Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I, for one,

Welcome our new robot overlords. But wait...your personality matters. Seems a good liberal arts education may keep the robots awary. From The Pacific Standard.

Are you worried about being replaced by a robot? You've got good reason to fret: In one recent analysis, economists predicted 47 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being automated over the next two decades. 
Understandably, most discussion of this touchy topic has revolved around which specific jobs are in the computers' cross-hairs. But, given the ability (and, increasingly, the necessity) for workers to periodically change careers, two larger questions loom: What personality traits protect us against the threat of computer-driven unemployment? And can they be taught, and absorbed, at an early age? 
In a first-of-its-kind study that followed a large group of Americans for 50 years, a research team led by University of Houston psychologist Rodica Ioana Damian provides some preliminary answers. 
"Regardless of social background," the researchers write, "people who were more intelligent, mature, and interested in arts and sciences in adolescence selected into jobs that had a lower probability of computerization." 
This was partially, but not fully, explained by the fact that such people tended to have more education. Even after taking schooling out of the equation, personality still mattered.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Diploma mills

Are still a thing. And I see John Bear is still kicking. My first job in continuing education was an advisor in an external degree program (Way, way before the internet--hence the term external instead of online.). Our program was favorably mentioned in Bear's book, and we got a lot of referrals from in. That was just 37 years ago. Sigh. From CBS MoneyWatch.

Your MD may have a phony degree
There's little reason to doubt that sales of degrees have only become even more prevalent since a federal probe executed from 1989 to 1991. It was dubbed "DIPSCAM" for "Diploma Scam," and resulted in the dismantling of 40 phony schools, 19 federal grand jury indictments, 20 convictions and the purchase of 40 diplomas and transcripts.  
"Our best guestimate is there are 5,000 diploma mills at any one time, and probably the same number of fake accrediting agencies," said Allen Ezell, a 31-year FBI veteran who helped run DIPSCAM. "I'm not paranoid, but it's everywhere," he added. 
Federal agents identified 12,500 graduates of the 40 fake schools, and those who had purchased bogus degrees included "federal, state and county employees," Ezell (Bear's co-author) told CBS MoneyWatch. "Graduates were employed in business, education, law enforcement, military and in the medical field." 
A 2006 paper published in the Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal cited congressional testimony for some startling data, including an estimate from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education that one of six education doctorates are fraudulent.  
"Even more disturbing, an extrapolation of the percentage of people holding fake diplomas in the medical field revealed potentially 2 million 'bogus practitioners' in the United States," wrote Creola Johnson, a law professor at Ohio State University. "The testimonial evidence concluded that at least 500,000 Americans hold fake degrees." 
Many of those holding fake MDs are "small-town doctors that have military field medic training and can do stitches or an injection," said Bear, who like Ezell, works as a consultant. "Many are smart enough to know if they can't handle a case, they pass it on." 
But unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Bear, who started tracking bogus institutions while writing a guide to earning a degree through distance learning, was an expert witness in a manslaughter case in North Carolina against two men who had purchased doctors' IDs for $100 purporting to be from the University of London.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Save the date!

National Council for Continuing Education & Training 
2017 Annual Conference
"Savannah Sizzles: Hot Topics, Tools, and Trends"
September 25-27, 2017
Savannah, Georgia

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tales of the non-traditional

She had to choose between college track and love. Love won. From The Tennessean.

Darlene Mullins often wore TSU gear and jeans to class, just like other students at Tennessee State University. 
But Mullins is the only one who slaps the table and scolds her classmates for swearing. 
After an F bomb, she shouts, “Oooo!” and then, “You need to wash your mouth out with soap!” 
Graduating after a 55-year hiatus 
Mullins, 72, is set to graduate from TSU Saturday – 55 years after taking her first class. Mullins came back to campus four years ago to finish what she started. 
And she came back in full grandma mode, loving on the younger students – and correcting them when she thought it necessary. 
“I would listen to them, I would encourage them, hug on them, call them ‘son’ or ‘young man.’ But I never tried to be their friend,” she said firmly. 
Why she left TSU after her freshman year 
Mullins, a high school track stand-out in New Jersey, first came to TSU at 17 with dreams of making the U.S. Olympics team. She’d heard of the famous TSU Tigerbelles, star Wilma Rudolph and their extraordinary coach, Ed Temple. 
Those dreams disappeared with a glance. 
A month into her freshman year, Mullins, in skirt and blouse, walked with her roommate to lunch, passing the dapper male students leaned up against a wall to check out the ladies. 
That’s when she saw him. One quick glance. 
John E. Mullins Sr. In a suit and hat. A senior. Big man on campus. Popular, smooth, polite. 
“He is so fine!” Darlene Mullins gushed quietly to her roommate. 
“Is he looking? Is he looking?! Is he looking???” 
He was. 
In fact, John Mullins loved the freshman’s smile, and he told his buddy, “She’s going to be my wife.” 
About two minutes later, Darlene Mullins told her roommate, “I’m going to marry him.” 
'It's either the track team or John'

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tales of the non-traditional

Role model. From 13WMAZ.

It's almost graduation time here in Central Georgia. 
 College students will don their caps and gowns to grace the stage for that coveted diploma. 
One Fort Valley State University senior who is preparing for this major milestone is just a little more senior than his classmates. 
While most retirees want to spend their golden years slowing down, Matthew Brown says he is just getting started. 
“You can always take your talents to another level,” he says.
Brown sits at the piano and plays a few notes. “It’s a little out of tune,” he laughs. “I can work with it.” 
Back in the 70’s, he was opening for big names like the Manhattans, Millie Jackson, Johnnie Taylor, and Eddie Floyd, who sang the hit song "Knock on Wood." 
He even recorded a gospel album at the famed Capricorn Records. 
The Air Force veteran turned music instructor says he wanted to take his skills beyond raw talent, so he came to Fort Valley State University four years ago. 
The Macon 70-year-old, however, is not a professor.
He’s a student. In fact, he’s an honor student. 
“I’m a wildcat for life,” says Brown. 
Brown has about five decades of life experience on his classmates, but it did not take him long to fit in.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eshew the semicolon?

According to Vonnegut, it only shows "you've been to college." But I like me some semicolons. And I have been to college where I majored in English. That probably makes me the only person interested in this...From Ben Blatt, writing in Slate.

Do Semicolons Make You Pretentious?
For the purposes of this article, I decided to take a quick approach that is slightly less anecdotal than just glossing over the authors above. I created two samples. The first was all 36 Pulitzer Prize winners published between 1980-2016 (this is 36 books instead of 37 because there was no winner in 2012). I then looked at the Publisher’s Weekly best-selling novel of the year from 1980-2016 (this too was 36 books as I removed Diary of a Wimpy Kid since its only intended audience is young children). 
These are small samples, with some repeat authors, but the results are still clear. The Pulitzer Prize winning books use a median of 129 semicolons per 100,000 words. The best-selling novels use a median of 86 semicolons per 100,000 words.
The 50 percent difference between the two samples may not be surprising, but I think they echo Vonnegut’s point. The most accessible writers often do not use many semicolons. If you are writing with simple sentence structure you don’t need them.
While semicolons are more present in the Pulitzer winners on the whole, it's not a necessary condition to have them to appeal to literary circles. Some writers, like Larry McMurtry’s whose Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove had almost 650 semicolons per 100,000 words, choose to use them often; others, like Cormac McCarthy who a Pulitzer for The Road without using a single semicolon, choose to follow Vonnegut's advice and avoid them.