Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do

When I think of my favorite restaurants, the ones I have visited many times, it is striking how few of the menu items I have tried. And when I think of all the lunch places near my workplace, I realize that I keep going to the same places again and again.

Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant. Yes, I want to know what else my favorite restaurant does well, but today I just want my favorite dish.

Overconfidence also holds us back. I am unduly certain in my guesses of what the alternatives will be like, even though I haven’t tried them.

Many so-called choices are not really choices at all. Walking down the supermarket aisle. I act without thinking.

Experimentation is an act of humility, an acknowledgment that there is simply no way of knowing without trying something different.

Understanding that truth is a first step, but it is important to act on it. 

Sendhil Mullainathan writing in the New York Times

Embracing Rituals

Rituals help people transition through what would otherwise be a tumultuous period of their lives. And they let people savor the milestone they have just reached.

Creating stability at times of chaos: Though people associate events like graduations and weddings with joy, these moments also represent chaotic, potentially frightening life transitions. A wedding brings together two people to start a new, interdependent life. Graduation marks leaving the familiar world of school for the unknown world of work and grown-up responsibilities. Funerals and birthdays are two more examples.

In all four cases, there is a before and an after, as people leave their old world and enter into a new, uncertain one — and those transitions can breed anxiety.

It's easy to think that rituals like weddings are pointless and overdone. But that big cake, sparkling white dress or bouquet toss are helping us move through life in a positive and healthy way. There's no need to apologize for embracing it.

Emily Esfahani Smith writing in Mic

And how are you mad?

When first looking out for a partner, the requirements we come up with are coloured by a beautiful non-specific sentimental vagueness: we’ll say we really want to find someone who is ‘kind’ or ‘fun to be with’, ‘attractive’ or ‘up for adventure…’

It isn’t that such desires are wrong, they are just not remotely precise enough in their understanding of what we in particular are going to require in order to stand a chance of being happy – or, more accurately, not consistently miserable.

All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out. An urgent, primary task of any lover is therefore to get a handle on the specific ways in which they are mad. They have to get up to speed on their individual neuroses. They have to grasp where these have come from, what they make them do – and most importantly, what sort of people either provoke or assuage them. A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.

The very idea that we might not be too difficult as people should set off alarm bells in any prospective partner. The question is just where the problems will lie: perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us, or we can only relax when we are working, or we’re a bit tricky around intimacy after sex, or we’ve never been so good at explaining what’s going on when we’re worried. It’s these sort of issues that – over decades – create catastrophes and that we therefore need to know about way ahead of time, in order to look out for people who are optimally designed to withstand them. A standard question on any early dinner date should be quite simply: ‘And how are you mad?’

The Philosophers’ Mail


Articles of Interest - Dec 4


Here’s how to use the newly redesigned Snapchat (Hint: It’s not as hard)  Recode 

Snapchat redesigns confusing app as user growth stalls  CNN

5 ways social media has reshaped the PR industry  PR Daily

OMG! Texting is 25 years old  CNET

10 Things You Can Do Now to Up Your Social Media Game in 2018  Media Shift


Google Street View can predict voting patterns and race  Journalism Resources


Should Law Enforcement Need a Warrant to Track Your Cell Phone?  Scientific American

When Robots Invade the Kitchen  Wired

Game over for virtual reality? Unimpressed, consumers embrace the relevance of augmented reality instead  Economist

Deciding At What Age To Give A Kid A Smartphone  NPR

A tech pioneer recalls a life spent in virtual reality and reflects on a the growing hubris of Silicon Valley  Economist

What DNA Home Testing Can Tell You  NPR

Blockchain: A new technology for global health development?  Journalism Resources


Who's that interrogating you? These tools can help you avoid a sting  Poynter

Here are three tools that help digital journalists save their work in case a site shuts down  Harvard’s Nieman Lab

Small-market newspapers in the digital age  Columbia Journalism Review

The woman who tried to sting The Washington Post also lied to a Student Press Law Center intern  Student Press Law Center

Is It Ever OK for Journalists to Lie?  Politico

'Rope. Tree. Journalist' T-shirt was on sale at until RTDNA spoke up  Poynter

Toutiao, a Chinese news app that’s making headlines: The remarkable success of a smartphone app that claims to figure users out within 24 hours  Economist

How can journalists responsibly cover neo-Nazis? A media scholar gives his advice  Vox



Trump's attacks on CNN helped their revenues far more than his praise helped Fox News, new figures suggest  The Independent

New Secret LA Weekly owners cut nearly half the staff  LA Times

Digital news outlets are in for a reckoning: Sites like Vox, BuzzFeed and Mashable once seemed poised to overtake their peers in print. No longer  Economist


A satirical fake news site apologized for making a story too real  Poynter

How can we stop the train wreck of fake news on Facebook?  MuckRack

Experts Say Facebook's Latest Attempt To Stop Fake News Isn't Foolproof  NPR

Do teens care about ‘fake news?’  Recode


Researchers outside the tech bubble have started using machine learning in unexpected ways. Here are ten of them  Beta News

Five ways to fix statistics  Nature

MIT and Harvard: we just built one of the largest quantum computer "simulators” ever  MIT Tech News

The leap forward this year may be when AI and intelligent process automation are harnessed together  IT Proportal

Choosing hyperparameters with population-based training  Deep Mind


Alone Together  Becoming (my blog) 

Why Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do  New York Times

Museum of Failure Opens in LA  NBC Los Angeles


How to Get Your Mind to Read  New York Times

OMG, the internet is ruining language: Young people’s play with language is often silly and sometimes ugly—but it shows just how much they take it seriously  Economist

Wrestling With ‘/s’ (sarcasm)  Chronicle of Higher Ed


‘Nothing to See Here’: the Evolution of a Catchphrase  Chronicle of Higher Ed

A Map Showing How Much Time It Takes to Learn Foreign Languages: From Easiest to Hardest  Open Culture

Just Google It: A Short History of a Newfound Verb  Wired

Why One Dictionary Made 'Complicit' Its Word Of The Year  NPR

What Are the Most Effective Strategies for Learning a Foreign Language?: Six TED Talks Provide the Answers  Open Culture


Why So Many Adults Love Young-Adult Literature: Over half of today’s YA readers are over the age of 18  The Atlantic

China’s largest online publisher enchants investors and readers alike: Tencent’s China Literature should profit from millions of Chinese smartphone bookworms  Economist


Children are victims in the latest identity-driven culture war  Economist

Women in Academia Unite  Scholarly Kitchen

Making sense of the culture war over transgender identity: As more people change gender, they are sparking a debate that enrages some and confuses many  Economist


Why America Fails at Gathering Hate Crime Statistics  ProPublica


Supreme Court Considers Cellphones And Digital Privacy  NPR

Could Joe Scarborough Sue President Trump for Libel?  Politico

The Supreme Court’s justices want to enhance privacy protections for a digital age  Economist

Watchdog group urges media not to use 'religious freedom' in upcoming Supreme Court case  Poynter


A Beautiful City in the Bible Was Ravaged by Disease and Chaos Because of Climate Change  Newsweek

This Evangelical Action Movie Is Giving Away A Free Assault Rifle  Fast Company

Temple Baptist Church falls prey to internet meme generator  Las Cruces Sun-News

Former LDS bishop calls for church leaders to stop interviewing teens about sexual practices  Fox 13

Book review: Family’s agenda behind Washington’s newest museum  Washington Post

Samaritan’s Purse Loses Support for Operation Christmas Child   VOCM

Christian apologist caught lying about himself for years  Raw Story

Ravi Zacharias Responds to Sexting Allegations, Credentials Critique  Christianity Today


From Roy Moore To Tax Debate, A Spotlight On Christian Nationalism  NPR

Westboro Baptist Church Will Protest Trump, Says His Sex Life Puts 'Entire Nation In Peril'  Newsweek

Pence tells Christian broadcaster: ‘Trump is a believer’  The Hill 


The rise and rise of performance art  Economist


U2's 'Songs of Experience' Is The Reboot The Band Needed  NPR

Tech giants will probably dominate speakers and headphones: Smartspeakers and wireless ear buds are sending the audio industry “horizontal”  Economist


BuzzFeed hit with layoffs, as digital ad dollars fall short  Talking New Media

How new media firms such as Vice and BuzzFeed are losing their gloss  New Statesman

The nation’s second largest radio company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection  Toledo Blade


MPR drops Keillor over inappropriate conduct  Minnesota Public Radio

Judge allows Title IX lawsuit to proceed: The suit seeks monetary damages for alleged "indifference" to a student's report that she was raped  Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

#MeToo: reporting on sexual assaults on campus (video)

How common is sexual harassment?  Economis

The Legal Recourse For Victims Of Sexual Harassment  NPR

How to Start Healing After Sexual Trauma  Life Hacker

In Politics, Decisions On Sexual Harassment Allegations A Slow Process  NPR


More than half of U.S. kids will be obese by the time they’re 35, study predicts  LA Times

Heart transplants likely to be obsolete within 10 years, says heart surgeon  Telegraph

A Hospital Charged $1,877 to Pierce a 5-Year-Old’s Ears: An epidemic of unnecessary treatment is wasting billions of health care dollars a year  ProPublica

Many people in China believe gays can be “cured”: Quack treatments are available even in public hospitals  Economist

Is the FDA Withholding Data about a Controversial Drug to Protect Its Manufacturer?  Scientific American

Smoking cannabis regularly triples severe depression risk, study of Bristol teenagers finds  Bristol Post


Parents now spend twice as much time with their children as 50 years ago  Economist 

People Like People Who Ask Questions  NPR

Should I Confess My Internet Stalking to My Date?  Wired

Marriage linked to lower dementia risk Fox News


This is an American Workday, By Occupation (data visualization)  Flowing Data

How Birth Order Relates To Job Success  NPR

Here’s all the money in the world, in one chart  MarketWatch 

How the tax overhaul could affect your bottom line (interactive calculator)  Washington Post


Technology behind bitcoin could aid science, report says  Physics Today

Fallibility in science: Responsible ways to handle mistakes  Slide Shares

Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?  The Verge

Can science ever be free of our very human biases? (opinion)  Laboratory News


Software that finds statistical errors in psychology papers is Surprisingly Accurate  Science Mag

Problems in a psychologist’s splashy work on gender  ArsTechnica

The “Humans of New York” Photo Project Becomes a 13-Part Video Documentary Series: Watch It Free Online  Open Culture

Teenage brains 'not wired for high stakes'  BBC


These Gmail searches will dig up stuff you never knew you missed  Popular Science


What's the best way to edit genes with CRISPR? Scientists propose 'rules' to optimize this cutting-edge technology   Johns Hopkins University  

Do We Have Moral Obligations to Robots?  Daily Jstor

Is it ethical for journalists to ask Trump pointedly provocative questions?  Harvard’s Nieman Report


One Way to Fix Reproducibility Problems: Train Scientists Better  The Scientist

Why a Lot of Important Research Is Not Being Done  New York Times

The francophone researcher’s dilemma: publish in English or perish? French-speaking researchers are increasingly choosing to publish their scientific articles in English  University Affairs

Questionable research practices “are moderately to highly prevalent what they attributed primarily to academic incentive structures”  Social Psychology

When a trial fails  The New York Times Magazine

Understanding Bias in Peer Review  Google Research

Does spin in news stories about medical studies make a difference?  BMJ Open

Papers authored by academic and corporate partners are more widely discussed online  Nature Index

Authorship wars: academics outline the rules for recognition  Times Higher Ed

Federal Trade Commission and National Institutes of Health Take Action Against Predatory Publishing Practices  Scholarly Kitchen


What Really Happened At The School Where 'Every Senior Got Into College'  NPR

What to Consider When Closing an Academic Program  Chronicle of Higher Ed

College Football's Avalanche of Lawsuits  Inside Higher Ed

1500+ MOOCs Getting Started in December  Open Culture

California sues for-profit school over 'false promises'  Associated Press

Christian college’s ‘biblically consistent’ curriculum under fire  Times Higher Ed


Should Laptops Be Banned in Class? An Op-Ed Fires Up the Debate  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Don’t Insult Your Class by Banning Laptops (opinion)  Chronicle of Higher Ed

What I Know About My Students  Chronicle of Higher Ed 

Everyone Hates Course Evaluations  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Breitbart, Fox News misidentify Tech's newspaper in 'racist' column  The Daily Toreador

After Threatening to Sue a Student Newspaper Writer and Canceled Speech, Scaramucci Resigns From Tufts Advisory Board  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Texas State newspaper cuts ties with writer after 'racist' opinion column  WFAA


Navigating Life On Campus When You're On The Autism Spectrum  NPR

Tips to copy edit your résumé The Daily Californian (student newspaper)  Daily Cal



We prefer the Apps

The family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are, in writer Sherry Turkle’s formulation, “alone together.” You are where your attention is. If you’re watching a football game with your son while also texting a friend, you’re not fully with your child — and he knows it. Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.

No wonder we prefer the apps. An entire universe of intimate responses is flattened to a single, distant swipe. We hide our vulnerabilities, airbrushing our flaws and quirks; we project our fantasies onto the images before us. Rejection still stings — but less when a new virtual match beckons on the horizon.

Andrew Sullivan writing in New York Magazine

fearing outsiders

"It’s what we call an over-exclusion bias," Mina Cikara, a Harvard psychologist who studies intergroup conflict, said. When you start fearing others "your circle of who you counted as friends is going to shrink. And that means those people outside of the bounds get less empathy, get fewer resources." It also means you become more vigilant and obsessed with marking who is an insider and who is not. "You want to draw those boundaries brighter, so you don’t make any mistakes about who you want to share your resources with or who you want to trust," she says.

Brian Resnick writing in Vox

Our private online worlds

When we enter a coffee shop in which everyone is engrossed in their private online worlds, we respond by creating one of our own. When someone next to you answers the phone and starts talking loudly as if you didn’t exist, you realize that, in her private zone, you don’t. And slowly, the whole concept of a public space — where we meet and engage and learn from our fellow citizens — evaporates.

Has our enslavement to dopamine — to the instant hits of validation that come with a well-crafted tweet or Snapchat streak — made us happier? I suspect it has simply made us less unhappy, or rather less aware of our unhappiness, and that our phones are merely new and powerful antidepressants of a non-pharmaceutical variety.

Andrew Sullivan writing in New York Magazine

Articles of Interest - Nov 27


Will Computers Ever Hear Like People Do?  YouTube Video

Americans’ obsession with smartphones shows no sign of abating  Talking New Media

NASA Uses Students To Develop Virtual Reality Programs NPR

How much did your town spend on its shot at being Amazon’s second headquarters?  MuckRock

Judge: 84-year-old doctor who doesn’t use computer can’t regain license  Associated Press

From Linux to Windows 10: Why did Munich switch and why does it matter?  Tech Republic


Facebook using “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology to scan posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts  Media Post

How labs are being impacted by microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies, cloud computing, machine learning, and AI  Technology Networks

Machine learning is still something businesses are talking about, rather than using in any great numbers  IDG connect

Amazon Web says it’s launched a cloud service for the intel community that can host software and data classified at the “secret” level.. it's called the "Secret Region"  Business Journals

Can a useful definition of “data scientist” be framed, given that ”there isn’t a standardized way of defining, certifying or even quantifying the number of data scientists in the workforce”  Datanami

Using neural networks to help devises be able to hear like humans (video)  Nat and Friends

New book on geospatial analysis details how to turn remotely sensed imagery into geospatial information  Fosters


How to Join Someone's Instagram Live and Broadcast as a Guest  Life Hacker

How LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman would fix social media  Recode

Watch Out: If Someone Blocks You on Twitter, You Lose Your DM History With Them  Life Hacker

How to Use Instagram's Filters Without Posting Your Photo  Life Hacker


Access to city records can take weeks with new online portal  Union Tribune

AI Could Help Reporters Dig Into Grassroots Issues Once More  MIT Technology Review  

The Mexican city where journalism is a life and death matter  Irish Times

The best automatic transcription tools for journalists  Poynter

Thank you to all the public records officers who make transparency possible  MuckRock

Photojournalists in Mexico Show Solidarity Amid the Ruins  Harvard’s Nieman Center Reports


The media today: How not to write about a Nazi  Columbia Journalism Review

Where the New York Times article on an American Nazi went wrong  Vox

The problem with the New York Times’ chummy profile of a Nazi sympathizer Quartz

The Banality of White Nationalism  The Atlantic

The New York Times responded to the outpouring of criticism of its profile of a white supremacist  Recode


Journalism Schools are on Life Support Michael Koretzky

How Students Covered a Conference Better with Multi-Platform, Multimedia Reporting  Media Shift


In some countries, fake news on Facebook is a matter of life and death  Columbia Journalism Review

A woman approached The Washington Post with fake Roy Moore Accusations- the paper turns the tables: illustrating the lengths to which activists have gone to try to discredit media outlets for reporting on allegations  Washington Post

Journalists, let’s invest in trust, not just expect it  Medium

Investigation of fake net neutrality foes has been stymied by the FCC, New York attorney general says  Washington Post

‘Fake news’ seized an Idaho city. A local paper ‘jumped right into the coverage’  Columbia Journalism Review

Tim O’Reilly on ways to put the brakes on “fake news” and rebuild trust on the internet  Harvard’s Nieman Center Reports

The Fake News Fueling the Uproar Over Self-Driving Vehicles  Tech News Review


err in the direction of kindness: Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial  Becoming (my blog)

Alike: a Poignant Short Animated Film About the Enduring Conflict Between Creativity and Conformity  Open Culture


The Interrogation of a TA: University president apologizes after recording reveals how a graduate student was questioned over use of a video, which offended at least one student, of debate on nontraditional pronouns  Inside Higher Ed


At what point do we give up on books? Big data has the answer  The Guardian

22 Famous Writers Told Us About The Book They're Most Thankful For  BuzzFeed News

Drop the jargon and write like a human with the help of this tool  Poynter


Answering a Question With a Question  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Moderate alcohol consumption improves foreign language skills  Research Digest chooses ‘complicit’ as its word of the year  Associated Press


A Digital Archive of 1,800+ Children’s Books from UCLA  Open Culture

University Library to remove 170,000 unused books from its libraries  WTAE

Top 10 Misquoted Lines from C. S. Lewis  Christianity Today

George Orwell's Life In 'The Last Man In Europe'  NPR

Author: Racism revealed in Dr. Seuss' work, children's literature  Chicago Tribune


How American Women “Kickstarted” a Campaign to Give Marie Curie a Gram of Radium, Raising $120,000 in 1921  Open Culture


The legal profession is diversifying  Washington Post


Rosie O'Donnell Beats Slander Lawsuit After Blaming 'View' Producer for Media Leaks  Hollywood Reporter

An upcoming Supreme Court case that will determine whether law enforcement should be able to access cell phone data without a warrant  Washington Post

Zazzle Loses Copyright Jury Verdict, and That’s Bad News for Print-on-Demand Publishers–Greg Young Publishing v. Zazzle  Technology and Marketing Law Blog


Is There an Evangelical Crisis? (opinion)  New York Times

Where young evangelicals are headed (opinion)  Alan Jacob’s blog

Now It's Liberal States Clashing With the Federal Government Over Religious Freedom: California, Pennsylvania, and others have sued over new policies on contraceptive coverage  The Atlantic

A TEDx Talk About Growing Up In A New Zealand Christian Cult  You Tube

No, the Swedish Church has not banned the male pronoun for God  The Local

How the “Christian Netflix” is making hit movies you’ve never heard of  VICE

Views of transgender issues divide along religious lines  Pew Research 

Kentucky Baptists threaten to kick out churches that think it's OK to hire 'practicing homosexuals'  Louisville Courier Journal


The confused identity of today’s “evangelical” voter (opinion)  Vox


Seeing a Song: Painting What She Hears  Open Culture

60-Second Introductions to 12 Groundbreaking Artists: Matisse, Dalí, Duchamp, Hopper, Pollock, Rothko & More  Open Culture


Christian Rock Artist Josh Lovelace Branches Out To Children's Music In Solo Debut  NPR

Record Labels Are Rebounding, But This Startup Could Shake Their Dominance  Fast Company

What the hell’s happening to music’s trade press? (And what does it mean for the rest of us?)  Music Business


‘Lady Bird’ sets Rotten Tomatoes record as best-reviewed movie ever  Daily Dot


FCC Chairman Defends Repeal Of Net Neutrality  NPR

The Internet Broke the Media, and There's No Turning Back  Bloomberg

Media’s complicated relationship with VC funding  Columbia Journalism Review

Smaller Newspapers Are Doing Just Fine, Thank You, New Report Finds  Street Fight Mag


Tufts postpones Scaramucci talk after he threatens to sue student who wrote an unflattering opinion piece about him in the student newspaper  Washington Post

Millennials are set to be the most unequal generation yet  Quartz


Where Millennials Come From And why we insist on blaming them for it  The New Yorker

After Protest of Working Conditions, Grad Students at American U. of Beirut Lose Jobs  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Dutch university says student cannot defend PhD dressed as a pirate  Times Higher Ed

15 Items Every Twenty-Something Should Have on Their Bucket List  Study Breaks

How Tech Companies Are Catering To Generation Z Teens  NPR


How To Apologize For Sexual Harassment (Hint: It Takes More Than 'Sorry')  NPR

The industries with the worst sexual harassment problem  Washington Post

The Celebrity Perv Apology Generator 


One in two women journalists suffer gender-based violence at work  International Federation of Journalists

The News Industry Has a Sexual Harassment Problem. #NowWhat?  Harvard’s Nieman Center Reports


Professors urge boycott of University of Rochester over allegations of misconduct  CBS News

Michigan State hasn’t faced consequences for enabling the biggest sex abuse scandal in U.S. sports  Think Progress


When Sexual Assault Victims Are Charged With Lying (opinion)  New York Times 

For Some Victims, Reporting a Rape Can Bring Doubt, Abuse — and Even Prosecution  Pro Publica


News headlines claiming two therapies were proven ‘equally effective’ for treating opioid use disorder  Health News Review

This Is Your Brain on Exercise: Why Physical Exercise (Not Mental Games) Might Be the Best Way to Keep Your Mind Sharp  Open Culture

Loyola U makes data-free claim that a ‘simple’ heart test can distinguish between major depression and bipolar disorder  Health News Review

Is Alzheimer’s ‘coming for you’? NY Times uses anecdote and an old blood test to warn it might be  Health News Review


Why are scientists filing lawsuits against their critics?  The Verge

Still No Science Advisor at the White House  MIT Technology Review


Angry people die sooner  Daily Mail 

How to Detect When People Are Using the Truth to Lie to You  Life Hacker


Billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman says his masters in philosophy has helped him more than an MBA  Business Insider

How a Skeptic Became a Stoic  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Why Does Materialism Get Such A Bad Rap?  Digg


An ex-Google data scientist studied thousands of successful people on Wikipedia — here's what they have in common  The Independent


Why business school can be dangerous, according to two of Silicon Valley's biggest names  Business Insider

How Much You Should Pay Your Babysitter, According to Where You Live  Offspring


A US Research Integrity Advisory Board is long overdue  Nature

This Ivy League Scientist Did A Bunch Of Food Surveys And Somehow Got The Same Number Of Responses Each Time   BuzzFeed News

Rewarding negative results keeps science on track (opinion)  Nature

Poisoning the well with a within-person design? What’s the risk?  Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

PLOS Reports $1.7M Loss In 2016  Scholarly Kitchen


'Elitists, crybabies and junky degrees': Education advocates see growing disdain for U.S. universities (opinion)  Washington Post

Interactive graph on the rising cost of college  Market Watch

‘Ring by Spring’: How Christian Colleges Fuel Students’ Rush to Get Engaged  Chronicle of Higher Ed


How to Measure Success Without Academic Achievement  Ed Surge

How to Escape Grading Jail  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Withering Humanities Jobs: Full-time jobs in English and languages continue to decline, reaching a new low  Inside Higher Ed

Big Legal Win for Trans Academic: Federal jury awards $1.165 million, finding discrimination in tenure denial by Southeastern Oklahoma State University  Inside Higher Ed

Academic fraud: A question of morals, integrity  Straits Times

err in the direction of kindness

Accomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.

Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.

Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.

Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.

George Saunders Commencement Speech 2013