Showing posts from 2015

Student Loans and Higher Ed

It's the end of fall semester for universities across the nation.  I generally find this time of year sort of a bummer.  

The days are shorter and colder.  The winter holidays are around the corner which I'm sure elate many, but I find that the holidays bring up an array of social concerns I have about consumption.  My birthday is also around this time and that became way less exciting around 29.  

Perhaps most of all though, the end of fall semester is a time of reckoning.  The semester starts of with great hope.  Students and faculty are relaxed and tan from their summer fun. First years are bright eyed and eager to solve the world's most difficult issues.  We all have our highlighters, stickies, and organizers in hand- THIS will be the semester that we: get that grant, publish that paper, get straight A's, accomplish all great tasks.  
Then December rolls around and we find, very clearly, what we have accomplished in the past 4 months or so and what we did not.  
No mat…

Are scientists like everyone else?

Over the past several years (at least) the Pew Center has been polling AAAS scientists to better understand their politics.
Earlier this year, the Pew Center demonstrated the answer to this post's question is, "No... or rather, yes but they are not representative of everyone else."  
Scientists are, to be sure, members of the (potentially voting) public.  But on a host of key issues in American politics, scientists think differently than a random handful of US adults. A handy graph at the link shows quickly and easily how the groups differ.
Scientists themselves have been documenting the difference between scientists/experts and laymen for some time.  Especially, as it pertains to diverging risk perceptions and the value of information. The notable Daniel Kahneman recently wrote a popular book that covered his work on the matter (and a bunch of his other work).
Whether or not it is a problem that scientists are overwhelmingly Democrats is debatable.  Concern arises given the …

Guest Post: Leveraging Knowledge

I have a guest post up at Socializing Finance, a blog dedicated to topics and issues in the world of Social Studies of Finance.  An excerpt it below.  You can read the rest on their blog here. In a financial report for the US Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, I read about their S&P Credit rating.  Among other things, the rating rests on relatively stable Federal funding.  Following the trail, I turned up credit ratings for other large research groups entire academic institutions.  Brief skims of the credit reports indicates Federal funding as a key variable for credit rating decisions.  For instance, an except from Moody's review of UCAR (closely associated with the National Center for Academic Research):STRENGTH: A substantial portion of UCAR's funding is received through a cooperative agreement from the National Science Foundation. CHALLENGE: UCAR is heavily reliant on federal funding for its research (98% of operating revenues are grants and contracts), with limited …

NC Senate Bill 374: One Fish, Two Fish...

Today's post comes from Shelby White, a graduate student in Coastal and Ocean Policy.  Shelby's research focuses on regulation controversy between North Carolina's recreational and commercial fishing industries.  Her background is in marine science and the life and business of commercial fishing in NC with her family.

Those in careers that revolve around the water are subjected to some of the most contentious issues in North Carolina.  The for-hire industry is currently facing the possibility of a future logbook that would require each individual holding a For-Hire Coastal Recreational Fishing license to report the catch and effort data for each trip taken.  On November 10, members of the for-hire stakeholder advisory group met in New Bern to discuss expectations for future logbooks, as well as the positive and negative implications it could have for the industry.  This meeting was pursuant to Section 2 of Senate Bill 374, which repealed the requirement of a for-hire logboo…

Spurious Hurricane Trends in the Pacific

Modern times are characterized by an immense amount of scientific information.  Journals abound. Many experts maintain a blog. Popular press publish niche magazines for those that just can't get enough from their day job.
This reflects a (sometimes heated) conversation about what to believe about how the world works.  As well, the scientific debate is a process of checks and balances.  Sometimes scientists make mistakes.  Sometimes the best way to analyze data is not clear, obvious, or agreed upon by everyone.  The literature is better understood as a long drawn out discussion.
Often, this is taken a step further from what scientists argue is true to the inherently political realm of why it matters.  Therefore individual scientific publications cannot or perhaps, ought not, be divorced from the broader argument in which they are situated.
Recently, Nature, featured a debate about the predictability of tropical cyclones based on the ENSO index predictor (El NiƱo Southern Oscillat…

The size of "Marine" Science in the USA

Great stories are told through budget data:  (re)prioritizations of social values, the rise of new problems, and the fall of old problems.    
This post began with a question I had last week, "How big are the marine sciences?" 
A colleague at UNCW suggested that perhaps, while atmospheric studies are concentrated at large federal type institutions, marine science is scattered around.

In studying the earth, it is difficult to pull apart geophysical systems.  For instance, the climate is as much a product of the atmosphere as it is the ocean.  The study of fisheries is similar.  Perhaps the ocean- atmosphere is better considered a gradient then two separate entities.

A human attribute is that we like to categorize: food/drink, man/woman, white/black, despite what the best of our scientific knowledge tells us about the difficulties of doing so.

Budgets seem to be exemplar of categorization.  In asking about the size of marine science it is useful to start with public financin…


This is a new project of the faculty and students of the Coastal and Ocean Policy program at UNCW.
We will post things that look at the nitty gritty of science policy and politics.  The interesting stuff and the drama- the stuff of politics- is in the details and the nuance.  That stuff is hard to get at and even harder to articulate.  So, this is a space of practice.

Why Haint Blue?

Well, in part because, one of your bloggers here, Jessica Weinkle, likes the phrase and since moving to Wilmington has become fascinated with the tradition.  

But also, because it is apropos:

The tradition as I understand it [and I am finding my information on the internet so it must be true =)], is that the Gullah or Geechee people of the South would paint openings of their homes a watery blue to keep evil spirits at bay.  It was believed the malevolent haints (or haunts) could not cross water.  Hence, the blue paint tricks them into thinking that the home is surrounded by water thereby protecting the …