Archive for September, 2015

NASA News Conference – Evidence of Recent Flowing Water on Mars

Here is a link to the live news conference; an abstract of the article detailing the findings is at Nature Geoscience, while another version is found at the EPSC Abstracts. Reportage at The New York Times; The Guardian (with an interactive feature); and NPR.

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NJCU Graduates Make Well Above the National Average

The College Scorecard, a massive data repository, has a great deal of information on NJCU as well as other institutions of higher education in the country. For example, NJCU grads make on average $41,900 as compared to the national average of $34,343. This indicator, combined with NJCU’s lowest tuition in the state and the lowest student debt load in the state (by thousands of dollars), make for an excellent return on investment.

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Computer Use and Student Achievement

Students, Computers and Learning from the OECD examines, inter alia, the digital divide in various countries as well as stipulating that basic literacy and numeracy skills must be in place before technology can make a difference. The document also focuses on some countries; the United States is represented with this observation: “In 2012, schools in the United States serving 15-year-olds had about five school computers available for every nine students. The students-per-computer ratio of 1.8-to-1 is one of the lowest among the 34 OECD countries.” The executive summary contains important charts on ICT use at home and at school; the entire report is populated with figures and graphs. One of the key international findings is: “Over the past 10 years, there has been no appreciable improvement in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science, on average, in countries that have invested heavily in information and communication technologies for education. In 2012, in the vast majority of countries, students who used computers moderately at school had somewhat better learning outcomes than students who used computers rarely; but students who used computers very frequently at school did a lot worse, even after accounting for the students’ socio-economic status.” Please peruse this Wall Street Journal article: Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Education Results, OECD Says. The LA Times has: The surprising thing about schools with lots of technology.

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Live – Pope Francis Addresses A Joint Session of Congress

He will deliver his speech at 10am; it can be viewed here. It will also be permanently archived and a transcript should also be available.

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Drought Watch Issued for Hudson County and Eleven Other NJ Counties

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has just issued a drought warning calling for voluntary water restrictions. Information on the drought conditions in New Jersey is available as well; the U.S. Drought Monitor has our area in the “moderate drought” category. Please read Moderate drought is wilting North Jersey from The Bergen Record.

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New Jersey Creates “Teacher Leader” Designation

On September 18. Governor Christie signed into law S 165 that calls for a new level of teacher – the “teacher leader” who will have to show experience in instruction that is bolstered by additional study as well as being a mentor to colleagues and an advocate for students. Here is the NJEA position on this new endorsement. This organization’s sponsoring of Taking Back the Profession a year ago acted as a catalyst for this unanimously-voted-for bill.

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Two Recent Reports on Digital Scholarship in the Humanities

Both of these documents highlight current thinking on the role of digital technology as a major player in scholarship: Considering the Scholarly Edition in the Digital Age: A White Paper of the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions and the American Historical Association’s  Guidelines for the Professional Evaluation of Digital Scholarship by Historians.  Also, read this informative discussion from September 2008 hosted by the Journal of American History – The Promise of Digital History.

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NJ Transit Plans for Papal Visit

Thursday, September 24 and Friday, September 25 are going to be travel hassle days. Come here to see how NJ Transit is planning to deal with what could be unprecedented masses of people moving east and west on those days. In addition, Governor Christie has issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for September 26-27 when the pope will be in Philadelphia and tens of thousands of additional vehicles will be coming through New Jersey.

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How Much Are Professional Football Teams Worth?

For an informative listing and profiles of each team, please visit the Business of Football (from Forbes) where you will also find a list of the wealthiest owners and an enumeration of the highest paid players.

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Jersey City Development Maps

At this site are contained two development maps: the Downtown Development Map has an August 26, 2015 date while the Journal Square map is dated 8-25-15. Composed of colored legends, each document lists proposals, approved projects, projects under construction, recently completed projects, and pre-1997 projects completed. Along with that data, every project also has: the number of stories, the number of housing units (if applicable), square footage for retail, square footage for office space, the number of parking spaces, and project site number that coordinates to the above maps. From our perspective it appears that Jersey City’s growth and expansion will continue unabated for years to come.

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Does Your University Make the Grade in the QS World Rankings?

QS World University Rankings 2015/16 has just come out. See where your alma mater falls. You can limit by location, region, and faculty; a profile of each institution is included. The selection methodology is explained as well.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: The Personal Writings of the Presidents

A previous entry has detailed access to the papers of the presidents generated in the official fulfillment of their office. But what about personal letters, diaries, books, architectural plans, speeches, correspondence to and from individuals, or writings that pre-date or post-date their presidential terms? There is no one repository for these documents; many efforts were undertaken by governmental or organizational entities for individual presidents while some were personal projects. The Miller Center (a wonderful resource on the American presidency) lists both digital and print sources of presidential writings. Using this as a starting point, we will present linked versions of the indicated paper sources where available, add the digital sources the Center recommends, and find other worthy electronic sources as well. Why use older print resources? Because in many instances, the new letterpress collections of private papers are not completed, therefore the older print versions will contain material not yet edited in later editions, either in print or online. It is surprising to say the least that some of these presidential paper projects are decades old, the first work starting in 1943, and they are still not done!

George Washington

The full scholarly letterpress edition of Washington’s papers, believe it or not, is still not complete; the ongoing project is at Founders Online. An earlier collection is The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, published under the auspices of the George Washington Bicentennial Commission as authorized by Congress between 1931-1944. Volume 38 contains an index to the series.

John Adams

Many of his papers can be found courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society’s  The Adams Papers; it is still ongoing. Many of these documents have found their way to Founders Online. A previous collection edited by his grandson is the ten-volume The Works of John Adams,  Second President of the United States published 1850-56.

Thomas Jefferson

Princeton University Press has been issuing his papers since 1950, and the project is still not done! And that does not include his papers authored after his retirement; those are being handled by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Both series of papers are available at Founders Online where almost 40,000 transcribed documents can be found.  The Thomas Jefferson Papers collection at the Library of Congress (not transcribed) offers over 80,000 document images. Print titles include the 12-volume The Works of Thomas Jefferson edited by Paul Ford and published in 1904; and the 20-volume edition entitled The Writings of Thomas Jefferson issued under the auspices of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association in 1904-05.

James Madison

The Papers of James Madison project has a long history. The first volumes were originally produced by the University of Chicago Press; in 1977 publishing duties were assumed by the University of Virginia Press. His writings are divided into four series: Congressional; Secretary of State; Presidential; and Retirement. Only the Congressional series is complete. The vast majority of these published papers can be freely accessed at Founders Online. The James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress contain over 12,000 documents, but they are not transcribed. An older 9-volume collection – The Writings of James Madison, edited by G. Hunt, 1900-1910, is still a valuable resource.

James Monroe

The Papers of James Monroe contain the first seven volumes of a planned ten volume series; an older 7-volume work, The Writings of James Monroe, as edited by Stanislaus Hamilton and published 1898-1903, can still be used until the more modern edition is completed.

John Quincy Adams

Some of his papers are in The Adams Papers project. His 51-volume diary is available courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society; it is not transcribed. To remedy that situation try the 12-volume Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, comprising portions of his diary, 1795-1848 edited by his son Charles Francis Adams and published in 1874-1877. Another title still important is the 7-volume Writings of John Quincy Adams, edited by Worthington Ford and published in 1913-17.

Andrew Jackson

The Papers of Andrew Jackson will contain his selected writings; so far, this series is only available in print. As of this date (2-26-20), I have found that the first ten volumes of his writings are freely available. The Andrew Jackson Papers at the Library of Congress(LC) provide digital images of many of the documents contained within the scholarly edition now underway; in addition many of these LC documents are transcribed and annotated. A few of his writings can be accessed online: Some letters of Andrew Jackson [from 1824-25] published in 1922; Correspondence between Gen. Andrew Jackson and John C.Calhoun president and vice-president of the U. States, on the subject of the course of the latter, in the deliberations of the cabinet of Mr. Monroe, on the occurrences in the Seminole War (1831); there is now (4-25-17) a collection of some of his writings, including his last will and testament, online.

Martin van Buren

Very little is available that fits our criteria. However, there is a Calendar of Papers of Martin Van Buren (1910).

William Henry Harrison

We have his writings as governor of Indiana: Messages and letters of William Henry Harrison, vol.1, vol. 2, part 1; vol.2, part 2.

John Tyler

His son compiled the three-volume  The Letters and Times of the Tylers (1884-1896) that mainly concentrates on John Tyler.

James K Polk

We have access to his four-volume Diary of James K Polk during His Presidency, 1845-1849 as edited by Milo Quaife and published in 1910. A modern version of his correspondence – called the Polk Project – is being undertaken by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. As of this writing, fourteen volumes have been published; they are now freely available online.

Zachary Taylor

In 1908 his Letters of Zachary Taylor from the Battlefields of the Mexican War was published.

Millard Fillmore

We have a two-volume Millard Fillmore Papers courtesy of the Buffalo Historical Society and published in 1907.

Franklin Pierce

As strange as it may seem, there are no collections of his writings or papers generally available.

James Buchanan

You can consult The Works of James Buchanan…, a twelve-volume undertaking edited by John Bassett Moore and published between 1908 and 1911.

Abraham Lincoln

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, an eight-volume scholarly edition published between 1953 and 1955 and edited by Roy Basler; a separate index is also available. The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress contain over 20,000 documents with transcriptions.

Andrew Johnson

Although this does not fit the above criteria, the official 3-volume account of his impeachment trial is online. An index to the Andrew Johnson Papers at the Library of Congress can be consulted. The life and public services of Andrew Johnson. Including his state papers, speeches and addresses (1866) contains an appendix with some pre-presidential speeches.

Ulysses S Grant

Starting in 1962 under the direction of John Y Simon , a 32-volume series – The Papers of Ulysses S Grant – has been produced and has been made available online. Grant’s Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (1885) is considered one of the finest examples of this genre.

Rutherford B Hayes

There is a 5-volume Diary and letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes published between 1922 and 1926 and edited by Charles Williams.

James Garfield

Excerpts from speeches and letters are found in Garfield’s Words (1881). Scattered speeches, orations and other relevant writings are here

Chester A Arthur

There is an index to his papers; in this document it is stated that most of his papers were burned on his orders shortly before his death.

Grover Cleveland

Letters and addresses of Grover Cleveland (1909); Public papers of Grover Cleveland (1884, when he was NY Governor); other of his writings are also online here.

Benjamin Harrison

Views of an ex-president, by Benjamin Harrison; being his addresses and writings on subjects of public interest since the close of his administration as President of the United States.(1901); This country of ours (1897); and there is an index to his papers held at the Library of Congress.

William McKinley

Speeches and addresses of William McKinley, from his election to Congress to the present time (1893); and McKinley’s masterpieces; selections from the public addresses in and out of Congress, of William McKinley (1896).

Theodore Roosevelt

He was a prolific author; many of his writings are here including his diaries and the 24-volume “memorial” edition of his work.  A 20-volume Collected Works (1910) can be used (this is called the “national” edition) as well. Many letters to and from him are here.

William Taft

There is a 6-volume index to his papers at the Library of Congress. Among other items, he authored The Anti-trust act and the Supreme Court (1914); The United States and peace (1914) Our chief magistrate and his powers (1916; repr. 1925);  and Liberty under law, an interpretation of the principles of our constitutional government (1922). He is the only person to serve both as President and then later as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1921-1930); the cases heard under his tenure can be found here.

Woodrow Wilson

Another prolific author; among other works:  Congressional government : A study in American Politics (1885; 8th ed., 1891); Division and reunion: 1829-1889 (1894);  The state; elements of historical and practical politics (Rev. ed., 1897); A History of the American People. 5 vols (1902); Constitutional government in the United States 1908). His papers have been published by Princeton in a 69-volume series, but they are not freely accessible.

Warren Harding

Letters to his paramour: Warren G. Harding-Carrie Fulton Phillips CorrespondenceRededicating America; life and recent speeches of Warren G. Harding (1920); Our common country; mutual good will in America (1921).

Calvin Coolidge

An index to his papers at the Library of Congress; Have faith in Massachusetts; a collection of speeches and messages (When he was Governor of Massachusetts; 2d ed., enl., 1919).

The Presidential Libraries Act of 1955 allowed for the creation of privately-built, but publicly-maintained libraries where presidential materials would be housed, preserving the vast bulk of writings in a central location. Starting with Herbert Hoover, these repositories have become the starting point for research on individual presidents, their administrations, and their lives. (More here) Because many of these institutions have an active digital presence, mountains of documentation are constantly being released. And while much of this information justifiably concerns the presidential terms, other material can also be found. For example, the FDR Library has significant documents from the entire lifespan of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt; the Dwight D Eisenhower Library has major documents before his presidency; and the JFK Library features some of his personal papers among a vast array of digital resources.

The state of non-presidential writings is certainly one fraught with difficulties: some projects not finished are decades-old; some presidents have little or nothing accessible for public perusal; one president as he lay dying directed his papers to be burned; another lost his papers in a fire; and the umbrella of secrecy descends upon all recent presidencies. But diligent research can at least turn up some past resonances of occupants of the White House; you just have to be patient and sedulous.

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2015 9/11 Observances

Here is a listing for North Jersey; here is Hudson County ; watch live from the 9/11 Memorial in New York City; live streaming from the Pentagon ceremony is also available. Previous blog entries on 9/11 are here.

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State Approves Three Construction Projects for NJCU

New Jersey’s Economic Development Agency has approved additional building projects according to this report. They were submitted and vetted under the EDA’s Higher Education Institution Public-Private Partnerships Program . Market-rate apartments, over 1200 parking spaces, commercial spaces, tennis courts, and a supermarket all figure in these plans.

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Income Inequality a Major Challenge According to Harvard Business School Survey

The Challenge of Shared Prosperity reveals that while thousands of HBS alums think this country’s competitiveness in the world market has grown stronger over the past few years, the great problem of income inequality will inhibit middle class growth. “Respondents also tell us that under current policies and institutions, they expect inequality, poverty, and related economic outcomes to worsen in America. They do not expect these challenges to resolve themselves.”(3) Possible solutions are laid out on pages 23-24; many figures buttress the reports findings. This is well worth a read,

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Watch Yesterday’s Homeland Security Committee Hearing Held at the 9/11 Memorial

This is a three-and-a-half-hour video featuring former mayor Giuliani and the current police commissioner William Bratton. A transcript will be up later.

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Guide to Recent Cybersecurity Hearings, Legislation, and Presidential Directives

This CRS report offers a comprehensive up-to-date overview of the numerous pieces of legislation and debates, multitudinous hearings, and executive branch orders and memoranda on cybersecurity. Contained within this document are references to other CRS reports of interest.

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Online Primary Sources: British Manuscripts

The term “manuscripts” here refers to handwritten, unpublished documents, many of them being collections of family histories, letters, and the like. These form valuable material for researchers but were at times hard to find or access. To remedy this situation, the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts was created by royal warrant in 1869 to both locate and describe these repositories. Until its dissolution in 2003, the Commission issued over two hundred “reports“, detailed inventories of the great baronial houses in the UK. Each volume provides a great deal of important information: discussing the content of the manuscript collection, offering a history of the contents, as well as issuing calendars of all the documents and printing selected writings full text. It took the handwritten documents and converted them into printable works, a remarkable achievement. Many of these volumes can be accessed by their titles here; other report series are here, too. There is a limited guide to the series, essentially to parts of the first nine reports: Guide to sources of English history from 1603 to 1660 in Reports of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (1952). A complete chronological listing of all the volumes published is available online.

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New Jersey 2014/15 ACT, AP, and SAT Statewide Scores

The statistics are here. A major takeaway is that : ” New Jersey’s participation in College Readiness assessments is up significantly. SAT saw an increase of 2.7% with Hispanic students up 9% and African American student participation up 4.9%” More extensive data on the SAT scores are available.



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Who First Climbed Mt Denali?

With the name change from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali, there is some renewed interest in the above question. It was first climbed by an Episcopal minister, Hudson Stuck, in 1913. Here is The New York Times article on that feat; he started out on March 13 and reached the summit on June 7. His own account is contained in The ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley) a narrative of the first complete ascent of the highest peak in North America (1914); his other works include: A winter circuit of our Arctic coast; a narrative of a journey with dog-sleds around the entire Arctic coast of Alaska (1920); Voyages on the Yukon and its tributaries; a narrative of summer travel in the interior of Alaska (1917); and The baccalaureate sermon : preached before the candidates for degrees in Columbia University, June 4, 1916.

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