Re: Level playing fields, or not

1

Maybe the boys need a dress code that is both strict and complicated?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:26 AM
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I like tying threads together more than I like teh pedagogy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:27 AM
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On the OP: sexist.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:28 AM
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3: Yeah, that was her accusation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:28 AM
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I suppose it's only fair for teachers to take out their anger on their students. How else will they learn?

Less snarky: insofar as the assignment is designed to give them a wake-up call, making it easy negates its purpose. However, if there's a real gender difference in the ease of the test (as apposed to preparedness) you do your female students a disservice by making their wake-up call weaker.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:31 AM
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At any rate, I refuse to alter this assignment, despite knowing that boys fail at much higher rates than girls.

This isn't quite true. I do find it frustrating that students fail in high numbers, and I would alter the assignment if I came up with an alternative I like. But it somehow infuriated me that I ought to change it specifically to address the gender gap.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:31 AM
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3: Bah. The boys have more than enough advantages in society. They don't need Prof. Geebie giving them an extra hand.

Also, I suspect that the reason the boys are failing the test specifically has to do with their male privilege. The assignment seems like busy work to them, since it is just memorization. So they don't do it. They've been taught that they are better than that, and if some woman tells them to do something stupid, you can ignore them. Just like their mothers.

As always in education, the girls are doing well on the test because they are socialized to be obedient and try to please people.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:32 AM
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insofar as the assignment is designed to give them a wake-up call, making it easy negates its purpose. However, if there's a real gender difference in the ease of the test (as apposed to preparedness) you do your female students a disservice by making their wake-up call weaker.

I'm not sure I follow this, in several ways.

1. The test isn't a wake-up call. It's a straight-forward review of math they need to already know. I give them the exact test one week ahead of time.

2. How exactly am I diluting the experience for the female students?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:33 AM
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7 gets it right.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:34 AM
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However, if there's a real gender difference in the ease of the test (as apposed to preparedness)

This is the question, of course. If there really were a difference in how difficult boys found the exam as opposed to girls, that didn't reflect their understanding of the material, then it's sexually discriminatory and should be altered. Given the description of the exam, this seems implausible, but if you could think of anything to fix in this regard, you should.

What would make me cranky about your colleague is that her suggestions seem to kill the purpose of the assignment. If you pair up the students, you don't know that they both know the material, and so on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:36 AM
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Sorry. On closer review, it's totally clear that any gender difference must be due to preparedness (or a woefully poor ability to memorize), so my point is invalid.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:40 AM
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11: Just like a man.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:40 AM
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3 was kidding, by the way. I don't think you should change the test. I think rob is right.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:41 AM
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What would make me cranky about your colleague is that her suggestions seem to kill the purpose of the assignment. If you pair up the students, you don't know that they both know the material, and so on.

She was saying that they're assigned study partners, with the threat/incentive of averaging their grades together.

I found this "solution" horrifying, as I pictured showing up at the library and waiting around for 3 hours as an earnest college student while my punk-ass lazy partner waltzed in late, and was totally distracted, and I would feel forced into being his nanny-tutor.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:43 AM
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Your colleague seems to have learned half the lesson: If something has a disproportionate impact, it's worth looking closely to see why and if needs to be responded to. This is true regardless of which group is suffering the disproportionate impact.

But "looking closely" is not the same as "immediately changing your practice." There are plenty of situations -- and it sounds like you're describing one of them -- where the disproportionate impact is not a symptom of a larger failure to serve some group.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:43 AM
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14: Yes, I've been in that library.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:44 AM
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I pictured showing up at the library and waiting around for 3 hours as an earnest college student while my punk-ass lazy partner waltzed in late, and was totally distracted, and I would feel forced into being his nanny-tutor.

Yep, this is exactly what would happen. Is your friend a teacher?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:44 AM
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Have you considered the possibilty that the whole structure of mathematics is unfair to men?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:45 AM
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And 15 is nigh near as right as heebie always is.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:45 AM
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with the threat/incentive of averaging their grades together.

Okay, if she suggested systematically making sure boys were paired with girls and averaging their grades together, when the problem was that a disproportionate number of boys were failing an easy review exam, apparently because they refused to study, she needs to clarify her thinking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:45 AM
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Fuck that! It's an easy assignment, and it's time for them to grow up.

Strikes me as completely reasonable. Handing out the questions a week before an announced test creates a perfectly level playing field already. If anybody needs *even more* hand holding than that, they should be in special ed classes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:45 AM
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Is your friend a teacher?

She's a prof at a research institution, so she does teach, but it's not her primary passion.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:45 AM
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18: But was that unfairness invented, or discovered?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:46 AM
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and further to 20: "Clarify her thinking" might better have been phrased "pull her head out of her ass."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:46 AM
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I wouldn't change the test.

If you were concerned about the disparate impact, maybe you could switch it from pass/fail to just a normal grade. This would cut down on the pain of failing the test.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:47 AM
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Fuck that! It's an easy assignment, and it's time for them to grow up.

This is an extremely sexist statement. The boys in your class may not be ready to grow up yet, and you need to respect that.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:47 AM
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You need to design a class called Math Boot Camp that exercises a tough love approach to instruction. Lots of screaming in students' faces, belittling their masculinity, group punishment, and the like. Ideally then the slackers will get beaten with bars of soap wrapped up in towels if they don't study enough.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:49 AM
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She was saying that they're assigned study partners, with the threat/incentive of averaging their grades together.

This is infuriating.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:50 AM
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28: I agree. Let's kick heebie's friend's ass!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:53 AM
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27: Perhaps firing questions from the test at individual students, and telling any who answer incorrectly to "Drop and give me twenty!" That's a non-sexist way of making sure boys learn, right?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:54 AM
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30: That's for the boys.

If a girl gets a question wrong, she has to take off an article of clothing.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:57 AM
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I was thinking the girls could be given cookies for right answers. Different learning styles, you know.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:58 AM
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31: Can I audit your class, heebie?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:59 AM
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32: That would just be contributing to the "freshman 15" problem. Can't have that.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 11:59 AM
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33: How many push-ups can you do?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:00 PM
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36

I do love an echo chamber. But I actually thought when I was posting that there would be a lively debate.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:00 PM
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36: I tried to take the other side, but no one took me seriously. Not even me!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:01 PM
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36: It's really hard to debate someone who's always right, you dumbass.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:02 PM
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36: What I'm trying to say is that your assignment is too hard.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:02 PM
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38: But you guys love arguing all sorts of futile things.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:02 PM
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34 is correct. Take off an article of clothing, LB.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:03 PM
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Also, us guys are too scared of being called wusses if we disagree with you.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:03 PM
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36: If you want an argument, I think you need to sell her position a little better. I can't see that she's making any sense at all, but you didn't say much; was there anything at all she said that shook you a little?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:05 PM
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41: I have flung my ponytail holder to the winds.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:05 PM
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31: I have often wondered if there was a market out there for pornographic educational software for college students. "Study for your calculus final! Look at boobies!"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:05 PM
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Did you use the phrase "soft bigotry of low expectations" against her, heebie?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:07 PM
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I didn't want to say anything, but that side ponytail was pretty sleazy, LB.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:07 PM
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I do love an echo chamber. But I actually thought when I was posting that there would be a lively debate.

You seem to be arguing with someone who is insane and stupid in every way, so you need to bring her here.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:08 PM
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But the I Dream Of Jeannie straight up from the crown of the head is all right, so long as I'm wearing harem pants?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:08 PM
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I can't see that she's making any sense at all, but you didn't say much; was there anything at all she said that shook you a little?

In general I have a very high opinion of her perspective, and we've been close for a decade, but it's become increasingly clear that she's not particularly well-informed on sexism and the patriarchy, etc. On top of that, some men she's been close to have been victims of egregious abuses by their exes when it came to child custody court. So she's got this knee-jerk Men's Rights Advocate bent.

Nevertheless, she's generally so thoughtful that I was giving her the benefit of the doubt.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:09 PM
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And as long as your hoop earrings are very small.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:09 PM
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49: I've always referred to that particular hairstyle as the "Daughter Judy".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:09 PM
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Ive seen what female soccer players do when they get mad so I am not going to disagree with you.

Plus, I didnt take the time to study the answers.

I did like most of Witt's answer.

But, you should have drafted the post with the genders switched just to see how the debate went.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:10 PM
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26 is making me laugh, but 27 reminds me of something that is actually semi-serious. (I'm going to drag this Friday-afternoon post into policy debate whether people like it or not.)

A new report black, Latino, and Native American men's transition to community college suggests that one of the significant hiccups is disrespect or perceived disrespect. Students sometimes feel that teachers make in accurate assumptions based on their dress or hairstyles. At the same time, lack of awareness of academic norms means that students can sometimes be penalized for not knowing what they don't know.

The report is also interesting for its willingness to tell community colleges what they could do better and its blunt recommendations about, essentially, "forced help." (E.g. making students go to a writing center.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:11 PM
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Gah.

in accurate s/b inaccurate

If heebie were really trying to troll, she could put up for argument: Would every teenager be better off by taking a year off to do real work between high school and college, or just boys? (Or no one?)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:14 PM
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One possible way of making the grading "fairer" for people who don't like jumping through hoops (but nonetheless ended up learning the material well) would be to allow people who did extremely well on the final to earn back these points. A delightfully complicated example of how you can do something like this is the grading scheme from Physics 16 at Harvard. See page 5 of http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic86666.files/16info.pdf

Of course, people who don't understand Calc 1 are unlikely to be able to understand any complicated grading scheme.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:15 PM
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Would every teenager be better off by taking a year off to do real work between high school and college?

Yes. I could argue that without even trolling.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:15 PM
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I like that reverse curve idea.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:18 PM
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36:I do love an echo chamber. But I actually thought when I was posting that there would be a lively debate.

There in the sky, silhouetted again the clouds, a desperate plea for Batshitman!

Umm, let me see, the men fail because they are privileged, and the women pass because they are oppressed. I need an entrypoint somewhere here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:19 PM
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See page 5 of http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic86666.files/16info.pdf

So your grade is undefined if you put in no effort?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:24 PM
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Also, us guys are too scared of being called wusses if we disagree with you.

Heebie's wrong!

(Looks down)

Hah! Heebie is like totes wrong!.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:24 PM
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I've always referred to that particular hairstyle as the "Daughter Judy".

Funny. I've thought of it as the Pebbles.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:28 PM
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(I've withheld the best detail, but maybe I'll share it now, which is that my friend is an economist.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:29 PM
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The only way to argue for the boys in this case would be to challenge the assertion that the memorization test is actually valuable and the corallary that their blowing it off is the wrong thing to do.

But none of us have a basis to challenge heebie on this - she's the calc teacher. However, if there was very little correlation between success on this test and success on the rest of the course, that would provide a basis for the challenge.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:30 PM
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60: My understanding was that K(1,0) was defined to be 1 (it's a physics class not math, they're a bit more cavalier about these sorts of things). As evidence: "If you get a perfect score on the final (something that has only happened once or twice while I have been teaching) then your effort/explanation score doesn't matter."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:30 PM
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Except I usually think of it as the Bam-Bam, then stop and think, "No wait, Bam-Bam was the boy."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:30 PM
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It's funny; I thought the wacky sexist right-wing thinking was that men are innately better at math than women. But now you have an example of sexist thinking that men need more help in math than women. Can't these people agree on one sexist narrative and stick to it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:30 PM
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A delightfully complicated example of how you can do something like this is the grading scheme from Physics 16 at Harvard. See page 5 of http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic86666.files/16info.pdf

That syllabus is so very How/ard.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:32 PM
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However, if there was very little correlation between success on this test and success on the rest of the course, that would provide a basis for the challenge.

I would say it this way: the class goes much more smoothly when there's a shared expectation about what they know from previous semesters. Without the test, I feel more obligated to go into back-lectures if I come to blank faces mid-semester.

Of course, they have an amazing ability to forget the material that they knew on the review test. Teflon brains.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:32 PM
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67: I think the sexist narrative has changed to men are either really good at math or really bad at it, while women are all mediocre.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:34 PM
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I actually like my classes very much. I know I just bitch here, but grading pulls out the very worst in me, and I come here to vent.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:34 PM
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I think the sexist narrative has changed to men are either really good at math or really bad at it, while women are all mediocre.

I've definitely heard this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:35 PM
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wacky sexist right-wing thinking

Since she's an economist and an MRA-leaning person, maybe it's wacky contrarian thinking. See, all this time we thought women needed help -- BUT! It's really men! Who woulda thunk it?!

Liberals are just as guilty of this. It's a professional disease more than political one. I know I always link to Jay Rosen, so write now you can imagine that I'm linking him again.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:37 PM
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Of course, they have an amazing ability to forget the material that they knew on the review test. Teflon brains.

Taking up the cause of the scatter brained, there may be a connection between forgetting the terms and having simply memorized them for the test without having a high level of understanding. Since they know the order of the questions, they could conceivably just memorize the answers without understanding any of it.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:38 PM
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(I've withheld the best detail, but maybe I'll share it now, which is that my friend is an economist.)

Oh, her.

66: Whenever I see someone in my household walking around in a shirt but no pants, I usually think of it as "Daffy-Duckin' it", then stop and think, "No wait, Daffy Duck was the completely naked one."


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:40 PM
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there may be a connection between forgetting the terms and having simply memorized them for the test without having a high level of understanding.

I've been toying with this conclusion, too. I thought it was sufficient to remind them about stuff they use to know, but maybe not.

I've been thinking about discarding this test in favor of a scarier, must solve algebra and trig problems style-pretest. The book has a nice review at the very beginning that they could study from.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:41 PM
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Donald-Duckin' it would work, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:42 PM
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Only because you wear that little sailor hat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:43 PM
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Rob is very very right in 7.

If such a test were given to me, I am pretty sure I would blow it off, because I have that same "memorization is busy work and I refuse to do it" mentality that comes from being privileged and generally always having been successful at school. I would hope that I would do well based on my knowledge, give it a once-over, and not give it that much though.

I have met many, many men with the same attitude as me, and almost no women. Maybe one.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:46 PM
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The MRA internet fights are highly amusing.

Neither side ever comes off looking good.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:46 PM
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76: The problem may be that they really didn't used to know it -- which is obviously not your fault -- or crammed for the prior exam, reducing their long-term comprehension.

That could be another reason for the higher fail rate for boys -- the boys were more likely to have crammed last semester and thus retained less of the material. On the veldt.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:47 PM
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So my favorite math grading idea I've heard of (which I've never actually tried myself) is to have a bunch of points that you get if you don't write anything incorrect anywhere on the exam.

The context I heard about this in was a math grad class with a 6 question final with each question worth maybe 15 points and "not saying anything false" worth another 10 points. I think you needed 25 points for an A.

I think this idea is less valuable in non-proof-based classes, but still I think it'd be better if saying really stupid things got you negative points rather than partial credit.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:47 PM
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The grading scheme linked in 56 is stupid. Complicated grading schemes trying to manipulate students into following class rules just invite novel ways of gaming the system, and they are self defeating for the students who have to struggle to understand the implications of blowing off a quiz or the like. Simple is good.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:50 PM
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82: I would be really interested to see what happened if someone else tried that in an undergrad course. I'd be a little afraid of scaring off tentative students.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:50 PM
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m.!

The link in 54 is interesting.

The men explicitly rejected stereotypes based on their race or ethnicity and said that such attitudes did not affect their self-image or behavior. By contrast, norms related to their identity as men -- characterized principally by self-reliance -- exerted a powerful influence on their ability to engage in college.

The people in study feel like they can deal with prejudice against them as minorities, but really don't like being disrespected as men. Also, manliness keeps them from seeking help. This fits my perceptions very well. I'm not sure what to do about it. The report's recommendations seem bland and vague.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:52 PM
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I also think it's a motivation problem. Since it's framed as a pass/fail situation, it's just like a hurdle you need to jump over to not get docked. I suspect (generalization alert!) that girls respond better to that kind of negative motivation (fail to do this and you'll be docked five points!) whereas boys respond better to the positive motivation of getting to do well on a test.

The thing is, it feels like a hoop you have to jump through. If you do well on the test, it doesn't prove that you're smart or good at math, only that you can follow directions. And I think boys are much less likely to be motivated to make the effort in such a situation.

Does that sound totally nuts? This is just what popped into my head as someone who is, you know, a lady, but behaves a lot more like dudes in a school setting.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:52 PM
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Can I just say for the thousandth time how much I love teaching at a single-sex school? I never thought I would enjoy it, but after years and years of watching students undermine themselves to seem cooler or more attractive to each other, and dealing with both boys and girls trying to weasel more generous grades out of me by trying to get me to pity their gender (or by trying to work up some kind of weird sexual tension), or assuming I am or should be some kind of soft-hearted mommy because I'm a woman, teaching at a women's college is a paradise. I do miss having male students, and the lack of gender diversity can make our conversations sort of one-sided. But--and this is going to sound really hateful--I especially do not miss how some straight girls act in classes with boys in them. I am ashamed for them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:55 PM
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I'm also, of course, ashamed for the boys who act weird when girls are in the room, but I've never taught at an all-boys' school, so I don't know how they'd be different. I've heard they're different.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:56 PM
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The real issue is heebie's gender.

The boys dont respect her.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 12:57 PM
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Also, manliness keeps them from seeking help. This fits my perceptions very well.

Mine too. I've had a lot of male students come to me for help, but not the tutorial center, and even then, they waste a lot of time trying to prove that they're actually already great at the work.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:00 PM
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The boys dont respect her.

I think this isn't quite right. They respect my mathematical ability, and they like me, because class is usually light-hearted and silly and everyone works pretty hard during class itself. I think they don't respect this assignment whatsoever, with Leblanc's explanation seeming very plausible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:00 PM
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83: Indeed it's important for grading schemes to be substantially simpler than the class material. Hence, that grading scheme works fine for the people in that particular class, but certainly wouldn't work for caclulus.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:03 PM
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Is your friend an economist, or a freakonomist?

I've been thinking about discarding this test in favor of a scarier, must solve algebra and trig problems style-pretest.

Fuck that noise. You have a perfectly effective way of making the boys your bitches. Let them man up.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:10 PM
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87 -- I went to an all boys school for junior high, which was great. Compared to the coed schools I was at before and after, all-boys made a noticeable difference in terms of kids' behavior -- I wouldn't say that they were more focused, exactly, but hierarchies were more fluid, and the level of fear of class participation was way reduced. I think the benefits of single-sex secondary education for girls are well known, but there are big benefits to sex segregation for boys as well.

Of course, all-boys schools are even rarer than all girls; the school I went to went co-ed a few years after I left.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:11 PM
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The report's recommendations seem bland and vague.

Some of them required a lot of reading between the lines, but I thought a couple were valuable:

1. Providing private spaces. Maybe this was especially salient because I was just this week in a high school where they cared enough about their peer mediation to set up a private room with a closed door to do the mediations. It was clear that this has a powerful impact on students' willingness to participate in mediation, because the social costs of admitting vulnerability or engaging in honest interpersonal dialogue are so much lower when it can happen in a private space.

2. Use mandates. Making "help" something that is opt-out or even totally required rather than opt-in changes the dynamic completely.

The recommendation on "clarifying expectations for student behavior" is IME a social class thing more than a gender or race thing, but it's hugely important. The annoying thing is that the report is vague about what this means; IME it means being extraordinarily specific, which instructors who grew up in middle-class norms may find hard to do because the norms are near-invisible to them.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:11 PM
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How well does the gender disparity on this test correlate with performance in the class overall?

In my days of grading freshman and sophomores at Big State U, I did notice the stereotype playing itself out: boys much more likely to completely dismiss and flunk assignments, but also overrepresented in the top 5% of performers.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:11 PM
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By the way:

U:Petgi9!

leblanc!!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:12 PM
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I've heard of this male-to-female achievement gap trend before and I generally blame the boys and/or macho culture or whatever, which I think falls within the Unfogged hive-mind's consensus. That being said, I want to play Devil's Advocate here: So the boys fail this more often. So what?

I mean, remember what we're talking about here. A pretest given one week into a relatively high-level math class to make sure that students have the basic skills necessary. Also, no doubt, so that Heebie can say "don't say I didn't warn you" if the brats try to claim later that they were never responsible for knowing some background material or something. Well, they've been warned, mission accomplished. But the test is only worth five percent? That's really not a lot. Sure, it's possible to imagine a scenario where that five percent is cutoff for passing or qualifying for some other program, but it's pretty unlikely. So, really, why bother?

It's unfortunate that girls are socialized to be so approval-seeking that they really work hard on a math test which is designed to be just review, but in these relatively rare circumstances they'd be better off if they took the "my time and energy is too valuable for this" attitude of the boys.

Well, I guess this isn't actually playing Devil's Advocate against Heebie, since she said she refuses to alter the assignment. I'm playing Devil's Advocate against calling it a problem at all, I guess. Or, on preview, I'm doing what 64 said and challenging assumptions.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:16 PM
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How well does the gender disparity on this test correlate with performance in the class overall?

No correlation. The A students who blew off the test just go and look up old material when they actually have to use it. The students who are going to struggle their butts off can easily pass this test by memorizing.

Mostly it just communicates that I am serious about the material I expect them to already know.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:17 PM
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98: Wuss.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:18 PM
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But the test is only worth five percent? That's really not a lot.

Five percent of your semester grade is a half letter grade. It certainly feels like a lot to them. But the rest of your point stands.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:18 PM
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92: It's trying to motivate a hungover 18 year old to go to class based on the impact of a sliding scale penalty the calculation of which requires attention and alertness. It's complexity in the service of a notion of fairness that is just as subjective as that implicit in the vastly simpler schemes in use nearly everywhere else.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:19 PM
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Leblanc's take sounds right and familiar. The students who blow off the test also probably figure they won't need that 5% on their final grade (which is dumb, of course), or that they'll pass the test without studying. They've got a pattern of thinking and approaching tests that's served them well enough in the past, and like Heebie says, plenty of them end up doing well in the course overall.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:20 PM
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So, with Leblanc as the spokesperson, I'm sympathizing a little more. (Only a little. I'm privileged and lazy like her, and I'd probably blow off studying something like this. But I'd pass. Someone who blows this off and fails, I can't really feel for -- if you treat something with contempt, you should be able to back up your claim of being above it.)

Maybe change the incentives? Make a really laborious, annoying problem set intended to teach the concepts in the pre-test. If you pass the test, you can skip the problem set. If you fail the test, you have to do the problem set, and if you fail the problem set, then your final grade gets the ding. Now passing the test is the lazy man's out -- might attract the privileged that way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:20 PM
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but hierarchies were more fluid, and the level of fear of class participation was way reduced.

The all boys school I attended for grades 3 through 9 was a nightmare of masculine dominance hierarchies.

People who advocate all-boy schools claim that boys will open up and be more sensitive when they are not around girls, but that has been the exact opposite of my experience. The expectations of masculinity are all about proving yourself to other men and male/male competition. Men in groups tend to move in the fraternity hazing direction, not in the sensitive men's retreat direction.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:21 PM
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Oh, wait, I hadn't seen 99 yet.

No correlation. The A students who blew off the test just go and look up old material when they actually have to use it. The students who are going to struggle their butts off can easily pass this test by memorizing.

Kids who fail this don't systematically do worse in the class (outside of the grade penalty)? Then you should probably drop it as useless, whether or not it's sexist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:23 PM
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Men in groups tend to move in the fraternity hazing direction, not in the sensitive men's retreat direction.

I've never attended an all-boys school, but this is my experience of males in groups. I find the idea of being confined to all-male groups (outside of, say, baritone sectional rehearsal) horrifying.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:25 PM
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105: I've heard of both, and I'm sure not all women's colleges end up being like mine, either, in that an all-female environment could also become a fashion parade or a mean girls' party. Because we're also a religious school, I think there's more of a culture of "If you can't say something nice..." I do worry that my smarter students really look down on the ones who are not doing as well. They'd never pick on someone, but they don't help them out.

I like Heebie's collaboration idea. With students who are blowing things off because they imagine everyone else is, it's important to get them to see that other students are really trying and learning.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:27 PM
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Then you should probably drop it as useless, whether or not it's sexist.

Signalling seriousness and expectations is far from useless, you bad teacher you.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:28 PM
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107: An all-male school to me sounds either horrifying or else merely sad.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:29 PM
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I like Heebie's collaboration idea.

Um, I don't think collaboration was heebie's idea.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:29 PM
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109: I was a bad teacher, certainly, but if the kids who are getting the signal don't do better than the kids who aren't, what's the use?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:29 PM
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111: Namely, see this, at 14:

"I found this "solution" horrifying, as I pictured showing up at the library and waiting around for 3 hours as an earnest college student while my punk-ass lazy partner waltzed in late, and was totally distracted, and I would feel forced into being his nanny-tutor."


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:30 PM
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if the kids who are getting the signal don't do better than the kids who aren't, what's the use?

The relevant comparison is whether the kids who are getting the signal do better than their alternate-selves would do if heebie didn't send them the signal.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:30 PM
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OT: We really need a thread about this story.

Short version: Nevada woman gets life sentence for forcing 13-year-old boy to touch her breasts.

Ack.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:31 PM
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It definitely was not like a men's group sensitivity retreat, and thank God for that.

Plenty of hazing-like activity and conversation that would not be approved of here (ie, these were junior high boys). But also much less of the bullshit that I think can constrain boys' performance in class -- "I don't need to take the test" had a different valence when your only audience to impress was a bunch of guys who would call you a moron for doing so.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:31 PM
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Then you should probably drop it as useless, whether or not it's sexist.

Quoting myself from above:
"I would say it this way: the class goes much more smoothly when there's a shared expectation about what they know from previous semesters. Without the test, I feel more obligated to go into back-lectures if I come to blank faces mid-semester."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:32 PM
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106
Then you should probably drop it as useless, whether or not it's sexist.

The use is that from then on, Heebie can say "don't say I didn't warn you."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:34 PM
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111: Oh, sorry!

I find that collaboration always works a lot better than I expect it to, because I had terrible experiences in group work, from elementary school on up. But if you take away the part where you get graded as a group, which is what often leads to one person doing the whole project, collaborative study can be really helpful.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:34 PM
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but if the kids who are getting the signal don't do better than the kids who aren't, what's the use?

It's about classroom dynamics.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:34 PM
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Also what Witt said in 114.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:36 PM
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118: What if heebie just gave them the list of material for that purpose? Is there a need for the test itself?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:37 PM
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117: But that's your state of mind, not the students -- couldn't you just hand out the pretest as a cribsheet of things you're not going to explain in class (although of course you'll explain anything in office hours), assume everyone knows it, and blow on past the blank looks?

I guess, if studying for the test really doesn't seem to improve the individual students' understanding, it does seem unfair to lazy smartasses (hi!), and I could actually buy that it is sexist if lazy smartasses are more likely to be boys.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:37 PM
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122: Yeah, I was actually visualizing printing up index cards that you expected them to bring to every class, and mocking confused students in class with "Read the card".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:39 PM
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116 reads a bit excessively butch, more so than I meant. There was a certain retreat into stereotypically guy-like behavior, but also, I think a big reduction of the anxiety level around that behavior and around the need to impress the othe sex. Much easier to just do the work and go home. I think that it's pretty much directly comparable to girls schools, which tend, IME to produce kids that are at once more "girlish" but also more confident and less burdened by sex-related bullshit. The same is basically true for boys schools -- increased boyishness, maybe, but also, in some important ways, more freedom.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:39 PM
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114, 121: To make that work -- students who fail do as well as students who pass, but not as well as they would have if they had studied and passed, don't you have to assume that failing this test is correlated with being better at calc than passing it? This seems odd.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:41 PM
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What if heebie just gave them the list of material for that purpose? Is there a need for the test itself?

They would not remember the existence of the list, I swear to you. If I said, "All right, I'm going to sit here while you guys look up fact X," a few students would look it up, and most students would sort of giggle that they never got that sheet. And then you hand them another copy. Rinse and repeat.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:42 PM
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it does seem unfair to lazy smartasses (hi!)

As a fellow lazy smartass, I don't see why. This is all supposed to be review of basic math; the lazy smartasses should be able to pass the test without studying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:43 PM
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But that's your state of mind, not the students

I don't see how you're reaching that conclusion.

126: students who fail do as well as students who pass, but not as well as they would have if they had studied and passed

"No correlation" doesn't mean "inverse correlation".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:43 PM
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the lazy smartasses should be able to pass the test without studying.

Yes, this too. It's math that you could figure out with context, if your ass is actually smart enough.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:43 PM
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Leblanc's 86.2 reflects my gut feeling about being subjected to these sorts of things. That same gut feeling has, in my post-college life, lead me to behave in ways not necessarily to my advantage*. Perhaps if I'd experienced a little more in the way of negative consequences from it while in the college coccoon I might have avoided the worse consequences later.

*In the sense used by Emperor Hirohito.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:44 PM
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but if the kids who are getting the signal don't do better than the kids who aren't, what's the use?

What about the possibility that some students get the signal only after they've failed the test and realized the consequence? I say you should keep on keeping on, h-g.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:47 PM
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I rather like LB's suggestion in 104. It also has the added benefit of not overly punishing people who are bad at tests.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:47 PM
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I also think it's a motivation problem. Since it's framed as a pass/fail situation, it's just like a hurdle you need to jump over to not get docked.

I do wonder whether framing it as a way to get extra credit, instead of as a way to avoid losing points, might work better.

Also, I really liked LB's suggestion in 104.2, before she foolishly retracted it.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:47 PM
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129: Well, it's a task that lazy smartasses are bad at, and conscientious types are good at. And it doesn't seem to have anything to do with being successful in learning what Heebie's supposed to teach.

Whether or not the test should be easy to pass, attaching a grade penalty to it seems to be punishing laziness and non-compliance, rather than teaching math.

(Admittedly, I can't really reconcile there being no correlation with success in the class overall, with there being a clearly detectable effect on classroom atmosphere, so I'm skeptical about the effect on classroom atmosphere. If I bought that effect, it'd seem worth the unfairness of the test.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:48 PM
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I think I'm leaning towards a test where they actually have to solve problems, instead of just one that asks them to sketch sin x and cos x and remember properties of logarithms.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:48 PM
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(Admittedly, I can't really reconcile there being no correlation with success in the class overall, with there being a clearly detectable effect on classroom atmosphere, so I'm skeptical about the effect on classroom atmosphere. If I bought that effect, it'd seem worth the unfairness of the test.

What exactly don't you buy? Without the test, they plead never having seen logarithms, trig functions, adding fractions. With the test, they acknowledge that the burden is on them to know this prerequisite material. Class goes more smoothly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:50 PM
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I should say that they generally act quite contrite about having forgotten about the test. It seems more like sheer immaturity than resenting the task.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:51 PM
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one that asks them to sketch sin x and cos x and remember properties of logarithms.

Jesus.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:53 PM
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Come to think of it, saying that I didn't buy the effect is obnoxious. I just don't see how it works.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:53 PM
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I would guess that people's experience here of being a "lazy smartass" is going to be different in kind from that of the students we're discussing. It's more likely that they blow things off while not actually having any remotely accurate gauge of what they know or don't know or even what's expected of them. The fact that they're having a review test is just noise that goes in one ear and out the other.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:54 PM
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In other words, they're lazy dumbasses?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:55 PM
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Speaking of laziness, why have we as a species not yet invented machines that can suck ash out of the sky, or planes that can safely travel in ashy atmospheres? Someone should get on that. Within the next 36 hours.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:56 PM
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I just don't see how it works.

They own that their knowledge prerequisite material is their responsibility, not mine.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:56 PM
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137: Okay, now I get it -- the point is to shame (and this sounds negative, but I can see it being good in this context) students who would otherwise claim that they shouldn't be expected to have seen this stuff before. I thought you were reacting to quizzical looks, not actual claims that they'd never been taught what sin looked like.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:57 PM
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This is a third endorsement of 104.2.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:57 PM
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136: They kind of undulate pleasingly between 0 and 1, right?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:58 PM
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I thought you were reacting to quizzical looks, not actual claims that they'd never been taught what sin looked like.

No, you're missing how fuzzy classroom interactions can be. They would all admit they'd been taught what sin looked like. This class has prerequisites which cover trigonometry.

But then (some of) them would explain the perfectly reasonable extenuating circumstances preventing them from bringing that information into the classroom. So they were helpless and could not possibly know sin x, at this point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 1:59 PM
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116 reads a bit excessively butch, more so than I meant. There was a certain retreat into stereotypically guy-like behavior, but also, I think a big reduction of the anxiety level around that behavior and around the need to impress the othe sex. Much easier to just do the work and go home. I think that it's pretty much directly comparable to girls schools, which tend, IME to produce kids that are at once more "girlish" but also more confident and less burdened by sex-related bullshit. The same is basically true for boys schools -- increased boyishness, maybe, but also, in some important ways, more freedom.

there is some evidence of that:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jan/20/single-sex-schools-boys-arts


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:01 PM
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Ooops. -1 and 1.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:01 PM
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And it serves as a good review. "Remember all that stuff about sin x? Here are the basic facts I expect you to be familiar with." It's much less intimidating than their fuzzy memory of some class from two years ago.

It helps the low-end students who need remedial help to survive the class. So there's probably some correlation, because of that population.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:01 PM
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the point is to shame (and this sounds negative, but I can see it being good in this context) students who would otherwise claim that they shouldn't be expected to have seen this stuff before.

I can't see why you're using the word "shame" to describe this, good in context or not.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:02 PM
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151: have you considered 104.2?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:03 PM
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taught what sin looked like

You learn different sins at single-sex schools.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:05 PM
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I'm with Heebie that this sort of thing is important bc it sets up part of the contract for the course. She can say, if you come in with this particular set of knowledge, I can help you learn the material in this course. If you don't, then it should be a wake-up call that you need to do some remedial work.

I go over all this kind of stuff in my syllabus at the beginning of the semester, the list of things I expect my students to be able to do in order for me to be able to help them. It includes prereq knowledge, but also being in class, knowing how and where to ask for help, etc., and we're going to go over this and you will tell me you're good on these things, and if you're not, we need to have a talk about how you're going to get there.

Of course people tell me they know things they don't know. But when it catches them up later in the semester, at least they don't whine how it's so unfair, how were they supposed to know I expected they'd learned something in previous courses?

Other times, it lets me know, for example, that my students have not necessarily taken a course on poetic analysis. I can't expect them to know anything about meter, rhyme, imagery, etc., so I have to teach it. Good to know.

With a test, you can then say, sorry, but the rest of the class is on board here, and I don't have time to teach remedial material if I'm going to fulfill my contract with the students who learned something last semester.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:05 PM
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153: Yes. I am not trying it. The review test has other problems - like this Teflon brain thing - that make me want to switch to a straight problem-solving pretest, per 136.

Also, every now and then I've tried large, tedious, remedial problem sets, for example after a low test, to give kids an extra credit assignment. It ends up overlapping with new material in a way that bogs them down. I want to keep the review contained within one week, not let it drag on.

Furthermore, I like that this test is over when it's over. Punishments cement enemies in the classroom.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:07 PM
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Admittedly, I can't really reconcile there being no correlation with success in the class overall

LB, did you see JMQ's comment?

What about the possibility that some students get the signal only after they've failed the test and realized the consequence?

Such students would end up doing well in the class, despite failing the pretest.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:09 PM
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The context I heard about this in was a math grad class with a 6 question final with each question worth maybe 15 points and "not saying anything false" worth another 10 points. I think you needed 25 points for an A.

Wait, so you only need to answer one question?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:13 PM
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152: I was thinking "shame" because the functional point is to keep students from wasting time by pleading ignorance, because you've demonstrated that their ignorance (if they are ignorant on these points) is inexcusable. Isn't that shaming? It's appropriate shaming, but it seems like shaming to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:14 PM
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The problem I see with 104.2 is the attitude that it is the teacher's job to somehow or other manipulate the students into learning the material, rather than the student's job to show up prepared to learn. By the time you're in college you damn well ought to be mature enough to take responsibility for the things you are actually responsible for, such as the prerequisites for the class. Mollycoddle them now and all you do is defer the inevitable brutal collision with reality until the consequences are far more severe than being dinged half a letter grade.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:14 PM
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My experience has been that some students, for example lazy smartasses, will do well or badly pretty much independent of the classroom environment. Most students, however, do better if they perceive the teacher to be caring and highly competent. It puts them in the right frame of mind to be receptive to learning. Establishing such an environment from the very beginning of a class is important because it's much harder to establish a good perception in student minds once they've taken an initial view of the class and teacher. And everyone generally does better if everyone does better, i.e. if the class as a whole has this group feeling that it's a good class with a good teacher.

Also, one or a few students can really change the dynamic and attitude of a whole class and make it markedly more or less successful.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:16 PM
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160 is hilariously out of touch with the realities of higher education today.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:17 PM
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160 gets it exactly right, but I think outside of elite universities students would rebel against that sort of attitude.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:22 PM
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I was thinking "shame" because the functional point is to keep students from wasting time by pleading ignorance, because you've demonstrated that their ignorance (if they are ignorant on these points) is inexcusable. Isn't that shaming?

It's about setting expectations, though, not about revealing a gap later on. Let's all be clear on what you're expected to know from day one. Inevitably, there will still be stray gaps down the road, but if anything, the test provides cover from shaming, because it's finite and not scary. If someone didn't know sin x and I said "What happened to your precalculus class?" it's a lot more shameful than if I say "What happened to your review test?" because it's more personal.

I don't know if that makes sense or not. The fact that the review test is not scary means that they also aren't shamed by it, later on, if I remind them of it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:23 PM
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162: I know. It's prescriptive, not descriptive. I ran into a disturbing number of children when I was a TA who didn't understand that I was not their mom, that I had priorities other than giving them an A or reteaching the entire course during reading week office hours, and so forth. The children in question were 18 to 20 years old, but children nonetheless.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:24 PM
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I ran into a disturbing number of children when I was a TA

Better then than when you're a bus driver.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:26 PM
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I'm not sure I see how 104.2 is "mollycoddling".


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:26 PM
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Our students tend to be very nice, and very respectful, and they have the academic maturity of a bright 8th or 9th grader. They really don't expect me to clean up after them, they forget about homeworks and tests all the time, they don't grade grub, and they don't really mind if they get a C.

(Of course this is an exaggeration. I have very competent, bright students as well, who would succeed in any context. I'm not really a factor in whether they learn, though. They also don't grade grub. No one grade grubs.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:28 PM
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They really don't expect me to clean up after them,

What I mean here is that they don't say "That's not fair!" Instead they look at me bright-eyed and say "I don't really remember anything about sin x" and I fill in an obligation to provide the knowledge, in the absence of a review test.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:30 PM
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If someone didn't know sin x and I said "What happened to your precalculus class?" it's a lot more shameful than if I say "What happened to your review test?" because it's more personal.

I get this as how I'd react, or how a reasonable person would react, but this kid: explain the perfectly reasonable extenuating circumstances preventing them from bringing that information into the classroom. So they were helpless and could not possibly know sin x, at this point.

isn't shamed by 'what happened to precalc', and apparently is at least silenced by 'what happened to your pretest.'


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:31 PM
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I think it's helpful to ask students who are failing to learn what exactly they think they need from you in order to do better. Even when the student is just not doing the work, or not able to pay attention, they often will say, vaguely, that they need help. So when you say, "Do you expect me to call you at home and remind you that you have homework?" they say of course not. "Do you want me to call on you randomly during class to make sure you're paying attention?" they say of course not. Then you can talk about what they need to do for themselves.

Recently, I told a student who hadn't paid attention in class all semester, and was complaining about her grade, that I don't like calling people out in class when they're drifting or napping, but that I'd do it if she really needed my help staying focused. She said we could try that, so I did. It was so humiliating to her that I think she ended up deciding that she'd rather stop complaining about her grades than either wake herself up or be woken up by me. Fine. I'm not sure what she expected me to do to get her to learn, but at least she's not blaming me for not helping her anymore.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:32 PM
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isn't shamed by 'what happened to precalc', and apparently is at least silenced by 'what happened to your pretest.'

No, they'd get out their pretest and look up sin x.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:32 PM
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167: It's indulging an unwillingness to take responsibility by manipulating the student at the expense of additional needless effort on the part of the professor. You can argue the exact wording, but it's not Heebie's job to take on extra work to game the students into doing required coursework.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:36 PM
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I should let go of the word 'shame', because I think it's conveying something different to you than what I mean. But to the extent that they will admit to having seen and been responsible for the contents of a test, but not for a prior class or a handout (which, per 127, they'd deny having seen), that sounds like shame in the way I was using it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:37 PM
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174: Shaming has a bad rap on the left. Shameful things should be subject to shaming. The fact that people also try it with non shameful things is a reflection on them, not shaming in general.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:46 PM
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I can't see any meaning of shame that doesn't involve judging someone personally, so if that's not what you mean, then yeah, we're probably at a disconnect.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:57 PM
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It's a shame, but I think heebie is right.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 2:59 PM
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It's a shame that JP hasn't yet realized that heebie is always right.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:04 PM
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171.2 Is the kid in this situation crashed out because she's trying to do a full time job to keep a roof over her head and food in her kitchen as well as study, or is she partying too much? My reaction would depend.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:05 PM
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I was thinking of it from the student's perspective: (1) "You saw that in last year's class." Student thinks, "It's perfectly reasonable of me to plead ignorance of it, whether or not it was in last year's class. So I will plead ignorance, and ask for it to be retaught." The student is not ashamed to ask you to reteach the stuff he should have known. (2) "It's on the reference handout I gave you the first day of class." Student thinks "Nothing embarrassing about losing a handout, or not having gotten it -- I'll say I don't have it and ask for the material to be explained." The student's not ashamed to ask you to re-explain the stuff on the handout. (3) "It was on the pretest." Student has some reason not to deny knowledge and ask for an explanation despite the fact that it was on the pretest -- instead, he looks it up in the pretest. I'd think of that as shame, whether or not you're actually judging him personally -- denying knowledge seems like an absurd thing to do when he's already been graded on it by you, and he's too embarrassed to be that absurd.

But if shame doesn't work for you in that context, maybe embarrassment, or, really, avoiding embarrassment?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:07 PM
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I think that 180 doesn't capture how our students think. They're a lot more impressionistic. They live into whatever structural expectations you provide. They don't use quite such a decision tree.

So this test creates a framework, and they take it for granted that they should know the material, or if not, then they know where to find the material.

If there's something they don't understand, then sometimes they'll ask about it, but there's no pattern or embarrassment. They know they still need to know the graph of sin x, whether or not they understand it. They can, and do, say "I know what sin x looks like, but if I come to office hours can you explain it to me?" Which is perfectly appropriate.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:15 PM
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179: Not working, definitely 19-20 years old, lives in dorms a block from school. I told her that I used to have problems staying awake in class because I drank too much, but she denied that was the problem. (It's a religious school, and while she might be lying, there's not much of a substance-abuse culture.) I think she has an attention disorder. She can't stay awake. When she is awake, she fiddles with her phone. I won't let her do those things anymore, so now she just gets up in the middle of class and leaves for 10-15 minutes at a time.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:21 PM
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176: It depends how much you are willing to separate the person from the act. I'm willing to cut people a lot of slack as far as individual bad acts go, but that doesn't make the acts not bad.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:22 PM
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What would happen if you gave them a crib sheet handout at the beginning of the semester, and coldcalled three or four students at the beginning of each class with questions that could be read off the handout (warning them ahead of time that this would happen). They'd have the handouts (and you could keep a stack of extras for replacements if anyone claimed not to have theirs), and would be used to referring to them, and then when something on the handouts came up in class, they'd be ready.

Or you could just keep on with your test -- I'm just thinking of alternatives.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:31 PM
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I could never quite get the shame/guilt distinction, but isn't one version of it that shame is supposed to be focused on your overall character, whereas guilt extends to condemnation of a single act?

If so, I don't think it's true that Heebie wants to either shame or guilt her students. She just wants some clarity about expectations.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:41 PM
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I thought shame was about exposure -- what other people saw -- while guilt was about your self-evaluation of your own wrongdoing. So if you feel bad even though no one else knows, you feel guilty. If concealing your wrongdoing works to avoid bad feelings, then the bad feeling is shame.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:47 PM
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I could never quite get the shame/guilt distinction, but isn't one version of it that shame is supposed to be focused on your overall character, whereas guilt extends to condemnation of a single act?

I would say that guilt is more self inflicted and shame is inflicted externally. One is a form of self control and one is a form of societal control.

pwnd on preview by LB.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:49 PM
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It may be late in the thread to introduce a new idea, but here's something that I recall appreciating as a student.

I had a Physics professor who handed out a sheet of definitions (replace, in your case would be identities) on the first class. Each class after that would begin with a short (3-4 question) rapid recall quiz that would just ask us to provide those definitions back (it was graded in class, the whole thing took 5 minutes).

The element that I thought was a nice touch was that he gave us the handout on the first day, but we weren't responsible for knowing everything immediately. The first quiz could only test us on the first 4 definitions, and each week after that 2-4 more definitions were added to the pool of possible quiz material. This wasn't necessarily done to track with the course material. In that case all of the definitions were basic physics terms like "force" or "acceleration" (I still remember his definition for the latter, "time rate of change of velocity") it was just a way to structure it to not be overwhelming.

I also had a HS teacher who did something similar with trig identities, and it was one of the best exercises that I've had in a math class ever. By the end of the class, gosh darn it, I knew those trig identities.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 3:59 PM
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I should add, however, that I was good at both math and physics so you shouldn't reed too much into the fact that I liked that system. I'm sure some other students found it deeply annoying.

But I thought it was a good way to put a structure around, "here are things you need to know and be able to recall at any time even if they aren't relevant to the homework for this week."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:01 PM
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A quick googling of the term suggests that the distinction I proposed is used by (pop?) psychologists, whereas LB and CJBs distinction is the one used by anthropologists.

I like my distinction better. I'd call the bad feeling you get when watched by others, but that goes away when you're alone, embarassment. Shame implies to me something deeper, a kind of broader feeling bad about your character that you carry around even when no one's there. And guilt is a deeply-felt regret about something you've done or not done.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:02 PM
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Yeah, that was the sort of effect I was thinking of trying to get with my 184.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:03 PM
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191 to 189. To 190, that may be where Heebie and I were miscommunicating. Shame in the psychologist sense you describe sounds totally counterproductive, and like something you'd never want to evoke in class.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:05 PM
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||

Very handy dad visiting 3 weeks after moving into a new house = WIN!!

|>


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:09 PM
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188 is an excellent idea. My vote is for 188. It is important that, at some point in every thread, we vote.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:12 PM
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Yeah, time for a division.

As for 143 - we've all been out blowing into the sky all afternoon. I don't know what else you expect us to do.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:39 PM
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195.2: Helluva pic.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 4:57 PM
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Iceland to bailout creditors: you want us to pay you back? Here's your payback. Suck it, Europe.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:01 PM
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Will the devastation wrought by Black-Scholes never end?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:07 PM
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161: My experience has been that some students, for example lazy smartasses, will do well or badly pretty much independent of the classroom environment.

Hey! I resemble that remark!

But seriously, I'm sure I would be one of the students that Heebie is complaining about in the OP. But I'm really bad at math, mostly because I'm too lazy to study it attentively. So yeah, I can force a concept into my head for a very short time for test purposes, but it's not going to stick with me the way some critical theory aphorism would, or even a scientific principle. If it was life-or-death, or if I found mathematics to be even the slightest bit interesting, I'd do just fine, but otherwise it's in one ear, out the other all the way. I would assume that doesn't apply to every one of these review-test-failing-male-students, but it might for some of them. Because of the veldt.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:09 PM
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Somebody should write a noir parody set on Martha's Vineyard called "Black Shoals".


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:11 PM
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wow, i haven't thought about trig identities in a while. i wonder why i encounter them so infrequently.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:12 PM
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and i was always way lazy, but this sounds like the kind of thing you can 'review' for by glancing over the handout during the 30 seconds between when the bell sounds and when the teacher starts handing out the exam.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:13 PM
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Will the devastation wrought by Black-Scholes never end?

I think Arsenal will go back to beating Tottenham again soon enough.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:24 PM
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If it was life-or-death, or if I found mathematics to be even the slightest bit interesting, I'd do just fine, but otherwise it's in one ear, out the other all the way.

I used to think this about myself, but looking back, now I wonder if I was just not that good at math, and preferred to be the agent of my own mediocre mathematics. Saying "but I just wasn't that interested" ignores that perhaps there is a structural component involved in interestingness, rather than simply an exercise of the will.

I mean, what is it that makes things stick in the brain but interestigness? And why can't brain-stickiness for math -- finding it interesting -- be an aptitude like remembering bits of poems from 9th grade or writing pretty? Is an aptitude for writing really separable from finding writing interesting?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:28 PM
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Or more succinctly, easy or not at all.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:44 PM
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like remembering bits of poems from 9th grade

Stone walls do not a prison make,
nor iron bars a cage.
Unless the builder is fake,
and stealing the wage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 5:56 PM
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I don't think that's how it goes.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:07 PM
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If Obama didn't have such a teflon brain, he'd stop talking about passing laws to control derivatives.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:15 PM
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184, 188 - Or, if you're working on drilling a crib sheet, you could do like my hs math teacher. Make each kid responsible for a concept. When it comes up in class, turn to that student. "Got a negative exponent here. Lucy, help us out!" You'd be the conductor.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:16 PM
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||

115- On a somewhat similar theme.

|>


Posted by: persistently visible | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:23 PM
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Somebody should write a noir parody set on Martha's Vineyard called "Black Shoals".

I nominate Belle Waring (scroll to comment #3). It should be set in South Carolina, though.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:38 PM
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No, no, on second thought, it should obviously be set in the Hamptons.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:39 PM
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I haven't read the thread all the way through, but have you ever remarked on the disparity of the test results to your students? I wonder what the effect of saying that the men fail in disproportionate numbers would be. I guess it could just reinforce that tendency, so maybe it wouldn't be good to bring up. But if you can't run unauthorized experiments on your students, what's the classroom for?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:42 PM
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if you can't run unauthorized experiments on your students, what's the classroom for?

Stealing their ideas for your research papers.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:53 PM
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I thought that was the point of directed study.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 6:57 PM
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I did that when I TAd. In one class, the first midterm I graded, 8 of the top 10 grades were by women, and the first guy came in at number 6 or something. I'd graded them anonymously, so I knew it wasn't something I'd subconsciously arranged. Anyway, I graphed it, sent it to the prof and the class had a little talk about it that day.

A couple guys stepped it up after that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 7:43 PM
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Iceland to bailout creditors: you want us to pay you back? Here's your payback. Suck it, Europe.

Places not to fuck with: countries upwind of you and full of volcanoes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 8:05 PM
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I mean, what is it that makes things stick in the brain but interestigness?

Strictly speaking, I'm not sure that something's tending to stick in the brain requires that it be interesting - I mean, it could be easy and boring - but what I think is true is that if the subject is interesting in itself, so to speak, then being the sort of person who understands it easily will make its interesting nature shine forth for you. So not finding something interesting can be a sign of lack of talent for that particular discipline.

But I think that there's a level of potential mathematical talent that a lot of smart humanities types have, which, while maybe not high enough to make understanding and therefore interest inevitable, is more than high enough to make it possible, if it weren't for a variety of things that get in the way.

One thing that sometimes happens is that people's eyes glaze over even when they are perfectly capable of understanding something, because of some wrong presuppositions about what the point of the exercise is. It's amazing, for instance, how many smart people go through school thinking that whereas arithmetic makes sense, algebra is just a bunch of arbitrary rules for manipulating symbols, all because no-one ever emphasized that when you write x(y+z) = xy + xz, you mean that the identity holds no matter what numbers you substitute for x, y, and z. And that something different is meant when you're presented with equations where you solve for the unknowns.

The wrong presupposition here isn't fundamentally about maths, but about motivations. The eyes glaze over because people find it fits with their background assumptions to imagine that algebra, say, involves rules that have no interesting rationale to them (or at least, no interesting rationale that can be explained to people who aren't freakishly talented). And that's because one of the background assumptions is that the people setting the exercises are the sort of people who are motivated only by the desire to get you to jump through some hoops, and not by the desire to get you to understand anything. (Ye of little faith.)


Posted by: One of Many | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 9:17 PM
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On the other hand, I remembered all my lines perfectly tonight, and delivered them with aplomb, if I do say so myself! The whole cast was great, we totally killed!

Give my regards to Broadway...


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 9:59 PM
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207: My memory gets hazy.

219: Way to go. What role were in playing?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-16-10 10:14 PM
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It's eery in west London this morning. No flights, and the sky is dusty/smoggy/hazy looking in the distance. It looks like LA.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:17 AM
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I was encouraged to see that flights were leaving Glasgow yesterday, but it looks like they are shut down again today.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:39 AM
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220.2 would shatter my carefully woven veil of anonymity I'm afraid. It was funny though.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:53 AM
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re: 222

I think there's been a few brief windows opened for flights at particular airports, but it's back to a total blanket freeze again, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 1:08 AM
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70

I think the sexist narrative has changed to men are either really good at math or really bad at it, while women are all mediocre.

Males show greater variance in scores but their distribution is still unimodal with most scores in the middle. The distribution is just spread out more (fatter tails) than the female distribution. This means there will be more males than females at the extremes. The male mean is also higher than the female mean.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:07 AM
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225: That is the current distribution. To get the sexist narrative, you also have to make up some story about how that distribution came to be.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:57 AM
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226: Back on the veldt, the women huddled together around the campfire while the men ventured further away.

Mildly amusing aside: a female German acquaintance told be she was dumbfounded by the number of male colleagues who earnestly believed that specially marked Frauenparkplätze were so designated because they were especially wide and therefore easier to park in.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:08 AM
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I think there's been a few brief windows opened for flights at particular airports, but it's back to a total blanket freeze again, I think.

My flight home from Denmark tomorrow just got officially canceled, and Continental is telling me there are no open seats on other flights for the next week. I'm contemplating swimming to Ireland to get a flight back.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:16 AM
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Time to get cracking on macroscopic quantum teleportation, essear.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:25 AM
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Or we could follow the suggestions of this gentleman in the NYT comments and bomb the volcano!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:27 AM
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There are other options (John Cleese's £3,300 taxi ride from Oslo to Brussels).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:28 AM
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Or we could follow the suggestions of this gentleman in the NYT comments and bomb the volcano!

I was thinking more along the lines of giant floating fans blowing all the ash out over the Arctic.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:29 AM
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The trains are mostly booked up too (aside from the fact that it's, like, 24 hours on trains to get from here to anywhere with better travel prospects, and zillions of other people are eagerly trying to book those flights too).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:30 AM
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Well, whatever you come up with, if you could get it implemented by tomorrow that'd be great.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:32 AM
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How are your legs? You could do an impromptu bicycle tour.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:33 AM
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230: Hmm, "Bob Jacobson" from Arizona. Now we know John McCain's Internet pseud.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:33 AM
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Perhaps some sort of cheesecloth could be gingerly wafted across Europe to filter out the particulate and put it back in the volcano?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:33 AM
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Can't we reverse the volcano from blow to suck?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:35 AM
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238: Some would contend that the volcano sucks already.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:05 AM
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238: On an incline!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:09 AM
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"It all depends on your perspective. If you watch the video backwards, it looks like the cops are helping Rodney King up, and sending him on his way."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:11 AM
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On a hot dog!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:11 AM
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I was wondering why they don't just put a big tarp over the volcano to keep the ashes contained.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:11 AM
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Like a maxipad?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:13 AM
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Something like that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:13 AM
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Or a diaper.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:15 AM
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"Volcano" would be a good celebrity kid name.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:15 AM
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I don't get what's so hard about making jet engines that can tolerate being filled with molten glass.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:28 AM
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European airplanes have delicate tummies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:30 AM
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Wasn't I glad I had a reservation on the Eurostar...London is currently under very blue/blonde skies with a notable haze at the horizon. I got some interesting photos last night trying to shoot the ray effects of the ash around the sun.

Meanwhile, we had to recover a crash damaged car from a workshop in Enfield. It's been standing outside all week and it's entirely covered with a fine layer of dust.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:55 AM
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I'd link to my story about how the ashfall from a big volcanic eruption led to my hooking up with my now-wife, but the internal links in the story no longer work, and I'm too lazy to edit the thing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:11 AM
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I wonder how long the delay has to last before someone sets up a sea-ferry to Iceland (or Halifax--but that might take more time) from European ports? From there, folks can fly onward to the US.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:12 AM
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I wonder if Cunard Lines are gearing up?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:21 AM
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196: : Helluva pic

Must be. Work PC says no-can-look-at. Is it a dinosaur having its way with a volcanic robot?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:23 AM
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Hmmm, no just the one at the top of this story. But I see that the one I linked above was from a Chinese news site. So don;t know what it is they don't want you to look at.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:41 AM
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You can already take ship for Iceland from Denmark via the Faroes. But they sail a couple of times a week and it's mostly Ro-Ro truck trailers.

A workaround might be to re-route across the Atlantic further south - burning more fuel and taking longer. You'd have to get out from under the cloud first, perhaps flying VFR at relatively low level (noisy, gasguzzly, and slow) until you got south of it and then hurrying off. Apparently Icelandair sent off a few flights to pick up their stranded pax that flew due south down the Atlantic to the latitude of Finistere and then turned east-north-east to get into Paris, testing the B757's performance limits.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:51 AM
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How long before rickety craft overloaded with business travelers start turning up on our shores?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:54 AM
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Bring us your tired, your weary, your huddled Nokia executives.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:57 AM
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"your tired, your weary"? Little redundant there, imaginary statue of liberty.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:57 AM
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Will there be free Wifi at the refugee camps and processing centers? Stay tuned.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:59 AM
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relatively low level (noisy, gasguzzly, and slow

Huh. Maybe a dumb question: why is it more gasguzzly and slower than flying higher? I've been scratching my head as to why flying below the evil ash cloud isn't a solution, but I know basically squat about anything.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:31 AM
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261: atmospheric density.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:35 AM
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I was looking at the few flights on flightradar24 last night and saw a B777 crossing the Med between Sardinia and Spain. It was going from Islamabad to Toronto (PIA781). I figure that is not the usual route. But the great circle route goes over Scandinavia, so the long way around is it.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:40 AM
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262: So, why not fly at 60,000 feet? I mean, not in relation to the ash cloud—just a general question. At some point there's a trade-off to the amount of fuel required to get up to the less-dense air, is that it? And roughly 30,000 is the sweet spot?

(If that's the answer, this concludes today's segment of Stanley Asks Questions Whose Answers Are Probably Obvious To Others.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:41 AM
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Same answer. Atmospheric density.

Service ceiling of a B777 is 43,100 ft.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:43 AM
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265: What happens above that elevation; does it turn into a pumpkin?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:45 AM
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Elevation? Altitude. Someone named me should have gotten more sleep last night.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:46 AM
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The air is too thin and it doesn't generate enough lift unless the plane goes faster. But that has its limit too. That's where you reach the coffin corner.

Pinky: Gee, Brain, are we going to push the corner of the envelope?
Brain: No, Pinky, but we may get as far as the sticky stuff near the edge.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:53 AM
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Elevation. A song by U2. U2s fly at the edge of the envelope. See it all comes together. (Beatles...)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 11:55 AM
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And of course (following 268) you can create more lift with a greater lifting surface to weight ratio, but for passenger jets that gets you to unwieldy wing sizes (and long takeoffs) quite quickly. You already need a fairly giant airport to accomodate a 747. But if you look at something like a U2, which is designed to fly extremely high but relatively slowly (unlike something like an SR-22, which is designed to fly extremely high and extremely quickly) the wings are relatively enormous.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:12 PM
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269-270: Ah, so that's why U2 always does their encore going uphill. It all makes sense. Thanks, guys!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:17 PM
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Hmm, KLM has a ship in the air. It isn't a regular flight (KLM 705, tail number PH-BGB ) and the track is from AMS then north to the hook and now curving back south over Groningen. It doesn't look like an equipment move either. The transponder info says it is at 41,000 ft. Right in the sticky part. Maybe a test flight? But why? I'd let the government do that.

(Now it is heading back to AMS and has descended to 35,000 ft. Weird)

Ah well, it is a lovely day here in DC so I am going outside to breathe the pollen-filled air.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:23 PM
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Where are you looking up these flight paths, md?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:26 PM
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273: As he may have been already overtaken by the tree babies, his above comment suggests here, though I can't get it to load.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 12:27 PM
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It could be a weather flight deliberately exploring it. The UK Met Office plane, a Dornier 228, was out yesterday doing LIDAR and air sampling. They found three layers of ash, the lowest and thickest at 8000ft.The flight test engineer was interviewed on the BBC, said he wouldn't recommend flying at all.

Technically, what is closed is the controlled airspace. A lot of business jets apparently left the UK flying low, out of controlled airspace, until the CAA specifically warned them that they could cheat the rules but not the volcano.

Some gliding club was planning to get a winch launch and go soar over Heathrpw.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 1:28 PM
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How are balloonists doing? Does this herald new financial viability for dirigibile travel? If people who understand environmental threats were in charge, could they use this crisis to educate the public about how air travel needs to come to a permanent stop?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 1:36 PM
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How are balloonists doing? Does this herald new financial viability for dirigibile travel?

You know, people are saying that, but I think they're full of hot air.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 1:37 PM
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A lot of business jets apparently left the UK flying low, out of controlled airspace, until the CAA specifically warned them that they could cheat the rules but not the volcano.

I fought the volcano and the volcano won.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 1:50 PM
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These clouds are a bit spooky, considering I just finished reading Timescape by Gregory Benford, wherein a fertilizer-runoff-induced plankton bloom gives off huge clouds of poisonous gases, whose first effect is to down passing airplanes.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:15 PM
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The gases are poisonous to airplanes?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:28 PM
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They destroy aluminum oxide, maybe?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:29 PM
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The conversation has moved on, but I do think there might be sexism here. It's not so much the OP itself, which I think is a perfectly sensible attitude to have if it were gender-neutral. But I also suspect that if the genders were reversed and women were doing worse it would be seen as perfectly legitimate to think the test was sexist and should be altered.

Bah. The boys have more than enough advantages in society. They don't need Prof. Geebie giving them an extra hand....Also, I suspect that the reason the boys are failing the test specifically has to do with their male privilege.

When men do well, it's male privilege. When men do badly, it's male privilege.

As always in education, the girls are doing well on the test because they are socialized to be obedient and try to please people.

Men and women are different, especially when they're young. It's not all socialization.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:36 PM
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I think the book was written when airplanes still vented in outside air.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:43 PM
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I think the book was written when airplanes still vented in outside air.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:43 PM
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283 to 280, and 284 to 281.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:44 PM
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282: I have zero interest in getting involved in yet another pointless argument about gender roles, but I would like to point out this interesting post about the subject from an anthropological perspective.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:45 PM
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When men do well, it's male privilege. When men do badly, it's male privilege.

That's very incisive and all but it's also kind of b.s., isn't it? There was an explanation of how m.p. might here result in the observed phenomenon; it isn't surprising to learn that privilege can in some cases lead to the privileged person's doing well but in others to the privileged person's doing badly, through e.g. carelessness.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:49 PM
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new financial viability for dirigibile travel

History says that mortgage-backed dirigibles will always go up.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:49 PM
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When men do well, it's male privilege. When men do badly, it's male privilege.

That's right.

There can be no equivalency. After 5000 years of horrible oppression, even with most of the American wealth, even with longer lives, even with better college graduation rates esp in law, medicine and other professions, even with a higher employment rate than men...women are still terribly mentally and emotionally oppressed by the patriarchy. Their feelings hurt reeal bad. It's like Kim Crow, or even slavery.

As a man, you simply cannot understand. Best just to kneel and take instruction from your moral betters.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 2:55 PM
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5000! What makes you think things were so great before that, bub?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:05 PM
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290: Duh. We were back on the veldt.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:06 PM
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I spent half the day concocting a brilliant plan to escape via Lisbon just in time to avoid altering my travel plans in the US later this week, only to come back to my hotel room, check the projected ash cloud map on the NYTimes front page, and see that it will almost certainly get to Lisbon before I would.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:09 PM
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286: nothing in that link I particularly disagree with, or that contradicts anything I said.

287: sure, you can come up with a coherent theory about how "privilege" can explain any set of empirical outcomes. But at some point, for some outcomes, you might question whether "privilege" -- a very judgementally loaded word -- was an accurate term for what you were describing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:09 PM
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287: What is your explanation for why the boys do worse?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:13 PM
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I mean 293. PGD.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:14 PM
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293:PGD, it's Nietzschean

When a tribe determines that is morally legitimated by some contingent circumstance(?), the question changes from "Why don't we have some of the power?" to "Why don't we have most of the power?" to

"Why do the Others have any power at all?"

That our opponents have any power over us, or any advantages at all, or any benefits not expressly granted by our tribe, not merely as a group, but also as individuals, is considered unnatural, illogical, an affront to reason, science, a crime against the Good.

True for racist WASPS, true for certain evangelical Christians, and becoming true for women. They used to be an oppressed group; now they are becoming a dominant group, and beginning to act like it.

Whatever reason they fail the test, it must be their own fault, or the fault of the patriarchy. If we gad the social revolution and gave women even more power, and if then men would recognize and accept their natural subordinate position, they might do better. But who really cares?

Why do men have any good jobs at all? I suppose it might be ok for some men to have a little power, as long as they were judged worthy, and understood their place.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:38 PM
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nothing in that link I particularly disagree with, or that contradicts anything I said.

Good to hear.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:39 PM
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296: You found your entrypoint! Good job.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:41 PM
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Thank you, Witt, for the stuff about non-white male students at CCs and professorial expectations of them. This fits perfectly into a conversation my partner (black, CC prof) and I have been having, though since it involves more instances of her dreaded chair's racism in action it probably won't get far. I'll have to see if there's more stuff on "Maybe I wouldn't treat you like a stereotype if you'd pull up your pants!" in the unsexy fashion comments, but I haven't had a chance yet thanks to the local pollen, which at least lets me feel topical too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:43 PM
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even with better college graduation rates esp in law, medicine and other professions, even with a higher employment rate than men...women are still terribly mentally and emotionally oppressed by the patriarchy. Their feelings hurt reeal bad. It's like Kim Crow, or even slavery.

Yeah, it must be all those fragile hurt feelings to blame for the fact that, despite equal or better graduation rates, women remain seriously underrepresented at the top tiers of the legal profession (I can't speak to medicine or other professions). It must be that overwhelming equality that lead to the disproportionate rates of attrition. Yes, feminists primary goal is to make men kneel and accept their place as our moral inferiors.

Or, shorter, fuck off.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:44 PM
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now they are becoming a dominant group, and beginning to act like it.

I mean, soon they might make up ONE THIRD of the Supreme Court!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:46 PM
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Oh, you easily trolled nice people. See comment 59.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:49 PM
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(I've just returned from a weekend packed with professional events reminding me again and again that the rest of the world doesn't have the same understanding of feminism and gender-relations that is so natural here. I couldn't tell all those people to fuck off, so I went with Bob's entrypoint.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 3:57 PM
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Wait, you don't want to finish this argument? I was just getting started.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:03 PM
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Oh, keep going Rob! I have so much more vitriol left to vent!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:06 PM
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This could be a much more interesting discussion if it wasn't being trolled. I don't find the "privilege" explanation very convincing for the growing gender gap in education and income among young professionals, or, at least, it's pitched at too general a level. The question would be why, specifically in the last ten years, male privilege would express itself in the form of taking school for granted in such a way that you are more likely to not graduate from college. Unless the explanation is just that males have always been more likely to slack off, only now they are more likely to not get away with it.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:08 PM
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301:I said "becoming", didn't I?

I don't feel like I am making any kind of strong moral judgment. I am certainly not saying that men are morally superior or have earned the right to ressentiment. And I still consider myself a committed feminist on most of the relevant issues and policies.

But I've never been a joiner and abhor tribal identities for myself. Now that I see much feminism in the West as merely a matter of competitive power politics I have as much loyalty to the group identity as I do to Sunni or Shia, Baptist or Mormons.

It's like Walker vs La Guardia vs Smith. Whatever. That the Irish controlled NYC rather than the Italians or the Jews doesn't strike me as an important moral question.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:11 PM
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295: Well, without knowing a lot more than I do about the culture/background of your students, it's hard to say, anything I say would be a wild guess. I mean, maybe there's something having to do with your school's marketing or traditions that just happens to attract better female students than male students. Or maybe in the social settings you draw from boys are more likely to have had to take jobs over the inter-semester break (or the summmer) and thus had less time to review. Or maybe fewer of your boys are planning to be math majors, who knows.

But if I'm going to take a wild generalized guess: if you think about gender-stereotypic issues or problems in learning styles (forget aboout what causes them for the moment), boys tend to be more disorganized and need more external structure. If you are giving them a review test immediately after returning to the class, then you are hitting them with an extensive review right after a big chunk of unstructured time (the summer or between-semester break). They might need more time to get their act together after that then the girls.

Now obviously you don't want to give in to whatever problem they have with self-discipline or structure, but you can simultaneously accomodate the issue by giving a better shot grading-wise while still challlenging the biys to be more disciplined. For instance, you could devote an initial class to review and do some cold-calls, have people do some problems in class using review material -- make it a wake-up call type thing and call people out a little. Then give the review exam a week after that, when people have had time to react to that wake up call. Of course, maybe you are using the review exam itself as a wake up call, and not counting the grade into the class average, etc. I really don't know how you're doing the review exam either. Just a thought, though.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:14 PM
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I still consider myself a committed feminist

*Snort!*



Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:17 PM
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boys tend to be more disorganized and need more external structure.

This is not true IME at all.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:21 PM
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despite equal or better graduation rates, women remain seriously underrepresented at the top tiers of the legal profession (I can't speak to medicine or other professions). It must be that overwhelming equality that lead to the disproportionate rates of attrition.

I think one of the reasons people often talk past each other in these discussions is this "top tiers" thing. I mean, it seems obvious to me that there are both more men who are in trouble in our society -- dying young, in prison, socially isolated, just having their lives go seriously off the rails in somee way -- and also more men at the very top tiers of various career ladders. There's no contradiction at all there, especially since there's only a small fraction of the total population who are career superachievers.

My own views on this may be affected by my personal feeling that the personal costs of aiming for the "top tiers" are very often not worth the benefits. I don't see any contradiction in thinking that a social arrangement that simultaneously pushes a few men to a lot of the very highest-ranking positions while damaging many more men who don't make it there is in some sense disadvantageous to men.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:27 PM
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I don't see any contradiction in thinking that a social arrangement that simultaneously pushes a few men to a lot of the very highest-ranking positions while damaging many more men who don't make it there is in some sense disadvantageous to men.

Well, I would generally agree that the patriarchy is also damaging to men, yes. I think what you gloss over in this formulation, however, is that this arrangement is also damaging the women who don't make it there -- and at disproportionate rates.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:34 PM
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301:I mean, soon they might make up ONE THIRD of the Supreme Court!

So replace three men with Kay Bailey H, Michele Malkin, and Sarah Palin? Or their wingnut equivalents of the Republican bench? Of course not.

I try to understand the mindset of someone who thinks "we need more women on SCOTUS" before he thinks "we need more liberals, or more liberal women"

It's about a hegemony that controls framing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:35 PM
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312 was me.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:35 PM
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313: You're not actually stupid, Bob. The point was that you can't claim women are "becoming dominant" when they still aren't even equally represented.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 4:39 PM
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boys tend to be more disorganized and need more external structure.

This is totally true IME.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 5:05 PM
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315:Uh, yes I can.

I can look bottom-up, at wealth, jobs, graduates in professions, voter registrations.

That women as a class don't vote to put women in power doesn't mean that women aren't the ones choosing the representatives.

That say Tea Party women don't use their gender as their primary tribal identification doesn't necessarily mean that women are not, in fact, controlling the Tea Party. I don't know.

In any case, what I can say is that there is a group or tribe whose primary identification is as women, supported by others who identify as "supporting women" who are seeking (and making great progress in some sectors) a hegemony for women qua women.

This last is not even controversial. The next move is to try to view this ideology or interest group from the outside, just as we analyze libertarians or the Tea Party from the outside.

We can certainly try to imagine how other ideologies or interest groups might have attempted to objectify heebies failing students.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 5:05 PM
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316: Interesting. I wonder if I'm simply reacting to the fact that there is a minor gender divide in the majors of students in my lower-division classes. I'm more likely to have male engineering/sciences students and female humanities/social sciences students. Overall I have more science students of both genders than social sciences/humanities so this divide isn't exactly stark. But anyway, the male engineering types often come across as highly organized and self-motivated. Or really, what I'm trying to say is that I haven't noticed a clear gender difference in regards to being organized -- I've seen plenty of disorganized women and organized men and vice versa.

When I think of external structure, I think of prep work exactly like what heebie describes in the OP, which I do notice male students being more unwilling to do. Is that not what is meant by external structure?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 5:18 PM
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Upon reflection, I acknowledge that heebie is (as ever) right.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 5:29 PM
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doesn't necessarily mean that women are not, in fact, controlling the Tea Party.

Somewhere surely there is a Tea Party Madame Defarge, tatting the names of her exclusively male victims into her shawls.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 5:38 PM
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Maybe a little Villon tonight, bob?

In my own country I am in a far-off land
I am strong but have not force or power
I win all yet remain a loser
At break of dawn I say good-night
When I lie down I have a great fear
Of falling


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:06 PM
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306: This could be a much more interesting discussion if it wasn't being trolled. I don't find the "privilege" explanation very convincing for the growing gender gap in education and income among young professionals

Yes.

There's a *growing* gender gap in education and income between young professionals? I may not have clicked on a relevant link, but this rather surprises me. I should review the thread more closely.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:06 PM
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Yeah, I missed that link, too. And I would be very surprised if young professional women are earning more than young professional men.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:15 PM
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^^ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/03/nyregion/03women.html?_r=1


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:18 PM
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324:I am not at all surprised

But only in Dallas do young women's wages surpass men's by a larger amount than in New York. In Dallas, women make 120 percent of what men do, although their median wage there, $25,467, was much lower than that of women in New York.

Nationally, women in their 20s made a median income of $25,467, compared with $28,523 for men.

Dallas:Best city for women in the world. C'mon down, y'all


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:23 PM
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And I would be very surprised if young professional women are earning more than young professional men.

Young professional men keep wasting time on dinosaur porn, so maybe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:23 PM
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12 years old

In 1970, less than 10% of bachelor's degrees in accounting were awarded to females. By the mid-1980s, the share exceeded 50%. Today, women account for 55% of bachelor's degrees in the subject--and 77% of associate's degrees. Indeed, slightly more than half of U.S. accountants are now female, compared with about 25% of doctors and lawyers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:26 PM
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She who controls the ledger, controls the world.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:41 PM
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324: That's in a few urban areas to which educated women migrate, CB. The figures are therefore skewed, as the article acknowledges repeatedly. Please don't use that to go to a general statement that there's a growing gender *gap* in education and income among young professionals.

It looks to me as though the most to be claimed is that there's a growing equality. If more women are graduating from college (by a small margin), so what?

Your other point in 306:

The question would be why, specifically in the last ten years, male privilege would express itself in the form of taking school for granted in such a way that you are more likely to not graduate from college. Unless the explanation is just that males have always been more likely to slack off, only now they are more likely to not get away with it.

I realize you're just following from, riffing off, the preceding comments suggesting that male privilege causes slacking. And yeah, I don't find that very convincing either. But I don't think citing stats about an alleged salary dominance on the part of women in certain major cities serves the point.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:47 PM
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If more women are graduating from college (by a small margin), so what?

Yes, it used to be much harder. During the 80s, I remember seeing a documentary about a Pittsburgh woman who wanted to leave the steel mill to attend a dance academy. She had all sorts of trouble.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:50 PM
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feminists thinking 'if only there was less discrimination, i'd be at the top' seems about the same as the bri/an kap/lan 'if only we had gilded industrial feudal propertarian state, i'd be a robber baron'

stop paying attention to the shiny bauble


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 6:52 PM
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Despite my best efforts, I can't seem to manage a comment so pointless that it stands out for more than two minutes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:02 PM
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Coming around again to 306.2: Unless the explanation is just that males have always been more likely to slack off, only now they are more likely to not get away with it.

On second thought, this is plausible.

I'm willing to give PGD's 308.2 some credence:

boys tend to be more disorganized and need more external structure. If you are giving them a review test immediately after returning to the class, then you are hitting them with an extensive review right after a big chunk of unstructured time (the summer or between-semester break).

I'm not a boy! Does this accurately describe what it's like?

These kids need to figure out that when school starts, school has started. It doesn't start in two weeks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:14 PM
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I don't see any contradiction in thinking that a social arrangement that simultaneously pushes a few men to a lot of the very highest-ranking positions while damaging many more men who don't make it there is in some sense disadvantageous to men.

Certainly, those factors in our society that lead to the, e.g., high incarceration rate among young men are disadvantageous to men. But looking at this comment, I'd think that you were talking about a world where, say, men were overrepresented in the top 5% of the population for money and power, and in the remaining 95% of society, women were wealthier and more powerful. This does not appear to me to be a reasonable representation of the society I live in.

I'd buy it if you were talking about a society where (percentages from www.myass.com) men were overrepresented in the top 5% for money and power, on average wealthier and more vocationally successful in the next 75%, but also overrepresented and more immiserated in the bottom 10%.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:25 PM
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Sorry, that was me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:26 PM
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I would like to hear from PGD some day a longer exposition of the way in which the patriarchal society damages men. I don't think this is bullshit on its face, not at all.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:30 PM
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To the portion of PGD's comment LB quotes in 334.1: It's disadvantageous to society, no?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:35 PM
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the question would be why, specifically in the last ten years, male privilege would express itself in the form of taking school for granted in such a way that you are more likely to not graduate from college. Unless the explanation is just that males have always been more likely to slack off, only now they are more likely to not get away with it.

The explanation could be that pre-WWII, we didn't expect everyone to go to high school. Then h.s. graduation became a minimum social expectation. Now a bachelor's degree is becoming a minimum social expectation.

This means that a larger and larger percentage of young people is getting shunted into extended academic careers. Having 60, 70, 80% of youth expected to go on to some kind of postsecondary education is absolutely unprecedented in American history.

In my city, vo-tech and trade programs were shut down in droves in the '80s and '90s. The "high expectations" pendulum has swung so far, and the term has been interpreted so narrowly, that a colleague got into a vigorous argument last week with a group of community leaders about whether it is EVER appropriate to suggest that all kids shouldn't go to college.

I am perfectly prepared to believe that a combination of things are causing young men to "fail" more and more visibly than they used to. Socialization, social and economic trends' influence on natural skills (a handy kid used to have lots of career paths; now s/he has fewer that don't still involve lots of book learning), and well-studied developmental differences (not between ALL men and women, but in the way that *some* boys' brains are slower to 'wire' for certain kinds of language skills -- the research I saw says this disappears by age 13/14, but that gives you almost a decade to develop a self-image and coping mechanisms centered around being bad at certain kind of school stuff) -- all of these and more are factors that may be part of the story.

It's tricky stuff. A lot of people are looking for a reason to dismiss the academic hopes of kids who don't look like the "right" kind. Others have an agenda that "everybody" should be successful, but are confounded when asked to define success more broadly than a white-collar professional career.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:50 PM
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Just to put some data out there:

"Of the 42,269 applicants for the entering [med school] class of 2009-2010, 52.1 percent were men and 47.9 percent were women"

"In 2009-2010, women were 47.9 percent of all matriculants"

"In 2008-09, women received 8,035 (48.8%) of the 16,468 M.D.'s awarded"

"women were expected to be awarded over 57 percent of all B.A. and B.S degrees nationally in 2008-09"

"Males represent 53.2 percent of total J.D. enrollment this year [2007-08]"


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 7:57 PM
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Hmm...I could swear I just posted a comment, and then it disappeared. Needless to say, I blame the patriarchy.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:02 PM
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MC, please try to reconstruct your comment.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:12 PM
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Then the semioticians can deconstruct it!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:14 PM
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MC, please try to reconstruct your comment.

Oh, it's not worth reconstructing, really. Except to note that this

The next move is to try to view this ideology or interest group from the outside, just as we analyze libertarians or the Tea Party from the outside.

seems a tad unrealistic. I mean, who among us can claim to be the gender-free Archimedes who can stand outside the gender system and serve as neutral arbiter?

But I might actually be somewhat sympathetic to bob's point, if only he didn't try to set things up as some sort of zero-sum game.

And I agree with you, Parsimon, in 336, about wanting to hear more from PGD, whose 311 does make sense to me.

And great comment by Witt in 338. Yes, this all gets trickier, and more complex, when you add class (or socioeconomic status or what have you) to the mix.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:26 PM
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There are many irritating things about this article, but these are probably the two worst:

"The supply of women C.E.O.'s is lower than the supply of men, but to go from there to assuming there'd even be a bias? It just never happens," says Rory O'Driscoll, a managing director at Scale Venture Partners. "You're just trying to make a buck."

DATA FAIL.

But research indicates that gender exerts a powerful influence on where the money goes in Silicon Valley. Venture capital firms with senior female investors are more likely to attract and close deals with women-led start-ups, concluded a Kauffman Foundation report.
That may be because data show that people are more trusting and comfortable working with people of their own sex, says Toby Stuart, a Harvard Business School professor who studies the topic.
He says that some men are reluctant to invest in women's start-ups because "there are enough things that can go wrong with a high-risk, early-stage venture that if you're worried about any interpersonal dynamic issues, why not do a deal that takes that out of the equation?"

Right. 'Cause heaven knows men never have interpersonal dynamic issues with other men.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 8:51 PM
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At the end of the semester I'm often dismayed to discover that a student I like a lot failed the review test at the beginning of the semester.

I've only skimmed the thread, so I can't promise that this hasn't been addressed. Also, despite bob's best efforts, I think this thread has been insufficiently trolled, so I'm going to take a crack at that, too.

Here's my guess: your boys might be more focused on actually learning things, rather than demonstrating that they've learned things.

If a student believes he or she has a basic grasp of the material, why spend time cramming to demonstrate it, when all they're interested in doing is learning the course material they signed up to learn?

Granted, failing this test is likely to show some bad study habits, as well as some genuine ignorance, but I wonder: Leaving aside this test, how do the fail-ers do compare to the pass-ers in the remainder of the course? The presumed purpose of your test is to reveal which people are ill-prepared to be taking your course at all. Do the failers mostly drop out or do poorly?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:14 PM
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But I might actually be somewhat sympathetic to bob's point, if only he didn't try to set things up as some sort of zero-sum game.

Well, there are only two genders, and one or the other has to have a majority of admissions to Harvard Law. I have not heard men say that it benefits women for men to get 55% of those admissions. I think I have heard women say that men will be benefited by being a minority at Harvard Law. That's interesting.

Look, around 1900 or whenever, when no Jews and 2 women were admitted to Harvard Law, cries of discrimination and oppression were entirely appropriate.

When the ratio is 55-45 men-women, and this is used as evidence of discrimination and oppression, I look at those claims differently, no longer as a matter of gross injustice decried, but as interest group politics in action. Having achieved such near-parity (or better) for their interest group, I can think of no reason they would wish to stop advocating when they reach 51% of admissions.

(Understand I don't have any kind of normative problem here. I don't know that I would care, or that the world would be worse or better off, if women got 90% of the places at Harvard Law. That is another question. And that is kinda my point, why should I care at 45%? Or 80% of wage parity? I certainly would care if I were a woman wanting a promotion or a raise. But that usually a zero-sum competitive circumstance.)

Doesn't mean I have gone to the other side. But when women, in the name of justice, start demanding they be given all the mens jobs as freaking rock stars, I lose a little enthusiasm for the noble cause.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:17 PM
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I counter politicalfootball's trolling with this, to 344:

Why are we worrying about the egalitarian status of Silicon Valley women's start-ups again? I'm really more concerned with women who haven't quite approached the upper echelons.

I'd like to say that what applies in the upper reaches also applies in the lower, but that's not quite right: what you'd be more likely to hear in the lower is not that women are a problem, but that they're a solution. It's obvious: hire women to do scut-work. They'll take the pay.

[Also, why on earth is Firefox telling me that "women's" is a troubled spelling that bears examination? I do not blame the patriarchy, I just blame the dictionary.]


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:22 PM
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347 last parenthetical

Note the "mens" in 346 last. But I thought it was me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:32 PM
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The Firefox spellchecker is highly imperfect. It also doesn't accept "commenters."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:34 PM
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In follow up to 344, I should probably be clear that the overarching irritating thing about that article is its myopia ("This is a HUGE problem"...affecting a rather small segment of fairly privileged people. Although to be fair, there are substantial trickle-down issues).

Another immensely irritating aspect is the total conflation of correlation and causation. Plus, you absolutely ought not to cite statistics about what what "women entrepreneurs" or "women in tech start-ups" or "women patent-holders" do, when you have just argued rather convincingly that the current pool of such people is highly unrepresentative.

Gah. Annoying all the way down. But not as mind-numbingly stupid as the article that wastes several hundred words claiming that Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin have something important in common because they both gave birth to five biological children. Blech.

(To be clear, I mean no disrespect to parenting.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:39 PM
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It also doesn't accept "commenters."

Yeah, but that's, like, a newish term.

What's the problem with, say, talking about men's

huh.

Problem with "men's" and "women's", then. Someone should tell them about that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:40 PM
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Yeah, but that's, like, a newish term.

Yeah, it only goes back to the fourteenth century.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:45 PM
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Neb, it may, but the failure to accept "women's" and "men's" is of a different order.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:48 PM
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When I say "that's, like, ..." I'm generally being glib, see. The word "like" is a signal.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:50 PM
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The thing is that it does accept "commenter."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 9:56 PM
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Conclusion: do not rely on your browser's spell-check function. As if anyone does.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:00 PM
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But when women, in the name of justice, start demanding they be given all the mens jobs as freaking rock stars, I lose a little enthusiasm for the noble cause.

Well, of course. I'm all for equality of the sexes, and passionately so, but in such a case, yeah, I'll admit that I lose enthusiasm too. But honestly, bob, where, other than in a tiny corner of the blogosphere, do actual women actually make such claims?

Well, the thing about bringing class into the discussion (relatively marginalized men versus less relatively marginalized women, when class is weighed against gender and etc) is that there are a whole bunch of working-class women who are disadvantaged on both fronts, but they're too busy cashing out at Walmart to participate in the discussion at all. I mean, you know, bringing class into it when we're talking gender is a bit of a double-edged sword, is it not? You seem to want to contrast professional-class women to working-class men and then say "gotcha," but then what about the working-class women, eh? It hardly seems fair, and I'm pretty sure the comparison is loads inaccurate.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:05 PM
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Why are so many people taking bob seriously?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:11 PM
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358 to everything ever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:16 PM
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357: I didn't actually see bob bringing class into it, but I may have missed something in his comments. It's seemed to me that it's you, me and Witt who keep reintroducing class into the discussion of gender equality here. Rightly so.

But bob seems to be annoyed about something slightly different: women as an interest group seeking hegemony?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-17-10 10:26 PM
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gave birth to five biological children

Now if they had each given birth to non-biological children, that would have set them apart.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 1:35 AM
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On the volcano subthread, KLM still allows smoking on flights, don't they? Maybe their planes are better suited for these conditions.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 1:40 AM
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362: The resume flying decision is the kind of thing that gets really tricky in our Brave New Safe World™ (see also infant seat direction thread). Politics and profit will be the deciders in the end (not that that will result in a bad decision).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 7:53 AM
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The KLM flight was a deliberate experiment to fly up through it and then have the aircraft subjected to an engineering examination. LH and AF have apparently done similar things; BA was planning one today. Whoever's flying them isn't being paid enough, although the flight profile described for the KLM suggests it was designed to stay in gliding range of Schiphol throughout.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 8:33 AM
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KLM's had the CEO and another exec on board. I guess it was risk-sharing.

Alex referred to the British test flight (using an aircraft with more sensors than the ones used by KLM, etc.). This Times article has this:

Yesterday a British scientist described how even modern aircraft technology cannot detect the clouds of ash.

Guy Gratton, head of Cranfield University's facility for airborne atmospheric measurement, took a flight with fellow researchers to gather data.

"Speaking as an aeronautical engineer, I would not want to be putting an airliner up there at the moment," said Gratton.

"There is a lot of fairly nasty stuff there that we were running away from, knowing what we did. We have standard airline instruments on the aeroplane, we have got a storm scope and we have got a weather radar and they were looking straight through it.

"Neither of those were seeing any of this stuff. It was only our specialist cloud physics instruments that were able to see the particles."

I do wonder if KLM is doing a complete tear-down of the engines or just eye-balling it.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:22 AM
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A friend whose wife is stuck in Paris posted this on FB.

Many...in...Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward...the Americas...not everybody could get to Lisbon...so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up-Paris to Marseilles...across the Mediterranean to Oran...then by train, or auto, or foot...across...Africa, to Casablanca....the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit....But the others wait...and wait...and wait.

Ah, the classics.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:23 AM
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366: That is hilarious.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:33 AM
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I feel like this whole volcano European planes topic has this wild dreamlike quality. It's probably more believable if you're in Europe.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:46 AM
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Yeah, there's a certain feeling of unreality to the whole thing from a North American perspective.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:15 AM
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The NYT yesterday dubbed it a "crisis." It does suck, I'm sure, but man, it doesn't take much any more to generate a collective conniption, does it? What's gonna happen when something really bad goes down?

There's no need to answer that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:18 AM
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has this wild dreamlike quality.

heebie is always right. I read a little last night at Stanford on "Epistemic closure" somethin about new knowledge must be "entailed" by old previous knowledge. Anyway "Black Swans" like this and 9/11 do pull us way out of our comfort zones.

2) Of course I don't fly, and think fast rail should be a major alternative to air travel. I also think the costs, externalities of air transport are woefully under measured, and would like to include the costs of this breakdown in comparative analyses.

3) Where, where, anyway somewhere I read that historically this little eruption has usually preceded a much larger Icelandic eruption.

4) Not that I am enjoying this. My (previous mostly) employer and its business model are so fucked right now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:18 AM
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It seems distant now, but it's worth paying close attention to the way this plays out because it could easily happen to us. Alaska has roughly the same geographical and meteorological relationship to the contiguous US that Iceland has to mainland Europe, and it is similarly full of volcanoes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:21 AM
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I read that historically this little eruption has usually preceded a much larger Icelandic eruption.

Yeah, there's another volcano next to this one that has also erupted every other time this one is known to have erupted.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:22 AM
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This blog is a good source for detailed information.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:25 AM
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The NERC mission's goals were rather different - more a science mission than an engineering test. Go and identify the layers of ash, get samples, etc, whereas the KLM one was more about "in the light of that, let's see how bad it gets".

Apparently they may open the UK FIR tomorrow morning.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:25 AM
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A Comment at Yggs that mentions some stuff. Pasted in whole with apologies

That 8-month eruption was a totally different volcano.

That's not actually correct, or rather the 8-month eruption is being confused with one that

The last eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, in the 19th Century, lasted for months, and varied wildly in intensity.

It *also* trigged Katla. In fact each of the three previous eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull have trigged Katla.

In the 1780s, Laki erupted for 8 months, and the resulting famine in Europe was one of the proximate causes of the French Revolution.
...
I'll do this over there too, but one of my GB bloggers says he was unable to blog for the last week. Can the ash interfere with satellite or microwave transmissions?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:26 AM
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Yeah, there's another volcano next to this one that has also erupted every other time this one is known to have erupted.

Would that be Sneffels? Are the dinosaurs about to emerge?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:28 AM
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368 - It's more believable, in that there are no planes to be seen. We're about 30 miles west of Heathrow so we see a lot of planes usually. But there's no huge dark cloud hanging over us or anything tangible - it could all be a lie ...


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:31 AM
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Pictures from the Finnish Air Force of the engines of planes that happened to be in the air when the ash first arrived. Hard to tell exactly what you're looking at, but clearly something is melted.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:38 AM
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Alaska.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:44 AM
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I feel like this whole volcano European planes topic has this wild dreamlike quality. It's probably more believable if you're in Europe.

Trust me, it's really fucking believable if you've spent the last few days making and re-making alternate travel plans and wondering when the hell you're going to get home.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 12:00 PM
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I just saw someone on twitter say they got a flight from Spain to the US. This person is not, currently, in Spain, but I guess getting there is the easy part.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 12:10 PM
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Depends where they're starting. I was strongly considering it -- there were a lot of cheap flights with open seats -- but for me it's a very long distance (roughly like missing a flight in New York and deciding to catch one in New Orleans instead).


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 12:18 PM
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Unlike after 9/11, the nature of the event causing this air travel shutdown does not allow for studies on the effects of contrails on cloud cover and climate (an example).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 12:33 PM
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re: 378

Since moving to London we're on the weekend flight path. On weekdays they seem to run a couple of miles south of our flat, but on weekends there are semi-regular flights that pass directly overhead [low]. We can usually see dozens of planes in the sky at any one time as Heathrow itself is visible in the distance. It's very odd, as I remarked the other morning, to get up to a hazy sunny sky, with a distinct 'quality' to how the air looks, and absolutely no planes at all.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 1:05 PM
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I feel like this whole volcano European planes topic has this wild dreamlike quality. It's probably more believable if you're in Europe.

Or if you were expecting to be Berlin this week. Anyone in Berlin want great tickets to this concert on Saturday?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 5:23 PM
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it doesn't take much any more to generate a collective conniption, does it?

Also: are you fucking kidding me? "Doesn't take much"? I'd call shutting down close to all airports in Europe a pretty big deal.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 5:28 PM
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386: Is it ragna rock?

I think I just banned myself. I should anyway. I have a due date to meet within the next six hours.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 5:42 PM
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I have a weird kind of frustrated, premonitory jetlag. It's like jetlag blue balls.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 5:56 PM
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I want to hear about essear's contnuing travel travails, as a way of distracting me from mine. I bet he doesn't want to talk about them, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 6:26 PM
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387: And not to pile on, but it is isn't just commercial flights and/or tourists being delayed. If it drags on much longer it will have severe economic impacts on many time-sensitive industries.

Though, I am sort of surprised that I haven't heard of more people renting cars and driving about. Is that simply not done very much in Europe? (I'm thinking of the taxi rides for impossible distances, etc.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 6:39 PM
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Is it ragna rock?

For I am death so Ragnarock with me.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 6:45 PM
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If it drags on much longer it will have severe economic impacts on many time-sensitive industries.

Understood.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 7:19 PM
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Parenthetical must have ordered some exotic European foods recently.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 7:47 PM
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Parenthetical must have ordered some exotic European foods recently.

Europe is quite the epicenter of swippledom, after all.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 8:31 PM
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It strikes me, after writing the above, that 'epicenter' may not be the best word choice, given the correlation of earthquakes and volcanoes.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 8:31 PM
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I saw Aimard play and conduct a great program of Mozart, Haydn, and Ligeti at Alice Tully Hall last summer. Anyone in a position to do so should definitely take Blume up on the tickets.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:29 PM
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397: gaaaaaaaaaaah!

Sorry. Had to get that out of my system. Mr. Blandings is right. Anybody with the wherewithal to actually be in Berlin should really go to that concert.

Gaaaaaaaaaaah! Stupid volcano!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:31 PM
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Maybe essear could get to Berlin and enjoy your concert! (Sorry about the canceled trip, Blume and Sifu.)

Parenthetical must have ordered some exotic European foods recently.

Just been reading the NYT's reiterations of the airlines' dire predictions. But I wouldn't mind some exotic European foods right about now.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:39 PM
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Kobe totally wants essear to have our tickets. I bet essear wants to be home before that, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:42 PM
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Not to rub it in, but damn, that looks like a great concert.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:44 PM
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In case it wasn't clear, I am in fact totally serious about the offer of the tickets. Though I suppose if there were any Berlin lurkers, they might have revealed themselves by now.

Maybe essear should go to Berlin. Two people we were traveling with have unrefundable hotel rooms. PLAN! Essear hitches his way to Berlin. Stays in pre-paid hotel room. Is shown around the city by friend we were going to visit. Uses one of our tickets, sells the other three and goes out to dinner on them.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:44 PM
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We can also provide essear with really excellent dinner reservations.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:45 PM
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That's a high-quality plan in 402.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 9:49 PM
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Hopefully essear hasn't already stowed away on a train to Portugal or something.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:07 PM
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Steve McQueen rode across the whole of Western Europe in a hot minute in The Great Escape. Just ask for the Steve McQueen version at the rental place, essear.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:15 PM
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Would a volcanic cloud disrupt Star Trek-style transporters?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:18 PM
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407: so here's what's fucked up: not only do we have a friend who is currently stuck in Berlin, he's a giant sci-fi nerd! And yet, can we change places with him by transporter? No! The comic-book supervillain who caused all this is getting one hell of a whuppin', may I tell you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:22 PM
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Did the Norse have a god of volcanoes?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:26 PM
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Doesn't look like it. I guess mainland Scandinavia isn't actually volcanic.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:30 PM
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I guess you could always blame Loki. He's always screwing people over.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:31 PM
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rodensg said:
Ther was no god per se in Norse Myths for Volcanoes but the Volcano Surtsey is named for the Norse fire giant Surtur. It seems that fire was something the Norse regarded with apprehension. Fire was the domain of the giants. Even Loki was a giant. The gods and giants were blood enemies. At Ragnarokk, Surtur sets the entire cosmos on fire with his flaming sword. Surtur was lord of Muspelheim the realm of fire.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:34 PM
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Ragnarok is keeping me from seeing Schoenberg? Isn't that goddamned ironic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:36 PM
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I think I was pwned, wasn't I? Fuck a volcano.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:37 PM
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It burns.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04-18-10 10:42 PM
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That concert does look great, but I have train tickets in the opposite direction and a flight out of Paris on Friday (if planes are flying out of Paris on Friday).

You would all know who Surtur was if you read more comic books in your youth.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 12:12 AM
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And, of course, sorry to hear your travel plans have been spoiled, Blume and Sifu.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 12:59 AM
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As for driving about - I think business people are making efforts to get about. Holidaymakers (because last week was still the school Easter holiday - most kids are back today or tomorrow) are sitting and waiting - hiring cars etc costs money.

John Cleese spent £3300 on a cab (and three drivers taking turns) to rive him from Oslo to Brussels. Gary Lineker apparently drove back from Spain to present Match of the Day.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 1:02 AM
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Am actually watching BBC Breakfast with stories of people's journeys across Europe right now.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 1:03 AM
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Stories of people hiring cars to drive from Rome to Calais. One group of about 50 strangers got together and hired a coach. And of course then there's the ferry or Eurotunnel as the last hurdle.

But yes, lots of people driving about the place. Continental Europeans probably have it a lot easier.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 1:14 AM
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The whole thing makes much more sense now that I know that SEK is in Europe. It's his bad luck that got me trapped here.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 3:10 AM
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re: 421

That does seem the most obvious explanation. Now that I know SEK is in Europe I'm going to start watching the skies for rains of frogs.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 3:52 AM
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My brother was at a conference in Copenhagen - flight home on Friday cancelled. There were about 10 of them travelling back to Ireland so they organised some kind of coach on Saturday which drove to France and they got a ferry to Dover (all trains booked out). Then London-Holyhead and after some delays another ferry back in the wee small hours last night, taxi to Dublin airport to retrieve cars and finally drive home again.

A bunch of Galway academics stuck in Spain were told it would cost 3,000 to hire a car to go to Calais so they bought a cheap car instead to drive home.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 5:52 AM
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Time was everybody would have just stuck out their thumb. What happened to that?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 6:09 AM
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423: Damn. I wish I could have joined them on that coach!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 6:12 AM
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People think I make this shit up, but seriously: I go to England and Iceland explodes. I can't tell whether I'm cursed or a curse, but it's clearly one or the other.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 6:24 AM
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Oh, to be in England now that SEK is there.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 3:19 PM
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423: Pity I wasn't even online over the weekend to mention it or hear of your plight. But there were no flights out of Ireland either in any event.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 04-19-10 4:01 PM
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