A Revolting Suggestion from the DTH

In the wake of the Wainstein report (PDF) on the UNC academic/athletic scandal, UNC’s student newspaper published an editorial yesterday declaring that it’s time to make enrolling as full-time students optional for student-athletes:

Despite The Daily Tar Heel’s past resistance to big-time college athletics, we want to recognize that this University is in the business of fielding high-budget, high-revenue sports teams for institutional gain.

We see little wrong with this arrangement, per se, other than that it has yet to be formally acknowledged by the NCAA and its member institutions.

But it is precisely that disingenuous attitude toward the status quo that fails student-athletes. It is the unwillingness to fully face up to the obstacles they encounter in their attempts to complete a degree while essentially performing a full-time job and managing their celebrity. And it is the pretense that this is a reasonable demand upon those whose compensation is so compromised that provides incentive for fraud here and elsewhere.

The damaged link between academic achievement and athletic eligibility ought to be formally broken. Athletes recruited to this school as such should continue to be given the opportunity to pursue a degree, but they should not be compelled to do so.

This would not preclude students from seeking to excel academically on their own terms, but it would eliminate the need to cover up any existing deficiencies in primary and secondary education, which are only magnified in the face of demanding practice and travel schedules.

The editorial then goes on to say that this

puts more power in the hands of student-athletes to determine the terms upon which they are affiliated with this University and live their lives.

The intent may be noble, but the solution proposed in the editorial is an utterly vile notion under a veneer of rationality and empowerment. In essence, the editorial is saying that because UNC has failed to deliver the compensation it promised to some student-athletes (i.e., a good education), that it should just stop trying and leave it to the athletes to decide whether they want to pursue an education while they are in Chapel Hill. (more…)


Train Travel: If You Build It (Better), I’ll Come


Creative Commons Photo by Erich Fabricius


So the Washington Post recently did this thing where three travel writers set out from Washington D.C. for Raleigh via car, train, and plane to see 1) who would arrive first, 2) who would spend the least money on the trip, and 3) who would arrive with the least stress.

Their conclusions were not surprising:

… the plane is fastest, the car cheapest and the train the least stressful. … The friendly skies are made for: Goal-oriented travelers who just want to get there and hit the ground running or rich-as-Croesus travelers for whom money is no object. … Riding the rails is best for: laid-back travelers who think that the journey is half the fun and timid travelers who fear flying and don’t dare to drive. … You’ll drive if you’re: a control-freak traveler who wants to go when you want to go or a cheapskate traveler who hates to shell out more for transport than absolutely necessary.


I’m hardly a “control-freak traveler” who can’t tear himself away from his car. When I worked at UNC, I walked out to a bus stop every morning. Whenever we go on vacation, if we can avoid renting a car, we do, and we plan our vacation to take advantage of public transportation as much as possible, even if it means walking a little farther or waiting a little longer. But I definitely would not take the train to get from Raleigh to D.C. (more…)


A New Project: Romance of the Three Kingdoms Podcast

3kingdoms banner I’ve been up to something in the past month: A podcast retelling the story of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, considered one of the greatest works of Chinese literature. You can learn more about what I’m doing and why on that site, so I won’t repeat too much stuff here. Suffice it to say, I think that while the original Chinese novel is terrific, the English translations fall flat, partly because of the number of foreign and often similar-sounding names and seemingly dry accounts of battles. I’m trying to present the story in a more accessible and interesting way. I’ve got two episodes up so far, excluding the introduction, with a third on the way soon. Look for new episodes every ten days or so. Have a listen and let me know what you think. Thanks!


“It’s A Baby!” A Year Later

My baby girl is turning 1 soon, and it’s taken me a year to write down a few of my memories of her birth.


“Oh my God! It’s a baby!”

Courtney exclaimed with a mixture of shock, joy, pain, relief, delirium, and exhaustion as Annika slid out into the world.

It was 3:59 p.m., and after nine hours of labor and more cursing than I ever thought possible from her, Courtney had just given birth to our baby. She was physically spent, and we were both emotionally exhausted. Yet, the day had just begun.

Within seconds of her emergence, Annika was whisked to a nearby station to be cleaned, examined, and measured. There was no slapping of the baby’s rear like in so many movies. There didn’t need to be. She started crying as soon as the nurse siphoned the excess fluid out of her mouth. While the rest of the medical team tended to Courtney, I stood by the baby station, camera phone in hand, and kept repeating, “She’s beautiful.”

She was wet, slimy, and covered in mucus and blood.

“She’s beautiful.”

Her skin was wrinkled. Her head was warped like an alien. Her arms and legs were folded. Her feet were oversized and purple.

“She’s beautiful.”

One of the nurses informed Courtney that Annika had relieved herself on her way out.

“… She’s beautiful. …”

8604827021_f77ba2c727_b (more…)


Life with a Chromebook: Living in the Browser

chromebook_1050x350Last month, I got an Acer C720 Chromebook as a present. I had been looking to replace my old netbook for a while, and the idea of a Chromebook intrigued me. How well can I get by with a computer that essentially just runs a web browser?

As it turns out, pretty well. I’ve used the Chromebook a lot in the past month, and what really strikes me is how much of my personal daily computer usage occurs (or can occur) within a browser. Essentially the only times I’ve strayed beyond the browser is to use Adobe Creative Suite and to write code. Granted, those are not insignificant needs, and there is no Chrome app that can really take the place of those applications. Still, I would say about 85 to 90 percent of my computing activity is done from within a browser. It’s just that the other 10 percent is pretty important to my personal and professional work, and thus the Chromebook cannot eliminate the need for a second computer that runs a “real” operating system. Then again, I’m not looking for the Chromebook to do that. (more…)