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Links 1 through 10 of 1089 by Chad Orzel tagged society

I wish more discussions of fraternities and sororities were conducted with this level of thoughtfulness and respect. Also, the application of these ideas to stuff like "What's the matter with Kansas?" is left as an exercise for the reader.

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I've had this open in a tab for a week now, but between my job and my family, I haven't been able to find time to blog about it. Irony sucks, sometimes.

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Entrepreneurial action can represent the best social and imaginative potential of modern liberal societies. It’s also a great way to focus and challenge any new initiative or project. Do you want to mobilize groups, sustain collective action? Then it’s totally fair to ask, “With what resources? With what costs or liabilities? With what kind of plan for organizational and financial sustainability?” Do you have a great creative vision, or some change in material practices you’d like to encourage? Thinking “entrepreneurially” is a great filter or structure for approaching those aspirations.

What I do not like about “entrepreneurship” is when it starts to collapse into itself, when it’s an alibi for a gold-rush approach to life and aspiration, when it’s part of a frenzy.

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I want to know WHY the percentage of women in physics going down. Right now there is a ton of support for women entering physics. We have conferences and mentorship programs all over the nation. But one crucial voice is missing: the women who dropped out of the physics major, and the women who majored in physics but chose to not go on to graduate school. I write this blog because I want to hear from the women who chose not to continue in physics. They are the ones who can shed the true insight! I also want to hear from women who did continue in physics. What made you pick physics, and what made you stay?

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Like Corey Robin, I went to public schools in upper middle-class communities, had great relationships with most of my teachers, felt enormous affection for the education I received, and so on. On the other hand, I don’t have good feelings about the totality of “school”, particularly before high school, because (like more than a few academics) I also recall being bullied with great frequency, in no small measure because I did like school and education and a vocal and aggressive subset of other students did not.

So something is going on even while we’re being schooled that draws from both parents and the wider culture, but I also think has its own dynamic among students. Teachers, mostly unfairly, often become a holder for all of that wider, more diffuse antagonism towards the experience of education.

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This ended up being less interesting than it seemed it might be, but I'm not sure why.

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A look at the top causes of death over the last 100 years, and how they have changed. The paper's pretty dry, but the interactive bar graph is awesome.

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A pure functioning meritocracy would produce a society with growing inequality, but that inequality would come along with a correlated increase in social mobility. As the educational system and business world got better and better at finding inherent merit wherever it lay, you would see the bright kids of the poor boosted to the upper echelons of society, with the untalented progeny of the best and brightest relegated to the bottom of the social pyramid where they belong.

But the Iron Law of Meritocracy makes a different prediction: that societies ordered around the meritocratic ideal will produce inequality without the attendant mobility. Indeed, over time, a society will become more unequal and less mobile as those who ascend its heights create means of preserving and defending their privilege and find ways to pass it on across generations. And this, as it turns out, is a pretty spot-on description of the trajectory of the American economy since the mid-1970s.

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[I]t’s crucial to think about the big picture first, last and always in imagining what you have to have in a liberal arts institution. No allocation of resources makes sense in isolation. Or perhaps the right way to put it is that all allocation of resources make sense in isolation. Almost all disciplines, departments, programs and specializations can provide a narrative about how they are essential and eternal.

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One challenge to reforming our educational system is that politicians and voters think they know what’s wrong with American schools—after all, they went through the system themselves. But some of those common-sense opinions are simply wrong, and these false assumptions undermine much of the public debate about how to improve education.
Here are five of the myths that are making it difficult for us to fix science education.

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