Quickies: How are all those college openings going?
... and my attempt to decolonize language around a teeny elephant shrew
It’s only the middle of August, but due to extenuating circumstances, many colleges are starting their fall semesters early! Let’s check in on how that’s going…
- After one week, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill reversed course and moved to virtual learning. An editorial in their student newspaper points out that they all saw it coming.
- Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote-only learning, citing that “most infections are coming from off-campus gatherings.” They’ve cancelled football practice so you KNOW it’s serious.
- Meanwhile, a Penn State party video goes viral, showing large crowds outside the residence halls.
- The northern part of my own state which is nearly virus-free is bracing for the return of Dartmouth students who are being told that their off-campus travel will be restricted to a small area… the very same area… that is worried… about… the influx.
- One small liberal arts college is employing an app for contact tracing. It’s required of all the students. It tracks and records your every move. Oh, and it had a MAJOR data leak.
To sum it up, colleges in 17 states have reported outbreaks, and party scenes are taking the blame. But really, no one should be surprised. I fear that too many administrators are not aware of the concept of emerging adulthood, where the brain is still developing up through age 25. And perhaps forgot what it was like to BE 20 on a college campus. However, I shouldn’t put them all in the same boat. After all, hundreds of colleges cancelled their on-campus plans which, even if it is the right decision from a health perspective, puts their institution’s future at risk thanks to a whole HOST of ills that have led to this moment.
Phew. Okay, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Education can still thrive, after all, in a virtual environment.
- Professors have gotten excellent advice on how to make their Zoom presence more authentic. The mostly empty coffee cups and random empty electronics boxes really make it sing.
- Get your physics-jam on with a diss track that had me snorting with laughter.
- And… in all seriousness, I’m very excited to see a constellation book for kids coming out, authored by one of my very favorite people, astronomer and professor Dr. Kelsey Johnson! She was the founder of Dark Skies Bright Kids, an astronomy after school club for elementary school kids in rural Virginia and one of my most formative outreach experiences.
And now for Cute Animal Friday, with submissions by Muscadine:
- Because this IS 2020, Australians have to beware of getting attacked in the face even more regularly by swooping magpies as facemasks may confuse the bird. WTF, Australia?!
- Okay… now for something more pleasant… Rosie The Rescue Cat And her best pal, Lilo The Dog, go kayaking!
- A rare “white” killer whale is spotted in the wild from a research vessel.
- Speaking of hide-and-seek, local naturalists in Djibouti lead a team of researchers to the Somali sengi, a species of elephant shrew that hasn’t been tracked in 50 years, leading to the creation of a new genus from DNA analysis. As usual, I dislike the title and framing of this article, since I think the real story here is the fruitful collaboration between local naturalists and foreign scientists, not a “re-discovery”… but this critter was so cute, it had to be the featured animal.
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