Links: On college teaching, the audio revolution, Mel Brooks, and more!

* “The Quiet Scandal of College Teaching.” This one, at least, has the good sense to situate itself historically: people have been complaining about teaching quality for just about as long as there’ve been things like schools (Martin Amis and Philip Larkin have some funny bits, I think in letters, complaining about JRR Tolkien, who was a soft-spoken mumbler as in instructor). Amusingly: “In a study in 2010 at the Air Force Academy, where a mandatory curriculum allows for convenient natural experiments, professors who gave higher grades received higher student evaluations — but their students did worse in subsequent classes. Professors who graded more strictly got lower evaluations, but their students performed better later on. In short, student evaluations do not protect against poor teaching [. . . .] If anything, they make it even worse.” I wrote “What incentivizes professors to grade honestly? Nothing” a few years ago. How much has changed?

* “The Audio Revolution,” which may be part of the reason selling print books doesn’t work any more, among many other things.

* “Mel Brooks on losing the loves of his life: ‘People know how good Carl Reiner was, but not how great.'” Among other topics.

* “18 steps to a democratic breakdown.” Which we may be heading towards. Which is bad. The article is also written by someone who studies coups, as opposed to someone who’s taken their views from Twitter and TV.

* “The Second Great Age of Political Correctness: The P.C. culture of the ’80s and ’90s didn’t decline and fall. It just went underground. Now it’s back.” I’ve speculated that journalists and academics may have become modern-day clerics, a thought echoed in Andrey Mir’s book Postjournalism.

* “What’s So Great About Great-Books Courses?” The essay cites historical precedent, which is good, but also neglects cost of school today, versus historically, which is less good. And the attacks against the Great Books have taken on a different tenor in the last decade. A different writer argues that “The Left Should Defend Classical Education,” an unusual point today; that it is unusual may be sad.

* The Arc Institute is “for curiosity-driven biomedical science and technology” and it’s got “open positions for Technology Center group leaders, research scientists, and operational staff” right now. It’s designed to be on people more than particular projects.

* “Digg’s v4 launch: an optimism born of necessity.” A beautiful and hideous story containing my favorite line: “but the optimism it entailed was tinged with madness.”

* “U.S. foreign policy is a big, dumb machine?”

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