Everything you need to know about for-profit colleges

I always mean to blog about the evil of for-profit colleges, but never get around to it.  Short version: they are a horrible waste of money for most students and for the American taxpayers who subsidize the exorbitant prices with far too little return on investment.  This is all wonderfully summed up on one infographic (via Wonkblog):

Part of the problem is that we need to invest way more in community colleges to help meet the demand, so that students don’t end up getting ripped off by for-profits.

Running and body size

Really enjoyed this discussion between Malcolm Gladwell and Nicholas Thompson about Olympic running.  Having been in awe of the bodies on the men’s sprinters, e.g., Yohan Blake


Contrast that with your typical 1500m runner, where they all look they’ve been on a hunger strike:


I found this part of the conversation about the 800m fascinating:

N: Let’s go back to the eight hundred metres for a minute. It’s not only the one race with real geographic diversity, but it’s also the race with, probably, the greatest physical diversity. Some of the runners—like the favorite, David Rudisha—are tall and skinny. Others are more muscular. Nick Symmonds, the top American, seems almost stocky. It’s a great race in that it combines the need for both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers.

M: I know you love the eight hundred, Nick. But I just can’t work up any enthusiasm for it. I think that thing you point out—that it’s both a sprint and not a sprint, and attracts the big and the skinny—is what turns me off. As a skinny guy, I am only interested in races won by skinny guys. I came of age watching track in the days of Mike Boit (skinny guy) getting beat by the great hulking Cuban Alberto Juantorena. Needless to say, when Boit lost—and he did, over and over again—it killed me.

N: Rudisha’s height is also interesting because, in general, very tall runners don’t do well in distance races. According to research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the mean height of the thirty people who have broken twenty-seven minutes in the 10-k is only five-seven.

M: That’s what I was saying! That’s why I think I can take Rupp and Farah in a bar fight!

Anyway, I find that fascinating that 400m and less you are dealing with amazing muscular sprinter bodies; at 1500m you basically have waifs; and at 800m you get an interesting cross-section.  I’d love to know more about the physiology behind the fact that huge muscles obviously help for a sprinter but are a detriment for a middle-distance runner.

Photo of the day

From an Alan Taylor set on the flooding in Manila:

A man carries puppies back inside their house as other dogs stay on the roof at a flooded area in Marikina City, east of Manila, Philippines, on August 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Romney’s vagueness

Mitt Romney is not just vague on his policy proposals, he’s historically vague.  Very nice piece from Ezra on just why this is so:

But Romney’s talent for strategic positioning has, in this campaign, placed him between some very difficult crosscurrents. In recent years, the Republican Party has moved so far and fast to the right that their policy apparatus hasn’t been able to keep up, and much of what they want — tax cuts for the rich combined with deep cuts to Medicare, for instance — would horrify swing voters. Simultaneously, the Democratic Party has embraced a number of proposals that were previously associated with, well, Mitt Romney, rendering a number of once-uncontroversial plans radioactive on the right. These dynamics have pushed Romney into a kind of forced incoherence, where the only way to obscure the problems in the policy proposals the Republican base will accept is to hollow out the details that would permit them to be understood.  [emphasis mine]

Exactly right.  Sadly, this is what has become of the ideology of today’s Republican party.  The only hope is to try and pretend it’s not as crazy as it actually is.

VP pick

Interesting analysis from Nate Silver on the likelihood that Romney’s VP would affect the election.  His basic point– summarized in the chart below– is that the most impact would come from a pick that would tip a key state from Obama to Romney:

Basically, even though the odds that Portman swings Ohio to Romney is only an additional 6% likelihood, the fact that the result in Ohio could be the key to winning the election, makes Portman the best choice in this intriguing analysis.

Coming at the VP selection from a very different direction, Chait suggests that Romney’s choice will say something about how confident he’s feeling (certainly, John McCain really wanted to shake things up:

There’s really one way to tell whether Romney actually believes the 1980 story [that, like Reagan, pretty much all the undecided voters will break to him], or is merely using it to keep his party calm: the vice-presidential choice. In May, the word from Boston had it that Romney wanted to pick an“incredibly boring white guy.” There was no apparent need to add to the ticket in any important way. The sole qualification was to avoid detracting from it, as Palin did. IBWG picks include Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, or Bob McDonnell.

But if Romney feels he actually needs the proverbial Game Change, he might instead avail himself of non-incredibly boring white guys, like Paul Ryan or Chris Christie. Or even non-incredibly-boring, non-white guys like Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal. (Non-incredibly-boring, non-white non-guys Susan Martinez and Condoleezza Rice have been floated but are deeply implausible for reasons of ideological suitability.)

Knowing Romney’s cautions nature, my money is on IBWG.  But not much.  A good way to lose money in recent years would be betting on VP choices.

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