Re: Guest Post:

1

I wrote another kid's English paper for $50 one time. Ultimately it ended up being more work than I expected, and not worth the effort.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 6:36 AM
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oh crap, I forgot to finish the OP title. And now I'm stuck in an enormous jury duty line.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 6:46 AM
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If it's a zoom trial, there's probably a guy in. Kenya who can do the job for you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 6:53 AM
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I've occasionally thought about getting a side job in that vein. Not literally writing for people--zero chance people would pay enough,* and it's hard work--but thesis and essay coaching which could probably shade over into the ethical grey zone.

* my contract day rate for my actual job is pretty high, so if I was really angling for more money that would be the way to go, but my employer would look very poorly on me doing my actual job for someone else, but prob. wouldn't care if I spent a couple of hours on the weekend helping some master's student, or whatever.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 6:58 AM
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2: Did you have to cancel your classes or did you find a chatbot to sub?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:00 AM
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The most fucked up thing about all this, and everything about this is fucked up, is that the people doing all the assignments don't get an American college degree out of it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:17 AM
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They need to hire someone from a poorer country to get a degree from a university in Kenya.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:25 AM
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What I find most baffling is how many people - the majority, easily, are just sitting during the down times. Not on their phone, did not bring a book or a paper, nothing. In my row of 10 or so people right now, one other person is on their phone and everyone else is just gazing stoically forward. (There's a long line of people who didn't want to give their reasons publicly, so they're speaking individually to the judge. Absolutely no reason for the rest of us to be paying attention to anything.)


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:38 AM
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9

More people are on their phones now. But I still find the remaining ones baffling.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:49 AM
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10

9: The remaining ones are the Enlightened.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:51 AM
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Enlightened, topped jurors.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:53 AM
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12

They probably have a guy in Kenya playing Candy Crush for them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:56 AM
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13

Luddites.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:58 AM
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14

They're composing epic poetry in their heads.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:58 AM
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re: 8

I once got a train from Oxford to Glasgow (7 hours or so) and a lady in her 60s (I'd guess) got on at the same time as me, seen off by her son and extended family. She chatted with them a bit, and then they left and she sat opposite me and did nothing for the entire journey. Didn't read a book, didn't futz with her phone, barely even stared out of the window, it was like a switch just got turned off and her eyes were open but no-one was there.

Things like that, and your jury duty story make me wonder about the interior lives of other people.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 8:38 AM
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They're pod people. Get out of there heebie!


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 8:40 AM
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15: She was probably undressing you in her mind.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 8:41 AM
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Side note: the website logo - "rest of the world", but decorated with little bells and whistles from non-Roman alphabets - seems tone-deaf within American culture, but I'm guessing connotes inclusivity elsewhere. I just think the semiotics of it is interesting.

The diacritics are different on different pages! But not in any consistent manner I can determine. Not sure what to make of the semiotics of that.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 9:15 AM
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Vaguely related, one of my class project team is Latina and I noticed her name as Gmail displays it ends in -êa; some research comes back saying Spanish never uses circumflexes. Wonder if this was an error, or an innovation.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 9:17 AM
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Those people must have amazing inner resources, and such active imaginations.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 9:23 AM
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My mom once hired a young struggling masseuse/artist friend to drive a moving van from Florida to Texas one-way to bring some family furniture to me. We put the artist up for a night or two. Her plan was to take a grayhound bus back. This was 2010ish and smartphones didn't easily load up with movies, etc, and I asked if she'd like some books or anything for the ride home.

She said, "No, I've got my ipod and earbuds," so that made perfect sense to me.

But later, while I was waiting with her for the bus, she got out her eye pad and ear plugs and I realized I'd misheard and commented on it. Her plan was to sleep for the two days home.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 9:50 AM
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Honestly, if the seat is good, that sounds nice.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 9:58 AM
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The diacritics are different on different pages!

And on the same page if you reload! It seems to cycle through three or four options, though, so not totally random or generative.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:13 AM
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The AI companies themselves also use Kenyans for content moderation. I wonder if that has to do with this other niche industry of online cheating or if they're both separately driven by another factor. It's no immediately clear why Kenya specifically would be a hub for this sort of thing; poor and anglophone, yes, but so are a lot of other countries.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:15 AM
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Maybe the long distance runners figured out the market existed while traveling for competition and told their slow friends?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:27 AM
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Guessing it's Kenya because of mostly path dependence


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:37 AM
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There are fewer poor anglophone countries than you'd think, and most of them actually have relatively small anglophone minorities. Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh? South Africa and Jamaica are both much richer than those ones. Of those only Ghana is actually majority Anglophone. I think of India as being the main center of the cheating industry anyway, but I wonder if salaries for *Anglophones* in India are getting too high? I'm not sure why it would be Kenya more than Ghana or Nigeria though.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:39 AM
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Based on the spam here, I think most of the cheat companies are from South Asia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:40 AM
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Kenya does have 55 million people, making it the 7th-biggest country in Africa. On top of that, it seems to have an 81.5% literacy rate. All the countries with higher rates are significantly smaller in population, except South Africa, and most are much smaller (Seychelles, Namibia, Mauritius, Botswana).

On top of that, yeah, probably some path dependence.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:43 AM
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Looks like the big one I missed is the Philippines, though it's a little richer than the other ones. Uganda of course, though it's easy to see why Kenya would do better than Uganda.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:45 AM
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There are fewer poor anglophone countries than you'd think, and most of them actually have relatively small anglophone minorities. Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Bangladesh? South Africa and Jamaica are both much richer than those ones. Of those only Ghana is actually majority Anglophone.

I don't know, even just sticking to East/Central Africa you've got Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe as former British colonies. Not necessarily majority anglophone, sure, but you don't need that many people to actually work in these jobs for it to become a major industry.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:46 AM
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On top of that, it seems to have an 81.5% literacy rate.

This might actually be the biggest factor.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:47 AM
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33

The Philippines has more of a path for high-achievers to get into medical professions and emigrate, I think.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:49 AM
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34

Still, like, Nigeria's enormous and has its own longstanding specialization in a different type of online fraud. Why not them? (It's entirely possible that these other countries are in fact also hubs of cheating and it's just that media focus has been on Kenya for some reason.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:50 AM
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35

I have some recollection of many years ago writing a post about how eventually it would be weird to not be on your phone in public, and here you all are. Anymore, I'm usually on my phone during trips, too, but sometimes I'll still do the eyes open, just looking around thing that so disturbs ttaM. I don't know, you just take it in and have your thoughts for company.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:50 AM
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27 based on a lot of personal experience the poorer anglophone Africans and Filipinos have much better English than the poor anglophone South Asians. Kenyans in particular have excellent English skills (and this is subjective but also a very pleasant accent).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:51 AM
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Ghana basically has the same literacy rate as Kenya though. It is twice as large though.

Ah, I have a new theory. Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda no longer require work visas for each others citizens, so I wonder if that means Kenya is drawing from an even larger anglophone workforce than it looks at first glance.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:51 AM
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38

Bad "it." Kenya is twice as large as Ghana though (as you pointed out).


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:52 AM
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39

Ah, not that long ago. Apparently this topic really brings out my positive anymore.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:53 AM
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Anymore, I'm usually on my phone during trips, too, but sometimes I'll still do the eyes open, just looking around thing that so disturbs ttaM. I don't know, you just take it in and have your thoughts for company.

This is me as well. Sorry to anyone who's disturbed!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:54 AM
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More crankish proposal: Kenya's cities have a proper, fairly aggressive land value tax that reassesses based on rental value; they build a lot higher in cities than other countries as a result. Maybe that results in a lot more office space at lower rents, for these operations to flourish.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:55 AM
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31: I think a lot of those have relatively few *fluent* English speakers or lack the infrastructure of Nairobi for internet-based companies. Lots of British colonies have relatively few fluent English speakers. Especially when there's a competing lingua franca like Swahili or Hindi. The bar in terms of fluency for writing essays is pretty high.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:56 AM
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43

in *their cities. My evidence for them building higher is anecdotal.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:56 AM
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44

Kenya has decent Internet infrastructure and has had for a while now.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:58 AM
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41 and 42 are both interesting. Kenya actually had a very different kind of colonial experience than most other parts of the colonized world; it had a relatively large white settler population and much less in the way of preexisting indigenous state structures to accommodate. I could see that having long-term impacts on things like English-language education and tech-friendly infrastructure.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 10:59 AM
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I don't have access to the article, but apparently the chronicle of higher ed looked into the African paper-writing business.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:05 AM
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I'm paywalled, but the first paragraph of that article already has some evidence for 41:

On the outskirts of Kenya's capital city, behind a shopping mall near a highway, stands a six-story apartment building where, in a unit on the top floor, a couple have just eaten breakfast. While their young child sits playing, the couple share a table in the living room, each on a laptop, performing academic work for hire.

How common is it to have six-story apartment buildings on the outskirts of African cities, even megacities?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:08 AM
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Also, keeping it simple, Nairobi is the biggest city between Dar Es Salaam and Addis Ababa (whatever the reason) and so it's a pretty natural place to start a business. I'd imagine Dar (like Accra and Lagos) is somewhat serious competition for Nairobi?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:10 AM
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I'd imagine Dar (like Accra and Lagos) is somewhat serious competition for Nairobi?

Well, that's question, isn't it? Is this just a "big city in Anglophone Africa" thing or does Kenya have some specific advantage here?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:12 AM
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(South Africa, after the end of apartheid, apparently delivered on its promise to build housing at scale and affordably for everyone... but to not offend urban landholders, they built huge apartment complexes mostly 2-3 hours' drive from where the jobs are.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:17 AM
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That's nuts. American has proven that the free market will make cheap housing in areas with no jobs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:41 AM
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Read a few articles and they all seem to say that Kenya really is the main location for this industry (e.g. this article says a majority are based in Kenya, though the NYTimes says "Kenya, India, and Ukraine." Several of them emphasize the high unemployment rate in Kenya as a major driver, so maybe there are just better job options for college graduates in Accra or Lagos than in Nairobi?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:44 AM
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The NYTimes kicker harks back to 6:

"People say the education system in the U.S., U.K. and other countries is on a top notch," she said. "I wouldn't say those students are better than us," she said, later adding, "We have studied. We have done the assignments."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:47 AM
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Have they tried getting a white guy to bless the rain?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:48 AM
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BBC directly claims to answer the question:

"The reasons are simple: Kenya is an English-speaking country with a good education system where there are often poor economic opportunities, particularly for young people."

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-58465189

Of course you then need to look at the other options and understand which of those aspects is different. Relative to Accra and Lagos it seems like poor economic opportunities could be the main difference?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:52 AM
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There are a lot of Kenyans working here in Arrakis, mainly as security guards*, and they all have outstanding English. They seem to have replaced the Nepalese in that role, who generally had mediocre English, these past few years.

*mostly but by no means all. One is a fellow librarian here and here husband works for the regional airline.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 12:07 PM
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In Kenya, the language of public school instruction becomes English in the fourth grade or so, at least aspirationally. (My understanding, though, is that if you're talking to a Kenyan in English, it's likely to be their third language after the local language and Kiswahili.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 12:17 PM
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Relative to Accra and Lagos it seems like poor economic opportunities could be the main difference?

Yeah, that seems likely.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 12:52 PM
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I am reliably informed that a number of Nigerians have access to great wealth, needing only some minor ministerial assistance from random Americans to liquidate it.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 12:56 PM
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That might actually be part of it. Sending money to Nigeria over the internet just seems like a bad idea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 1:23 PM
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re: 35

I can enjoy staring out the window at the view as much as the next person. But for 7 hours? When much of the view was just rain-soaked fields and roads?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 2:08 PM
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Passing rows of corn, assuming you have the right angle, is very entrancing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 2:31 PM
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I do what a normal person does on a ling train ride: open a book as if I'm going to read it and then stare out the window for hours.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 2:57 PM
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a long train ride, even


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 2:58 PM
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65

Not apartments.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 3:38 PM
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66

Those seem kind of on the small side.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 3:43 PM
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65: Aha, thanks.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 4:09 PM
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The only thanks we need is our knighthoods and millions.


Posted by: Opinionated A-ha | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 5:37 PM
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68: And seeing electric cars become mainstream: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-63375504


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 6:21 PM
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50:*
to not offend urban landholders
Isn't wrong (especially if you're Marxist), but really doesn't capture how difficult the situation was. I doubt the ANC/GNU could have done much better on the densification/centralization metric at the time** (and I hope yinz'all know I'm no fan of the ANC).
mostly 2-3 hours' drive from where the jobs are
Was also where people were already living, because that's where apartheid put them.
*I don't know how seriously 50 is meant, so.
**Emphasis very much "at the time".


Posted by: mc | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 6:56 PM
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Update to 19: I asked, and it turned out to be a Portuguese name that was indistinguishable from a Spanish one but for the circumflex.

And in between posting 19 and seeing her, I learned inadvertently that 70% of Brazilian-Americans now identify themselves as Hispanic/Latinx to the Census which scrubs that identification as invalid.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 7:56 PM
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I guess that means Spain should get Portugal back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 8:16 PM
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They never stopped being ours.


Posted by: Opinionated Romans | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 8:20 PM
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And in between posting 19 and seeing her, I learned inadvertently that 70% of Brazilian-Americans now identify themselves as Hispanic/Latinx to the Census which scrubs that identification as invalid.

Interestingly, when the Hispanic American Historical Review was founded in 1918 the organizers chose the term "Hispanic" deliberately to include Brazil, on the grounds that Latin Hispania referred to the whole peninsula (whereas Iberia extended further north into parts of France). This article from the first issue explains the decision.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-23 11:58 PM
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We never stopped pwning them, as it were.


Posted by: Opinionated Romans | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 12:43 AM
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Of course none of this would be lucrative if universities still depended on final examinations to determine your degree, rather than "continuous assessment". Collins will happily write your weekly essay for you, but you aren't going to be able to smuggle him into the exam hall very easily.

I wonder if the rise of AI cheating is going to push universities back towards in-person finals?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 2:08 AM
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I think definitely yes. I mean, every math answer has been available online for years. If you're not testing them in person without the internet, you're getting played.


Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 3:54 AM
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77: If that's true, why do we still not know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 4:51 AM
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It's 78.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 5:11 AM
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77: Exactly. Meaning that my one great talent, cramming all night for in-person exams, was available to me at precisely the trough of the value of the in-person exam. So outraged am I by this injustice that I shall buy for myself a Putin T-shirt.


Posted by: mc | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 5:18 AM
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79 written by Moby's Kenyan stand-in.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 5:29 AM
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82

When I need help, I've got a much closer region with a developing economy and lots of English-speaking people unable to get somewhere better. Ohio.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 5:43 AM
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Data charges for Kenya are probably less.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 5:56 AM
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Ohio is close enough to use pigeons for large files.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 6:04 AM
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the organizers chose the term "Hispanic" deliberately to include Brazil, on the grounds that Latin Hispania referred to the whole peninsula (whereas Iberia extended further north into parts of France).

Very interesting. I see the original proposal was "Ibero-American." Imagine if that had taken root!

Is it thought that this journal helped popularize the term Hispanic, at least in small academic circles, leading up to its broader popularization in the 70's?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 1:15 PM
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Is it thought that this journal helped popularize the term Hispanic, at least in small academic circles, leading up to its broader popularization in the 70's?

I haven't seen anyone argue that case specifically, but I think it's likely. It was a very unusual term in 1918 and for a long time afterward.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 1:41 PM
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Ngrams seems to suggest the same.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-23 1:43 PM
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88

Watches are for sharing. Water is for fighting over.


Posted by: mc | Link to this comment | 01- 3-24 12:18 AM
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I appreciate your insights! The depth and thoughtfulness of your comment are commendable. Your perspective enriches the discussion and it's always a pleasure to hear from someone so knowledgeable. Your contributions enliven this community. Excited for more of your input!


Posted by: Does Egypt require a visa | Link to this comment | 06- 7-24 9:24 PM
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Hi! 👋 I hope it's okay to ask, but does maintaining a well-established website like yours require a lot of effort? I'm new to blogging, though I write in my diary every day. 🖊️ I'm thinking about starting a blog to share my thoughts and experiences. Any advice for new bloggers? Thanks a lot! 🌟


Posted by: 5 year Indian visa for UK citizens | Link to this comment | 06-14-24 3:02 AM
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