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  • August 2011
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links for 2011-08-30

  • // I'm shocked, shocked. to find education majors have the lowest academic standards in higher ed.
  • Quote:"While the Great Courses, then, is only an ambiguous marker of the academic scene, the meaning of the audience’s response is far clearer: there is a fervent demand in the real world for knowledge about history and the high points of human creation. Public libraries have formed discussion groups around the most popular courses. Customers accost Great Courses professors in airports as though they were celebrities. Alan Kors has received fan letters from forest rangers and from prison convicts. By contrast, “students never thank you; college is simply what they do next,” says Patrick Allitt.
  • Quote:"
    The report concludes there are major mismatches between the U.S. workforce and the skills required for many jobs. In particular, researchers said many workers in fields ranging from healthcare to construction are unable to read the charts, graphs and other information required for their jobs.

    Researchers said the more formal education workers have, the larger the gap tends to be between their skills and their employers' expectations.

    // Statistics are the most important classes you can take. So it's sad everyone takes such effort to avoid them.


links for 2011-08-29

  • Quote:" CERN is the organization that invented the World Wide Web, that built the multi-billion dollar Large Hadron Collider, and that has now built a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreated the Earth’s atmosphere.

    In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds, the cloudier and thus cooler it will be. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth."

    // More right-wing conspiracy.

  • Quote:"Trevor Plouffe air-mailed a throw to first base over the weekend, but for the most part he's looked much improved at shortstop while subbing for the injured Tsuyoshi Nishioka. However, the destruction of Triple-A pitching that got him recalled to Minnesota hasn't shown up yet, as Plouffe has batted just .250/.293/.411 with an ugly 30-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 games since rejoining the Twins in mid-July

    // Yes, I suppose it's a little disappointing that Plouffe has not had a .900 OPS playing PT this season. But, even with a bad OBP, his overall OPS of .704 isn't bad, especially compared to Nishioka, who has been about as bad with the glove and has a .498 OPS. Oh, and in the previous chunk, Gleeman says "So far the Twins have used 16 players who weren't on the Opening Day roster … Seven are hitters and they've combined for 20% of the lineup's playing time while hitting .232/.281/.323 in 1,018 plate appearances." Plouffe's OPS is 100 points higher than that. Not bad.

links for 2011-08-28

  • Quote:"Amy Weintraub, 23, and Brian Moran, 32, were with two Aon colleagues in a stairwell when the announcement came. They stopped and wondered whether they should go back. "Ah, I need a cigarette," Moran said, and the group kept going down. All four survived.

    // See? Smoking saves lives.

Buried Prey Quick Review

Finished John Sandford’s latest, “Buried Prey” last week. It’s one of the better “Prey” novels to come out in awhile. The book features a long flashback to Lucas Davenport’s early career. No wife, no kids, no old injuries slowing him down. Sandford finally let Davenport loose again. The characters get to have fun. When I finished, I thought it was the best book of the series. Reflecting on it a bit, it’s not. However, this book has broken up what has become a stale and predictable storyline of an aging family-man-cop (Davenport) who is probably coming to the end of his literary-worthy life.

links for 2011-08-23

  • Quote:""For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak," said Amanda J. Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn't express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. Instead, boys' responses suggest that they just don't see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity."

    Rose and her colleagues conducted four different studies that included surveys and observations of nearly 2,000 children and adolescents.[…] boys reported that talking about problems would make them feel "weird" and like they were "wasting time."

    // Duh. Talking about some problem is normally a waste of time. The best cure for worry is work.

  • Quote:"The American economy currently has both a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The short-term problem is that the economy is depressed; it is growing more slowly than the population, with the result that per capita income is declining. The high rate of un- and underemployment is a factor, but is itself the product of other factors, having mainly to do with the reluctance of over-indebted consumers (over-indebted in major part because of loss of equity in their houses, the major source of household wealth) to spend, the reluctance of the impaired banking industry to make risky loans, and the reluctance of businesses to invest and to hire, which is due in part to weak consumer spending and in part to profound uncertainty about the nation’s economic future.
  • Quote:"Politics are no exception. There’s been no federal government for more than a year, but the country is continuing to grow and outperform the single currency bloc as a whole. Belgian gross domestic product expanded 0.7% in the second quarter, compared to a euro zone average of just 0.2% according to EU statistics published yesterday.

    Last month, caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme cut the forecast for budget deficit to around 3.3% of GDP instead of 3.6%, well ahead of the deficit reduction path it agreed with the European Union, which targets a deficit of 4.1% this year.

    All these healthy signs come in the midst of a bitter political deadlock which has seen the country run by a caretaker government since June 2010.

    // Interesting result, given the other economies in the European sphere.

  • Quote:"Sales of new homes fell for the third straight month in July, a sign that housing remains a drag on the economy. If the current pace continues, 2011 would be the worst year for new-home sales in nearly half a century.

    Sales fell nearly 1 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That's less than half the 700,000 that economists say represent a healthy market.

    Last year, 323,000 homes were sold – the worst year on records that go back to 1963.

    // How could the recession have ended when the cause of the recession still hasn't found the bottom?

links for 2011-08-22

  • Quote:"As the four-day week unfolded in Hawaii members and institutions of the community stepped in the fill the vacuum. Parents sought activities, and students were flexible. New spaces opened up for young people to learn on Fridays. Museums and Rec Clubs offered Friday learning opportunities, some at little or no cost; others parent-run (parents rotated days off of work to manage supervision of student activities). Parents, wary of potential new costs for child care, welcomed the innovations.

    // I like the idea of a four-day week, because I think classroom time at public schools is ineffective anyway. While this article is skeptical of the returns, it does say parents, and the community, adapt quickly to the new system in positive ways.

  • Quote:"Here's the surprise: There appear to be educational benefits as well. Absenteeism among students and teachers in these schools has fallen appreciably, the report said. (As a result, schools also paid less money for substitute teachers.) Students reported feeling more positive about school. Dropout rates fell, students behaved better and participation in extracurricular activities rose. Parents of young children often objected to the change because of the need to find childcare, but once the programs were in place, the report said, they often found that it was easier to find care for one full day a week than for several partial days. Test scores didn't fall, and in many cases, they rose.
  • Quote:""It is important to note that while there is considerable anecdotal information about the potential benefits of four-day school weeks, there is limited systematic research on the impacts of this reform" (Donis-Keller & Silvernail, 2009).

    This article lists some of the most pertinent research summaries and evaluations we have found to date.

links for 2011-08-21

  • Quote:South Dakota's state education secretary, Melody Schopp, says schools that have switched to four days haven't suffered in achievement tests.

    In Deuel, a 500-student district that shortened its week four years ago, Superintendent Dean Christensen said as much as $100,000 a year has been saved and the failure rate has declined, which he attributed to more time for tutoring and teacher training.

    "It's not something to be scared of," Christensen said.

    // The factory-model of education is so utterly stupid and useless it beggars belief it has persisted for so long. Of course a four-day week wasn't going to hurt test scores. Just based on my own experience (and the copious doodles on my notebooks) at least least 90% of classroom time is an absolute waste. All one has to do is look at colleges. Lecture time(i.e. classroom time) represents a small percentage of the total time spent actually learning. It is the readings, research, writing and labs where the real learning happens.

links for 2011-08-20

links for 2011-08-19

links for 2011-08-18