Crooners, I love them.
Guest Post: More on Debt Ceilings
Garrett Epps has come up with an interesting argument:
...Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment, which directs, in no uncertain terms, that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned"... makes clear that both the monies our nation owes to bondholders, and the sums promised in legislation to those receiving pensions set by law from the federal government, must be paid regardless of the political whims of the current congressional majority.
It would be a nice political move, but is it constitutionally valid? I could recognize it as a banning of default on debt (which could come back to bite us if accepted), but it seems to be another leap altogether to say that legislated planned spending constitutes "public debt" which must be either paid off, or repealed by legislation. That is, his paraphrase of it to apply to "the sums promised in legislation to those receiving pensions set by law from the federal government" might be a leap too far, as in the historical context he provides, it seems to have been default on debt already incurred and paid out to veterans - not denial of money promised to veterans in the future - that they wanted to ban.
On the back of a student's t-shirt
"Everybody gets knocked down...it's whether you choose to get back up again!"
(Ok, first, that's a great example of non-wisdom arising from locus-of-control perception. We tend to attribute bad things to an external locus of control, and good things to an internal locus of control. Did you decide to get back up? Or did you choose to stay down? You can't really tell until your situation improves, can you? This is even more muddled, because it's taking a hindsight phenomenon, and switching it to advice about the future.)
Constantly I see this kind of exhortation on t-shirts, PSAs, key chains/coffee mugs, religious messages, etc. It's all about taking individual responsibility of failure. It's really internalized capitalism. It's kind of sad how few pep-you-up messages you see that reflect community and cooperation, and how everyone must support everyone.
But possibly this is regional. I wonder how closely the trite pep-you-up messages track with political preferences.
Also: I had forgotten it was organized as a commonwealth.
I'm heading out of town for the weekend, away from the wilds of the internet to the actual, um, wilds. Completely unrelated: the lyrics to Elvis' "Kentucky Rain" are very strange. As the first verse begins, our interlocutor sings out to his (we soon learn) absent lover:
Seven lonely days and a dozen towns ago
I reached out one night and you were gone
Don't know why you'd run, what you're running to or from
All I know is I want to bring you home
First, as an aside, twelve towns in seven days is quite the traveling pace. (Unless maybe he's counting gas/food/restroom stops, in which case: okay, less impressive.) More notably: he lost track of his paramour a week ago? That's a long time. Have you filed a missing person's report? That might be more helpful than your current plan (explained below). I'm just saying.
So, he proceeds to hitchhike and walk around in the rain, seemingly aimlessly, showing the lover's photo to people, trying to track her down, until, eventually, he gets a ride from "a preacher man" who "[leaves] me with a prayer that I'd find you".
And with that, he's off to walk around some more. In the rain. In Kentucky. End scene.
All of which is to say: I bet there are way better (or way worse!) songs that mention particular states. And I have the vague sense that we've had that sort of thread before. But, hey, it's Friday. And I'm hitting the road. And not with some photo-clutching, rambling dude who's got a wet pair of shoes.
Have an afternoon intimate up.
Linguists, please tell me if this holds water:
The "intimate up" is one of several ways that Black English is complicated, and in a way that even Standard English isn't.
I am certainly on board that Black English has an internally consistent grammatical structure that makes it not bad or wrong, just different. (But fierce? really?) I am on board with linguists studying and naming the feature "the intimate up" and doing whatever linguists do with intimate ups. But there's something about this article - Black English is more glorious than stupid old midwestern newsanchor speak! - that makes me cringe. Does Standard English really not have equally complicated grammar as Black English?
The winners of the 2011 Lyttle Lytton contest have been announced (possibly long ago; I just checked the other day) and my entry is not mentioned at all.
Woo, hook 'em, Green Mountain State!
So, Vermont passed a single-payer-ish system into law-ish? That seems like good news.
I'm sure it's not, of course. We'll have to see the details. They'll probably be force feeding everyone maple syrup until they're all dead. (Problem solved!)
But in the meantime, I just might allow myself to be happy for Vermonters for brief moments throughout the day.
Reflecting on teaching
f you were to observe me teaching over the past couple years, you'd conclude that I believe a good teacher should do the following:
1. Break down difficult concepts into small parts and explain clearly how they fit together
2. Give an organized presentation, and run an organized class
3. Be somewhat entertaining-ish.
By "student participation", you would report that all or nearly all students were paying attention, taking notes, working on problems when I asked them to figure something out, answering questions, and generally cooperating with my momentum.
Here is the detail that has plagued me: if I do a great job elucidating a difficult concept, does that make the student better able to understand a difficult concept in a new context? Am I churning out students who are better-than-expected at understanding Calculus, but at the expense of developing their transferable skills? I wouldn't say my classes are easy, but difficult concepts are made accessible.
Enter a complicating thought: the best predictor of how much students learns in college is how much time they spend doing homework outside of class. My methods don't necessarily mean that students are motivated to do extra work outside my class than they would with anyone else. Some students work hard on the homework, some blow it off, and most are in the middle.
So I'm thinking I ought to redesign my methods and measure my success by how much time students spend on homework outside of class. That is consistent with my transferable skills notion: training your brain is what will serve you well, not having a thorough understanding of Calculus.
Currently I am going to try a Modified Moore method. (In math this is often called Inquiry Based Learning, but outside of math, science classes use IBL with a slightly different bent.)
Basically, students have to come to class prepared to put proofs on the board. This is enforced through social means almost more than the standard grade incentive. To make it work, the teacher must be very deft at calling on every student every class to put something up on the board (sometimes in small groups), but picking out accessible tasks for each student or small group. The student or group should be able to get the proof 80% right. Then there's some group discussion, during which the teacher must be very on her game, and gradually knowledge is constructed.
This works best in classes where there is not an established set of topics to cover; classes which don't have a canonical sequel. You definitely cover fewer topics.
I'm not particularly attached to Moore Method so much as trying to think of how to get kids engaged outside of class. But if carried out well, I think this would get students to really sink some time in outside of class.
Tumblrs are getting more and more specialized
At last, a source for answers to the question that, I think, has bedeviled each of us at least once: Who's mentioned Niklas Luhmann recently on Twitter?
The cheating-student discussion that cropped up in comments reminded me of an incident from the third grade. Convinced that another student (let's call him Joe) was copying off me, the teacher (a nun!) took me aside before a spelling test and explained her plan: I would spell all the words incorrectly, allowing her to confirm whether Joe was copycatting my answers; lest I worry about the incorrect answers, I would be awarded a 100% for the test.
It worked, and I don't think the consequences for Joe were particularly egregious (I think he got a zero for the test). But reflecting on this event, it seems really a pretty messed-up spot for a teacher to put her third graders in.
From James Shearer:
I thought this WSJ article on partisan politics and the debt ceiling was interesting. In my view it would be sensible to eliminate the requirement for these votes but I suspect politicians like the grandstanding opportunities they provide.
One notable recent grandstander was President Barack Obama, the man who now badly wants the debt ceiling raised to prevent financial disaster. When he was a Democratic senator and Republican George W. Bush was president, Mr. Obama took to the Senate floor to declare that raising the debt ceiling amounted to "leadership failure," and he voted against it. The White House says he now considers that vote a mistake.
From Heebie: Obama might have been grandstanding, but Bush was indeed financially wildly reckless. Obama of the fiscal stimulus was less so, although the Obama of extending tax cuts and prolonged wars to nowhere is equally reckless. Since he's being called to task on the former instead of the latter, the people grandstanding on this in 2011 are full of shit.
This sounds like a good book, and, more generally, the site that review is hosted on seems like a good site.
Sorry hipsters, your dad was the original hipster and he was killing it back in the day.
Your dad had unkempt hair before you did. Long before looking like you just rolled out of bed became a fashion and back in a time where you were never too drunk to drive, your dad had a man mane. He didn't spend hours eloquently disheveling his hair with $40 salon level product, he earned his look. He styled his locks with morning sexual encounters with your mom, fist fights and a touch of "I don't give a fuck."
Twenty-five years ago, I was sporting a completely non-ironic megamullet and drinking National Bohemian regularly.
I have an acquaintance who's wont to complain that a particular type of cuisine gives him nightmares. I've always thought he was kind of nuts, although some cursory internetical research confirms that, if nuts, he's certainly not alone.
To be clear: I'm not talking here about eating just before bed—another cause of funny dreams about which I've heard (but again never experienced first-hand). Rather, this particular type of cuisine, seemingly regardless of when eaten, reliably gives this guy scary dreams.
Then last night, after eating this particular type of cuisine several hours before, I myself had some seriously bonker dreams. Actually, it was more like one, extended, super-duper-bizarro-land dream that lasted practically all night. And there's a part of me that's now wondering if nutter-butter dream dude was on to something after all.
Or maybe my mind was just really bored.
Ix-naying key words
Ambiguous Bumper Stickers
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's FREE.Well, that could go either way. Maybe his other bumper sticker will clarify which side he's on?
Don't blame me, I voted for for the AMERICAN.Shoot, that doesn't distinguish between the sides either. Confusing!
More wikileaks stuff has been published.
Happy candy day
I haven't been to an Easter egg hunt in maybe decades. It's kind of hilarious how terrible little kids are at spotting eggs that are right there. Like, seriously, you had to step over that blue plastic rock to go investigate that pebbled area which clearly has no eggs.
Also, look over there! so I can have some candy.