Happy 2016, New Video

Since 2009, our family has been creating videos to welcome the new year. The videos are typically typographical in nature, sometimes including a visual illusion or some kind or the other. So as usual, we have a video for welcome 2016. Shot on our dining table, with a budget of four dollars, this video was, as they all …

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Saudis toast?

See also The one sided clash of civilizations. Telegraph: …If the aim was to choke the US shale industry, the Saudis have misjudged badly, just as they misjudged the growing shale threat at every stage for eight years. … The problem for the Saudis is that US shale frackers are not high-cost. They are mostly …

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Oracle Java 8 Update

For quite a while, I was getting security nags from Firefox every time a web site wanted to run a Java applet. Firefox would tell me I needed to upgrade to the latest version of Java. That would have been fine, except that I was already running the latest Java (1.8.0_66 as of this writing). …

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A dean’s farewell

Dean Don Heller with his wife Anne Simon and Sparty I have mixed feelings as I write my final blog post and column for the New Educator magazine. I will be leaving the university at the end of December and will be moving to a new position as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs …

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Truly Exceptional

I got a survey this week asking about my experience getting my car serviced at Williams Volkswagen here in Lansing. I’m very happy with the service department at Williams, by the way. I’ve bought three cars from them in the decade I’ve lived in Michigan. But the survey sent by Volkswagen of America kind of …

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A Holiday Letter to Peter Cunningham and Education Post

  I had an interesting “discussion” on Twitter recently with Peter Cunningham, the Executive Director of Education Post–the investment banker, hedge fund manager-bankrolled communications mouthpiece of the corporate education reform industry. Nearly 2 years ago, Peter received $12 million in seed money to provide a “voice” for the poor billionaires who weren’t getting a fair shake from …

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Nativity 2050

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Mary was born in the twenties, when the tests were new and still primitive. Her mother had frozen a dozen eggs, from which came Mary and her sister Elizabeth. Mary had …

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Engaged Scholarship

This was initially posted on Medium as part of my Writing Along the Way project. Hops Grown by the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment at MSU   To speak of “applied” scholarship is to divorce theory from practice in a way that impoverishes both. This, at least, is the insight that has …

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Who’s on the other side of the trade?

A great conversation between Tyler Cowen and fund manager Cliff Asness, who has appeared many times on this blog. See, e.g., this 2004 post on his analysis of the well known Fed Model for equity valuation, also discussed in the interview. Hedge-fund manager Cliff Asness, one of the most influential—and outspoken—financial thinkers, will join Tyler Cowen …

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Bigger is better, but what you do with it counts too

Much of the research on welfare state development has argued  that economic prosperity (ie., GDP growth) is the key factor for expanding social policies.  Of course, economic prosperity is important. It doesn’t always, however, improve a population’s health.  The post-communist countries come to mind. This suggests that wealth is necessary for improving health, but it …

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Ghana State Funeral for CK Gyamfi

Ghanaian football legend Charles Kumi Gyamfi, who passed away in September at the age of 85, was honored on Friday, December 18th, with an official state burial in Accra. Gyamfi began his top-level playing career at Cape Coast Ebusua Dwarfs in 1948-49. After one season, he joined Kumasi’s Asante Kotoko, staying until 1954 and then …

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Credit and the Public Good, Part 1

(An earlier version of this was published in City Pulse, a local alternative weekly serving Michigan’s Capitol region.) I suspect that few folks reading this don’t have an account at a bank or credit union. I belong to two credit unions. Credit unions differ from traditional private banks in that they are member owned. This …

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John McWhorter: the truth about mismatch

I’m shocked that CNN published Columbia professor John McWhorter’s editorial on Scalia’s mismatch comments. His remarks challenge the mainstream media narrative, and require some thought from the reader. CNN: Those who consider themselves on black people’s side are having a field day dismissing Justice Antonin Scalia as a racist. His sin was suggesting that black …

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Twisty Little Passages: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech File

Last week the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum announced online availability of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech File. The collection contains 1,592 documents, totaling 46,000 pages, spanning the years 1898-1945. This is an essential set of primary sources, and given availability in digital form they become amenable to research questions that can be extended via …

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Digital Narratives

North German Radio (NDR – a subsidiary of ARD) has started a new long-form narrative storytelling series they are promoting with the hashtag #EinMomentDerBleibt  (A Moment Which Remains). In twenty to thirty minute videos, refugees to Germany – all shot standing or sitting next to a wooden chair against a white photostudio paper background – …

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Got My Mo-Zhou Working

I’m writing this week from seat 11J on a long-haul flight homeward bound from China. I spent a week in the vicinity of Nanjing giving some talks at universities and visiting my friend, Xu Huaike. Xu spent a year as a visiting scholar at Michigan State University, and he wanted to show me his home …

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Trauma in the American Urban Classroom

Trauma in the Spotlight The recent attacks in Paris and Beirut have undoubtedly left many parents and educators struggling to for an explanation that might help students begin to comprehend the horrific events that sometimes befall innocent citizens. Likewise, teachers and families must help children make sense of the Syrian refugee crisis, the Michael Brown …

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FIFA, Blatter and Me (Andrew Jennings)

Nearly a decade ago, I devoured English reporter Andrew Jennings’s scathing investigation into “The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals.” Now, in a compelling BBC Panorama documentary, Jennings updates the story by digging deeper into FIFA’s most recent and spiraling crisis. The documentary takes viewers to FIFA headquarters in Zurich, and …

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Catalytic Opportunities

Continuing my experiment in public writing along the way, this post on Medium outlines the contours of what I’ve been thinking about as “catalytic opportunities.” I’ve begun thinking about strategic initiatives as catalytic. In chemistry, a catalyst causes a chemical reaction without itself being affected. But this isn’t exactly what I have in mind, because …

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You broke it, you own it…

Well, well, well. So now Kevin Huffman (aka the ex-Mr. Michelle Rhee), former Commissioner of Education in Tennessee, has finally decided that for-profit charter schools are a bad idea. Welcome to reality, Mr. Huffman. You may have reached this conclusion years ago if you had a degree in education (BA in English from Swarthmore; law …

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2015 NAEP Scores: A Look at Performance in the U.S. and Michigan

In late October, the National Center for Education Statistics released the results of the 2015 National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP), a nationally-administered exam often referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The NAEP is administered every two years to a sample of 4th and 8th graders in each state.  Students are tested in reading and mathematics …

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