Who Gets Ph.D.s?

The National Science Foundation has released some new data breaking down the recipients of doctoral degrees in 2011 by a variety of categories. Remembering my own days in grad school, I looked at the proportion of degrees granted to U.S. Citizens versus those studying on temporary visas. Here are the fields where the lowest percentage of degree recipients are U.S. Citizens:

Field Percent US Citizens
Computer engineering 31.4
Agricultural economics 34.3
Electrical, electronics, and communications engineering 35.7
Civil engineering 36.5
Other engineering, aggregated 37.3
Food science, food technology-other 38.3
Industrial and manufacturing engineering 39.5
Economics, econometrics 40.7
Structural engineering 42.0
Mechanical engineering 43.5
Environmental health engineering 43.8
Condensed matter/low temperature physics 44.2
Materials science engineering 44.3
Engineering 44.4
Soil chemistry, soil sciences-other 46.6

And here are the fields with the highest percentage of degrees going to U.S. Citizens:

Field Percent US Citizens
Educational psychology (psychology) 98.2
Urban education and leadership 98.2
School psychology (education) 97.5
School psychology (psychology) 97.2
American history (U.S. and Canada) 96.9
Family psychology 96.7
Music education 96.7
Letters, aggregated 96.3
Clinical psychology 96.2
Science education 95.7
Educational administration and supervision 95.7
Counseling education/counseling and guidance 95.6
Education administration 95.3
Elementary teacher education 95.2
Counseling 95.1
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The IRA Question

Having trouble determining what type of IRA is best for you and whether you should contribute? This flowchart will “help”

Simple IRA Sheet

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The Great Road of China

The Great Wall of China is famous as the world’s longest fortification. I recently encountered a thought that I hadn’t heard before: the great wall runs through much rugged domain and in these areas the Wall is the main source of communication. In these areas the structure is not just the great wall, but the great road as well.

It is often, erroneously, claimed by propagandists that the Great Wall is the only human structure visible from space. But any visitor will note that the Wall isn’t much wider or longer than an interstate highway. The comparison seems to be more apt than I’d originally appreciated.

The more things change: just as our highways often act as walls separating the communities on either side of them, it appears that walls can work as roads as well.

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Is Sleep the Real Enemy?

Right now I am watching The Spirit of St. Louis, which is WETA’s (our local PBS affiliate) movie of the week. The movie, which portrays Charles Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight, makes an interesting point: besides the numerous mechanical struggles which Lindbergh faced, his main enemy was the lack of sleep and the consequent debilitating effects on the human body. Will a future generation, enabled to live without much sleep by pills such as modafinil or one of its descendants, understand the suffering associated with extreme fatigue? What great feats would be enabled by conquering our need to spend a third of our time asleep? Reducing our needs by half could be a massive boon to economic growth.

Until then, portraying Lindbergh’s fatigue is an increasingly relatable storytelling technique in our hectic world.

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What Pension Does the Pope Get?

I don’t write as much about pensions on here as I should, considering that it is a large portion of my research. However, there was some news this morning that is idiosyncratic enough to write about. As you’ve probably guessed, that news is Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his retirement from the Papacy. As he said:

I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

This lead me to wonder, what sort of retirement benefits does the Pope get? Is there a pension?

To begin my brief investigations, I should note that this is a very rare event. Apparently before Pope Benedict XVI, only four popes had resigned in the last 1,000 years. The last was Pope Gregory XII in 1415 and that was during the great schism. (As an aside, two of the previous resigners were named Gregory, there are now two named Benedict.)

So what did these Popes do in their retirement?

  • Pope Benedict IX, resigned in 1045: After much scandal, he resigned the office after taking a lump-sum payment from his godfather. Apparently regretting his decision, he recaptured Rome. He was later deposed by the Council of Sutri, which he didn’t accept. He was accused of simony, later excommunicated, and his final fate is obscure.
  • Pope Gregory VI, in 1046: Tied up with the tumultuous Benedict IX, he was forced to resign when confronted by his bishops. We was “taken” to Germany where he died in 1048.
  • Pope Celestine V, in 1294: Seemingly not enamored of the office, Pope Celestine V formalized the resignation process. He issued the decree declaring that Popes had the right to resign. He later declared that he was resigning for “the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquility of his former life”. He didn’t get his peaceful life, although the Vatican did give him a post-retirement plan, in a way. His successor sent for him, captured him, and imprisoned him. He was later canonized.
  • Pope Gregory XII, in 1415: Chosen in a very political manner, he had problems with the cardinals from the start. Political struggles led to his resignation but he was given another job as a legate and reappointed as a Cardinal (it seems that ex-Popes don’t automatically revert to their former office.)

And what does the future hold for Benedict? He will retain the title of Bishop, which is a Catholic sacrament. His living arrangements will be taken care of:

Pope Benedict XVI will move to the Papal residence in Castel Gandolfo when his resignation shall become effective. When renovation work on the monastery of cloistered nuns inside the Vatican is complete, the Holy Father will move there for a period of prayer and reflection.

He will also apparently receive health care and some form of monetary support:

Benedict will continue to have access to the Vatican’s lavish healthcare plan and probably also to the private doctors who currently manage his medical treatment. The pope does not officially receive a salary, though his needs are seen to by the Holy See. Canon law requires each diocese to provide support and housing for its priests after they retire, though the details of priests’ and bishops’ pension plans vary from country to country.

Obviously, one doesn’t seek to become Pope for the money or the other benefits (in this world), this is a useful and interesting reminder that every organization needs a retirement and succession plan.


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A Big Tent?

On the PBS Newshour tonight there was a discussion on the future of the Republican Party. Mark Shields made the comment that they needed to become “A party looking for converts rather than heretics,” which is a perceptive diagnosis of the problem. The party is beset with litmus tests, pledged, commandments, etc. and these serve to exclude people. Until a party promote reasons for people to join, rather than look for reasons to exclude them, it will remain in the minority.

This highlights the issue with the many hack groups demanding that candidates sign their “pledges.” These pledges aren’t a positive development, by which I mean that the implied contract isn’t “if you sign this, people will vote for you.” The implied contract is “if you don’t sign this, we won’t vote for you.” This is a negative viewpoint, which brings us back to the issue of converts vs. heretics. I would be interested to see a candidate who takes a stand on his unwillingness to give in to every demand on his ideology. It would at least be a change, and perhaps a candidate who stands up to electoral threats would give voters something to vote for, rather than against.

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Spelling in Stata

Stata is a program which is usually unforgiving of capitalization and spelling errors. However, as footnote 2 of this article in the Stata Journal points out, there is one instance where such mistakes are allowed, if not forgiven:

When the separate command was being written, one objection to its name was that even some people very good at spelling in English have difficulties spelling this word correctly. Thus, as you may have found, there is also an undocumented seperate command, which issues a peremptory message about your  spelling, but then passes the instructions to separate anyway.  Stata is not usually so forgiving.

As an aside, the proper spelling of Stata is “Stata” as the word is not an acronym.

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