Archive for October, 2015

The 2015 Nation’s Report Card

More formally known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (overview here), the 2015 results have more negative findings than positive ones. After slow but steady progress, slight reversals in student achievement have been recorded; the changes in average scores are here. The title of this Associated Press article – Anemic report card for nation’s school kids – says it all. New Jersey scores are now easily available. A nice overview (with links) is available from Education Week.

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Bacon and Hot Dogs Cause Cancer

Your mom was right; that stuff will kill you. And so probably too will beef, pork, and lamb. Who says so? Actually WHO, or more specifically one of its study groups, does in this article entitled Carcinogenicity of consumption of red and processed meat from The Lancet (free registration required). The International Agency for Research on Cancer places processed meat in the group1 carcinogen category (where cigarette smoking is), while red meat is in group 2A.This report validates previous findings correlating the consumption of red meat and processed meat with various cancers.

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Hillary Clinton Testifies Before the House Select Committee on Benghazi

The hearing will begin at 10AM today on C-SPAN; a transcript will be posted later at that site. CNN presents a chronological review; here is a timeline loaded with links. Previous hearings by this committee – House Select Committee on Benghazi – are here. Here is the Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012 from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (November 21, 2014); more hearings (over 200) are also available.

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The American Museum of Natural History Digital Collections

This great institution has been a favorite of ours for years. Their exhibitions, the Hayden Planetarium, the library, and its various research departments are all of stellar quality; it is one the best natural history centers in the world. And the Museum further endears itself by its digital presence. You can access Science Topics, collections of relevant materials centered on certain topics such as climate change or volcanoes. And its AMNH Library Digital Repository contains such gems as its annual reports (1870- look who served on the Board of Trustees in the early years!), Anthropological Papers (1907 – includes some of the major ethnographic work of the 20th century), Bulletin (1881 – longer works of natural history), Memoirs (1893-1930, consisting of major monographic works), and Novitates (1921 – shorter papers in natural history). If you enjoy wandering the many halls of this museum, you’ll also enjoy meandering through these various publications and presentations.

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New Jersey PARCC Results Published

This first report gives aggregate scores for the state; more localized results will roll out over the next few weeks. A major takeaway: “As expected, the PARCC test results reveal areas where significant attention is needed. It should not be surprising that the results demonstrate that on average our youngest students meet or exceed expectations at higher levels than our high school students. After all, third grade students in 2015 began their schooling as kindergarten students in the 2011-2012 school year and have been continuously educated in our new standards. Yet, the results in high school – particularly in mathematics – demonstrate that there is significant work ahead to align curriculum and instructional practices to the standards and better scaffold student learning throughout a student’s career.”(8) NJ Spotlight has a good overview; as well as some informative graphics; nj.com also has reportage .

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2d Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Google

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How Many Times Have U.S. Armed Forces Been Deployed Abroad?

Hundreds. For a complete listing of the numerous times U.S. troops have gone abroad in military operations, please consult this CRS report.

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Online Primary Sources for American History: “Niles’ Register”

The Niles’ Register was this country’s first weekly newsmagazine; it was published continuously from 1811 until 1849 from Baltimore. It spanned 75 volumes and over 30,000 advertisement-free pages of reportage, reprints, government documents, foreign news, and rejoinder letters to the editor. It provides us with a fascinating look back at what were turbulent, developing times: the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson, westward expansion, to name a few. For example, the May 25, 1822 issue contains: a  mention of the third edition of Cooper’s The Spy, a sighting of Lafayette at a dinner party in Paris, a report from upriver on the Mississippi, an account of the scarcity of money in New York City, and reprinting of diplomatic correspondence between American and British parties on who has the right to navigate the Mississippi River. An index to the first 12 volumes is available; individual volumes are prefaced with their own indexes. While known as The Niles’ Register, it actually never had that as its actual title; it started as The Weekly Register and was later re-named Niles’ Weekly Register. This overlooked (excepting, of course, those who research the time period) treasure deserves your attention. The printing, while dense, is still eminently readable; there is no excuse not to have recourse to this valuable resource. More background information can be found here and here.

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Photos of Al Roker Speaking at NJCU

Here are some photographs of Mr Roker when he visited our campus.

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Say Goodby to U.S. Coastal Cities

If global warming continues as it does, this report – Carbon choices determine US cities committed to futures below sea level – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates that over 1100 coastal communities from Boston to Miami will face some kind of permanent flooding within the next few decades; in some cases, whole cities will have to be abandoned, among them New Orleans. The lists of threatened major cities are provided in tables (53- 56) accompanying this report. State scenarios (tables 57+) are also included; see how many people in New Jersey could be adversely affected. Depending on the conditions, well over one million people in the Garden State could be permanently displaced by 2100.

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Visualizations of Mass Shootings in the United States

Sometimes numbers are just data points, easily ignored; however, well-constructed graphs and charts can bring a poignancy to an argument more readily. Such is the impact of The toll: Mass shooting data visualizations around the web detailing the level of violence in this country due to firearms. One grim statistic out of many: between 1775 and 2015, almost 1.4 million Americans were killed in wars; in just the years between 1968 and 2015, over 1.5 million Americans were killed by firearms.

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How Much Are the Presidential Candidates Worth?

A heck of a lot. Politico has examined the candidates’ mandatory filings with the Federal Election Commission and prepared an eye-opening exhibit that shows that the race is really among the “one percenters”. Even those politicians with negative numbers have amassed millions in other ways. Of course, Trump leads the way with over a billion dollars; the others, though, are not pikers either. The Money Behind the Elections takes a look at previous presidential campaigns through the lens of money.

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Outline of NASA’s Mars Strategies Released

Entitled NASA’s Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration, this 36-page document outlines both the challenges and solutions to a manned mission to the Red Planet. As it states: “There are challenges to pioneering Mars, but we know they are solvable. We are developing the capabilities necessary to get there, land there, and live there.”(2) It is worth the read.

For those interested in the depiction of Mars through the years in science fiction, please come here.

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Jersey City Public School District Edges Closer to Full Autonomy from the State

The State Board of Education yesterday announced in a press release that control of operations and personnel has been handed back to local hands. In 1989, Jersey City became the first school district taken over by the state after this ruling that listed, iter alia, the state charges: “State officials charge the Jersey City school district with a recurring pattern of gross deficiencies in the areas of governance and management, educational programs and fiscal practices. Allegedly these problems have produced dire consequences which the State contends have brought the district to the brink of “managerial bankruptcy.”(2) Additional information can be found at: PolitickerNJ; NJ Today;  News 12 New Jersey;  Education Week (with links covering events back to 1988); NJ.comNJTV; and NJ Spotlight. The state still retains control over instructional programs, the last of the five components of the takeover; Mayor Fulop (read his statement here) hopes to have that last piece back locally by Spring 2016.

 

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EdTech Reports – September 2015

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2015 U.S. New & World Report Best Colleges Rankings

The various lists are here. Find out where your own school ranks. Here is NJCU’s profile as well as all the New Jersey colleges on the list.

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National Security Reports – September 2015 Update

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When and Where Is It Rude to Use a Mobile Device?

On the sidewalk? In a restaurant? At a religious service? In a library? Find out what Americans think in this Pew survey: Americans’ Views on Mobile Etiquette. See what Debrett’s has to say about mobile phone etiquette. Also, please peruse The revolution is over: the rude mobile phone users have won (The Guardian) and Did cell phones unleash our inner rudeness? (CNN).

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Coping with a Nor’easter

This blog entry is being repurposed; it was originally written to deal with hurricanes, but the steps apply to a nor’easter as well. A couple of extra precautions are included since this was first published in 2011.

This site from FEMA offers much solid advice. And if anyone should know about hurricanes, it is the folks from Louisiana; therefore this site from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness should also be consulted. Updated information on Sandy is available from the National Hurricane Center. Having lived through too many natural and manmade disasters both here and abroad, we would like to add some tips that people might not think of nor are they listed in most preparedness publications: when electricity goes out in an area, that means gas stations cannot pump gas, so fill up a couple of days ahead of time; without electricity, ATMs will not work, nor will debit/credit cards at stores, so have cash available; without electricity, procuring medicines from a pharmacy will prove difficult, therefore make sure you have enough on hand to get through the aftermath of a major storm; charge your phones and other devices; make sure you have fresh batteries and a portable radio; purchase some paper plates and plastic utensils; purchase a manual can opener; buy some bags of ice ahead of time to preserve your food; you might want to invest in a charcoal grill (and of course lighter fluid, charcoal and matches) to be used outdoors if power fails;  before the storm hits, find the manual override for your automatic garage door; if you have window air conditioners, remove them; and remember the rule of thumb is you need a gallon of water per day per person for the bare necessities, and don’t forget your pets; and filling up your bathtub with water ain’t a bad idea either. And don’t wait until the last minute! Basic information on hurricanes is here. Long-range planning should be considered: stand-by generators; portable generators or batteries; portable submersible sump pumps; in-ground pumps; adequate number of hoses; wet vacs, to name a few options

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