Distributed Mind

April 14, 2007

You Can Never Have Too Much Information: College Enrollment

by ben

Why don't people attend college after high school? That was the question I asked myself. I still haven't found really good information on that,and I did not perfectly predict the responses even among what I did find. Nor did that turn out to be the most interesting question one could ask about this issue. But, first, reasons students gave for not enrolling in college can be found in a 1999 survey of Oregon high school students (specifically, see Table 18). I'm sure there's better data on this, but I don't have time to spend all night looking for it. Maybe some other time, or at least if people are interested (of course, maybe someone can suggest some source?). Now, the more interesting thing I found: "Factors Related to College Enrollment" (executive summary also available), a 1998 study. It looks like it was done for the Department of Education, but its not clear (though certainly they're using it - it's on their web site after all). Interesting but odd things in there. Turns out a lot of small things correlate really well with "post-secondary education" (as they call it) attendence. None of that will necessarily tell you why students end up attending college or not, but it will give you a pretty good mechanism for predicting which students will.

20:26:19 - Politics - ben - No comments

April 09, 2007

Security through Infrastructure

by ben

I just caught a talk on C-SPAN (yes, I am an addict) by one Stephen Flynn, fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, security expert, and author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation, blah, blah, blah, before the World Affairs Council of Houston on March 27th. Basically, Flynn was harping on the idea that one critical role in protecting the United States from terrorism is to make it an unattractive target through strengthening domestic security - such as securing chemical refiniries - and infrastructure. He also talked about the need to emphasize "hazard" rather than terrorism, since terrorism is not the only threat but so are natural disasters and accidents. Furthermore, he claimed a need to involve everyone in the process, for example, emphasizing "preparedness as a civic duty." And he gave some scary examples of lack of preparedness.

Brilliant. Well, of course, I am not an unbiased observer; I've made claims similar to Flynn's in the past as well. (But then, you know, I'm not a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations or a security expert, and all that stuff.) But, anyway, I really do think the general point is a good one. The cost of preventing or drastically mitigating a disaster relative to the cost of a full disaster is insignificant. Furthermore, regardless of the risk of terrorist attacks, we know that natural disasters will occur, so it pays to be properly prepared. And, we really have no excuse, given the low cost and high risk without it, and finally the fact that this is not a partisan issue and there's no opposition.

I don't have any specific policy recommendation on this one. I'm not familiar with the particulars of all the issues to weigh in. Though, I would like to suggest that some more emphasis be placed on the issue than is now. One thing we can all do is obviously to find out how prepared our own community is. And if you don't like the answer, you'll know what to do. This is not just, or even primarily, a national issue, it's a local and regional issue in most ways. So we certainly have more influence here than we might elsewhere. Furthermore, this is an interesting issue in that we can all take direct action. We can as individuals or families or whatever prepare for disaster by taking the proper direct steps (keeping bottled water, and all that stuff) and through training and practice. There's Red Cross classes on these sorts of things, and amateur radio licenses, and organizations that can be joined, and so on.

00:38:58 - Politics - ben - No comments