Sunday, November 30, 2003

Welcome to Highered Intelligence!

Welcome to Highered Intelligence!: "MODELED BEHAVIOR: Joanne Jacobs points us towards this article about 'Relationship' classes now being taught in high schools and colleges. They are apparently bland and benign:
O.K. now I'm going to show you how to complain,' says Marline Pearson to a class of 15 unusually attentive college students. Pearson, a sociologist, is teaching a course called Couples Relationships at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis. When one of her students mentions that her boyfriend is always, like, falling asleep when they're supposed to do stuff, Pearson seizes what feels like a teachable moment. She suggests the student zero in on a specific time when her boyfriend dozed off and tell him how it made her feel. 'Stay away from 'You always' and 'You never,'' she advises. 'Even if you think the person does it always.'

* * * *

'There's a great hunger for understanding relationships, not just body parts,' says Sarah Brown, president of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. 'Young people tell us they're almost drowning in information about AIDS, condoms, pregnancy. But they want to know, 'How do I break up with my boyfriend without hurting his feelings?''
Well the short answer is that (usually) you don't, so you should probably give it up right now. There are ways to minimize the damage, but they usually require actually understanding the person rather than running them through a pre-scripted model of interaction.

Maybe some people do need a course to tell them to use 'I phrases' not 'You phrases.' I mean, there's a time and a place for each, but if you're entirely incapable of exercising the judgment needed to decide which to use, you're probably better off just following the 'use I phrases" rule. You'll make more friends and influence more people, as it is said.

But really, there are a lot of different ways to interact with people, and every person with whom you are in a relationship is going to be different, and is going to require new tactics. You will have to learn; you will have to adapt. But all along you must treat that person as their own person. They are not an interchangeable component of your life. They don't just "fit" into the relationship slot.

A relationship is necessarily composed of at least two people. It is a separate and distinct noun, however, both linguistically and metaphysically. A relationship is a greater combination of its component parts, and acquires characteristics based on those of its component parts and how they interact.

In other words, every relationship is different. Even between the same people, as the people change over time, so does the relationship. This reality, hyper-contextual as it is, should not be subject to the Procrustean theorizing of pop psychologists.

I've touched on this subject before, and I believe that I expressed my feelings most adequately there:
But I really can't stand formalized programs of human development. I reserve a special level of hell, just between the Malebolge and and throne of Lucifer himself, for people who talk like they were an article in Cosmo or Readers' Digest. You know the type.

* * * *

My point is that programs and formulas are all well and good if you're a dog and need to learn how to sit. But there's no replacement for doing the work a little at a time, building your life from the ground up instead of buying the prefabricated model.
More important than studying how to "deal with relationships" is studying what it means to be a good person and to respect the individuality of your fellow humans, including those with whom you choose to have romantic relationships"


If this really worked, wouldn't it mean we could manipulate everyone around us? I wish real human beings were so predictable..........hah!

Number 2 Pencil: Bright student, dim teacher

Number 2 Pencil: Bright student, dim teacher: "November 24, 2003
Bright student, dim teacher
Devoted Reader Mike recently sent along an amusing (in a black humor, how-stupid-can-people-be? sort of way) article about a bright seventh-grade student at an Ohio school who supposedly 'invented' a new math process. I was going to comment on the story myself, and then I realized that Mike had included in the email his own comments, which said exactly what I was going to say.
So here's the article in italics, with Mike's comments interspersed in regular font:
Killie Rick found a new solution to subtraction problems involving whole numbers and fractions. She used the concept of negative numbers in a way that has never been done before, as far as her seventh-grade teacher has been able to ascertain.
Emphasis on the 'as far as her 7th-grade teacher knows'.
This was the problem: 8 2/5 - 5 3/5 = ?
Now all teachers know that you're supposed to do '5 time 8 is 40, plus 2 is 42, write down 42/5, then 5 times 5 .......' and eventually you get to 2 4/5.
Killie Rick realized that the symbol '8 2/5' really means '8 + 2/5', so then she did
8 2/5 - 5 3/5 = 3 -1/5 = 2 + 5/5 - 1/5 = 2 4/5
'I've never seen anybody do this, said Colin McCabe, Killies teacher. It simplifies it by taking out three steps (to find a solution). I went home and tried to find fault with it, but I couldn't. I got online and did research, and I talked to friends of mine from college, and I can't find anybody who's seen this.'
Tried to find fault with it? Sheesh. Somebody ought to tell him about:
(a + b) - (c + d) = (a - c) + (b - d).
And that 3 1/2 really means 3 + 1/2.
But there's more. This is the part that makes me want to throw something across the room:

"I think a lot of credit should go to the teacher, said Anne Steck, the schools principal. I know lots of math teachers who would've looked at Killie's work and just said it was wrong."


What he said. The realization that neither this seventh-grade math teacher nor any of his college buddies knows about this technique is appalling. But for the principal to give credit to the teacher for not marking a correct answer as wrong is appalling and incredibly insulting to the little girl who figured it out for herself. Not to mention completely egotistical; do they really think that no one has ever used negative numbers in this way?

It is true that, when one looks online, almost every K-12 "dealing with mixed numbers" lesson plan mentions only the least common denominator, convert-to-improper-fractions method. Some of them do so clearly, others do not; this page uses a method so jumbled and jargon-ladled that I have no idea what they're trying to teach. But, this page mentions the borrowing technique the girl used at the end when she converted 3 -1/5 = 2 + 5/5 - 1/5. And this page, at the very end, mentions the method the girl used when she subtracted the two whole numbers and then the two fractions, and then converted them to positive numbers (although the page doesn't summarize it as a concise formula as Mike did, above).

So, at the very least, with only five minutes of Googling, I've manage to disprove the idea that "no one" has ever used negative numbers in this fashion. Guess the teacher above is as bad at web searching as he is at understanding improper fractions.

Update: *Sigh.* In case I did not make it crystal clear above, I found this story appalling because (a) the teacher only knew one way to solve the problem, which is one less than one of his students, (b) a competent math teacher would not have had to do research to validate this method, thus, (c) the student should not have to share any of the credit with the teacher for this. I'm appalled that the school is sharing any of the glory, when (a) this teacher is demonstrably incapable of teaching alternate methods, and (b) the little girl figured it out all by herself.

I thought the little girl should have gotten all the credit, not just some of it. My Google search was not to take credit away from the student, but to point out that her teacher obviously doesn't understand seventh-grade mathematics very well.

Sheesh. My first piece of hate mail, and the writer completely misconstrued what I wrote (and called me a lot of nasty names to boot).

Posted by kswygert at November 24, 2003 09:47 AM | TrackBack"

The new, new math?????

Friday, November 28, 2003

More inside details on Bush's trip to Baghdad




Trip of the President to Baghdad
Pool Reporter Mike Allen's [WASH POST] Private Notes
Nov. 26 and 27 (Thanksgiving Day), 2003

The President left Waco secretly Wednesday at 8:25 p.m. Eastern (7:25 p.m. Texan) with a small pool, stopped at Andrews to pick up a few staff and a few more poolers, change planes and then head to Baghad. Both flights were what we think of as the normal Air Force One, Boeing 747 with the normal marking. The President landed in darkness at Baghdad International Airport at 9:31 a.m. Washington time (5:32 p.m. local) on Thursday, Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day. He took off at 12:03 p.m. Eastern time, so was in Baghdad roughly 2.5 hours.

The staff aimed to keep the trip secret until after he had taken off from Baghdad ? no filing was permitted from the site, by the pool or by locals. The President landed with barely a sliver of a moon. He was already in a white Land Rover or Land Cruiser by the time the pool reached the Tarmac. The staff said the motorcade was 12 vehicles plus a military ambulance. Short motorcade of less than five minutes through a blacked out, rutty part of the airport, which looks like a military base. Passed Humvees, dog teams. The President pulled up to the back of the Bob Hope Dining Facility, a huge soft-sided, white building that looks like the most expensive and sturdy type of party tent. The soldiers, we were told about 60

The programs at each place said 'Happy Harvest Thanksgiving 2003 Baghdad, Iraq.' On the front were the logos of the First Armored Division ('Old Ironsides') and the logo of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Iraqi Free"

Here's our president!!!!!

DRUDGE REPORT 2003®: "t was mid-October when president asked senior staff to look into possibility of secretly flying to Baghdad for Thanksgiving dinner with troops; but he didn't make final decision until few hours before he left ranch in Texas, the LA TIMES to report on Friday... Developing..."

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Google Image Result for

Google Image Result for

Monday, November 24, 2003

The Morning Sun: Moorman shines in Bills loss 11/24/03

And now for something a little different. This is one of our recent grads - a nice fallback career to teaching, huh??? :}

The Morning Sun: Moorman shines in Bills loss 11/24/03: "Moorman shines in Bills loss
By The Morning Sun

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Pittsburg State graduate Brian Moorman turned a mistake into an opportunity when the Buffalo Bills took on the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.
After fumbling the snap on a punt attempt at the Bills 29, allowing the ball to go all the way back to the 13, Moorman, a four-time All-American punter for the Gorillas, used his other strong trait, his speed.
The three-time 400-meter hurdles national champion scooped up the ball and ran it all the way to the 50. Following an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Colts' Nicholas Harper, the Bills suddenly had the ball at the Indy 35.
Nine plays later, Drew Bledsoe took the snap and ran it in from one yard out to give the Bills the 7-3 lead.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as the Bills dropped a 17-14 decision.
And despite a stellar day, Moorman may dwell on the one big mistake he made.
Staked to a 7-3 lead, Moorman, who also serves as the Bills' holder, misplaced the snap and Rian Lindell never had a chance to attempt a 48-yard field goal as the ball went dribbling and the Colts took over at the Buffalo 38.
The third-year punter with the Bills booted the ball six times for a 49.0-yard average, with five punts landing inside the Indy 20 and three inside the Indy 10.
His best kick of the day came after the Bills were stalled on their first drive of the second half. Moorman unleashed a 64-yard behemoth that came to a halt at the Indy 1.
In the end, it wasn't enough, as Edgerrin James carried Indianapolis' banged-up offense to the comeback victory. James scored twice, including the winner on a fourth-down plunge from inside the 1 with 1:38 remaining.
James, who also scored on a 14-yard run, had 28 carries for 108 yards, hi"

Tightly Wound: Would the REAL Intellectual Zeitgeist Please Stand Up?

Tightly Wound: Would the REAL Intellectual Zeitgeist Please Stand Up?:

"So a reader pointed me to this fun little article, in which the publishing industry attempts to explain why it is that the New York Times Book Review seems a little bit, erm, BIASED when it comes to reviewing right wing tomes.
The books compared are the same in terms of tone: in this corner, Al Franken and Michael Moore, who get multiple reviews, and in the other Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly, who get none.
They sell similar numbers of copies, the content is the same--belittle and name-call the other side--so why the blatant disregard? Please, John Baker, enlighten us:
“I don’t think it’s a matter of shunning them because of their political slant,” said John Baker of Publisher's Weekly. “I think it sees itself as having the responsibility to pursue the intellectual zeitgeist as it were, and … not in things that it regards as comparatively transient in terms of political whims and currents of the moment.'
Ahaahaahaahaahaa! Whew! Okay, let's recap. Conservatism, so-called in part because it's all about tradition and beliefs that have BEEN AROUND FOREVER is a 'transient political whim.'
Amazingly, this transient whim on the part of wacky, callow, insufficiently intellectual youths like William F Buckley, seems to have caught on in parts of the country! Why, whatever will those whippersnappers think of next?
Also, Mr. Baker, you might want to double check your local zeitgeist. The real youth of the country tend to poll a little to the right of the baby-boomers. But don't feel too badly--I'm sure that just like your generation, they'll get over it and see the light. Oh, wait. Nevermind.
Posted by Big Arm Woman at November 20, 2003 02:07 PM | TrackBack "

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Mental multivitamin

Mental multivitamin: "Ayup. In fits and starts, we have eliminated ability tracking from our schools; no more canaries, orioles, and blue jays in our classrooms; we are all birds, capable of fantastic eagle-like flight, although in this brave new classroom, no one dares to fly too high, too fast, or too soon. These days, teachers are not encouraged or trained to nurture the potential best (Best? Why, there is no best!) but rather to cater to the at-risk, to teach to the middle, and, as a result, to give everyone a just-so education. We parents, teachers, students celebrate and reward the 'above average' in Lake Woebegone; in other words, the mediocre. And nowhere is this more depressingly apparent than in our system of higher education, where, at some point in the last six decades, we came to embrace the notion that anyone who wants it should have access to a college education, which has (pardon the pun) by degrees, reduced the value of the college diploma to a mass transit pass, duly punched as one hops along the map of his life: preschool, elementary school, high school, college, job, retirement, death (with an ample bit of taxes tossed in for good measure).

Doubt me? Name twelve parents who number themselves among our nation’s middle class (I know, I know — who doesn’t?) who don’t expect their children to go to college after high school. It would be easier to find fifty, nay, one hundred who will be humiliated if their little Brandon or Dylan or Taylor doesn’t get into if not a good school at least a decent school. And they’re willing to pay; in fact, via college funds and other savings plans, they have been paying for just this moment in their little darlin’s life since, oh, before they were born. "


TeachingBlog: "Brian Massumi
Sunday, October 12, 2003
I just started a new book by Brian Massumi, Parable of the Virtual. A scholar who writes books with that title has to have a web site, right?
'There is a certain hubris to the notion that a mere academic writer is actually inventing. But the hubris is more than tempered by the self-evident modesty fo the returns. So why not hang up the academic hat of critical self-seriousness, aset aside the intemperate arrogance of debunking‹and enjoy? If you don't enjoy concepts and writing and don't feel that when you write you are adding something to the world, if only the enjoyment itself, and that by adding that ounce of positive experience to the world you are affirming it, celebrating its potential, tending its growth, in however a small way, however really abstractly‹well, just hang it up. It is not that critique is wrong. As usual, it is not a questin of right and wrong‹nothing important ever is. Rather it is a question of dosage. It is simply that when you are busy critiquing you are less busy augmenting. . . . Like all strategic questions, it is basically a question of timing and proportion. Nothing to do with morals or moralizing. Just pragmatic. ' (13)"

Computable Culture and the Closure of the Media Paradigm

Computable Culture and the Closure of the Media Paradigm

Do You Blog? Weblogs for Educators

Do You Blog? Weblogs for Educators

It's ALL here................

Blogging Across the Curriculum

Blogging Across the Curriculum''

This looks interesting - I'll also have to put it on my Yahoo Bookmarks ...

The Exponent - features

The Exponent - features: "'I think the Weblog format is a very fundamental concept in Web publishing and Internet culture. It is the result of the evolution of chat rooms, personal Web sites, news sites, e-zines and message boards, not merely a passing fad. My feeling is that the community Weblog is becoming one of the fundamental metaphors of online publishing.'"

Tightly Wound: The Gift of Reality

Tightly Wound: The Gift of Reality

The Gift of Reality
I'm sitting at the stoplight this morning, waiting to make my left turn onto campus, idly sipping coffee and half-listening to the radio, when this commercial catches my ear:

"This season, give yourself the gift of Botox cosmetic. Before all the holiday get-togethers and parties. Botoxilin blah-blah-blah...Give yourself the gift of Botox cosmetic."

I almost missed my light. Yes folks, injectable paralytic bacteria is now being hyped as the perfect little accessory to go with your new strappy heels and party dress. You too can look like an escapee from Madame Tussaud's in all of your holiday photos! And you can spend all day on Christmas assuring your family and friends that yes, you do really like the gift, it's just that the facial muscles responsible for smiling have all been temporarily rendered immobile!

And did I mention that you're getting your face injected with Botulism? Just double checking, because for me that's sort of a deal breaker. It's your FACE. And you're deliberately injecting it with BOTULISM. See, no. It's called Oil of Olay, people, and as far as I know the side effects are a little bit of tingling, not needles jabbed into your head and four hours forced into an upright position so that the "toxin doesn't seep." When you whip out the word "seep" and use it in conjunction with MY FACE, little alarm bells go off. Same deal with the words "Botulism toxin," and "injected into."

Oh, and the fabulous paralyzed mannequin effect is only temporary, so in order to permanently look younger you have to repeat the procedure. A lot. And it's expensive! Whee! Sign me up, stat!

Listen to me. It's called AGING and we all do it. Use sunscreen. Moisturize. Lay off the cancer sticks and hydrate yourself. It's a helluva lot cheaper than having poison rammed into your head repeatedly. It's also a lot SANER than that, but hey! Let's not allow sanity to supersede vanity. This is America after all. Oh, and a footnote? No matter how many facelifts, botox treatments, peels, polishes, laser-finishes, sandblastings, and industrial strength shellackings you endure, you're still gonna end up looking like this. If you're lucky, that is.

Deal with it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


I'm at the NCSS meeting in Chicago.

Saw the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory displays in Marshall Field's.

The hotel has some neat benefits - not only free internet but also free domestic long distance.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Rules for Halloween

Note 2a:

Baraita: The Blog: "So let me suggest a few simple trick-or-treating guidelines which Baraita readers can share with the children in their lives.
(1) If there is a doorbell in evidence, ring it. If there is no doorbell, knock firmly. The homeowner is not required to wait in her living room with the TV off so that she can hear you shuffling up her steps. If the porch light is off (with no compensating lighted Halloween decorations), skip the house.
(2) Wear a costume, and be prepared to explain what you are dressed as. (Note that some face paint and/or fabric can be made into a costume by anyone with even marginal creativity and a bunch of safety pins.) If you cannot manage a costume, be prepared to offer a smart-aleck claim that you are dressed as 'a kid named [whatever],' a [somethingth]-grader,' or something similar. Do not under any circumstances admit that you are not wearing a costume.
(2a) Parents: don't let your kids go out without a costume. They have to learn important life lessons about wearing the right clothes and making themselves look dorky before they can be rewarded. This will come in handy later in most of their careers.
(3) Proper greetings by which to address the homeowner include 'trick or treat' and 'happy Halloween!' 'Are you giving out candy?' is not a proper greeting. Responsible homeowners do not carve pumpkins without buying candy.
(4) The next part of the trick-or-treating ritual is an exchange of pleasantries. The homeowner may ask what you are dressed as, feign fear, demand some sort of performance, or otherwise annoy you. You may evade but must nevertheless respond politely. If at all possible, compliment the homeowner's Halloween decorations (e.g., jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, funny socks). Beware of assuming that cobwebs you glimpse in the interior of the home are Halloween decor"

ScrappleFace: Democrats Call for Boycott of American Products

ScrappleFace: Democrats Call for Boycott of American Products

And this one is almost...........true

ScrappleFace: AT&T Must Buy Dinner for Do-Not-Call Plaintiffs

ScrappleFace: AT&T Must Buy Dinner for Do-Not-Call Plaintiffs

The ultimate payback...............too bad it can't really happen.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

ScrappleFace: 'Slow Start' to Level Pre-School Playing Field

ScrappleFace: 'Slow Start' to Level Pre-School Playing Field

ScrappleFace: Clinton-Gore Economic Boom Continues

ScrappleFace: Clinton-Gore Economic Boom Continues

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