Friday Reads

San Jose State University, which has been a pilot example for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), has suspended five Udacity online classes after more than 50 percent of students failed the final exams. The five  courses being suspended are elementary statistics, college algebra, entry level math, introduction to programming and introduction to psychology. Looks like it might be more about students having trouble “showing up” to class/the final because of jobs or having little college experience, but that’s a kink that needs to be worked out.

Bitcoins are on the rise, with the first business in Palo Alto (and the surrounding area, as far as I know, besides San Francisco) accepting the digital currency. Read my story on Coupa Café and the phenomenon of  e-cash: Paying the Silicon Valley Way

The Senate finally reached a deal on student loan rates this week, linking interest rates to the economy. Undergrads this fall could be borrowing at  3.9 percent rate, graduates at 5.4 percent and parents at 6.4 percent.

In response to the Rolling Stone cover story this week, featuring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (dubbed “The Bomber”) looking a lot like Jim Morrison on the front of the magazine, Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy – a tactical photographer who has been with the police force for 25 years – gave Boston magazine hundreds of photographs that he took from “behind the scenes” of the manhunt for Tsarnaev in April. Murphy was not fired, but “relieved of duty” this week. He wrote:

As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty. The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

“I hope that the people who see these images will know that this was real. It was as real as it gets. This may have played out as a television show, but this was not a television show. Officer Dick Donohue almost gave his life. Officer Sean Collier did give his life. These were real people, with real lives, with real families. And to have this cover dropped into Boston was hurtful to their memories and their families. I know from first-hand conversations that this Rolling Stone cover has kept many of them up—again. It’s irritated the wounds that will never heal—again. There is nothing glamorous in bringing more pain to a grieving family.”

I’m all for controversial journalism, but it’s definitely food for thought. The photos are really, really chilling and really worth looking at.

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