I am trying to write a review of a redraft of a paper I already reviewed and I am bored out of my skull. Apparently the other reviewers came down much harder on them than I did, because they really changed up and reorganized a lot of it.
It reminds me of this that I read a week or two ago, What's the matter with book reviews?, basically about why shitty books inevitably have dazzling blurbs on their back covers. There's no mystery, although this particular piece dives more deeply into the overworked/undercompensated freelancer who actually writes the review that generated the fawning quote.
My takeaway, or maybe this is just something I've learned from grading papers, is that it's much easier to go lightly on someone than to go hard on them. Digging in and giving someone meaningful feedback requires effort and I find it very tedious.
So is some rightwing lunatic really going to become the governor with like 13% of the vote?
Things that aren't accidental:
I've been in political media for over two decades, and I have never experienced something like this before. Not only can I not get people booked on shows, but I can't even get TV bookers who frequently book my guests to give me a call back...
I've fed sources to reporters, who end up not quoting the sources, but do quote multiple voices who are critical of the president and/or put the withdrawal in a negative light.
I turn on TV and watch CNN and, frankly, a lot of MSNBC shows, and they're presenting it as if there's not a voice out there willing to defend the president and his decision to withdraw. But I offered those very shows those voices, and the shows purposely decided to shut them out.
In so many ways this feels like Iraq and 2003 all over again. The media has coalesced around a narrative, and any threat to that narrative needs to be shut out.
Legum's newsletter is pretty solid, by the way.
Mossy sends in Residents of US territories can serve in the military, but can't vote for president. Here's why some Islanders don't identify as American, about life in the territories as a quasi-protected but not fully protected US citizen.
A stray thought:
Every year, the 24-year-old writer sees the US territory of Guam hold its biggest annual celebration to commemorate an important military victory with a summer carnival and a spectacular parade.
There are beauty queens, music, and declarations of patriotism. The island of 160,000 American citizens pretty much mirrors small-town America on Independence Day. Except, that's not what Guamanians are celebrating.
Instead they gather together for Liberation Day on July 21, which commemorates the date that US armed forces ended Japanese occupation during World War II. The festivities are a much bigger deal locally than the Fourth of July.
I also grew up somewhere where the biggest fireworks and parades did not occur on the 4th of July. Those were reserved for Gator Homecoming in the fall, which was a school holiday and a very bfd. However, neither of my parents have ever barbecued.
From the Paris Independent School District (in Texas), this is the goddamn best:
The Board of Trustees is concerned about the health and safety of its students and employees. The Board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues, and therefore has amended the PISD dress code to protect our students and employees. The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees' exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district. Nothing in the Governor's Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority.
Yes, force the Republicans to argue that we shouldn't be regulating what kids wear.
NickS writes: This story, based on an interview with a woman who had gotten involved with QAnon last year is deeply, deeply strange. I have no idea what to make of it, or whether her descriptions of her own thoughts and experience are accurate:
It was after a day of [my boyfriend Dave's] angry outbursts when I discovered QAnon. That night, Dave was asleep and I lay awake buzzing with stress. Tired of staring at the ceiling, I decided to watch the "Fall Cabal" YouTube series a friend of mine had told me about. "It's really weird. I'd love to get your opinion on it," she messaged me a few days before along with a link. The 10 episodes wove together a narrative about "The Cabal," supposedly a secret and satanic pedophile ring run by members of the liberal elite, and Trump's secret fight to overthrow them. I didn't sleep at all that night. Instead, I found dozens of articles and videos confirming my new political views. By the morning, I was a true believer.
Heebie's take: It's not too long, and it is bizarre. I have no idea whether or not to believe her, just like I have no idea whether or not to believe an addict's description of hitting rock bottom (only because I know other addicts say "everyone inflates their rock bottom story to sound more sordid than it was, because the truth is boring.")
If it happened like she describes, her boyfriend is a goddamn saint.
There is nothing more twerpy than those Reagan/Bush '84 vintage-style t-shirts favored by college Republicans and those who miss being college Republicans.
Very gloomy evisceration of the British HE sector in the New Statesman last week.
This summer, a department at the University of Sheffield sent an email to students. A group of them had complained about their marks for an end-of-year essay. While a few had received Firsts, these students were given 2:2s and Thirds. "Thank you for raising the issue," began the email, "and thank you also for your patience." After reflection, the head of department and the director of "learning and teaching" had decided that, "our normal procedures... failed us. For this we apologise unreservedly". The department had decided to "uplift all the marks... less at the top and more at the bottom". The poorly performing students had their marks raised by nearly 40 per cent. The few who had done well saw their marks barely change. "Again, our apologies," the message concluded, "but we hope that this is a satisfactory resolution."
What happened at Sheffield is one part of a national story: the great university con. Over the past 30 years, successive governments, from Thatcher to Blair, to Cameron and May, have imposed a set of perverse incentives on universities. Their effect has been to degrade and devalue the quality of British degrees. Academic standards have collapsed. In many institutions, it is the students who now educate the universities, in what grades they will tolerate and how much work they are willing to do. "We have got to protect ourselves from complaints," says Natalie Fenton, professor of media and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. "It's an endless process of dealing with students who haven't been able to buy the grade they wanted."
It's a point worth making here that it was right-wing governments who destroyed the system. Thatcher herself was at Oxford, and in later life despised by the people who ran it; the great inflation of the polytechnics was overseen by a fellow of All Souls -- whom I interviewed at the time. Of course he knew perfectly well that many of the new universities might as well have been founded by Donald Trump for all their educational value, but his attitude was consistently elitist: the people who mattered would still know without needing to be told which were the real universities, and as for the people who don't matter, fuck'em.
The other thing that jumps out is what a marvellous example this is of Goodhart's Law: as soon as published research became an important metric, it lost value both as a metric and in itself.
Heebie's take: Conventional wisdom is that grade inflation is rampant here too, and entitled students are driving a consumer-model of education, but I'm actually not clear how widespread it is. There's three different places where people probably make this claim: Elite universities, large regional universities, and high schools.
Here's my guess: at the elite universities, the students are such outrageous overachievers that any grad inflation is actually probably fair compared to what kind of work students were churning out in the 80s-90s. At the large regional land grant university level, I bet things are fairly steady. My understanding is that for college level math service courses (for non-majors), if you look over time, the competence of students stays fairly steady.
At the high school level, in Texas, there is a huge explicit pressure not to fail anyone, but it's not coming from the students. Admin more or less tells teachers to figure out some way to get everyone up to a 70. A friend of mine uses the grade scale where any raw score between 0-50 is mapped linearly onto a score between 60-70, so that the student has a shot at passing. Then 60-70 actual scores are mapped onto the low 70s, and then things become more and more accurate as you scale up. So the A's are still A's. To me, this isn't the biggest crime in the world, and also none of this is addressing the real problem, which always eventually traces back to the fact that public schools can't solve poverty, and problems of performance (in this context) are nearly always problems of poverty.
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.