New Republic: Divine Fury Book Excerpt—A History of Genius.
Hmmm … in another light, this perfectly primed Americans for the frontier “rugged individual” myth. Dovetails just perfectly.
The Atlantic: Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?
I was going to make a snark about this … but in thinking back to the 80’s, when Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” became de rigeur reading on Wall Street and sold bajillions of copies, I think this is healthier. And, he mentions Zhuangzi, one of my personal guiding lights.
SF New Mexican: American adults score poorly on global test.
“This test could suggest students leaving high school without certain basic skills aren’t obtaining them later on the job or in an education program.” Or on their own time. I mentioned Edward Gibbon just yesterday: “Every man who rises above the common level has received two educations: the first from his teachers; the second, more personal and important, from himself.”
HuffPo/Small Business: Why I Hire English Majors
I believe I’ve related my experiences working on Wall Street, and asking coworkers at the large financial firm I worked for what they majored in. Very few business majors; mostly English Majors and (believe it or not) Philosophy Majors.
Gizmag: Quantum black hole study opens bridge to another universe.
It takes 3/4 of this article just to arrive at a level of knowledge to where one can appreciate the ‘bridge’ theory. Another ‘black hole information paradox’, methinks. The black hole of our own educations.
Guardian.UK: Replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb to divert tourists from threatened site.
“It’s revolutionary. [snip] It’s not just a way of protecting the tomb of Tutankhamun, but it’s a test case, a model that could be used to protect other sites across the country.” No, it’s not. Ever been to the Luxor in Las Vegas? You’ve been beaten to the punch. Cuing Umberto Eco’s Travels in Hyperreality, once again. Do take the time to read it sometime.
Shorpy: Bi-Biplane: 1917.
It’s a Langley. And therefore to be both laughed at AND revered.
OpenCulture: Mark Twain’s Advice to Little Girls—Witty Counsel to Young Ladies of 1865.
“You ought never to take your little brother’s ‘chewing-gum’ away from him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise of the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the river on a grindstone. In the artless simplicity natural to this time of life, he will regard it as a perfectly fair transaction. In all ages of the world this eminently plausible fiction has lured the obtuse infant to financial ruin and disaster.” Alas, as a kid I was particularly susceptible to schemes such as this. Make it an elaborate enough story, I’d buy it hook, line and sinker.
LRB: On Knickers.
“The surgeon’s knife is the new corset, and surely, in terms of discomfort and effect, a step back from my mother’s supple rubber device pricked with tiny airholes to allow the skin to breathe. Or if we can’t manage the knife, from squeamishness or lack of money, there’s changing the shape of the body by the rigorous manipulation of muscle and fat into our notional perfect form.” A diverting read.
Pricenomics: Is College Worth It?
The Atlantic: The Reform of For-Profit Colleges: Can They Give Up Their Predatory Ways?
I’m working from a very small sample size (met one graduate of a for-profit school). My question is, can they teach anything of value? The person I met had Powerpoint skills. Not even to the level of one Lynda.com training course. And that was it. Incredible cost for so little gain, IMHO.
New Republic: Stop Forcing Your Kids to Learn a Musical Instrument.
“But for the general mass of kids, the dance classes will not have had much impact on how they move. If you don’t believe me, then please visit a middle school in a wealthy town, watch children in the lunch line, and try to pick out which ones had studied ballet.” I disagree, mostly. Once a certain level of knowledge is acquired, the movements of a ballet-taking child can be easily distinguished. After two years of Latin, my basic English/grammar/vocabulary skills changed remarkably. But you would have likely had to experience both before and after to appreciate it. Whether one should ‘force’ or not, is contextual. Some kids need more … er … ‘external motivation’ than others.
The Atlantic: Poetry Isn’t as Useless as a Lot of Poets Say It Is.
I should think that would be a given, since the common stereotypical description of a poet is an isolated, suicidal depressive. Poetry is of great use, for those with ears to hear and eyes to read.
Bloomberg: The Case Against Cursive.
“Students have more important things to learn, which they no doubt would be happy to describe in an e-mail.” I don’t see children learning ‘important things’, just ending up having useful things dropped from curricula. What I do see is training up and optimizing future debt-laden consumers.
OpenCulture: Discover What Shakespeare’s Handwriting Looked Like.
“Suffice it to say that thanks to Bruster’s painstaking analysis of Shakespeare’s distinctive handwriting, we can be fairly certain that a 1602 revision of Thomas Kyd’s enormously popular Renaissance play The Spanish Tragedy — in the words of Shakespeare scholar Eric Rasmussen — has the bard’s ‘fingerprints all over it.’”
Mashable: Voyager 1 Reaches Interstellar Space, NASA Confirms.
“It’s important to note that while Voyager 1 is in a new region of space, it has not left our solar system. Our solar system is defined as everything that is affected by the sun’s gravitational force. That includes the Oort cloud, a spherical cloud that outlines the boundary of our solar system. It will take Voyager 1 another 300 years to reach the beginning of the Oort cloud and another 30,000 years or so to exit.” As opposed to dozens of other news reports.
New Republic: Crimes Against Humanities.
Haven’t time to read it yet, but my skim-through looks lively and of great interest.
Open Culture: The Curious History of Punctuation.
Open Culture: Reconstructing the Bard’s Original Pronunciation.
More, more! Wonderful.
Speaking of ‘peak’ ...
I see it misspelled so many times in Reddit, journo sites, etc. … even I now second-guess myself over the spelling! Nothing I hate worse than seeing ‘Peek Performance’ or “He was caught peaking at” whatever.
Space.com: Happy Birthday, Voyager 1!
Same year I graduated from high school.
This should be a running gag:
“Has Voyager 1 left the Solar System?”
“Who the hell knows?”
Instead of ruining the joke every month … why not wait a few years more? Even a decade — if it means you don’t have to keep moving the Solar System ‘goalposts’ each time you surf through a new wave of particles.
Discover Mag: On the Persistence of Bad Luck (and Good).
NPR: For Biographers, The Past Is An Open (Electronic) Book.
Computers, email, etc. are making the work of a biographer nearly impossible.
Guardian.UK: The Pacific Ocean fills in another piece of the global warming puzzle.
“Thus the scientific picture is becoming increasingly clear that the Pacific Ocean has played a large role in the slowed surface warming in recent years, but the warming of the oceans and planet as a whole have continued unabated. Thus the slowed surface warming is very likely to be a temporary effect, similar to the flat global surface temperatures between 1940 and 1970 when the Pacific Ocean was in another cool cycle.” I assume this behavior has been affecting our El Niño and La Niña weather patterns here in the Southwest.
10,000 words: NM State, Auburn Step Up Convergence Journalism Digs and Curriculum.
“Just last week, New Mexico State University (NMSU) opened a $100,000 Digital Journalism Center with a soundproof audio booth, a studio students can use to produce podcasts (with a green screen!) and a Mac Lab to better accommodate the needs of up-and-coming multimedia student journalists.” Ahem. Podcasts, with a green screen? Come again? I think the writer means ‘broadcasts’.