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Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Tonight on TDS, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX; and on TCR,  Richard Hersh, We're Losing Our Minds : Rethinking American Higher Education.
sausage grinder of snark

Jon's got:
Elon Musk (born June 28, 1971) is a South African born American engineer and entrepreneur best known for co-founding PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors. He is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity. Musk is best known for having created the first viable production electric car of the modern era (Tesla Roadster), for designing a private successor to the Space Shuttle (Falcon 9) and creating the world's largest Internet payment system (PayPal).
Wikipedia
His Crunchbase profile also points out that "Musk’s fortune is estimated at US$328 million."

This was in my email this morning:

Backing up the biosphere
After ten years in the business, private-spaceflight pioneer Elon Musk sets his sights on Mars.

The Californian space-technology company SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, celebrates its tenth birthday this year. The company's re-usable, unmanned Dragon spacecraft is due to make its second demonstration flight at the end of April, when it will visit the International Space Station. A version of Dragon that could carry seven astronauts is under development.

Elon Musk, SpaceX's chief executive and chief technology officer, talked to Nature about his plans for the company and his personal ambitions for space flight.

What motivated you to found SpaceX?

The next important step in the evolution of life is that mankind develops a space-based civilization, ultimately becoming a multi-planet species. I think that is incredibly important that humanity is out there exploring the Solar System, and that we have a self-sustaining base on Mars.

But we weren't really making progress in rocket technology, and the United States has no ability to send astronauts into Earth orbit, at least until our spacecraft comes online in a few years. That's a pretty negative trajectory, so I started SpaceX to try to reverse that trend.

It's important that we reinvigorate interest in space. The interest of the public has been lost in recent years, because we haven't been pushing the frontier of space flight, particularly human space flight. We need to do things that are exciting and push the boundaries of technology, and then we will get public interest again...

Do you see a space-faring civilization as a way of defending humanity against a catastrophe on Earth?

Absolutely. We would be backing up the biosphere. We wouldn't just be preserving humanity, we would be preserving much of life. It is certainly possible for some calamity to come along — as we see in the several major extinction events in the fossil record. Humanity has obviously developed the means of destroying itself, so I think we need planetary redundancy to protect against the unlikely possibility of natural or man-made Armageddon.

It is important that we take action now to make life multi-planetary, because this is really the first point in the 4-billion-year history of Earth that it has been possible. That window of possibility will hopefully be open for a long time, but it may only be open for a short time. That's why I think urgent action is required on making life multi-planetary...

Jon Gilbey, Nature.com

Several articles on this:
Elon Musk, who runs Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), may have two more hot initial public offerings coming down the pipe which are sure to get plenty of media coverage.  Anything with the name “solar” has been abysmal as far as a stock is concerned.  But what about the privatization of space now that NASA is out of the space launch game?

Musk is planning a sale of shares in SolarCity after additional clarity is made on
lease accounting.  The company leases roof-top solar panel systems and recent reports originally put the SolarCity IPO plans ahead of what Musk told Bloomberg in a recent interview.  Apparently not all lease accounting is the same.

Another interesting initial public offering could be the planned share sale of SpaceX, which is expected to have satellite launches to carry cargo to the International Space Station with a test launch currently slated for late this month.  Bloomberg noted a 2013 timeline for SpaceX...

I'd be more interested in that SolarCity thing. But I suppose it doesn't grab the headlines:

I've gotten to be a bit suspicious of education-related guests on the shows, but despite his involvement with [http://changeforlearning.com/... "comprehensive higher education consulting practice" Keeling & Associates (he's a Senior Consultant, the co-author of his book is Principal and Senior Executive Consultant of the place), Richard Hersh might not be full of, um, crap. The two of them are 2012 authors-in-residence at a site called Higher Ed Jobs:

If you can't quite read that, the blurb for their Feb 16 post is

The purpose of this blog is to shift the national conversation about higher education from a primary focus on the comparisons that make up magazine rankings to a serious discussion about the failure of colleges and universities to fulfill their core mission: higher learning.

Has potential, I think. The book is called We're Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education, and I didn't find all that much. One thoughtful customer review at Amazon, a couple mentions here & there, and a review at  Library Journal:

Keeling, Richard P. & Richard H. Hersh. We’re Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan. Dec. 2011. c.208p. ISBN 9780230339835. pap. $25. ED

Examples of a penchant for dumbing down abound in American schools, but educators have focused their concern on primary and secondary institutions. Keeling, who leads the New York City–based education consulting firm Keeling & Associates, and Hersh, former president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Trinity College, point out that “observations and anecdotal evidence of many faculty members and administrators in higher education” have shown current college students to be more intellectually and emotionally fragile than past generations. Many institutions are more concerned with “throughput,” with the number of degrees they award, than with whether they are earned. Citing numerous studies and research, often from the American Association of Colleges & Universities and the American Institutes for Research, Keeling and Hersh emphasize the intense motivation and commitment higher learning requires and argue that colleges must quit cheapening degrees by cutting corners and letting outside influences dictate how their institutions are managed.

VERDICT Keeling and Hersh clearly state why we’re “losing our minds” and what needs to be done to turn things around. Anyone who has a stake in higher education—that is, most of us—would do well to read their work and join in the discussion.—Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS

The publisher's blurb is kinda useless (Emergency! Losing our minds! Kids can't think these days!), but the site has some useful links. There's an excerpt, of course, a Q&A, and a post about their presentation at the Association of American Colleges and Universities 2012 Annual Meeting. Key:
 ...For Keeling and Hersh, among many points, the following are most important:

* An explicit, and intentional, emphasis on learning (and not “throughput”);

* A recognition that student learning is holistic: you cannot divide the cognitive, social, personal, or emotional aspects of a student’s learning;

* A focus on cumulative and collective learning; learning over time, across experiences; and intentionally organized learning. This does not happen in only two classes or through four extra-curricular activities, but rather as a part of an intentional structure of thought-out design;

* Learning needs to be coherent and integrated, and for this to happen, the work of integration must be co-determined by student and institution. It is not in the ability of (most) students to knit their higher education learning together into the needed level of coherence;

* Higher education curriculum must be challenging and rigorous, with high standards as a common practice;

* Students must be asked and expected to engage in far more learning outside of the class than is currently the case; and

*Students need to come into greater contact with full-time faculty, who are also engaged in advising and mentoring.

Better than the latest grade-school privatization shill.
Up this week:
THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART, Comedy Central

4/9: Tim Weiner (author – promoting book “Enemies: A History of the FBI”)
4/10: Elon Musk (CEO, SpaceX)
4/11: Ricky Gervais (actor & comedian – promoting “The Ricky Gervais Show” on HBO)
4/12: Esperanza Spalding (musician – promoting album “Radio Music Society”)

THE COLBERT REPORT, Comedy Central
Mo 4/9: Bob Lutz
Tu 4/10: Richard Hersh
We 4/11: Michelle Obama
Th 4/12: Ben Rattray




(listings and occasional links  via The Late Night TV Page, some links & more guest info available at thedailyshow.com/guests, colbertnewshub.com, and a judiciously-used google.com.)
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