Saturday Open Thread

Good Morning,Everyone :) Enjoy the weekend.

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12 Responses to Saturday Open Thread

  1. rikyrah says:

    The Ivy League Was Another Planet

    Ted McGrath


    Published: March 28, 2013
    IN 12th grade, my friend Ryan and I were finalists for the Silver State Scholars, a competition to identify the “Top 100” seniors in Nevada. The finalists were flown to Lake Tahoe for two days of interviews. On the plane, Ryan and I met a boy from Las Vegas. Looking to size up the competition, we asked what high school he went to. He said a name we didn’t recognize and added, “It’s a magnet school.” Ryan asked what a magnet school was, and spent the remaining hour incredulously demanding a detailed account of the young man’s educational history: his time abroad, his after-school robotics club, his tutors, his college prep courses.

    All educations, we realized then, are not created equal. For Ryan and me, of Pahrump, Nev., just an hour from the city, the Vegas boy was a citizen of a planet we would never visit. What we didn’t know was that there were other, more distant planets that we could not even see. And those planets couldn’t see us, either.

    A study released last week by researchers at Harvard and Stanford quantified what everyone in my hometown already knew: even the most talented rural poor kids don’t go to the nation’s best colleges. The vast majority, the study found, do not even try.

    For deans of admissions brainstorming what they can do to remedy this, might I suggest: anything.

    By the time they’re ready to apply to colleges, most kids from families like mine — poor, rural, no college grads in sight — know of and apply to only those few universities to which they’ve incidentally been exposed. Your J.V. basketball team goes to a clinic at University of Nevada, Las Vegas; you apply to U.N.L.V. Your Amtrak train rolls through San Luis Obispo, Calif.; you go to Cal Poly. I took a Greyhound bus to visit high school friends at the University of Nevada, Reno, and ended up at U.N.R. a year later, in 2003.

    If top colleges are looking for a more comprehensive tutorial in recruiting the talented rural poor, they might take a cue from one institution doing a truly stellar job: the military.

    I never saw a college rep at Pahrump Valley High, but the military made sure that a stream of alumni flooded back to our school in their uniforms and fresh flattops, urging their old chums to enlist. Those students who did even reasonably well on the Asvab (the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, for readers who went to schools where this test was not so exhaustively administered) were thoroughly hounded by recruiters.

    My school did its part, too: it devoted half a day’s class time to making sure every junior took the Asvab. The test was also free, unlike the ACT and SAT, which I had to choose between because I could afford only one registration fee. I chose the ACT and crossed off those colleges that asked for the SAT.

    To take the SAT II, I had to go to Las Vegas. My mother left work early one Friday to drive me to my aunt’s house there, so I could sleep over and be at the testing facility by 7:30 on Saturday morning. (Most of my friends didn’t have the luxury of an aunt in the city and instead set their alarms for 4:30.) When I cracked the test booklet, I realized that in registering for the exam with no guidance, I’d signed up for the wrong subject — Mathematics Level 2, though I’d barely made it out of algebra alive. Even if I had had the money to retake the test, I wouldn’t have had another ride to Vegas. So I struggled through it and said goodbye to those colleges that required the SAT II.

    But the most important thing the military did was walk kids and their families through the enlistment process.

    Most parents like mine, who had never gone to college, were either intimidated or oblivious (and sometimes outright hostile) to the intricacies of college admissions and financial aid. I had no idea what I was doing when I applied. Once, I’d heard a volleyball coach mention paying off her student loans, and this led me to assume that college was like a restaurant — you paid when you were done. When I realized I needed my mom’s and my stepfather’s income information and tax documents, they refused to give them to me. They were, I think, ashamed.

    Eventually, I just stole the documents and forged their signatures. (Like nearly every one of the dozen or so kids who went on to college from my class at P.V.H.S., I paid for it with the $10,000 Nevada Millennium Scholarship, financed by Nevada’s share of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.)

    Granted, there’s a good reason top colleges aren’t sending recruiters around the country to woo kids like me and Ryan (who, incidentally, got his B.S. at U.N.R. before going on to earn his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue and now holds a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship with the National Research Council). The Army needs every qualified candidate it can get, while competitive colleges have far more applicants than they can handle. But if these colleges are truly committed to diversity, they have to start paying attention to the rural poor.

    Until then, is it any wonder that students in Pahrump and throughout rural America are more likely to end up in Afghanistan than at N.Y.U.?

  2. rikyrah says:

    A Simple Way to Send Poor Kids to Top Colleges


    Published: March 29, 2013

    THE packages arrived by mail in October of the students’ senior year of high school. They consisted of brightly colored accordion folders containing about 75 sheets of paper. The sheets were filed with information about colleges: their admissions standards, graduation rates and financial aid policies.

    The students receiving the packages were mostly high-achieving, low-income students, and they were part of a randomized experiment. The researchers sending the packets were trying to determine whether most poor students did not attend selective colleges because they did not want to, or because they did not understand that they could.

    The results are now in, and they suggest that basic information can substantially increase the number of low-income students who apply to, attend and graduate from top colleges.

    Among a control group of low-income students with SAT scores good enough to attend top colleges — but who did not receive the information packets — only 30 percent gained admission to a college matching their academic qualifications. Among a similar group of students who did receive a packet, 54 percent gained admission, according to the researchers, Caroline M. Hoxby of Stanford and Sarah E. Turner of the University of Virginia.

    David Coleman, the president of the College Board, told me that he considered the results powerful enough to require changes at his organization, which conducts the SAT. “We can’t stand by as students, particularly low-income students, go off track and don’t pursue the opportunities they have earned,” Mr. Coleman said. The group may soon begin sending its own version of the experiment’s information.

    The experiment is part of a new wave of attention on the lack of socioeconomic diversity at top colleges. Mr. Coleman, who took over the College Board last fall, said his top priority was expanding opportunity. Another recent study, by Ms. Hoxby and Christopher Avery of Harvard, found that many low-income students had the high school grades and scores to thrive at the nation’s 238 most selective colleges, but never applied. And the Supreme Court may soon further restrict race-based affirmative action, putting pressure on colleges to try a class-based version instead.

    Together, these developments are creating a test of whether colleges mean what they say about meritocracy and diversity.

    University officials have long trumpeted economic diversity as a goal. A few colleges, including Harvard and especially Amherst, have in fact significantly increased their ranks of low-income students. But at most top colleges, the student body — while geographically, ethnically and religiously diverse — remains dominated by affluent students.

    The new research shows that large numbers of talented, well-prepared low-income teenagers exist. And many of them want to attend selective colleges, once they understand their options.

    Ms. Hoxby and Ms. Turner designed the 40,000 information packets they mailed — as well as follow-up material — as a low-cost, customized version of the college counseling that upper-income students take for granted. The packets explained application deadlines and student qualifications at a range of colleges. Students also received coupons to waive application fees — which had a particularly big effect. “We wanted students to find schools for themselves,” Ms. Hoxby said.

    Perhaps most important, the packets presented a series of tables making clear that college is often not as expensive as many students and parents fear. Selective colleges frequently cost less for low-income students than local colleges, because the selective ones have the resources to offer bigger scholarships.

    At the less-selective campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, for example, the average net annual cost for a year of tuition, room, board and fees in 2010-11 was almost $10,000 for families making less than $30,000, Ms. Turner said. At the flagship campus in Madison, by contrast, the equivalent net cost was $6,000. And at Harvard, such students paid only $1,300 a year.

  3. rikyrah says:

    So how’s the Senate map shaping up? Not great for Dems.

    Posted by Jonathan Bernstein on March 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    With the announcement on Tuesday of Senator Tim Johnson’s pending retirement, the playing field for Senate 2014 is becoming more clear — and more clearly tilting towards Republican gains.

    Still to be determined, however, is whether candidates — who are very important in deciding Senate contests — will once again bail out the Democrats. It’s also too soon to be able to guess at whether the political environment next fall will favor one party or the other.

    The Republican Party remains unpopular, and that seems to be a long term condition. But whether Barack Obama and the Democrats can benefit from that (as they have in three of the last four election cycles) or if they too are unpopular (as was the case in 2010) will depend on the politics and the events of the months to come. Since Senate election cycles outcomes are combinations of individual seat factors and national trends, that means we can’t make any real predictions this early. But we can begin to assess those individual seats.

    Democratic pickup opportunities:

    Almost nonexistent. The top three would be the open seat in Georgia, Mitch McConnell’s seat in Kentucky, and Susan Collins’s seat in Maine. In Georgia, Democrats depend on both recruiting a good candidate and having a Republican primary failure, with a very weak candidate emerging. That’s possible, making this the most likely pickup. McConnell isn’t the most popular politician, but Kentucky is trending Republican enough that it probably won’t imperil his chances. And Collins will likely escape (again) without a strong challenger.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Voter Suppression is Their Game

    by BooMan
    Sat Mar 30th, 2013 at 11:30:54 AM EST

    I am guessing that you can look up every bill related to voting introduced by a Republican in every legislature in the entire country and you will not find one bill that makes voting easier or that encourages more people to vote. All of the bills will be aimed at reducing early voting, making it harder to vote by absentee ballot, requiring identification that many people (non-drivers, students, married women, the elderly) do not have, or making it easier to challenge and discard provisional ballots. With the possible exception of active-duty military serving overseas, you will not see anyone benefitting from a Republican-sponsored voting bill.
    Their entire aim is to reduce the number of votes cast, and to do it in a way that assures that more Democratic votes will be lost than Republican. It’s that simple. It’s a version of cheating.

    Now, the Republicans and much of the press respond that this is just of flip side of the Democrats’ push for vote-by-mail, early voting, etc. But this is a representative democracy, and encouraging citizen participation is not the flip-side of discouraging citizen participation. They are not equally partisan exercises. One act is legitimate, and the other is illegitimate. One act helps people exercise their rights, and the other seeks to take away their rights.

    You can argue about the merits of any particular bill, but taken in their totality, the Republicans intent is clear. From sea to shining sea, they are trying to suppress the vote. You will not find any exceptions.

  5. rikyrah says:

    Black Unemployment Driven By White America’s Favors For Friends

    Posted: 03/29/2013 8:19 am EDT

    There’s a comforting-to-white-people fiction about racism and racial inequality in the United States today: They’re caused by a small, recalcitrant group who cling to their egregiously inaccurate beliefs in the moral, intellectual and economic superiority of white people.

    The reality: racism and racial inequality aren’t just supported by old ideas, unfounded group esteem or intentional efforts to mistreat others, said Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism. They’re also based on privilege, she said — how it is shared, how opportunities are hoarded and how most white Americans think their career and economic advantages have been entirely earned, not passed down or parceled out.

    The way that whites, often unconsciously, hoard and distribute advantage inside their almost all white networks of family and friends is one of the driving reasons that in February just 6.8 percent of white workers remained unemployed while 13.8 percent of black workers and 9.6 percent of Hispanic workers were unable to find jobs, DiTomaso said.

    This week, the professor of organization management at Rutgers University and her ideas have captured the attention of the business press. There was a blog about her book in The Wall Street Journal and a story in Bloomberg Businessweek. DiTomaso, who is white, has gathered evidence that racism and inequality actively shape the labor market and make it far harder for black workers to find jobs.

    “Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don’t interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise,” said DiTomaso about the 246 interviews with working-class and middle-class whites she did over the course of about a decade in Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. Her research included detailed job histories and information about the way her study participants obtained jobs over the course of their careers.

    “That was true for just about everybody unless they were still in college,” DiTomaso continued. “Others would allude to some college friend or experience. But since then, they had not had much contact with blacks. So how would they pass opportunities and information across race lines?”

    DiTomaso concludes, based on her research, that most white Americans engage, at least a few times per year, in the activities that foster inequality. While they may not deliberately discriminate against black and other non-white job seekers, they take actions that make it more likely that white people will be employed — without thinking that what they’re doing amounts to discrimination.

  6. rikyrah says:

    $600M Ponzi scheme incubated in small NC town
    By Mitch Weiss

    Authorities say a former nursing home magician was the mastermind of one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history, bilking a million investors and siphoning money for his personal use.

    LEXINGTON, N.C. — In the hardware store on South Main Street, the owner pulled Caron Myers aside to tell her about the best thing to happen in years to the once-thriving furniture and textile town of Lexington, N.C.

    Did she hear about the online company ZeekRewards? For a small investment, she could make a fortune. He had invested. So had his grandsons. And so were more and more people in Lexington, including doctors, lawyers and accountants.

    Skeptical at first, Myers drove a few blocks to the company’s one-story, red-brick office and spotted a line of people circling the building. She was sold, and plunked down several thousand dollars. But months later, Myers — like hundreds of thousands of others — discovered the truth: ZeekRewards was a scam.

    “I was duped,” Meyer said. “We trusted this man. The community is still in shock.”

    Authorities say owner Paul Burks was the mastermind of a $600 million Ponzi scheme — one of the biggest in U.S. history — that attracted 1 million investors, including nearly 50,000 in North Carolina. Many were recruited by friends and family in Lexington, a quintessential small town where neighbors look out for each other.

    But what investors didn’t know was that regulators had received nearly a dozen complaints about ZeekRewards and the related site, but failed to take action for months, leaving the company free to recruit tens of thousands of new victims.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission, which closed the operation Aug. 17, said Burks was selling securities without a license. The Ponzi scheme was using money from new investors to pay the earlier ones.

    Burks has agreed to pay a $4 million penalty and cooperate with a federal court-appointed receiver trying to recover hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Investigators say Burks, a former nursing home magician, siphoned millions for his personal use. But he has not been charged.

    In his first public comments, Burks told The Associated Press he couldn’t discuss details because of lawsuits by victims trying to recoup money.

    “Everything will come out in time,” said Burks, 66, standing in the doorway of his home.

    Asked if he had anything to say to victims, he shook his head.

    “I never told anyone to invest more money than they could afford,” Burks snapped. “I didn’t tell them to do that. Never.”

    He said if they lost money, “it’s their fault. Not mine. Don’t blame me.”

    But Cal Cunningham, a former prosecutor representing investors in a lawsuit, slammed Burks — and regulators for taking so long to act.

    “It’s why we need a full hearing on what happened in a court of law — whether that be our civil case or a criminal proceeding. A lot of people were hurt,” he said.

  7. rikyrah says:


    Are you feeling better?

    • Hi Rikyrah! I still have the sneezing & coughing. I hope the medication kicks in soon. I’m hoping my kids fire up the grill tomorrow. Right now I have no energy to get in the kitchen to cook a huge dinner.

      Hope you, Peanut, and your family have a Happy Easter!

  8. Roland Martin Criticizes ‘White Male’ CNN Executives

    CNN contributor and TV One host Roland Martin–who is leaving the channel after a number of years as a contributor–unleashed some criticism at his soon-to-be-former bosses on HuffPost Live today.

    Martin told Marc Lamont Hill that when he joined CNN he intended to get his own show at some point. He noted that whenever he would guest host hours, the ratings would hold up. Instead, he now finds himself walking out the door at the channel.

    “You have largely white male executives who are not necessarily enamored with the idea of having strong, confident minorities who say, ‘you know, I can do this. I am simply saying ‘give folks a shot,” Martin said. “We deliver, but we never get the big piece, the larger salary, to be able to get from here to there.”

  9. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

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