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September 27, 2010
Because a lot of the work I do on campus focuses (or at least touches) on energy efficiency, I get a lot of communications from the Association of Energy Engineers. This week, I got a tabloid-format promotion for their annual conference. The lead story starts out "The catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and record temperatures around the world have brought about the "Age of Energy Transformation."Really?
September 27, 2010
 As reported by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo[1] a recent study from the State University of Rio de Janeiro found that 70% of public higher education institutions in Brazil have adopted some kind of affirmative action program. Legislation is being discussed in Congress to make these programs mandatory, but the institutions are doing it voluntarily, or according to state legislation.
September 27, 2010
Parking on a University campus is always a passionate issue. In many cases, the issue is the number of sports; in other cases it is the quality of spots. There is a magnetic attraction — for faculty, students, staff and administration — to a parking spot adjacent to the building that one will be in. And there is a priority order in place at many colleges and universities regarding who can park where.
September 26, 2010
There’s an old saying to the effect that a difference of degree eventually becomes a difference of kind. One could say, for example, that Albert Pujols is a better hitter than I am, but the difference in our respective skill levels is so drastic that subsuming both of us under the category of ‘hitters’ is misleading. The chasm between us amounts to a phase shift.We’re beginning to see that phase shift with online education.
September 26, 2010
Hello any fellow Audible/Amazon Platinum Membership subscribers who manage to find this message. We are a tribe of dedicated audiobook listeners, marginalized by the greater reading public, willing to give Audible/Amazon $229.50 upfront to receive 24 credits all at once. We join this plan because the cost of a single book works out to $9.56 - by far the most cost effective method to purchase audiobooks. We join this plan because we love Audible. We join this plan because audiobooks have changed our lives.
September 26, 2010
Boston, Massachusetts, USA The dean’s office. The provost’s office. The president’s office.
September 26, 2010
I wrote a few weeks ago about an encounter my son had with the police, and how this affected our family. Ben is back in school now, and things have returned to normal — and yet, they haven’t.On most schooldays, I walk Ben to the subway before hitting the pool at the health club and then going on to work. At 16, he certainly doesn’t need his mommy to drop him off, but it’s a ritual we developed when he first started traveling by himself, in the eighth grade, and we both enjoy it.
September 26, 2010
Frau R. came back this week from a conference in Tennessee. Whilst away, she picked up a Christmas gift for my son: a small box, suitable to sit on a desk or dresser, made from disused computer circuit boards. It seems to be covered in some sort of lacquer or polyurethane, so I'm not entirely sure how environmentally sensitive the thing is, but it's different, he'll like it, and anything that keeps heavy metals out of the landfills is OK by me.
September 24, 2010
A friend in another department asked a few months ago how my semester was finishing out. I told him about my classes, which included a lit lecture with 240 students, a creative writing workshop, and an independent study, as well as two or three honors-project students. He said, “You taught more IUs [instructional units] than my entire department.” I laughed, and he said: “No, really.” (I also did readings and interviews and otherwise tried to promote my novel that semester as I was putting final edits on the brief nonfiction book.)
September 24, 2010
The publishing industry should give two individuals awards for doing as much as Oprah to promote books: Jon Stewart and Joshua Kim. Stewart not only talks about several serious books a week on The Daily Show, he even gives the impression he's read them. Joshua Kim reads so much he puts this librarian to shame, but I love the fact that he shares his enthusiasm for books and regularly asks what we're reading - and my to-be-read list keeps growing as a result.

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