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Links 1 through 10 of 288 by Chad Orzel tagged war

Though the final contract has not yet been hammered out, here are just some of the things the Chicago Teachers Union have won with their seven-day strike [pdf]:

Almost 600 new art, music, and gym teachers
Guaranteed textbooks in the first day of class
$1.5 million for new special education teachers
$.5 million for reductions in class size
More than twice as much money for classroom supplies
No question: they’re hurting the kids.

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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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At the University of Pennsylvania were nine scientists sympathetic to that message [opposing trying to keep nuclear research secret]. All had been involved with wartime work, but in the area of radar, not the bomb. Because they had not been part of the Manhattan Project in any way, they were under no legal obligation to maintain secrecy; they were simply informed private citizens. In the fall of 1945, they tried to figure out the technical details behind the bomb.

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How is it that a multimillion dollar grant offered to an underfunded community college system can make a minimal difference on the ground?  The answer is in the math.

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Why do I bring this up?  I bring it up because I read this article about how the poor get trapped in a system that rains shit down on them.  No, I’m not here to offer the poor advice on how to find good prices.  They know far more about that than I do.  Rather, I do this to point out that good decision-making depends in part on having the time and space to make a good decision, somethign that is harder if you are caught in Catch-22 situations, things that pile one nasty consequence after another onto the smallest of mistakes.  Are there poor people who make cataclysmically dumb decisions without anybody getting in their way?  Of course.  I’m no dummie, I’ve worked in shelters, I know that some people are the authors of their own misery.  But there are even more who make bad decisions because the world rains shit down on them.

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Using the same American Community Survey for 2009 and 2010 as Fogg and Harrington, but focussing on actual unemployment by major, Carnevale, Cheat and Strohl (Hard Times, Georgetown University, Center for Education and the Workforce, 2011) have similar findings (p. 7). Recent college graduates with a business major have a 7.4% unemployment rate, those with an arts degree have an 11.1% rate (with social science majors having an 8.9% rate and humanities/liberal arts students having a 9.4% rate). Combining these two studies, it is clear that being an arts major does not compel one to, at best, discussing supersizing with customers, nor does being a business major totally guard against that. Yes, business majors do better in the job market, and they make more money in their entry level positions than do arts majors ($39,000/yr vs. $$30,000/yr), but is this enough to tell everyone to flock into undergraduate business schools?

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Many of you are cool. Keep the good memories. You're always welcome in the Neighborhood. But I see people yakking on their cell phones while some poor clerk is trying to help them - like the guy on the other side of the counter doesn't even qualify as a human being, because he's got a nametag. I see you treating waiters and neighbors and employees like they're garbage, like they're invisible. I see you driving like you're the goddamn Road Warrior.

You know what breaks my heart? It's partly because you've got too much friggin' self-esteem. And it makes me think that's my fault. I spend my whole life trying to make the world a better place, and you nasty ridiculous people are the result? No. Fuck that. Because I will rise from the grave, and I will take you bastards out. One by one. I'll come after you, Crow-style.

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