Archive for January 10th, 2007

On the idea of a liberal university

January 10, 2007

Peter Berkowitz, starts his piece on liberal education in the latest Policy Review (via A&L Daily) on a rather provocative note:

An auto repair shop in which mechanics and owners could not distinguish a wreck from a finely tuned car would soon go out of business. A hospital where doctors, nurses, and administrators were unable to recognize a healthy human being would present a grave menace to the public health. A ship whose captain and crew lacked navigation skills and were ignorant of their destination would spell doom for the cargo and passengers entrusted to their care.

Yet at universities and colleges throughout the land, parents and students pay large sums of money for — and federal and state governments contribute sizeable tax exemptions to support — liberal education, despite administrators and faculty lacking a coherent idea about what constitutes an educated human being.

Why should we care?

In fact, universities can cause lasting harm. In many cases, the mental habits that students form and the ideas they absorb in college consolidate the framework through which as adults they interpret experience, assign weight to competing claims and values, and judge matters to be true or false and fair or inequitable. A university that fails to teach students sound mental habits and to acquaint them with enduring ideas handicaps its graduates for both public and private life.

Moreover, properly conceived, a liberal education provides invaluable benefits for students and the nation. For most students, it offers the last chance, perhaps until retirement, to read widely and deeply, to acquire knowledge of the opinions and events that formed them and the nation in which they live, and to study other peoples and cultures. And the nation benefits as well, because a liberal democracy presupposes an informed citizenry capable of distinguishing the public interest from private interest, evaluating consequences, and discerning the claims of justice and the opportunities for — and limits to — realizing it in politics.

Then, the article goes on to discuss Mill‘s idea of university, and that of Newman. Finally, there are some reforms suggested too! A rather lengthy article, but might be worth your while!

On nano-iron and arsenic poisoning

January 10, 2007

Prof D Balasubramanian, in a piece titled Nano-solution to a mega-problem, tells how

The use of nano-magnetite and a small magnet helps remove the arsenic quickly and efficiently.

Here is my earlier post on the issue with some relevant links. And, here is one of the co-authors of the work describing the collaboration that resulted in the Science paper.

On digital humanities

January 10, 2007

Philobiblon informs us of A companion to Digital Humanities. Take a look!

Recipe (and Rx) for winter colds

January 10, 2007

Maud Newton gives a recipe for spicy tomato soup as the Rx for winter cold:

Start making it the second you feel a cold or sore throat coming on.

If you are lazy like me, you might want to try my grandmother’s recipe; it works even for Chicago-an winter cold.

Take a pinch of turmeric powder and half a spoon of cane sugar in a cup; powder seven or eight dried black peppers and add it to the mix. Put 100 to 150 ml of milk and heat in the microwave oven for 90 seconds. Drink it as warm as you can take (either before going to bed, or, first thing in the morning). Works wonderfully!