Posts Tagged ‘permafrost’
* Ian Bogost has a great piece on MOOCs in an otherwise totally skippable LARoB feature on the subject.
MOOCs are a financial policy for higher education. They exemplify what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism”: policy guilefully initiated in the wake of upheaval. The need to teach more students with fewer resources is a complex situation. It’s partly caused by hubris, especially the blind search for higher institutional status through research programs, and it’s exacerbated by the tax base crises of the ongoing and seemingly permanent Great Recession. MOOCs offer the next logical step in this process of “cost containment.” But those who would call current funding models “unviable” and offer MOOCs as a convenient alternative fail to admit that the very need for an alternative presumes that we want to abandon public education in favor of a corporate-owned infrastructure in the first place.
MOOCs are an academic labor policy. As a consequence of the financial policy just described, MOOCs are amplifying the precarity long experienced by adjuncts and graduate student assistants, and helping to extend that precarity to the professoriate. MOOCs encourage an ad-hoc “freelancing” work regime among tenured faculty, many of whom will find the financial incentives for MOOC creation and deployment difficult to resist. This is particularly true of public institution faculty who have gone years without raises. Many institutions offer tens of thousands of dollars of direct compensation for MOOC development and teaching. And, in some cases, MOOCs offer direct access to student tuition and direct competition among faculty for those new resources, extending the “entrepreneurial” institutional politics of professional schools (and corporate life more generally) to all disciplines.
MOOCs are speculative financial instruments. The purpose of an educational institution is to educate, but the purpose of a startup is to convert itself into a financial instrument.The two major MOOC providers, Udacity and Coursera, are venture capital-funded startups, and therefore they are beholden to high leverage, rapid growth with an interest in a fast flip to a larger technology company or the financial market. The concepts of “disruption” and “innovation,” so commonly applied to MOOCs, come from the world of business. As for EdX, the MOOC consortium started by Harvard and MIT, it’s a non-profit operating under the logic of speculation rather than as a public service. If anything, it will help the for-profits succeed even more by evangelizing their vision as compatible with elite non-profit educational ideals.
* It is telling that elite professors and universities who design MOOCs aren’t using them for their own students. Those of us who value education and its role in fostering both literacy and democracy should pass on them too.
* Patton Oswalt: A Closed Letter to Myself about Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes.
* Sarah Kendzior vs. the prestige economy. Good interview.
* The investigation was ongoing, but Undersheriff James Szczesniak said there was no evidence yet that Martino “had any ill intent.” There could be a dozen perfectly legitimate reasons why he’d have 30 to 40 pipe bombs in his apartment.
* What’s more important: a college degree or being born rich? The answer will totally not surprise you!
The permafrost feedback response to our historic emissions, even in the absence of future human emissions, is likely to be self-sustaining and will cancel out future natural carbon sinks in the oceans and biosphere over the next two centuries.
* SOPA update from Cory Doctorow: The Judiciary Committee will have another chance to pass the bill out of committee at a special session on December 21.
* The headline reads, Two deaths from brain-eating amoeba linked to sinus remedy for colds. Does the world seem a little strange today to anyone else?
* Only the super-rich can save us now! An anonymous cabal of millionaires and billionaires is looking to do something in the 2012 election by running an independent candidate in all 50 states. Just what is that something? I guess we’ll find out.
* Obama vs. the pipeline? As @thinkprogress notes, that’s the whole point of this payroll tax blackmail in the first place.
* I’m with Ta-Nehisi: Occupy Wall Street shouldn’t turn into Occupy Trinity Church. If that puts me at odds with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, well, so be it…
* Today in the permafrost apocalypse: A recent estimate suggests that the perennially frozen ground known as permafrost, which underlies nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.
* Glenn Greenwald: To allow significant political figures to be heralded with purely one-sided requiems — enforced by misguided (even if well-intentioned) notions of private etiquette that bar discussions of their bad acts — is not a matter of politeness; it’s deceitful and propagandistic. More, specifically on Hitchens, from Lenin’s Tomb.
* And your game of the night: Greens Survive Only When Reds Die. Like Lemmings for sociopaths. Enjoy!
Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.
* Slate remembers Choose Your Own Adventure, including this tidbit:
The no-gender policy proved difficult to maintain when Bantam hired artists to draw covers and illustrations for the series. “In the text I was always extremely rigorous never to have anyone refer to the reader as ‘he.’ ” Packard says. “But Bantam insisted it be a boy because they had market research that said girls would identify with boys but boys would never read a book where ‘you’ was a girl. That was a big problem because most of the covers were of boys and most of the illustrations were of boys.”
It was a move that Packard believes lost readers: “I think we lost a huge number of girls to The Babysitter’s Club.“
* And the headline reads, “Permafrost Meltdown May Herald Climate Catastrophe.” Enjoy your weekend.