On this day in 1933, Cormac McCarthy was born. The great American novelist moved around a lot, and served in the Air Force for four years. After returning to the University of Tennessee in 1957, he was awarded an Ingram-Merrill Award for creative writing. He has published ten novels and has an eleventh on the way.
Sure, everyone sympathizes with Odysseus, the man who got dragged off to fight a ten-year war and then had to face a journey home so filled with obstacles it took another ten years to make it back. That’s rough.
Except you know what’s rougher? Being one of Odysseus’s crewmen. If you’re a crewman in The Odyssey, you don’t get a book written about you, you probably don’t get a name, and you have an 81.2% chance of being eaten.
Check out how this epic poem’s men met their epic demises.
Congratulations high schoolers! Another school year is over and summer has just begun! While we’re certain that you’re all out to have a good time and unwind, the summer is also an opportune time to start thinking about next steps, and it’s likely that a good number of your summer vacations revolve around touring college campuses. Do you know where life will take you after high school, and what might be the right college for you? If the answer to that question still eludes you, we know a great resource to help you figure it all out.
Imagine if there was one simple infographic that pointed you to the exact college for you: one in the right state, that offers the right major, and comes at a great price. Choosing the right campus would be a breeze, right? Well, you’re in luck! Because Affordable Colleges Online is just that:
Did you ever suspect the runaway best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey was written by robots? Well, somebody check E.L. James for vital signs because she might actually be an algorithm. Check this out:
Surely a human being would die of boredom before biting a lip in print forty-three times in one novel.
Actually, I’m skewing things a bit. But it is true that “[s]cientists have developed an algorithm which can analyse a book and predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether or not it will be a commercial success.” (Source)
By downloading books in public domain from Project Gutenberg , scientists from Stony Brook University in New York developed a program called “statistical stylometry, which mathematically examines the use of words and grammar” to determine the popularity of a book, matching the programs results to the sales of works from the past. The experiment involved a wide range of literary styles, from science fiction, to novels, to poetry. Factors in determining sales and popularity included the “style” of writing as well as novelty in plot and character (they do acknowledge that “luck” plays a role as well.)
The program accurately predicted success, or failure, of those works an astonishing 84% of the time.
So what factors seemed to indicate, in a more concrete way, what you should do to increase your odds of becoming a best-selling writer?
On Sunday, November 3, PBS turned forty-four years old. Wow. That’s a lot of numbers. I’d have to count with this vintage piece from Sesame Street a bunch of times to count THAT high!
PBS’s mission, from the beginning, has been to “inform and inspire the diversity reflected in the American audience.” Astonishingly, even with the plethora of choices in broadcasting today, 90% of households watch PBS annually.
There are many reasons to continue to love and support your local PBS station. Its news programming has “been named the most trustworthy institution among nationally known organizations, for ten consecutive years.”
How about Masterpiece Theater, which just celebrated its fortieth birthday and is enjoying wild success with its hit show Downton Abbey? Here’s a preview of Season 4, which premieres on December 17, 2013…
I was listening to The Diane Rehm Show on my commute to go teach my classes this morning. Diane’s guests were Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institue, Nina Marks of Collegiate Directions Inc, and Robert Lerman, professor of economics at American University.
I wasn’t surprised that the answer to the question, “Should everyone go to college?” seemed to be a qualified no. I have been a community college professor for more than a decade. Please don’t misunderstand. I believe anyone who wants an education should pursue one. But I also see many incredibly gifted students who have skills that they are actively discouraged from mastering because they are supposed to have a Bachelor’s degree. I see young people who have no real interest or desire to stay in school another four years who are miserable and many who are racking up debt when they could be doing something they enjoy, avoiding debt, and making money.
The reasons many students embark on a college career is that society expects them to do so. High schools now are heavily invested in Advanced Placement classes; this push to be “college ready” actually begins in middle school, where Pre-AP classes are not the exception, but the rule. Gone, for the most part, are offerings that used to be alternatives in high school electives, like shop classes. One of Diane’s guests remarked that kids go to college because they have no idea what else to do. They know simply having a high school diploma is not enough so they enroll in community colleges or universities, with no clear idea why or what they truly want to do with their lives.
Of course, not being sure about one’s career path in their late teens or early 20s is not unusual, but some students never settle on a true choice and a fair percentage drop out by their junior year. Now they have little to show for their efforts (“some college” doesn’t say much to a potential employer) and most have debt to boot. Ironically, trades in this country, like welders, mechanics, and plumbers, are sorely lacking skilled people yet we continue to insist that everyone go to college.
So why do so many still go? Statistics like this are indeed compelling:
Well, because most kids haven’t taken statistics yet, they are blinded by that number at the end. But what they miss is that key, determining word… “AVERAGE.” Many of us, (and I have far more than a BA), earn FAR LESS. Three factors, studies show, greatly affect on what end of that average you will be: school selectivity, college major, and graduation rate.
If you do decide to go to college, considering what to major in ought to be a part of your process. For me, I love literature and writing and I wholeheartedly pursued advanced degrees in those fields. But now… well, I do not regret for a minute what I learned BUT I do wish I had pursued something with higher earnings potential that would allow me more free time to indulge my passion rather than being dependent on it. Ya feel me?
So take a look at this, The Cold Hard Facts.
I wonder if it’s too late for me to become a plumber. I’ve got the perfect pair of pants…