Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tweaking The Model for "Higher" Education: Faculty Free Agency - the way it used to be

I posted the following initially as a comment over at Brad Delong's location. I do think that we need a serious retooling of education across the board. There is an enormous amount of wasted funds expended in administrative overhead, and the model used today, built in the late 19th century and early 20th century doesn't really work in the New Millennium. Here's my thinking on what I call "Faculty Free Agency."

It's really a throw back to how it was done back in the dawn of civilization. As you read this, imagine Euclid or Socrates walking along the shores of Alexandria or Greece with students trailing behind as they etched ideas into the sands, while the waves followed behind washing the board for a new idea.

We are about a decade away from faculty free agency. The Universities will be the granters of diplomas and may have a raft of faculty certified to offer courses that qualify the credits to be cobbled together for a fee to build whatever diploma you like.

If you are a good faculty member, you would be accredited by a dozen universities, not one. You could teach from your cyber studio in Kauai with a small local studio classroom, and a world wide reach. You would charge 99 cents per student for the class session. You would get a retainer based on the number of students who filed for diplomas at your dozen affiliated institutions. And, most importantly, if you were good, you could have 1000 - 10K students or more if the bandwidth let it at each class session. Thus, you stand to make serious bucks if you are any good.

Yes, this is the old Greek Model. Near as I can tell, it's just me thinking this way - and perhaps one or two others...but the idea will gel as the traditional university model collapses under it's own administrative burden (not to mention extremely expensive overhead).

Would you rather have some Grad Student TA teaching your philosophy course, or Socrates? Now, of course Socrates is dead, but there are some smart folks, like the philosophers doing the radio show on NPR who may capture that market.

Again, we find, that content is king. If your content is no good, you won't have any students. The free market does work if it is indeed a free market. Adam Smith would like this idea, but he's dead too.

Indeed, if you are a smart student, you would cobble together a set of courses taught by the best and brightest from around the globe and then obtain your "diploma" from the best school you can persuade would be appropriate. But the degree then becomes somewhat meaningless - indeed, knowledge and wisdom offer their proof only in the wake of our actions. The proof is in what you do, not in what you retain, based on your accrued acumen in whatever subject you pursue.

Of course, I'm a heretic for even suggesting that there is some tweaking to be done in the existing models for delivery of education, but no one got famous for being safe.

Blog on friends.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Andrew Sullivan Gives Us The "Un-Rove"

Sully's been blogging a great long while, and well, frankly must be good at it because he's getting paid to do it (unlike the rest of us saps who keep "yelling into the wind"). I like his paragraph here:
Karl Rove mastered the art of petty and nasty political tactics in the South of the post-Reagan era. And he never had a solid grip on conservatism as a political philosophy or of political strategy. And so Rove today endures as the architect of the biggest and deepest political implosion since the Democrats in the 1970s. It was all tactics, no strategy; all politics, no governance. He remains the worst single political strategist of modern times.
Click on over to read the article for the point. As to why the GOP unanimously voted simultaneously against Obama's stimulus package and thus America is beyond me.

Think about it. If you voted no on the stimulus package, your whole future as a politician rests in its failure. What are the GOP going to do now, work to make it a success? Doubtful. Effectively, they have bet on political and economic Armageddon. Which would you hope for?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

See How The Taxpayer Got Screwed In The Front End, and Will be Screwed in the Back End Of The Credit Crunch

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

No doubt, this is a fun and entertaining visualization of the credit madness. There's no element about government bail outs, but it seems like a whole host of people who have been making goo-gobs of money for many years off the backs of the homeowner, and now going to be making goo-bobs of money off the taxpayers, and it inherently and patently seems unfair.

When Will the Celebrities Get Fiscally Spanked Like The Rest of Us?

The economic downturn is forcing America's households to learn a tough lesson: how to fend for themselves.

Sales of starter sewing kits have shot up by 30 percent at Wal-Mart as families forgo the tailor. Landscaping companies have suffered a 7 percent drop in revenue over the past year. Procter & Gamble said that it has noticed more questions from customers about how to dye their hair at home to match salon coloring.

The recession has had a powerful effect on the American state of mind. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday shows Americans have grown increasingly insecure about their finances since mid-September, as fears about making mortgage payments have spread and more believe the economy is in a long-term, serious decline.

These feelings have helped set off a change in behavior so pronounced marketers and businesses have coined a name for it. They call it "insourcing": doing yourself what you once gladly paid others to do.
We don't need a new term for what Americans knew how to do and have been doing since the dawn of the Nation. We've all be pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps for a great long while. Trouble is when you don't have any bootstraps or your boots are stolen by the greedy sonsofbitches who are treating themselves to fancy reward holidays in the over abundant and opulent swank hotels of Vegas or elsewhere.

I don't know about you, but I'm Sure Happy It's Thursday (acronym is self explanatory). Just some quick questions for today. Sure, we know the average schmo is getting spanked economically. When does the economic crisis hit our celebrities? I would love to see Brad or Angelina up to their elbows in excrement dredging the plumbing in their own home. Or is that a sight unfit for those who gawk at celebrities in fancy gowns strolling nonchalantly down red carpets.

I just heard a report about Tiger Woods coming back to the golf gambit after reconstructive surgery on his knee. Do you think this down turn will hurt his bottom line? What about the A-Roids of baseball? Will they get less per ball caught, bat swung, ball pitched, or base stolen? Certainly, the celebrities might do well to take it down a peg when commanding multimillion dollar salaries so that perhaps we could turn back the price nuttiness on theater tickets or stadium seats. I remember when movies cost 99c - and if you saved enough pennies you found in the street, you could splurge for the premier of Star Wars or Jaws. These days it costs 20 bucks just to get a whiff of the popcorn.

Blog on friends.

Blog on all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Without Equivocation: This is the vision we need, not the fear we loath

AM Update:

When George Bush dove off the deep end of the pool to shovel the fear that the terrorists were feeding us to bend the Constitution to his advantage, we knew it was going to take a while to bend away from that policy of using fear mongering propaganda to put forward an agenda that is positve and visionary. I think Obama used his speech wisely to unfold the vision we need, rather than repackage the fear we loathe. In a very real sense, Obama and his team are snatching victory that Bush handed to the terrorists by stopping the use of fear to bend the will of the people.

Could you imagine George Bush saying the word "equivocation" without getting all tangled up? Really, when Obama pointed to a schoolgirl in the audience and held her up as an example of what America is really suffering from and where it's hopes should be pinned, he outclassed and eclipsed George Bush and his administrations' whole 8 years in about 3 minutes. Indeed, his is the vision we need, not the fear we loathe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekend Wondering

I got to wondering earlier today: Would there be a economic crisis if the newspapers and other Main Stream Media outlets were not selling us the gloom and doom by the bushel?

I'll leave y'all with that question for the weekend.

Blog on friends.

Blog on all.

Who Is The Bigger Bigot, the Senator or Folks Who Voted For Him?

The Senator from Utah's bigotry is obvious. Just listen:

But really, what's worse. The Senator from Utah or the people who voted and still support him?

Clearly, Utah is not devoid of people who are not 100% heterosexual. Obviously, the Senator and his people don't have their blinders off or they would realize they actually know some wonderful gay people. It's that their bigotry blinds them to the fact that they are wrong. Don't let your religion get in the way of loving people because it teaches you to hate people who are different from you.

Simply because some one says that heterosexual marriage is the "foundation" of society doesn't make it so. What is it about heterosexual marriage that needs protection, really?

You can take a stand against such bigotry by calling it out, and not letting it slide.

Or, alternatively, you could have some fun with the good Senator from Utah:

Blog on friends.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spending Is A Trap

Clearly, we are not going to spend our way out of this economic collapse. Saving, what people did to lived through the last depressions learned, was the way to wealth and prosperity, albeit very, very slowly.

Of course the government can print all the money it wants, but unless it gets people gainfully employed, and working so they can improve their savings, then the won’t be any improvement on the spending. You see, spending with out means, is a loan - bad or otherwise - which involves sharks (let’s call them Bankers for reference purposes). Spending only after you have earned the capital to do so, is responsible consumerism. You, the consumer, are in control.

To turn the topsy-turvy back in the proper order, I suggest it’s savings first, then spending, not the other way around.

The Stimulus For You And Me?

Well, I suppose the jury is going to be out for a great long while before we know if the "stimulus" will actually do what it's supposed to do. It's hard to believe that pouring money into failing businesses is really a good idea. Can we believe the propaganda? There is a big difference between hoping the plan will work and it actually working, no?
What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments.It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability," President Obama said before signing the bill into law. "And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. That is why we have created – so every American can go online and see how their money is being spent."

I'm in favor of packages that actually put people to work, rather than hand them money. Gifting us more money to spend is not what this country needs. That's what got us into this mess.

People need more possibilities for earning money in productive and positive occupations. Some times earning a paycheck is much better for the ego than the size of that pay check. Of course, you couldn't tell a bank CEO that, but it's true for most of Americans, provided that check earned covers the necessities. As to if the realized number of jobs created is up to the estimate, time will tell.

Here's a list of your State Senators and Congressional Representatives so that you know at least who to complain to or praise when you see it's working, or not.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Beyond Your Bigotry: A Valentines Day Wish

In honor of V-Day, and five years since SF Mayor Gavin Newsom opened up the floodgates of love, I thought y'all would enjoy this video. Know that Ken Starr isn't persecuting gays, lesbians and transgendered people everywhere simply because he's a bigot, but also because he's getting paid a lot of money to do so.

When same sex couples demonstrate stable, monogamous relationships that are genuinely loving, why H8 it? Where's the harm? What is it about heterosexual marriage that is damaged by some one else's same sex marriage? Deep down, you know that Prop 8 must be dismantled. Simply because your religion teaches the bigotry that may force your beliefs against it, doesn't make it wrong.

Thus, my wish for this Valentines day is that, indeed, we turn the faucet back on and turn off Prop H8. It's good to remember what I heard Sharon Stone once say at a public event, "I've been married a few times. Marry (pregnant pause), if you must" (the tone of the delivery is lost in text, but it brought down the house with laughter).


Drop the H8 - And if you need a hug for changing your position to No on Prop 8, go here, or here.

Blog on Friends.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Would You Have A Beer With Hannity?

In another twist that George Bush would never had done, Obama regularly takes questions from unfriendly people in his different junkets, like this one in Elkhart Indiana:
Q Thank you. My question is, you have -- my name is Tara. You have come to our county and asked us to trust you, but those that you have appointed to your Cabinet are not trustworthy and can't handle their own budget and taxes.

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no, this is a legitimate -- this is a legitimate question.

Q So I'm one of those that thinks you need to have a beer with Sean Hannity. So tell me why, from my side, we can understand --


THE PRESIDENT: No, that's okay. That's okay. No, no, look, I think it was a perfectly legitimate question.

First of all, I appoint -- I've appointed hundreds of people, all of whom are outstanding Americans who are doing a great job. There are a couple who had problems before they came into my administration in terms of -- in terms of their taxes. Look -- and I think this is a legitimate criticism that people have made, because you can't expect one set of folks to not pay their taxes when everybody else is paying theirs. So I think that's a legitimate concern. (Applause.)

I will tell you that the individuals at issue here, I know them personally, and I think these were honest mistakes. And I made sure they were honest mistakes beforehand. And one of the things I discovered is if you're not going to appoint anybody whose ever made a mistake in your [sic] life, then you're not going to have anybody taking your job. So -- (applause) --

But having said that, what I did acknowledge -- and I said it publicly on just about every TV station -- is something that you probably sometimes don't hear from politicians, which is: I made a mistake. (Applause.) And that, because I don't want to send the signal that they're two sets of rules.

Now, understand, though, I think something that should also be mentioned is that we've set up an unprecedented set of ethics rules in my White House where we are not -- we are not -- everybody will acknowledge that we have set up the highest standard ever for lobbyists not working in the administration; people who work in my administration aren't going to be able to go out the revolving door and start working for some lobbying firm and lobbying the White House. Republicans and Democrats have acknowledged that there's a very high bar that we've set for ourselves. We have not been perfect, but we are changing the culture in Washington and it's going to take some time.

Now, with respect to Sean Hannity, I didn't know that he had invited me for a beer. (Laughter.) But I will take that under advisement. (Laughter.) Generally, his opinion of me does not seem to be very high -- (laughter) -- but I'm always good for a beer, so -- (laughter and applause.)

All right. Well, let me -- let me get this side of the room and then I'll come back. I want to make sure I'm not looking too biased on one side here. That gentlemen right up there in the corner there -- you, yes.
Would you want to have a beer with Sean Hannity? We shall see if Hannity gets his drink with Obama, and don't be surprised if it happens.

Above all, the fact that Obama admitted the mistake sets him large strides ahead of the moral character and timbre of George W. in my book.

The final question of the afternoon is a good one from a nine year old named James:
Q What are you going to do to help our schools?

THE PRESIDENT: And this is a good place to end, with our future here. What's your name?

Q My name is James.

THE PRESIDENT: James, how old are you?

Q I'm nine years old.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, fantastic. What's your question?

Q What are you going to do to help our schools?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I just started talking about that. (Laughter.) So, James, as I said, I think that we've got to rebuild our schools to make sure that they're state of the art. We also have to make sure that we are training new teachers and retraining some of the existing teachers so that they've got the best possible skills.

We also are going to have to reform how we do business in some of the schools. I think it's very important for us to have high standards. I think we've got to do a better job, though, of assessing performance in schools. No Child Left Behind needs to be reworked in a more effective way. (Applause.)

But the last thing that we need in schools -- do in schools has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with parents. (Applause.) Because we can put as much money as we want into schools -- if parents don't have an attitude that says, I'm going to make sure my child does my homework; that I'm meeting with the teacher to find out what's going on; if all of us aren't instilling a sense of excellence in our kids -- then they're not going to be able to compete. And that means young people like you, you're going to have to -- you're going to have to work a little harder. (Laughter and applause.)

Yes. Thank you, James.

All right, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

END 1:07 P.M. EST
Now, I wish that he suggested that NCLB would be abandoned, but nonetheless, if you read through the transcript, you will see how sharp this new president is - and it's refreshing to not have a president who trips over his own tongue.

Blog on friends. Blog on all.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bad Times A Comin' - Welcome to George Bush's America Re Dux

Some Arizona State University employees who are being laid off will face a double whammy under the university's new furlough policy.

In response to the state's ongoing budget crisis, the university was forced to eliminate up to 550 positions through attrition and layoffs, a number that could grow by an additional 1,000 jobs. The process of issuing 90-day layoff notifications began several months ago.

Last week, ASU President Michael Crow announced plans to require each of the university's 12,000 employees to take up to 15 unpaid days off by June 30, which would save $24 million.
That's like getting slapped with an F-you after being given the finger. Thanks for the collapsing economy George!

It's bound to get worse. When they start cutting back on education in times when the very thing people need is more training, you will see that there is nothing but a great sucking sound about to drown everyone in the cesspool of a global economy triggered by eight years of the W, Rove and Co. high quality government.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Some interesting slices From A Critique of "The World Is Flat?"

A friend forwarded this link. Thought you all might like to have a gander at the following excerpts from the following chapters:

Debt and The Financialization of America
America’s Former Middle Class
A Paradigm Shift for America

Oh, and here's an interesting idea: A "maximum wage - " sounds like a solid idea to me. Corporate fat cats shouldn't get fatter, but leaner if they go on the dole:
The executive-pay move comes amid a national outcry over huge bonuses to executives heading companies seeking taxpayer dollars to remain afloat. The demand for limits was reinforced by revelations that Wall Street firms paid more than $18 billion in bonuses in 2008 even amid the economic downturn and the massive infusion of taxpayer dollars.

"This is America. We don't disparage wealth. We don't begrudge anybody for achieving success," Obama said. "But what gets people upset — and rightfully so — are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers."

The pay cap would apply to all institutions that have negotiated agreements with the Treasury Department for "exceptional assistance." Those would include American International Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc.

Firms that want to pay executives above the $500,000 threshold would have to use stock that could not be sold or liquidated until they pay back the government funds.

Generally healthy institutions would have more leeway. They also face the $500,000 limit if they're getting government help, but the cap can be waived with full public disclosure and a nonbinding shareholder vote.

Obama said that massive severance packages for executives who leave failing firms are also going to be eliminated. "We're taking the air out of golden parachutes," he said.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Remembering Those Who Were There "The Day The Music Died"

Buddy Holly, was there:

Ritchie Valens was there:

The Big Bopper was there:

Don McLean pays tribute:

This is some actual footage from the crash scene. Don't view if you are prone to greif over grim scenes.

No one knows how the world would have been different if this tragedy had not happened, but at least the music lives on. RIP.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Perhaps Now Is The Nexus Between Creativity And Opportunity

It seems to me that there may be another way to look at this dire economic melt down. In light of yet another monstrous corporation laying off nearly 7K people, perhaps there is a positive way to spin this.

We need to break the frame of business as usual, and the only way to do it is to free up the talent to concentrate our efforts. If we really do need new green and sustainable businesses, perhaps now we see the nexus between the opportunity and creativity to invent. That is, instead of looking at all these lay offs as negative, we may want to view it as freeing up the talent to move toward inventing better and smarter new businesses. These people who were shackled by their old jobs, now have both the time, the motivation, and perhaps, the energy to do so.

If the many tens of thousands of people that are now freed from their old employment now move to creating green and sustainable operations, we may have to thank George Bush and his cronies for causing this madness. After all, out of adversity, opportunity emerges.

For one example, let's just say, the big three auto companies are left to hang by their own petard. Those laid off have now have the smarts and the training to ply their energies to inventing the cars of the future. Perhaps we may see bands of ex GM employees working together to make automobiles that help rather than hurt our planet. I don't want to be Pollyanna, but it's only through the dust that the phoenix can rise.