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Points To You, Max Kellerman

Posted by Ogged
on 09.16.17

Video:


 

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For Neb

Posted by Ogged
on 09.16.17

 

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And that's

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.16.17

This story is a quick read, and it's great:

The week of April Fools' Day of 1981 began badly. That Sunday night my husband told me he was leaving me. He had fallen in love with one of his graduate students, and they were headed back to the tropics the next day.
I was completely devastated. It was totally unexpected. 33 years later, I still don't know what to say about it. I was just beside myself.
He gave me a new vacuum cleaner to soften the blow.

 

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ATM: bored future Unfogged commenter

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.15.17

Presidential Lurker writes: Inspired by the GT thread...my kid is struggling in school again. This teacher is annoying. She has them doing the most mundane shit...how to edit a passage for grammar and punctuation, a group poster about communities, observations about wheat...and so Kid has already lost his willingness to listen to her and is all over the place, making non-participation, distracting-his-friends Fs. I understand why this stuff is important, but I am angry that she doesn't acknowledge how fucking boring it must be for a kid who can basically recite the evolutionary lineage of the great white shark and can fully recall the parts and sizes of pvc one would need in order to build a marshmallow gun after having seen it in a damn book somewhere...)

So my kid is fucking bored out of his skull because he just cannot see how any of this stuff is relevant. How the hell is editing grammar as cool as a marshmallow gun?

I have conferenced with the teacher...she seems to be silently thinking that I'm a bad parent for refusing to medicate him for ADHD. I fucking hate that. I also emailed his teacher from last year and she's going to talk to the new teacher about strategies from last year.

How do I get my kid's teacher to realize how bored he is and throw him a bone?! I am trying so, so, so hard not to hit this teacher over the head with "how can you not see what a fucking brilliant kid this is?"

Heebie's take: Oh god, poor Kid. What a miserable situation to be in. I'm interested to see what the ex-teacher says. She is clear that he is a super smart kid, right?

Things that spring to mind:
- does Kid like to read? I think a common way that these things play out successfully is that the bright-problem kid is told, "If you finish your work early, you can read your book or go to the library," and then the kid dashes off the work and gets back to their epic sci-fi novel or whatever.
- can you tell Kid something like, "I think if you want your teacher to carve out some different rules for you, the first thing you've got to do is convince her that you're both bright and a hard worker." (This can be a bit of puffing him up, if he's not actually a hard worker.) I'm not saying that you're coaching him to ace a couple days to prove his credentials, but more like if he went off on a mega-monologue about the mating habits of cuttlefish to her, when she introduced the idea of invertebrates or whatever, then she might develop more respect for his brain and coping mechanisms.

Commentariat: I bet 3/4 of you recognize this from childhood? what made boring classes tolerable? How do you get a teacher to accommodate?

I believe we're talking elementary school, where most of the day is spent with one single teacher who can make or break your year.

(I had a very violent cat, for years, as some of you may remember. One problem was that when I would tell vets, "He's very violent, be careful that he doesn't attack you," they would say, "Yes, yes. Everyone thinks their cat is very special," and then they wouldn't take precautions. Then the cat would scratch up their faces and they'd be horrified and give him back to me without doing the medical check-up. It's hard to get people to take you seriously when everyone says their cat is special. Likewise it's hard sometimes to get a teacher to believe that your kid IS actually smart.)


 

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WhatteryTF

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.15.17

Remember all those predictions last November about the wide, wide range of things that might happen in a Trump presidency? I don't think anyone expected them all to happen, and not in the first 9 months. Watching Trump troll Republicans with Chuck & Nancy is a bit of a merry respite from the hurricane Nazi dumpster fire of the past month.

Tell! Me! What! Else!


 

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Guest Post - Unfortunately, Rebecca West is dead

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.14.17

Nrowb Werdna writes: Apart from that, she'd be an adornment to the blog. Consider this paragraph of hers, from a 1974 review of variously feminist books which the TLS reprinted recently:

​ The standard beginning of a​ [n Iris]​ Murdoch novel might show a deplorable house in a deplorable street in a deplorable suburb: on the first floor, two middle-aged people, worse than plain, are engaged in copulation (though the physical defects their creator has lavished on them deprive their embraces of any erotic significance and recall rather the problems topologists deal with, such as the one about the possibility of turning a doughnut inside out); on the second floor is someone also plain, wearing repulsive under clothes, who has either just succeeded or failed in committing suicide; and on the third floor an adolescent boy, deaf and dumb (but, as is shown later in the book, extraordinarily attractive to homosexuals), is skinning a goat.
This fantasy gets the reader nicely off the fish-hook of naturalism.
​There are a lot of very funny writers who could have written everything up to the last sentence, but that ​fish hook of naturalism ​is the touch of a master.​

T​he whole piece is worth reading: she asks why it is that women, unshackled from Edwardian patriarchy, still find love and sex so disappointing.

Spoiler alert: the answer has something to do with men

Heebie's take: That is a nice excerpt. I should totally click through.


 

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Things I am learning about GT programs.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.14.17

1. There are two kinds of Gifted & Talented Curriculum now - "push in" and "pull out". It's very dirty.
2. You and I grew up using the Pull Out Method. Similar to the way that it's now considered beneficial to keep kids with disabilities in a mainstream classroom as much as possible, "push in" means that you keep the GT kids in the classroom, and introduce GT content to the entire class.
3. GT parents are the most obnoxious parents.
4. "Push in" solves a ton of problems related to the question of which kids are tested for GT and which ones aren't, (a process which has been done in the very worst way in Heebieville). Under Push In, no one gets tested; everyone gets GT content.
5. There's a whole lot of elitism and hand-wringing about doing away with Pull Out. How will we know who is UMC and has aggressive parents???
6. I don't know which option is considered cheaper. If there's a known difference, then I'm skeptical of the whole movement.
7. When I was a youngster, it was a relief to be in a Pull Out GT classroom surrounded by kids who didn't judge you for being rabidly curious, and a teacher who was willing to hammer out all the tiniest details of your question instead of bailing because it was a poor use of classroom time. Similarly, I prefer Unfogged to anywhere else on the web. So I feel a teensy bit attached to that as a formative positive experience.
8. I am very ambivalent about GT altogether.


 

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Dress a Hick

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.13.17

Moby writes: As a 40-something middle-class white guy with a desk job who lives in a state that voted Republican, I want to avoid looking like somebody who would vote for Trump. I also don't want to look like somebody who thinks "hipster" and "born during the Nixon administration" are a reasonable combination.

Currently, I wear khakis almost all the time, but seeing the hordes in Charlottesville with khakis and white golf shirts is making me think I should dump the khakis. I maybe should dump the golf shirts also, but that's easy as I prefer shirts that button the whole way up and that don't show gravy stains so well.

Any reasonable advice? Right now, I'm thinking New England-duck hunter wear as an alternative, but I suppose just getting wool dress pants* would be easier and more practical.

* I can't say "slacks" and I don't know why.

Heebie's take: Being slovenly and wrinkled gets you out of Business Republican territory pretty quickly. But you also want to clear your good vibe of the racist/misogynist/khaki look, and they can be pretty rumpled and wrinkly. This is such a good question! What is the vibe that makes me draw away uncomfortably from some pasty disheveled white guys but less so from others?

One way to do it is to wear things that are a little more metrosexual and trendy and urban - I'm thinking messenger bags and skinny pants. DONE. Maybe roll up one pant leg so that it doesn't get pretend-grease on it from your pretend-bike?

Perhaps that's not you! I think the easiest, quickest signal is to have some bright colors in your wardrobe. Button down shirt with a bright, apple-green t-shirt underneath, instead of a white one. Burgundy jeans instead of only blue. Own a pair of red shoes. Nothing has to match or be unrumpled - just wear some bold colors and you seem more likely not to be a Nazi. Unless you're thinking pink izod. Then you're probably a Nazi.


 

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Hookworm

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.13.17

How about an upbeat story to contrast with the racist-tinged response to the heroin epidemic in Ohio? Here's one about how hookworm is thriving in rural Alabama. Did I say upbeat? I meant devastating and awful:

But the new study reveals that hookworm not only survives in communities of Americans lacking even basic sanitation, but does so on a breathtaking scale. None of the people included in the research had travelled outside the US, yet parasite exposure was found to be prevalent, as was shockingly inadequate waste treatment.
...
The average income is just $18,046 (£13,850) a year, and almost a third of the population live below the official US poverty line. The most elementary waste disposal infrastructure is often non-existent.
Some 73% of residents included in the Baylor survey reported that they had been exposed to raw sewage washing back into their homes as a result of faulty septic tanks or waste pipes becoming overwhelmed in torrential rains.
...
The daily hardship faced by Hardy, Rudolph and fellow inhabitants of Lowndes County is reflected in the Baylor study's glaring statistic of 34% testing positive for hookworm. The sample size was low - 67 people participated with 55 giving stool samples, all of whom were African American - but the results are so stark that the Houston scientists now want to conduct a larger survey across the region.

It had been thought that hookworm had been eradicated in the US by the mid 80s. I guess upbeat if you're a hookworm?

(I'd like to see intense repetition of lines like, "Republicans are the party of greed. Too greedy to properly pay for Child Protective Services. Too greedy to eliminate diseases of poverty. Their greed has the scale of atrocities" or whatever. I want that to sink into the general consciousness, that these humanitarian crises are a strict result of greed.)

(And racism. Because they are so breathtakingly racist, the brunt is always, always on minorities. There were so many good quotes in that (ridiculously long) Coates' First White President article, but one that stuck with me was:

That black people, who have lived for centuries under such derision and condescension, have not yet been driven into the arms of Trump does not trouble these theoreticians. After all, in this analysis, Trump's racism and the racism of his supporters are incidental to his rise. Indeed, the alleged glee with which liberals call out Trump's bigotry is assigned even more power than the bigotry itself. Ostensibly assaulted by campus protests, battered by arguments about intersectionality, and oppressed by new bathroom rights, a blameless white working class did the only thing any reasonable polity might: elect an orcish reality-television star who insists on taking his intelligence briefings in picture-book form.

That became less on point than it was in my memory.)


 

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Guest post: not particularly on the the unbearable whiteness of heroin use

Posted by Ben
on 09.12.17

WRITES THORN:

In documenting a week of heroin locally, the huge team of journalists manage not to mention race at all except in calling out as Mexican the dealers and couriers. The photos and names tell a different story.

It's awkwardly hard on a lot of us who are outraged or frustrated that you wouldn't have seen human stories like this about crack while of course not wanting to dehumanize heroin users (like my Rowan, who didn't get clean until prison but has seemed truly clearer and better when I've talked to him since, which I admit isn't as much as it could be) or see drug policy stay punitive just so white people have to suffer too. But drug court and family court share a physical location and so it's been amazing for me to see while waiting around for hearings over the years that either there's total segregation and users of color go elsewhere to some other session or drug court here is for white people. I had the same concern about this program that's literally close to home and I'm not close enough to child protective services anymore to be able to have an anecdotal sense of disparities. Usually they're systemic and it's not just going to be that a white heroin user can access programs a black cocaine user can't, especially since the latter program might have open beds or a shorter wait list, not to mention much more likely successful outcomes.

We'll see a change when the Adoption and Safe Families Act is altered to recognize that 15 months of foster care for the child doesn't give most parents enough time to get through recovery (and the wait for a bed in a recovery program the state will acknowledge) and find stable housing and so essentially all children in care whose parents are using heroin will end up free for adoption if the state wants to read the law that way, which some do and some don't. (I have thoughts too about attachment problems for children whose caretakers are inconsistent, sometimes zoned out and sometimes alert and involved, but that's mostly guessing and making some leaps from particular children I've known well.)

So that's what's going on here, I guess. I do hear sirens daily and peripherally know people among the dead, maybe ten years ago a former classmate and niece of a prominent judge, a former preschool teacher of Selah's, a charismatic friend of friends, some people who aren't Facebook friends but whose feeds I check to see if they're responding or in jail or if there are going to be memorial posts. It hasn't hit home the way other things have for our particular current family but it is home.


I have nothing to add to this, really.


 

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Reading Group - After the Family Wage

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.12.17

Mossy Character writes: Having chewed some time on the fibrous residue of Fraser, I spit out half-digested thoughts, regarding this:

How would this model [Universal Breadwinner, under which daycare and other services free women to participate fully in the job market] organize carework? The bulk of such work would be shifted from the family to the market and the state, where it would be performed by employees for pay. Who, then, are these employees likely to be? In many countries today, including the United States, paid institutional carework is poorly remunerated, feminized, and largely racialized and/or performed by immigrants. But such arrangements are precluded in this model. If the model is to succeed in enabling all women to be breadwinners, it must upgrade the status and pay attached to carework employment, making it, too, into primary-labor-force work.
As you may have heard from comedians, Asians sometimes suffer a certain lack of perspective when it comes to education. In my neck of the Sinosphere, that means:
although Taiwan has nine years of compulsory education, students need to sit qualifying examinations for admission into senior high schools or vocational high schools. This process is repeated again before entrance into universities or colleges. Preparation for entrance exams is the main source of pressure in schools. To achieve a higher score in their senior high school or university entrance exams at the end of ninth and twelfth grade, students tend to stay in school for "extra classes" until as late as eight or nine at night.
Which are supplemented by buxiban, "cram schools", specialized for-profit teaching establishments. The upshot of which is (PDF):
More than 18,300 registered cram schools are currently active in shadow education, with 15,248[*] schools centered on traditional school subjects like Chinese and English language, and sciences [the remainder teach things like music and martial arts].
[...]
Another kind of supplementary education institution, known as an-chinban (安親班), employs teachers or supervisors whose main duty is to look after a group of children (usually at primary school level) and to help them with their homework and assignments after school until the parents are free to pick them up. [IME, the buxiban are to a substantial degree actually just childcare too.]
[*As against 10,234 actual schools (PDF).]
All these cram schools employ large numbers of people, some paid not badly. They are indeed highly feminized (including, impressionistically, the management and ownership) though not racialized (excluding the L1 English teachers such as yours mossily). Of course, none of this was done for the sake of gender equity, and the countries involved don't do especially well on that score (indeed, quite shittily on some measures):


labor force participation wage gap
male female

USA 68% 56% 18%
France 59% 50% 14%
Sweden 68% 61% 13%
Taiwan 67% 51% 18%
Japan 69% 49% 25%
Korea 71% 50% 36%

I don't advocate this as policy at all: the education system is insane and the buxiban system inegalitarian. It struck me though that this is one way that the market can provide a whole bunch of carework, and some of the careworkers with reasonable pay and social standing; that, in the era of bonsai parenting and looming downward social mobility, a system like this might be more likely to appear in much of the world than anything sane; and that supplemental second-language teaching in particular (provided some none-assholery in other policies), could incidentally provide some decent employment for some poorer-world immigrants. (Hi!) As to the gender-construction line of Fraser's argument, learning how to do my job effectively has entailed learning to act in essentially a far less stereotypically masculine way.


 

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Whose plums are these? I think I know. The icebox is in the breakfast forest, though.

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 09.11.17

This plagiarism detective exposes some serial plagiarists, and sort of dresses like a 70s private dick.

[Lightman] developed a technique. He'd try to spot breaks in the natural pattern of Ward's poems - jarring lines that felt, in some way, different. If Lightman has a secret superpower, it's that, beneath his own instinct for poetry, he has a mathematician's pattern-sensitive brain. "It surprises me, because people say, 'I looked through this person's work and I didn't see anything', then I find something in two minutes. It's because I'm not reading it for affect, I'm reading it for patterns." He went through all the Ward poems he could find. "I looked through 300 or 400," he said. "I found about 15 that were dodgy." It was this that taught him his golden rule: "Plagiarists never do it once."

There's discussion of intertextuality, and whether Lightman is too punitive on poems that are intentionally riffing on other poems. I have no idea.

Also he has sometimes publicized plagiarists in a way that fans the flames of a mob mentality. Pretty much if you're publicizing your detective work on social media, then you're opening up your villains to be doxxed and mass-villainized, which certainly might be an outsized punishment. But that's a general big problem - like that woman who tweeted off-color jokes that were extremely racist if you didn't have context, then got on a plane, and was fired before her flight landed because her tweet went viral. (I don't actually remember the tweet - maybe it was racist regardless of context. But clearly she was composing it picturing a small, intimate audience who would cut her some slack, and then it left that small group and struck out on its own.)

But also, you shouldn't fucking copy someone else's poem. (Imagine the insecurity and panic that leads someone established to flagrantly do so.)

(I do have a problem in my classes that every fucking undergraduate math problem conceivable is solved, nicely, on the internet. How do you convince young adults that you're trying to make their brain get exercise? I half-solve it by harnessing the power of being embarrassed in front of one's peers - you have to be able to present and answer questions about your homework. Eh, that's a whole 'nother conversation topic.)


 

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Truth Hurts

Posted by Ogged
on 09.11.17

Jim Carrey seems about six months away from being found naked in a bush in Glendale, but there's very little to disagree with here.



 

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