CMU's newspaper "The Tartan" has an article about Carnegie Mellon University's tuition being the 11th highest in the nation:

Tuition is on the rise, according to a new College Board list citing Carnegie Mellon as having the 11th highest tuition in the U.S. (...) Tuition costs are not the only concern for prospective students. Ranked 11th as the college with the highest tuition, Carnegie Mellon is also ranked 11th by the College Board for the highest total cost. Factoring in room and board, the estimated total cost for the 2008–2009 year is $49,200 according to the College Board website.

That is even higher than the so-called "Ivy League" schools:

Interestingly, the Ivy League schools were not featured on either list in a ranking higher than Carnegie Mellon. Neither Harvard, Yale, Stanford, nor the University of Pennsylvania were listed in the top 25 highest tuition or total costs. Harvard placed as the 118th most expensive college in tuition and 108th in total cost.

Will these people be able to pay off their college loans before they retire?

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Nice: About a week ago, world-class trumpeter Wynton Marsalis was on the Colbert Report, and here's a video of it:

If you don't care about them talking, forward to 5:10ish and listen to Steve Colbert and Wynton Marsalis in a duet version of the US national anthem.

By the way, that's one fine horn Marsalis is playing there. It's made by Dave Monette from Portland, Oregon. Incidentally, I was there once and got to play Wynton's trumpet (the same kind only, obviously) and it's the heaviest trumpet I've ever played: It felt like a solid chunk of metal. Believe me, making that sound good takes some serious skills. Needless to say, Marsalis has them.


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After I disabled the "subscribe to comments" plugin yesterday, I found out today that two people already extended the original plugin with a "double-opt-in" feature (Link 1, link 2, both [de]).

So I installed the latter and set it up so it sends you the following email the first time you subscribe to comments on this blog:

Note that this email will only be sent once, ever. If you accept it, you'll be able to subscribe to additional blog entries' comments without further hassle. If you ignore it, you won't be asked again.

"Le roi est mort, vive le roi." -- I hope this is a solution that everybody can live with. I'll go back to the original subscribe-to-comments if the author adds a double-opt-in solution himself, but until then we should be golden.

Sorry for the confusion :)

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For quite a while now, I've been using a popular Wordpress plugin called "subscribe to comments" on fredericiana. It allows people to request email notifications when further comments come in on an article they commented on themselves. As it turns out though, the plugin has an unclear legal status in Germany [de]. The fact of the matter is, since somebody can put an arbitrary email address into the email field when commenting, a person who didn't want that may get "spammed" by my blog against their will.

That would result in a situation where the seeming "victim" of my "spam" could sue me for unsolicited advertisement, provided my blog is considered commercial--and depending on the judge, even a link to Amazon can make a website "commercial".

It is sad that German laws are so Internet-unfriendly, but I have to live with them. So I switched off email notifications on my blog until further notice.

I may switch to a double-opt-in solution (i.e., before notifications are sent, people have to click a link in an email to confirm they actually requested this service). While this is also not completely safe in legal terms (that means, no significant court has ruled about it yet), it is currently considered state of the art when it comes to sending out any sort of regular email to a group of people.

Since a lot of people are facing this problem, maybe the plugin's author or somebody else will extend the plugin to have double-opt-in functionality soon. I may even do it myself when I am bored the next time.

Until then, sorry for the inconvenience. You can always subscribe to the Comments RSS feed if you want to stay up to date with what's happening here.

(via JP)

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An unfortunate typo in a configuration file left this blog completely without images for a little while. Apologies to the readers who may have been confused by that.

Now, fredericiana is back in all it's glory :)

On a side note, I am actually glad how nice my blog still looks with images "disabled". Still, I am glad everything is back to normal now.

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Gotta love Amazon recommendations. Apparently, it found out due to my viewing history, that I am interested in stem vowels:

What they did not explain is how the Belgium they came up with that (I know for a fact that I did not search for that), and more importantly, how it is even possible to develop an interest in stem vowels.

Then again, I am not a linguist, so maybe I am just an utter philistine when it comes to the beauty of stem vowels. Who knows?

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On occasion, living in a Jewish neighborhood makes for some interesting observations. The local synagogue (calling itself a temple, thus, according to Wikipedia, giving the hint that it's a conservative congregation) seemed to be packed tonight, judging by the amount of cars parked around it, in observance of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.

In front of it: Two Pittsburgh cops, observing the passers-by.

I wonder why? Is the social climate here particularly hostile against Jewish citizens? That was not my impression, so far. But possibly, it's similar to the presence of policemen that I saw in front of the New Synagogue in Berlin a while ago (hey, at least the ones in Pittsburgh don't carry automatic guns). While today's German society as a whole is not prone to antisemitic tendencies, just in case some douche nozzle has a strong form of historic ignorance, there is protection in place anyway.

Come to think of it, I recently saw apparently anti-judaistic Christian missionaries quite obtrusively trying to convert the local Jews to Christianity, by walking around on the main street with transparents and forcing flyers onto innocent bystanders. (Interestingly, their targeting specifically orthodox jews for their evangelization efforts goes into the same--heavily criticized--direction of Pope Benedict's recent change to the Catholic Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, though I doubt these missionaries were Catholic. But I am digressing).

Anyway, sad if they need the police to keep such people off their backs.

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As only the most attentive readers may have noticed by now, I redesigned my blog. It's been a while since I have done that, and the former layout started to bore me a little.

So I went ahead, got myself a template from freecsstemplates and tweaked away. It wasn't a Wordpress template, so there was quite a lot of work to do, but I am quite pleased with the outcome.

Gone: The old design.

There are a few advantages of the old vs. the new layout. First, more room for more awesomeness: The articles used to be only 500 pixels wide (and that was already stretched from how the old layout came out of the box). This one has 575 pixels, plenty of space even for bigger pictures.

"New car" scent not included.

Second, due to the famfamfam icons I built in it should all look a little neater and be hopefully quite intuitive. Just for fun, I also added "magazine-style" quotes, just like the one you see on the right.

At last, my comments now differ visually from everybody else's:

I hope you like it. Oh, and if you find anything out of the ordinary, let me know!

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The server migration I announced earlier should be complete now.

The DNS entries may still be a little wonky (if you had trouble reaching my web page or even sending me an email for a little while, that's probably why), but apart from that all should be peachy. The new box is quite snappy, so that's good!

Oh, of course the new server has a new name, too: Rest in peace, Aurora, and welcome to the family, Luna!

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