Where’s My Oven Spring?

January 9th, 2012 by Chris

I haven’t been consistently blogging for a while now, and it’s time to get back on track. To start up the new year, I need to express a little recent frustration – I’ve been baking quite a bit (regular rustic loaves) and for some reason, I seem to have lost my mojo. Specifically, I’ve lost the ability to get a decent oven-spring, and my crusts are not as crunchy as I once was able to achieve on a regular basis. What in the world is going on? I’ve tried everything, as I outline below. Like my breads, I’m a bit deflated as of late.

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Happy New Year

January 1st, 2012 by Chris

Happy New Year, Everyone. My new year’s resolution is to get back to my blogging. It’s been a busy six months. I’m going to see if I can get this thing back on track!

Ethics Assessment

November 30th, 2011 by Chris

Anyone out there have any good information sources on assessing ethics in the classroom? If so, let me know!

Are the Chinese Heartless? Well, No…

October 27th, 2011 by Chris

A few days ago Andrew Sullivan had a post up about the recent terrible video taken in China of the small toddler who was hit by a car and left for dead in the middle of the street while passerby (many of them) did nothing, not lending a hand, and basically ignoring the horrible scene. Sullivan linked to a few explanations, one of which (George Conger’s) was that the Confucianism discourages a Samaratan ethic. This is an interesting topic (somewhat complicated, I think) but on the face, Conger is pretty much dead wrong. I wrote to Sullivan by email and he posted by response (I was the first “reader” of two commenting on the issue) today in a post, here. I’ll reproduce my reply below (I think my 15 min are now up).

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College as Philanthrophy

October 24th, 2011 by Chris

I read this piece a while back at the Chronicle and liked it – I came across it again tonight while looking for something else. It’s well worth the read!

Op-Ed Response to Kathleen Parker

October 8th, 2011 by Chris

This op-ed appears in the Springfield News-Leader in response to Kathleen Parker’s  national column from Oct 2, using ACTA studies and findings from _Academically Adrift_ to wag a finger at colleges for failing students.

Kathleen Parker argues that colleges are failing to teach basic skills (critical/complex reasoning, writing and communication). I agree that that these skills are essential, and share her concern that college students are not learning those skills at an acceptable level. Parker’s analysis of the problem (drawing on misleading studies by ACTA) is that schools lack quality general education curricula, and so should create them.

Parker is wrong – in many universities quality curricula already exist. She’s also wrong to think of a curriculum as a conveyor belt that transports students through appropriate subjects until basic skills have been passively assembled. In fact, this passive understanding of education actually helps to create the very problem she is so worried about.

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Brooks on Them Youngins

September 30th, 2011 by Chris

I’m not a big fan of David Brooks’ writing and/or thinking. Still, you have to give credit where credit is due, and he has a point in this piece on ethics in the modern world:

Mengzi on Human Desires

August 25th, 2011 by Chris

I was working ahead this morning, drawing up some notes for my Values Analysis (introduction to ethics) course. Reading through the very short  Mengzi 1B5, I found that I had a few questions about what Mengzi was saying about human desire that hadn’t occurred to me before. I’ll outline shortly what I’m thinking of below.

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Seed Culture FAIL

August 17th, 2011 by Chris

Okay, I’m getting a little frustrated. My last few breads weren’t too good. Heck, my very last bread that I made a day or two ago came out bad – and that’s my “go to” bread! I seem to be in a bread funk. If I were a gambler, people would say that I’m in a heavy “drawdown” period trying to dig my way out. Anyway, the bad bread luck continues. This latest sourdough bread requires a “seed culture” that takes four days to cultivate. Everything good for the first three days. Day four? No rise whatsoever, and it is supposed to triple in size. Now I have to start over. This is not good.

I don’t know who the bread gods are, but I have clearly angered them.

BBA #28: Pugliese

August 7th, 2011 by Chris

More croutons, dammit.

I don’ t know what the deal is lately, but I just can’t seem to fire up a decent loaf of bread. In this latest challenge, Pugliese, I was hoping to wind up with something good after last weeks bad Potato Rosemary Bread (which also wound up as croutons) experience.

No luck.

Oddly enough, I did get a bunch of good pictures of this bread (artificially staged with some cherries to get a nice color contrast).

It’s alright, I guess. I have the stuff I need to make salads tomorrow, now I have the croutons.

(Posts from fellow BBAers, such as Jim, are here)

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Hostage-Taking and the Debt

August 5th, 2011 by Chris

The debate on whether the Republicans’ debt-ceiling negotiations tactic amounted to “hostage-taking” or “economic terrorism” rages on. Eugene Volokh says that these are inappropriate tags for Republican behavior:

[W]hen we design institutions we might want to constrain some groups’ ability to get what they want by threatening to withhold their cooperation. Some might argue, for instance, that unions shouldn’t have various legal rights that make it easier for them to threaten strikes, and that employers should be freer to refuse to employ union members. Some might argue that various supermajority rules — whether the Senate filibuster, or even the possibility of divided government that stems from the separation of the executive and the legislative — give too many groups the ability to get too many concessions through threatening to withhold their cooperation. … But when people are exercising whatever existing legal and constitutional rights they have to withhold their cooperation, and to threaten to withhold their cooperation, I don’t think that labeling them “extortionists” or “hostage-takers” is a useful analogy.

Volokh here seems to lay stress on the legality of the tactic as the reason why “hostage-taking” is an inappropriate analogy. Point taken, but you have to admit that a very odd and destructive political turn has been taken here. One way to look at it is this: each side always complains that the other sides’ policies will “wreck the nation”. Each disagrees that their policies will have that effect, of course. This is typical and expected. In this case, however, one party threatened a consequence (if they didn’t get what they wanted) that they fully agreed would wreck the nation. That’s not standard operating political procedure. We’re in a new era.


August 4th, 2011 by Chris

I really love a great crouton. In fact, I can’t bear eating store bought croutons (well, there is one brand store crouton I’ll buy, but even this one is an empty shell compared to even a crappy homemade crouton).  In fact, 99% of store bought croutons taste offensive. So to those of you who love homemade croutons, a quick note: the Potato Rosemary Bread recipe from last week (which I panned) makes amazing croutons. Easily made: cut them up into the appropriate shapes, put them in a plastic tumbling bowl, add olive oil and a lot of garlic salt. Shake well, and then bake at 400 for 10 minutes or so, or until lightly browned. So good.

Chait on Tenure

August 3rd, 2011 by Chris

Every once in a while Chait makes a bone-headed claim. A good example of this happened today - he put up a quickie post criticizing Matt Damon’s claim (yes, that Matt Damon) that teachers are not motivated by career advancement, but rather by love of what they do. Chait says:

Damon argues that teachers love their jobs, and therefore that career incentives are irrelevant to their performance. Well, I love my job. I love it so much that if somebody handed me $10 million and I never had to work again, I’d still do it. Nevertheless, if I were guaranteed a fixed salary that was tied to my tenure, I would work a lot less hard than I do.

I’m not sure why Chait thinks his personal anecdotal admission here matters, but I would submit here that if his confession is true, Chait doesn’t love what he does, he enjoys what he does. That’s a big difference in this argument.

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