etc.

In response to recent news about academic journals publishing fake articles, The Pacific Standard asked: “What Good is an Academic Hoax in the Age of Post-Truth?”  It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since Alan Sokal faked out Social Text.

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has called on researchers, research foundations, the U.S. government, and the private sector to create new partnerships to address social science research challenges. A recent SSRC research report — “To Secure Knowledge: Social Science Partnerships for the Common Good” — argues that social science research faces serious threats from reduced federal funding and the public’s skepticism about data. The report includes recommendations such as creating a central database for public and private social data, and forging new public-private funding relationships. Hopefully these and other recommendations will be fruitful.

CityLab has a new article about how urban and rural residents can find common ground. In the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange (RUX), for example, “participants go on three weekend-long retreats to strengthen bonds with people from other parts of the state, creating a ‘currency of connection’ (in the words of RUX organizers) to increase mutual understanding, spark collective problem-solving, and, of course, develop friendships across divides, whether real or perceived.” Fascinating!

“It’s not surprising that elite schools report high graduation rates or alumni success.” So begins the description of MONEY magazine’s 2018-2019 Most Transformative Colleges article. The description continues: “What’s impressive is when a college helps students do far better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds. We call this a college’s value add. For this list, we ranked colleges based on our exclusive value-added scores for graduation rates, earnings, and student loan repayment, eliminating schools with any negative scores or a graduation rate below 50%.” SJSU is #4 on the list!

The Pacific Standard recently posted an article about micro-grants for college students: “Often college students nearing graduation have bills that, while small, could prevent them from graduating. Many universities now offer micro-grants to cover such expenses, which helps keep such students on track to graduation.” Today is the first day of fall 2018 classes here at San José State University. Luckily we have a small micro-grant program as a component of the SJSU Cares program. As the article notes, this type of program is very beneficial.

In a May 2018 post I provided a link to a Pacific Standard story about the pros and cons of using more technology in the 2020 U.S. Census. I have recently encounter a CityLab story that presents a visual history of the U.S Census. The editors note,

The United States Justice Department is adding a highly contested citizenship question into the 2020 Census, which will likely lead to an undercount in places with undocumented workers and families. The political and social consequences of such an undercount in vulnerable communities would be significant and—as CityLab’s visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger reports—an all-too-familiar story.

The next U.S. Census is shaping up to be a very important one…as they have all been.

“Once upon a time in America, unions were a force to be reckoned with. In 1954, labor union membership in the United States hit a peak of 34.8 percent…” So begins a Pacific Standard introduction to a series on the status of labor unions in the Unites States. “Today,” the introduction continues, “the footprint of unions has shrunk dramatically due to both the general decline of traditionally unionized private-sector industries in this country, and more concerted efforts to weaken unions. In 2017, only 10.7 percent of U.S. workers belonged to a union.” Check out the site for several additional articles, such as “What caused the decline of unions in America?”

In collaboration with The Marshall Project, the Pacific Standard has published a powerful story about recently retired U.S. District Court judge Thelton Henderson, who is credited with transforming California’s criminal justice system. Sadly, his legacy is in danger of being undone.

Smartphones are heavily used for checking social media, taking pictures, and playing games. Now it appears that they are also being used to increase our health and wellness. The Pacific Standard website has an interesting article about a new app for those who have survived heart attacks. The app reduces those patients’ hospital re-admission rates, which creates the potential to save lives, improve outcomes, and reduce expenses. Hopefully many more apps like this are in development!

February 14 is recognized around the world as Valentine’s Day to celebrate romance and romantic love. It’s also International Quirkyalone Day (IQD), “a celebration of romance, freedom and individuality. It celebrates true romance (as opposed to the fake versions presented to us in reality dating shows), independence, creativity, friendship and all kinds of love,” according to a blog post by IQD founder Sasha Cagen. Read the blog post for more information about a wonderful alternative to the more traditional celebration that causes so many people angst. Happy Quirkyalone Day!