Wednesday, December 20, 2006


For some reason, this semester’s grading papers and exams has been more tedious and time-consuming than usual. To break up the monotony, I have decided to allow myself a brief blog entry for every exam or paper I finish.

Epistemology: how do we know what we think we know? I ask this question in the specific arena of climate change. I believe the claims that the climate of the earth is, overall, warmer of late than it has been. I am not a scientist or a specialist. Why do I believe this (especially given the fact that I am a bit more skeptical about the most dramatic claims that all of the warming is anthropogenic and even more skeptical about the doomsday predictions that follow)? Why do those who believe otherwise believe what they believe? Is there any reasonable way to reach a consensus?

Top 5 cities not to visit in Asia (if you care about your lungs). The cities with the worst air pollution in Asia are:

1. Beijing
2. Xi’an
3. Kathmandu
4. Dhaka
5. New Delhi
(list comes to me via Asia Watch )

Not terribly surprising except for Kathmandu. I would have expected given its remoteness (and altitude?) that the air might be cleaner there. Alas.

The ten most dangerous toys of all time . How things have changed! I can imagine having a lot of fun with one of these when I was a kid.

Temperature outside: 48 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 9 degree Celsius for all of you who actually believed that film-strip in science class that confidently declared that the U.S. would be entirely metric within a matter of years). Chances of a white Christmas here in Virginia? Pretty much nil.

Cue the PowerPoint brigade: University Diaries muses about the threat posed to universities by business-oriented “managers”
Yet the Powerpoint brigade, to take one instance, has already stormed the tower, its pedagogical weapon deadly boredom... And more and more university presidents are justifying outrageous personal compensation by telling everyone they're managers, not... what's it called... intellectuals...

I think that part of the problem that this “threat” is a response to is a change in how a university education is regarded by students and their parents. Few and far between are those who go to a university to become educated, well-rounded, or otherwise intellectually and culturally enhanced. Rather, higher education is, it seems, increasingly regarded as an important aspect of vocational training and little more. As long as that is the goal, approaching higher ed from the viewpoint of a “manager” might even make sense. But much will be lost.

"Barack Hussein Obama: American": I wholeheartedly agree with James Joyner's reaction to some rather silly insinuation about Obama.

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