Monthly Archives: April 2015

How the language you speak changes your view of the world

Bilinguals get all the perks. Better job prospects, a cognitive boost and even protection against dementia. Now new research shows that they can also view the world in different ways depending on the specific language they are operating in. The past 15 years have witnessed an overwhelming amount of research on the bilingual mind, with […] … learn more→

Colleges pledge to help the poor, do opposite?

Many times I’ve mentioned that the folks running higher education really seem to be far more interested in luring suckers in, draining them of money and spitting them out, than, well, education. Oh, the Poo Bahs running higher education bloviate about “jobs, community, and service”, but despite the flowery words, their actions always seem to […] … learn more→

Truly incompetent English

Purist curmudgeons, opinionated columnists, and angry commenters keep telling us that English is disintegrating and soon we will be unable to understand each other. Even academics allege such things (“Grammar is defunct” among students, said Paula Fredriksen, a professor of religion emerita at Boston University, in a 2013 speech at the American Academy of Arts […] … learn more→

What’s stopping you from publishing your own eBook?

Smile. You can publish your own eBook — here’s how. When it comes to writing, the Internet is a double edged sword. On one hand, anyone who wants to can publish their work if they have the right blogging tools. This means there is close to zero criteria for new writing thrust into the world, […] … learn more→

Love song for a neoliberal University: StarbucksU

The May edition of The Atlantic has a long article on the first batch of students to go to StarbucksU (I wrote about it for CNN last May, troubled by the notion of employment-based education). Overall, it\’s a solid article in terms of reporting and structure. It tells the stories of people struggling to finish […] … learn more→

Why I love academic conferences

As I write, I’ve just returned from the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, a vibrant interdisciplinary conference of 900. I’ve attended that meeting for nearly 25 years — from graduate school through the tenure track, and while pregnant, nursing, and corralling toddlers. In part, that’s because 20 years ago at this […] … learn more→

Enormous hole in the universe may not be the only one

Astronomers have found evidence of a giant void that could be the largest known structure in the universe. The “supervoid” solves a controversial cosmic puzzle: it explains the origin of a large and anomalously cold region of the sky. However, future observations are needed to confirm the discovery and determine whether the void is unique. […] … learn more→

How ‘offline’ came to mean ‘online’

I read this sentence in The New York Times not long ago: “Most evenings, before watching late-night comedy or reading emails on his phone, Matt Nicoletti puts on a pair of orange-colored glasses that he bought for $8 off the Internet.” The phrase that caught my inner ear was “off the Internet.” It sounded odd […] … learn more→

The big chill

Tolstoy could have been talking about research supervision when he said: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way‘. Supervising a research student involves relationship work. Relationship work can be difficult; when it goes wrong it goes REALLY wrong. But when it goes right, the supervisor/student relationship is the […] … learn more→

How Sweet Briar can save itself

Whether the “Saving Sweet Briar” campaign succeeds in bringing the college back from the brink of closure, the announcement last month of its imminent demise is still a harbinger of tough times ahead for other private liberal-arts colleges. In a conflict between closing with dignity and fighting with every last breath and dollar, how Sweet […] … learn more→