Okay people, now that you are all fired up about the plight of the poor undergraduates of the UC system, let’s get to work. What would you do to keep the undergraduates from having to pay more for tuition and fees?
How about this proposal from some UCSD faculty to close a campus or two?

We suggest, more generally, that in discussions systemwide, you drop the pretence that all campuses are equal, and argue for a selective reallocation of funds to preserve excellence, not the current disastrous blunderbuss policy of even, across the board cuts. Or, if that is too hard, we suggest that what ought to be done is to shut one or more of these campuses down, in whole or in part.

You have to come up with anywhere from $100-$300 million dollars folks so get creative!

Regents board Chairman Richard Blum and Yudof placed the blame on state government, which is expected to cut UC’s $3 billion in general revenue funding by at least $115 million next year and not cover an additional $200 million or more in increased salaries and other costs.

UC undergraduate whiners

November 24, 2009

The University of California undergraduates have been protesting and complaining and generally whinging about the recent decision of the UC Regents to up their fees by 32%, making tuition and fees about $10,000 per year. The national average is about $7,000 but that source has no range info.
Well, I was around one of the UC campuses during a rather long-distant prior episode of this sort of thing. The students were unjustifiable whiners then and they still are now.

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Commenter qaz raised an issue the I think I last took up following an observation of Larry Moran. That was also in the context of discussing so-called over-production of PhDs. The new comment from qaz frames the issue as follows:

I AM advocating graduate PhD-level science training for the rest of the population – imagine if our politicians actually understood science (or even critical thinking) for example. A lot of professions would be improved by having scientific training. (But they don’t need it, you say. I say, why can’t they have it? Why can’t spending five years doing some good science not be a part of someone’s path in life, even if they don’t go on to do NIH-R01-Research?)

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Undergraduate students approach professors with research labs all the time about getting “experience” they think they need for something or other. Typically for med school application in the biological science areas. I think it is bogus to let them in without either 1) academic credit through enrollment in the appropriate course descriptor or 2) being paid an hourly wage, preferably minimum wage or above.
Making them Allowing them to work for nothing other than a recommendation letter, even if they are willing to do so, is exploitation pure and simple.
That’s how I see it anyway.
I was reading these interesting comments at The First Excited State blog recently. The author was responding to some idiocy from a Mark Cuban who of course would not possibly be where he is today be exploiting other people’s labor, would he? The First Excited State blogger sums it up succinctly:

So, let’s recap Cuban’s argument in favor of unpaid interns:
* Isn’t it great that so many talented people are unemployed? Maybe I can use this for my gain!
* Perhaps they will work for free in the name of gaining experience.
* They can also do the dirty work that would normally be done by “The Assistant to the Secretary’s Secretary.”
* They don’t complain, so it must be okay. Oppressed people always speak up, right? Or maybe they know we’ll blacklist them…

Cuban’s logic is basically that of the pre-worker-protection robber baron. If you can find someone desperate enough to work long hours, under unsafe and dehumanizing conditions for minimal compensation then you should be allowed to exploit them right? No? Than why is it okay to exploit the relatively well-off middle class college kid / recent grad who can afford to intern for free so that you can avoid paying a worker for the work you are receiving?
Don’t be a Cuban.

Evoking a Thirst

September 11, 2009

The Flying Trilobite has posted a compelling endorsement of GrrlScientist’s bid to become the blogger selected for a Quark Expeditions journey to Antarctica.

I have wished to find another review of art -any art- that speaks so favourably it evokes a thirst to experience the art through the critic’s eyes.

When Open Laboratory 2008 came out, I was stunned by one contribution in particular. In that anthology of blog posts is one by GrrlScientist about John James Audubon, the ornithologist and painter, the only scientific illustrator found in most fine art survey texts. The blog post, entitled, Audubon’s Aviary: Portraits of Endangered Species rings with well-deserved reverence and love for the artwork. Grrl laments the loss of the birds now gone that Audubon lovingly captured full of inquisitive life. It’s a blog post I find moving and inspiring and that has changed how I look at Audubon and scientific illustration.

There’s more, go read Flying Trilobite’s post.
And then go and use all your valid email addresses to vote for Grrl. Only 50 or so needed to pass ol’ Don Osmond Jr!

President Barack Obama is planning a webcast directed at the nation’s school children.

During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

Apparently, this is something parents must protect their darling children against! [h/t: drdrA who asks you to crash an associated poll]

In Bryan, the end of the school day, did not mean phones in the district’s administration office stopped ringing.
In a message left to the district’s communication director, Sandy Farris, one parent said “I have a child in middle school and a child in elementary school and I am very concerned about the content and the intent behind President Obama’s speech to kids on the 8th.”
Phones were equally busy at College Station I.S.D., said Superintendent Eddie Coulson.

Really? “Very concerned”?

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I expressed my appreciation last year to Abel Pharmboy for posting a primer on the HBCUs of the United States. His observations and links were highly informative to me.
We are once again in a week of celebration of these institutions of higher education which have catered to African-American and other students who were either formally or informally alienated from the Historically Lily White Colleges and Universities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 30 through September 5, 2009, as National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that acknowledge the tremendous
contributions these institutions and their graduates have made to our country.

You might as well start your reading with Abel Pharmboy’s post for this year. As Abel noted:

Here’s a pretty impressive list of well-known HBCU graduates including this Chicago businesswoman, a graduate of Tennessee State University.

The Americans for Medical Progress has announced that three young science advocates will be named the 2009 Michael D. Hayre Fellows in Public Outreach. Readers will recall a recent plea from me to donate to this Fellowship program. I had heard via the grapevine that income from the endowment supporting the fellowship was down and that the applicant pool was really exciting this year. An effort was being undertaken to drum up additional donations and apparently that effort has been very successful.
From the AMP Press Release:

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Bora has an interview up with one Stacy C. Baker, a high school biology teacher who is well known around the science blogosphere for an active use of new Web type technologies in biology instruction. Read it because, among other things, you will come away with the thought I had of “OMG if we could just clone her for every fifth biology high school position that would be awesome!“. The enthusiasm and dedication of this teacher, who after all is at the very most critical point in recruiting new brains into science careers, is palpable. And there are links a-plenty to see what she has been doing with new teaching technologies.
Still the thing that really caught my eye was this:

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I often think to myself that if we could effectively teach one single concept to all citizens, get them to really understand it and apply it to life we would all be better off. It has relevance for so many facets of our public and private decision making; ofttimes ignorance of this concept makes for a dismal political or personal outcome.
Brazillion Thoughts has an English-language translation of a post originally written by Karl at Ecce Medicus.
The traslation reads in part:

Many times, in my practice, I am required to explain some statistical concepts to my patients in order to make them avoid some frequent pitfalls. The most common concept I explain is what is “normal” in lab exams. Let’s suppose someone invents a new lab test to measure the glucose in the blood. How would we determine what are the normal values for this test?