Investing in students’ futures

This is a short video about a new program at a university in the U.S. (Purdue, in Indiana) that aims to shift the risk of student loan debt from the student to the university. Basically, the students promise to pay the university a small percentage of their future income after graduation instead of having student loans — with interest rates — that burden them regardless of what happens after graduation.

On the PBS site, the video has a written transcript below it, and the subtitles are correct if you need them to help your listening comprehension.

Some related statistics (from this site):

  • There’s $1.45 trillion in student debt in the US right now.
  • The average amount a student has to repay in total is $37,000 (which is 6% more than it was last year).
  • The average amount a student has to repay per month is $351.
  • Interest rates on paying back student loans range from about 2.7% to 8.2%.

There are many issues to debate with a program like Purdue’s, but as someone who finally paid off her student loans — with interest rates at about 4 or 5% —  for undergraduate and graduate school in her 30s, I wish I’d at least had this option.

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Free speech vs. hate speech

Yesterday’s topic was about book banning and censorship. How about hate speech and censorship? Where should we draw the line on free speech?

Here’s an article about a protest that took place in Tokyo a few days ago, outside of Twitter’s office.

At Twitter’s Tokyo Office, Protesters Stomp on Hateful Tweets” (from Global Voices)

That’s one way to protest. Another way is with humor. Like the “Mean Tweets” segment on Jimmy Kimmel. People read mean tweets about themselves. One way to deal with bullies is to laugh at them.

Here’s one with President Obama, done right before the election. His response to the last tweet is depressing to see now, but I do miss his sense of humor.

Why would anyone want to ban that?

This short video is about a temporary display in Germany of books that have been banned in the past. The goal is to get people thinking and talking about censorship.

More information about this exhibit here

I’m reminded of the controversy about the Harry Potter books. Some religious zealots wanted to (and continue to want to, according to this more recent article) ban these books in classrooms and libraries because they claim the stories contain “occult/Satanic and anti-family themes, and violence”.

Here’s another list of “20 banned books that may surprise you”. Included in the list:

  • “Little Red Riding Hood” — because she has wine in her basket (!)
  • “Where’s Waldo” — because of some of the people depicted in the crowds surrounding Waldo
  • “The Wizard of Oz” — because Oz was too socialist and because it depicts one witch as good
  • “The Diary of Anne Frank” — for two reasons (read them here)

And …

  • The dictionary. Can you guess why? (It’s #13 on the list if you want to check.)

The right to recline

In recent years, there have been countless incidents on airplanes in which passengers get into fights about space: Who gets the armrest? Is it ok to recline? This article talks about ways to prevent such arguments:

“How to Resolve Fights over Reclining Airplane Seats: Use Behavioral Economics” (Evonomics, May 12)

Reading this reminded me of a bus ride I was on in Cambodia. Across the aisle, I saw a man reclined in his seat, sleeping peacefully, while the mother and child behind him looked less than comfortable.

What do you think? Should the man have checked first before he reclined fully? Or is it the responsiblity of the bus manufacturer to design better buses, trains and plances, to make sure kids-on-laps aren’t squished?