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Smelly boys

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.05.10

I get totally annoyed with the male gender at the college age, at least here at Heebie U, for their basic desire to relish in laziness and irresponsibility. Examples: at math club, I presented a request from a nearby middle school that they desperately need after school tutors. The commitment would be thirty minutes a week, any day of the week. Out of about twenty students, seven (women? girls? what exactly do you call college age females?) volunteered and no boys. Or, in each of my lower level classes, I give a test at the beginning of the semester, described here. This semester, I have 15 girls and 20 boys in my two lower level classes. Who failed the basics test? 1 girl and 8 boys. Get your goddamn act together, stupid boys.

The "Oh, the plight of our boys!" articles that appear periodically are annoying, but there is something to them. It would be really great if boys were socialized more like girls.


 

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Start tearing the old man down

Posted by Ben
on 02.04.10

When audacious's playlist window is minimized, using the font I use, the "H" looks kind of like a "B", if you aren't looking too closely.


 

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¡Al cine!

Posted by Stanley
on 02.04.10

Apparently, one of the free OTA stations has gone to a format of showing random movies from the '80s and '90s, all the time. Last night's was great: War Games. Tic Tac Toe FTW!

Tonight's, however, is Blame It on Rio, which has me wondering if this film is all an elaborate prank. This cannot possibly have been an actual cinematic release.


 

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On Income Inequality

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.04.10
"Inequality," [Ona Porter] says, "really holds us back."

[Samuel Bowles] offers a key reason why this is so. "Inequality breeds conflict, and conflict breeds wasted resources," he says.

In short, in a very unequal society, the people at the top have to spend a lot of time and energy keeping the lower classes obedient and productive.

Inequality leads to an excess of what Bowles calls "guard labor." In a 2007 paper on the subject, he and co-author Arjun Jayadev, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, make an astonishing claim: Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods.

Interesting article, via Emerson.

I can't say that I buy the proposal at the end as the best way to redistribute wealth.

"Suppose instead what we did is this: We said, 'Look, when somebody turns 18, he gets a quarter of a million dollars and, after that, you're on your own,'" Bowles says. "Once you've got your quarter-million, you've got to make a decision: 'Should I go to college or do I want to start a business?'--which you could do with a quarter of a million."

This is a variant of an old idea, more recently popularized--at least in Europe--by the Belgian economist Philippe Van Parijs. Under his "basic income grant" proposal, the government would redistribute wealth so that everyone has enough to live.

I've heard this sort of thing before, but never as a one-time lump sum. That certainly sets up a litmus test of one's ability to plan and organize at age 18. Would you then not provide a safety net if someone hits rock bottom at age 30?


 

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The Sensible Diana Athill

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.04.10

Two characteristics that I love in people are impulsivity, and sensibility. I use to think that I just appreciated each extreme in its own right, but now I think that there's an underlying common trait: not being governed by fear of consequences. The sensible person decides rationally what they want to do, and therefore they will deal with the consequences of roads not chosen. The impulsive person, apparently, isn't thwarted by being burnt in the past. Whatever burns they've experienced doesn't dissuade them from jumping off new cliffs. (Because that's how you get burnt.)

This train of thought was prompted by reading "Somewhere Towards The End" by Diana Athill. This book is superb, first. It's a breezy memoir, written when Athill is 92, about her life and growing old. She's engaging, and funny, and above all, sensible. She has never been married, speaks frankly about her sexuality, and writing, and hobbies, and while this book is a pretty quick read, boy did I just love her. Here's a brief interview of why you should love her, too.


 

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Just watch this.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.03.10
"To give you a sense of what you are about to see, it's basically like if the aliens from District 9 learned how to make "next level beats," took on human form, started a band, and then moved to Xenia, Ohio, to open up a Gummo/Dubstep Museum. What I'm saying is that what you are about to see is very special!"

Via Jammies


 

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It's for you

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 02.02.10

Spurious pattern recognition is getting me down. In any kind of white noise these days I'm apt to hear my phone ringing, a bothersome state of affairs compounded by the fact that sometimes my phone is ringing. You see the problem. It won't be too long before I'm a cinnamon bun short of a Madonna.


 

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Questions I would like the OkCupid data-mongers to answer

Posted by Ben
on 02.02.10

Suppose you had a directed graph whose vertices are users with an edge from v1 to v2 iff v1 has sent a message to v2. Wouldn't you just be dying to know what the length of the longest cycle is?

On the other hand, suppose you had a graph constructed according to similar principles, but undirected, and arranged for the users to be grouped into equivalence classes via a relation that holds between two vertices iff there exists a path from one to the other. Is it possible to imagine life without knowing the number and other characteristics of the classes so distinguished?


 

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A poem in one Muppet

Posted by Standpipe Bridgeplate
on 02.02.10

An imaginary serenity:
To snuggle up against
A snuffleupagus.


 

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Are The Kids All Right?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 02.01.10

I've had a vague, unexamined belief for awhile that people generally, and students particularly, are more likely to be respectably fluent writers now than they were when I was in college, just because people spend so much more time communicating in written form than they did in the 1950s through the 1980s.

Am I living in a happy fantasy world, or does anyone know if there has been a noticeable improvement in writing skills since texting/email/blogging and so on became widespread?


 

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Perpetuatin' Critical Thinkin'

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 02.01.10

I would really like someone to write a book, accessible to high school or first-year students in college, which examines anti-intellectualism. Specifically the book should address:
1. who benefits when such beliefs take hold
2. who loses when such beliefs take hold, and
3. how such beliefs get perpetuated.

There are a lot of unexamined beliefs that our students hold which place them in a defensive crouch entering the classroom. Putting some structure around these beliefs and shining some light on them would help a lot.

Probably this already happens in a lot of classrooms, though. (This is not a problem at all in math. I'm thinking more about the social sciences and humanities, and the general ed courses.)

Also, this book should not be aggressively titled like the Trauma Myth book. It would undermine the whole stupid idea if the cover and title of the book itself threatened students out of hearing the ideas. It should have some gentle title, possibly dropping the g's off the gerunds.


 

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They're blowing up the charts.

Posted by Stanley
on 01.31.10

Are the Grammys oddly militarized this year? Both Beyoncé and the Black Eyed Peas have had armament-/armor-toting dancers. Weird.


 

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Another Pointless Bailout

Posted by Becks
on 01.31.10

NPR has a really well-done three-part series on the impact of bail on America's penal system. The math on this is truly infuriating (states paying thousands or tens of thousands to house inmates who could safely be released on their own recognizances because of laws passed to protect the financial interests of bail bond companies) especially with the budget problems being faced by states today. One would think this would be an easy target for budget reform, but it's going to be even harder for elected officials to take on issues like this post-Citizens United.


 

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