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May 2006

I think that parents have less control over how their children turn out than is generally believed (hoped?). But there's no doubt parents do have some influence. Sofia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, tells a lovely little story:

Now, looking back at all the time spent on her father's sets, including the Philippine staging ground for "Apocalypse Now," it seems to Sofia Coppola that "we were always, like, in training for film. I remember him talking to me about screenwriting when I was a little kid, telling me what made a good second act. Who talks to a 12-year-old girl like that?"

One father did, and one daughter remembered. 

It's official: after years of arduous research, scientists have determined that the Egg Came First. (Pause for the folks at Fark to quip, "Still no cure for cancer.")

Of course, I have the privilege of having a colleague who discovered this nearly twenty years ago. See Walter N. Thurman and Mark E. Fisher, "Chickens, Eggs, and Causality, or Which Came First?" American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 70(2), May 1988, 237-38.

Four articles on the institutions that some people are pleased to call "higher" education.

A former dean at Harvard defends grade inflation(!) but argues that Harvard is run like "a day care center for college students". (Link via Fark.)

The LA Times offers supporting anecdotes:

This is cramming for final exams? Free massages, movie screenings and shuttle service to doughnut shops?

Increasingly, colleges are replacing burnt coffee and sleep deprivation with cushy programs to ease the stress of finals week.

Richard K. Vedder has raised a couple hundred thou to further study why college costs so much. (Shuttle service to doughnut shops?)

Finally, one encouraging article, an article about UMBC's Meyerhoff Scholars program and about the possibility of getting American students to enjoy studying science.

New York Times columnist David Brooks hits the target spectacularly well:

The members of the [Duke] lacrosse team were male, mostly white and mostly members of the suburban bourgeois middle class (39 of 54 recent graduates went on to careers in finance). For many on the tenured left, bashing people like that is all that's left of their once-great activism.