THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 356 April 4 - 10, 2005
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April 4, 2005
It is column time, and has been over the weekend. There is a bit of mail.
I have inquiries regarding my statement about Sandy Berger escaping jail, and Martha Stewart serving time. Haste does not always make for good irony. My point really was that the republic will not be safer for jailing Berger -- a fine and the humiliation is quite enough -- nor is it safer for jailing Stewart whose crime, denying actions that were not criminal and for which she couldn't prosecuted, were much less serious than Berger's, who did steal documents, and did lie about doing it. Neither is really a Federal Case or a Big Deal, and sending either to jail for these matters is silly.
There is an important summary article on education and the International Baccalaureate Program over in mail. Anyone interested in education will find this worth the time.
April 5, 2005
Column Time. Wait for it...
This just in:
By JOHN GRAVOIS
On the phone from Fargo, N.D., State Rep. Bette Grande's voice rings with clarity. "Colleges are a business," she says in a starched Midwestern accent. "When we put research as our No. 1 focus, we forgot the student," she says. "We got ourselves all turned around."
Ms. Grande could be talking about any of the ills plaguing a modern university -- drops in per-student spending, tuition increases, or maybe the lack of face time with professors. But she has something much more contentious in mind.
She wants her state's university system to do something about the fact that its students can't understand what the heck their foreign-born instructors are saying.
Late in January, Ms. Grande proposed a bill in the North Dakota legislature to prod public institutions of higher education in precisely that direction. Under her bill, if a student complained in writing that his or her instructor did not "speak English clearly and with good pronunciation," that student would then be entitled to withdraw from the class with no academic or financial penalty -- and would even get a refund.
Further, if 10 percent of the students in a class came forward with such complaints, the university would be obliged to move the instructor into a "nonteaching position," thus losing that instructor's classroom labor.
Almost as soon as the bill went public, Ms. Grande realized she had touched a nerve. Calls and e-mail messages poured in from all over North Dakota and from as far away as Florida and Arizona. In nearly a decade as a legislator, Ms. Grande had never attracted such a prodigious and impassioned response.
That's probably because anyone who has studied mathematics, engineering, computer science, or economics at an American university in the past decade is likely to have harbored the frustrations Ms. Grande's bill aims to soothe. With rising international enrollments in graduate programs, classroom language barriers have become both a public hobbyhorse and a subject for scholarly study in their own right. In more than a dozen states, legislatures have passed laws to set English-language standards for international teaching assistants. But Ms. Grande's bill was designed to send a stronger message: If you can't speak the language clearly, get out of the classroom. <snip>
I have a friend in another conference who has a question about the latest developments in medical repair of nerve damage.
And today I was sent this aphorism: "A 'liberal' is someone who presses
for motorcycle helmet laws, and then bemoans the shortage of donor organs."
April 7, 2005
Column deadline times. Very short shrift.
Greg Cochran sends this reference. I am not a fan of Richard Cohen, but he has something to say here.
April 8, 2005
The column is filed.
l find myself one a train without a seat, headed to San Diego This is not a Lot of fun. IT was more So in my student days
perhaps I was more flexible then.
The Tablet makes it possible to do useful work -- see mail for today -- but it's not always convenient. Still, better than nothing.
April 9, 2005
TabletPC is great for most purposes, but I do find LisaBetta a bit slow for getting the mail and this log done. It's mostly Outlook's fault.
I used to travel with two computers, one large and heavy which I would set up in the hotel and leave in place, the other to carry to meetings. The TabletPC is perfect for that latter task, and in fact more than adequate for production work (except when piggy Outlook decides to take over all the resources), but the keyboard is a little small, and of course the screen is small. I could use a larger keyboard and screen. Something for pounding out lots of words. Big screen, fast enough processor that when Outlook is being piggy the words don't slow down as I type.
Of course I can do all this with the Mac -- except that it isn't capable of most games. But perhaps that is the price.
But I do wonder, what are the big, fast, games-capable laptops nowadays? I have not looked into high end laptops in a long time.
I'll probably just continue to make do with the TabletPC, which is, after all, pretty nifty. I am getting this done... and editing a big WORD document at the same time. And I can see the screen. It's just small.
But a BIG screen would be nice.... Anyone out there got a hot gaming laptop with a good keyboard, suitable for producing 7500 words of fiction a day in B&B's and old Villas? Suggestions?
The `No Child' Law's Biggest Victims? An Answer That May Surprise
There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
By Margaret DeLacy
Since education is high on the national agenda, here's a pop quiz that every American should take. There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
Question: What group of students makes the lowest achievement gains in school?
Answer: The brightest students.
In a pioneering study of the effects of teachers and schools on student learning, William Sanders and his staff at the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System put in this way: "Student achievement level was the second most important predictor of student learning. The higher the achievement level, the less growth a student was likely to have."
Mr. Sanders found this problem in schools throughout the state, and with different levels of poverty and of minority enrollments. He speculated that the problem was due to a "lack of opportunity for high-scoring students to proceed at their own pace, lack of challenging materials, lack of accelerated course offerings, and concentration of instruction on the average or below-average student."
While less effective teachers produced gains for lower-achieving students, Mr. Sanders found, only the top one-fifth of teachers were effective with high-achieving students. These problems have been confirmed in other states. There is overwhelming evidence that gifted students simply do not succeed on their own.
Question: What group of students has been harmed most by the No Child Left Behind Act?
Answer: Our brightest students.
The federal law seeks to ensure that all students meet minimum standards. Most districts, in their desperate rush to improve the performance of struggling students, have forgotten or ignored their obligations to students who exceed standards. These students spend their days reviewing material for proficiency tests they mastered years before, instead of learning something new. This is a profoundly alienating experience.
Question: How well is the United States preparing able students to compete in the world economy?
Answer: Very poorly.
Of all students obtaining doctorates in engineering in American universities, just 39 percent are Americans. According to the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, "The performance of U.S. physics and advanced math students was among the lowest of the 16 countries that administered the ... assessments."
Question: What group of special-needs students receives the least funding?
Answer: Our brightest students.
And it's getting worse. For example, Illinois, New York, and Oregon recently cut all state funding for gifted programs.
Hardly astonishing. After all, the best way to see that no child is left behind is to make sure that no child gets ahead. This is the end of the public school system as economic leveler. Those who can afford private schools will get ahead. Those who cannot will stay back with the children who are not left behind. A new economic aristocracy combined with the meritocracy we think we like so much.
All predictable and predicted.
Blogging Beyond the Men's Club http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7160264/site/newsweek/
Since anyone can write a Weblog, why is the blogosphere dominated by white males? By Steven Levy Senior Editor Newsweek
March 21 issue - At a recent Harvard conference on bloggers and the media, the most pungent statement came from cyberspace. Rebecca MacKinnon, writing about the conference as it happened, got a response on the "comments" space of her blog from someone concerned that if the voices of bloggers overwhelm those of traditional media, "we will throw out some of the best ... journalism of the 21st century." The comment was from Keith Jenkins, an African-American blogger who is also an editor at The Washington Post Magazine [a sister publication of NEWSWEEK]. "It has taken 'mainstream media' a very long time to get to [the] point of inclusion," Jenkins wrote. "My fear is that the overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere ... will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one."
After the comment was posted, a couple of the women at the conference--bloggers MacKinnon and Halley Suitt--looked around and saw that there weren't many other women in attendance. <snip>
Apparently there is an A list of blogs and bloggers who are supposed to dominate the blogosphere and who get invited to events like this. First I heard about it, but it's not surprising. Establishments attempt to control their turf... But we also have
Heather Mac Donald on Diversity & Blogosphere
March 30, 2005, 7:58 a.m. Diversity Mongers Target the Web Can quotas rule the ultimate meritocracy? By Heather Mac Donald
Bad move, guys. The "diversity" mongers have just brought up the one thing that they should have stayed far far away from: the web. Newsweek's technology columnist Steven Levy has declared that the lack of "diversity" among the web's most popular blogs requires corrective action. The goal? A blogosphere whose elite tier "reflects the actual population" -- i.e., where female- and minority-written blogs are found among the top 100 blogs in the same proportion as females and minorities are found in the general population.
Levy's complaint comes on the heels of Susan Estrich's campaign against the Los Angeles Times for allegedly refusing to publish female op-ed writers, a campaign that has caused widespread wringing of editorial hands about male-dominated op-ed pages. For Levy to have mentioned the web at this moment is about as smart as inviting Stephen Hawking to an astrologers' convention: The web demolishes the assumptions behind any possible quota crusade.
A Harvard conference on bloggers and the media triggered Levy's concerns. Keith Jenkins, a Washington Post photo editor, had warned during the conference, via e-mail, that the growth of blogging threatened minority gains in journalism. Whereas the mainstream media have gotten to "the point of inclusion," Jenkins wrote, the "overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere [might] return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one."
Who would've guessed it? The mainstream media, Jenkins admits, has gotten to "the point of inclusion." You'd never know it from the ongoing agitation for more race- and gender-conscious hiring and publishing. Just this December, the National Association of Black Journalists wrung from the president of NBC News a promise to hire more black journalists at the highest levels of the newsroom. At an NABJ conference last April, a Denver Post editor accused newspapers and broadcast outlets of refusing to hire blacks and called on NABJ members to denounce such alleged discriminators. The Association tallies and publicizes black representation in newsrooms to the minutest detail, including the ratio of black supervisors to black reporters. Susan Estrich, meanwhile, has had her female law students at USC logging daily ratios of female- to male-penned op-eds in the Los Angeles Times for the last three years -- numbers that she has used to try to bludgeon editor Michael Kinsley into instituting female quotas. The Media Report to Women, cited by the New York Times's Joyce Purnick, pumps out statistics on the percentage of female interviewees on network-news shows and of female news directors in radio, among other crucial discoveries. Female book reviewers in The New York Times Book Review are weekly stacked up against male reviewers at Edward Champions "Return of the Reluctant."
These diversity grievances follow the usual logic: Victim-group X is not proportionally represented in some field; therefore the field's gatekeepers are discriminating against X's members. The argument presumes that there are large numbers of qualified Xs out there who, absent discrimination, would be proportionally represented in the challenged field.
If the quota mongers really believed these claims, they should welcome the web enthusiastically, since it is a world without gatekeepers and with no other significant barriers to entry. Imagine someone coping with real discrimination -- a black tanner, say, in 1897 Alabama. To expand his business, he needs capital and access to markets beyond the black business corridors in the south. Every white lender has turned him down, however, and no white merchant will carry his leather goods, even though they are superior to what is currently on the market. Tell that leather maker that an alternative universe exists, where he can obtain credit based solely on his financial history and sell his product based solely on its quality -- a universe where race is so irrelevant that no one will even know his own -- and he would think he had died and gone to heaven.
For allegedly discriminated-against minority and female writers, the web is just that heaven. <snip>
But, I find, to be one of the A list bloggers you must link frequently. Like a fanzine, where,you must give comments to receive comments, you must link often to be often linked to. Or so Steve Levy tells us.
Ah well. We have a quality readership here, and I couldn't afford the time to go to Harvard conferences on blogging anyway...
April 10, 2005
Regarding games and PC's, I don't really need the hottest new system.
What I want is specifically EQ 2
Everquest II "requires a video card with at least 4 texture units."
My TabletPC apparently doesn't have 4 texture units. It's nvidia Adapter
Description NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go 32M with Installed Drivers nv4_disp.dll.
I don't really do much gaming on the road, and the TabletPC keyboard really is pretty good, and I can run an external keyboard, and a big monitor if I am really doing a lot of work. An updated laptop would be useful but it isn't vital.
I fear I don't know enough about graphics cards to know what 4 texture units means. This system has Adapter RAM 32.00 MB (33,554,432 bytes) which one would have thought would be enough.
Name NVIDIA GeForce4 420 Go 32M
I presume it's the "color planes" that limit me. Being down here on dialup I can't do much research on the subject...
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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