Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Wednesday Is Friday and the Living’s Easy

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Half the professoriate will kill the other half for free.

In other words, while a few already well-paid superprofessors get their egos stroked conducting experiments that are doomed to fail, “second- and third-tier universities and colleges, and community colleges” risk closing because Coursera and its ilk have sent higher education price expectations through the floor and systematically devalued everybody else’s work. And they get to do all this while dispensing a produuct that they know is inferior! Jay Gould would be proud.

The irony, of course, is that “business” logic can kill its own host, like any parasite. When taken as an end in itself, it destroys everything — and then there’s nowhere else to invest, no more areas producing real values that can be syphoned off into the giant pool of money. The imaginary values that finance has racked up then become the object of a game of hot potato, furiously churning through the system until the point when they simply disappear (i.e., lose all their value). That’s what running everything “like a business” does — it trades real value for imaginary value that is then destroyed.

* Just because it’s totally ineffective doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it: A study by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2011, which looked at school closures in six US cities, found that school districts end up saving less than had been predicted. But think of all the other advantages school closings offer!

A University of Chicago study focusing on schools closed between 2001 and 2006 found that only six percent of displaced students ended up in high-performing schools.

And 42 percent of students continued to attend schools with ‘very low’ achievement levels. A year after changing schools, students’ reading and math abilities were not any better or worse.

Students who did go to better-performing schools also had to travel an average of 6km to get there – which critics say risks the safety of students who have to go through neighbourhoods containing rival gangs.

Entire library journal editorial board resigns, citing ‘crisis of conscience’ after death of Aaron Swartz.

* The Barbed Gift of Leisure.

And here, at the limit of life that idling alone brings into view in a nonthreatening way, we find another kind of nested logic. Call it the two-step law of life. Rule No. 1 is tomorrow we die; and Rule No. 2 is nobody, not even the most helpful robot, can change Rule No. 1. Enjoy!

Junot Diaz Talks Superman As An Undocumented Immigrant On The Colbert Report.

The Essential Verso Undergraduate Reading List. Makes me think I really need to start including more theory on my syllabi.

* MOOCs we can believe in? One of the most remote outposts of Jesuit higher education is tucked away in dusty northwest Kenya, in a place whose name means “Nowhere” in Swahili. There, at Kakuma Refugee Camp, a small group of students — refugees from several neighboring African countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia — are enrolled in online courses taught by 28 Jesuit colleges, mostly in the United States. The course is part of the Jesuit Commons project.

* Unexpected: SCOTUSblog now thinks there’s at least five judges who will vote to strike down DOMA. Meanwhile, McCaskill seems to have triggered Hagan to announce her support of marriage equality.

* Ripped from the stuff Fox News usually just has to make up: Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has stepped into the fray over an offensive classroom exercise at Florida Atlantic University in which students were asked to stomp on a sheet of paper with “Jesus” written on it.

Boston College threatens disciplinary action against students distributing condoms.

Boston College officials sent a letter to students on March 15 demanding an end to student-run “Safe Sites,” a network of dorm rooms and other locations where free contraceptives and safe sex information are available.

Students living in the “Safe Sites” were told in the letter that the distribution of condoms is in conflict with their “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”

Mexican town finds more security by throwing out the police.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal considers the Singularity.

* xkcd considers the past as another country … with an outdated military and massive oil reserves.

* And making the rounds again: The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever.

soldier-yawning-perfect-timing

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