Photo of the day

From Telegraph’s photos of the week:

The sunset illuminates the peaks of the mountains near the Swiss mountain resort of St Moritz January

The sunset illuminates the peaks of the mountains near the Swiss mountain resort of St MoritzPicture: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

I made the Chronicle

Sorry, not the Chronicle of Higher Education (though that would be really cool), but I made it into an article at the Duke Chronicle.  First time in there since a letter as a whiny undergraduate 20+ years ago complaining about the parking (oh, I had no idea how good we had it).  Anyway, it was about the UNC Board of Governor’s abrupt and surprising decision to force out Tom Ross:

Since Ross became president in 2011, the UNC system has faced its share of issues—ranging from economic hardship to a recent academic scandal involving Chapel Hill athletics. The board, however, expressed that Ross’ job performance was not the reason for his departure. They did not provide a concrete explanation for why the decision was made.

“The board believes President Ross has served with distinction, that his performance has been exemplary,” explained a statement released jointly by Ross and the board. “This decision has nothing to do with President Ross’ performance or ability to continue in the office.”

Steven Greene, professor of political science at North Carolina State University, felt concerned the board has failed to provide an explanation for why Ross was being asked to resign.

“I’ve yet to hear something better than ‘we wanted a change in direction of leadership,’ which I would say is pretty meaningless,” Greene said…

“It’s only reasonable to assume that it was political,” Greene said. “As much as we would like the university system to be non-political, it is political. Anything that takes up a substantial portion of the state budget is inherently political.”…

“I’m concerned that they’re going to appoint someone who has a different vision for higher education that doesn’t appreciate the value of liberal arts, that sees college as a job-training ground,” Greene said. “I think it would be a mistake if we did in fact head in that direction.”

On a related note, one thing the Board of Governors is doing is calling for academic centers (especially those that have a left-of-center focus) to justify themselves.  Great letter to the N&O from a UNC Professor on this:

Thank goodness we finally have a University of North Carolina Board of Governors with the courage to do the right thing. Its inquisition of UNC system centers focuses on a big problem that has plagued the UNC system for years: support for outdated ideas like civil “rights” and education about the cultures of women, workers and people of color.

With leadership from the BOG, the university system can rid itself of these disruptive influences that undermine the rightful place of rich white men as the true leaders of society. And speaking of rich white men, the BOG can address another serious problem – low self-esteem of wealthy businessmen…

The BOG can also position UNC to better promote corporate profits. It can rid the system of programs that do not properly train students to work for corporations and follow orders. This can be promoted by ensuring that, after schools are named for wealthy men, people of their choosing will be appointed to advisory boards and other positions within the university.

Anyway, it will be a while before we know who is replacing Tom Ross and I will withhold full judgement until then, but it’s hard not to be skeptical of the direction this may take.

This post is not PC

I feel like I would be remiss without commenting on Jonathan Chait’s essay about the rise of modern, social-media abetted political correctness, that’s been burning up the internet.  It’s pretty long, but worth at least a good skim.  Chait may go a little too far in his argument in just how much of a threat PC is, but in an environment where a college cancels the “Vagina Monologues” out of concern for “women without vaginas” and where arguments are regularly dismissed simply because they come from a white man, Chait’s got a good point.

Chait’s bit about “mainsplaining” really resonated with me.  I haven’t been accused of it (that I know of), but I recently saw an interesting reasonably intellectual debate on a friends’s FB wall go all wrong when a woman accused a man she disagreed with of “mansplaining.”  All reasonable discussion of ideas ended there.

I enjoyed most the responses from right-of-center pundits.  Anyway, good take and summary from David Frum.  And from James Taranto.  And boy did the widely shared Alex Pareene piece prove Chait’s point, by starting off complaining about Chait being a sad white man.  Meanwhile, Vox posted a piece that argued PC doesn’t even exist.  It does.

Mega quick hits (part II)

1) I would say I simply trust in David Simon on his new show, but Treme was just so boring.  But a really interesting profile of Simon and what he’s been up to.

2) Vox provides a useful perspective on the ridiculous Michelle Obama headscarf flap

  1. American officials in Saudi Arabia typically do not wear headscarves, including at formal government functions. Michelle was following normal protocol.
  2. Former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton did not wear headscarves on similar official visits to Saudi Arabia. Neither did former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

3) This advice from a “supervillian” is actually pretty awesome.

4) I so loved “Boyhood.”  Seeing all the actors age– especially child actors– was awesome.

5) Unvaccinated kids should be barred from school without a very compelling reason– should not take a child with leukemia to sue to make it happen.

6) With the latest death penalty protocol going before the Supreme Court, enjoyed this Op-Ed:

Last summer, Alex Kozinski, a federal appellate judge in California and a supporter of the death penalty, called out this charade for what it is.

Lethal injections, he wrote, are “a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful.” But executions “are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.”

7) Want to be in the Yelp top 100 restaurants?  Be in a place with great weather and provide good value.

8) 2014 set a record for exonerations.   The good– yeah, innocent people actually getting their freedom.  The bad– clearly, we’ve got a lot of innocent people locked up.

9) The improvement in NFL placekickers over time really is pretty amazing.

10) Police departments sure like to shoot mentally ill people with knives.  How about one guy with a knife surrounded by dozens of officers and yards of space between– but still gets shot.  Ugh.

11) Europe certainly does a lot of stuff better than us, but you can make a pretty good case that it really goes too far in hampering business.

12) Apparently men are ugly and women are not.  At least among OKCupid users.

13) Interested in a high-resolution audio player for $400 that the average listener’s ears cannot distinguish from an Iphone?

14) Somebody needs to tell Scott Walker that professors work a lot (and Full Professors work the most!)

15) Physicians are now raking in the dollars for stent procedures to unclog blood vessels in limbs.  Of course, there’s little evidence this is actually any more effective than far more inexpensive treatment options.

16) The economic benefits of paid parental leave.

17) Really enjoyed Adam Gopnik’s take on the very different conceptualizations of free speech in America and Europe.

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