Catalonia plots digital government in exile in bid for independence
Catalan activists are preparing to create a digital government-in-exile if Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy follows through on his threat to suspend the region’s autonomy in a bid to prevent it declaring independence.
“If the Spanish government does restrict Catalan autonomy – especially if it bans Catalan political parties – we will probably have a clandestine government,” says Simona Levi, founder of digital rights non-profit platform Xnet. “The internet would be an important part of that.”
Although details of the plan are unclear Thomas Harrington, professor of Hispanic studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, suggests “a country in the east of Europe which had itself gone through the process of declaring its independence from the former Soviet Union not all that long ago,” – believed to mean the Estonian government – might be Catalonia’s blueprint…

Why do U.S. News rankings punish test-optional colleges? – By David Rosen
The Washington Post
Every year around this time U.S. News & World Report issues its ranked list of America’s “best” colleges. And every year an inevitable handwringing ensues – among academics, anyway – about what the rankings mean, and whether they’re of any use at all. Pose this question to most professionals in higher education, and you’ll likely get a resounding “no.” The flat numerical scores, which receive the most attention, say little about what makes any college or university good or bad. The rankings say less still about the alchemy that makes a school the right “fit” for any given student. On the other hand, many high school seniors (and their parents) take the rankings seriously – which means, in turn, that college admissions officers and marketers need to take them seriously as well. It’s a good bet that Princeton’s current No. 1 status will find its way into the university’s advertising materials posthaste.
So it goes every year. This time around, however, the questions about the U.S. News lists have suddenly seemed more pressing and personal – because Trinity College, where I teach, has found itself demoted from 38th to 44th place among small colleges. When something bad like this happens, it makes sense to figure out what went wrong. In this case, the question of “what went wrong” is surprisingly fraught, and speaks to some deep divides in American education. … When Trinity’s president and director of admissions made the decision to go test-optional, it was both a principled, ethical choice and a calculated roll of the dice. Knowing full well that U.S. News would punish the college for its move, they reasoned that a more diverse student body would drive improvement in other criteria – like quality of student life and national reputation (and perhaps, down the line, alumni engagement)…

‘Read me!’: Students race to craft forceful college essays as deadlines near
The Washington Post
Find a telling anecdote about your 17 years on this planet. Examine your values, goals, achievements and perhaps even failures to gain insight into the essential you. Then weave it together in a punchy essay of 650 or fewer words that showcases your authentic teenage voice — not your mother’s or father’s — and helps you stand out among hordes of applicants to selective colleges. … Advice about essays abounds, some of it obvious: Show, don’t tell. Don’t rehash your résumé. Avoid cliches and pretentious words. Proofread. “That means actually having a living, breathing person — not just a spell-checker — actually read your essay,” Wolfe said. But make sure that person doesn’t cross the line between useful feedback and meddlesome revision, or worse. (Looking at you, moms and dads.)
“It’s very obvious to us when an essay has been written by a 40-year-old and not a 17-year-old,” said Angel B. Pérez, vice president of enrollment and student success at Trinity College. “I’m not looking for a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece. And I get pretty skeptical when I see it.”
Some affluent parents buy help for their children from consultants who market their services through such brands as College Essay Guy, Essay Hell and Your Best College Essay…

West Hartford, Simsbury Looking At Changing School Start Times
Hartford Courant
As committees in West Hartford and Simsbury begin evaluating the impacts of changing school start times, high school students in those districts said they think school should start later in the morning.
And according to Trinity College neuroscience professor who has advocated later school start times at the high school level for over five years, the science behind adolescent sleep schedules solidifies the argument.
“The science is overwhelming,” Sarah Raskin said during a recent interview. “It’s a question of finding a way to make the transition, because the change is clearly worth it.”
Raskin said that sleep cycles are controlled by hormones and that starting during puberty, those hormones shift. Adolescents’ brains, Raskin said, “are just not capable of falling asleep before 11 o’clock at night.”
“So if you’re not falling asleep until 11 o’clock at night and you’re not ready to be awake until 8 in the morning, it becomes extremely difficult to be up at 5:30 or 6 at the bus stop and at school by 7 or 7:30 and ready to do calculus or physics or whatever else we expect them to do at 7:30 in the morning,” Raskin said. “So what we’re forcing our children to do is get into bed before they’re ready, lay there wide awake staring at the ceiling until 11 or 11:30 at night and then we force them to get up right in the middle of one of their deepest sleep cycles.”
This, Raskin said, leads to sleep deprivation, which has been linked to increases in suicidal thoughts, increased risk-taking with alcohol and drug use, more tardiness, less academic performance in the classroom and standardized testing, increases in the number of motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries…

The Unsettling Sound Of Tritones, The Devil’s Interval
NPR Music
Everyone knows the sounds of Halloween: creaky floorboards, howling winds, the amplified sound of a beating heart. But back in the day, the devil was said to exist in a particular musical tone. For centuries, it was called the devil’s interval — or, in Latin, diabolus in musica. In music theory, it’s called the “tritone” because it’s made of three whole steps.
“The reason it’s unsettling is that it’s ambiguous, unresolved,” says Gerald Moshell, Professor of Music at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. “It wants to go somewhere. It wants to settle either here, or [there]. You don’t know where it’ll go, but it can’t stop where it is.”
There used to be rules against writing music that contained this interval. Moshell says that during the Renaissance, all music had one purpose: to be beautiful and express the majesty of God. Anything otherwise was studiously avoided. But once music was no longer shackled to the church, it was free to express all kinds of tension. The devil’s interval was ideal for that.
From classical to jazz to rock and even Broadway musicals, the tritone conveys feelings ranging from forbidden love and longing to fear and defiance. Listen below to a selection of songs that contain this unsettling tritone and hear the radio version at the audio link above.