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Marketing “Junk Education” – to sell teaching software of dubious worth, don’t talk to faculty experts, talk to their bosses… June 15, 2007

Posted by Jim Booth in Uncategorized.
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Want to know how the academy, the bastion of learning and thought, works these days? Read on:

A top administrator goes to a conference – often hosted by – and certainly feted by – companies in the business of selling “educational materials” – textbooks, computer software, etc. The administrator is shown a piece of educational software designed to “improve efficiency” in teaching one of his institution’s thorniest skills – lets say, writing instruction. The administrator, whose academic/professional training is in say, finance or accounting, is impressed with the vendor’s claims for the software software – it will streamline writing instruction and save money.

So the top administrator returns to his/her university and the word goes down – from provost to vice-provost to dean – there’s technology to teach writing that will streamline instruction and save money.

Finally the word reaches the university’s faculty – and particularly writing program directors – experts in writing instruction whose academic/professional training is in – writing instruction.

And the struggle to save the university from itself begins anew…. (more…)

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China to stress economic growth over arresting global heating June 4, 2007

Posted by Brian Angliss in 2008 Campaign, Energy & the Environment, Environment, Foreign Policy, Global warming.
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According to Deutsche Welle this morning, the official Chinese position on economic growth and global heating is that economic growth trumps global heating.

“There is especially no research that details the economic impact of a two-degree restriction, nor what kind of influence such a target would bring on the development of each nation.” (Ma Kai, the minister of China’s key Reform and Development Commission, quoted from Deutsche Welle’s article above)

According to the IPCC report that China signed last month, the cost in global economic growth is expected to be approximately 0.12 percent growth in GDP. Note that this simply a slowdown in the current rate of growth, not an actual shrinkage in GDP.

Ma is either misinformed or is outright lying. (more…)

Hybrid cars are at the intersection of nanotechnology and battery technology research June 1, 2007

Posted by Brian Angliss in Energy & the Environment, Environment, technology.
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Nanotechnology isn’t a technology in and of itself so much as it’s an enabling technology. What this means is that the science and technology of the very, very small (aka nanotechnology) enables radical changes across a massive number of other technologies and fields. For example, nano-scale particles of gold can be combined with a chemical marker to turn from red to blue (or vice-versa) in the presence of toxins.

However, as PBS’ NewsHour program reports, another application of nanotechnology is dramatically improved batteries and electronic components called “ultra-capacitors.” (more…)