“We are going to be all right”

Tom Hanks at the Museum of Modern Art gala in his honor:

“We are going to be all right. America has been in worse places than we are at right now. In my own lifetime, our streets were in chaos, our generations were fighting each other tooth and nail. Every dinner table ended up being as close to a fistfight as human families are allowed. We have been in a place where we have looked at our leaders and wondered, “What the hell they were thinking of?” We’ve had moments with the administrations and politicians and senators and governors in which we have asked ourselves, “Are they lying to us or do they really believe in this?” That’s all right,” Hanks said. “We have this magnificent thing that is in place. It’s a magnificent document and it starts off with the phrases that, if you’re smart enough, you’ve memorized in school or just read enough to that you could put it by heart, or you watched those things on ABC where they taught you a little song in order to sing. And the song goes, “We the people in order to form a more perfect union establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,” and it goes on and on. That document is going to protect us over and over again whether or not our neighbors preserve, protect, and defend it themselves. We are going to be all right because we constantly get to tell the world who we. We constantly get to define ourselves as American. We do have the greatest country in the world. We move at a slow pace. We have the greatest country in the world because we are always moving towards a more perfect union. That journey never ceases, it never stops. Sometimes, to quote a Springsteen song, it’s “one step forward, two steps back,” but we still aggregately move forward. We, who are a week into wondering what the hell just happened, will continue to move forward. We have to choose to do so, but we will move forward because if we do not move forward, what is to be said of us?”

“This is the United States of America. We’ll go on. There’s great like-minded people out there who are Americans first and Republicans or Democrats second,” Hanks told THR. “I hope the president-elect does such a great job that I vote for his re-election in four years.”

(Emphasis added is mine.)

The Hollywood Reporter

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Spark from pressure gauge caused University of Hawaii explosion, fire department says – c&en


An explosion last month that caused a University of Hawaii, Manoa, postdoctoral researcher to lose an arm was caused by a spark from a digital pressure gauge that was not designed for use with flammable gases, says a Honolulu Fire Department investigation report.

via c&en

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College of New Jersey overhauls curriculum…

to focus on undergraduate research and the teacher/scholar model:

“Part of this big academic transformation was concurrently thinking about faculty workload models, and fundamentally making that shift from separate research and teaching cultures to the scholar-teacher culture,” said Jeffrey M. Osborn, dean of the School of Science. “We want undergraduate research to be built into the faculty workload system.”

Faculty Work, Student Success – Inside Higher Ed

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The “Meez”

Ron Friedman at Harvard Business Review:

The “Meez,” as professionals call it, translates into “everything in its place.” In practice, it involves studying a recipe, thinking through the tools and equipment you will need, and assembling the ingredients in the right proportion before you begin. It is the planning phase of every meal—the moment when chefs evaluate the totality of what they are trying to achieve and create an action plan for the meal ahead.

Preparation, preparation, preparation, and not getting mired in low value items at the expense of what is important to you. I find myself in this rut far too often and then stress about not having time to do what I value. Well worth reading.

How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day

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MOOA (massive open online administrations)

The future of administration in higher ed?

As colleges begin using massive open online courses (MOOC) to reduce faculty costs, a Johns Hopkins University professor has announced plans for MOOA (massive open online administrations). Dr. Benjamin Ginsberg, author of The Fall of the Faculty, says that many colleges and universities face the same administrative issues every day. By having one experienced group of administrators make decisions for hundreds of campuses simultaneously, MOOA would help address these problems expeditiously and economically. Since MOOA would allow colleges to dispense with most of their own administrators, it would generate substantial cost savings in higher education.

Minding the Campus

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Florida recommending ‘differentiated’ tuition for STEM majors

Among the recommendations made in a draft report from a Florida Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform is a ‘differentiated’ tuition structure that has a lower tuition for students in “specific high-skill, high-wage, high-demand (market determined demand) degree programs”.

RECOMMENDATION 2: Implement differentiated tuition structure to support high-skill, high-wage, high-demand (market determined demand) degree programs, as identified by the Legislature. The Legislature and Board of Governors should move away from uniform tuition rates among the universities and among all degree programs within a university. A differentiated tuition model should be built on the establishment of specific high-skill, high-wage, high-demand (market determined demand) degree programs, as identified by the Legislature, with measurements of progress (outcomes) determined by the Board of Governors.

It is difficult to imagine a positive outcome from this. STEM programs are generally the most resource intensive at any college or university and are subsidized in many ways by less expensive programs as it is. Perhaps an examination of exploding administrative costs (cached) would be a better solution to the budget problems in higher education.

There is also a commentary at the Chronicle: In Defense of Equal Tuition for All Majors (cached).

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Politics is biggest factor in climate uncertainty

Swift action by politicians is the single most important factor in limiting global warming, an analysis finds. The costs of political delays outweigh any possible benefits of waiting for more research into the mechanisms of climate change.


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ACS Presidential Commission on Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences

The Commission was charged by ACS President Bassam Z. Shakhashiri with addressing two overarching questions:

  • What are the purposes of graduate education in the chemical sciences?
  • What steps should be taken to ensure that graduate education addresses important societal issues as well as the needs and aspirations of graduate students?

The summary report, full report, and webcast are available on the website.

I just started reading the summary report and will be watching the webcast soon.

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The Coursera Bandwagon

Doug Guthrie (Dean of the George Washington University School of Business):

Coursera and its devotees simply have it wrong. The Coursera model doesn’t create a learning community; it creates a crowd. In most cases, the crowd lacks the loyalty, initiative, and interest to advance a learning relationship beyond an informal, intermittent connection.

Why should we be impressed that an online course can reach 100,000 students at once? By celebrating massification, advocates of Coursera elevate volume as the chief objective of online learning. Is that truly our goal in academe?

Worth reading the comments as well.

chronicle.com (unfortunately paywalled – cached version).

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Institutions must advance and keep pace with the times – Thomas Jefferson

Great find by John Gruber:

I am certainly not an advocate for for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. – Jefferson to H. Tompkinson (AKA Samuel Kercheval), July 12, 1816

Quotations on the Jefferson Memorial – Panel Four

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