Archive for Monday, August 13, 2012

Heard on the Hill: KU prof researches Costa Rica’s giant stone spheres; many law schools got crossed up on debt figures; Spencer library has collection from first professional black basketball coach

August 13, 2012


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I spotted this article about John Hoopes, an associate professor of anthropology, and a research project of his involving some giant stone spheres that have been discovered in Costa Rica.

Trying to track down the people who created these rather strange items and their original purpose has been somewhat difficult, as most have been moved from their original location.

Hoopes has a website of his own devoted to the objects, which he “created to help dispel nonsense being spread about these objects” and generate enough interest to help preserve them.

The balls were definitely created by humans, he said, and range in diameter from a few centimeters to more than two meters.

Many have been blown to bits by treasure hunters or broken by agricultural activity.

He has a pretty good FAQ on the rather odd items here.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the little debt-reporting error that KU’s law school made on its American Bar Association reports has afflicted other schools as well.

I first mentioned the goof-up in Heard on the Hill awhile back (you surely remember it, given that you’ve memorized the entire Heard on the Hill canon, but just in case, here’s a link).

Basically, what happened was the ABA asked law schools to provide an average level of debt for students with at least one loan, but didn’t specify a methodology.

KU did it one way that made it seem like students had a lighter debt load (you can see the old article for a full explanation). The law school made the U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top 10 schools with the least debt, which used the old (and bad) ABA data.

Schools approached the question in a variety of ways, and so the ABA asked them to clarify.

“We will admit that the requests that we make can sometimes be interpreted in various ways,” an ABA spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. “Because of that complexity, that’s why we are okay with schools contacting us and allowing them to revise.”

• I’m enjoying a new blog from the Kenneth Spencer Research Library that’s been highlighting some of their more unusual collections and techniques used in that space.

Here’s a post on the John B. McLendon Collection. McLendon graduated from KU with a physical education degree in 1936 and studied basketball under James Naismith, though he couldn’t play on the varsity team at the time because of the university’s color line, the blog post reports.

The post also indicates he had a successful coaching career, winning eight Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles and inventing the fast break, zone press and four corners offense.

Lots of other detail in the post (including how he scouted for the Olympic team from 1966 until 1976 and served as a coach), and about the stuff in the scrapbooks he donated to KU.

The scrapbooks cover his career from 1954 to 1979. Here’s a detailed look at what KU has.

• I’ll take tips for Heard on the Hill written on giant stone spheres if you’ll roll them over to Heard on the Hill World Headquarters at Seventh and New Hampshire, but if you don’t want to go through all that effort, all you need to do is send me an email at


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