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Crisco

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.13

Hawaiian Punch wanted to bake Jammies a cake for Father's Day, so we did, using cake mix. It tasted okay.

Later that afternoon, we went to a pool party, and the hostess's mother-in-law brought a cake, and it was fucking amazing. "It's got plenty of crisco in it!" she exclaimed in a hearty Texas voice, in response to compliments.

My own mother never kept Crisco around the house, and I've never used it, but I guess it can really make a cake taste outstanding.


 

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Guest Post: History and Normalcy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.21.13

Thorn writes: I've kind of gotten into local history since living in a historical neighborhood (and yay, the first owners of our home were all into their Union ancestors, since a Confederate history would have been awkward) and bought a book with pictures of our town's history and another about black history in our region. It's been cool to see buildings we know including our own in different long-ago contexts, but it's really been eye-opening to have a book of photos of mostly familiar places where virtually everyone pictured is black. E. Messily linked to this awesome Smithsonian Institute site featuring US disability history and it sort of does the same thing in skewing views of what "the past" really looked like. No real question here and I'm not sure if others will have thoughts, but I find it both cool and useful.

Heebie writes: Our house was built in 1998, which makes it unique in the otherwise old-ish neighborhood. The guy lived next door, and drew up plans for this undeveloped lot. Then there was a big flood. So he threw away his plans, and had new ones drawn which put the house up on three foot piers, which was the height of the flood waters. That's the history of our house.


 

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Math Wars

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.13

Parodie sends along The Faulty Logic of 'Math Wars'.

The 3rd-7th paragraphs are an excellent summary of the math wars.

[Reformers] insist that the point of math classes should be to get children to reason independently, and in their own styles, about numbers and numerical concepts. The standard algorithms should be avoided because, reformists claim, mastering them is a merely mechanical exercise that threatens individual growth.

versus

Reform math has some serious detractors. It comes under fierce attack from college teachers of mathematics, for instance, who argue that it fails to prepare students for studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. These professors maintain that college-level work requires ready and effortless competence with the standard algorithms and that the student who needs to ponder fractions -- or is dependent on a calculator -- is simply not prepared for college math.

The detractors are, of course, basically full of shit. They are right that in order to do college-level math, you need quick retrieval of some algorithms. Stopping to use a calculator for trivial calculations does prevent you from staying immersed in a harder problem. But you also need numerical reasoning, and that needs to be developed.

The biggest reason the detractors are full of shit is that they behave like rabid Republicans, painting the reformers as unhinged strawmen (like the Jo Boaler thing, discussed here before), and their approach often seems to boil down to the "either you get it or you don't" style of teaching math, which tends to exclude traditionally underrepresented groups.


 

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Ex-ex-gay day

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.13

Snarkie wrote in: Exodus Ministries, the biggest name in "pray the gay away", is shutting itself down after what looks like a really heartfelt apology from its head.

Heebie's take: I thought Snarkout was being sarcastic at first, but the guy is really struggling and accepts responsibility for the million tons of shit he has dumped on strugging gay kids.

One thing I'm perpetually struck by: being a self-hating [whatever] is shocking in its potential for destruction.


 

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A Contested Adoption

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.20.13

This was an odd read to stumble upon, coming on the heels of our discussion of paternal rights for the biological father. (I don't want to exactly condemn the author, because emotions run so high around raising children, especially once you think of it as yours.)

It's short on legal details, because her goal is just describing how her family came to be.


 

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Guest Post - Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.19.13

Genosse, Esq. writes: Remember the German Nazi terrorist group "National Socialist Underground" that was talked about briefly in this thread? The trial against five persons charged in connection with these crimes started a few weeks ago.

There seems to be little interest in the trial from English-language media. Two online resources with trial reports in English: NSU Trial Reports features shorter articles by two victims' counsel involved in the trial. NSU Watch, staffed by several anti-fascist organizations, features quite extensive reports, but is sometimes a few days behind in translating them into English.

I know that quite a few 'tariat members have some sort of connection to Germany - I'd be interested in their (and everyone else's) take on the whole thing.

Heebie's take: Overview of the whole thing here, via Teraz in the comments.


 

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Social bookmarking and political essays

Posted by Ben
on 06.18.13

A nice response to that David Simon post by everyone's favorite painter/programmer/essayist, Maciej Cegłowski.


 

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Failing Teacher Training Programs

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.18.13

On NPR this morning, I heard this report, Study: Teacher Prep Programs Get Failing Marks, and it set off all kinds of warning bells. For example, the person running the study uses lots of "consumer" language and talks about how if failing teacher prep programs can't produce results, then they'll lose customers and go out of business. Also, they were criticized for over-reliance on course descriptions and not looking at how the teachers actually fared once they were in the classroom. Finally, they measured whether or not teachers were being taught how to raise test scores. IMHO, most self-respecting teacher prep programs do not focus on teaching teachers how to raise test scores, mostly because the professors (especially those who have been running the programs since before NCLB) don't have much respect for standardized testing.

OTOH, I haven't been involved in many institutions, so what do I know? So I went and looked up the actual report, and started with Methodology.

Check this out:

Data collection The field of teacher preparation has much to gain from an independent evaluation intent on spotlighting strong performers. And since most of the institutions in our sample cooperate with our partner, U.S. News & World Report, in developing its annual rankings of colleges and universities, we anticipated that they would work with us as well.
As it turned out, we faced a nationwide boycott of our effort. Ultimately, only 114 institutions chose to freely cooperate with the Teacher Prep Review (meaning that they provided us with the data we needed upon request without us having to resort to open-records requests). U.S. News & World Report received 39 letters representing approximately 700 institutions taking issue with our methods and goals. Other institutions either sent terse declines or did not respond at all to our repeated entreaties.
We were thus forced to look for alternative ways to collect legitimate data.

Surveys often have low response rates, but what's up with the phrase "nationwide boycott"? It sounds like there's a lot of hostility circulating between teacher prep programs and the people working the study.

(I'm sending it to my teacher ed friend who is well-informed on these things, because I don't actually have an insider's perspective myself. Also I have to take the cat to the vet, so I can't take the time to figure it out.)


 

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Check It Out; Slate's Trolling. I Am Shocked.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 06.18.13

They asked their readers to send in answers to the question "Are women passive when it comes to sex?" and stunningly found that literally every response that was worth publishing was "Yes, yes women are passive." That settles that, then.

Do you think the Slate staff actually uses the word 'trolling' to describe their editorial philosophy when they talk to each other privately?


 

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Blah to Bloomberg

Posted by Ben
on 06.17.13

For some reason the mayor of NYC spoke at Stanford's commencement yesterday, and for some reason he said this:

"I believe that more and more Stanford graduates will find themselves moving to Silicon Alley, not only because we're the hottest new tech scene in the country, but also because there's more to do on a Friday night than go to the Pizza Hut in Sunnyvale," he said. "And you may even be able to find a date with a girl whose name is not Siri. Stanford graduates thrive in New York City-because both places thrive on innovation and entrepreneurialism."

You might find that an odd remark until you remember that Stanford replaced all of its humanities distribution requirements with compsci coursework and also stopped admitting straight women.

He apparently went on to say something inane about "disruption".


 

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Up-to-the-minute reports on the state of British comedy

Posted by Ben
on 06.17.13

Hey, this "On the Hour" thing is pretty funny.


 

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A Stylized Portrayal of the Past Few Decades

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.17.13

I said this in a recent comment thread:

When I was about 18, I bought a book called Replica in the airport that was so bad that I decided at that point not to consider pursuing writing, professionally (which I'd been vaguely considering). My thinking went "If this utter slop can get published, then there is no merit system whatsoever, and I'll go nuts." I kept the book as a reminder to myself of the very important lesson I'd learned. I'm pretty sure I have it somewhere.

Gregory Mankiw writes Defending The 1%. It basically serves the same function as Replica for why one should not go into Economics. Hell no I'm not going to read all 26 pages after reading the first page or two:

Imagine a society with perfect economic equality. Perhaps out of sheer coincidence, the supply and demand for different types of labor happen to produce an equilibrium in which everyone earns exactly the same income... Because people earn the value of their marginal product, everyone is fully incentivized to provide the efficient amount of effort...
Then, one day, this egalitarian utopia is disturbed by an entrepreneur with an idea for a new product. Think of the entrepreneur as Steve Jobs as he develops the iPod, J.K. Rowling as she writes her Harry Potter books, or Steven Spielberg as he directs his blockbuster movies. When the entrepreneur's product is introduced, everyone in society wants to buy it. They each part with, say, $100. The transaction is a voluntary exchange, so it must make both the buyer and the seller better off. But because there are many buyers and only one seller, the distribution of economic well-being is now vastly unequal....
In my view, this thought experiment captures, in an extreme and stylized way, what has happened to US society over the past several decades. Since the 1970s, average incomes have grown, but the growth has not been uniform across the income distribution. The incomes at the top, especially in the top 1 percent, have grown much faster than average. These high earners have made significant economic contributions, but they have also reaped large gains. The question for public policy is what, if anything, to do about it.

OH MY GOD I HATE YOU SO.

Via Kieran Healy, elsewhere


 

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Haha Republicans.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.17.13

The white American population is shrinking.


 

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Father's Day

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 06.16.13

When did all my friends' dads get so old?!


 

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