Friday Assorted Links

1. The British Open has always been my favorite golf tournament because of the history, creative shot making, hellish bunkers, cold wind and rain, and the gorse of course. I’m going to miss it.

Englishman Nick Faldo, a three-time Open champion, said it is no longer correct to call it the Open Championship. “Now it’s ‘The Open. In another five years, it will just be called ‘The.’ ”

2. Tyler Cowen on his writing process.

“I try to write a few pages every day. I don’t obsess over the counting, I just do as much as I can and stop before I feel I am done, so I am eager to start up again the next day, or after lunch. That to me is very important, not to write too much in a single day, but to get something written every single day.”

3. Principals are loath to give teachers bad ratings.

“When principals are asked their opinions of teachers in confidence and with no stakes attached, they’re much more likely to give harsh ratings, researchers found.”

4. So this is why eldest daughter chooses to live in Chicago.

“Another interesting trend is that all cities in Southwest, from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, are taco cities. Burrito cities are mostly from the Midwest and West. California has cities in both categories. It appears that SoCal prefers tacos (LA and San Diego), while NorCal prefers burritos (San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose).”

Clearly, burritos > tacos, so I need to visit Indianapolis and San Fransisco.

5A. Trumpcare collapsed because the Republican Party cannot govern.

“In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.”

5B. The Republican healthcare meltdown.

“The larger lesson of this sorry episode is that nobody—not McConnell, or Trump, or House Speaker Paul Ryan—can resolve the contradictions of today’s Republican Party. Once the political arm of the Rotary Club and the affluent suburbs, the Party is increasingly one of middle-class and working-class voters, many of whom are big beneficiaries of federal programs, such as Medicaid and the Obamacare subsidies for the purchase of private insurance. But the G.O.P. remains beholden to its richest, most conservative donors, many of whom espouse a doctrine of rolling back the government and cutting taxes, especially taxes applicable to themselves and other very rich people. It was the donors and ideologues, with Ryan as their front man, who led the assault on the Affordable Care Act.”

5C. Trump’s clueless abdication of presidential responsibility.

“Predictable and despicable” are more apt than “clueless”.

“The first duty of any President is to protect the welfare of the citizenry. In blithely threatening to allow the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges, through which some twelve million Americans have purchased health insurance, Trump was ignoring this duty. Arguably, he was violating his oath of office, in which he promised to ‘faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States.'”

The Age of Self Promotion

When a person’s image and/or reputation is inflated, sometimes people lament, “Big hat, no cattle.” A lot of people today, like the President of the United States, excel at promoting themselves more than anything else. Thanks to the public’s allegiance to valueless media, we’re making a mockery of merit.

A case study. My July morning routine entails working out, eating breakfast, making a green tea latte, and then settling in to the day’s Tour de France stage which I spend about thirty minutes fast forwarding through.

This year there are three cyclists from the U.S. in le Tour, meaning about 1.5% of the total peloton. One of the U.S. riders is barely surviving the mountain climbs, just making the maximum time cuts. But because we’re living in the Age of Self Promotion, that same rider is starring on the U.S. television coverage, dropping daily broh-heavy “behind the scenes” video segments that add nothing to the event. He seems likable enough because of a goofy personality. And maybe the fact that both of his parents were professional cyclists and he’s bounced back from a horrific accident a few years ago contribute to some of his faux-fame as well.

But even accounting for those extenuating circumstances, the fact that he’s in damn near last place would only matter if we were in an Age of Meritocracy, but we’re not. Increasingly, we’re surrounded by people with really, really big hats. Which makes it tough to see the front of the race.

Sign of the Apocalypse—Higher Education Edition

This is an email I received recently. I have changed the name of the college based upon the ratio of full and part time faculty.

Dear Dr. Byrnes,

Academic Keys, LLC is conducting an executive search for the position of Interim Dean of Education at Adjunct College.

As part of our search strategy, we are seeking recommendations for colleagues who may be interested in this opportunity.

If this position isn’t right for you, but you would like to receive opportunities in your discipline, please subscribe to Academic Keys e-Fliers where you may choose your discipline and specific fields of interest.

This is a rare opportunity for an experienced administrative leader to serve as Interim Dean of the School of Education at Adjunct College. Working closely with the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Interim Dean will provide program review, assessment and recommendations while providing vision, leadership, and dedication to quality higher education. Specific focus will be placed on maintaining accreditation with external regulators and providing recommendations to senior leadership for the direction for the school.

Adjunct College is a private, non-profit college. Serving approximately 1000 students, the School of Education, the largest of the three schools, employs:

  • 1 Department Head
  • 7 part time Program Coordinators
  • 3 full time faculty
  • 150 part time faculty

This is a full-time Senior Level Administrator position, and the person appointed to this position will be a member of the Deans’ Council Team. The position reports to the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs of Adjunct College.

Friday Assorted Links

1. How to win at retirement savings. A wonderfully lucid resource for U.S. citizens.

2. Why single-payer health care saves money. This has to be the ultimate outcome, doesn’t it?

3. My electric bike is not “cheating”.

“I waved, and then, he was well behind me. I had to be at a meeting in 45 minutes, I didn’t have time to talk bicycle politics with Lycra guy.”

4A. Forest kindergarten—a fresh approach to early education.

“Research suggests that learning to read by the end of kindergarten doesn’t have long-term benefits and that play-based, child-centered preschool programs result in greater academic achievement by the sixth year of school. Studies have also shown that kids who are active perform better in schools.”

“Kids spend most of the day running around, climbing trees, growing and preparing food, having bonfires, picking apples, and other outdoor activities. People in Denmark ‘have a fundamental belief that nature and outdoor life is healthy and good for the children.'”

4B. Philly doctors are now prescribing park visits to city kids.

Known as “nature deficit disorder”

“. . . children are spending far less time in nature than doctors say is needed for healthy development of motor skills, social competence, problem-solving abilities, and even eyesight.”

5. Cliffhangers are ruining the Golden Age of television.

“The very intensity of our immersion allows for anything. A series can be great, but it can also be stupefyingly bad. At some point I stop asking ‘Is it good?’ and instead plead, ‘Is there more?'”

Why I’m Never Signing Up for Amazon Prime

By The Verge’s Vlad Savov.

Savov’s rationale is convincing. Among his arguments:

“Deals suck. Discounted goods are bad for me, as a consumer, because they nudge me into buying things I don’t need just to be frugal and collect the massive “saving” inherent in the discount. That’s how I’ve ended up with a collection of pristine, totally unworn sneakers that seemed too cheap to pass up.”

And:

“Free delivery is never free. Amazon Prime makes it unbelievably easy to shop unthinkingly. You can just order up a ton of things of the same class, try them all out, and return the majority, keeping only one. That phenomenon has been so prominent with clothes that Amazon formalized it with the introduction of Amazon Prime Wardrobe last month. But for each of those back and forth trips, there’s a truck, a boat, a plane out there, pushing stuff around the world for the sake of our sheer indulgence and indecision. I don’t care how anyone rationalizes this, I consider it wasteful and polluting and not something I want to contribute to.”

Also:

“Amazon’s employment practices are shit. . . . It was the subject of an undercover BBC Panorama documentary a few years ago, and reports of exploitative working conditions at Amazon warehouses persist. Everything about Prime that feels unbelievably cheap is only so because of the unbelievably cheap way that Amazon deals with the people discharging its duties.”

The only problem with Savov’s essay is his overly soft landing.

“I don’t expect anyone to follow or join me in resisting Amazon’s primal pull toward Prime. You’ve got your own priorities in life and, in all honesty, nobody’s going to fix global injustice by disregarding Prime Day and taking a nice walk outside instead.”

Vlad, I will happily follow you by continuing to resist the lure of Amazon Prime. And I’ll take a nice walk outside too.