Here’s one thing the Obama administration has accomplished: A very effective redesign of the USAJOBS site. This seems to have happened very recently, within the past week or so. I definitely remember the old site still being up as of early January. This may seem like a minor thing, and in many ways it is, but this is the main way people apply for jobs with the federal government and the old site was terribly clunky and hard to use, which only made the already ridiculously ponderous application process even more so. One thing we really need in this country is for more and better-qualified people to be applying for these jobs, and making the application website easier to use is a small but important step in that direction.
January 27, 2010
January 23, 2010
Last week was the first week of classes of the semester. I’m very happy with the classes I’m taking. The ones I took last semester were mostly basic background stuff, and those that weren’t were pretty theoretical. I enjoyed those classes, and I feel like I got the opportunity to think about a lot of important issues, but I don’t feel like I learned a whole lot of practical things that I hadn’t known before. This semester, though, all of my classes are mainly about teaching practical, useful stuff, though in different ways. I’m particularly excited about finally taking a GIS class, since that’s a skill I really think I should have, both for its practical value and because it’s the sort of thing that I think would be really interesting to me. I’m also taking some classes on the planning process, which will finally give me a real sense, I hope, of how this all actually works in the real world and where I can see myself in it. It’s been a bit awkward so far to be getting a graduate degree in planning without having a sense of what I actually want to do with that degree. Hopefully I’ll have a much better idea after this semester. All these classes will involve a ton of work, of course, so I’ll be very busy, but I think it’ll be worth it.
January 14, 2010
The news out of Haiti regarding the effects of the earthquake there is pretty dire and depressing. I don’t know a whole lot about the political and cultural context, aside from the oft-repeated fact that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but this page (via apostropher at Unfogged) is very useful in providing background information. The devastation reminds me of the Port Royal earthquake of 1692, which effectively destroyed what had been the capital of Jamaica and killed two-thirds of its population. The epicenter of the Haitian earthquake seems to have been similarly close to Port-au-Prince, and as a result it sounds like the country’s governmental institutions have been crippled to a degree that makes them essentially useless. Port Royal never recovered, although Jamaica eventually sort of did, and Haiti today is a much poorer country in relative terms than Jamaica was in 1692. It’s all very sad.