“Being in the hospital is horrible. They woke me up at 4:00 am once to ask whether I was sleeping well.”
Via Philip Greenspun, describing a friend with a terminal disease, and why he wanted to avoid chemo.
10 similarities between Higher Education and the Catholic Church on the eve of the Reformation?
Ivan Illich might be concerned with at least one half of this comparison. But it is difficult to read it without feeling a little twinge of guilt. Short of original sin, of course. Donald Clark, in fine icon smashing form.
“On this note, he quotes mathematician and family friend Jacques Hadamard, apparently complaining about a student who asked for a thesis topic, “Can you imagine that? If he has no topic of his own, he should not even think of a Ph.D.!””
Which brings to mind David Hubel’s practice of trying to persuade students not to do a PhD — he only wanted the ones who ‘really’ wanted it, rather than those who were just judged able.
From a book review of Fractalist in Science
I didn’t know.
Two Stanford graduate students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, saw opportunity. Working from a trailer on campus, they began compiling websites into a list, organized by topic. They eventually named it Yahoo, an acronym for ‘Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.
I now have a new term for ‘learning outcomes’. Yahoo. Although ‘hideous’ competes with hierarchical
Seen it before, but always makes me smile. And think.
The ratio of expertise or expense between what you currently spend on the students already registered with you, versus that which you spend attracting new students, is a statement of ethical values (or lack of them). The same goes for the staff who work for you already. Your current students may get a bunch of ugly Powerpoints with no design support; the potential students get professional videos.
On the origin of the university quad:
These facilities were often enclosed quadrangles that were accessed by defensible gated entrances to protect their scholars and faculty fellows from aggrieved townsmen.
From Wisdoms Workshop
Vicks sells a rectal thermometer with a Bluetooth transmitter and accompanying smartphone app. Under Armour has announced plans to put biometric sensors in the underwear and other garments it makes. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere companies won’t go to collect information about us.
Nicholas Carr,on surveillance and the internet of things.
Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616, went largely unremarked by all but a few of his immediate contemporaries. There was no global shudder when his mortal remains were laid to rest in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. No one proposed that he be interred in Westminster Abbey near Chaucer or Spenser (where his fellow playwright Francis Beaumont was buried in the same year and where Ben Jonson would be buried some years later). No notice of Shakespeare’s passing was taken in the diplomatic correspondence of the time or in the newsletters that circulated on the Continent; no rush of Latin obsequies lamented the “vanishing of his breath,” as classical elegies would have it; no tributes were paid to his genius by his distinguished European contemporaries. Shakespeare’s passing was an entirely local English event, and even locally it seems scarcely to have been noted.
Stephen Greenbelt in the NYRB
Yes, I know not as good as the quip about Jesus of Nazareth: “A fine teacher, but didn’t publish”.
Frankfurt concluded that the difference between the liar and the bullshitter was that the liar cared about the truth — cared so much that he wanted to obscure it — while the bullshitter did not. The bullshitter, said Frankfurt, was indifferent to whether the statements he uttered were true or not. “He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.” Statistical bullshit is a special case of bullshit in general, and it appears to be on the rise.
And there is plenty to go around — even in medicine.
[or as one FT commentator christened it:“taurine waste” a euphemistic reformulation of “bullshit”]
Now I know; I think.
Kurt Vonnegut said it best: “Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”
Quoted by John O’Callaghan in the Economist.
Andrew Oswald in the THE
‘A key purpose of a PhD is to destroy a young person’s ability to enjoy leisure. Presumably, this is what it is like to be in the SAS’
But adds (salvation is on hand)
The world does not prosper when humans are consumed by duty.
I have read a fair bit about Clark Kerr, and skimmed some of his writings, but I had missed this titbit (quoted in Nature by Colin Macilwain). ‘It was Clerk Kerr, a former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, who most memorably defined the role of a university administrator: to arrange parking for the staff, sex for the students and sports for the alumni’. I have a definitive opinion on the merits of two of these three issues.
Gee, now there is a magazine named after that gene I spent so much of my life studying (MC1R). I am not on commission.
A magazine for redheads and their appreciators, MC1R is proof that independents can grow fast by tapping into a clear niche.
Launched last year in German, the magazine switched to English for issue two when founder Tristan Rodgers realised he’d stumbled across an editorial concept with truly global potential, and this third issue is his biggest and best yet. Smart and sexy (and tastefully NSFW in places) it’s a brilliantly focused read.
“He mocks the millions of dollars schools squander on golden parachutes for coaches with losing records. And he explores the far reaches of the infrastructure necessary to sustain big-time college football, like the “walkers” who escort players to classes to ensure they attend.” Gives me an idea…
Well, this did make me laugh. You cannot think about modern medicine without thinking about the generation of new useful knowledge, and how we can parcel out what knowledge we already possess and package it so that those with fewer experiential skills can use it. The latter is a bit of a mouthful, but I mean breaking tasks down such that they can be accomplished by those with less (expensive) training. So, do you need to be a dermatologist to undertake skin surgery: the answer is clearly no, but the exact answer depends on exactly what type of surgery. There are parallels in other professions, such as using paralegals instead of lawyers. I cannot remember my sources but I think doctors made up around a third of the health care workforce a century ago, where now it is 1 in ~14. This trend will continue, and our friendly machines will be looking for work too. Students be warned.
So, I was following up on this theme with some background reading, Race Against the Machine and all that. And I came across a study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne with the title The Future of employment : how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? I cannot speak to their methodology, but they have come up with probabilities for how likely various jobs are likely to be replaced by the dreaded machines. What made me smile was that the estimate for ‘Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists’ was p=0.0045, but for Epidemiologist it was 0.2. Chuckle.
On why you might prefer med school to vet school. Philip Greenspun. Or not.
Well I am glad I am not the only one who thought this graphic was awful. It is absolutely dreadful. Migraine inducing.
Well, no longer are students just consumers or clients, so I shouldn’t be surprised. The Time Higher (24/7/2014) reports that firms are offering graduating students digitally enhanced photographs at graduation. Body sculpting, complexion enhancement and smile enhancement, all available at low cost. Less is hidden than with many an honorary degree, perhaps…
I seem to remember it was a junior doctors’ mess room game to express amusement at some doctor’s surnames (Mr Butcher, the surgeon; Lord Brain the neurologist; Dr Child, the paediatrician etc). The other thought experiment related to collective nouns for groups of staff. A ‘scab’ of dermatologists; a ‘clot’ of haematologists; a callus of orthopaedic surgeons, and so on. For professors, it was simply ‘absence’— an ‘absence of professors’. The THE has wondered what the term might be for university Principals (Vice-Chancellor or Presidents). The noun is ‘lack’, as in a lack of Principals.
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From a partly navel gazing article on how Harvard Business School is trying to actually see if it can advise itself on how to survive. Or, alternatively can devour itself. Warning: contains disruptive innovation memes. I just thought the following was a new variation on the usual images that University prospectuses use (sex mix, ethnicity mix, quadrangle, new glass covered ‘you can see everybody’ building etc).
Professor Christensen did something “truly disruptive” in 2011, when he found himself in a room with a panoramic view of Boston Harbor. About to begin his lecture, he noticed something about the students before him. They were beautiful, he later recalled. Really beautiful.
“Oh, we’re not students,” one of them explained. “We’re models.”
They were there to look as if they were learning: to appear slightly puzzled when Professor Christensen introduced a complex concept, to nod when he clarified it, or to look fascinated if he grew a tad boring. The cameras in the classroom — actually, a rented space downtown — would capture it all for the real audience: roughly 130,000 business students at the University of Phoenix, which hired Professor Christensen to deliver lectures online.
Via a great article on the canons of computer software by Paul Ford
I have never taught in a school, just been a pupil. I do remember the sparring that goes on between pupils and teacher. The kids push ‘to the limit’. They then improvise just under this limit, causing trouble. My thought was that teachers could either define limits carefully or, to be slightly evil, just behave in an inconsistent manner. For the latter, think: random acts of terror! In this scenario, the kids can never quite work out any rules of engagement, and will sit there terrified in silence. Evil, I know.
I wonder whether this approach might be useful for learning outcomes. Rather than taking part in an evolutionary war between the students on one hand who want ever more explicit statements of what they should know, and on the other, the inevitable ignoring of all aspects of knowledge that cannot be explicitly stated, we should aim for a little more disorganisation. We shouldn’t tell the students what they need to know, and we certainly shouldn’t tell them the format of the exam, or even when it is. What do they need to know? Lots. Pay attention. Evil, I know.