Weekend Reading: Late April Edition

It’s hard to believe that April is almost over. I know that some campuses still have weeks to go until the academic term is over, but on my campus we start final exams next week (!). Without further ado, here are 5 interesting reads to get you through your weekend:

  • "America’s Great Divergence," by Alana Semuels in The Atlantic: "Half a century ago, economic opportunity and upward mobility were available to many white Americans, regardless of where they lived and what kind of education they had. They could graduate from high school and find a job at a local factory and make a good wage, or graduate from college and sit behind a desk and make a slightly better wage. About 90 percent of kids born in the 1940s earned more than their parents did. But beginning in the 1980s, the returns on a college education started growing, and more of the benefits of economic growth started accruing to only those with an education, as those without an education saw their opportunities shrink."

  • "Vanlife, The Bohemian Social-Media Movement," by Rachel Monroe in the New Yorker: "Like the best marketing terms, ‘vanlife’ is both highly specific and expansive. It’s a one-word life-style signifier that has come to evoke a number of contemporary trends: a renewed interest in the American road trip, a culture of hippie-inflected outdoorsiness, and a life free from the tyranny of a nine-to-five office job … [V]anlife, as a concept and as a self-defined community, is primarily a social-media phenomenon. Attaching a name (and a hashtag) to the phenomenon has also enabled people who would otherwise just be rootless wanderers to make their travels into a kind of product."

  • "How Many Startups Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb," by Joseph Bernstein in Buzzfeed: "Throughout the relatively short history of electric light, most improvements have been aimed at making light bulbs last longer or use less energy. Ketra is selling something different than dull efficiency: light as an object of beauty, light as a perk … What Ketra is selling is the idea that it can make your life better by giving you more control over how it is lit, in really minute detail — that electric light has contributed to making us unhealthier, and that electric light will make us healthy again."

  • "Nobody is Normal," by Jonathan Sholl in Aeon: "In any parlance, the specific meaning of ‘normal’ has important consequences, especially if it is given a privileged position in the world. Anything that veers … would be abnormal in one sense or another: uncommon, rare, atypical, potentially inadequate, suboptimal or deficient in some way – and in need of being brought back to some norm. Yet, it could be controversial, or just plain odd, to pathologise such variations; especially if they are functional in some way."

  • "Will You Graduate? Ask Big Data," by Joseph B. Treaster in The New York Times: "A little less than half of the nation’s students graduate in four years; given two more years to get the job done, the percentage rises to only about 60 percent. That’s no small concern for families shouldering the additional tuition or student debt (an average of more than $28,000 on graduation, according to a 2016 College Board report). Students who drop out are in even worse shape. Such outcomes have led parents and politicians to demand colleges do better. Big data is one experiment in how to do that."

And this week’s video comes from the Instagram account of Biggy Pop, the parrot companion of Iggy Pop, who turns 70 today:

“Norman Harvey Connected Home Showhouse [Ideal Home Show 17th - 19th April 2015] -103593″ by infomatique is licensed under CC BY-SA

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