Thursday, January 10, 2013


Friday Fragments

The book is out, and shipping!  


Fearless prediction time: The City College of San Francisco will get some sort of extension -- possibly presented as “probationary” -- on its deadline to show improvement or lose accreditation.  Given the size of the college, and the political impact of a loss of accreditation (which would almost certainly lead to closure), I just don’t see the hammer falling in March.

Unfortunately, it appears that many of the folks who need to agree to drastic changes are making that same calculation, and foot-dragging as a result.   

The saving grace, perversely enough, may be rapidly declining enrollments.  It’s one thing to argue with an accreditor; it’s quite another to argue with the public.  Here’s hoping that sane minds prevail on campus and they get their stuff together before the death spiral becomes unstoppable.


I don’t know if the “flex degrees” that Wisconsin is rolling out will work, but they strike me as a promising start.  It appears that they’ll be focused more on competencies than on credits, which is a prerequisite to any meaningful progress.

I’m hopeful that this option, and others like it, become sufficiently popular that the Department of Education starts to get a little more willing to move on financial aid rules.  Right now, those are the greatest barriers to campus innovation.  Charge the Department of Ed with improving results, rather than preventing change, and we can get somewhere.  On, Wisconsin!


Voice is data.  I don’t mind so much paying for monthly data use, but breaking out voice as its own separate item leaves a bad taste.  Why can’t it all just fall under data?  Verizon, I’m looking at youuu...


This story about Pell grant restrictions struck me as inevitable.  Among the effects of reducing Pell grant eligibility are reduced enrollments by low-income people, increased reliance on loans (especially private ones that aren’t subject to federal limits), and increased time spent on working for pay, rather than studying.  

Historically, social mobility has been an antidote to the political effects of economic polarization.  When that mobility goes away, it’s harder to explain to a have-not why she shouldn’t resent the haves.  There was a time when conservatives understood this.  Nelson Rockefeller didn’t pour money into SUNY because he was a closet socialist; he poured money into SUNY to offer people who might otherwise have been threatening a stake in the system.

And yes, degrees do still help with mobility.  I noted with gratitude the latest study showing that while a degree isn’t any sort of guarantee, in the aggregate, you’re much better off economically having one than not having one.  That’s why recessions increase enrollments in community colleges.  (That, and the lower opportunity cost of enrolling when other opportunities are scarce.)  Folks on the ground know that education matters.

I’d rather have students work fewer hours for pay, have time to study, and graduate with less debt.  I just don’t see what’s so radical or threatening about that.

The book is out, and shipping!

I don't mean to be the jerk, but: $30? Damn. I'd love to buy a copy.
If you allow the have-nots unfettered access to education, they may get all uppity. They might even start demanding fair wages and access to health care.

Mass hysteria, I tell you!
"What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

The Cost Disease: Why Computers Get Cheaper and Health Care Doesn't by William J. Baumol"

That didn't take long...
Just got my copy of the book. Congratulations!

On voice, though: it is data, but it is highly compressible data. The bandwidth required for voice is far less than that for most data. The AMR codec used in GSM phones, for instance, tops out at 12.2 kbits/second, which is about the speed of the modem I had in the early 1990s. An hour of call time at the highest rate would be about 5.5 MB of data. (Double it to 11 MB if you want to presume that both parties are talking simultaneously.)

Modern 3G networks, on the other hand, have at least 14 Mbits/second downstream capacity--a thousand times what's needed for voice.

What really gets me riled up is the obscene charges for sending and receiving text messages. They should be basically free, given how little bandwidth they require.
Aw, man, I'd hoped Dantes had already come by to spit on poor kids.

Adding my voice to the "I got the book today" too - via Kindle as I'm in New Zealand.

As a long-time reader of the blog (I started before you edited the sidebar which said "TG is in pre-school and Queen of All She Surveys"
From memory it was about the "we're packing up the baby cot" stage.

Anyway, I've enjoyed reading over the years and wanted to show my support as a first-day purchaser (which is important for stats and such).

Congrats and thanks for your writing over the past few years - I look forward to reading.


SUNY was doing flex degrees thirty years ago in a program that has now morphed into SUNY Empire College. Ms. Rabett got her BA through that program.

Curiously nursing appears to be the driver program in both cases.
Dean Dad, just got your book and am enjoying it greatly. In fact, I will probably read it again after I finish it the first time.
Yes, voice is data. Sort of. It should be, but voice and data to your mobile are still different data types, in spite of riding the same EM wave between your phone and the tower. If your phone were a pure VOIP device, that would change things, but alas, we still live in a mixed world.
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