Thursday, October 11, 2012
- The Girl: “Why do some people “reckon” when they believe?” I didn’t have an answer for that.
- The company that owns Red Lobster and the Olive Garden is reducing the hours of its part-time employees to avoid responsibility for health insurance under Obamacare. Some folks on the interwebs are pronouncing themselves shocked, and others are declaring a failure of Obamacare. It’s neither shocking nor a sign of failure; it’s perfectly predictable self-interest.
As long as health care is tied to employment, and the employment in question has a clear cutoff in terms of hours, employers will skirt that line to avoid paying. Those who don’t will fall behind those who do. In higher ed, the explosion of adjunct faculty positions was based on the same idea. But it isn’t confined to adjuncts; the same principle applies to part-time staff below a certain threshold of hours. In the corporate world, the explosion of “temps” and unpaid interns reflects the same premise.
Go ahead and vilify the Olive Garden if it makes you feel better. But it’s only playing by the rules. If you want real change, change the rules. Decouple health care from employment. Make it a basic citizenship right, paid for collectively and controlled democratically. And let people who would really prefer part-time work take it, without having to worry about what happens when they get sick.
- This week, we had the third catastrophic hard drive failure in a year. (It’s the fourth laptop disaster; the other one was a cracked screen.) The pattern seems to be that once the kids get access to a laptop, the hard drive’s days are numbered.
The Wife has pronounced herself sick of technology, but she still needs access to email and Facebook, and I’ve still got obligations of my own. I’m considering something with a solid state drive, on the theory that it would be sturdier, but I’m having a hard time finding anything other than tablets -- which I’m not sure would work well for our purposes -- or chromebooks, which I think of as tablets with keyboards.
Is there a hard drive gremlin on the loose? Is there a kid-proof laptop out there? Are solid state drives actually sturdier? Would a tablet actually work for, say, uploading photos to Picasa? I’m stumped. All I know for certain is that I’m done with Toshiba.
- I haven’t been able to shake this story all week. Apparently, the number of words to which children are exposed before age six is the single strongest predictor of later academic success. Kids with educated parents who spend time with them accrue such a powerful advantage over other kids that the deck is stacked by the time they get to first grade.
(As parents, we stacked the deck early; we have a picture of me reading The Runaway Bunny to The Boy in the hospital, the day after he was born. By age two, he was such a fan of books that we had to hide them under the sofa just to get him to do anything else.)
It seems like the painfully obvious solution to the class gap is to pay preschool and early childhood teachers well enough to attract professionals to the job. As long as daycare workers are paid something close to the minimum wage, kids who don’t get exposure to educated language at home won’t get it in class, either.
Working in higher ed, though, the implications seem defeatist. We get students long beyond the early childhood years. I have to believe that 18 year olds -- and 38 year olds, for that matter -- are still reachable. If I didn’t, I’d have to find another line of work.
You can do it - unscrew your laptop cover and insert the SSD.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean your data will be safe. Back. up. regularly. Every day. It's worth it.
(first time commenting, long-time supporter)
Your story about words is scary, beyond the fact that many kids are not read to because their parents can't read. My dad read me the evening paper every night, which has a lot more words than the story books we also had. I'd suggest making newspapers more widely available, except that newspapers are fading away.
TG's interest is cool. Don't let her fall into the trap of thinking that different is bad. Language is the one realm where people (yes even the highly educated, perhaps especially them, with their rightful pride in their education) often maintain prejudices which they would not even think they held. "I just lament their bad grammar." Preferring one system/genre over another in certain contexts, say, educational discourse, is socially determined, by those in power. Perhaps we need a standard: I certainly think we do. But a standard is just that, and it is not better than the systems "those people" grew up with. I happened to grow up with a dialect on which the standard is based: I therefore find using the standard easy. Others don't find it quite so easy, but that's normal, not lamentable, or worthy of disdain. See the joke above.
Sorry for the rant. Teachable moment.
I can imagine that certain kid apps spawn CPU and disk hungry jobs that consume resources. I think it was in the mid-1990s when I heard a joke about java providing jumping jelly beans on the screen in exchange for rich access to your personal information stored on the computer.
At least a separate laptop would enable testing out the kids-using-it hypothesis. You could even buy two disks now, and clone the first onto the second. When the first crashes, in goes the second, and then you clone a new backup. It's a little odd (okay, maybe a bit odd) but it could work.
So why didn't you run in the primaries, like you said you would a while back?
I'm hard on my laptops, as is my kid. I haven't had a hard drive failure yet, so my solution thus far has been to buy from a company that offers a good multi year comprehensive warranty (I usually go with Dell). The warranty doesn't make sense for most people, but they have more than paid for themselves in my household.
My mom was a HS english teacher before becoming a principal then registrar so reading was a huge part of my life growing up. I noticed that early reading and how we learned to read (phonics vs whole language) made a huge difference among my friends that enjoyed and excelled at it.
My husband, who is just brillant, does not enjoy reading. I think it's because, in part, his parents didn't have reading as a household activity. He's got a double master's from Hopkins in engineering but there are times when I have to explain words to him or how to sound them out and to extrapolate meaning.
It might provoke some howls from the younger generation but I think I'd hold out for a desktop computer for their use. Keep it out in public view so you can monitor its use and the desktop is much more durable.