Thursday, September 24, 2015

 

Friday Fragments


When we get a new box of cookies in the house -- I don’t want to admit how often that happens -- there’s a predictable life cycle.  Let’s say it has 30 cookies.  29 will disappear on the first day.  The last cookie will last a week until someone finally puts it out of its misery.

We can’t be the only family for whom that’s true.  There’s just something about that last cookie that nobody wants to confront.  So we have mostly-empty boxes of cookies for more time than we have useful ones.

I thought of that while reading this story in Politico about the difficult politics of actually killing programs.  It’s easy to underfund programs, or campuses, for decades at a time, but actually landing the killer blow is much harder.  The article highlights programs at the Federal level, but the same dynamic holds within states.  In Connecticut, for example, the head of the CSCU system was able to survive all sorts of issues until he tried to close one location of a campus.  Eat all the cookies you want, but don’t make it obvious by tossing the box.

For the folks who work on campuses, this dynamic leads to a frustrating sense of chronic underfunding.  For us at home, it leads to some frustrating moments of picking up a cookie box, only to find it effectively empty.

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I’m not generally a fan of Comcast, having lived in its domain for years, but credit where credit is due.  It’s extending $10 a month home broadband service to community college students on financial aid in parts of Colorado and Illinois.

A gauntlet has been thrown.  Verizon and Optimum, I’m looking at youuuu…

Apparently the program started as a mandated concession as part of Federal approval for a merger, but Comcast has kept it going beyond the mandate and is even growing it.  

I’m thinking if you combine Chromebook (or similar) rentals, on-campus printing access, discount home broadband, and Open Educational Resources, then you’ve put together a package that would allow many very low-income students a realistic shot at participating in classes.  They wouldn’t be limited to their phones.

It’s not a perfect system, of course.  Students who are homeless or nearly so -- couch-surfing, say -- wouldn’t be able to take advantage, and in some areas, that’s a surprisingly high percentage of the student population.  Still, it would be a genuine boon for many students.  

Kudos, Comcast.  Verizon and Optimum, the ball is in your court…

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Say what you want about Ryan Adams’ cover of 1989, but the second guitar part on his version of “All You Had to Do Was Stay” just kills me.  It brings back memories of the Psychedelic Furs at their peak, and I mean that as a compliment.  It’s a better drummer away from greatness.

I throw this idea out for any musician willing to try it.  A slow, spare, acoustic cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Your Type” would be devastating.  Listen past the synth-pop arrangement to the words and the melody.  It’s waiting to be done…

Comments:
I thought of that while reading this story in Politico about the difficult politics of actually killing programs.

In grant writing we call these "Zombie programs" (and have written posts about them) because the undead, unfunded program is so common.

Funding the latest Hot New Project is usually more fun than funding one that's been around for decades, which is part of the reason we see so many zombies shambling around in our line of work.
 
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