we want more children

8/9/2011: From Insidehighered.com. PLoS ONE link here.

Nearly half of female faculty members in top science departments wish
they’d had more children, but didn’t because of their careers, while
about a quarter of their male counterparts feel the same way, according
to a new study.

This is a large but not commonly considered part of the sacrifices involved in an academic career. The solution is obvious: Count every kid as a publication and add it to the parents’ H-indices.

How long until professors are obsolete?

8/8/2011: From economist Alex Tabarrok:

…I pointed out that the market was moving towards superstar teachers, who teach hundreds at a time or even thousands online. Today, we have the Khan Academy, a huge increase in online education, electronic textbooks and peer grading systems and highly successful superstar teachers with Michael Sandel and his popular course Justice, serving as example number one. One
of the last remaining items holding back online education is a credible
system to credential and compare student achievement across
universities. …

recruiting service rules ignored

7/16/2010: As part of it’s efforts to prevent “street agents” from sneaking off with any of the NCAA’s money the NCAA slapped a bunch of anti-competitive rules on recruiting services last year: Steve Andress of KEZI explains:

NCAA Bylaw 13.14.3 lays out the rules for contracting a recruiting service. The service must meet seven distinct requirements, in order for college football programs to subscribe to them. Here is the exact wording, amended January 1st, 2010, and why Lyles’ service was lacking, in particular, in the first three requirements.

An institution may subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service involving prospective student-athletes, provided the institution does not purchase more than one annual subscription to a particular service and the service:


(a) Is made available to all institutions desiring to subscribe and at the same fee rate for all subscribers;

Public records show Lyles’ incoice to Cal for the ‘2010 National Package’ at $5,000, with an almost identical invoice to Oregon at $25,000. The invoices came a year apart, but other than the fee, the packages are identical.

(b) Publicly identifies all applicable rates;

Lyles’ Complete Scouting Services website listed no fees back in March. One day after Yahoo’s initial story broke, one fee popped up – $25,000 for a national recruiting package.

(c) Disseminates information (e.g., reports, profiles) about prospective student-athletes at least four times per calendar year;

Public records requests show Oregon received no such documents from Lyles, until a year after the initial $25,000 payment, and that information was largely of old recruits and useless.

 There’s more in his story – the upshot is it Kelly’s claim he didn’t know that he was buying players with the $50,000 he promised Lyles looks preposterous. And on the NCAA’s scale of unforgiveable crimes, lying to the men that are trying to hold this cartel together is the top, even above the crime of paying your just debts to a guy who helped bring you a few players and is now working in a bakery for $8 an hour.

Kitzhaber did good:

7/8/2011: From the NBER‘s analysis of the “Oregon Health Plan” he started – I think in his first term:

In 2008, a group of uninsured low-income adults in Oregon was selected by lottery to be given the chance to apply for Medicaid. This lottery provides a unique opportunity to gauge the effects of expanding access to public health insurance on the health care use, financial strain, and health of low-income adults using a randomized controlled design. In the year after random assignment, the treatment group selected by the lottery was about 25 percentage points more likely to have insurance than the control group that was not selected. We find that in this first year, the treatment group had substantively and statistically significantly higher health care utilization (including primary and preventive care as well as hospitalizations), lower out-of-pocket medical expenditures and medical debt (including fewer bills sent to collection), and better self-reported physical and mental health than the control group. 

Movement on SB909

6/17/2011: Jeff Mapes reports progress with Kitzhaber’s K-16 reform bills, including SB909:

SALEM — Oregon legislators broke a session-long logjam over education policy Friday by beginning to move several bills that could eventually have a big impact on students and their schools.

The legislation includes Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposal to create a new investment board that would coordinate funding for all levels of education, from pre-K to the universities, as well as measures providing a boost for both online and bricks-and-mortar charter schools.

Good news for UO, bad news for Pernsteiner’s meal plan.

Why humans are rational

6/14/2011: This NY Times piece on the work of Hugo Mercier is fascinating:

For centuries thinkers have assumed that the uniquely human capacity for reasoning has existed to let people reach beyond mere perception and reflex in the search for truth. Rationality allowed a solitary thinker to blaze a path to philosophical, moral and scientific enlightenment.

Now some researchers are suggesting that reason evolved for a completely different purpose: to win arguments. Rationality, by this yardstick (and irrationality too, but we’ll get to that) is nothing more or less than a servant of the hard-wired compulsion to triumph in the debating arena. According to this view, bias, lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another. Certitude works, however sharply it may depart from the truth. 

I’ve always been puzzled at how people with authority and power usually still feel the need to justify themselves on the basis of facts, logic, and argument. Rationality has a strange power of its own – for most humans.