Tag Archives: economic inequality

Stick With Toilets and Condoms, Bill Gates

Why does a Thinker for Hire waste even a fragment of a second?

A fragment of a second is 3 seconds too long on these cover stories about (I can’t even TYPE the phrase “education reform” without feeling queasy) in national magazines.

But when it’s spread out on the kitchen table, and reading is a temporary but welcome respite from weekday morning chaos, and her eyes must rest somewhere while chewing her sugary cud, where else should a TfH look?

And here’s what those fragments of time taught me: that as bad as I already thought Bill Gates was for education, with his self-made billionaire high school dropout hubris,


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I dropped everything to read last week’s New Yorker report on the MOOCification of higher ed. Naively forgetting that this austere publication’s emphasis is decidedly elite. What with its umlauts and ninja writing and sassy annual contests celebrating itself.

The piece wasn’t really about MOOCs. It was about Harvard’s experiments with MOOCs. And a few kooky professors (Harvard Kooky emphatically different than State School Kooky, o’course) trying to adapt their lectures to 12 minute chunks of TED-friendly learning units.

Heller’s most cogent critique of MOOCification was the Nostalgia/Fantasy Critique, in which his college experience mirrored our every dream of the liberal arts. Intimate scholarly exchanges with professors, serendipitous juxtapositions of ideas exploding into KNOWLEDGE and TRUTH firebursts reflecting starrily in a 19 year old’s impressionable irises.

And seriously? He only talked to Harvard people. Plus a few at Amherst.


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SCOTUS is a Monkey House

Man, elections make people nutsobananas.

But, it turns out, so does affirmative action. Nina Totenberg brought some bananas to the monkeyhouse.

Chief Justice Roberts, returning to the question of what constitutes a critical mass of minority students, asked: When is enough, enough?

Verrilli said the school looks at many factors — information about classroom diversity, retention and graduation rates, and information about racial incidents on campus, among other things. The school, however, cannot measure success by numbers, he said, because that would be a quota.

“We should probably stop calling it critical mass then,” said Justice Scalia, noting that mass suggests numbers.

Verrilli agreed with this characterization, prompting Scalia to offer a solution: “Call it a cloud or something like that.”

Because cloud is the new black.

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On the Penn State Penalties

I am not going to attempt my usual joke-a-thon to make the news go down easier. Too much pain in Colorado.

But I did want to share a little hope in the penalties levied on Penn State today.

Maybe you guys can help me out with this: I cannot think of a time when an entire culture was held to account for the horrific cruelties it let happen.

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The Political Power of Symbols

The New York Times ran this poignant story about a little black boy curious to know if the President’s hair felt like his.

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