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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Best Paper in Pedometrics 2008

By Alice on Apr.28, 2009, under Best paper

All members of IUSS are invited to examine these six papers, and to participate in the Vote for Best Paper. To vote send an email to with “Best Paper 2008″ in the subject line.

You should indicate your order of preference for all six papers. Please list all the papers by number in order of preference, with the paper you regard as the most worthy winner listed first.

The vote will end at midnight (Sydney time) on 15th August 2009, and the result will be announced and presented at Pedometrics 2009 in Beijing 26-28 August 2009. We are very grateful to David for his thorough and industrious approach to assembling these nominations, and urge readers to participate in the process by reading the papers and voting.

We are grateful to the publishers of all papers nominated “Best Paper in Pedometrics 2008” for making these papers freely available during the period of the vote.

The six finalists, sorted by journal title and reference are:

(1) Brus, D.J., Bogaert, P. and Heuvelink, G.B.M., 2008. Bayesian Maximum Entropy prediction of soil categories using a traditional soil map as soft information. European Journal of Soil Science, 59(2): 166–177.

(2) Brus, D.J. and Noij, I.G.A.M., 2008. Designing sampling schemes for effect monitoring of nutrient leaching from agricultural soils. European Journal of Soil Science, 59(2): 292–303.

(3) Awiti, A.O., Walsh, M.G., Shepherd, K.D. and Kinyamario, J., 2008. Soil condition classification using infrared spectroscopy: A proposition for assessment of soil condition along a tropical forest cropland chronosequence. Geoderma, 143(1-2): 73–84. [PDF]

(4) Grinand, C., Arrouays, D., Laroche, B. and Martin, M.P., 2008. Extrapolating regional soil landscapes from an existing soil map: Sampling intensity, validation procedures, and integration of spatial context. Geoderma, 143(1-2): 180–190. [PDF]

(5) Lark, R., 2008. Some Results on the Spatial Breakdown Point of Robust Point Estimates of the Variogram. Mathematical Geosciences, 40(7): 729–751. [PDF]

(6) Zimmermann, B., Zehe, E., Hartmann, N.K. and Elsenbeer, H., 2008. Analyzing spatial data: An assessment of assumptions, new methods, and uncertainty using soil hydraulic data. Water Resour. Res., 44: W10418. This paper can be accessed via the following link.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Choose this day who you will serve

The decision this week by the African Union not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the extradition of Sudan’s Al Bashir for war crimes in Dafur, is despicable. Jean Ping, the Chairman of the African Commission, explained that the decision to throw a cordon of solidarity around Al Bashir is a protest to ICC. This is absurd.

The African heads of state gathered in Libya justified their action as retaliation against ICC for its failure to grant a one year suspension of Al Bashir’s warrant of arrest.

That this band of disgraceful heads of government acted in this manner is not without precedent. For decades, the African Union and its predecessor, the OAU, has shown unfailing disdain for the plight of the African people.

This African leaders’ summit meeting held in the Libyan city of Sirte also announced the creation of the African Union Authority, a body that would coordinate foreign affairs, trade and defence policies on the world's poorest continent. This is another pie in the sky. Like NEPAD, it will never amount to much.

It is hard to believe that this band of irredeemably incompetent leaders, going by their record in their respective states, can deliver any vision for progressive leadership for a continent as complex, fractious, hungry and poor as Africa. They must first deliver tangible goods and progress for their citizens before they can claim any pan Africanist credentials.

Against the backdrop of the worst economic recession, deepening poverty and hunger made worse by a vicious tail wind of climate change and rapid population growth, this past AU summit has achieved zero. Colonel Qaddafi is just what he is, flamboyant and grand standing.

Significantly, this summit has demonstrated who these leaders really serve. Themselves.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Value of an M.A.

This article by Stephen Trachtenberg appeared in the NYT on July 02 2009. It examines the value of postgraduate studies with such deep humor. The issues raised here are important for both educators and students. More importantly, the point he makes about degree inflation and the devaluation and inadequacy of the baccalaureate in the job market is profound. Is the MA supply or demand driven?

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is president emeritus and professor of public services at the George Washington University. He is also chairman of the Higher Education Practice at Korn Ferry International.

"The M.A. degree is neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat. I had a classmate at Columbia who remained on after receiving his B.A. degree to earn an M.A. degree on a fellowship while waiting for his fiancé to graduate from Barnard. Another classmate who started a Ph.D. program was informed after a year that he had no real promise but if he went away quietly they would give him a booby-prize: the M.A. He became an M.D.

What’s so bad about reading a lot of French literature at someone else’s expense?
Does earning an M.A. (distinguishable from an M.B.A. or other professional degree) make any sense from a cost-benefit point of view? It does allow one to upgrade one’s alma mater. If you originally matriculated at a college you are vaguely uneasy about, taking an M.A. at a more elite institution allows you to kick down and kiss up, henceforth letting you tell people you “went to school” in New Haven. And it does, of course, ornament a resume.

Earning an M.A. degree can be fun; it can provide knowledge; and can stretch the imagination. A cynic might conclude that the M.A. degree is the stepchild of the university community, is increasingly a commodity offered by universities in order to earn tuition dollars devoted to the Ph.D. programs. But in the marketplace, it adds to one’s personal narrative. It makes one more interesting.

Degree inflation increasingly obliges more degrees to compensate for the devaluation of earlier degrees. Jobs that once were filled by high school graduates and later by college graduates today often require a master’s degree. This is largely optical, but one deals with the world he or she lives in. Still, just as the double and triple undergraduate major is a form of gilding the lily, a form of product enhancement, meant to seduce the hiring partner or the human resources director, the growing interest in the M.A. reveals the inadequacy of the baccalaureate."


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