Thursday, January 17, 2013

Value of Teaching vs. Research at the University Level

UC Riverside philosophy prof Eric Schwitzgebel points critically to the California governor's recent statement that professors need to teach more, and research less.

It's hard to be critical of students and their financially beleaguered parents for wanting value for their tuition dollars, and most of the immediate value to the students comes from teaching. But Jerry Brown clearly understands that research is a major function of universities. Unless he's in the dark (which he may be), he also understands that the expansion of university administrators is the major driver increases in the cost of education, not a decreasing teaching:research ratio. (There are now more senior administrators than faculty in the UC system.) So he's either grand-standing for voters who don't understand the importance of research, or he's signalling the very large power bloc of university administrators that with him in office, they're safe.

Universities are major drivers of innovation and therefore of their local economies. They create wealth both by creating competent professionals and by advancing research. It would be very interesting to see some average value-per-time number for both teaching and research. It will very likely be different for professors in various departments.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Orange County Editorial: Make the CA GOP More Libertarian

It's encouraging to see serious pieces like this finally seeing the light of day in the mainstream.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Vote Distribution Depends on Party Popularity

It turns out that in elections, humans are not rational optimizers who weigh the likely policy outcomes from each individual candidate, but rather tribalists who vote by party afiliation. Who woulda thunkit! But seriously, the interesting observation is that there's actually a vote distribution that's followed universally and robustly by all democratic countries with similar voting rules, shown here. Estonia was the kicker - when it switched from its previous rules to its new ones, its voting distribution morphed into the new curve.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Giger Designs National Park in Chile

But seriously though, compare to his Homage a Bocklin:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Someone Doesn't Understand Incentives

Oregon wants to add extra taxes to high-mileage vehicles because the state is losing gas revenues.

California actually followed through with something a few years ago.  So many homes had successfully decreased their power consumption that the utilities had to raise rates.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

U.S. Government as General Motors

"American government is like one of those failing businesses where everyone in the org chart is too engaged in CYA shuffling to consider, let alone protect, the company's current and future well-being."

- Bruce Sterling

NorCal Pot Farms Continue Damaging Environment

"I started talking to this [grower], and he says he used to be an Earth First! tree-sitter, saving the trees," Bauer said. "I told him everything he was doing here negates everything he did as an environmentalist." More here.