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Wednesday, January 1st, 2025
7:42 am - Thoughts on education
I've been on lj over 12 years now, and I've had lots of thoughts on education [also, I was posting stuff on marypat.org in longer form from 1996 - 2002; I've also written a lot at the Actuarial Outpost on this subject]

So this post is simply to amass posts as I find them, and categorize them. I am defining "education" very broadly here. I may be linking to some friends-locked posts, and will note that when I link. Some of these posts may need to be moved around for better organization.

12 Days of LearningCollapse )

My thoughts for starting schools, business related to educationCollapse )

Responses to Charles MurrayCollapse )

Gifted education/IQ stuffCollapse )

Math educationCollapse )

Online educationCollapse )

Females and math and scienceCollapse )

Actuarial educationCollapse )

UncategorizedCollapse )

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Sunday, August 21st, 2016
8:03 pm - Physical therapy, try 2
So my pain... I don't know what to say about it other than it's always there, except when it's even more there.

It seems the origin of the problem, going back to 2010, is postural in nature. I've been trying to avoid surgery/drugs/shots for the pain, because if it's structural in nature, I don't want to mask the pain.... I could be making things worse while blissfully unaware of the damage I'm doing.

So my neurologist has recommended a new course of PT (my first try was 5 years ago -- I've been doing those exercises all along, as well as the ones from the chiropractors... which are essentially the same.) I got me a new set of exercises to do, but I've not been able to do them this weekend, because the pain gets only worse and worse. And these aren't extreme stretches by any means.

But the one plus of the new PT place are their heated ultrasound massages. OH YES. GIMME MORE OF THAT.

Not sure if it helps the problem, but it feels good. Just trying to feel good, for a few moments, is a win in my book.

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Monday, August 8th, 2016
12:56 pm - Most boring jobs
I saw this discussion at Althouse about most boring jobs:

BBC collects descriptions of the most boring jobs... and the jobs are interestingly boring, but I was surprised that they all involve repetitive physical motions. When I think of boring jobs, I think of jobs that draw on the mind.

I'm sure the boringly boring jobs were not selected for the piece. There's only so much one can talk about working as a stocker at Walmart.

In many of the jobs being bitched about, the main problem was they were pointless, meaningless, or futile:

I worked for weeks unpacking small cereal bars from large boxes and then repackaging the same cereal bars into smaller boxes. Pointless. Jude Connor

After I left school I got a summer job patrolling a stretch of canal in Burnley to stop people falling in. Problem was, the canal was drained, with hardly an inch of water in it. Following that, I worked in a factory tearing off strips of Sellotape from the tops of flattened cardboard boxes. Simon Mitchell, Sheffield
Sticking labels on animal food bags. There were three types: cattle, pig or sheep. Every few days you would switch between the types and get to stick on a different label. I actually started looking forward to a change of label. Nick, Hove
I once spent six months stapling 400 reports every day. Just stapling, every day. One of many boring jobs. Yawn! Suzy Wild

I once had a temp job which consisted of taking staples out of pieces of paper. I lasted only one morning. Mari, Kent

Those last two were a nice juxtaposition.

But I see Althouse's point: the worst job I ever had from a tedium point of view was part of a volunteering job at Holly Hill Hospital in Raleigh. To begin with, they had me tri-folding brochures. I got pretty good at that, and the great part is that one's conscious brain doesn't have to engage. It was a purely physical process, so I could daydream about other stuff while folding brochures.

But then, they noticed I was good at detail. And they had me going through the mailing list of donors (which was a huge printout...dot matrix... on those huge pieces of paper with the green/white areas) - I had the current list, and updates from another printout. It was tedious, and while it had meaning [making sure you keep in touch with donors is super-important for such orgs], it engaged just enough of my brain that I couldn't think about other stuff and get the job done.

So I cast about to find any way to get assigned to a different job, therefore I lied about knowing Aldus Pagemaker when I overheard others having a difficult time redoing the org chart. Playing with Pagemaker was fun, and I got to do interesting stuff like help design the brochures the next set of volunteers would be folding.

Anyway, I do tend to give interns very tedious jobs...and this is pretty common in many office jobs like mine, because interns just don't know enough and won't learn fast enough (usually) in the few weeks we have them to do something that requires a lot of background knowledge. In my case, I have the intern go through the annual statements of hundreds of insurance companies, look for one specific small piece of info, and note whether it changed from the prior year. [Most won't have] At a prior company, the interns were given historical mortality tables as they were in a database, and had to check against the published numbers from actuarial journals. Both of these are extremely tedious, but it doesn't take much knowledge to be able to do them.

And they're actually important.

It is simpler to explain the mortality table example -- there were two interns working on that, and I asked them if anybody told them why we wanted them to work on this. They said no. (They may have been humoring me, or wanting a break from looking at the tables. But I wouldn't be surprised if nobody told them.)

The reason why is that many insurers, especially smaller ones, were dependent on this database resource, and did not have the resources to check that the tables are correct. This affects not only their pricing but also their reserving. The reserving aspect is because the reserves for a life insurance policy is determined at date of issue, not current mortality tables. So even though some of these tables were decades old, I assured them that there were people out there who use those tables, and would implement any fixes they made.

The worst kind of job is the kind where you're being asked to do something tedious and boring... and nobody even uses it. What's the point?

That's why I tell interns and newbies what I'm using their work product before. In the case of the intern project I have, in prior iterations, it's helped my company win new business. That's pretty damn important.

It's still a boring job, though.

(1 comment | comment on this)

Saturday, August 6th, 2016
1:23 pm - Idiosyncratic pronunciation
I'm trying to collect examples of idiosyncratic pronunciation -- when a specific individual has a non-standard way of pronouncing a certain word or related words.

I'm not talking about "nukular" for "nuclear" - that's a pronunciation that lots of people do. I'm looking for just odd/off/etc. pronunciations. And I'm not looking for the cutesy-type childhood mispronunciations. I'm looking for someone who consistently uses a nonstandard pronunciation compared to other people with their language/accent/dialect.

Sometimes, it comes from someone who has to use a word (like an actor or book-reader), who didn't choose the word, and is pronouncing the word the best they can. The quintessential example here is Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future saying "jigawatt" for "gigawatt".

Sometimes, it's a deliberate choice, like Winston Churchill's choice to pronounce Nazi as "nazee" as opposed to "nat-see".

What's setting me off is the odd pronunciations of lecturers I'm listening to on CD. In one case, I think it was an idiosyncrasy or just a brain fart. But in the other, he was obviously deliberately doing it, and I found it highly pretentious: pronouncing "hegemony" and "intelligentsia" with hard Gs. WTF, dude. This ain't Latin class. These are lectures on the French Revolution.

Any examples y'all can think of?

(6 comments | comment on this)

Monday, August 1st, 2016
8:28 am - Pokemon Go Stories
I don't play Pokemon Go. I don't have a smartphone, I have a really dumb phone I use for emergencies. If I can find it. Usually, I use somebody else's phone.

I never played a Pokemon game. I never collected cards.

But I love Pokemon. I watched the cartoon series, and then stopped watching once they went beyond the original 150 (151? 152?).

So I know all the Pokemon in Pokemon Go, and I'm getting a kick out of people's pics and stories. I had been gathering a bunch up, but this piece from The Bloggess I got in my weekly digest makes me want to divest myself of the stories:

Today I was at my shrink’s office and I told her that I’d found a new tool that’s seemed to help with my anxiety and agoraphobia and she was like, “Is it PokemonGo?” and I screamed “IT IS POKEMONGO! WHAT THE FUCK?” and she was like, “What level are you? Let’s trade tips.” And then we did. Because apparently this super embarrassing thing I was going to admit is helping lots of people because it sort of forces you to get out of the house to play and suddenly you’re at the park at midnight and there’s a live possum next to you. That’s a bad example but it’s going to happen. Get ready.

So here are the stories I've amassed thus far:

Many of these stories (and more to come...and actuaries exchanging screenshots of their Pokemon and talking about the best Pokestops in Manhattan) are on this thread in the Actuarial Outpost.

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Monday, July 25th, 2016
3:09 pm - Arete
This horse has it:

Arete is a common theme in Greek epic and philsophy. Often, it's translated into English as "virtue" in the philosophical works, but I think that falls short of expressing what arete is.

Let's go with the wikipedia definition:

Arete (Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means "excellence of any kind".[1] The term may also mean "moral virtue".[1] In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one's full potential.

As noted in the article, for all the patriarchal society that ancient Greek culture was, even women could have arete.

Of course, so could dogs. (Okay, I was trying to find someone writing about the arete of Odysseus's dog, Argos, and found out there's a UK pet insurance company named Argos...well done, indeed.)

Oh right, Argos's arete was two-fold:

'This dog,' answered Eumaeus, 'belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their work when their master's hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him.'

So saying he entered the well-built mansion, and made straight for the riotous pretenders in the hall. But Argos passed into the darkness of death, now that he had fulfilled his destiny of faith and seen his master once more after twenty years.

In his youth, Argos's excellence was in hunting. In his old age, he shows enduring faithfulness after hope was gone. Both are kinds of arete. That dog dies a satisfying death. Good dog.

Anyway, a horse can also display arete. And that horse (Blue Hors Matine) definitely did. I suppose the rider (Andreas Helgstrand) did, too, but everybody is looking at that horse. Not every horse could be trained to do that, I bet.

Of course, that video is from a decade ago. Matine was put down after an injury in 2010, and it seems her dressage career was short-lived due to injuries before that. As that article notes "Matine's silver medal winning kur to music is to date one of the most viewed equestrian videos on Youtube."

To be sure, not many people watch equestrian videos, but this is a kind of arete, and like Argos, her arete will live on well past her death.

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9:21 am - Have you tried turning it off and then on again?
It's amazing how often that works.

Or, rather, "works".

Last week, I had trouble with my transmission. It wouldn't shift into the highest gear, so there I was on I-84 in Hartford at lunchtime, going about 40-45 mph. I put on my hazards to try to indicate the issue.

As soon as I exited (I was going about 2 miles to get lunch), I switched off the engine and then restarted. At which point, the shifting was just fine. (And worry not, I went to the dealership and got the transmission serviced the next day. It seems okay.)

Similarly for my pain situation -- it was super-bad on Sunday (having kicked up on Saturday, but that was still within tolerance levels). So I just went upstairs and slept as much as I could. I zonked out for about an hour, did something, slept a few more hours, it was then dinner, and then fell asleep around 9. Woke up again at midnight, went downstairs and lay directly under our family room A/C unit, and then slept til 5:30am (which many know is sleeping in for me).

And all the facial agony, my neck, my jaw, etc. from yesterday was completely gone.

All the pain is currently in my left knee.

At least I don't need my left leg for driving.

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Monday, July 18th, 2016
4:02 pm - On opportunity hoarding

Good parenting, but also opportunity hoarding

Class reproduction is of course driven by a whole range of factors, from parenting and family structure through formal education, informal learning, the use of social networks, and so on. Some are unfair: playing the legacy card in college admissions, securing internships via closed social networks, zoning out lower-income families from our neighborhoods and school catchment areas. (These “opportunity hoarding” mechanisms are the focus of my forthcoming book, Dream Hoarders.)

The greater spending of upper middle class parents on “enrichment activities” is well known; recent evidence suggests the Great Recession did nothing to reduce it. American upper middle class parents are desperate to secure their children a high position on the earnings ladder. This makes sense, given the consequences of downward mobility for their economic fortunes. Inequality incentivizes opportunity hoarding, which reduces social mobility. Time, perhaps, to lower the stakes a little?

Okay, maybe not really. I'm keeping this article, because I have a guess about some of the numbers I'm seeing here [that it's more that U.S. rich are so much richer than people elsewhere, than that our median are poorer than the median elsewhere], but I found the "opportunity hoarding" term being thrown around to be rich.

I will admit to hoarding opportunities as a kid... but frankly, most of the stuff I went for, there was little competition for.

There was only one time that I went for something I didn't get, and the guy who got it did deserve it more [and has done more with that opportunity than I would have]. But in general, I see something I was interested in, and I asked... and I found they were desperate to find people for these specific things. They were fall from full up on those particular opportunities.

In other cases, it's just books in the library. I've rarely had to wait for any book I wanted to read. When the library sale rolls by, there's always loads of books left over, many of good quality [and many the mass market books nobody really wanted to read in the first place.] Our family is very well-known at the library book sale, because we're pretty much the only people who are filling up box after box of books for our own use. All five of us.

We're in the library almost every Saturday, just hanging out, reading books [I'm usually reading the Wall Street Journal, D is doing the educational games on the computer, and the girls are reading...all right]. As a kid, my ma used to drop me off at the library on Sundays, and I'd be in there for three hours, just going down the nonfiction aisles. To be sure, if I was reading the library book, then some other person couldn't at the same time. That's not true anymore with e-books. [kinda. don't want to get into that]

I understand that they're talking about specifically limited opportunities, like admission into Harvard, but in the grand scheme of things, Harvard admission means little. If you want partnership in a specific firm, sure. But the world is so much bigger than that. I don't want my own kids to have such a narrow vision.

So I will not apologize for "hoarding" opportunities in my own or my children's lives. And to others, I say: open your eyes and look around. Opportunities are plentiful if you only look. It might not be what you originally had in mind, but there's lots of good stuff out there.

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Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
7:45 am - Gotta catch em all
in this case, my thoughts

I'm about to drive to my grandma's, so here are my notes to be developed later:

mind map
pokemon go
-> socializing
-> exercise
-> depression
-> crime: facilitating, witness, suspicion of
can't give others their meaning
Mrs. Jellyby
-> stay at home parent
-> charity
-> corporal acts of mercy
-> spiritual acts of mercy
-> connection to something larger
-> effectiveness
-> what is valued
Milton: on his blindness
"i started my own business"

you're a problem to be policed
--> throwing away work
--> why actuary sucks/doesn't suck
--> interns checking mortality tables
--> programming, debugging, and controls
--> doesn't feel like real work
finding pokemon in the office toilet

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
10:00 pm - Please Help Vladimir Bukovsky
There's a long explanation here and the fundraiser is here, but I want to put a little more background on this.

Vladimir Bukovsky was a prominent Soviet dissident back in the day, the primary person to raise the lid on the abuse of psychiatric diagnoses by the Soviet Union as their innovative way to punish dissidents.

Vladimir himself spent 12 years total imprisoned by the Soviet Union before getting booted out to Switzerland, and he eventually moved to England.

But even after the Soviet Union fell, he's made it a rough time for the Putin regime.

A quick quote from that article:
British and European psychiatrists assessing the documents on psychiatric abuse released by Bukovsky characterized him in 1971: "The information we have about [Vladimir Bukovsky] suggests that he is the sort of person who might be embarrassing to authorities in any country because he seems unwilling to compromise for convenience and personal comfort, and believes in saying what he thinks in situations which he clearly knows could endanger him. But such people often have much to contribute, and deserve considerable respect."[c 14]

Perhaps you can see why I find him admirable.

But Putin and his thugs aren't finished with him yet. Vladimir is seen as a threat to them, which is why he has been targeted by the Russians for assassination -- from the fundraiser: "A leaked FSB document reveals Bukovsky is 1 of 5 people targeted for assassination. 2 of these people are now dead; 1 has been poisoned."

You might remember Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned by Russian agents with radionuclide polonium-210.

Though Putin and his gang have not (yet) been successful in murdering Vladimir's body, they want to murder his reputation.

From the fundraiser:
The difference: Bukovksy is fighting for his own freedom this time. The government of his new home - the Crown Prosecution Service - has brought (conveniently timed) charges of possessing child pornography just one month after Bukovsky’s testimony against the real crimes committed by Vladimir Putin himself.

The fundraiser is for Vladimir Bukovsky's legal defense in the case.

I've donated, and obviously, I'm supporting this campaign publicly.

Ways you can support:

1. Share my post or Elizabeth Childs's post - facebook, livejournal, whereever

2. Share the fundraising page.

3. Donate to the campaign.

Please consider donating.

NOTE: My last livejournal post on Russia is here. I don't think Putin is paying a lot of attention to livejournal.

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Monday, July 4th, 2016
7:38 pm - There is no spoon
Just like the trip to Belgium, there is a community out there where all I have to say is "spoons" and they know what I'm talking about.

But in my case, there are no spoons. Or, rather, if one wants to say there are spoons, I can't see them, so I don't know how many there are. I don't know.

Anyway, this is just to say this is all there is for this post. I suppose I had a bunch of spoons in the morning, because i actually got some stuff done. But the pain grow the more I type so this is it.

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Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
6:38 pm - How I want to record my pain
I have a theory about my pain, but it could be incorrect

Thing is, if I want to test it, I need a better pain diary than I have now. I really don't want to have to write it down in words, and I don't even want to pick words from a list. I have this WebMD app for logging pain, but it is not the user interface I want.

This is what I want:
- a schematic of the body
- a palette of colors (associated w/ pain types)

I pick out a color and then paint the parts of a gingerbread-man like figure with the colors I choose.

Thus, I could have a stabby purple for my eye, a burning red for my neck, an aching puke green for my arm. Ideally, the figure is 3d (w/surface wrapping around) that i can rotate.

That's what I want. Yes, it should log time and allow me to take notes, too, but I want to paint my pain, not poke a checklist. When I have arm pain, it's usually not my entire arm, but specific areas. I want to be able to record a pain that moves around and is localized.

Anyway, if you know an app like that, or develop such a one, let me know. If nobody else does it, I may make my own. Eventually. It's on my reallylonglist.

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Monday, June 27th, 2016
3:40 pm - On digging up writing
As mentioned earlier, Stu found some of my/my dad's old notebooks. And I recently turned in my old online journal into an ebook (Yes, I have 5 more volumes to go. Give me time to put this together.)

I'm trying to scrape up stuff I wrote that =used= to be "live", but for various reasons, became lost.

For example, in looking for something else, I found my Camille Paglia shrine page that I never finished... I think I'm going to let that one lie for now. In case you're also a Paglia fan, here's a discussion between her and Christina Hoff Sommers.

For some reason, I was digging through old livejournal posts, and found links to blogs I used to be on, that no longer exist. But thank goodness for the wayback machine, I've been saving backups of some of them.

If only there were something more methodical for me to try to find my stuff.....I feel like I'm gathering all the stuff that's rolled out of my bag when I've dropped it. No, not all of it has worth, but some of this stuff I want to develop further. It's easier when the start is already there.

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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
12:29 pm - Doing what I can -- walking
So today, I got the bright idea to join a downtown Hartford walking tour. Details for those who may be in downtown Hartford on Wednesdays in summer.

"But wait," you cry, "the tour starts at noon! How can you be writing this at 12:30pm!"

Easy. I'm not on the tour.

I walk all the way over to where Asylum meets Bushnell Park and.... I saw the hill. Asylum Hill isn't much of a hill, but then, I'm not much for walking these days.

So I bailed. I walked into the park thinking "hmmmm, food trucks... they're on the other side of the park...." so on taking the scenic route back to the office, I swung by the row of food trucks on Elm St. There was a fish taco truck, some chicken truck, a Jamaican truck, and a Thai truck. I think there was one more, but obviously it wasn't memorable... and went back to the beef truck for


I love Jamaican beef patty. And I just took a bite - spicy! Awesome, just as I like it.

Anyway, I had been walking about 20 minutes by the time I got back to the office. I had mainly been in the shade, and it's not actually hot outside, but I am sweating. So I think I will traipse over to the food trucks more often and try to build up my walking stamina again.

I may not be able to do too many exercises anymore, but I think walking... that's something I really should work on.

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Sunday, June 19th, 2016
10:41 am - Students: Math class is hard; College: Eh, we won't require it
It's like I never left livejournal.

Ten years ago, I posted about a dumbass reporter saying that Algebra I shouldn't be required for a high school diploma.

Luckily, that hasn't happened in most schools (as far as I know).

But there's one college that says, sure, let's get rid of math:

Public College Drops Math Requirement, May Replace It With Diversity

A public university in Michigan has announced it’s deleting a requirement that all students complete at least one math course before graduating. At the same time, the school is seriously considering a new requirement that would compel students to complete four courses that promote diversity.

Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit is one of the largest schools in Michigan, with some 27,000 students. Until now, all of them had to either take one of three basic math classes to earn their degree, or else test out by performing sufficiently on a relevant SAT, CLEP, or AP test.

Why do they hate their students?

(That's in response to the four "diversity" courses. Here's my recommendation for four "diversity" courses: two semesters of one's non-native language, one semester of world history, one semester of world literature ....that would actually comport with many general education requirements in colleges... but this is what they really say: 'These “signature” classes will be designed to engage with modern-day issues such as “culture, sustainability, health, ethics, and urban development and renewal.” '

Meh, my idea is better.)

Okay, I'm ignoring the diversity crap. That's not actually related to dropping the math requirement.

Let's see what the math requirement had been:

2. MATHEMATICS (MC) (complete by 30 credit hours by one method below):

* Attain CLEP score of "50" or higher, AP score of "2" (no degree credit), "580" SAT Math exam score, or "25" ACT Math exam score

* Transfer credit for the equivalent of MAT 1000-level or higher (must appear on transfer tables as MAT 1XXX or higher) taken at an accredited college. Grade in transferred course must be a "C" or higher (a "C-" is not acceptable) if course is submitted for transfer Fall 2010 or later OR* Place higher than MAT 1050 on the Math Qualifying Examination OR

* Complete a Math 1000 at WSU or higher with a "C" grade or higher (a "C-" is not acceptable), if course is completed Fall 2011 or later

Let me give you a comparison, CLEP score of 50 on the CLEP college math exam is supposed to be equivalent to a C in such a class. It looks like 580 SAT Math is about 70th percentile.

So what are the MATH 1000 courses at Wayne State?

1000 (MC) Mathematics in Today's World. Cr. 0-3
Prereq: MAT 0900 at WSU with CNC or higher within past 12 months, OR MAT 0993 at WSU with CNC or higher within past twelve months, OR satisfactory score on Mathematics Placement Exam within past 12 months, OR an ACT Mathematics score of 18 or higher, validated by the University's testing office. Applications of mathematics to issues of current interest including patterns, para­doxes, limitations, and possibilities in voting, apportionment and divi­sion processes, using sampling methods, and developing information to support decisions. (T)

1050 (MC) Algebra With Trigonometry. Cr. 5 or 7
Prereq: one of the following within previous year: satisfactory score on mathematics placement exam; or grade of C or above in MAT 0993 taken at WSU; or validated ACT Math score of 21 or above. Mathematics, mathematics education, science, and engineering majors should elect the 7-credit version of this course. If elected for 5 credits, only 2 credits apply toward degree; if elected for 7 credits, only 3 credits apply toward degree. Algebra: properties of the real number system, equations and inequalities, lines, graphs, introduc­tion to functions, exponents, logarithms. Geometry and trigonometry: basic concepts, introduction to trigonometric functions, solving right triangles. (T)

1800 Elementary Functions. Cr. 4
Prereq: within previous year: a grade of C-minus or better in MAT 1050, taken at WSU; or satisfactory score on WSU mathematics placement exam; or validated ACT Math score of 26 or above. Only two degree credits after MAT 1500. Basic definition and concept of function. Definitions, properties and graphs of polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and inverse trigonometric functions. (T)

1990 Precalculus Workshop. Cr. 2
Coreq: designated section of MAT 1800. Offered for S and U grades only. Open only to students in Emerging Scholars Program. Students work cooperatively in groups to solve challenging problems related to precalculus. Learning is through discovery rather than by lecture. (T)

Basically, precalculus. That MATH 1000 looks more interesting than the similar-level course I taught at NYU as an adjunct.

So look. In many other countries, much of college-level education is taking courses only in your field of study. But in many of those other countries, it's much more restrictive as to who is allowed into college.

I happened to have taken no biology nor chemistry when I went to college. Nor computer science. But I did have my basic skills covered: reading (literature), writing (composition), and basic math (placed into differential equations to start).

The issue here is not so much the college degree requirements, but that so many leave high school, even with a high school diploma, but not having skills at an 8th grade level. The solution isn't to bring these academically weak students into college, but to either encourage non-college paths or get people up to the necessary academic skills before having them spend a lot of time and money in a college.

But it's much easier to strike the "difficult" requirements.

This doesn't help the students. It mainly helps college administrators, who can pretend there's no problem when their students are academically weak. After all, we don't have the math-induced drop-outs! And they're so well-versed in diversity!

Thing is, everybody will know Wayne State students aren't required to have math in their degree. So if I see a college degree from Wayne State, I may think "meh" and pass on to the next resume. Or perhaps I'll end up asking said person what math classes they had in college. I'm certainly not going to be asking them about how many diversity classes they've had.

They'll wonder why their Wayne State degrees are worth less than other degrees out there. While they're paying off their student loans, possibly for decades.

And then there are the even weaker students who will be attracted to Wayne State... ones who don't realize that just because there's no math requirement, they still have a very low chance of graduating with a degree. Wayne State's stats aren't great.

Only 10.8% of students graduate from Wayne State University on time (two or four years depending on the degree) and only 34.3% graduate at all, ranking this school below average in both categories when compared nationally.


So people are wasting time and money who would probably do better doing something else, like building up a work record.

But even considering the academic weakness of the students....

Based on the caliber of students that attend Wayne State University we would expect an overall graduation rate of 49.4%. With an actual rate that is 15.1% lower than expected, Wayne State University is among the worst performing schools nationally when it comes to graduating students based upon those students' anticipated academic achievement in college.

At this point, if this weren't a state-supported school, it probably would have been closed. The removal of a math requirement is just a sign.

So I don't think this is going to spread.... except to other very weak state colleges.

Wayne State is relatively cheap, and if a student graduates, they can do well on the investment.

But the graduation rate is super low.

Anyway, positioning one's self as the college-knockoff is a marketing decision. I just don't think it serves prospective students well. And that removing the math requirement will likely make graduation rates even lower.

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Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
4:24 pm - Coming Attractions (a reminder for myself)
On my recent trip to Denver, I found myself having a nice beer as dessert and some nice blank pages in front of me.

this is part of itCollapse )

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Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
9:43 pm - A life lived in notebooks
I told someone I'd bring back my livejournal. It never really went away, but I've been spending more time on my political blog, STUMP.

But I don't always want to write about public pensions and public finance.

So here we are.

Last week, Stu was cleaning out our detached garage (to make room for storing more stuff, natch). And he found some notebooks.

I've taken a few pics of what was inside one of them.

high school meepCollapse )

current mood: contemplative

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Friday, February 19th, 2016
3:18 pm - I found my patron saint....kinda
Growing up Catholic, one has a couple explicit times where one can pick a patron saint. At my baptism, my given names - Mary and Patricia - gives me two saints: the BVM and St. Patrick. (It's a bloody giveaway for my Irish Catholic background, natch.) But my parents picked those names... and since I was named after my mom's oldest sister, it was really my grandparents who picked those names.

At confirmation, I got to pick someone for myself, and I picked the newly-canonized St. Teresa Benedicta. As with many saints who were in a religious order, she had a different name at birth: Edith Stein. Part of why St. Teresa Benedicta was martyred was related to that birth name -- she was born to a Jewish family. So at confirmation, I took Teresa Benedicta Edith Stein as my confirmation name. Throw it all in!

In the run-up to Lent this year, at one of the Catholic sites I visited, there was a link to a Random Saint Name Generator. I figured "What the heaven" and went for it.

It gave me: Saint Agostina Pietrantoni. I will come back to that link in a moment. That's not the description I saw originally.

This is what I saw: Entry for Saint Agostina Petrantoni at CatholicSaints.info. This popped out at me:

We will lie down for such a long time after death that it is worth while to keep standing while we are alive. Let us work now; one day we will rest.
We can sleep when we're dead. Yeah, this is my saint.

But now let us get the context for that quote from the saint:

One day, for having seized a knife from a patient, she was attacked and beaten, and the sisters began to fear for her. [.....]

Even when she contracted tuberculosis, shortly before her death, she asked with insistence the Superior for permission to remain at her post [.....]

The police and the hospital administrators knew of his turbulence and when he was expelled from the ward for his extreme misbehaviour, he threatened to take revenge on sister Agostina who had nothing to do with it. He wrote on a note: “Sister Agostina, you don't have more than one month of life, you will die killed by my own hands". On the evening of November 12, 1894 the sisters, worried for her health, had asked her to take some days off. Sister Agostina replied, "We will have rest for such a long time after death that it would be good if we do some standing up while we live!"
On the morning of 13 November the killer waited for her in a dark corridor leading to the pantry. He stabbed her three times on the shoulder, the left arm and the jugular, before she could realize what happened. Then, after a scuffle with the only witness at the scene, Romanelli plunged the dagger in her chest. “Mother of mine, help me," were her last words.



Maybe I can sleep before I die.

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Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
6:47 am - Happy Birthday, Bon!
Now she goes to 11!

time for the hit parade!Collapse )

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Sunday, February 7th, 2016
9:27 pm - I think I'm turning Japanese...
....well, maybe not.

But Stu has been on a tear lately incorporating Japanese cuisine and cooking techniques into our family's food and DAYUM! It's yummy!

Thought I'd brag on my man for a bit. We went to a Japanese grocery store down in White Plains today, which was amusing as I was the only person in the family who could read an eensy bit of Japanese (and it was only the kana, but that's good enough for food labels, which also have a few things in English for FDA regs, I assume).

The girls picked out candy (Mo got gummies, Bon got hard sugar candies). We got Japanese chopsticks (they're pointy, not blunt), and Bon got Hello Kitty training chopsticks (they have a finger ring and a spring on them, but you can remove various elements as proficiency increases). I picked up a yogurt drink I remembered from my time in Japan (we'll see how that goes at breakfast). And we got various meats and sauces.

One note before Stu-bragging: we were hyuuuuge. The grocery aisles were narrow, and this is not unique to Japanese groceries -- it reminded me of the stores in Manhattan. I forgot how large Stu is compared to small city spaces. I guess I understand why he doesn't want to go back to NYC. He literally does not fit. It's mainly that he's tall and has really broad shoulders. I'm not tall, but I'm fat (different from when we left NYC). And our kids... well, we just take up a lot of space. Someone can be physically small but fill space well beyond their boundaries. Anyway, we were like elephants in there, so I was happy when Stu took our entourage while I was checking out.

So Stu brag time: sukiyaki tonight! Hot damn! Stu & I even got to dip the beef in raw egg and it's soooooo good (know where your eggs come from, y'all! Stu buys from the farm, so if they give us salmonella, we'll know. And bitch at them. Personally.) Oh man, that was luxury. I can see why I got to eat it only once while I was in Japan.

And I just finished off a red bean bun, which was my fave treat while there. Mmmm.

I think it's only fair to culturally appropriate from the secondmost-culturally-appropriating-cultures out there.

Number one is New York, obviously.

Okay, fine, the U.S.

But still.

New York.

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