It’s Time To Drop the “C” From NCAA

College football uses its stadium about 8 days a year. It stands as a monument to Higher Education's waste of resources.

College football uses its stadium about 8 days a year. It stands as a monument to Higher Education’s waste of resources.

Athletes making more appearances in court than in class. Millions of dollars spent to recruit athletes, only to have them jump to a professional league before they graduate. Athletes that have paid staff minders to make sure they go to class, do their homework, and study. Money donated by alumni to only benefit major athletic programs. When will universities admit that big sports is not compatible with higher education?

Money for nothing. Donors giving to big sport programs

Money for nothing. Donors giving to big sport programs

The excuses are wearing thin. The NCAA tries to sell the idea during the televised college football or basketball game, the athletes on the field or court will become great scientists, doctors, and lawyers. Of course, the examples are all athletes of every other sport.

Maybe a donor that will only give to athletics is not the person to associate with higher education?

Maybe a donor that will only give to athletics is not the person to associate with higher education?

The marriage between sports and colleges is a joke and it’s time for a divorce. The National Athletic Association (NCAA) should become the National Athletic Association (NAA.) We know college basketball and football athlete’s first, second, and third priorities are in pursuit of a big professional contract. To deny this is just an excuse to make us feel better when they sit in the back of the college classroom playing on their phones.

Make the professional leagues pay for bringing along young athletes and let higher education focus on education.

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Too Much?

Housing on the University of Nevada campus looks great from this view, but things are about to get ugly

Housing on the University of Nevada campus looks great from this view, but things are about to get ugly

347°  I was on the University of Nevada’s campus today to take pictures for my next article. Nevada will be adding almost 1500 student beds in on and off campus housing in the next two years. They claim the need for more housing is justified, but the numbers do not add up. If they are wrong, rental and housing prices will take a nosedive in the Reno community. The impact to local renters could be severe enough to cause a new foreclosure crisis.

More to come. 

Too Many Degrees

The Celsius system is the definition of simple. The Fahrenheit system is the definition of stupid

The Celsius system is the definition of simple. The Fahrenheit system is the definition of stupid

281°  America is the dumbest when it comes to measurement units. We refuse to accept the metric system, which are intelligently designed units. Instead, we have stuck to the Fahrenheit scale for temperature — a system that has too many degrees.

In the Celsius system, zero is freezing. Anything below zero is really cold. Zero to ten is cold, and ten to fifteen degrees is cool. At 20 to 30 degrees most humans are comfortable, but anything over 30 degrees is hot. That’s it. Fahrenheit has no easy numbers to go by when equating temperature to human experience.

It’s time we switched to the same units that the rest of the world uses.

It’s Not Time!

No! Snow is coming. Don't leaf out yet!

No! Snow is coming. Don’t leaf out yet!

180°  I want Spring to arrive as much or more than most, but February is the wrong month for our trees to decide it’s Spring. Within a few days our plum tree will be leafing out and Global Warming or not, we will have another major snow storm before June.

We have had several days of 60°F plus and the trees don’t know that this is all an evil trick. Trees will leaf out, it will snow, branches will break, ….it’s all happened before. To bad trees can’t be reasoned with, forewarned about what will happen based on our past experience. People, you can warn….but they don’t listen, and they become just like trees.

School Project Help

Homework dilemma:  How much help should parents offer?

Homework dilemma: How much help should parents offer?

10°  Alexander has a major school project due. He is compiling a biography of a Albert Einstein. He has chosen to create a short video as part of the project. He has never edited a video, but he has done several ‘selfie’ videos with the desire to make an edited piece like his Uncle does of the annual family vacation. 

The challenge for us is how much to help. Creating something you’ve never done before is almost an impossible task. The try and fail system is a valuable tool in learning, but it also can be frustrating to the point of surrender. A mentor system of learning is a proven method for building future success, but there is a fine line between assisting and doing.

Alexander’s Mom showed him how to use the editing program, and suggested elements he could add to the video, but we both left it up to him to design the product. He also wrote the script, and he set up and recorded his narration. It is a great effort for a second grader, but it won’t be up for a short documentary nomination at the Academy Awards; however, based upon his past interest to create an edited video, I suspect this is the beginning of many new projects. We might regret not doing it for him.

Public Building Names

Coming Soon: Another building with a ridiculous name

Coming Soon: Another building with a ridiculous name

182°  Public buildings are the prostitutes of the world of architecture. In today’s world, buildings are named after the person who gives the most money. I can live with that, because the family name associated with the building will eventually take on a life of its own. The name will be shortened, abbreviated, or changed completely by the people who use it. Few will know anything about the person for which it was named.

On the campus of the University of Nevada in Reno, the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center will join the Pennington Health Sciences Building and the Pennington Medical Education Building. If you haven’t guessed it by now Pennington was a Nevada gaming tycoon. Since the newest Pennington building will be near the center of campus, it would not be surprising if it becomes referred to as Penn Center, but time will tell.

What I do take issue with is the rest of the name. Some organizations seem to be in a contest for the most complicated building name. The University of Nevada must be winning. “Student Achievement Center” is one of those titles that scream, we’re-trying-to-disguise-the-reason-this-building-exists. The National Security Agency doesn’t have a building they call ‘Spy Operations,’ but you know they have at least one.

In this case, the name is used to refer to all those programs and services that are required to help Nevada’s under educated high school graduates. It’s a great idea and I can understand why they wouldn’t call it ‘Pennington Stupid Students Senter,’ but isn’t the university being a little optimistic by calling it an ‘Achievement Center?’

I guess if they called it for what it is, no one would give money for the building, but if smart people don’t understand the name, how are the intellectually challenged going to understand it? Maybe they should call it the Pennington Party Center and put neon signs in the windows that say, “Free Beer,” and “Ladies Nite.” The students who need ‘achievement services’ will be able to find it blindfolded with one leg tied behind their back. 

The All Important 1%

It's a long way to the next place with air, but right now our air has a problem

It’s a long way to the next place with air, but now our air has a problem

250°  Air is a good thing. In fact, one might even say that if someone were off-Earth for business or pleasure, they might find air more important than even sex.

For those of us who don’t frequent outer space, air is almost taken for granted…but we shouldn’t.

Last night I had the pleasure of talking to a graduate student who is finishing up his doctorate this year. His field is atmospheric studies, in particular, the amount of infrared radiation (energy) being absorbed and re-emitted by particles or aerosols in our atmosphere.

Breakdown of our atmosphere

Breakdown of our atmosphere

He reminded me that 99% of the air around Earth is Nitrogen (78%) or Oxygen (21%.) Those two elements don’t absorb or transmit infrared radiation. Only 1% of our atmosphere is affected by infrared radiation. One percent controls the amount of energy retained or emitted in our air.

When scientists talk about global warming, they are talking about the mechanisms that drive and control the behavior of our atmosphere. One percent. It is the penny in our dollar that will determine whether our children and their children spend all their time and money on fixing what we screwed up, or on moving forward into a bright new future.

I would suggest that we literally and figuratively stop pouring coal (and other carbon-based fuels) into the engine that is energizing our atmosphere.  

The Problem With Today’s Youth

Youth: Our best hope for us old people

Youth: Our best hope for us old people

154°  All my life I’ve heard people say, “The problem with today’s youth is….”

I have had the good fortune to observe young people of many age groups, and I don’t find a problem with them. What I find is schools that have become large factories where children become a number, not a person. I find parents who either should not be parents, or parents who need coaching on how to be acceptable parents. I find older people who apply the standards of 30, 40, or 50 years ago to today’s world, which is unacceptable.

Now when I hear anyone say, “The problem with today’s youth…” I finish the sentence for them in my head, “…is the person who is talking now.”

N Stands for Knowledge

Snow capped mountain above Reno, Nee-va-da

Snow-capped mountain above Reno, Neh-va-da

298°  Nevada sometimes wallows in ignorance. If you’re in Nevada and you’re bored, find a local and say,

“Neh-va-da is a nice place.”

Without hesitation 9,999 out of 10,000 locals will launch into a tirade about your pronunciation of the state’s name and lecture you on how to say, “Neh-vad-duh.” They will then explain how people sound stupid when they don’t “say it right.”

Nevada is a Spanish word for snowfall, or in this case, Sierra Nevada, meaning snow-capped mountains. The correct pronunciation is “Neh-va-da,” but when we took Northern Mexico away at gun point, we perverted the word and mispronounced it. Ironically, we changed the ending sound from ‘da’ to ‘duh,’ which somehow seems appropriate, considering the passion that locals have over the issue.

It wouldn’t be an issue if locals could accept that Neh-va-da as an alternate pronunciation, but this is not about language, this is about racism. When someone is so insistent that the Spanish pronunciation is wrong, and that the only correct pronunciation is the perverted white man’s version, then it becomes obvious this is about race.

Which is why it’s fun to say Neh-va-da and see how many times you can get a local to say, “duh.” 

Last night's Moon/Jupiter rendezvous

Last night’s Moon/Jupiter rendezvous

90°  Changing the subject, a view of the Moon and Jupiter hanging out together over Neh-va-da.

The Myth of Books

The Myth of Books

The Myth of Books

 If you want to find out about a person, walk into his or her home and look for their books. The quantity, subject matter, condition and age of the books can probably give a background on the history of the person, as well as their education, interests, age and maturity.

For people over forty, books have played an important role in our lives. They have been studied, carried, moved, and sometimes even read. The primary function of a book has been to share knowledge and/or emotion. Books have been the main source of knowledge that transcended generations. We have come to trust books as the best source of information. We knew that editors vetted the information, so that it wasn’t just the author’s opinions. If a book said it, then it was a fact.

Then we learned that textbooks had false information in them. Encyclopedias had errors. Editors could be biased. New information made old information obsolete. Books were not always the best source of information.

Enter the Internet. People had a new voice. Anyone could talk. There were no editors to choose what the public would know. Misinformation could be just as compelling as facts. And among all the noise were new ideas, new discoveries, exposed lies, and information that might be hours old, which contradicted information published  in a book. The world moved past books because they were too slow.

People over forty face a dilemma. Do we continue to worship books as the ultimate source of information and fact, or do they see the myth that we have outgrown. Information in our world is now chaotic, overwhelming, and constantly changing. We have to be our own editor and do our own research, but we also have access to new knowledge that comes from a better source.

A reference page that only cites book sources is probably offering some out-of-date information. Is that how we want the next generation to do research, or do we accept that books only offer a reference in history, not current fact.