Online Writing Courses at Stanford (Spring)

Quick fyi: Start­ing Mon­day, you can sign up for online writ­ing cours­es at Stan­ford. (See list below.) Offered by Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies and the Stan­ford Cre­ative Writ­ing Pro­gram (one of the most dis­tin­guished writ­ing pro­grams in the coun­try), these online cours­es give begin­ning and advanced writ­ers, no mat­ter where they live, the chance to refine their craft with gift­ed writ­ing instruc­tors and smart peers. Just to be clear, the cours­es are not free, and they will start the first week of April. For more infor­ma­tion, click here, or sep­a­rate­ly check out the FAQ.

(Full dis­clo­sure: I helped set up these cours­es and think they’re a great edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty. But nonethe­less take my opin­ion with a grain of salt.)

Spring Cours­es:

By the way, if you live in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area and want to keep the mind engaged, give some thought to Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies. Our full spring cat­a­logue is here.

Free Books from HarperCollins

As dis­cussed in this NY Times arti­cle, Harper­Collins has made a few of its books avail­able online for free. You can read them from start to fin­ish in dig­i­tal for­mat. But you can’t down­load them, and they’ll only be avail­able for a few more weeks. (Pre­sum­ably new books will be made avail­able in the future.) Here’s what you’ll cur­rent­ly find.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

For more free books, see our Audio­book Pod­cast Col­lec­tion and 45 Free Cut­ting-Edge Books … Cour­tesy of Cre­ative Com­mons

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An Animated History of Evil

This ani­mat­ed mock­u­men­tary traces the his­to­ry of evil from Ancient Greece until today. It’s been get­ting some play on the inter­net this week. And, if any­thing, you have to give it points for cre­ativ­i­ty. We’ve added it to our YouTube Playlist.

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Paul McCartney Goes Classical

Sir Paul talks about his clas­si­cal album “Ecce Cor Meum” (Behold My Heart). It was per­formed live at Roy­al Albert Hall, and it’s now being released on DVD.

via The New York­er’s Goings On blog

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Lawrence Lessig’s Last Speech on Free Culture (Watch it)

Below we have post­ed the last lec­ture that Lawrence Lessig will ever present on Free Cul­ture. It’s an area where he has spent the past decade work­ing, and this talk offers an excel­lent intro­duc­tion to Lessig’s thought and work on this issue. Giv­en at Stan­ford on Jan­u­ary 31, the pre­sen­ta­tion is one that Steve Jobs could appre­ci­ate. Very well done. So give it a watch below (or here). Also, if you’d like to get free dig­i­tal copies of Lessig’s major writ­ings on Free Cul­ture, look here.

As for what Lessig plans to do next. He has talked about com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion in Wash­ing­ton (some­thing he talks about here). That’s part of the plan, but he may do it by run­ning for Con­gress. Read this arti­cle in the Wall Street Jour­nal and check out the new site: Lessig08.com

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A Nation of Dunces Revisted: Video + Podcast

Here’s a quick fol­low up to our post on Susan Jacoby’s new book, The Age of Amer­i­can Unrea­son.  Since the orig­i­nal post, we have pulled togeth­er some media fea­tur­ing Jaco­by and her views on Amer­i­ca’s drift toward anti-intel­lec­tu­al­ism.

First, you can watch her recent inter­view with Bill Moy­ers: VideoMp3iTunesFeed.

Next, lis­ten to this radio pro­gram — “Anti-Intel­lec­tu­al­ism in the US” — that fea­tures Jaco­by and a pan­el of thinkers: Mp3iTunesFeedWeb site.

The Dearth of Conservative Professors Explained

Lib­er­als out­num­ber con­ser­v­a­tives in the acad­e­my. That’s a known fact. What explains this diver­gence? Some have attrib­uted it to lib­er­als cre­at­ing a hos­tile envi­ron­ment for con­ser­v­a­tives. But new research calls that view into ques­tion and offers an intrigu­ing alter­na­tive expla­na­tion.

As described in The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion, Matthew Woess­ner (a con­ser­v­a­tive aca­d­e­m­ic) and April Kel­ly-Woess­ner (a lib­er­al aca­d­e­m­ic) looked at sur­veys com­plet­ed by 15,569 col­lege seniors, and what an analy­sis of the data sug­gests is that “the per­son­al pri­or­i­ties of those on the left are more com­pat­i­ble with pur­su­ing a Ph.D.” “Lib­er­al­ism is more close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with a desire for excite­ment, an inter­est in cre­ative out­lets, and an aver­sion to a struc­tured work envi­ron­ment. Con­ser­v­a­tives express greater inter­est in finan­cial suc­cess and stronger desires to raise fam­i­lies. From this per­spec­tive, the ide­o­log­i­cal imbal­ance that per­me­ates much of acad­e­mia may be some­what intractable.” Or, put dif­fer­ent­ly, this imbal­ance may not be going away any time soon.

To delve fur­ther into their research, you can read their report online here.

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A Nation of Dunces?

There is a lot of pub­lic­i­ty this week around Susan Jacoby’s new book, The Age of Amer­i­can Unrea­son. The new work fits into the tra­di­tion of Richard Hof­s­tadter’s 1963 clas­sic, Anti-Intel­lec­tu­al­ism in Amer­i­can Life. And it seem­ing­ly moves in the same orbit as Al Gore’s The Assault on Rea­son (2007). The upshot of Jacoby’s argu­ment is that “Amer­i­cans are in seri­ous intel­lec­tu­al trou­ble — in dan­ger of los­ing our hard-won cul­tur­al cap­i­tal to a vir­u­lent mix­ture of anti-intel­lec­tu­al­ism, anti-ratio­nal­ism and low expec­ta­tions.” As she goes on to say in this op-ed appear­ing in The Wash­ing­ton Post, we’re now liv­ing in a moment when Amer­i­cans are read­ing few­er books than ever, and they know stag­ger­ing­ly lit­tle about the world: Only 23 per­cent of Amer­i­cans with some col­lege edu­ca­tion can iden­ti­fy Iraq, Iran, Sau­di Ara­bia and Israel on a map, even though the US has a tremen­dous amount at stake there. (Source: NY Times book review.) And one fifth of Amer­i­can adults think that the sun revolves around the Earth. This is all pret­ty bad. But what makes mat­ters worse is the “alarm­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans who have smug­ly con­clud­ed that they do not need to know such things in the first place.” Igno­rance has some­how strange­ly gone from vice to virtue.

What are the solu­tions? I guess you’ll have to get the book, or get mil­lions of your friends to read Open Cul­ture (wink).

UPDATE: You can catch Bill Moy­ers’ inter­view with Susan Jaco­by here: videomp3iTunesfeed. This will let you take a clos­er look at Jacoby’s argu­ment. Thanks Muriel for the tip!

Relat­ed Piece:

Amer­i­ca’s Philoso­pher Pres­i­dent

Ideas & Cul­ture Pod­cast Col­lec­tion

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.