Back to school in Pittsburgh

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 14, 2020, at 11:27 am.
  2. September 14, 3:36 pm:
    • A federal judge has ruled that Governor Wolf’s shutdown orders in Pennsylvania were unconstitutional, violating a first amendment right of freedom of assembly.[1] The ruling uses capitalist libertarian logic.
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It appears to me to be continuing to gather strength. If I’m not mistaken, an eye is now discernible.
  3. September 15, 9:15 am:
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It does seem like it’s headed straight for the Mississippi River delta, which includes New Orleans. I’m failing to discern an eye now, but it seems to be taking on more of a classic spiral shape.

Sally


Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, September 15, 2020, at 8:01 am EDT.


Higher education

So a bunch of schools ignored the advice that they needed to remain on-line only.[2] It’s pretty rapidly gone wrong, at least at some of the schools that returned to in-person instruction in August, pretty much as had been predicted.[3]

[T]he University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and East Carolina University all moved to remote instruction after just a week of classes. Michigan State University canceled most in-person instruction less than two weeks before the semester began. Many institutions may make similar decisions as the realities of [COVID-19] viral infection collide with their in-person ambitions.[4]

And, of course, that’s gonna cost the universities money but maybe not as much as you might think: In many cases, these reversals occurred too late for students to get their money back. The predictable cynicism ensues but it’s possible hubris and a desperation to maintain enrollment have as much to do with the decisions to resume in-person instruction as greed.[5]

A personal note, here: Even before I had finished my bachelor’s degree (this was late 2005), I was starting to see a lot of hubris on the campus (California State University, East Bay) I attended. Certainly, I see a lot of hubris emanating from Saybrook University now, which having destroyed its human science program, has lost its curricular grounding and—this is painful—seems to be going entirely woo woo.

Hubris is real. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m seeing a lot of masked students now on the streets of Oakland, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh where (very roughly west to east) Carlow University, University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”), and Carnegie-Mellon University have their main campuses, side-by-side, and also where University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has three major hospitals. I’m also seeing that at least some K-12 schools are back in session. So far, from the notifications I’ve been getting on my phone, the bump in COVID-19 case counts in Allegheny County has been small. I’m hoping this works out but it’s still awfully early.


The car

So it’s another $1000+ going into my car in an already expensive year. Tires and front rotors, this time. The front end work earlier this year that, with an inspection and engine fan repair, came to around $1900, was due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I only got about 21,000 miles out of this last set of tires, also largely due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I’m cutting the wheel alignment check interval to 90 days (I put on about 63,000 miles per year), but basically, I’m losing my ass here and because so much of it is due to Pittsburgh road conditions, I really can’t blame the car. I can only blame the ridesharing driving. The trouble is that, even with a Ph.D., I have no choice.[6]


Pennsylvania

Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/
  2. [2]Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening
  3. [3]Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester
  4. [4]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  5. [5]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

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