghua tells Sixth Tone. She gestures to a collection of similar handbound notebooks in pink, green, and ocher, where she faithfully records her life in nüshu, a script that is only used by women.

Distorting tradition is worse than losing it.
In remote Jiangyong County, the script has been passed down from mother to daughter, elder to younger, for hundreds of years. To get to the downtown area of the county hidden in the hills, visitors must drive some three hours from Guilin, the nearest major city in neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. When they arrive, they’re greeted by a street of nondescript shops, including a takeaway outlet with a storefront mimicking the KFC logo.

Setup a personal Cloud VPN


Algo VPN is a set of Ansible scripts that simplify the setup of a personal IPSEC VPN. It uses the most secure defaults available, works with common cloud providers, and does not require client software on most devices. See our release announcement for more information.

Much more on VPN (Virtual Private Networks), here.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US State Freedom Rankings


We score all 50 states on over 200 policies encompassing fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom. We weight public policies according to the estimated costs that government restrictions on freedom impose on their victims.

After the bullets, the brushes: how the First World War transformed art

Michael Prodger:

Nineteen-fourteen was not a propitious time to announce a new artistic movement. In July of that year, however, the first edition of the artistic-literary magazine Blast appeared, declaring the birth of vorticism. Once a great deal of flim-flam had been sifted through, what the movement amounted to was a repudiation of both Victorian values and Bloomsbury aesthetics, and instead an acclamation of modernity, the machine age and non-traditional representation.

Vorticism was largely the brainchild of the painter and critic Percy Wyndham Lewis, who was supported by the upper echelon of the British-based avant-garde, numbering, among others, Ezra Pound, TS Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, CRW Nevinson, David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, William Roberts and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. “You think at once of a whirlpool,” wrote Wyndham Lewis. “At the heart of the whirlpool is a great silent place where all the energy is concentrated; and there at the point of concentration is the vorticist.”

Vorticism was simply the British wing of a Europe-wide movement, which held that art needed to be remade for the times. Italy had the futurists who, under the strutting Filippo Marinetti, worshipped violence, speed, the motorcar, the modern city and youth. France meanwhile had cubism, the invention of Picasso and Braque that fractured three-dimensional objects in order to reconstitute them on canvas, and Marcel Duchamp’s conceptual “anti-art”.

How the New York Times Got It Wrong on School Choice and Segregation

Peter Cunningham:

reform is much more than school choice and it certainly wasn’t done as an alternative to integration.She claims that her home state of California has abandoned integration as the “chief mechanism of school reform and embraced charter schools instead.” Actually, reform is much more than school choice and it certainly wasn’t done as an alternative to integration.

The goal of charters was innovation and quality, and it was based on the theory that schools serving poor kids would be better if low-income parents had the same power as higher-income parents to choose among them. Studies suggest this is true in many places.

The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People

Jason Koebler and Joseph Cox:

This spring, Facebook reached out to a few dozen leading social media academics with an invitation: Would they like to have a casual dinner with Mark Zuckerberg to discuss Facebook’s problems?

According to five people who attended the series of off-the-record dinners at Zuckerberg’s home in Palo Alto, California, the conversation largely centered around the most important problem plaguing the company: Content moderation.

In recent months, Facebook has been attacked from all sides: by conservatives for what they perceive is a liberal bias, by liberals for allowing white nationalism and Holocaust denial on the platform, by governments and news organizations for allowing fake news and disinformation to flourish, and by human rights organizations for its use as a platform to facilitate gender-based harassment and livestream suicide and murder. Facebook has even been blamed for contributing to genocide.

These situations have been largely framed as individual public relations fires that Facebook has tried to put out one at a time. But the need for content moderation is better looked at as a systemic issue in Facebook’s business model. Zuckerberg has said that he wants Facebook to be one global community, a radical ideal given the vast diversity of communities and cultural mores around the globe. Facebook believes highly-nuanced content moderation can resolve this tension, but it’s an unfathomably complex logistical problem that has no obvious solution, that fundamentally threatens Facebook’s business, and that has largely shifted the role of free speech arbitration from governments to a private platform.

Want More Power To The People? Choose Capitalism

Andy Pudzer:

The debate between capitalism and socialism is at least partly a debate over morality. The left claims benevolent socialism is necessary to protect the masses from the immorality of capitalist greed. Much of America’s youth appears to be buying into this myth.

A recent Gallup poll found that young Americans were actually more positive about socialism (51 percent) than about capitalism (45 percent). The percentage of young Americans with a positive view of capitalism has declined 23 points since 2010, when 68 percent viewed capitalism positively. That’s not surprising, given that most of these young people have been educated in a system controlled by progressives and fed leftist ideology as entertainment.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone personified the progressive notion of capitalist greed in the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” in which his character, Gordon Gekko—the Left’s stereotype of a capitalist—utters the phrase “Greed is good.” But, outside Hollywood, greed is not good, and capitalism is not based on greed. To the contrary, capitalism encourages people to improve their lives by satisfying others’ needs and desires, by providing the products or services that other people want at a price they can pay.

Millennials’ Rosy View of the Welfare State Dwindles Once They’re Told What It Costs

Brad Polumbo :

On Aug. 13, the release of a new Gallup survey made headlines with its shocking results. The poll found that 57 percent of Democrats now hold a favorable view of socialism, while the level of Democratic support for capitalism plunged to new lows. This surging support for socialism is in large part driven by emerging enthusiasm among young left-leaning voters, as there’s been a 12 percentage point fall in support for capitalism among those aged 18 to 29 in the last two years.

So the verdict is in: Many young people are sick of capitalism and want to try something new. Yet, if they actually understood what a destructive ideology socialism can be, members of my generation wouldn’t be so quick to signal their support for it.

Most Millennials Don’t Know What Socialism Is

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Medical students are skipping class in droves — and making lectures increasingly obsolete

Orly Nadell Farber:

The AWOL students highlight increasing dissatisfaction and anxiety that there’s a mismatch between what they’re taught in class during those years and what they’re expected to know — or how they’re tested — on national licensing exams. Despite paying nearly $60,000 a year in tuition, medical students are turning to unsanctioned online resources to prepare for Step 1, the make-or-break test typically taken at the end of the preclinical years.

An interview with Qi Lu, Y Combinator China’s Number 1 Employee

Meng Xiaobai:

First, autonomous systems that can operate on their own in accordance with their intended purpose will revolutionize all industries; driverless cars are just one of the earliest applications. It will be the core infrastructure for a new generation of productivity, and this infrastructure can be deployed globally.

Second, natural language interaction technology will create new computing platforms. For humans, the most natural interaction is through natural language and vision, so mature natural language interaction technology will create ubiquitous personal assistants. This will also make society more fair. In the past, only wealthy people could afford personal assistants. Anyone in the future could have an assistant to help.

This assistant can understand through hearing, understanding through seeing, and it can also be everywhere. Then, this platform can do more things through extension, such as food, clothing, housing, and education. Of course, it will take a little bit of time to realize this.

Finally, artificial intelligence technology has a very large impact on the scientific research field. I think we will usher in a Renaissance in the scientific world; because of artificial intelligence technology, more and more interdisciplinary research and applications can be developed.

What I’m doing at YC is I want to quickly push forward these visions to “land” into reality, especially in China. Because China has a large population and many industries, more people means more data. This is the main differentiating point between the artificial intelligence technology revolution and the previous technological revolution.

The internationalization of China’s private security companies

Helena Legarda and Meia Nouwens:

Following the build-up of infrastructure and investment projects along China’s extensive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), private security companies from China are also increasingly going global – to protect Chinese assets and the growing number of Chinese nationals living and working in countries along the BRI, in sometimes unstable regions. Out of the 5,000 registered Chinese private security companies, 20 provide international services, employing 3,200 security personnel in countries like Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan.

The impact of this newly developing Chinese activity abroad is analyzed in this MERICS China Monitor. Chinese private security companies’ international activities pose a challenge to European interests as they are often largely unregulated and their security staff are often inexperienced in dealing with serious conflict situations and combat. EU policymakers, thus, are called upon to encourage and assist Beijing to pass laws regulating Chinese private security companies’ activities overseas.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Federal Tax Revenues Are Up 1%

Wall Street Journal:

The Congressional Budget Office released its budget summary for July this week, and the deficit for the first 10 months of fiscal 2018 reached $682 billion, up $116 billion from a year earlier. Federal spending increased by $143 billion for all the usual reasons—especially Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

But revenues were higher as well—up $26 billion. Corporate income taxes were down substantially as expected in the wake of the tax reform that cut the corporate rate and added 100% expensing. But individual income taxes increased by $104 billion, or 7.9%, despite the cut in individual tax rates.

Strategies for Nimble Cities: Lessons from Stepping Up, Our 18-City Project

Georgia Heyward:

In 2017 CRPE published an analysis of student and school outcomes in 18 high-choice cities. It showed us that many cities were closing the gap between the city and state on key outcomes like graduation. But while the education system as a whole improved, achievement gaps by income and race/ethnicity remained. Across the country, disadvantaged students continue to trail behind their peers—a reality that gains greater urgency as school systems prepare the next generation for a rapidly changing economy and an increasingly interconnected world.

Policymakers and system leaders need to ask: What can we do to prepare every child for the future? Do school leaders and educators have the necessary flexibility at the school and classroom level? Do they have the funding and other resources to meet the needs of the students they serve? Are they working in systems that support innovation and continuous improvement?

To prepare every child for the challenges and opportunities ahead, America’s school systems must become more agile. That may require them to rethink everything from governance to funding to the range of learning experiences available to the students they serve.

For the past two years my CRPE colleagues and I have tracked education strategies to help policymakers, system leaders, and funders understand how cities with public school choice are delivering education. The 18 cities in our study differ in size and location, but each has adopted at least some elements of a portfolio strategy—a problem-solving framework designed to ensure that all students can access a high-quality education and that the education system is nimble enough to address changing student needs.

A good move by Vermont Law School

Sharon Mee:

I have worked at Vermont Law School for 26 years and want to add my voice to what is happening now at Vermont’s only law school. Yes, some tenured faculty members are leaving or will be departing a few months or a year down the road. However, there are many extremely committed and dedicated faculty who remain on our campus. They are energetic, intelligent and moving forward to teach students in an exciting, dynamic fashion. It should be further noted that some of the tenured faculty have taught the same classes over and over again for many years, in some cases perhaps even using their teaching notes from 30 years ago.

The other factor to consider is the exorbitant salary of many tenured professors. Considering the cost of law school generally, it doesn’t make sense to pay an academician a six-figure salary when an equally well-educated practitioner can teach the same subject with a more vibrant approach for a lesser figure. In reading an article the other day I came across a comment that I believe summarizes the situation quite well: “I think financial advisers will often say that you ought to look at tenure, because tenure as a concept is expensive and it makes it difficult for an institution to make changes.” (R. Craig Wood, ABA Journal, July 13, 2018).

The New Thing in Hong Kong’s Public Schools: White Students

Angie Chan:

For generations, Hong Kong’s prestigious international schools exclusively educated the children of wealthy Western expatriates. Today, placement in those schools is increasingly competitive and enrollment fees can exceed $1 million, making them some of the most expensive private schools in the world.

Recent changes to the city’s demography — prompted by Chinese politics and global markets — have driven up tuitions and resulted in a dramatic shift in the complexion of the city’s schools: An increasing number of ethnic Chinese students are now enrolled in international schools, and many more white students are occupying desks in Cantonese-language public schools.

Civics: ACLU Warns Against ‘Worrisome’ Alex Jones Bans

Hayley Miller:

Progressives calling on social media platforms to ban Alex Jones, the conspiracy theory-peddling host of “Infowars,” should be careful what they wish for, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Several companies, including Facebook and YouTube, have removed Jones and his radio show for violating their hate speech policies. But doing so may set a dangerous precedent, according to Ben Wizner, director of ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

As private institutions, these sites have the constitutional right to decide whether to host Jones. But a hate speech policy defining when an individual warrants being banned could be “misused and abused,” Wizner told HuffPost on Monday.

“If [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, for example, were deciding what’s hate speech, he would be less likely to think KKK and more likely to think [Black Lives Matter],” Wizner said. “It turns out to be an extremely subjective term.”

Are colleges helping Americans move up?

Hechinger Report:

If you want to move up in America, go to college. That’s the advice people get. But new academic research suggests that chances for students from poor families in America to move up through higher education are shrinking. Elite colleges still don’t admit many students from poor backgrounds, and public universities are under increasing financial pressure to enroll wealthier students who can afford full tuition. For poor students, college isn’t the mobility-maker it once was.

That trend is happening at a time when social mobility in America is stagnating. The chances an American child will earn more than his or her parents has been declining: Children born in the 1940s had a 90 percent chance of surpassing their parents; kids born in 1980 had only a 50 percent chance of doing better. It’s now more difficult to break out of the class you’re born into. Children of well-to-do families are likely to stay that way, and children of poor families are likely to stay poor.

Do People Really Think Earth Might Be Flat? A poll says lots of Millennials evidently do—and it’s not entirely clear why

Craig Foster & Glenn Branch:

“Just 66 percent of millennials firmly believe that the Earth is round,” read the summary from the pollster YouGov. Kids today, right? But it’s not only curmudgeons eager to complain about the younger generation who ought to find the survey of interest. For despite the recent prominence of flat-earthery among musicians and athletes, YouGov’s survey seems to have been the first systematic attempt to assess the American population’s views on the shape of the Earth.

Moreover, the results raised a number of compelling questions that deserve attention. For example, why is the scientifically established view on the shape of the Earth less popular among younger respondents (according to YouGov) when the scientifically established view on the history of life and on the cause of global warming have been, in poll after poll, more popular among younger respondents?

So, anyone concerned about the understanding and acceptance of science in contemporary society—like us, a psychology professor at the Air Force Academy and a long-time staffer at the National Center for Science Education—might be expected to be fascinated by the YouGov survey. Unfortunately, when we investigated the details, the result was as much confusion as clarity and as many questions as answers.