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November 10, 2008 - 9:49pm
One of the things I do when I'm not teaching or preparing for class, not grading or cooking or working on my research -- one of the things I do relatively rarely, in other words -- is knit. I like to knit. It satisfies on many levels. For one, it allows me to create something without requiring great effort -- I just follow the directions. I don't need to think very hard about it. It can be done while I am watching TV, or listening to the radio, or even (once) listening to a conference paper. Sometimes I get a Christmas gift out of it, or a warm scarf for myself.
November 10, 2008 - 7:43am
An alert reader sent me a link to this story about New Hampshire. Apparently, the Granite State is considering funneling most high school students into community colleges after tenth grade. (Tellingly, the story allows that "those who want to go to a prestigious university may stay and finish the final two years.") This is one of those ideas that carries in it a real grain of truth, but that takes it much too far.
November 9, 2008 - 8:22pm
To save gas, money and GHG emissions, a number of us from the Backboro area shared a ride to AASHE 2008. Specific jobs differed, but everyone was concerned in some way with campus sustainability. That's why it struck me as odd when, while we were driving through a particularly commercially dense portion of Virginia (I-95, a bit south of Washington DC), someone in the car remarked on how much they'd love to live in an area like that. You know, with any store you wanted, so you could just go out and buy what you needed.
November 7, 2008 - 4:03pm
Before Crazy Larry dropped out to play the train conductor in some holiday “experience” that we aren’t allowed to call The Polar Express down at the mall, he was an IT manager at a famous university. He and his staff provided support to administrators and faculty, some of whom willfully refused to help themselves yet expected instant and total service. There’s a triage for this sort of thing when resources are limited—resources are always limited—but out of some sense of privilege the faculty especially felt they shouldn’t have to play by the rules.
November 7, 2008 - 11:19am
Greenback U is located in the northeastern quadrant of the lower 48. Raleigh, NC is in the southeast quadrant. And Raleigh is where this year's AASHE conference is taking place, so I guess it's not just the Dow that's headed south. It will be a pretty full schedule -- pre-conference workshops on Sunday, opening plenaries Sunday evening, sessions from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Monday, then again from 8:00 a.m. until about 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. I'm already looking forward to getting back to work, so I can get some rest!
November 7, 2008 - 4:42am
According to IHE, President-elect Obama has supported a fully refundable tax credit of $4000 for the first two years of college. Whether this (or anything akin to it) has a chance of seeing the light of day is another question, but it's a neat idea to bat around.
November 6, 2008 - 9:11pm
The American Mathematical Society recently published a study (Cross-Cultural Analysis of Students with Exceptional Talent in Mathematical Problem Solving) that finds evidence to disprove the widely held idea that girls are not as good at math as boys are. Instead, the relative small percent of girls excelling in math is traced to cultural forces found in the U.S., forces that can be changed so girls can approach the study of math with an open mind.
November 6, 2008 - 2:39pm
Lost among the stories about the ongoing election, NPR's "Day to Day" program on Tuesday carried a bit about a really interesting fungus, recently discovered. The discoverer, Dr. Gary Strobel of Montana State, described the organism as an endophyte -- an entity that lives within plants -- and its most interesting property (at least to my ears) as the fact that it puts out a liquid which is directly usable as a fully satisfactory diesel fuel.
November 6, 2008 - 6:18am
Of all the possible reactions to Barack Obama’s historical victory this week, I wasn’t prepared for a lead story about the black and red dress Michelle Obama wore to her husband’s acceptance in Chicago. If you read the comments (and I’m not suggesting you do; the punctuation alone will drive you mad) you’ll find a pathological animosity toward the next first lady’s appearance: her teeth, her size, how she walks, how she stands.
November 6, 2008 - 6:12am
This has recently become salient in my world, again. Internal candidates raise all kinds of issues – information asymmetry, historical baggage, sense of entitlement, and the like. There's a really basic awfulness in saying 'no' to somebody internal. Saying 'no' to anybody is unpleasant, but it isn't so bad with people you're unlikely ever to see again. You can be vague and relatively quick, and emerge soon enough with both parties' dignity intact. (That doesn't always happen, of course, but it should.) Once the deed is done, it's done, and you can get on with your work.

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