Aug 252016

… where your cronies give you a $75,000 bonus without feeling the need to actually explain what it is for. Maybe they felt sorry for him trying to scrape by on just $600,000 a year in salary and the housing, travel and administrative expenses they pick up for him on top of that.

STEM majors paying differential tuition and increasing fees here at College Park might want to look into whether we offer any classes on being a chancellor, so they can learn how to get by like this someday. (Our view: maybe he did something worthy of a bonus, but the fat-cats writing that check should be on the hook to explain to hard-working taxpayers what it is for.)

 Posted by at 8:09 am on August 25, 2016
Aug 252016

Kudos to the University of Chicago for asserting a strong position on intellectually diverse and open speech on its campus, which is to say, they offer no “trigger warnings” or “safe space”. (This is also reported in the student newspaper there.)

College Park manages to avoid unseemly confrontations by only inviting right-thinking (which is to say, left-thinking) visitors who mouth the group-think here in the first place.

 Posted by at 8:02 am on August 25, 2016
Aug 242016

Bloomberg reports on Baltimore Secret Cameras, which constantly record in the city. It’s a good article on how much surveillance really goes on … and in a city that has just been issued a scathing report from the Department of Justice on persistent and long-term civil rights violations in its police department. Yes, it does seem like these things go together, doesn’t it?

 Posted by at 6:31 pm on August 24, 2016
Aug 142016

The Purple Line’s funding issues have recently slowed its early construction efforts, but never fear, its proponents – including, we presume UM President Wallace Loh, who single-handedly overcame local opposition and championed this campus-splitting project’s approval – remain optimistic about its prospects.

Which is more optimism than we can muster for traffic conditions during said implementation based on reading the Washington Post’s article about a similar light rail project in Charlotte. Read for yourself the devastating effect that project has on the region there.

 Posted by at 9:34 pm on August 14, 2016
Jun 292016

Clicking ‘I accept’ doesn’t mean you surrender right to know how a company uses your data“. That’s the title of an article about some of the many ways companies use your data, often without your full appreciation of what you have given away.

As described in the linked article, some people are working hard to help you and fellow consumers be more informed about the effect of those disclosures. Bravo!

 Posted by at 4:56 pm on June 29, 2016
Jun 102016

We should be so lucky that it is only the government making unfathomable decisions about us based on data they harvest without explanation for how it is used, as you might draw from today’s Washington Post article Creepy startup will help landlords, employers and online dates strip-mine intimate data from your Facebook page. (Also as linked from Slashdot, which tipped us off first.)

As a condition of doing business, the prospective clients, tenants or customers of participating firms must turn over all social media access to the startup which will profile and analyze the applicant in order to delivery a “more accurate” picture of the applicant’s ability to pay bills. (And probably a lot more.) We’ve seen this before, where social media data can contribute to one’s credit rating, so the present development just takes it to new heights … err, depths.

This is an unregulated area, with greatest impact on people who probably have the least ability to push back against inappropriate intrusions. But once businesses get you to dance to their tune, it is difficult to see where things stop, as tenants in Utah found recently (Apartment in US asks tenants to ‘like’ Facebook page or face action).

 Posted by at 7:31 am on June 10, 2016
May 192016

Students in my classes know how often I advise them to “call your shots” – that is, do an honest and personal self-assessment of performance (whether on a project, in a class or on your job.) Only by genuinely understanding the difference between your aspirational and actual outcomes (and why they came to be different!) can you become effective at bringing the two into alignment. Lies are things we tall at a bar, not what we tell ourselves. (Another colloquialism from Purtilo: “Never believe your own b******!”)

Doing such an assessment is often difficult, not only because it brings us face to face with outcomes that are sometimes short of what we wanted. It takes practice. So when we see good examples of how this is done (and especially with analysis as to why, so one can improve) we really sit up and take notice.

That’s the case this morning with a spectacular assessment from Nate Silver, at his site Silver’s piece is titled “How I Acted Like A Pundit And Screwed Up On Donald Trump” and he goes into excellent detail about the statistical methods that worked (or sometimes didn’t work) in his predictions on this year’s races to date.

Forthright assessments are a hallmark of serious scholars, and I commend this to you as a great example. This should be all the more interesting to some on campus since of course Silver had been one of the First Year Book authors on our campus.

 Posted by at 11:06 am on May 19, 2016