Posted on Leave a comment

December 2011 Links: College as a Misallocated Resource, Latinos and Politics, Rising Gas Prices, Technology in Schools, Blogging, and More

* College has been oversold; notice especially data on student majors:

In 2009 the U.S. graduated 37,994 students with bachelor’s degrees in computer and information science. This is not bad, but we graduated more students with computer science degrees 25 years ago! [. . .]

In 2009 the U.S. graduated 89,140 students in the visual and performing arts, more than in computer science, math and chemical engineering combined and more than double the number of visual and performing arts graduates in 1985.

I wrote a post on “College graduate earning and learning: more on student choice” that also covers these issues.

* You Say Latino: “I was talking with some graduate students, people I didn’t know, when the subject turned to minority issues. Every time I said Hispanic, the guy sitting next to me said Latino. This was about a decade ago; I hadn’t realized the terminology had changed.”

* [R]ising gas prices have pretty much wiped out the whole cash value of the stimulus to families. Read the whole thing at the link, along with this paper by James Hamilton. It may turn out that we simply can’t do anything about macro economic performance without working on energy problems. This kind of information has been circling among economics bloggers for quite a while but hasn’t made much way into the mainstream.

* “A toddler hit by two vehicles in a southern Chinese city and left unassisted by more than a dozen passersby died Friday, adding new fire to an anguished debate over the state of empathy in China’s fast-changing society.” Notice to the video. File this under “The world is not flat” (yet) and “culture is the water we swim in,” usually without knowing it.

* What dealing with California bureaucrats is like. We’ve experienced this indirectly; see, for example, this post and this one for more.

* Solving America’s teen sex “problem:” The Dutch have dramatically reduced adolescent pregnancies, abortions and STDs. What do they know that we don’t?

* “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute” is about a school without computers and the high-tech moguls who send their kids to the school. This resonates with me, given the research on computers in schools and the dangers of distraction.

* Hispanics Reviving Faded Towns on the Plains; notice the contrast with what Isaac wrote in “Seliger + Associates Hitches Up the Wagons and Heads Out to Where the Pavement Turns to Sand.”

* “The Economics of Bike Lanes;” hint: they’re pretty good. Notice this quote about the Washington MetroRail: “Parking spaces cost on average $25,000 each, compared with $1,000 per space for a secured bike cage. “It’s an extremely expensive proposition for us” to expand car parking, [Kristin Haldeman, Metro’s manager of access planning] said.”

* On Never Quitting starts with a great line: “I used to think Joe Konrath was full of shit.” Note that this is posted on Joe Konrath’s blog.

* Grant humor, via The New Yorker:

* Why academics should blog, which seems completely obvious to me.

* How to fix math education in high school and college. Good luck: the incentives don’t look good to me right now.

* A former teacher gets an MFA in puppetry and can’t find a job afterward; note that we’ve worked for a number of nonprofit puppeteers over the years. Hat tip Alex Tabarrok, and do read his analysis:

What astounds me is not that someone could amass $35,000 in student loans pursuing a dream of puppetry, everyone has their dreams and I do not fault Joe for his. What astounds me is that Richard Kim, the executive editor of The Nation and the author of this article, thinks that the failure of a puppeteer to find a job he loves is a good way to illustrate the “national nightmare” of the job market.

* The feds pay contract IT workers half what they pay their own employees. If that’s not enough, those contractors then turn around and work to minimize their own employees’ rights and compensation.

* Best recent RFP: the National Park Service’s “Exploration of Acoustic Environments – Natural Sound Field Activities Focused on Diverse and Undeserved Youth.” I like noise too.

* From the U.K.: World power swings back to America. Maybe.

* New York City Cops and contempt for the law.

* Malcolm Gladwell on “The real genius of Steve Jobs.”

* Apple may axe the Mac Pro. We hope not: Isaac used one for four years, and the form factor is amazing for anyone who needs expandability in their computers. That being said, their current prices have gone from ludicrous to ridiculous; we hope for a price cut and more reasonable processors, rather than the removal of the line itself.