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January 20, 2014

There is no STEM shortage

The university system is falling apart in America. All the money flows to the top, to admin, to athletics while academics get less money all the time. STEM: Still No Shortage — I. M. H. O. — Medium
This morning, I read a deeply depressing story by the formidable Rebecca Schuman, detailing how two colleges are opting to cut academic programs rather than the administrative or facilities costs that actually drive college costs. (Schuman’s recent work for Slate has been excellent, in general.) The decision is curious on a number of levels. Faculty salaries have been more or less stagnant for decades, with much of the growth attributable to the few star professors in prestige fields who generate a great deal of grant money. (This is without even discussing the deplorable, flatly immoral treatment of adjuncts and contingent faculty, whose low pay and lack of benefits are to my mind the great moral failing of the American university system today.) The spending on dorms, gyms, and food courts in a stagnant economy is, well, insane. Administrative costs have absolutely skyrocketed, as universities stuff more and more deans, assistant deans, provosts, and all manner of directors and coordinators into their buildings. Athletics departments, despite reputations as money makers, are enormous financial drains on the system as a whole. And yet academic departments— you know, the purpose of a university— are on the chopping block. Why? I can’t help but think that a big contributor to this phenomenon is the continued perception that the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields are facing a shortage of graduates, and that the reason to cut other programs is because they fail to produce the kind of job opportunities these practical majors do. The problem is that there’s no STEM shortage. In fact, there’s evidence of a STEM surplus. I’ve been arguing this point for years, and have been seeing it get more and more traction culturally, and yet the idea endures. I don’t think I go a day without seeing the notion of a STEM or computer science or technology shortage asserted without evidence. The facts simply say otherwise. . . .

December 27, 2013

Judge rules that Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain

Time to dust off all your Sherlock fanfic and self-publish it up on Amazon. Sherlock Holmes Is in the Public Domain, American Judge Rules - NYTimes.com
In the more than 125 years since he first appeared, Sherlock Holmes has popped up everywhere from fan fiction set in outer space to screen adaptations like CBS’s “Elementary,” set in contemporary Manhattan. But now, following a legal ruling, the deerstalker-wearing detective is headed to another destination: the public domain. A federal judge has issued a declarative judgment stating that Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street, the dastardly Professor Moriarty and other elements included in the 50 Holmes works that Arthur Conan Doyle published before Jan. 1, 1923, are no longer covered by United States copyright law, and can therefore be freely used by others without paying any licensing fee to the writer’s estate. . . . Mr. Klinger and Ms. King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection. But in the complaint, Mr. Klinger said that the publisher of “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes,” Pegasus Books, had declined to go forward after receiving a letter from the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., a business entity organized in Britain, suggesting that the estate would prevent the new book from being sold by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and “similar retailers” unless it received another fee. Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, stated that elements introduced in Holmes stories published after 1923 — such as the fact that Watson played rugby for Blackheath, or had a second wife — remain under copyright in the United States. (All of the Holmes stories are already in the public domain in Britain.) But the judge rejected what he called the estate’s “novel legal argument” that the characters remain under copyright because, it claimed, they were not truly completed until Conan Doyle published his last Holmes story in 1927. “Klinger and the public may use the pre-1923 story elements without seeking a license,” the judge wrote. . . .

December 20, 2013

On Micro-agression and Macro-depression and Xmas/Xanukah (with bonus tracks!!!)

(This is a repost from my Snip, Burn, Solder Blog)...