Archive for September, 2010

On Baptizing Aliens

September 18, 2010

I sometimes try and stretch my students by talking about aliens – here‘s a very relevant post. Though I think the theological issue might be a bit more complicated. For a fictional parallel, see John Ringo and Tom Kratman’s The Tuloraid, part of Ringo’s Posleen science fiction series where faith and aliens is taken very seriously.

A Randian Flurry

September 17, 2010

I’ve seen quite a few discussions of issues related to Ayn Rand lately. Since her ideas have had a bit of resurgence with some of the Tea Party movement and other libertarian writers, it might be worth just mentioning them. Here we go.

Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Center argue our moral code is out of date. I beg to differ.

Jason Lee Steorts reacts to The Greatly Ghastly Rand, making a serious moral argument against Rand, especially as expressed in Atlas Shrugged (he is much more hopeful about The Fountainhead). This is from, I believe, the recent printed edition of National Review. He also addresses the political dimensions of Rand in a separate article. Worth looking at.

Christianity Today has a piece suggesting Christian caution.

And then there’s always this interesting analysis (one of the first Christian ones I recall coming across) by John Piper.

Whatever we might think of her writing and philosophy, it is a reality we must deal with, so I’m always appreciative of those who help me think these things through.

The Bedbug crisis

September 17, 2010

As if education were not a big enough issue, now there’s bedbugs.

Happiness and Money

September 17, 2010

An interesting study on the relationship between money and happiness. For Americans, after $75,000 or so, the benefit of additional wealth on levels of happiness seems insignificant. Below that – well, if that’s your income level, you probably already know the stress associated with it. While not the final word, there are some interesting implications.

The DC election and education reform

September 17, 2010

There have been a lot of things written about the DC mayoral race, and education is a key part of it. Megan McArdle’s take is pretty close to right as I read the situation (though I live outside the district, I have a lot of contact with people living there and students from those schools). Courland Milloy’s column, however, is both mean-spirited and misses the point. If it makes him feel better to destroy children’s lives when education reform is rolled back so he can get at that “mean” Fenty and those nasty white people who are moving into the District, more power to him. I think it’s a foolish and counterproductive stance. I grieve for the future that in my judgment will likely arise. I hope I’m wrong, but if the history of district politics is any guide…

Female Ph.D.s

September 15, 2010

Quick note that is a sign of changing times: more women than men earned Ph.D.s in 2009. Not sure of the long-term significance, but it certainly highlights a transformed world.

Review of Mark Taylor

September 11, 2010

A review of Mark Taylor’s Crisis on Campus from TNR (The New Republic). Not entirely approving!  From the last paragraph comes the following:

But it is one thing to say that universities have problems. It is another to argue, as Taylor is effectively arguing, that the universities are the problem—that the system that allegedly began with Kant (in fact it began much earlier) has reached the end of its intellectual and social usefulness, and needs to be swept away in favor of something radically new and untested, in accordance with technologies that are still evolving at breakneck speed. That is a reckless, wrong-headed idea…

This does point to one danger of the rush to embrace technology simply for technology’s sake. I’ve found some good uses for some of our educational technology but I’m unsure about other parts – and more unsure about how long the form I’m using will be viable. So how much effort do I sink into learning this version of Blackboard, for example, if the new version will be different with different tools, or we’ll switch to some other platform or perhaps do something we can’t yet imagine? These are not easy questions.

Education as Signal

September 7, 2010

Here’s some commentary on the Education as Signaling model. If true, much of education spending (and effort) is wasted and misdirected. Even if partially true, it has significant impact on how we should think about educational reform.

American Exceptionalism – of the Religious Kind

September 5, 2010

By the numbers (and with a cool graphic), the United States is a religious outlier. The reason for this and its impact on our society and political life are worthy of full monographs, but the fact alone is striking.

On Stephen Hawking’s New Book

September 5, 2010

There’s a quite a flurry of interest in Stephen Hawking’s new book where he asserts that science excludes the possibility of God. Here’s a good brief analysis which reflects the Catholic tradition.