Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wondering Aloud

Wondering Aloud

- How is it possible that the comforter is warm, the blanket is warm, and the sheets are freezing? The sheets are under the blanket and comforter. Shouldn't they keep the sheets warm? I'm perplexed.

- A few days ago, some readers called me out on my claim that the average age of cc students is dropping. Apparently some national statistics suggest otherwise. I was surprised, since all of my counterparts across the state report the exact same thing I've seen. A quick search revealed a raft of different statistics, none of which were transparent about their methodology. Our local stats, which fit with my wandering-the-hallways observation, suggest that the average age is closer to 21 than to 29. In discussions at national conferences, cc admins from all over have reported drops in average ages. I'm beginning to suspect that there's a really basic measurement issue here. The national stats that popped up on Google don't describe any on-the-ground reality I've seen. I don't know if it's regional, or if it hinges on the definition of student (credit vs. non-credit would yield two wildly different numbers), or if some of the national numbers are of the “Mikey was killed by pop rocks and Coke” variety, but it's got me wondering. You'd think this would be straightforward, but it doesn't seem to be.

- Surest sign of recession: our Admissions staff reports that it's raining men. Culturally, we aren't entirely prepared for this. Just out of curiosity, over the last week and a half I've been keeping informal track of the gender breakdown at the meetings I've had. In every group of ten or more, the men are outnumbered, usually by at least two to one. At a recent meeting, I raised the question of supports for male students, given their sudden enrollment spike and their historically higher attrition rates, only to be answered by an extended silence. I'm not entirely sure what will happen when the Fall class gets here, but I think we're in for some awkward cultural moments.

- Why do people on shows like “The Bachelor” propose?

- This one's for people who understand economics better than I do, and who are invited to comment. Right now the government is flooding the banks with money, hoping that some of it, somehow, will find its way out of banks in the form of consumer or business loans. It doesn't seem to be working yet, and even optimists seem to think that recovery is some time away. My question: once recovery kicks in, and all that loose money is sloshing around in the system, won't all that loose money be inflationary as all get-out? And if it is, would that be an entirely bad thing? A hearty round of inflation would do wonders to fix all those 'underwater' mortgages and to cheapen the cost of servicing existing debts, since they could be paid off in depreciated dollars. At a certain level, inflation seems more equitable than unemployment, since inflation hits everybody but unemployment focuses most of the pain on the unlucky few. Is this all part of the plan? Anyway, my fearless prediction: once the recovery kicks in, watch gasoline prices skyrocket.

- Why doesn't Apple have a netbook? As a former colleague of mine used to say, this ain't rocket surgery. And don't give me that “the iphone is a netbook” crap. If I can't touch-type, it's not a netbook. An inexpensive, elegantly-designed Apple netbook could blow the doors off (what's left of) the market. In my walking-the-hallways observations, netbooks have turned this year's crop of students away from Apple, which is new.

And now back to the regularly scheduled blog...