Does Our Higher Education System Work?

Book CoverIt is widely believed that the American higher education system is the best in the world.  While this may be true, it is important to understand what is this really means.  Times Higher Education publishes a list of the top 200 universities and, indeed, the 2009 rankings show 11 of the top 15 schools to be American.  But, how is it that these schools are ranked?  The rankings are derived from weighted data which takes into account the following:

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The Global Effects of the Olympic Experience

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The 2010 Winter Olympic Games have begun and will be completed next week in Vancouver, Canada.  I have always enjoyed the Olympics.  Athletes from many different countries and of varied ages, come together to compete in exciting events.  The Winter Games showcase not only the athletes, but also their particular sports.  Many of these sports like luge, bobsled, skeleton, and curling can only be seen during the Olympic Games.  The Olympic viewer can also see the more popular sports such as ice hockey and figure skating performed at the highest level.  Despite these apparent qualities of the Olympic Games, some believe the competitive seriousness which accompanies the Olympics to be unhealthy for international relations.  This idea is based on the assumption that the ‘will to win’ in sport creates tension between rival nations.  A book to read about the Olympics is Inside The Olympics, by Dick Pound.  What is your opinion of the Olympics?  Do you enjoy watching them?  Do you believe that they are good or bad for the world and/or the athletes’ nations?

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Travel the World on Two Wheels

Where would you like to go?  What would you like to see?  If you could speak another language, which language would it be?  There are so many cultures, customs, and traditions in our world and while learning about them can be fascinating and informative, experiencing them through travel can be life changing.  What would a visit to far-away place mean to you?  What do you thing it would mean to the people welcoming you in that country?  Learn more about how you can explore yourself by traveling and exploring your world by reading Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne!


Why Can’t Pitt Football Compete?

As a Pitt fan, it is difficult to see the football fortunes of Penn State, Ohio State, and West Virginia in comparison to the relative famine of the Panthers.  While the blue and gold pulled off a nice win over Louisville last week, they remain an insignificant program in an increasingly insignificant Big East conference.  Why is it that schools like Penn State, Ohio State, and even West Virginia can achieve so much more success on the football field than Pitt?  Pitt has top-of-the-line facilities, Heinz Field for a stadium, and is a big school in a football-crazy city.  Still, Pitt fails to match the success of its local rivals.  I cannot remember a year when the Pitt football team was even considered as a potential national champion.  Ohio State, Penn State, and WVU are in the mix nearly every year.  What gives?  What is it about Pitt that prevents their program from getting to the level of Ohio State, WVU, and Penn State?  Look for answers in College Football: History, Spectacle, Controversy by John Sayle Watterson.


The Oakland Raiders – Commitment to Excellence

As the 2009 – 2010 NFL season is now underway, it is an ideal time to learn more about one of the most storied franchises in professional sports, the Oakland Raiders.  The, “Raider Mystique,” has captivated many fans and struck fear into the opponents of the Silver and Black Attack.  While the Raiders have struggled over the past few years, they remain a team of destiny and will soon resume a position of dominance in the NFL.  Young players such as running back Darren McFadden, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey will lead the Raiders back to the top of the National Football League.  See if you too would like to be a part of the Raider Nation by reading, Oakland Raiders, by Bob Italia!  Also, you can read The Oakland Raiders.

You Have a Dream…

What does it mean to dream?  How are our dreams related to our realities?  Why are our dreams different and how do they define us/how do we define them?  It is safe to say that we all dream.  We are all dreamers in some respect and our lives often reflect that internal dialogue which is projected unto the worlds of others through our words and actions.  Just as we all dream, each of our dreams are unique to ourselves.  How have your dreams contributed to your becoming and experience of life?  If you are interested in reading a book about dreams, try Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom, and Wishes by Susan Bosak.


Lakers Glory: For the Love of Kobe, Magic, and Mikan

As the NBA Playoffs are underway, Lakers Glory by Alan Ross, is an excellent book to read about the history of basketball’s greatest team.  The Los Angeles Lakers have won more consistently than any other franchise and are on their way to a 16th NBA Championship.  The glorious history of the Lakers is filled with performances of the best basketball players ever to have played the game.  Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal aka (Shaq, Shaq Fu, The Diesel, The Big Aristotle, Superman, The Big Agave,…….), Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, James Worthy, and old-timer George Mikan are just some of the tremendous players to have worn a Lakers’ uniform.  The Lakers continue to play exciting basketball and are locks to win the 2009 NBA Championship!  Enjoy their run all the more by reading Lakers Glory: For the Love of Kobe, Magic, and Mikan by Alan Ross.