Tuesday, February 10, 2009

 

Blog Post-Its

1.Netbooks strike me as some of the best news for community colleges in a long time. In many cases, all we need for a rolling lab is internet access and decent keyboards, and netbooks offer those at much lower prices than standard laptops. (I can't imagine typing, say, an entire blog post on a smartphone keyboard, but I could on a decent netbook.) They're cheap enough that we won't need to buy extended warranties, saving even more. But I'm a little annoyed at Microsoft for not allowing manufacturers to put more than a single gig of ram on a machine that runs XP. How is that not a restraint of trade?

2.Teaching a four-year old to cross-country ski is surprisingly hard. Part of that, admittedly, is that TG inherited her father's feet, which don't necessarily point straight forward. They point to ten o'clock and two o'clock, which, as any physicist can tell you, offers better balance. (When I force myself to stand with feet pointed forward, it's a struggle not to fall sideways. This may explain my inability to use a treadmill without tipping over.) But skis magnify the impact of the angle, and she doesn't quite have the wherewithal to compensate. Every three feet or so, she'd fall, and I'd have to pick her up. I assume this is somehow surmountable, but I'll admit being stumped.

3.It looks like we're due for one of those “review your mission statement” exercises. I'm not a big fan of mission statements generally, and the mindset of the folks who are is utterly foreign to me. They seem to assume that people actually operate by deductive logic: read the mission statement, figure out something that fits with it, and plan actions by reference back to it. It's a cute theory, but it has nothing at all to do with how people actually behave. (Quick: without looking, what's your college's mission statement? I don't know, either.) In reality, people act much more intuitively, and judge fit by how well something is received. If it were up to me, mission statements would be written – if at all -- inductively and retrospectively. But nooo....

4.Watching President Obama's press conference was disconcerting. I literally can't remember ever watching a President I respected, or who impressed me. This guy's good. His Keynesian explanation of deflation was spot-on, and he just kept making sense. He's got his work cut out for him, but at least he understands the task, which is more than I can say for certain people...

5.Note to Congressional Republicans: what's with the 'no bailout for the states' thing? Aren't you people the big fans of states rights, 'subsidiarity,' devolution, and all that? Call them 'block grants' if it makes you feel better, but seriously, it's time to step the bleep up. All those cops and teachers use their salaries to buy goods and services. I'm just sayin'.

6.One of The Boy's classmates – I'll call him Sam -- is moving soon, so the teacher had everyone in the class write a little essay explaining what's great about Sam. TB wrote “Sam is funny, smart, and a good friend. He is also fun to have at the lunch table because he puts pretzels down his pants.” I couldn't have said it better myself.

Comments:
Perhaps it's the level, perhaps the need for political language... Mission statements feel overly workshopped to me and are never specific enough to say what you actually do.

That said, "In reality, people act much more intuitively, and judge fit by how well something is received" often leads to wide variance among programs in terms of practice and philosophy.

There is a tension between defining actionable goals for a given unit and the 'level of generality' of the unit. Is there a certain level at which the unit is just too big to write anything resembling a reasonable set of goals?

For example, the per-class-meeting level, it's really easy to write a set of actionable goals. Heck, even at the level of a program it's pretty easy. What about the department?
 
1. As a guy who taught in a computer lab, I long dreamed of the day when every student had/was using a laptop. When the day came, I was going to seek work at a Caribbean university and hold class on the beach.

2. All pre-teens who can ski are prodigies in my mind.
 
1) Try her on back-country XC boots. Back-countries are soft front and back, but provide more stiffness at the sides. My feet point straight, but I have weak ankles, and they really help.

2) Netbooks rock. I adore my new MSI Wind, which I bought as a productivity-capture device. It's small enough that I don't think about whether or not I should bring it with me, which was always a consideration with my old brick of an IBM ThinkPad.

3) Mission statements: The larger the organization, the shorter the statement should be, IMO. Otherwise, it risks being focus-grouped into anodyne mush. Something the size of a college should have a motto, not a mission statement.
 
The Boy always, always cracks me up. You're raising a good'un there.

I desperately long for a cart full of netbooks that I can tote around to classrooms when I do library research sessions for classes that for whatever reason can't get into our computer classroom in the library. Our IT department wants no part of it, so we're basically SOL on that idea. I've also floated the idea of taking decommissioned laptops (that have aged out of useful service elsewhere on campus), wiping them and installing a minimal Windows -- or even Linux -- system for use as a cart, and that's a no-go also.

Apparently, we work with Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services.
 
I really think your boy and my boys are soul mates in the best-buds-for-life kind of way...
 
Decades ago, my wife took a class at the local State U about community college teaching--taught, of course, by someone who had never taught in a community college. If you haven't guesed already, the focus of the entire course was putting together a mission statement.
 
Everything you have to understand about opposition to the stimulus bill in three quotes:

"I hope Obama fails." Rush Limbaugh, January 20th, 2009

"I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell."

Congressman (!) Phil Gingrey, January 26th, 2009.

"I thank you for the opportunity, of course this is not exactly the way to I wanted to come on. … Mainly, I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made yesterday to Politico."

Congressman Phil Gingrey, on the Rush Limbaugh program, January 27th, 2009.
 
#2) It is quite a step up in coordination for that age, but you could teach her to "skate" on XC racing skis. That is the fast way around.

#5) Highlight of my day was an idjit who was claiming that government jobs weren't actually working. Oddly, the person interviewing him didn't have the brains to ask him why he thought cops or infantry soldiers didn't work for their money.

What I can't believe in this entire process is that the people who invented attack ads are regularly and conspicuously voting against tax cuts. They must assume no one is going to run against them in their safe little districts, and they might be right if they are in the House rather than the Senate, but I'm also astounded that "voting against cutting taxes" is not a regular talking point of the Dem leadership.
 
When I could NOT figure out how to ski, my husband-to-be finally took me way up the mountain. Then he had me stand behind him and put my skis inside his skis, with my hands on his waist. When we got to the bottom, I had figured it out. Being able to FEEL the way he was shifting his weight, etc., made everything finally make sense. Of course, you'd want to be a pretty good skier yourself to attempt this. . .
 
Barack Obama is a BABY BOOMER and as such, I don't like him!
 
Love my netbook. Half a pound, full size keyboard, slip it in my purse and go. Plenty of power and has everything I need when I'm on-the-go.
 
The splayed-feet phenomenon is widespread in our family. Oh yes. When I was not much older than The Boy, my class went on a field trip to the snowy hinterlands near Northern Town. We tried on snowshoes and tromped around in them. Snowshoes are essentially giant tennis rackets on your feet, with the long handles pointing behind you.

Seeing as how my feet also point to ten-and-two, things got ugly fast. I had yet to develop a full-blown potty mouth, and was left with more pathetic, Disney-esque cursing.

And am I the only one who thinks Obama is from Generation X? He's right on the age border, and his background and outlook strike me as very Gen X. Eh, since it's all nonsense anyway, I hereby declare that he's a Gen X'er. If you disagree, I will, um, say nothing.
 
Obama is GenX to the core. His views on race and what it means to be moderate are much more in line with the GenX crowd. He can type and is comfortable with a computer and a graphical user interface. He belongs to us.
 
What sets Obama apart is that he is from the post-Nam group of Boomers, like I am. All of the other Boomer Presidents (and candidates) have been in the age group that served in 'Nam or dodged the draft in some way. The second half of the boom did not have any of that (or the related political baggage) to deal with.
 
There are some very fundamental flaws with the whole concept of "government stimulus" prima facie- and that's why many well-respected (a- and non-political) economists are now "pushing back" on the "current plan."

Typical flaw: those touting the "stimulative effect" of "government spending" completely ignore the "stimulative effect" of what the dollars would accomplish if left in the hands of those who earned them, instead of being confiscated and redistributed.

A liberal estimate places the "stimulative effect" of government spending at around 1.5; for the same dollar left in the economy, conservative estimates rate it around 2.1.

OBTW, remember that government only spends about 80%-85% of what it confiscates in the first place . . . 15%-20% is lost to the government for oversight, management, etc.

So

You stick a gun in my face to redistribute the dollar I earned.

Instead of my dollar creating 2.1 dollars of "stimulus," it now creates (.8)(1.5) = 1.2 dollars of "stimuls."

For a net LOSS of 0.9 dollars . . . multiply by a Trillion.

Oh yeah- here's the "other shoe:" whereas the money left in hte hands of those who earned it would be applied direclty to goods and services that satisfy human wants and needs, acting very efficiently in hte economy to send supply/demand signals, "government spending" [redistribution] most assuredly does not. Instead, it goes into the hands of various special interests that may or may not send legitimate signals about human needs and wants into the economy.

And here's some comestibles for cogitation for those one or two of you out there who may actually give a rip about what is really going down-

when one side has to rely on lies, name calling, and misrepresentation over some invented "crisis" as the need for "fast action without deliberation," watch out. There is a reason why htey must lie, misrepresent, name call, and shout about the need for immediate action.

And it isn't because they care about the truth of the thing.

Oh, and teadching a four year old how to ski? Sheesh. Give hte kid a break.
 
yacf, there are no apolitical or nonpolitical economists arguing against the surplus. I'm in the profession. I know.

If you don't care what the truth of the matter is, because you hate the idea of somebody's grandma eating food that wasn't made for cats on your dime, that's your business. But don't piss on our legs and tell us its raining -- and don't call decent people liars.
 
I wouldn't mind the Mission Statement so much if it wasn't accompanied by a Vision Statement and a Core Values Statement. None of the PhDs I work with (outside the Business Department) can adequately explain the difference to me, but we spend a lot of time arguing over whether or not a particular concept/idea fits into one of the three. Add a Long-term Strategic Plan that must pay homage to all of our statements, and you've got a big mess of paper that supposedly guides your operation. So we do what everyone else does - do what you think is best and find something in one of those documents that supports you.
 
Oh, and what I wouldn't give for a Mac netbook!
 
Obama was born in 1961 making him a full-fledged baby boomer. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964!
 
Ah finally someone mentions the desire for a Mac netbook. While Apple doesn't yet have the hardware (is the "h/w" the Mac?) there is an option.

You have heard that OS X will run on a few of the netbooks, right? I believe the MSI Wind is one of them. Leo LaPorte installed it on one as a "proof of concept" but then uninstalled so as not to reap the wrath of Steve.

Of course, once he uninstalled it, he installed Win7 Beta on the netbook and sings the praises of the new Windows.

So--Go.... support the economy... buy a netbook... and install Apple's OSX.
 
Punditus:

I see the ad hominem attack, the smear by inference, and the appeal to authority . . . did I miss any content?

I do admit that die-hard keynesians are getting harder and harder to find outside the current administration and a few faculty lounges, but just because *you* aren't chummy with any apolitical/nonpolitical economists who argue weaknesses (see above) inherent in the "stimuls bill" doesn't mean there aren't any.

"Nobody I know voted for Nixon . . .!"
 
Obama was born in 1961 making him a full-fledged baby boomer. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964!

I'd say that puts him in Generation X, at least as the term was used originally. Born in the 60s is Gen X (also called "The Quiet Generation", because they didn't get as much attention as the Boomers).
 
Punditus wrote:

"because you hate the idea of somebody's grandma eating food that wasn't made for cats"

Hmmm... I take it this means Punditus LIKES the idea of grandmas eating food made for cats?

I am unsure of the intent here, other than to just feign righteous indignation when people refuse to immediately fawn over the faux-messiah.

Ah well.
 
yacf -- Probably not. Certainly, there's no point in even vaguely bringing up the real world when someone pretends that a set of macroeconomic theory taught in every undergraduate intermediate macroeconomics class has somehow been discarded by the profession as a whole.

It's going to be straight ad hominem; I've learned from long experience that the proper response to libertarians is not to pretend that rational dialogue is possible. There's nothing resembling interest. Y'all would rather see millions die from starvation and preventable illness than leave behind your one-size easy solution for every political problem. I have no particular interest in engaging with people who hold that worldview.
 
Anon -- try undoing one of the "nots" instead of both. I know logic is hard for conservatives and libertarians, so I can see where you might think that a double-negative is a major intellectual effort.

To spell it out for you:

I hate the idea of grandmas eating cat food.

I like the idea of grandmas not eating cat food.

See, it's easy! A world of rhetorical delights now awaits.
 
Pundit-itus:

Unfortunately, it was clear what you intended to say. I agree--what you wrote in your clarification is what you believe.

Alas it is not what you wrote.

Say what you will about others (and infer what you will about one's political views simply because they challenge your writing skills.)

The fact remains what you wrote was not what you intended.
 
. . . more importantly, he has misdirected the conversation away from his failure to address any of the substantive points raised . . .

[And yes, anonymous, I get the whole cloudy thinking = cloudy writing concept. Post-positivism etc type discourse is truly enlightening; frequently revealing more perhaps about the speakers than their subjects!]
 
Obama is neither Boom nor X. As many nationally influential voices have repeatedly noted, Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google Generation Jones, and you'll see it’s gotten a lot of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) specifically use this term to describe Obama.

Great op-ed on Obama as the first Generation Jones President in USA TODAY last week:
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/01/stuck-in-the-mi.html
 
Re Mission Statements: (Don’t know if this is too late or not). The key thing to remember is that – as you correctly noted – once they’re written nobody reads them, and certainly nobody changes their actions based on the words in the statement. Ideally, though, by getting the group together and talking about what the group’s mission is, you’ll understand what each other are trying to do, and create a little shared vision about what’s important going forward and what’s not.
If you can get enough of the group thinking this way, then the process could be useful, depending on the state of the corporate culture. If I ever did a mission statement group, I’d argue that we should try and write one, but burn it at the end of the day, so the discussion stays on the content, rather than arguing about whether to write it in the present or future tense.
 
Um, Anon -- you are aware that "you" and "I" are different words, right? That I was accusing yacf of holding an opinion that I do not hold?

Seriously, has the narcissism of the average conservative gotten to the point where they don't understand that others are capable of distinguishing between other persons and themselves?

And yacf -- I thought I was extremely clear. There is no point in engaging any points a libertarian brings up; any rational debate requires a referent to a shared reality, and the act of being a libertarian is a statement of loathing for the concept. You've made your decisions; I don't see why I shouldn't be allowed to respect them.
 
that little flamewar had more big words and less entertainment value than a simple half hour chat on a game site. just sayin'.
 
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