Jack Lew, valued former employee of NYU

I saw a couple of places yesterday that NYU paid Jack Lew a severance package, but I didn’t follow up or click. This morning I read at The Right Coast how much that severance package was – $685,000! So then I thought – hey, NYU has more in common with SEC schools than I thought. Lew had a good contract. But no! The New York Times article makes it very clear:

The payment, which a university official acknowledged on Monday, is considered unusual by outside experts in benefits and raises questions about why a tax-exempt university would give a large exit bonus to an executive who was departing voluntarily.

. . .

University officials defended the additional lump-sum payment, which was not required by his original employment contract, citing Mr. Lew’s role in addressing some of the university’s major problems at the time. [my emphasis]

Wow. At least fired coaches who continue to receive pay have good legal grounds!

via Prof Smith


Rewilding Europe

This is an odd article about the introduction of large herbivores to Germany to try to achieve a different balance of plant life. Or I found its optimism odd.

With its tiny houses nestled along the main road and its red-brick church, Töpchin — just 25 miles outside of Berlin — is a traditional-looking Brandenburg village. But heading east through the marshland that borders the village, a visitor encounters the unexpected: five huge Asian water buffaloes.

The species was native to Europe until 10,000 years ago, when hunting shrunk its range to the continent’s far southeast. So Germans know these beasts only from pictures of them in fields and rice paddies in Asia. “Some people are really confused when they see the water buffaloes,” says Holger Rössling, the man who set the animals free in Töpchin in the summer of 2011. But the black creatures with massive horns and an impressively muscular build appear to be very much at ease in their new home. And they are meant to stay.

Rössling is a project manager with the Brandenburg Nature Conservation Fund, a government agency in the federal state surrounding Berlin. The group brought in the water buffaloes from a special breeder in France so they would graze threatened tracts of fens and remnant inland salt marshes, as German cows have long since lost their affinity for grazing in such wet or nutrient-poor environments.

I guess that water buffalo are hardly white tail deer – they won’t soon proliferate in such numbers to become a nuisance to Brandenburgers – but the experiment seems like one big unintended consequence. The article also discusses the introduction of Przhevalsky horses (Mongolian, originally) and various other large herbivores.

I am so happy!

My laptop life is much improved! I was having all kinds of weirdness. Opening any application was very, very slow. Preview was barely working. If I tried to open a stack of photos (for instance, to choose which to delete and which to upload to Flickr) one photo would open and then the application would cease responding (Apple talk for freezing). Chrome and Safari would both randomly crash. The final blow – Disk Utility wouldn’t run Repair Disk Permissions. Or, rather, it looked like it started, but never actually did anything.

Finally, I stopped by campus I.T. They booted by laptop from an external drive (a thumb drive – isn’t progress amazing?), ran Repair Disk Permissions, and decided that the problem was the antivirus software they installed back in December when my hard drive had to be replaced and re-imaged.

Now everything is back to snappy and I’m much happier! Thanks, Wayne!

How Parasites Went on Crusade

When the crusaders of the Order of St John first built a 35-latrine toilet complex in the medieval city of Acre in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, they could scarcely have considered that researchers would be sifting through its contents 900 years later. Yet the 13th-century latrine soil is providing another chapter in understanding the long history of our relationship with intestinal parasites.

Interesting archaeology – from Medievalists.net.