Monthly Archives: October 2013

Don’t call us Rock Stars

Ah, the life of a superprofessor. Since I started teaching a massive open online course, I’ve been called “Internet royalty” by the Financial Times and been told I had great skin on the public-radio show Marketplace. This must be what the edX president Anant Agarwal meant when, responding to concerns that MOOCs were overhyped, he […] … learn more→

Football racists score own goal against the beautiful game

It has been suggested by Sepp Blatter that Jeffrey Webb, FIFA’s vice president and the head of FIFA’s anti-discrimination task force, might succeed the Swiss administrator as President of FIFA. This support for Webb came after he hosted FIFA officials at a gala in Grand Cayman (a Caribbean island) to promote CONCACAF, the federation of […] … learn more→

Signs of hope for the Hermit Kingdom

Clarissa was one of the smartest students I ever taught at Tsinghua University. An English-literature major fluent in Chinese, Korean, and English, she could discuss at length issues as varied as gay marriage, the limits of Internet freedom, and the morality of terrorism. She was recently accepted to graduate programs in international relations at both […] … learn more→

A quick-fix solution for patent ‘trolls’ probably won’t work

In the US this week there’s been another outbreak of proposals to fix the “patent troll” problem. A new bill from Representative Bob Goodlatte suggests changing the nation’s patent law to punish trolling or increase the resources of the USPTO (the patent registrar). These proposals aren’t an effective solution, given the disagreement and general lack […] … learn more→

South African racial inequality declines to its lowest levels yet

A Stellenbosch University study shows a rapidly growing black middle class and a dramatic decline in racial inequality, but cautions that opportunities and life chances for children from different communities still remain unequal. According to a comprehensive two-year long interdisciplinary study by researchers from the Economics and Political Science departments at Stellenbosch University (SU) the […] … learn more→

Chemists show life on Earth was not a fluke

How life came about from inanimate sets of chemicals is still a mystery. While we may never be certain which chemicals existed on prebiotic Earth, we can study the biomolecules we have today to give us clues about what happened three billion years ago. Now scientists have used a set of these biomolecules to show […] … learn more→

Oxymoron or Farce: The highest paid executive in Public Higher Education leads a statewide study onincreasing affordability in Ohio

On Monday, the Columbus Dispatch reported that Governor Kasich has appointed Gordon Gee, President Emeritus of Ohio State University, to “lead a study looking for ways to make college more affordable and relevant for Ohio students.” More specifically, Gee will “spend the next year working with other college presidents, K-12 education leaders, and the business […] … learn more→

Ranking US national political leaders as College freshmen

As we watched the government shutdown and fiscal crisis play out in Washington this week, the first thought crossing the minds of most Americans was how silly and dangerous the high stakes game of “we’re not sure what we want but we still want it” was in the court of global public opinion. The agreement […] … learn more→

Why is grey literature not open access?

While there’s been much angst about the locking away of academic literature and sky-high fees for libraries to access academic journals, what about all the other sources of publicly-funded material? Why is so called ‘grey literature’ not included in the brave new world of open access? In case you don’t know, grey literature is defined […] … learn more→

Who earns more: Professor or Fry Cook?

The high cost of college makes people think that most faculty are overpaid. Let me debunk this myth. Nearly all funds from recent tuition hikes, state-allocation increments, and record-breaking fund raising do not go to most educators. I’m a tenured professor of history of science and mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. I […] … learn more→