Weekly Meanderings, 27 May 2017

Rhodes5Good start for a Saturday morning!

Must read of the week:

In March 2016, Harding High football coach Sam Greiner moved quarterback Braheam Murphy into his home when Murphy was functionally homeless and helped the young man turn his life — and his academic status — around.

Monday, Murphy got the news he had always dreamed of: he got his first college scholarship offer — from Army.

Since moving in with Greiner, Murphy has kept his grade-point average over a 3.5, the coach said. Greiner said so long as Murphy scores near 1,000 on the SAT, he’ll likely take the full scholarship offer to West Point. Murphy got the happy call from Army coaches on the way home from spring practice Monday. Army also offered Harding junior safety Marcellous Harris.

“They saw (Murphy’s) transcripts and they knew once he was in a good environment, things really turned around,” Greiner said. “So as long as he gets close to a 1,000 on his SAT, he’ll go to West Point probably. That’s good. He’s so jacked up. I’m so excited somebody believed in him and the story. It was amazing.

Read this earlier article, too.

Justin Pritchard and others:

A pair of Oregon school districts were intent on identifying warning signs that students might be contemplating a campus shooting when they stumbled on a threat far more pervasive yet much less discussed — sexual aggression among classmates.

Unsure at first what to do, the districts adapted the same early-intervention approach used to handle potential school shooters: Based on observations or tips, school staff now quietly keep an eye on kids they worry are sexually aggressive. Parents help the school try to understand why their child is acting out. And the school intervenes if behavior threatens to escalate, whether the student is a kindergartener or about to graduate.

This awakening puts the districts at the forefront of grassroots efforts to grapple with a sensitive and complex challenge that U.S. universities already have been forced to confront but elementary and secondary schools have mostly avoided.

A yearlong Associated Press investigation uncovered about 17,000 official reports of sexual assaults by students over a recent four-year period, a figure that doesn’t fully capture the problem because such violence is greatly under-reported and some states don’t track it.

AP also found that only 18 states required training for teachers, school administrators or students focused on peer-on-peer sexual assaults, leaving many educators to struggle with both how to protect victims and manage the risk of offenders.

There also is no K-12 equivalent to the federal law that requires colleges to track student sexual assaults, provide services to victims and devise prevention programs. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Education Department and White House encouraged K-12 schools to take similar steps, but that was only a recommendation.

To fill the void, technology companies have joined school districts, students and parents in trying novel approaches to curtail student-on-student attacks. Much like the campaign against college rapes took time to build momentum, so, too, is society learning how to contend with the realization that sexual violence can start much earlier.

“I think it’s important — we all do — to show that sexual assault can affect every single person, no matter who they are, no matter what their story is,” said Brena Levy, a high school senior and student organizer in Kansas. “That’s what we’re trying to get across.”

This week’s good read, even if he is a Cardinal.

That’s what Terry thinks:

Terry Bradshaw is not a fan of Nick Saban‘s new salary at Alabama.

In an interview on the Paul Finebaum Show, the Fox analyst compared the latest deal to the full budget of Louisiana Tech and called the salary “shameful,” via Jesse Kramer of The Comeback.

Saban is set to make $11.25 million this season as part of a three-year contract extension.

There are various reason to argue against the lofty salary, including whether that money should go to the players or to the school. However, Bradshaw provided a different angle to dislike Saban.

“If he has the personality of Steve Spurrier, then I would like him,” Bradshaw explained. “Spurrier, now you’re talking about a great coach. That’s a great coach, Steve Spurrier, not Saban. Saban hates people. The man doesn’t even like people.”

Then, suddenly those 15 footers became 100 footers:

Scientists think they have answered a whale of a mystery: How the ocean creatures got so huge so quickly.

A few million years ago, the largest whales, averaged maybe 15 feet long. That’s big, but you could still hold a fossil skull in two hands.

Then seemingly overnight, one type of whale — the toothless baleens — became huge. Modern blue whales get as big as 100 feet, the largest creatures ever on Earth. Its skull is now bigger than a minivan and could probably fit more than five people inside, researchers said.

“We really are living in the time of giants,” said study co-author Nicholas Pyenson of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. “Why is that?”

And it happened “in the blink of an evolutionary eye,” which makes it harder to figure out what happened, said Graham Slater at the University of Chicago, lead author of the study in Tuesday’s Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Their study has proposed an answer: Ice ages in the last 3 to 5 million years started it, changing the oceans and food supply for whales.

The researchers used fossil records of the smaller whales to create a family tree for baleen whales — which include blue whales, humpbacks and right whales. Using computer simulations and knowledge about how evolution works, they started filling in the gaps between the small whales and the modern super-sized version. They keyed in on a time period when the whales got huge and smaller whale species went extinct, somewhere between a few hundred thousand years ago and 4.5 million years ago.

They concluded that when the size changes started, the poles got colder, ice expanded and the water circulation in the oceans changed and winds shifted. Slater and Pyenson said cold water went deep and moved closer to the equator and then eventually bubbled back up in patches rich with the small fish and other small critters that whales eat.

Before that, whale food was spread out, relatively easy to get at. Now, they are giant buffets amid hundreds of miles of whale food deserts. That’s why you can see lots of whales in the summer in California’s Monterey Bay, Slater said.

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