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September 2011 Links: How to Meet Your Program Officer, The Death of Books, Mistakes in Thinking Outside the Box, Handwriting, Education, and More

* How to meet not only your program officer, but the US Attorney as well: “D.C. Government Claims Nonprofit Used Grant Money to Open Strip Club.” This is especially brazen; everyone knows that programs occur a certain amount of indirect costs, but that’s considerably different than out-and-out fraud.

* Reminder: in the age of the death of the book, “Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.

* Charities Struggle With Smaller Wall Street Donations, although this probably isn’t news to GWC readers.

* The Legislation That Could Kill Internet Privacy for Good.

* Why the Real Estate Recession is Halting Divorces.

* The grant of the week, courtesy of a reader: “Co-Management for Sibsistenceuse of Pacific Walrus.” That is in fact how it appeared at

* News flash: college students like drinking because it alleviates social anxiety and enables hooking up. File this under, “I could’ve told them that.” If you’re running a Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Discretionary Program: University/College Initiative or Capacity Building Initiative for Substance Abuse program, you should keep articles like this in mind. People don’t binge drink to become cautionary tales. They do it because it’s fun.

* Speaking of college life: “Smart Girls Wear Short Skirts, Too: Stop Complaining About College Students.”

* “Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.” That’s from the New York Times, “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.”

* What happens to doctors who think outside the box? Answer: nothing good. Kind of like grant writers who think outside the box.

* If you can get FiOS, you should.

* Broadcasting and Narrowcasting: “Generalized interventions tend to affect everyone a little bit, but they don’t close achievement gaps. Narrowly targeted interventions make large differences on a small scale; they help close gaps, but they don’t do much for the overall completion number.” If you’re not reading this blog about community college life, you probably should be.

* Handwriting Horror: Nation of adults who will write like children?

* Why Software Is Eating The World by Marc Andreessen—one of the most impressive essays I’ve read recently.

* CIA’s ‘Facebook’ Program Dramatically Cut Agency’s Costs.

* A Federal Register API? Shocking!

* Charlie Stross, interesting as usual:

In the period 1997-2010 in the UK, Parliament created an average of one new criminal offence for every day the House of Commons was in session. I asked a couple of legal experts how many actual chargeable offences there were in the English legal system; they couldn’t give an exact answer but suggested somewhere in the range 5,000-20,000. The situation in the USA is much, much worse, with different state and federal legal systems and combinations of felonies; the true number of chargeable felonies may be over a million, and this situation is augmented by a tax code so large that no single human being can be familiar with all of it (but failure to comply is of course illegal).

Now, most of the time most of these laws don’t affect most of us. But there’s a key principle of law, that ignorance is no defence: I’m willing to bet that most human beings are guilty of one or more crimes, be it smoking a joint or speeding or forgetting to declare earnings or failing to file the paperwork for some sort of permit we don’t even know exists. We are all potentially criminals.

* Note: there is no evidence that birth control actually causes weight gain.

* Does a Moleskine notebook tell the truth? Answer: probably not. I’ve been trying various notebooks over the years and have probably settled on the Rhodia Webbie, an unfortunately named but quite nice notebook that appears much more durable than its competitors. I am disappointed with Moleskines.

* The “overlearning the game” problem.

* On English as a language:

[. . .] there’s no subject, however technical or complex, that can’t be made clear to any reader in good English—if it’s used right. Unfortunately, there are many ways of using it wrong

This should remind you of our post, How to Write About Something You Know Nothing About: It’s Easy, Just Imagine a Can Opener.

* A Tough Job, but Someone’s Gotta Do It. A jobs-training proposal that looks straight out of, well, a proposal.

* College football as seen by a (British?) person acting as an anthropologist.

* PicPlum calls itself “the easiest way to send photos.” I ordered some and they turned out quite nicely.

* Text Slang for Adults. Sample: “NSR = Need some roughage”; “T4W = Time for whiskey.”

* Contrary to popular belief, riots might not mean much of anything:

But across U.S. cities, there has never been much of a link between unrest and either inequality or poverty. In fact, the riots of the 1960s were actually slightly more common in cities that had more government spending. Riots were significantly less common in the South, where the Jim Crow laws were making their long overdue exit. This isn’t to say that many people involved in riots don’t have valid grievances, but plenty of people have serious grievances and don’t riot.

* He Sexts, She Sexts More, Report Says, this from the NYT.

* How Cisco’s “unmitigated gall” derailed one man’s life.

* Recession worsens racial wealth gap; women and minorities hurt most.

* This may be the most impressive blog comment I’ve ever read (it’s from Cory Doctorow):

Education is a public good. It is best supplied and paid for by the group as a whole, because no individual or small collective can produce the overall social benefit that the nation can provision collectively.

Education doesn’t respond well to market forces because many of the social goods that arise from education — socialization, a grounding in civics, historical context, rational and systematic reasoning — are not goods or services demanded by a market, but rather they are the underlying substrate that allows people to intelligently conduct transactions in a marketplace as well as establishing and maintaining good governance.

There is a long and wide body of evidence that people with wide, solid educational foundations that transcend mere vocational skills produce societies that are more prosperous, more transparent, healthier, more democratic — that attain, in short, all the things we hope markets will attain for us.

* “There are many studies of the stimulus, but finally there is one which goes behind the numbers to see what really happened. And it’s not an entirely pretty story.”

* Although For a Standout College Essay, Applicants Fill Their Summers doesn’t say as much, it’s actually about how hard it is for lower-and middle-class students to get into elite colleges.

* Born, and Evolved, to Run.

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