Basic science and tech education

by Eszter Hargittai on February 23, 2004

Ed Felten has posted a call for science/tech books we’d like all students to read. Ed is disturbed by the low number of science- and technology-related books that appear on the “must read” lists of an international group of college presidents. (Note that the response rate to the survey was quite low at around 25%.) Another interesting result is that very few contemporary books are on these people’s lists.

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Guestblogger welcome

by Henry on February 23, 2004

We’re going to have two new guestbloggers with us over the next week; John Holbo and Belle Waring from “John and Belle Have a Blog”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/. Most CT readers will know them well already; I reckon that JABHAB and the Volokhs are the two main contenders for the coveted blog-most-linked-to-by-Timberites award. John is a philosopher at the National University of Singapore; he also blogs about literature, politics and academia. Belle covers all of the above, as well as cooking (including tasty “rat anecdotes”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2004/02/dangerous_but_w.html) and popular culture. She’s ABD (or AWOL) at the Classics Department at Berkeley, and is currently writing a rather good detective novel with surreal elements. Enjoy …

Kleztravaganza

by Eszter Hargittai on February 23, 2004

I went to a great klezmer concert yesterday in Princeton. It started off with the Princeton University student klezmer group: the Klezmocrats. They are a talented young group. The main attraction was the Klez Dispensers. They, too, started out as a Princeton student group some years ago but by now work independently. It’s been wonderful to watch them grow over the years. They’re amazing. But don’t take my word for it (admittedly somewhat biased given my friendships with about half of them:), according to Pete Sokolow they are “the finest young group playing classic American Klezmer style today”. I recommend their new CD, the New Jersey Freylekhs. (I realize blogging about this before the concert would have been more helpful than doing so after.. I’ll try to be better about that next time.)

Channels of Dissent

by Henry on February 23, 2004

The “New York Times”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/21/arts/21DISS.html?ex=1392786000&en=afaf726e7ed23f35&ei=5007&partner=USERLAND has an article on “Dissent”:http://www.dissentmagazine.org/ Magazine, which is about to hit its 50th anniversary. It’s a publication which is a little to my right, and to the right of some other CT-ites, but has published some really good pieces over the years. The Times refers to Dissent‘s continuing financial difficulties – the journal has always been a labour of love, more aimed at getting ideas into circulation than at breaking even. This leads to an interesting question. There’s always been a lot of guff in the blogosphere about how blogs represent a fundamental threat to traditional media. It’s mostly nonsense – Atrios and Glenn Reynolds aren’t about to eat the NYT’s lunch any time soon, let alone Crooked Timber. Still, the one section of the media that faces a real challenge to adapt is the small opinion journal. There are things that these journals can do that bloggers are bad at – run long and detailed articles for one. But blogs – at least the more successful ones – are arguably starting to catch up (and in certain areas of debate to dominate). And they’re a lot cheaper. _Dissent_ has a circulation of 8-10,000 and loses over $100,000 a year. It costs a few hundred dollars a year to run a blog with the same daily readership.

I don’t think that these magazines are going to disappear – I certainly hope not. According to Chris, _Imprints_, another small journal, seems to have no trouble in covering its costs. However, if blogs continue to feed directly and indirectly into public debate, it’ll be hard for small journals to resist taking advantage of the possibilities (and cost savings) that they offer. I imagine that we’ll see various forms of symbiosis continuing to emerge, from opinion-blogs like Talking Point Memo, through blog-journal hybrids like the TAP and Reason websites, to niche print journals that get smarter about using bloggers to get the word out about good pieces. All sounds good to me.

[via “politicaltheory.info”:http://www.politicaltheory.info/]

Economics of Mozart and Happiness

by Kieran Healy on February 23, 2004

Tyler Cowen “writes”:http://volokh.com/2004_02_22_volokh_archive.html#107755227239247513

bq. Read Michael’s recent treatment of “The Economics of Mozart”:http://www.2blowhards.com/archives/001314.html#001314. The bottom line? Mozart was a successful commercial entrepreneur. His economic problems stemmed from a war with Turkey, not the failures of the marketplace.

He should definitely have known better than to start a war with Turkey. That whole “abduction from the seraglio”:http://www.texnet.net/scarpia/Abd.html business was a complete farce. Meanwhile — sorry, I’m not even going to pretend to link these comments — Matt Yglesias “makes the following observation”:http://www.matthewyglesias.com/archives/002635.html#002635 about Greg Easterbrook’s _The Progress Paradox_:

bq. The real progress paradox isn’t “why doesn’t all our stuff make us happy” but rather, given that all our stuff pretty clearly doesn’t make us happy, how do we come to have all this stuff.

Which seems about right. An unwillingness to distinguish these two questions — or rather, the decision, for technical purposes, to treat them as if they were the _same_ question — is a hallmark of modern economics. Robert E. Lane has “a book”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300091060/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ that argues this point. Bruno Frey and Alois Stutzer “have a solid rejoinder”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0691069980/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/ from the economist’s point of view, arguing that money can indeed go a long way towards making you happy — but not as far, surprisingly, as democratic institutions and local political autonomy can.

Strike!

by Chris Bertram on February 23, 2004

I’ll be on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. I’m sure that the bourgeoisie are making plans to flee the country and that their lackeys in the capitalist press will be uttering their denunciations … but I don’t care.

Actually, I feel duty bound to participate because I’m a member of the union, and the ballot went in favour of a strike. But since “the union”:http://www.aut.org.uk/ is possibly the feeblest one in the TUC, has no ideas for how to get money into higher education, is challenging a deal that every other campus union has signed up to already and is most famous for marching under the stirring banner “Rectify the Anomaly!”:http://web.bham.ac.uk/J.C.Duffy/prentice.htm , I hold out no hope of success. The BBC has “some”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3508209.stm “details”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3507137.stm on the dispute, as does “the Guardian”:http://education.guardian.co.uk/specialreports/lecturerspay/story/0,5500,1153895,00.html , but most of the newsmedia have so far chosen to ignore the strike completely.

Comrades! To the barricades!