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Recommendations for February 4, 2012

This week, I’m making up for last week’s lack of music. Surprisingly, this is a selection of pretty mellow, acoustic songs, which is not at all what I have primarily been listening to lately.
Song: “Flame on My Head” by Blaudzun
I don’t really know anything about this guy, except that he is Danish is has a new album out right now. This is a song from that. It reminds me a bit of Nick Drake’s “Cello Song,” except that Blaudzun’s voice is very different from Drake’s, as his guitar playing. 
Song: “Wherever You Will Go” Charlene Soraia
Proof that sometimes there is a good song buried under the alterna-rock cheese. This a cover of a song by The Calling, which if you have listened to a certain kind of radio station in the last 10 years, you have heard, and probably wished you hadn’t. All they’ve done with this is slowed it down a bit, exchanged guitars for piano, and, most importantly, picked somebody who can really sing, but the difference is remarkable.
Song: “Emmylou” by First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit is two Swedish sisters who do pretty straightforward American-style folk rock. If you enjoyed Fleet Foxes last album you will like this song.
Article: “What College Rankings Really Tell Us” by Malcolm Gladwell
Answer: not a whole lot. Gladwell makes the fairly obvious point that any ranking system involves value judgements, and that any system which hopes to evaluate many different types of things will end up with a ranking in which those value judgements affect some more than others. Case in point: Penn State gets less credit for having a higher graduation rate that its students’ demographic profile would lead us to expect than Yale gets for being very selective, simply because US News and World Report decided that selectivity was more important than what it calls “efficacy.” So, while these rankings are not meaningless, it’s important to be aware of what they actually tell you– and what they don’t.

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