Women’s Honor Roll

Props to the following females for creating positive momentum in their own unique ways.

A 14 year old violinist who auditioned for and then was invited to join an excellent high school symphony next year.

A 17 year old violinist who, with fifteen of her friends, recently won the Washington State Chamber Orchestra competition.

The woman in seat 9C on the Denver-Seattle flight last week for making her 9 and 12 year old sons do their math homework on the plane and then insisted they thank the pilot on the way out.

To the woman swimming in the lane next to me yesterday morning. Me, You’re a good swimmer, nice stroke. Her, I know, but I make too many excuses and don’t swim enough. But you’re in great shape. I know. What else do you do? I manage a five acre mobile home park and do three hours of hard labor every day. How old are you? 77.

Other nominees are now being accepted.

Globalization’s Trade-Offs

As a result of economic globalization, goods and services—whether tax returns, x-rays, math tutorials, or credit card or airline reservation-related phone calls—are being digitized and then sent via coaxial cables under the oceans back and forth to India, China, and other developing countries where people are willing to work for far less than Amerians because the cost of living in their countries is considerably less.

Additionally, just like in major league baseball and the NBA, labor pools are much more international. Recently in the U.S., we’ve hired lots of nurses from South Africa and the Philippines, computer scientists from India and Pakistan, and according to Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2009 there were 185,234 foreign born doctors working in the United States representing 127 countries. Twenty-four percent of all medical school classes include foreign-born students.

If national borders are fences of sort, the fences are coming down.

At the same time, U.S. citizens are increasingly angry and outspoken about outsourcing and the exporting of American jobs, a sentiment exacerbated by politicians, including the president, playing to cameras. All you have to do to understand how wildly inconsistent most people are on this topic is visit the closest Wal-Mart. Few U.S. citizens have connected the outsourcing, global economic dots.

They want their jobs protected from foreign competition, but at the same time want continued access to inexpensive toys, clothes, and toothbrushes from China and other developing countries. One study asked U.S. homeowners applying for home equity loans if they would like their loans processed by a U.S. firm in twelve days or a foreign firm in ten and the vast majority opted for the foreign firm.

Arizona’s anti-immigrant law is another case in point. Many undocumented workers are willing to work difficult, minimum wage jobs that few U.S. citizens are, thereby lowering the cost of living for everyone.

Advocate for protectionist economic and more strict immigration policies if you must, but be honest about the economic costs and also insist that legislators pass a 15%-20% insourcing VAT.

Why Exercise?

I once had a colleague, a smart scientist, who said research showed exercise extends people’s lives the same amount of time spent exercising. If that’s close to correct, and if you excercise 5 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, for forty years, that’s an extra 13 months. If that seems paltry, he’d agree, which was why he chose to be sedentary.

I don’t exercise to extend the length of my life as much as I do to improve the quality of it. Most of the time I enjoy the activity itself, the swimming, running, and cycling, especially since I have great training partners. Long story short, exercise improves the quality of my life on lots of levels.

Last Sunday I was traveling all day and on Monday and Tuesday I wasn’t able to squeeze in a workout. Felt completely out of whack. Finally rebooted with a 5 mile run along the edge of Storm Lake Tuesday night. Travelled all day Wednesday, so four days, and one five mile run. Salvaged the week by hitting it hard Thursday-Sunday.

Sunday’s ride was especially nice. Longest ride of 2010 thus far. The numbers, 63.27 miles, 3:34:11, 17.7mph avg, max 42.5, 2,954′ of elevation, 4,057 calories. Morning resting heart rate, 48, 52 in the middle of church (so I drifted during the sermon, what else is new). Great riding with Lance except for the hills he added on. His front tire exploded mid-ride. Loudest flat ever. Embarrassing the lengths he goes to to force rest.

The pictures.

In the peloton, you are what you eat and drink

Ready to roll

Dropping in on 81st Street

Line of the day, "Don't throw that away, I'm going to patch it."

Lance's elaborate rest stop ruse

Self portrait mid-ride

Calorie replacement. . . stage one

Calorie replacement. . . stage two

Calorie replacement. . . stage three

Calorie replacement. . . finishing kick

Inside South Africa

Positive Momentum readers are an especially cosmopolitan group which explains why I’m always turning down high end advertisers. Many PM readers are also anxiously awaiting the start of World Cup play in June. Given those two things, here’s an informative blog by a former student living in South Africa.

LSU Removes Tough Professor

Props to my brother for highlighting this blogworthy “LSU Removes Tough Professor” article.

Mid-article I was thinking of this assessment axiom—the quality of your students’ work is a direct reflection of your teaching effectiveness. Therefore, if 90% of your students are failing, something is seriously wrong with your teaching. However, in the second half of the article, Tough Professor explains that she factors in improvement, most everyone was improving, and most people would eventually pass the course just not with the A’s and B’s they’re probably accustomed to.

I’m trying to figure out why LSU administrators caved simply because students complained. A worrisome precedent. A key point is LSU is supposed to be the state’s flagship institution; therefore, shouldn’t administrators error on the side of academic rigor? Why didn’t the administrators say something to the effect of, “If you’re not willing to work harder, maybe you should have picked a different state school.”

The administrators probably succumbed to enrollment pressures and said in effect, “We can’t afford to lose students.” But are short-term enrollment numbers worth the crippling of faculty morale and the chipping away of the institution’s academic reputation in the medium and long-term?

A statistic and a story come to mind. We know nothing about the gender of the students that complained, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a disproportionate number were males. The statistic. In 1960 there were 1.6 males for every female graduating from a U.S. four-year college. In 2003, there were 1.35 females for every male who graduated from a four-year college. I’ve written about this in the past, but from my limited vantage point, female students are leaving their male counterparts in the dust. The story. A couple of years ago I’m driving daughter and daughter’s Yale-bound friend somewhere. Me, “I’m curious, why Yale?” Her, without missing a beat, “Because I want my nose to the grindstone for four straight years.”

Our challenge is increasing the relative percentage of “nose to the grindstoners”.


Man I’m glad Sarah Palin gave up her boring chief executive gig and took to the road and airwaves. I’m going rogue in the Iowa cornfields right now, working with a small college faculty. As a part of my work, I’m giving a lecture. I turned to SP for inspiration and she did not disappoint. Here are the demands I laid down on my hosts. Pay especially close attention if you would like me to speak to your group.

1A) I must have time to run each day, 1B) the humidity can’t be above 80%, 1C) I must have Norman Rockwell-like views of cornfields at all times, and 1D) there must be a black Australian labradoodle to lick my sweaty face post-run. 2) I must have a widescreen t.v. with ESPN in multiple languages. 3) By dawn, a copy of the New York Times must be delivered to my room, preferably on a new iPad. 4) My rental car must be of German origins and come equipped with a radar dector. 5) When I enter the lecture hall, Beautiful Day by U2 must be playing. 6A) Audience members must at least feign interest throughout my talk. 6B) Security must respond swiftly and forcefully to any and all hecklers. 7) My prewritten questions to myself must be given to individual audience members in advance and appear to be their own. Eight) The post-lecture applause must be deemed rousing and heartfelt for me to stay after and sign programs. 9) I must only be served locally grown food and microbrews. Last but definitely not least, 10) My bedding must consist of a E. S. Kluft Beyond Luxury Sublime mattress, 1500 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets, a Siberian Goose luxury down comforter, and a soft Batiste 800 Fill Power European White Goose Down Pillow.

Human First

I disagree with most conventional wisdom about gender. Odds are I think about it differently than you. I acknowledge men and women are different, but I feel standard gender stereotypes about men are extremely limiting. More generally, I believe standard gender stereotypes about both men and women are unhelpful exaggerations. I question the usefulness of the classic masculine/feminine continuum. I’m human first, male second. I want to be a more caring, sensitive, selfless person, attributes typically associated with women. Instead of accepting exaggerated gender differences as the natural order of things, educators, parents, anyone involved with young people and I would be better off identifying attributes we want to help both young men and women develop.

Religion and Politics

History suggests you can’t get elected to high office in the U.S. without at least marketing yourself as a practicing Christian. Yet, once elected, Christian principles often take a backseat to Realpolitik. Why do Christian constituents seemingly give a pass to faux politicians like Sarah Palin for subverting the “turn the other cheek” challenge of the gospel by advocating for “a punch for a punch” on children’s playgrounds? Much more importantly, why do Christian constituents give a pass to real live politicians like Barack Obama for greatly increasing the use of drones to kill people in Afghanistan?

We Don’t Know Phil Mickelson Either

Masterful Masters. Listening to Bones and Mickelson talk it through and then witnessing Mickelson’s shot on 13 from the pinestraw and trees just may have been worth wasting a beautiful afternoon indoors. Unbelievable. Has there ever been a better player-caddy relationship?

Sometimes an announcer make no sense like when Jim Nantz said Tiger’s play on Thursday was so warmly welcomed by the Masters patrons (don’t call them fans) because Americans love the redemptive arc or something nonsensical like that. What the heck does Tiger’s making a few birdies and getting his life together have to do with one another?

Here’s how the press will want you to remember the 2010 Masters. Phil was inspired to win it for Amy, his wife who is battling breast cancer. Watch SportsCenter for the continuous replaying of Phil’s and Amy’s post championship embrace or the Golf Channel or see pictures of it in Sports Illustrated on Thursday. Analysts will laud Phil as the anti-Tiger for days to come. Faithful family man versus filandering “family” man. The joke will be, “Wonder which blonde Tiger would have embraced had he won?!”

The truth of the matter is, we don’t know Phil just like we didn’t, don’t, and won’t ever know Tiger or Kobe or Sandra or name the public figure. Hell, do we truly know half of our friends and acquaintances? Maybe Phil hasn’t always been faithful. With no way to know, why put him on a pedestal for anything other than that filthy shot on 13. That’s not cynicism, it’s healthy skepticism. Cynics assume the worst, skeptics know things aren’t always as they appear, and therefore, question conventional wisdom.

Now Lee Westwood, he seems like an all around great bloke. :) Here’s hoping he breaks through later in the year.

Sentence to Ponder

In 2007, 23% of U.S. children were living in poverty, more than twice the rate of most European nations, and a higher rate than was true in the early 1970s, when poverty rates for children had been reduced to 15% as a result of the War on Poverty.  (Linda Darling-Hammond in The Flat World and Education)