The Invisible Hand

by Kieran Healy on December 5, 2007

Behind the veil at the Google Book Scanning Facility.

Your head asplode

by Kieran Healy on December 5, 2007

Via Unfogged.

What are snubbing and shunning?

by Harry on December 5, 2007

A very peculiar BBC report here, about the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge refraining from sponsoring Academies:

Oxford and Cambridge universities are snubbing the government’s flagship academy schools project. The government is urging universities to use their academic resources to support academies as part of the drive to raise standards in deprived areas. But the two famous universities have declined to commit themselves to sponsor an academy.

Just to be clear, I have no inside knowledge on this so there may be something going on that I don’t know, but nothing in the report justifies the use of “snub” in the headline, or “shun” in the text. It would be plain wrong of either University to commit to sponsoring an Academy unless it already had the relevant expertise on hand, and people with the enthusiasm to carry out the task. Cambridge might well have such resources, but I’d be surprised if Oxford does, and refraining from making a commitment until such resources are to hand seems perfectly sensible.

Another source of irritation. The article implies a connection between non-involvement in Academies and the fact that Oxford and Cambridge have high proportions of undergraduates coming from private schools.

This autumn the Universities Secretary, John Denham, urged universities to take an active role in secondary education by sponsoring an academy – with 20 universities already signed up. In particular, he highlighted the importance of such projects for universities which have an intake of wealthier students. Only 54% of students at Oxford University and 57% of students at Cambridge are drawn from state schools. “It is clear that the universities that recruit the vast majority of students from a small minority of society are missing out on a huge amount of talent,” said Mr Denham.

But involvement in Academies in deprived areas would — or should — do nothing to change this. Take the Academy which Oxford University might reasonably be asked to help with — the prospective Oxford Academy in Littlemore which serves the nearest deprived area to Oxford University (its about 3 miles fom the centre of town and I should declare an interest here — I attended Peers, the “failed” school on whose site the Academy will located, many years ago, though the catchment area hasn’t changed much in that time). Like most schools serving deprived areas, this prospective academy is unlikely to deliver many future Oxford undergraduates — the urgent issue for that school is raising the achievement of children who won’t go to University at all.

Help a Blogger Out

by Belle Waring on December 5, 2007

Gary Farber has been scraping by for a while on your previous generous donations, CT readers, but he’s in a world of hurt at the moment, so show some love.

In perhaps related news, some people just don’t know anything about being broke:

“The risk is that you could be modifying loans for people who don’t need it,” said Sharon Greenberg, director of mortgage strategy at Barclay’s. “There’s only so much you can do without talking to the borrower. You’re spending $60 a month on cable TV; can you get by with less? You’re spending $200 a month on food for two people, but food costs in your area show that you should be able to get by with $100 a month. These are the kinds of conversations that loan-servicing companies have to have with borrowers.”

Food costs in your area show that when there are no crawdads, you should be able to eat sand. No refinancing for you, Mr. Moneypants McRichington!!

Bubble 2.0 music video

by Eszter Hargittai on December 5, 2007

I realize that some of the references in this video require a fairly intimate knowledge of the Silicon Valley scene, but not all so perhaps this will add a bit of amusement to your day regardless of your geek quotient.