Top 10 things to listen while beach walking and you don’t have a great audiobook* This is the summer of Swell.

Saltaire 7.3I usually listen to audiobooks while walking in solitary happiness on the beaches of Fire Island.  Look — i took this picture this morning, isn’t it beautiful?  

So far this summer, I’ve finished Emma, Decode, and The Fault in Our Stars.  (Go ahead, analyze me.)  But I needed a break after that remarkable trio.

If you don’t know Swell, download it right now:  Swell is a terrific app that curates podcasts remarkably well.  After asking some basic questions about your interests, the app takes note of how long you listened to a given piece, much smarter than relying on your thumbs-up-thumbs-down judgment, which I rarely bother to do.

Swell already knows that I’m interested in tech, news and politics, science and medicine, society and culture.  (Apparently, Swell has determined that I’m not at all interested in kids and family, but please don’t tell that to my new grandson.  Then again, you already know I’m walking in solitary splendor on the beach!)

I’ve been a Swell listener for a while, but only in those rare times when I’m driving. This was a new test:  could it work well with my favorite walk of all?

Yup, it was great.  I started out with NPR news, just to be responsible, but then moved on to an interesting piece from Scientific American on how pain is felt differently in different parts of the body, clicked past Fareed Zakaria on the debacle in Iraq (not an isolationist but I already had my daily fill of Middle East anguish), and something else dubious on the “Walkable Neighborhood Health” before I settled in with a long and delightful Alec Baldwin interview of Jerry Seinfeld that took me most of the way to Ocean Beach.

Got to know them both much better.  Who knew that Alec Baldwin was so needy?  Seinfeld played him mercilessly.  And who knew that Seinfeld starts the morning by slapping water on his face, a la Jackie Gleason in the Hustler.  Three times?  Five times?  Baldwin really wanted to know the right number of slaps.

The last long wonderful segment was by Sasha Weiss of  (I used to know a Sasha Weiss in Saltaire, hmm.)  As a result, I’ll definitely be seeing the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney (Peter Schjeldahl) and watching Orange is the New Black (Emily Nussbaum) and sampling Brian Eno’s new album (Sasha Frere-Jones).  Also discovered that I was one of those reactionaries who liked the “old” Talking Heads, and in fact, I’d argue that when you look at David Byrne’s new work, especially Here Lives Love at the Public Theatre, it’s clear where the real genius was….but I digress. 

I could have gathered up all of these podcasts myself, of course.  But I hadn’t, and I won’t.  So Swell is my new best audio friend…at least until someone recommends my next irresistible audiobook.  

*I won’t pretend these are my real top beachwalking 10 — that would take too much serious dedication to cull the finest, but here goes some of the summer reads that left a deep mark in the sand:  The Odyssey, Middlemarch, Anna Karenina, St. Vita’s Society, Dragon Tattoo (any of them!), Harry Potter by Jim Dale (any of them!), Ready Player One, Endymion, Pallisers (any of them!), American Pastoral.


On Quality, Quantity, and Cost in #Higher Education

diploma sky


You expect to pay less today for a computer than you did ten years ago.  But universities are more like media companies than computer manufacturers, so imagine if universities were subject to the same disruptive market forces as, let’s say, newspapers, what would things looks like?

The Economist has three terrific articles on higher ed this week.  On the newspaper analogy:

“Were the market for higher education to perform in future as that for newspapers has done over the past decade or two, universities’ revenues would fall by more than half, employment in the industry would drop by nearly 30% and more than 700 institutions would shut their doors.”

Just because this hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future.  

Interesting too to read about the higher ed market in Brazil — which is 75% for-profit institutions.  

The quote of the day:

“Quality [in education] is easy,” says Rodrigo Galindo, Kroton’s energetic young boss. “And so is quantity. What’s difficult is combining the two.” Kroton is a highly successful for-profit in Brazil.

I’m also glad to see the Economist expending some words and ideas in favor of MOOCs.  The education pundit trail went predictably from MOOCS as “savior of higher ed” to “ridiculous and a failure” when MOOCs were and are surely a permanent part of the future mix of higher ed.


Speaking of giants: Congrats, Macaulay Class of 2014 graduation!

AK commencement 2014

To the Macaulay Honors College, Class of 2014 -- Do you remember the first time we met, back in 2010? Under a certain giant whale? Right from the start, I knew you were something special. But I’d almost forgotten about that welcome reception at … [Continue reading]

Attention college students: if you want to know what to do RIGHT NOW to unlock the secrets of a successful future, click here. #highered

Today's release of the Gallup/Purdue Index is mind-blowing in its findings -- and yet they are all intuitively obvious.  All college applicants should be thinking about this, as they go about the process of selecting a college.  All college … [Continue reading]

The Confidence Gap: check this out.

A review of personnel records at Hewlett-Packard found that women applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of … [Continue reading]

Two ends of my holiday table. #Passover

Dylan meets Bubbe

Two ends of my holiday table:  one spans nine decades, the other is approaching just nine weeks. These are the new guests at my Passover celebration tonight:  my new grandbaby and my parents, now 90 and 92.     We took note of the … [Continue reading]

Ding, dong, the #SAT is…not quite dead. My 2 cents on where College Board and Coleman got it right, plus a roll-up of some press.

He'll be blamed for doing too much, for doing too little, and for thinking that he can swap the Darth Vader cloak of the College Board for the Technicolor Dreamcoat of Sal Khan. But really, let's give a major t/h to David Coleman for acknowledging … [Continue reading]

One thousand to-lists later, and @Beesy is a close miss. Can’t somebody build a better to-do manager?


I know i'm not alone in struggling to find a good way to manage my project lists, everything from the big ongoing stuff to the daily to-do. I know I'm not alone because I've read endless articles about getting organized. And tried dozens of … [Continue reading]

I am sincerely sorry to miss the first snowstorm of 2014. Really.

Fearing that my flight to Florida to visit my folks would be cancelled, I left yesterday. And so, thanks Jet Blue, here I sit, 62 degrees at 8am, devouring every word and image of the storm. NYC is never more beautiful than in the snow. And I miss … [Continue reading]

The fine art of UNFINISHING, or why I still like MOOCs.

St. Croix

I intend to run for 30 minutes today.  But it is hot and I stop at 25. I pick up the latest issue of The Economist, drink deeply of an article on Mandela's legacy, marvel at a stimulating reconsideration of Ozymandias, enjoy a pointed editorial … [Continue reading]