Student unrest at college campuses: speaking up vs. making policy

I think that I’ve figured out how I feel about these various issues (Missouri, Yale, etc.)

Students can (and should) speak up about the problems that they encounter (e. g. racism, intimidation, etc.)

However, they are NOT qualified to prescribe policy. Note: I am NOT saying that they shouldn’t voice their ideas. I am saying that those who know better (or should know better) shouldn’t let them dictate policy.

November 13, 2015 Posted by | education, social/political | , | 1 Comment

College sports: Bradley Basketball and Missouri Football

Workout notes: swim only (then some yoga); hips and calves are still a bit tired and sore.
500 easy, 5 x 100 (alternate side, free), 5 x (50 drill, fins, 50 free), 6 x 100 (alternate free, pull), 100 with fins (back, free)
Then more yoga.

College Sports Yes, the President of the University of Missouri is stepping down; it appears as if the publicity generated by the football player protest hastened it a bit. I’ve seen a video of this president in action: it appears as if he didn’t have the PR skills or savvy to be a big time college president in this day and age.

I watched Bradley Basketball tonight: they beat St. Joe’s (Indiana, D-2) 84-65. BU was up 83-51 with 5 minutes to go. Yes, St. Joe’s had lost to Butler 106-66 so Bradley’s result wasn’t that surprising.

BU could at least make layups; something they didn’t do well last year. But this roster has 10 freshman, 1 sophomore and 1 junior and 1 senior (the other senior can’t play this season due to a bad back). They will suffer against D-1 competition and especially in Missouri Valley play. But they’ll grow and I am confident that they’ll be pretty good a season and a half from now.

November 10, 2015 Posted by | education, social/political, weight training | | Leave a comment

Starting to turn around a bit?

Intellectually, well, I have two very intense courses to prepare for. Numerical analysis: the material is just tough as it is. Life contingencies: well, the stuff is new to me. Calculus 2: we are in the sequence/series section and I know this stuff pretty well.

I have more to say about academia later…let’s just say that a student e-mail got me to thinking about the message our universities (and society, in general) is sending to our students.

Yes, it is only one message. (and no, it was neither rude nor nasty)

Workout notes 10K run, 2 mile walk. But what a workout it was:

Run: 10K on the treadmill (0.5 incline) in 59:58. I started at 5.3 mph and upped the speed by 0.1 mph every 2 minutes until I got to 40 minutes. Note: I got to 3.5 miles in 35 minutes.

Then I lowered the speed to 6.0 mph (10 mpm pace) and upped it every 2 minutes again, until 53:30 or so, at which point I was a 5.5 miles. Then I upped it to 6.7 (8:57 pace) to 6 miles (58:10) then 6.8 the rest of the way.

Then 1 mile walking on the track (4 minutes for the first 1/4 mile; 14:21 for the mile).

Then back to the treadmill where I walked at a 15:xx pace (3.8 mph) and went from 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 on the incline (up 1 every minute); I was feeling it at 10 minutes. And no, I did not use the bars to hold on. Then back down to 2-3-4-5 and increased the speed to finish in 15:20.

I felt challenged but felt really good when I finished.

October 29, 2015 Posted by | education, running, walking | Leave a comment

This was going to happen sooner or later…

Workout notes: swimming and weights.

Swimming: best in a while; 2000 yards. 500 warm up, 5 x 50 drill (fins), 50 free. 8 x 100 on the 2:10: 1:44, 1:46, 1:44; the rest were 1:42-43. Then 100 back, 50 side, 50 fly (fins)

Weights: 4 sets of 10 pull ups, rotator cuff, incline press (10 x 135, 8 x 150, 10 x 140), 10 more pull ups, military: 5 x 95 (barbell), 1 x 95, 8 x 85, 10 x 40 (dumbbell), rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110.

Body weight (before: 188, home scale)

Swim note: Jason, who ran a 3:09 marathon, finally has caught up to me in swimming, and in today’s “first 500”, he passed me for the first time. A year ago I lapped him. Then it became “1 length”, then “1/2 length”, then “even”, now he is ahead. I knew that this was coming sooner or later. But that is more about his improving and my, well, hitting a local plateau. And 5 years from now, I’ll be wishing I could swim at my current pace, providing I am fortunate to have a healthy 5 years (I feel good right now, but life offers no guarantees).


Fun: enjoy this “leggings aren’t pants” rant!

Why is academic writing so complex? I got into a discussion about this topic; at times, it is because the subject itself is complex.

Speaking of academia: though this is an Onion article, there is a lot of truth here. Where does appropriate encouragement end “giving false hope” begin?

Iowa Republicans: Jerry Coyne is having fun with this survey on what Iowa Republicans like about Dr. Ben Carson.

I got a taste of them when I attended a McCain rally in October, 2008. In the early part of the rally (before Sen. McCain made his entrance), this went on:

I bit my tongue hard; I wanted to avoid laughing out loud. It was difficult.

October 26, 2015 Posted by | education, politics, swimming, Uncategorized, weight training | , , , , | Leave a comment

Photos from the marathon

Workout notes: No lifeguard at the pool, so I did a “cornstalk classic” 4.2 mile walk in just over 1 hour. I didn’t push at all. Yoga (including crow, backbend and headstand) afterward.

Issues Well, I am seeing articles about colleges and universities not dealing with “non-pc” stuff very well (with regards to invited speakers and editorials in student newspapers).

I’ll have more to say on this later; this sure looks like the “coddling” that even President Obama warned about.

Now I understand that some ideas have no merit at all; only crackpots believe them and those in the profession have examined them and found them to be without merit.

But there are areas that have not been completely worked out and places where alternate points of view could be at least entertained. For example, I learned by entertaining (and then rejecting) the thesis of the book The Bell Curve. Examining that book at its ideas left me knowing more than I did before.

It is sort of depressing to find that, at times, people who hold different opinions often give better arguments than many who support your point of view. But that has happened to me time and time again…of course there are also smart people who share my point of view. :-)

Marathon walk
At the end, my feet hurt and I was just holding on. This was a tough effort for me.

My time (5:49): on one hand, it wasn’t one of my better walking marathons, though it was my best “100 percent walk” since 2009. But when one corrects for age it was right in line with *most* of my walking marathons/50K from 2002 to 2009; it was right in the middle of the other performances that I was ok with.

I didn’t realize it at the time that I finished the race though. I just know that I was tired and that my time was slower than it was 6 years ago.




October 23, 2015 Posted by | education, marathons, walking | , , | Leave a comment

The Genius of Donald Trump, a Sanders score and teachers…

Workout notes: 3 mile walk (to lower Bradley Park and back) followed by weights:

5 sets of 10 pull ups
rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, 3 x 185 (bodyweight: 187, home)
incline: 10 x 135
military: 2 sets of 10 x 85 barbell, 10 x 40 dumbbell (standing)
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 60 each arm, 10 x 110 machine
pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 160, 10 x 150 alternate machine
yoga with head stand.

Gym: pretty empty.

Teachers: there is now a teacher shortage; frankly few want these jobs anymore. My prediction is that the same will happen for higher education, at least at the non-elite, non-Research I institutions.

Election 2016: this is hilarious; the liberal social justice warriors can’t seem to figure out why everyone else isn’t outraged that Donald Trump isn’t following their approved scripts.

And, of course, why is Mr. Trump getting away with it when others can’t? There is a method to his madness, as Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) points out. I disagree on one point though: if nominated, Trump will lose and lose big no matter who he selects as VP.

Bernie Sanders: calls out CEOs who call for austerity. Sen. Sanders is correct here.

1. While these CEOs are business geniuses, running a national economy is different than running a business. Example: government spending can percolate up and have a multiplier effect.

2. A CEO can be indifferent to the fate of laid off workers. A government shouldn’t be.

Good for Sen. Sanders for calling out these people.

August 28, 2015 Posted by | education, politics, politics/social, walking, weight training | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorting it out

My summer is at a cross roads; I am not sure as to what to spend my time on. I’ve gotten stuff done though.

Workout notes: easy 6 mile run (6.4-6.5 really) that I didn’t time; I didn’t want to know. I just beat the rain storm (barely).

I watched the Chiefs game last night; they won 1-0; the starter pitched 6 innings and allowed 1 hit, 0 runs and struck out 8; the relievers struck out 4 more. The visiting team: they only gave up 4 hits and struck out 8. So this was a defense dominated game which featured good pitching, great fielding and terrible base running.

President Obama: visited Oklahoma City and Durant. Some people were flying “Confederate flags”. What I remember is that there is a rest stop with a “Confederate Memorial Museum” off of highway 75/69 near Durant. I visited there and was pleasantly surprised at the display they had on evolution and geology; it was genuine science and worth seeing. The other stuff was mostly historical; I suppose it could be renamed “local history museum” but would then draw fewer visitors.

Iran nuclear deal: this was just about the bomb; many nuclear scientists see this as exactly what is needed to keep them from getting one.

Politics: from the Hillary Clinton campaign: you can see who they think are the best people to fundraise against. I don’t see Sen. Cruz as a threat; I do see the other 3 as serious contenders. Notice which Republican is NOT there.


This latest poll shows that people would consider voting for a “qualified” gay person at about the same rate as a “qualified” evangelical Christian (73-74 percent). Atheists and Muslims are rated closely as well (58-60 percent) with socialists rated last (47 percent).

Elections do have consequences: Gov. Walker has made changes to the University of Wisconsin university system..and these are changes that many see as bad.

July 16, 2015 Posted by | education, hillary clinton, Political Ad, political/social, politics, politics/social, running | , , | Leave a comment


Workout notes: I stayed up too late and ended up getting up too late (6:40?)

Walk: 5 miles on the treadmill (58:11 (12:21/11:24/11:25/11:25/11:35)) then 3 outside. The 5 on the treadmill was becoming…well..too similar to a race effort so I backed off. Also, the rain had subsided a bit so it was time to get outside and to the course to Bradley Park (Maplewood, Parkside, down and up).

While on my way back it sounded as if the world was ending; West Peoria did its 10 am, first Tuesday of the month siren test.

For all of my fantasy, I am not in shape to walk a fast marathon just as yet. I need to be able to double the distance I did on the treadmill with roughly the same effort to have a chance at a reasonable walking marathon result.

But I’ve made progress though.

Some other stuff
So, Chicago public schools are increasing their graduation rates. How?

Get a high-school student through freshman year and the odds skyrocket that he or she will graduate. Chicago was a pioneer of the strategy, first applying it in 2007, and has the numbers that would seem to prove its worth, even after accounting for inflation by principals possibly gaming the system. The potential is huge for school systems across the nation, especially those in urban areas plagued by low graduation rates.

Between 2007 and 2013, the number of freshmen in the Chicago Public Schools making it to the 10th grade grew by 7,000 students. The school system’s four-year graduation rate also jumped, from 49 percent in 2007 to 68 percent in 2014. Graduation rates are up across the country, but Chicago’s double-digit growth stands out.

Wow, that’s pretty good, right? How did they do it?

chools like North-Grand that have successfully improved freshman pass rates employed variations of the same set of interventions. They adopted data systems to track freshmen progress, carefully picked the right teachers for ninth-graders, created weekly grade checks, provided mentors and tutoring sessions, stepped up truancy monitoring, set aside one day a week for students to make up work, and started freshman seminars that teach kids to “do high school.”

Yay! Oh wait:

Some schools also switched to forms of grading that are designed to be more fair and modern—less emphasis on turning in homework on time and more emphasis on actually learning—but have been accused of inflating GPAs.


At Manley High School on Chicago’s West Side, students frequently skip first and last periods, according to attendance records provided by three teachers. The records show that administrators frequently change absences marked by teachers as “unexcused” to “school function,” a notation that once covered field trips or assemblies but now appears to cover almost any reason for being out of class. This change marks the child as present, boosting attendance data for the student and the school.


Meanwhile, many teachers across Chicago fear that the new grading policies—with names like “standards-based grading” and “no zero” grading—make passing too easy. Some schools go too far, they say, by declining to penalize students for late work and prohibiting teachers from giving grades below 50. Traditionally, a student who didn’t hand in work would get a zero.

A single zero can disproportionately pull down a student’s average, but teachers at some schools say the new grading tactics come with a destructive practical effect. At Manley, some students refuse to work until the very end of the quarter—in some cases just cutting classes—when teachers must give them a make-up packet for any classes they attended but for which they failed to submit assignments, or those classes marked as a school function. If the student completes most of the work, they are likely to pass.

Ah. In other words, lower the bar far enough….

What this means, practically speaking, is that these kids will be unprepared for college and unprepared for the work force.

Now about criminal activity: does it work to…pay delinquents not to shoot people? I am still trying to wrap my head around this one. This is counterintuitive to me…but the results were better and cheaper than what we’ve tried earlier.

On the other hand, people in my old stomping grounds (Bastrop, TX) were concerned that the United States was going to invade them? Why? Well, “President Obama”.

I am so glad that I don’t live among them anymore.

Health notes: Why is the percentage of people with celiac disease going up? Evidently humans are evolving a maladaptation?

July 7, 2015 Posted by | education, health, social/political, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Ideas that can’t be communicated are worthless

I love this Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon. The poor dog things “E = MC^2 ” but can only say “Arf”.


In the past, I’ve passed out this cartoon to my students. Too many times, I’ve heard “I understand how to do the problem, but I can’t do the problem on the exam.”

Well, I suppose that is a bit like saying:

“I know how to swim, but when I jump in the pool, I drown.”

“I know how to fly the plane, but when I try, I crash.”

July 2, 2015 Posted by | education | , | Leave a comment

Activists: my lack of patience with them

Workout notes I did an 8 mile course in 1:47 (8.08); to Bradley Park via the usual way, 2 lower loops and 2 full upper loops (past the bathrooms) and back; last “mile” was 12:53.
Interestingly 3 weeks ago, I “ran” a similar 8 miles in 1:33; as you can see my brisk walk pace is only a little bit slower. My department chair says my run gait is pretty much the same as my walk gait.

The difference: the degree to which I bend my knees. Sad, I know. :-)

Yes, tenure is good job security, but it is far from perfect. If you anger enough people, they’ll find a reason to get rid of you. They used her classroom language as an excuse, but my (very uneducated) guess it was more this:

In a letter that day to Buchanan, Damon Andrew, dean of the College of Human Sciences & Education, said “multiple serious concerns” had come to his attention, including “inappropriate statements you made to students, teachers and education administrators,” as well as conflict with Iberville Parish Superintendent Ed Cancienne.

“This behavior is completely unacceptable and must cease,” Andrew wrote.

In an interview with The Advocate, Cancienne said he called Andrew because he’d received complaints about Buchanan from a couple of his teachers and felt it was his duty to alert LSU. LSU then asked him to put his concerns in writing, he said.

“When I think there’s a serious issue, then I have to communicate that to them,” he said.

Iberville continues to participate in the selective PK-3 Teacher Education Program that Buchanan founded.

Buchanan said Cancienne had asked repeatedly for her to send teachers to Iberville Parish, but she’d resisted because it’s a relatively low performing district, and her students teachers need to see standout teaching so they know what to do themselves. She said the program got off to a rocky start there, but she denied any unprofessional behavior.

She said she voluntarily agreed to no longer supervise the LSU student teachers in Iberville after Cancienne called her to complain. She said she thinks Cancienne’s complaints, and LSU’s desire to placate him, had something to do with her firing.

Buchanan said the selective teaching program she ran is demanding, likening it to a medical school internship, making her unpopular with some students.

“I have very low tolerance for poor teaching and very high standards,” she said.

Yes, she is suing.

Activists I have no patience for stuff like this: a woman climbed flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol and took down the “confederate flag”. This was viewed as a good thing by many of my social media friends, but not by me.

Yes, I am gladdened to see calls for the flag to come down and I hope that the South Carolina state legislature does the right thing.

But to me, this is just another “know it all” deciding what is right (in her opinion) and just making a unilateral decision. I don’t think that the people of South Carolina elected her or appointed her. So I am fine with her getting the appropriate legal punishment (proportionate to the act, which I consider to be a relatively minor nuisance).

Oh sure, this was far, far, far worse and I have much greater contempt for this action.

June 30, 2015 Posted by | education, political/social, quackery, social/political, walking | , , , | Leave a comment


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