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March 3, 2009 - 7:51pm
  The story in the Chronicle yesterday about California paying its community colleges in IOU's got me thinking about reserves, and the conflicting roles they play. In good years, some cc's are able to salt away some money and put it into reserves. (It's also commonly called a “rainy day fund.”) The idea is that public funding is notoriously and viciously cyclical, so having a pile of stray money can minimize the damage you have to endure in down cycles. Given how much of our budget is fixed cost, there's a real logic to this. But reserves are a tricky business.
March 2, 2009 - 10:18pm
  I read a piece in the Chronicle recently about learning to use unstructured time productively. Or, that’s what I thought it was about. As I read further, however, it seemed more to be about convincing people (and yourself) that you’re working when it doesn’t look like you are. That’s, of course, a very different animal, and one that academic mothers in particular may have trouble with.
March 2, 2009 - 10:07pm
A new correspondent writes: I've been doing some reading in economics lately and started wondering about higher education. What are the incentives to do administration well? Sure, there's personal satisfaction in a job well done. But what about it more broadly? How does change work into this? Without a simple goal like profit, I'm finding it hard to get even little service changes in administration. Maybe I'm simply not understanding the incentives at play? I understand (I think) the incentives at play for faculty and students, but what about administrators?
March 2, 2009 - 12:41pm
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch an old (old, old) movie -- Trouble in Paradise. It was released in 1932, and starred Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis. Particularly enjoyable to this Rocky & Bullwinkle fan were Edward Everett Horton and Charlie Ruggles in supporting roles. (If that reference doesn't make sense, you haven't watched "Fractured Fairy Tales" nearly enough. And a fairy tale is what this movie is, through and through.)
March 1, 2009 - 8:41pm
    Dr. Crazy has a nice discussion over at her place about battles over curriculum. As she details it, her department has basically broken into two camps: the "eat your spinach" camp and the "let them take what they want" camp. I'm quite taken with the metaphor.
February 26, 2009 - 9:14pm
Today I taught about Bay’s Theorem and Bayesian Statistics in my Advanced Statistics class. As I was lecturing, I talked a little about the game shows “Deal or No Deal” and “Let’s Make a Deal”, both very similar games but separated by about 30 years and some minor details. As I talked about the game shows, I found myself in a tangent discussing risk aversion, risk neutrality and risk loving behavior. It is then that I realized that these topics actually had something to say about parenting.
February 26, 2009 - 9:08pm
  The Girl is four, with big innocent eyes and a smile that could melt the Grinch. She also has juuust a little vinegar in her, which we kind of encourage.   Yesterday with TW, as the radio played the “Hits of the 80's Lunch Hour”:   TG: He doesn't just want you to whip it, he wants you to whip it GOOD! I'm not ready for this...
February 26, 2009 - 2:21pm
While we're on the subject of visual presentation of information, I just want to point out that part of the reason I'm psyched about being able to map greenhouse gas emissions geographically is because (let's be honest here) there isn't currently an effective visual image of climate disruption.
February 26, 2009 - 10:03am
A longish essay I wrote last year has appeared in the twentieth-anniversary issue of the terrific literary journal War, Literature & the Arts. It's a print journal with an online site, and since your tax dollars helped me publish this time around (the journal is based at the U.S Air Force Academy), I'll kindly give you a link, if you're interested, so you can read for absolutely free. Now can we stop all that hard talk about arts funding during economic downturns?

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