# blueollie

## No whining, some science/philosophy issues

It is has been a while since I linked to anything but “winter sucks” and “here is my workout”.

Jerry Coyne has a couple of interesting articles.

One: he talks about an article that claims that we “should study history to understand science”:

Alejandra Dubcovsky, an assistant professor of history at Yale, thinks that it’s essential for scientists to study history (she doesn’t specify what kind of history, or if she means the history of science), for another reason: because it gives us scientists “a sensitivity that only the humanities can teach.”

Or so she maintains in a new piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education, ”To Understand Science, Study History.”

Like the reader who sent me the link, Dubcovsky seems not only defensive about her discipline, but stretching a bit to make her point. To show how history informs our scientific sensitivities, she uses the examples of Rosalind Franklin, which will teach us that science is not gender-blind (she says Franklin is “largely forgotten,” which is simply untrue); of Rebecca Skloot’s wonderful book about Henrietta Lacks (donor of the HeLa cells), which should teach us that science and race have an “uneasy history;” and about Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb, which should teach us that “we find deep, sometimes unforeseen, and often devastating consequences, even from the most theoretical of projects.”

Yep. I am often amused to hear a non-specialist tell me what “I don’t know about” in my own discipline.
Frankly, the humanities ARE under fire and are really stretching to stay relevant. Why? My guess: higher education is getting more and more expensive, and there simply isn’t a great demand for humanities majors. The market for humanities Ph. D.s is also terrible.

And yes, science IS blind to sex; for example, if you get the laws of science wrong, what you build with them won’t work. I doubt that there is a feminist interpretation of quantum mechanics.

Note: the humanities ARE valuable IMHO…and even have practical value. Steven Pinker’s book Better Angels of Our Nature, gives a bit of credit to fiction in helping humans become less violent (e. g. reading a novel better helps us “walk a mile in another person shoes”).

In this day of a smaller globe, the study of language and culture is essential! And knowing some history is extremely helpful, especially given some of the turmoil we are seeing now. Much of it has ancient roots. For example: had we remembered that Vietnam and China were traditional rivals and enemies, we might have reacted better to the situation in Vietnam rather than escalating that horrible, wasteful war.

Professor Coyne has another article about Whole Foods (the store) and about how it promotes woo-woo (beyond the usual woo-woo stuff about “natural” and “organic”). Here, he goes off on Whole Foods pushing homeopathic remedies (placebo really). This might be seen as a “liberal” type of creationism, though conservative sites like NewsMax also pushes woo-woo “cures” and the like. If you get on their e-mail lists, you’ll see adds for them. Hey, there is nothing more Republican that cheating the gullible out of their money!

Sandwalk (Larry Moran’s blog) takes on the “argument from evil” response that some atheists attempt to use against theists (e. g. if your loving God exists, then why did horrible thing X, Y, or Z happen?)

I agree: this is a waste of time. The response by the theist (who believes in a specific deity) is something like “we don’t know God’s ways” or “this is in this life, which is just a microsecond in all of eternity…even the worst possible suffering in the here and now doesn’t compare to ETERNAL bliss that we are going to get (some of us anyway), blah blah blah.”

It is weak medicine, IMHO> And of course, there could be an Evil God. Here is my favorite:

February 28, 2014

## Outliers and society

I think that this is common in this day and age: I have some students who are struggling in our “elementary conceptual calculus” course. They come to class, but work a large number of hours at a job in order to make ends meet. So…they are often left with very little time to study.

And yes, IN THIS COURSE, most of the students need to study quite a bit in order to have a chance at even a “C”.

In short: most students need to have a certain number of hours in order to sleep and to study..in addition to making the classes and their part time jobs.

Now, some might say that this is nonsense.

I remember a professor I had at the Naval Academy. He said that when he was an undergraduate he studied very little for his math classes as he paid his own way through school by waiting tables. He made up for it by PAYING ATTENTION IN CLASS.

That is well and good…..but then remember that he had an earned Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT.

Most of us don’t have that type of natural ability.

Yes, Mohammed Ali could break the conventional rules of boxing (dangle his arms, lean away from punches):

But most, including most other professional boxers, don’t have that kind of ability.

Following the 1976 trials he trained by running 35 miles per week and ran “a 2:14:37 for second place at the Nike-Oregon Track Club Marathon in Eugene in 1978. After that, he ran 2:15:23 for 15th place in the Boston Marathon in 1979.”

But most of us aren’t that gifted (this was Tony Sandoval, cowinner of the 1980 US Olympic Trials Marathon)

Yes, some can make a successful film while being stoned on marijuana, but most of us aren’t as talented as the Beatles.

The list can go on and on. The bottom line: you can gain inspiration from the incredibly successful, but you won’t be able to get away with taking the short cuts that many of them got away with. Neither you nor I are outliers.

Public policy should reflect this. Yes, it is great that a tiny minority of people might strike it very rich. But MOST WILL NOT. It is unjust to orient society that way.

February 25, 2014

## Ignorant and proud of it….

Workout notes
Full weights plus 1800 yards of swimming (just over a mile)

Weights: rotator cuff, hip hikes, Achilles
pull ups: 2 sets of 15, 2 of 10
bench: 10 x 135, 7 x 170, 6 x 170
military (dumbbell): 3 sets of 12 x 50 (seated, supported)
rows: uphight, 3 sets of 10 x 25 (dumbbells)
rows: Hammer, 3 sets of 10 x 210
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls: 3 sets of 10 x 70 (machine)

Swim: 500 warm up (slow; got blown away by Ms. Bikini)
500 of drill/swim (no fins)
10 x 50 on the 1:10 (first 5, count strokes: 21-23 per length, 51-52 sec.)
next 5: 49-50
100 first drills
2 x 100 IM

I felt a bit bad; I grabbed the lane by the wall, and this kind of strange guy who usually swims there saw that and left, though there was room in the middle of the pool. I’ll ask him if there is some medical condition that precludes him from using the middle lanes.

The pool (and the weight room) has been used at an unusually high level lately.

The public and mathematics
Yes, some people have asked me this: “why all of the letters? Why don’t you use NUMBERS?”.

If I am in a patient mood I might say something like: “ok, suppose you want to be able to program a computer to compute a tax on an order? Well, you’d need the item ordered, the price of the item ordered, how many of each item ordered and the applicable tax, right?

Well, there is a “slot” in the order form for each of those, and the “letters” we use stand for such slots.”

Usually, these questions come from those who haven’t had the benefit of an education.

Ignoring pleas from business leaders, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Thursday to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted four years ago.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who championed SB 1310, said he believes the concept of some nationally recognized standards started out as a “pretty admirable pursuit by the private sector and governors.”

“It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

No, this isn’t satire. I wish that it were.

So, in all seriousness: how is such a person supposed to make a decision on any issue that requires the least bit of analytical thought?

I swear: I am old enough to remember Republicans when they were proud of their educations and knowledge. Now, at times, it appears that they are mostly proud to be ignorant.

But…I can’t blame this all on the rabid populists. A Facebook friend posted this article on her wall…and look at her comments, especially the LAST ONE:

Get that? If something is too tough for a “special needs” person to do…well, it is too hard for the general population.

I’d hate to think that common standards are determined by the least able among us, but there is a large segment of the population that thinks EXACTLY that way.

I can see a conservative chuckling and saying “ok, how is that PUBLIC EDUCATION working out for you”?

Note while there ARE legitimate criticisms of Common Core; using “letters for numbers” isn’t one of them.

Note: the above link was brought to my attention by someone on Facebook.

February 24, 2014

## Cold, NFL and science

Jerry Coyne has an interesting post about how he sees science being “dissed”. I’ve been over much of this; one reason is that sometimes non-replicated studies are loudly presented as break throughs when, in fact, they are merely false positives.

Cold
That jet stream appears to be stuck, thereby subjecting us to repeated blasts of cold air and others to severe drought. View the maps presented here.

Many schools were cancelled yesterday; the University of Illinois was not. That we were: kind of silly; it was actually COLDER today. But some of the Illinois snowflakes were less than pleased that they had class and vented on the internet.

Again, big school; small sample size.

NFL
It is interesting how the players are decried as “thugs” by many; some say that football promotes a “rape culture”. So I went online to look for statistics; in fact, even when one considers ALL violent crimes, there is zero evidence that NFL players commit them at a higher rate than other males their own age and race. In fact the evidence suggests that they commit such crimes at a LOWER rate. Here is the non-technical study from Duke University; “arrests, charges and conviction” data is presented and discussed.

January 29, 2014

## I survived the semester, so far…

Well, they are back. The gym was unusually crowded for 6 am (“first of the semester resolutions”) and the Army ROTC took away many of the dumbbells.
But I got it all done anyway; well, all but the plank/McKenzie exercises (which I can do tonight)

pull ups: 2 sets of 15, 2 of 10 with hip hikes, Achilles
incline bench: 2 sets of 10 x 140, 5 x 150
abs: 3 sets of 10: crunch, twist, sit back, vertical crunch
pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 140 (different machine), 10 x 160
military press: 3 sets of 12 x 50 (dumbbells, seated, supported)
upright row: 3 sets of 10 x 20 (dumbbells)
bent over row: 3 sets of 10 x 65
dumbbell curls: 3 sets of 10 x 30
rotator cuff: ALL of them; doing them at the end of the workout might be more effective as the bigger muscles are fatigued.

The weights took 1 hour flat.
Then 3 mile walk on the treadmill: warmed up on 0.5 incline and sped up from 15 mpm to 12 mpm and got to mile 1 in 13:20
Next two miles: 24:00 (12 mpm, did .25 0, .25 at elevation: 2-3-4-5 with .25 at 0 rests): 37:20 for 3 miles; 38:55 for 5K

That got me out of the gym at 7:48; time enough to walk home (in slick ice/snow), change, quick breakfast, back to work.

Two parting shots
Paul Krugman on reporting the issues: it isn’t enough for a reporter to work hard. They must make some effort to know what they are talking about:

Here’s the problem: When you’re covering policy, the usual tools of journalism — cultivating sources, pounding the pavement, pulling out the Rolodex — just won’t cut it. You have to have people who actually understand the policy issues — people who can pound a spreadsheet, or whose Rolodex includes academic experts as well as DC flacks.

Otherwise what you get at best is he-said-she-said reporting — what I mocked many years ago as responding to claims that the earth is flat with the headline “Views differ on shape of planet.” Or, even worse, you rely on people who seem like authority figures because of their style or their official position, but are in reality just guys with an agenda, and often completely untrustworthy.

The Post — I really don’t think I’m being unfair here — has been particularly guilty of the latter sin. Colin Powell says Iraq is building WMD — well, that settles it, doesn’t it? The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says we have a fiscal crisis — well, they’re the authorities, aren’t they?

What Ezra and company brought was a combination of sophistication about policy issues and skepticism toward the Very Serious People. Ezra and Sarah Kliff really understood health policy, and knew that if you needed to know more, you called Gruber or Cutler, not Senator Bomfog. Others on the team actually understood macroeconomic policy, and knew that you shouldn’t treat the hacks at Heritage as if they were symmetrical with, say, the careful wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

What Krugman notices here isn’t partisan though. Example: suppose a reporter wanted to cover a GMO issue. If they just used credible sources (scientists) they would infuriate their liberal readers who wanted to see the woo-woo point of view covered too.

Or, in the case of contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident affecting the safety of the fish catch off of the United States: well what is true isn’t what many want to hear:

Neville has sampled more than 60 fish since Fukushima. The levels of Cesium traced to Fukushima were so low that his lab couldn’t see it at all until he concentrated the samples.

Kim Martini, an oceanographer at the University of Washington, agrees that the tuna are completely safe.

“To actually get a harmful dose of tuna you have to eat 2.5 tons of tuna a year,” Martini says. “I really love Tuna, but I don’t love it that much.”

Numerous other tests since the Fukushima disaster have found the same thing: radiation levels in Pacific fish that are vanishingly small.

And yet the fear persists, and even grows, fostered in part by supposed “evidence” passed around the web. Sites have sprung up blaming Fukushima for everything from lower sockeye salmon runs in the US to conjoined twin baby whales in Baja.

Martini points to one video in particular that’s been posted on YouTube that shows a guy named “Dave” sweeping a northern California beach with a Geiger counter that suddenly starts beeping.

“I’m over background,” Dave says on the video, “The alarm’s going off. Here I am on the beach… There you go. That’s sort of the levels we’re dealing with here…”

The video, which has more than 700,000 views, prompted California officials to test samples from the beach. They found that the radioactivity was naturally occurring.

“This is one of the problems,” Martini says. “People are going out with Geiger counters and saying this is Fukushima radiation, but the Geiger counter can measure radiation but it can’t differentiate between different kinds of radiation.”

You’ll find naturally occurring radioactive isotopes in rock, sand, even in bananas and seawater itself.

But try telling that to the SFBs.

Speaking of fish, check out this catch:

(click the smaller photo to see the full size photo at the source).

Nature can be interesting, no?

January 22, 2014

## Onward to the semester (ugh…)

Workout notes I did a slow 6 miles on the home treadmill; that was probably a mistake. I went too slow and the gait irritated that upper thigh “ding”. A “pulling” motion isn’t the best thing for it. Time: 1:06:30 (approximately).

It was bitterly cold outside and we had a bit of snow; because of the wind parts of our walk were still dry, other parts were covered with drifts. Never mind; a city plow managed to bury the “clear” part.

So I shoveled; part of it was snow that stuck to the cement (could be best cleared by a broom), with powder over it with a top “crust” layer. I can see why some would think that a snow culture would have different words for snow…though what I learned in grade school (about the Inuit having lots of words for different kinds of snow) might not be correct.

One thing I’d like to search for: gloves that let you handle something like a shovel that keeps your fingers warm.

Sometimes people use the old “I worked X hours” as some sort of badge of honor. Yeah, sometimes the work is required, but often NOT:

And then there were the breakfast meetings. I can understand why busy, productive people might sometimes want to meet at 7 AM. But what soon became completely clear was that the people who insisted on those early meetings were precisely the least competent and productive guys — the economics team at the NSC, which was totally hopeless in the Reagan years, the team at Agriculture (ditto), and so on. (No offense to current personnel, who I hope are in a completely different class; there were a lot of really strange people allegedly doing economics in the early Reagan period.) It was hard not to conclude that they were making a show of being incredibly busy and hard-working; they probably went back to their offices after breakfast and read Ayn Rand novels or something.

Meanwhile, people at USTR and the Fed, who really did know what they were doing, showed no similar fetish.

To the extent that this is a problem, I guess rules are the answer. But you wonder whether the urge to signal will just pop up somewhere else.

Yes, the above was written by someone who understands success way better than most of us.

Math: as seen
Someone caused a stir with this video, which says that one can say $1+2+3+4+....+k +.... = -\frac{1}{12}$.

Now I can understand why this makes the heads of some mathematics professors explode. We spend a LOT of time trying (with varying degrees of success) to teach students about infinite series…only to be seemingly undermined by stuff like this.

Now math professors understand the issue: what is really going on here is that there exists some well defined map between the set of sequences of real numbers to the real numbers that assigns the sequence $(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ....)$ the number $-\frac{1}{12}$. The trouble is that the term “sum” is used, and when one hears the term “sum”, one expects some sort of compatibility with ordinary addition; that is, if $f$ is the map, then if $f$ deserves the title “sum” at all, then one would expect something like $f(1,2,3,4...) = 1 + f(2,3,4,5,....) = 3 + f(3, 4, 5,.....)$, etc. Needless to say, the compatibility with ordinary addition will be a problem here, and it isn’t with the definition of “infinite sum” that we usually (attempt to) teach our calculus students.

And yes, string theory (THAT string theory) uses this weird assignment to this particular “series”.

And speaking of math: such a tiny minority of people understand it at even an elementary level that “art” like this is produced:

There is nothing here that a freshman in a technical curriculum wouldn’t recognize; there is the limit definition for $f(x) = x^n$ evaluate at $x = 1$, and I think that they meant to write $F = \frac{dp}{dt}$ instead of $F = \frac{\Delta p}{\Delta t}$. But on the whole, aside from being common expressions in freshmen level courses, these are unrelated and just put there at random.

January 21, 2014

## Memes and massive online open courses and education for the masses

A description of the massive online open courses movement can be seen here. I’ve read where some have said that somehow this was supposed to be a threat to conventional higher education.

Hardly.

Yes, I think that the MOOC is a good thing; it makes a ton of good, valuable resources available to those who want supplemental work or to those who are, say geographically isolated.
But there are some factors that I don’t see discussed that often.

1. Learning some types of material is hard. I’ve taught college mathematics for upwards of 20 years. The students almost always THINK that they know the material better than they actually know it; I find this out when I grade their examinations. How are they going to learn the stuff if they don’t have the “pass the test” incentive? Yes, I know that some of these MOOCs have a online exam at the end (multiple choice) that is machine graded, but only a tiny percentage of people get to them.

Learning is hard and time consuming.

2. Prerequisites: many might find, say, some of the counter intuitive conclusions of quantum mechanics interesting. But how many are going to be disciplined enough to learn the math to learn this area properly? How many are even capable of learning the mathematics properly?

Here is a hint:

Yes, I know that this is nonsense; there is nothing to “solve” here; this is the Fourier function representation formula. And yes, given a function $f$ you need to know how to solve for $a_n, b_n$ to even begin a proper undergraduate quantum mechanics course.

So if you don’t know this already, are you going to spend the years necessary learning enough mathematics?

So. I think that this massive open online stuff is good, it isn’t going to benefit a high percentage of the population. It IS a boon to a tiny percentage of outliers though.

Memes

Yep, when you see some internet arguments about subjects such as the constitutionality of a given law, whether a given GMO is safe, climate change, evolution, fracking, etc., well, people think that providing a link to an “activist” website or their having half-digested a couple of pop-books on the subject (IF that) qualifies them as an expert, or at least gives them an opinion that is worth taking seriously.

Psst: it doesn’t.

And, of course, it is ALWAYS someone else who is “stoopid”

Yes, I’ve seen the unmodified version of this meme (modification is in red) posted on many people’s walls, including the walls of woo-woos and those who really haven’t accomplished all that much. I know that the National Academy of Science isn’t in my future, and I don’t have any members on my friends list.

I have lots of blind spots and, if I have an advantage on most, it is that I know that there is a huge gap between me and the truly genius level people AND I understand that what “makes sense to me” might well be false, or at best, incomplete. But the Dunning-Kruger effect is strong in many.

January 19, 2014

## Almost time to crank it up

Classes start in 6 days.

Workout notesIt was too pretty not to go outside (mostly snow/ice free and sunny; just under freezing) so I walked the 5.2 mile West Peoria course and ran 3 miles on the treadmill: 0-.5-1-1.5-2-2.5-3-3.5-4 and I stayed on 4 between 8 and 15 minutes and 3 from 15 to 18, 2 from 18 to 20, then on 1. I “sped up” to reach 3 miles in 31:18.

Ultras I don’t know if I’ll ever do an ultra again. I believe that ultra marathons change what one can do athletically. As far as health effects:

Ultra-runners are different from you and me. They run more. But a new study of these racers, who compete in events longer than marathons, joins other recent science in finding that they also tend to be older and have some different health concerns than most of us might expect, suggesting that some beliefs about how much activity the human body can manage, especially in middle age, may be too narrow. [...]

The results, which were published last week in PLoS One, were telling. The ultra-runners had a low, although not nonexistent, incidence of high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats, with about 7.5 percent of the runners reporting one of those problems. But less than 1 percent had been diagnosed with heart disease or had a past stroke, and few had experienced cancer, with basal cell skin carcinoma being the most common malignancy, occurring in 1.6 percent of the runners. Those percentages are generally lower than among age-matched American adults, especially considering that a majority of the ultra-runners were aged 40 or older.

On a less salutary note, the runners did report a high incidence of breathing problems, with almost a third of the group telling researchers that they experienced either allergies or asthma, often after running. That finding, while worrying, makes sense, the researchers note, since ultra-long-distance runners spend many hours outside, striding along trails strewn with pollen-slinging trees and flowers, priming their respiratory systems for allergies and asthma.

They also tend to get hurt, as runners at all mileage levels do. More than half said that they had experienced a running-related injury in the past year that had been severe enough to keep them from training for at least a few days, about the same percentage as often is reported by recreational runners. Many of the injuries were knee problems or stress fractures, along with a few, unexpected concussions. (I once slipped during a trail run and thwacked my head into a tree trunk, so it can happen.)

Note: the injuries tend to occur more among the younger runners.

Now there are all sorts of caveats here. For one, it might be that the ultra running crowd attracts those from the “healthy” segment of the population to begin with. Also, as far as being “hurt”: yes, I was “hurt” from September 2009 through most of 2010; I had tears in my meniscus. But during my time of being hurt, I still completed two 30 mile trail walks and a marathon walk; I was able to do my usual duties in terms of work, etc. I only needed outside help for a few days after the operation and was able to walk a 5K at 15 minutes per mile 2-3 weeks after the operation. So the term “injured” might be misleading.

The start of school
We are hiring for a new position and so I read a ton of applications. On one hand, I am glad to have a job and to not have to go through the uncertainty and anxiety of the job hunt.
On the other hand, I kind of miss the excitement of travelling to interviews and having dreams of big success…..which, for me, have been crushed a long time ago. (that isn’t always the case for everyone)

And then there is this: while every class contains good students and most classes contain some gems, from time to time there is also this. There is a real (albeit imperfect) correlation between intelligence in the classroom and intelligence in behavior.

January 16, 2014

## Contempt for elementary education and other topics

Workout notes
Shorter weight workout followed by a cold 4 mile road walk (Bradley Park hill course). It was cold (15 F, or -9 C), somewhat breezy and sunny; there were isolated 50 to 100 meter stretches that were completely “frozen snow/ice” covered. But I wanted to get outside a bit.

The weight workout was a bit different today: part of the rotator cuff (dumbbells), hip hikes, Achilles:
pull ups: 15, 15, 10, 10 (good)
super set with dumbbells: 3 sets each of:
seated military (sets of 12 with 50′s)
upright rows (sets of 10 with 25′s)
bench presses (sets of 10 with 70′s)
bent over rows (sets of 10 with 65′s)
curls: (sets of 10 with 30′s)

Then an ab super set; 3 sets of 10 with crunch, twist, sit back, vertical crunch.

Then came the outdoor walk.

Posts of the day
The NSA sometimes put tracking/control devices in computers that were going overseas; hence they could easily spy on or manipulate computer activity.

Fun with statistics:
Of course correlation and causation are not the same. Then again, sometimes there are good reasons for a non-causal correlation (e. g. my time to run the mile slowing down with years of marriage or the years that Obama has been in office) and sometimes the correlation is simply spurious. Here is a “fun” collection of them.

Oh yes, sometimes there is a valid correlation but the cause and effect are reversed: for example basketball players tend to be tall. So, your “how to get taller” program involves getting your client to take up basketball.

Educational matters

Some time ago I remember seeing a poster outside of a student affairs office; I believe the poster had a picture of various women yelling at a man in the middle; one of the things being said by the females was “how we dress has nothing to do with sex.” Really? Check this out. This is about a sorority “twerk off”.

So, now we’ll hear stuff about “sexualization” and…oh yes, “slut shaming”. Seriously.

My view: this twerking contest is young people being, well, young people. It is all part of the human mating ritual. It neither surprises nor outrages me. No, these women aren’t doing this for me or with people like me in mind; for me, “twerking” is, say, my wife bending over to get her pills out of the lower cabinets or bending over in the garden, etc.

Our society is too tense about these matters, IMHO. The only thing that I ask: if this is going to end up in “new kids”, make sure that you can SUPPORT those kids BEFORE having them, ok? I am not a conservative, but the old saying “you breed ‘em, you feed ‘em” makes sense to me.

And speaking of kids, they need to be educated too.
In the local paper, there have been a series of articles about cheating on standardized tests for “special needs” students. Here is one such article:

■ “Charter Oak staff violated ISAT testing protocol in providing inappropriate testing accommodations to special education students during the administration of the ISAT.” Teachers directed students to correct answers in a variety of ways, going as far as to erase answers themselves.

■ “All staff members interviewed reported they did not receive any formal training on ISAT administration on a yearly basis.”

So, they appear to be saying “I’m sorry we cheated, but we weren’t trained enough to know that changing the pupil’s answers or erasing their wrong answers was cheating.” You need to be TRAINED to know that is wrong?

The proud parents who attended Lincoln Elementary’s honor roll assemblies years ago assumed the school was a shining example of academic achievement.
Kids by the dozens lined up to be celebrated for earning grades that put them on the honor roll.

Then the school in St. Charles got state test results.

Most of the students failed, casting doubt on the school’s success and challenging the validity of many of its students’ glowing report cards. Administrators knew they had a problem.

What they did next upended everything parents, teachers and students thought they knew about grading.

St. Charles joined a national movement that — sometimes amid a formidable backlash — is rebuilding how a child’s performance in a class or course is calculated.

It’s a switch that seeks to move away from rewarding students merely for completing work, and instead bases grades on mastery of a subject.

Swept away are points for finished homework assignments, or good behavior and class participation. Instead, grades are more heavily based on exam results and the quality of work.

Oh my goodness: you mean making a good grade in the subject should infer having some demonstrated ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE of the said subject???? Who knew?

But reading this was useful to me. Some time ago, a “business calculus” student came up to me in anguish. She showed me her homework paper with 0 points on it. She said “I did all this work here, and it was marked WRONG.” I said: “yes, it was marked wrong because the “work” was totally incorrect; there was no correct work here. She gave me the “are you serious?” look; it was if having to be correct to get credit was a new concept for her.

Maybe this is why?

So, none of this is flattering to our grade school educators or educational system. But….yes, I know, this isn’t ALL school districts; these aren’t ALL of the educators and yes, much of the blame might be put on what happens to the pupil BEFORE they get to school (at home) and on this as well:

So yes, I know that there are good, dedicated teachers and educators who are busting their rear ends to do something about it, and these people need good pay and our moral support.

January 15, 2014

## Decompression

I was a bit lazy today, in terms of doing real stuff. I did take care of some mundane personal tasks.

Workout notes
weights: planks, Achilles, rotator cuff, hip hikes, McKenzie back stuff.

pull ups: 5 sets of 10
bench: 10 x 135, 9 x 170
incline: 2 sets of 10 x 140
military (dumbbell): 2 sets of 12 x 50 (seated, supported), 1 set of 10 x 40 (standing…this was easy)
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 65 dumbbell, 1 set of 10 x 230 Hammer
upright row: 2 sets of 10 x 30 (pulley, strict)
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls: 2 sets of 10 x 30 dumbbell, 10 x 70 machine
abs: 3 sets of 10: twist, sit back, crunch, vertical crunch.

running: 3.11 miles (5K) treadmill: 28:57; 3 miles was in 28:06 (10:33, 9:09, 8:24 at 0.5 elevation)

Interesting: I saw Tracy and talked to her. I also saw a student who wanted to talk about his grade; I deferred him to office hours. I wish I could get ALL students to understand that a grade is a reflection of their performance rather than a commodity that they can negotiate.

Oh yeah, we got a bit of snow (maybe an inch or two) and the high was 18 F. I really don’t like winters here:

Yeah, my Minnesota friends would find the above to be hilarious.

Speaking of leaving (how I wish I had a warm weather job): one can find where Americans are leaving from and where they are heading to right here. I highly recommend this interactive graphic.

January 2, 2014