Official histories are at times greeted with suspicion and praise, sometimes at the same time. Be that as it may, they do answer the need for getting the details out in the open. A good discussion of them is found here at Official Histories. The “Green Books” is the nickname for the massive U.S. Army in World War II Series now numbering about eighty volumes; there is a 1992 Reader’s Guide to the series. The U.S. Navy curiously had its multi-volume history published by a commercial house – Little, Brown and Co. so it is not online. It was written by a master historian – Samuel Eliot Morison – and published in fifteen volumes over the space of fifteen years. (For more information, please read Revisiting Samuel Eliot Morison’s Landmark History.) The Air Force was not a separate service then; its activities are covered in The Army Air Forces in World War II series. The Marines Corps is represented by its History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II along with its Historical Monographs and Commemorative Series. The Coast Guard’s involvement is examined in the multi-volume Coast Guard at War. We’re not the only country with official histories; there are several other series of value: the fifty-volume Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War; Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War (this site also contains naval and air force histories); the twenty-plus volume Australia in the War of 1939-1945; Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War 1939-45 (selected volumes); and British History of the Second World War (a huge undertaking, but only a very few volumes are online, among them those dealing with the RAF).
This New York Federal Reserve paper – Precarious Slopes? The Great Recession, Federal Stimulus, and New Jersey Schools – examines the impact of recent economic downturns on school funding. It should come as no surprise that wealthier districts survived better than their less affluent counterparts: ” For example, the high-poverty and urban groups sustain the largest declines (relative to their respective trends) in the post-recession era. The most extreme examples in the poverty-level heterogeneities are the shifts in spending on student services and instructional support in 2010. The high-poverty districts show large, statistically significant declines in these categories, while the affluent districts show large, statistically significant increases. These variables capture the expenditure on services to support, assess, and improve students’ well-being, including social work, health services, technology, library costs, and student guidance.”(57-58) Buttressed with charts and tables, this report is worth a perusal. Another Federal Reserve report is also of interest – The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: A Review of Stimulus Spending in New York and New Jersey
A statistical goldmine of information on doctoral recipients as well as the institutions that award them is presented in Doctoral Recipients from U.S. Universities and Colleges. Seventy tables “…present detailed data on the demographic characteristics, educational history, sources of financial support, and postgraduation plans of doctorate recipients.”
Nelson Mandela, Madiba to those who loved, admired, and respected him, passed away yesterday, December 5, 2013. His enduring legacy, his championing of human rights, will live on. Biographical information can be found at: Nelson Mandela Foundation; Noble Prize.org (which he won in 1993; here is his Nobel lecture); BBC; The Telegraph; and The New York Times. This PBS Frontline report – The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela – should be required viewing; it is contains in addition to the two-hour video, biographies, anecdotes, and a chronology. Some of his quotations are here; search his speeches as well as viewing them. C-SPAN offers sixty videos. The O’Malley Archives is replete with historical material on apartheid; many primary sources are listed. President Obama’s remarks on Mandela’s passing are available.
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Nelson Mandela, Speech from the Dock of the Rivonia Trial, 1964.
Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises from the National Academies Press focuses on the possibility that climate change will not only be a drawn-out process, but that there will come a “tipping point” when sudden changes will have a significant effect on the environment. The report advocates the establishment of an Abrupt Climate Change Warning System (ACEWS) that would that would monitor certain natural processes, such as the growth of coral reefs, the Gulf Stream, the melting of ice caps, etc. and alert us when these detectors drastically change for the worse. (Chapter 4) The report ends thusly: “An ACEWS need not be overly expensive and need not be created from scratch, as many resources now exist that can contribute, but the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and better prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.”(131) It is supplemented by a 47-page bibliography. Other sites of relevance: Abrupt Climate Change (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute); How Abrupt Can Climate Change Be? (USGS); and Abrupt Climate Change (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory). Reportage at: NPR; National Geographic; The New York Times; and Science Daily.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures the abilities of 15-year-old students to perform various tasks in reading, math, and science. The U.S. does not do well, despite the thousands of dollars spent per student. An overview of the U.S. results is available. Other country results and access to the full reports and data are here. The National Center for Education Statistics has a comprehensive look at the U,S. rankings; it points out that: “Eighteen education systems had higher average scores than the United States in all three subjects. The 18 education systems are: Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong-China, Ireland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao-China, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Korea, Shanghai-China, Singapore, and Switzerland.” It further goes on to state: “The U.S. average mathematics, science, and reading literacy scores in 2012 were not measurably different from average scores in previous PISA assessment years with which comparisons can be made (2003, 2006 and 2009 for mathematics; 2006, and 2009 for science; and 2000, 2003, and 2009 for reading.)” (Selected Findings from PISA 2012) Various news reports on this assessment can be found at: The Guardian, Washington Post, FINNBAY, CNN, Australian Council for Educational Research, The Nordic Page, and The Globe and Mail.