It’s not news to remark on the wildly inconsistent weather patterns that have played across the United States (and much of the rest of the world) this winter. In the last week alone here in South Carolina–where I live–the temperature has fluctuated from 9°F up to 67°F and then back down again to the single digits. And like our neighbors to the south in Georgia and Alabama, snow has forced the cancellation of schools and the closure of roads.
The traffic snarls in Atlanta have become the stuff of legend: tales of motorists stranded in the cars for days now, the lucky ones managing to find shelter in the aisles of supermarkets and box stores. According to USA Today, the storm is responsible for at least 13 deaths. The Washington Post has a stunning photo essay on Winter Storm Leon. CNN asks, “Was Atlanta asleep at the wheel?” Slate focuses on the failure of regional planning, and Politico highlights the problem of urban sprawl.
The midwest experienced Polar Vortex 2.0, and as many of you have undoubtedly read or heard, not all students at the University of Illinois appreciated Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s decision to remain open despite frigid temperatures, and their negativity snowballed across Twitter on Monday. Inside Higher Ed printed a response by Chancellor Wise that is worth sharing.
But it’s not just the weather that is wreaking havoc on us this week: H1N1 is back with a vengeance, according to the San Francisco Gate. And it’s not just California that is affected: according to the Weather Channel, the virus has taken a serious toll across the U.S. from North Carolina and Ohio to Michigan and Oregon. In “Why this season’s flu so dangerous for young adults?,” Wired reports that while the number of cases reported is down from last year, the severity of those cases is much greater. It’s not too late to get a flu shot if you haven’t already.
At ProfHacker, we have posted dozens of pieces on various gadgets: gadgets for personal productivity, gadgets for entertainment, gadgets that help with pedagogy, and gadgets that might improve our fitness and/or wellness. Now that we are well into 2014, the reviews for new wellness gadgets are coming in. The NYTimes reviews the Fitbit Force. The folks at Gizmodo prefer the Basis (covered last month by Natalie) despite the lack of an app.
Earlier this week, the Atlantic posted an interesting piece titled, “The Deathbed Confessions of W. B. Yeats” to mark the 75th anniversary of the Irish Nobel Laureate’s passing. The essay notes that at the time of Yeats’s death, “three of the poet’s most brutal poems (“Man and the Echo,” “The Circus Animal’s Desertion,” and “Politics“) were featured in The Atlantic. On a related note, here is W. H. Auden’s tribute, “In Memory of W. B. Yeats.”
If you haven’t yet read “It’s History, Not a Viral Feed” by friend-of-ProfHacker Sarah Werner, it is worth your time. In her post, Werner critiques the popular Twitter feeds like @HistoryinPix and @HistoricalPics for posting material without attribution to either photographer or institutional repository, and–in some cases–without basic fact-checking. I’m sure that these posts occurred in my Twitter and Facebook feeds as frequently before I read this piece as they do now, but I am equally sure that I notice them and have thought more about them since reading Werner’s essay.
Looking ahead, as many of our readers are aware, this weekend is the Super Bowl. The NYTimes points out that no matter which team wins the game, Nike will come out ahead, having redesigned the uniforms of both the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. Even if you aren’t a football fan, you might be interested in hearing a brand new U2 song that will debut during the game, according to Rolling Stone. Even better, the song will be available for free download after the game, and Bank of America will donate $1 per download, up to $2 million, to benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But if you don’t like either football or U2, at least you might be interested in the Puppy Bowl?
Our video this weekend is a preview of one of the Budweiser commercials that will air during the Super Bowl. While ProfHacker has no opinion on whether you should or should not consume Budweiser, you have to admit that the love story between the puppy and its Clydesdale is pretty adorable: