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[teaching] A student's perspective on course selection

I stumbled across this article while waiting for a meeting to start. It is a bit "inside baseball", in this case "inside brandeis" but it was revealing to me at least. Students can "shop" for courses for the first two weeks of the term, attending classes and adding and dropping at will during that time as they settle for their choices. I guess when I went to college they had that too, but I wasn't aware of how it worked, so I never did it.

It makes for odd dynamics in the class room as for the first two weeks you don't really know who to expect to see, who will show up next time, and whether they are keeping up or not. This writer does not seem to be enjoying his college experience as much as I did :)

The Brandeis Hoot » Course selection shopping period: the honeymoon is over:

Not so this semester. At final tally, I had signed up for five classes and audited seven more only to realize that I did not enjoy the class. So what was the problem? What do I look for in a class? The first consideration I take into account is whether it fulfils course requirements. The truth is that I don’t particularly enjoy 90 percent of the classes I join, and I am frankly confused when I hear of someone taking a class “for fun”.



30 Year TV Show

I just saw that the final "Season" of Mad Men will be delivered in two mini-seasons, 7 episdodes in 2014 and 7 more in 2015. I had this idea for a TV show that has not been done yet.

Just like the contrivance of 24 hours is that it occurred over a 24 hour period, in real time, my show, called 30 Years, occurs over a 30 year time span, in real time, with the same actors. Here's how it works.

We commit to 30 years (calendar years) of seasons, with 4 epiisodes each. The actors start out in year 1, and the same ones, appear year after year, so you actually see them aging and the world changing around them. It's one cogent story line which is determined up front, but it runs for 30 actual years, 4 episodes at a time.

(c) Pito Salas, 2014. Patent Pending.


Engraving an iPhone knocks $25 off resale value

Good news: I looked up what the trade-in value is for my iPhone 4S 32Gig. Much to my pleasant surprise, it's $195. Almost enough to pay for my new iPhone 5S!

Bad news: If I hadn't stupidly engraved it, the trade-in price would be $220.

Word to the wise: Don't engrave.


Theory and Practice

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra at BrainyQuote:

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. Yogi Berra



Looks like a fun book: "Cockpit Confidential"

The Many Mysteries of Air Travel -

If you’d like the answers, I highly recommend Patrick Smith’s new book, “Cockpit Confidential.” Mr. Smith is a pilot and blogger; much of the book’s format and contents are on display at his Web site,, or in the archives of the “Ask the Pilot” column he wrote for for years.



Gender Equity at Harvard: great article

Harvard Business School Case Study - Gender Equity -

The administrators and the class of 2013 were parting ways, their experiment continuing. The deans vowed to carry on but could not say how aggressively: whether they were willing to revise the tenure process to attract more female contenders, or allow only firms that hired and promoted female candidates to recruit on campus. “We made progress on the first-level things, but what it’s permitting us to do is see, holy cow, how deep-seated the rest of this is,” Ms. Frei said.



Confessions of an economic hit man

You should read this book: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.  It's shocking and insightful.

Basically the book explains and teaches that when you hear, for example, that Egypt is getting a billion US$ in military aid, that's not what it sounds like. We are not sending them a check for a million bucks. We are actually sending the million bucks to US millitary corporations.

Why? Because the funds that Egypt gets can only be spent with specific US companies on specific items, either hardware or service contracts. And moreover the books explains that often the recipient country doesn't even want what they are required to purchase or the project that they are required to undertake, lets say a new highway, bridge, airport or whatever.

So read the book and also, keep that in mind when you learn for example that Senators backing war in Syria are flush with defense industry cash «

According to an analysis by MapLight, which tracks lobbying and campaign contributions in Congress, senators who voted in favor of the resolution received, on average, 83 percent more money from defense contractors and other defense interests than senators who voted against the resolution.



The other side of the Snowden story

What Did Edward Snowden Get Wrong? Everything | RAND:

Incidents like the Snowden affair put my former colleagues in the intelligence community in an impossible position. Yes, the official explanations about the virtues of data-collection efforts can sound self-justifying and vague. But they're still right. I know firsthand that Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, is telling the truth when he talks about plots that have been preempted and attacks that have been foiled because of intelligence his agency collected. I know because I was on the inside, I have long held security clearances, and I participated in many of the activities he describes.



[edtech] Who knew there was "university in a box" software!

I stumbled across this web site. I can't say anything about their status or quality but I was suprised that someone developed what looks like a complete "university admin in a box" cloud based software. Maybe I can use it for Bootup Academy!

Get a Feature tour of Fedena – Management Information System:

Fedena provides user-friendly dashboards with login access to all the teachers, non-teaching staff, students, parents and management body of your institution. The various modules available in Fedena takes care of all the processes in your institution, right from admission of new students to generating transfer certificate, when the student completes the studies.



Free Kindle book about Identity Theft