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Downer

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.11.19

Jammies has been substitute teaching this past fall. A common assignment in the middle schools and high schools is to be a floating co-teacher, assigned to different teachers throughout the day, for classes on the low end of progress. This means that Jammies' is seeing more or less the regular day of class, and not a special sub plan for the day.

A really common way to spend a class is to pass out Guided Notes, which are basically joyless MadLibs, and then spend the hour going over the notes with the students so that they can dutifully fill in missing words and (turn them in at the end for credit? keep them for studying? I think it varies by class). Day after day, class after class, being handed a packet of guided notes, writing in the missing key words, putting your name at the top and going to your next class.

I think the pedagogical theory goes something like "these kids are teetering on the edge of dropping out, and so if we can cut their work into bite-size pieces, and pre-chew it for them, and then tie the pencil to their fingers and use marionette strings to get them to make pencil marks on the paper that approximate learning, we can get them out of here with a diploma." It's possible that alternate theories on human engagement and Status Quo Solidifiers* and how beatings will continue until morale improves would produce different conclusions.


 

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124

Posted by Ogged
on 01.10.19

How many tabs do you have open right now?

I switched browsers a few months ago and resolved to open and close tabs as needed, and I managed it for about a month. Then...things got away from me. Particularly when I'm researching something, they open in waves. In fact, I can look at the tabs (I have them in a sidebar, so they're vertically arranged) and see days and topics roughly grouped together. Sometimes I throw a few into Evernote; I've tried OneTab, sometimes I just bookmark the entire set (and never look at it again) but ultimately, there's there's an interplay of human psychology and tab technology that doesn't quite work.


 

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How it played in Pretoria

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.10.19

Via J, Robot, How Cartographers for the U.S. Military Inadvertently Created a House of Horrors in South Africa.

In 2012, John moved in, shortly before his father died. Unfortunately, that's around the same time the problems started.
"My mother blamed me initially," said John. "She said I brought the internet into the house."
The visits came in waves, sometimes as many as seven a month, and often at night. The strangers would lurk outside or bang on the automatic fence at the driveway. Many of them, accompanied by police officers, would accuse John and Ann of stealing their phones and laptops. Three teenagers showed up one day looking for someone writing nasty comments on their Instagram posts. A family came in search of a missing relative. An officer from the State Department appeared seeking a wanted fugitive. Once, a team of police commandos stormed the property, pointing a huge gun through the door at Ann, who was sitting on the couch in her living room eating dinner. The armed commandos said they were looking for two iPads.

I'm pretty sure we discussed a previous case of a farm in Kansas that was subject to a similar phenomenon - a company called MaxMind had decided that the most generic IP address for the United States, in the absence of any additional information, should be at more-or-less the geographic center of the US, and the coordinates they picked landed on this farm in Kansas.

The author of that piece ended up getting contacted by the victims in this case, and things go from there. And to their credit, MaxMind seems unusually willing to address these glitches and re-park generic IP addresses in a nearby lake or a park. However, in this case, the IP address hadn't originated with MaxMind...dun Dun DUNN!

It's a fun read, and everything works out surprisingly tidy in the end, in contrast to the type of decrepit, sorry narratives we're used to in these terribly stupid times.


 

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Collusion

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.09.19

We should probably have a smoking gun thread. (I know it has come up in the comments already.)

Which one is more delicious?
1. Not knowing how to redact something so all anyone has to do is copy and paste it into a word document to read the redacted parts.
Or 2. That time when Manafort and Gates kept emailing each other back and forth saying, "hey bro, I don't know how to doctor this PDF. Can u help"
"sure now it's a word doc, send it back to me when it's doctored."
"here u go. PDF pls?"
"here's your final version with the fake numbers."

Probably the second one, but both are nice.

You'd better enjoy the delicious screw-ups because the smoking gun isn't going to change the tide.


 

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Oldie / But Goodie

Posted by Ogged
on 01.09.19

I'm reading Pope's Iliad, and it takes a while to get past how cheesy rhyming couplets feel to us, but it's just magnificent. I could bathe in Achilles' contempt for Agamemnon, and here's a description of Thersites.

Awed by no shame, by no respect controll'd / In scandal busy, in reproaches bold ... Spleen to mankind his envious heart possess'd / And much he hated all, but most the best

So good!


 

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Guest Post - Sinicization

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.09.19

Mossy Character writes: As Barry pointed out around New Years', the CCP genocide against Uighurs is beginning against the Hui as well. I haven't seen reports of camps yet, but given things like this:

party officials from Ningxia, a region with a large Hui population, toured prisons in Xinjiang in November and signed a "counter-terrorism co-operation" agreement with authorities in the region
I assume it's just a matter of time. Also, published construction RFPs that were used to detail the Xinjiang camps were subsequently taken down, so spotting expansions has presumably become more difficult. Also, curiously:
Chinese Islamophobes have created a mythical halalification movement, which functions in their imagination something like sharia does in the minds of rural American lawmakers [...]

Heebie's take: Thanks, Moscha. People are the absolute worst.


 

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Shutdown

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.08.19

I really did think that within the first two days of Dems being in the House, the old spending bill would get passed, Trump would find some fig leaf that justified him celebrating that the wall had gotten funded, and the shutdown would end.

Now it's looking - horrifyingly - like the other play in the Republican playbook, the one where never bring Merrick Garland up for a vote for an entire year, or ram through a tax cut plan that was written in 12 hours and read by exactly no one: drive the car off the cliff out of idle curiosity to see what it gets you.


 

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Good governance

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.07.19

I'm curious about how well-run but poor communities or countries operate. It's hard to know which ones are the right ones to look at. I found this corruption index of countries (or rather, a corruption perception index) here, by a watchdog group called Transparency International. None of the least corrupt countries are particularly poor, as far as I know. (The numbering of the list is weird. The US ought to be described as "tied for 16th with Belgium and Austria", not "tied for 8th" with those countries.)

What do poor-but-well-run towns/states/countries do best? Off the top of my head, I'd think public transportation, access to health care, access to day care, and that sort of thing. But I'm curious as to which places actually qualify. Nebraska?


 

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Guest Post - The Burnout Generation

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 01.06.19

CharleyCarp writes: I think AHP is a little too flip about the challenges people of previous generations face and have faced, but the ultimate point here about how lives are lived now is, I thought, pretty compelling.

Heebie's take: The opening premise is that Millenials Can't Adult for Structural Reasons, and it is a good read. It's sprawling - at times she's talking about young UMC graduates' inability to get around to inane little errands, at other times she's talking about the double-shift of working mothers, which is arguably the exact opposite - extremely high completion rate of inane little errands. But the central theme still holds - the background that this is occurring against a backdrop of increasing worker productivity and drive to optimize every last bit of life.

I wonder how this fits into Edwards' "Two Americas" - certainly this grind to optimize relentlessly, to sacrifice all leisure for the promise of the fulfilling job which never materializes, does not apply to people in poverty. Their relentless grind originates out of an entirely different framework. And it doesn't seem to apply to the top 1%, who still seem to be able to thrive beyond the level of their competence.

Remember the articles about how the top 10% is the new 1% or whatever? Opportunity hoarding? Maybe they're the ones for whom this dream is materializing right on schedule, and this article is describing the 50%-90% of Americans - college-educated and unable to get to a calmer, more relaxed place in life.

On a personal level, I feel extraordinarily grateful for having side-stepped most of this. But strictly on errand-paralysis: I get it, on a visceral level, but I'm no longer victim to it. For me, it went away when I transitioned from High Importance/Low Urgence climate of graduate school to the High Urgence/Low Importance climate of a teaching schedule.

For me, the major luck factors of avoiding this grind have been:
- I had parents who "optimized" me like modern parents stereotypically do, in an era when this was strongly not yet the norm, and so it did give me a leg up on opportunities. It felt like a security blanket and not anxiety-driven more ways to fail.
- Starting graduate school a year before the tech bubble crashed, and getting a job a year before the economy crashed. I cannot overstate how lucky this was.*
- Being utterly unambitious plus well-positioned, which translated into job security, as I took a path that ended up making me a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

Needless to say, none of that scales. While I was reading the article, I was worried that the author wouldn't get around to structural forces that need to be addressed politically for this the change. She does, although it'd be nice if she'd been a lot more forceful about it. It's mostly a diagnostic article, but it's well-done and insightful.

*I skipped a grade in elementary school. (Or rather at Christmas Break, I switched from kindergarten to first grade.) I always thought this was because my intellect was irrepressible and everyone just saw my blinding light, until I was in my 20s and I realized that was unlikely. I asked my parents why they skipped me a grade, and they said that my grandmother believed me to be a genius. She nagged my parents relentlessly, until it was easier to acquiesce than to listen to her hyper-focused nagging for the next twelve years. That makes 100% waaay more sense. The footnote to this footnote is that I thus have my grandmother to thank for the spectacular graduate school and job market timing I experienced.


 

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