Researchers, scholars and experts from The University of Texas at Austin are sought by news outlets every week for their knowledge, expertise and insights. Here’s a selection of recent media hits.
Ask Well: Is It Better to Bike or Run?
The New York Times
Hirofumi Tanaka, Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology & Health Education, College of Education
The New York Times Ask Well blog offers readers their health questions answered by Times journalists and experts. The Times turned to UT’s Hirofumi Tanaka, director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory, to answer, “How does bicycling or spinning compare with running or walking as an exercise an exercise or weight loss?”
Tanaka says, “Both running and cycling are excellent forms of exercise.” In general, he says, running burns more calories per minute than cycling but injuries are common.
So, is it better to bike or run? Read more to find out.
Obama has lost control over Syria policy (Sept. 17)
Dean Robert Hutchings shared his thoughts on the crisis in Syria with CNN’s Global Public Square blog twice in two weeks. Hutchings, the co-director of the LBJ School’s “Reinventing Diplomacy” initiative and former chair of the U.S. National Intelligence Council (2003-05), on Aug. 31 wrote, “when all options are bad, the usual rules of good policy making still apply.” Read an excerpt of his first opinion piece:
Assuming the accuracy of administration assertions about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, our principal interests — those that are in the realm of the achievable, at least — are in upholding and defending the normative ban on the use of chemical weapons. Since we cannot eliminate Syria’s stockpile of CW weapons or directly prevent the al-Assad regime from using them, our objectives are to punish the regime sufficiently severely to serve as an object lesson to future would-be violators of that norm, on the part of the al-Assad regime or some other actor.
If the history of U.S. interventions has taught us anything, it is that U.S. military action, even of limited scope, will introduce a new dynamic into the Syrian equation, and that our ability to manage this process is vastly less than we would like to believe. Read more.
Two weeks later, Hutchings weighed in again on CNN World’s blog, asserting that President Obama’s decision to consult Congress on whether to take military action was a mistake:
There was no need to go to the full Congress — and many reasons not to do so. The limited strikes the administration was considering did not rise to a level that required Congressional endorsement. Consultations with senior Congressional leadership, even without gaining their full support, would have been sufficient. The policy would then have been judged by its effectiveness, and had the objectives been limited to punishment for the al-Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, there were good prospects of success. Taking such limited but important action without Congressional authorization could easily have been defended on grounds of urgency.
Diplomacy is hard enough when top political leaders limit the scope for surprise and “wild card” events. When they open up the floodgates, as President Obama did by announcing a controversial action but delaying implementation and exposing the issue to Congressional and public debate, political leaders should not be surprised when they lose control. Administration officials can be excused for not foreseeing how quickly and thoroughly this happened — it surprised everyone — but they should have been aware that this hedging tactic would open up an unpredictable and uncontrollable dynamic that risked undermining the policy before it was even tried. Such is the fog of war — and of diplomacy. Read more.
Helping Minority Males Complete College Helps the Texas Economy
Diverse Issues in Higher Education
This summer a new collaborative initiative in Texas linked 14 community colleges, four-year universities and several school districts tasked with finding solutions to lagging graduation rates among Latino and African-American males. The collaborative is headed by UT’s Victor Sáenz, an associate professor in the College of Education. The consortium will be a group for the member institutions “to come together, learn from each other and understand which strategies may be working,” said Sáenz, noting the group first met in June.
Read more to find out what institutions are participating and where the group is headed.
Much Ado About Who: Is It Really Shakespeare?
The New York Times
Who wrote the five additional passages in Thomas Kyd’s play “The Spanish Tragedy”? Scholars have debated for nearly two centuries whether the 352 lines were written by William Shakespeare. In 2012, a British scholar used computer analysis to argue that the passage was written by Shakespeare. But, UT Austin’s Douglas Bruster has found a more definitive proof: Shakespeare’s messy handwriting.
Bruster’s paper, published in the September issue of the journal Notes and Queries, argues that it wasn’t bad writing but bad handwriting. Read more about Bruster’s discovery in the Times article.
Long at Helm, U.T. Collector Leaves Legacy with His Exit
The New York Times
During his 25-year tenure, Dr. Thomas F. Staley transformed the Harry Ransom Center into one of the world’s top humanities research centers. Staley acquired high-profile archives that would have otherwise gone to institutions like Yale and Harvard. Upon his retirement, Staley turns over a center that contains about 42 million manuscripts, 5 million prints and negatives, and 100,000 works of art and design in its collection, including the Gutenberg Bible, the first photograph, the Watergate papers and many more important documents from late greats and writers still hard at work.
The center’s new director, Dr. Stephen Enniss, succeeded Staley in early September. In this Times piece, Enniss discusses the importance of continuing to collect original documents, even in a digital age. Staley will write a memoir of his time at the center. “I’ll be telling all those stories I couldn’t tell before, about the people I’ve met, the attics I’ve crawled through, and the negotiations,” he said. “I’ve had some adventures.”
A Work in Progress: Staley’s Next Chapter (UT Feature)