Monday, April 28, 2008

Done enough referee reports for a lifetime

Much as I would like to do a review of this paper, my schedule looking ahead for as much as a year is just too crowded. Maybe next time!!
--A University of Chicago economics professor emeritus in his 80s turning down a Journal of Political Economy referee report request. In other words, "Don't bother me with referee reports for the rest of my life!"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Harder than hard core

It is 10:30 p.m. and students at the elite Daewon prep school here are cramming in a study hall that ends a 15-hour school day. A window is propped open so the evening chill can keep them awake. One teenager studies standing upright at his desk to keep from dozing. ...

This spring, as in previous years, all but a few of the 133 graduates from Daewon Foreign Language High School who applied to selective American universities won admission. ...

Daewon has one major Korean rival, the Minjok Leadership Academy, three hours’ drive east of Seoul, which also has a spectacular record of admission to Ivy League colleges. ...

Both schools appear to be rethinking their grueling regimen, at least a bit. Minjok, a boarding school, has turned off dormitory surveillance cameras previously used to ensure that students do not doze in late-night study sessions. ...

Both schools suppress teenage romance as a waste of time.

“What are you doing holding hands?” a Daewon administrator scolded one adolescent couple recently, according to his aides. “You should be studying!”

Students do not seem to complain. Park Yeshong, one of Kim Hyun-kyung’s classmates, said attractions tended to fade as students gritted their way through hundreds of hours of close-quarters study. “We know each other too well to fall in love,” Ms. Park said. Many American educators would kill to have such disciplined pupils. ...

Some 103,000 Korean students study at American schools of all levels, more than from any other country, according to American government statistics. In higher education, only India and China, with populations more than 20 times as large, send more students than South Korea.

“Preparing to get to the best American universities has become something of a national obsession in Korea,” said Alexander Vershbow, the American ambassador to South Korea. ...

The schedule at the Minjok academy, on a rural campus of tile-roofed buildings in forested hills, appears even more daunting. Students rise at 6 for martial arts, and thereafter, wearing full-sleeved, gray-and-black robes, plunge into a day of relentless study that ends just before midnight, when they may sleep.

But most keep cramming until 2 a.m., when dorm lights are switched off, said Gang Min-ho, a senior. Even then some students turn on lanterns and keep going, Mr. Gang said. “Basically we lead very tired lives,” he said. ...

A banner once hung on a Minjok building. “This school is a paradise for those who want to study and a hell for those who do not,” it read. But it was taken down after faculty members deemed it too harsh, said Son Eun-ju, director of counseling.
--Sam Dillon, NYT, on Korean academic obsessions gone amok

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Better than the real thing

Isn’t it amazing how many additives it takes to make something taste natural?
--Gary Reineccius, Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, on Pinkberry's faux-natural flavor

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Scientist's Prayer

Lord, grant that my work increase knowledge and help other men.

Failing that, Lord, grant that it will not lead to man’s destruction.

Failing that, Lord, grant that my article in Brain be published before the destruction takes place.

--The Scientist's Prayer, from Walker Percy's "Love in the Ruins"

Friday, April 11, 2008

Men love to aim and shoot things

Let’s say you want men to stop accidentally peeing on the floor instead of in urinals in an airport bathroom. (Dubner is fascinated with airport bathrooms, so I’m sure he could think of some incentive schemes.) Or maybe someone could invent a new urinal. The choice architects have an easier solution: paint a fly in the urinal. It turns out with something to aim at, “spillage” is reduced 80 percent.
--Steve Levitt, Freakonomics blog, on a great idea from the new book Nudge

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A common fate

The world is a tough place. You’re never going to get out of it alive.
--Charlton Heston, 1924-2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Differences in perspective

Asked about the adequacy of the price paid to Bear Stearns, [Bear Stearns CEO] Mr. Schwartz said he had no alternative.

“All the leverage went out the window when we were told we had to have a deal done by the end of the weekend,” he said.

James Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, offered a slightly different view on the question.

“Buying a house,” he said, “is not the same as buying a house on fire.”
--Stephen Labaton, NYT, on the view on fire sales from both sides