Free Forum Friday March 4 Edition

Libyans wait to take part in Friday prayers in Kings Square in the eastern city of Tobruk, Libya, last Friday. (Image via the Associated Press)

The battles rage on in Madison, Libya, and Iran. Anyone can now disrupt a funeral with noise and religion-inspired hate. The stock market gyrates over the competing news of higher oil prices and lower unemployment claims. And we are starting to hear the early rumbles of the 2012 Presidential election.

But Fridays belong to you, the reading and commenting faction of 538 Refugees. So what do you want to talk about?

Free Forum Fridays are an open discussion where commenters are invited to bring up topics that may not have been covered in the previous week. Got something on your mind? Throw your opinion out there.


About Michael Weiss

Michael is now located at http://www.logarchism.com, along with Monotreme, filistro, and dcpetterson. Please make note of the new location.
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166 Responses to Free Forum Friday March 4 Edition

  1. mclever says:

    With all eyes on Wisconsin, a similar measure in Ohio is sailing through despite thousands of protesters (getting very little notice) in Columbus.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110303/ap_on_re_us/us_ohio_union_fight

  2. mclever says:

    Anyone catch the Texas House Bill 1202 from Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle?

    Apparently, anyone who “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” hires an unauthorized immigrant could get two years in jail and a $10,000 fine…UNLESS the immigrant is hired as a maid, a lawn caretaker or another houseworker for “work to be performed exclusively or primarily at a single-family residence.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/03/01/texas.immigration.bill/index.html

    What do you think of this incongruity? Is hiring an unauthorized immigrant illegal or not? Should there be a difference in penalty between hiring a nanny/gardener or hiring 10 guys to do carpentry/manual labor for a construction company?

  3. dcpetterson says:

    mclever
    Anyone catch the Texas House Bill 1202 from Republican state Rep. Debbie Riddle?

    Interesting concept. Following this line of reasoning, it should not be illegal to steal a car for private use, but only if it will be used by a larger corporation.

  4. shortchain says:

    A logical and ethical consequence of that law would be that it would not be illegal to enter the country without permission as long as one is doing it for the purpose of becoming a lawn-care person, chauffeur nanny, or housemaid for an American family.

  5. Monotreme says:

    Everyone gets along in Riverdale.

    http://www.comixology.com/sku/NOV100723/Archie-617

  6. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    Ah, but your nanny can still be deported. You just won’t have to pay $10,000 or spend 2 years in jail for having hired her.

  7. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    I’ll remember to use that argument the next time I’m busted for Grand Theft Auto in Texas. I’m sure the judge will understand, right?

  8. mclever says:

    Hey, the February jobs numbers are out, and they look pretty good:

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/04/news/economy/february_jobs_report/index.htm?hpt=T2

    – 192K new jobs added
    – unemployment rate fell to 8.9%

    That makes it the most rapid 3-month improvement in almost 28 years!

    My expectation is that the unemployment rate may trend back upwards this spring, as discouraged jobless see the improving numbers and return to active-seeking status. However, if businesses continue to add 200K jobs each month, then we should see some stabilization and continued improvement in the top-line unemployment figures through the summer months.

  9. filistro says:

    The Freepers are totally bummed at the prospect of economic recovery and the depressing fact that America might not fail after all. Of course they are comforting themselves by assuring each other it’s LIES, ALL LIES, because Obama is cooking the books, the economy is actulally in free-fall and unemployment is really at 20%. They all expect The Truth to come out at any moment, followed by The Crash. It’s the Bradley Effect all over again. Poor schmucks, they just never learn.

    Seriously, nobody has been mentioning lately just what an AWFUL time this is to be a Republican. Look around. The economy is improving, the DOW is soaring, business is hiring and confidence is improving everywhere. The polls show people are solidly opposed to major GOP initiatives like gutting unions, cutting essential services, opposing gay marriage and destroying collective bargaining. Everybody but hardcore Tea Partiers would rather see higher taxes on the rich than deep cuts to programs. The president’s approval numbers are rising.

    Most telling of all, there’s not a serious Republican anywhere in the entire country who wants to take on Obama…. or who could beat him. Last cycle, more than a dozen GOP candidates had already declared by this time. Now there’s naught. (Er, I mean Newt. Same thing…)

    The world is moving on, and the party of social conservatives is being left behind. I wonder if they could ever begin to catch up anymore. Not likely, when most of them refuse to even recognize what’s happening right in front of their eyes.

    It’s tough to be unpopular. It’s even worse to be irrelevant.

  10. Monotreme says:

    Well, data is not the plural of anecdote, but anecdote is all I have to offer in FFF.

    Where I teach, many of the students who entered at the beginning of the economic crisis are now re-trained and ready to take on a new career in their chosen field of health care. I wonder how much of the current recovery is due to people completing their re-training who are now ready to re-enter the work force.

    For example, many of those that the Freepers tend to regard as “out of the job market” were actually back in school getting new skills. That, after all, was the intent of the stimulus package.

  11. mclever says:

    @filistro

    I can already hear the Tea Partiers the next time the unemployment number blips upwards instead of down: “See, the crash is coming! I told you, Obama’s policies are a failure!!”

    What I really hear is a lack of understanding how these numbers really work and what they really mean. (Sadly, I hear that lack of understanding from both sides of the political spectrum.) And the talking heads on the news don’t help, when the best they can manage is to regurgitate what they’re given rather than engaging in critical thought.

  12. filistro says:

    mc… look like it’s okay to be an illegal as long as you’re doing “jobs Americans don’t want to do.”

    The hypocrisy is kind of stunning, isn’t it?

    “WAHHH!!!! Illegal immigration is RUINING OUR COUNTRY!!!!!”…. (but let’s be reasonable, we still need somebody to clean our toilets, don’t we?)

  13. Monotreme says:

    To support Rep. Riddle [deep breath, sigh], I think the concept is that individual employers don’t have the means to check immigration paperwork.

    I think a better strategy would be to have a graduated fine structure, with a token fine for individuals and large fines for large employers.

  14. mclever says:

    Good point, Monotreme. I hope your anecdote is indicative of what a lot of “out of the market” folks have been doing.

    🙂

  15. Gator says:

    Fili

    You said the same thing after Obama was elected. And kept saying it right up to the ’10 elections and the Republicans won the house by staggering numbers. The Reps thought the same thing about Dems in ’94. You are deluding yourself if you think that either party is irrelevant. It has been, is and will continue to be a political pendulum in America that swings one way and then the other in an ever repeating pattern.

    As far as the Presidency, way, way too early to predict that.

  16. filistro says:

    If I were still posting GNAA like I was last year at this time, I could go on for pages.

    But one of the cheeriest tidbits I’ve seen for a long time is this one:

    WI-2012 Senate: 49% Feingold (D), 42% Ryan (R) (PPP 2/24-27)

    sigh… doncha just LOVE it? 🙂

  17. mclever says:

    @filistro

    “WAHHH!!!! Illegal immigration is RUINING OUR COUNTRY!!!!!”…. (but let’s be reasonable, we still need somebody to clean our toilets, don’t we?)

    LOL

    @Monotreme

    I think the concept is that individual employers don’t have the means to check immigration paperwork.

    There is some truth to that, which is why your suggestion of a graduated fine makes sense. Hire one undocumented worker and pay $1000, hire 10 and pay $10,000 each, perhaps. However, my suspicion is that Ms. Riddle just wants to keep her current maid, gardener, and chauffeur.

    😉

  18. mclever says:

    @filistro

    I miss your GNAA posts. 🙂

  19. filistro says:

    Gator, sweetie… do pay attention.

    I didn’t say the Republican Party is irrelevant. It isn’t, and never will be.

    I said the party of social conservatives is irrelevant.

    The GOP will eventually be forced to dump the scolding Church Ladies and the smarmy hypocritical Behavior Bullies… that powerful little Taliban wing of the Republican Party that thinks theocracy is dandy form of government, the rights of the fetus outweigh those of the mother, hatred is a virtue and Jesus would vote to cut programs for the poor.

    And when that happens, the GOP will once again become a force to be reckoned with and American politics will revert to balance. I can hardly wait. 🙂

  20. mclever says:

    OK, for all of you who like to discuss the differences between liberals and conservatives, tasting something bitter apparently makes us more judgmental, and the effect is more pronounced for conservatives.

    http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/02/08/0956797611398497

    “Results showed that taste perception significantly affected moral judgments, such that physical disgust (induced via a bitter taste) elicited feelings of moral disgust. Further, this effect was more pronounced in participants with politically conservative views than in participants with politically liberal views. Taken together, these differential findings suggest that embodied gustatory experiences may affect moral processing more than previously thought.”

  21. filistro says:

    Taken together, these differential findings suggest that embodied gustatory experiences may affect moral processing more than previously thought.”

    What a fabulous sentence. I LOVE it.

    And as somebody who eternally seeks to define and profile the difference between right and left-leaning mindsets, I also find the info itself fascinating.

    This somewhat confirms my long-held suspicion that when confronted with the morally strange or unpleasant, conservatives will say “EEWWWWW!!! .. and liberals will say “hmmmmm…….”

    On second read, the cause-effect relationship is not clearly established. Maybe it’s just that conservatives eat way too many pickles.

  22. mclever says:

    For those of you who are fans of the “WTF has Obama done so far?” website, you may also find this one entertaining:

    “WTF has the GOP done so far?”

    (Sorry, no PC version of the GOP link available… “Adult” language may be used…)

  23. mclever says:

    @filistro

    But I love pickles!

    😉

  24. filistro says:

    mc.. I worry about you… 😉

  25. filistro says:

    What the heck, it’s FFF…

    So if you are one of the four people in America who hasn’t yet seen the video of baby Micah laughing as he and Dad tear up a letter (Micah’s Dad has just finished up his doctorate, and the letter is a rejection to his application for a professorship)…

    http://www.break.com/index/baby-laughing-hysterically-at-ripping-paper-2014760

    Enjoy!!!

  26. Gator says:

    Maybe conservatives came from conservative households where Mom said: ” I don’t care if you like beets, they’re good for you. Eat them this minute.”

    And liberals came from liberal homes where the Mom said: ” Try the kiwi, they’re delish!”

    Thus establishing the gustatory/political link.

    Fili, if I misread your GOP/social cons. post, sorry. It does look as if you were linking the two and essentially referring to one entity (the GOP as umbrella for the soc cons).

  27. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    There is good evidence, from a number of different studies, that so-called “conservatives” and so-called “liberals” have differently wired brains that perceive the world differently. The taste studies are part of that tradition.

    I would argue that it’s much more a function of genetics than upbringing.

    I will one day write an article on this, but I haven’t found the point of entry yet.

  28. filistro says:

    @Gator… And liberals came from liberal homes where the Mom said: ” Try the kiwi, they’re delish!”

    LOL!!!

    Ah, but it goes further. Moms in liberal homes say, “Eat the kiwi or they will be upset, poor little things. It doesn’t matter that their skin is brown and you find them unpleasantly hairy. Kiwis have feelings too, you know!”

    Meanwhile the well-scrubbed conservative kids are being encouraged to look askance at carrots, which may just be a liberal plot (phallic symbols) intended to desensitize children to hidden sexual innuendo.

  29. mclever says:

    @Monotreme

    Your link touches on just some of the ways that public employees contribute to a safe, productive, and integrated society. Those are exactly the things that the folks who think “I am successful all on my own” tend to dismiss or deny. It’s as if people think roads and infrastructure build themselves, and potholes get fixed automagically. Banks and contract law and public safety and criminal justice and all of the other things that create an environment where businesses can operate and compete fairly. Education to provide a competent workforce…

    I do tend to get irritated when someone who should know better suggests that each of us is an individual island and we all accomplish these things for ourselves with no help from the government or anyone else, because it’s so obviously and patently false.

    To add to your post, here are the public vs. private compensation comparisons for Wisconsin:

    This link has a cool, easy to read graph:

    http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/wisconsin_public_servants_already_face_a_compensation_penalty/

    Based on the numbers from this study:

    http://epi.3cdn.net/8808ae41b085032c0b_8um6bh5ty.pdf

    The difference in compensation as education increases is actually quite stunning.

  30. Monotreme says:

    Fili:

    Meanwhile the well-scrubbed conservative kids are being encouraged to look askance at carrots, which may just be a liberal plot (phallic symbols) intended to desensitize children to hidden sexual innuendo.

    All the more reason to avoid eggplants.

    And orchids for the senior prom are, as the British say, RIGHT OUT.

  31. Monotreme says:

    @mclever:

    My point all along is that we should have had this discussion first, then made policy. Governor Walker has tried to reverse the process.

  32. filistro says:

    @Monotreme… All the more reason to avoid eggplants. And orchids for the senior prom are, as the British say, RIGHT OUT.

    The dangers are everywhere. Constant vigilance is essential.

  33. Gator says:

    Treme

    I was obviously joking. You know that, I presume.

    It is an interesting question. Nature vs nurture and all that. I will tell you that in my family we have a mix from fiscally conservative/socially moderate to very liberal. I have known people who took up the mantel of the family politics and others who were diametrically opposed to their parents viewpoints. Hard to say what goes into creating a mindset. Interesting as a mofo, though. Write your piece. Contrast/compare the members of political dynasties within their families and as a comparison between families i.e. Bush/Kennedy. There are others where siblings served etc.

  34. mclever says:

    Monotreme,

    There are differences in brain patterns, true. But I think some of that is taught and reinforced rather than simply genetically driven. Otherwise, we humans wouldn’t be able to learn new ways of looking at things from time to time. I’ve seen suggestions that our thinking is shaped by roughly 25% genetics, 25% childhood environment (parenting), and about 50% other influences. I’ll let the psychology studies pin down the exact percents, but the general idea seems right to me.

    I mean, it can’t all be genetics, or I’d be a Tea Partier like the rest of my family! Through school, I was fairly conservative–definitely among the most conservative of my peers–and it wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I discovered my liberal streak. (I know, the plural of anecdotal isn’t data, but if it were strictly genetics, then wouldn’t I have been immune to changing how I thought about things?)

    This kind of feeds into another article that I saw recently about how girls/women see challenges vs. how boys/men see challenges. Apparently, the smarter a girl is, the more quickly she is apt to give up on something challenging, because she has been taught that her “goodness” and “smarts” are innate rather than something that must be worked on. Boys, rather, are given constant feedback that “If you’d only just sit down and try harder, then you’d be fine,” so they see challenges as things that they just have to work harder at. It suggests that how we talk to smart, young girls has a dramatic impact on how they handle challenges later in life.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heidi-grant-halvorson-phd/girls-confidence_b_828418.html

  35. Monotreme says:

    “My cucumber is bigger than yours.”

  36. mclever says:

    @Monotreme

    My point all along is that we should have had this discussion first, then made policy. Governor Walker has tried to reverse the process.

    Absolutely right. 🙂

  37. dcpetterson says:

    My point all along is that we should have had this discussion first, then made policy. Governor Walker has tried to reverse the process.

    I think there is a mindset — and people on both (all?) fringes are prone to it — which holds that the Right Way is already known, and discussion would only serve to slow or derail it.

    I do wonder where the wingers are these days, the folks who insisted that we have to follow daily swings of opinion polls in our policy making, lest we ignore The Will Of The People and thus destroy democracy. Where are those brave defenders of The People, those patriots, those who worship tea, on the issue of collective bargaining?

    filistro, thank you for the report from Freeperland. I think they’re missing an opportunity. Maybe they’re not smart enough. All the good things that have happened in the last three months, don’t you know, are due to the new Republican majority in the House. I could expand that thought, but I’m at a client site, and it would look ill-mannered to vomit. My point is, the spin machine seems a bit out-of-kilter this morning. I wonder why?

  38. Gator says:

    Been hearing a lot about the difference in the quality of the schools in Wisconsin as opposed to states with no teachers unions. How Wisconsin is superior because of the quality of the educators. Saw these numbers and thought it was interesting. Let’s look at how Texas and Wisconsin compare…

    *******************************************************************************

    Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

    South Carolina – 50th
    North Carolina – 49th
    Georgia – 48th
    Texas – 47th
    Virginia – 44th

    If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country.

    The point being, I suppose, is that unionized teachers stand as a thin chalk-stained line keeping Wisconsin from descending into the dystopian non-union educational hellscape of Texas. Interesting, if it wasn’t complete bullshit.

    As a son of Iowa, I’m no stranger to bragging about my home state’s ranking on various standardized test. Like Wisconsin we Iowans usually rank near the top of the heap on average ACT/SAT scores. We are usually joined there by Minnesota, Nebraska, and the various Dakotas; Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire…

    … beginning to see a pattern? Perhaps because a state’s “average ACT/SAT” is, for all intents and purposes, a proxy for the percent of white people who live there. In fact, the lion’s share of state-to-state variance in test scores is accounted for by differences in ethnic composition. Minority students – regardless of state residence – tend to score lower than white students on standardized test, and the higher the proportion of minority students in a state the lower its overall test scores tend to be.

    Please note: this has nothing to do with innate ability or aptitude. Quite to the contrary, I believe the test gap between minority students and white students can be attributed to differences in socioeconomic status. And poverty. And yes, racism. And yes, family structure. Whatever combination of reasons, the gap exists, and it’s mathematical sophistry to compare the combined average test scores in a state like Wisconsin (4% black, 4% Hispanic) with a state like Texas (12% black, 30% Hispanic).

    So how to compare educational achievement between two states with such dissimilar populations? In data analysis this is usually done by treating ethnicity as a “covariate.” A very simple way to do this is by comparing educational achievement between states within the same ethnic group. In other words, do black students perform better in Wisconsin than Texas? Do Hispanic students perform better in Wisconsin or Texas? White students? If Wisconsin’s kids consistently beat their Texas counterparts, after controlling for ethnicity, then there’s a strong case that maybe Texas schools ought to become a union shop.

    Luckily, there is data to answer this question via the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The NAEP is an annual standardized test given to 4th and 8th graders around the country to measure proficiency in math, science, and reading. Participation is fairly universal; if you’ve had a 4th or 8th grader in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with it. Results are compiled on the NAEP website, broken down by grade, state, subject and ethnicity.

    So how does brokeass, dumbass, redneck Texas stack up against progressive unionized Wisconsin?

    2009 4th Grade Math

    White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
    Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
    Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)

    2009 8th Grade Math

    White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
    Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
    Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)

    2009 4th Grade Reading

    White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
    Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
    Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)

    2009 8th Grade Reading

    White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
    Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
    Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)

    2009 4th Grade Science

    White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
    Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
    Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)

    2009 8th Grade Science

    White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
    Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
    Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

    To recap: white students in Texas perform better than white students in Wisconsin, black students in Texas perform better than black students in Wisconsin, Hispanic students in Texas perform better than Hispanic students in Wisconsin. In 18 separate ethnicity-controlled comparisons, the only one where Wisconsin students performed better than their peers in Texas was 4th grade science for Hispanic students (statistically insignificant), and this was reversed by 8th grade. Further, Texas students exceeded the national average for their ethnic cohort in all 18 comparisons; Wisconsinites were below the national average in 8, above average in 8.

    Perhaps the most striking thing in these numbers is the within-state gap between white and minority students. Not only did white Texas students outperform white Wisconsin students, the gap between white students and minority students in Texas was much less than the gap between white and minority students in Wisconsin. In other words, students are better off in Texas schools than in Wisconsin schools – especially minority students.

    Conclusion: instead of chanting slogans in Madison, maybe it’s time for Wisconsin teachers to take refresher lessons from their non-union counterparts in the Lone Star State.

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html

  39. dcpetterson says:

    So — Texas students score better than Wisconsin students on everything except SAT and ACT tests? What are we missing here?

  40. Monotreme says:

    Gator,

    Thanks for proving what we know already, that standardized tests (most especially ACT and SAT scores) are a poor metric for school performance.

    I look forward to working together with you to develop a reasonable set of metrics for gauging school performance.

    Oh wait! The Obama Administration is doing that already. My bad.

    http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html

  41. Monotreme says:

    Oh, and Gator? Thanks for bringing undigested Right Wing Talking Points directly from the conservative blogs to this site. We’re incapable of looking these things up on our own.

    http://bit.ly/eWnOeH

  42. rgbact says:

    Gator-

    Nice post. Similar to mine on the gay marriage laws. As I mentioned, in spite of all the libs complaints about racism, many of the northern states that libs live in are uber-white. It seems the liberal states are able to keep out “the undesirables”–but then lecture other states on their racism. Ripping on poverty/education in the South is essentially denigrating blacks.

    I’ve long advocated a separate “white” statistic when analyzing economic numbers in order to correct for underlying demographic issues. States/countries shouldn’t get points just because they keep the “undesirables” out.

  43. Gator says:

    Treme, the purpose of the NAEP tests is for the evaluation of school performance. I imagine you know that. I love how you guys dance when facts and numbers don’t support your positions. Keep up the good work! LOL!

    The facts as clearly demonstrated by the NAEP numbers are that less well funded, non-union Texas is doing a superior job to better funded unionized Wisconsin. As simple as that. Here is the link to the NAEP site if you would like to confirm the data.

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/

  44. mclever says:

    Gator and rgbact,

    It sounds nice and reasonable, but the problem with splitting out statewide statistics strictly by race, is that you’re still not comparing apples to apples, because in those lily-white states (like my current state of Iowa), a higher percentage of whites live in poverty than in those mixed race states. So, you’re still comparing a lopsided sample. Rather than splitting by race, it would probably be more accurate to split by socio-economic levels and compare those across states.

    Can you crunch those numbers for us?

  45. rgbact says:

    I read some of the ACT/SAT stats recently and it seemed there was a huge difference in % of people tested between the states. Seems some states were cherry picking their best students.

  46. Gator says:

    Treme

    The numbers are from the NAEP. Hardly a winger group. The fact that the facts were reported on a right wing blog do not invalidate them. That is why I gave you the NAEP link. Check the data for accuracy. Nice strawman, though!

  47. Gator says:

    mclever if you take issue with the way the NAEP compile their data maybe you should speak to them about it. I’m comfortable with their dataset as it is. 😉

  48. filistro says:

    @rgb… States/countries shouldn’t get points just because they keep the “undesirables” out.

    What a mind-blowing statement (and attitude). You guys aren’t even trying to fake it anymore, are you?

    You DO KNOW that you can’t win the presidency, ever again, without a good chunk of the minority vote, right?

    But hey, no problem! With these warmly inclusive policies (and opinions) the GOP’s new “courting the minorities” strategy is bound to be a huge success.

  49. rgbact says:

    I’m betting the state with the highest number of Asian kids probably has the highest test scores. Must be the great teachers!

  50. mclever says:

    rgbact,

    I don’t think it’s that the states are “cherry picking” their students, but there are differences in state cultures that might account for different SAT/ACT participation levels. For example, in some states where athletics are particularly prevalent, “dumber” kids might be more encouraged to take the SAT/ACT in hopes of landing an NCAA scholarship, where in other states those kids would be pressured by family and friends to work rather than hope for college, so they’d skip the (expensive) standardized tests. That’s just one example of the types of cultural (rather than official) pressures that might play into ACT/SAT participation.

    In none of the states where I have lived has the state government tried to prevent dumb kids from taking the SAT. More often than not, there is some effort being made to encourage more kids to take the tests rather than the opposite. Different states may be more or less aggressive in trying to encourage kids to seek higher education, but that’s not the same as “cherry picking” which students get to take the test.

  51. mclever says:

    @Gator says:

    It’s not the NAEP compilation that I have a problem with, but rather the interpretation that’s being made by comparing inequivalent data across states.

  52. mclever says:

    @filistro

    Regarding rgbact’s comment about states “keeping the undesirables out.”

    What a mind-blowing statement (and attitude).

    My thoughts exactly. Who are the “undesirables”? Where I live in Iowa, minorities are welcome. There just aren’t very many of them as compared to where I lived in southern California. The university here actively seeks minorities, because they find diversity of opinion and culture to be desirable…

  53. Gator says:

    mclever says: “It’s not the NAEP compilation that I have a problem with, but rather the interpretation that’s being made by comparing inequivalent data across states.”

    Translated: I don’t like what that data shows so I refuse to accept its validity despite the fact that it is THE national educational assessment tool currently in use.

    Mclever why don’t you show something… anything to refute the blatantly obvious facts as outlined above? Why don’t you counter the NAEP data with data of your own? Try to make your point.
    Because I’ve made my point. With data.

  54. Gator,
    I have a ton to do today, but I do intend to run some analyses on the underlying data shortly. I’ll report what I find.

    My first reaction is that comparing two states is not a sufficient number of data points to draw meaningful conclusions. To look at the effect unionization has on the students, you really need to compare all union states against all non-union states. A regression analysis based on the factors of unionization, median or mean income, racial makeup…maybe percentage of adults who have been to college (children of college-educated parents tend to do better academically than children of non-college-educated parents). Oh, and probably something about dollars spent per pupil would be useful as well.

    Take all of those, run a regression, see which factors matter, and which ones don’t. That’s what I’d like to do.

    If you’d like to see results sooner rather than later, pointing me to sources of raw data on those various metrics would help tremendously. Or you can wait longer. Your call.

  55. dcpetterson says:

    @mclever –

    Same here in most of Minnesota. There’s a good mix of Asian, White, Hispanic, and African-American kids in, for example, my kids’ high school. They’ve several times had mix-race pairs as homecoming king and queen, for instance, and no one even bothers to mention it.

    What Gator’s right-wing columnist seemed to be saying is that Texas kids do better than Wisconsin kids, period. Each race does better in Texas. So why are the aggregate scores of Texas kids lower than the aggregate scores of Wisconsin kids? Answer: Because Texas has a higher percentage of Blacks and Hispanics dragging their scores down. So, even though Texas’ minorities do better than Wisconsin’s minorities, they still do worse than Wisconsin’s Whites. And Texas has more of those minorities. So the overall Texas score is lower, because they’ve got more of those low-scoring minorities.

    Yet you make a great point, that the real difference is likely to be socioeconomic. Wisconsin may well have a higher percentage of poor Whites than Texas does, pulling down the White test scores; if the scored results listed economic status rather than ethnic, a very different picture might emerge. We also don’t know whether the students who take the tests in Texas have a higher proportion in private schools (which tend to accept mostly the brighter students); nor do these stats tell us anything about what percentage of children are even in school (unionized states tend to have lower dropout rates, which means more of the marginal students stay in the classroom and are tested).

    The point is, as a whole, the non-unionized states do far worse than the unionized ones. Gator’s conservative blogger found a way to slice the data to hide that fact — just as conservative pundidiots have found ways to pretend that people in public sector unions are overpaid. That this particular way of slicing the data also reinforces conservative racial stereotypes is simply delicious frosting.

  56. mclever says:

    Thanks for the insults, Gator. Way to ensure that I no longer take your points seriously.

    It has nothing to do with whether or not I like the results, but rather to do with the well-known (amongst those of us who’ve worked in education) notion that socioeconomic status correlates very strongly with educational achievement for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with either inability of the pupils or inadequacy of the teachers themselves. Race often correlates as well, but usually as a subset of socioeconomic status. Once socioeconomic status is taken into consideration, race adds very little additional information to the analysis.

    Therefore, I question the break-out by race. I understand why it’s done that way for *political* reasons, but that doesn’t mean it has actual merit for evaluating the true performance of the schools.

    Furthermore, throwing numbers up there about a specific union state vs. a specific non-union state and pretending that 1) union status is the complete explanation for the difference and 2) that these two states are somehow sufficient representatives of all union and non-union states is simply disingenuous. What are the comparable teacher salaries? What’s the student-to-teacher ratio? How current are the textbooks? How well-maintained are the facilities? How much is spent per pupil? How many computers per student in the school(s)? How much variance is there within the state? What about the least performing district vs. the best performing district? Are you controlling for educational attainment of the parents? Are you controlling for average college enrollment for the district?

    I’m sure I could come up with more variables that would need to be accounted for and controlled for in order to weed out whether or not unionization of the teachers actually has any measurable impact on the performance of the students, but I think I’ve made my point.

    I look forward to seeing Michael’s analysis, because I suspect that unionization itself would have negligible impact on student success. I predict that more important will be $ spent per pupil, educational attainment of the parents, and socioeconomic status.

  57. rgbact says:

    Mc-

    Didn’t mean to imply that states are purposely gaming their test takers. I agree, its more just your other reasons why these tests are stressed. “Cherry picking” is more the result, not an actual policy.

    I’d like to think states encourage diversity–but the numbers don’t lie. Iowa is 94% white. Texas is 74%.

  58. Gator says:

    mclever I have a serious question for you . You seem as if you try to be reasonable even when you disagree.
    So here is my question- Why, when confronted with data that doesn’t support what you believe, is your first response to impugn the data? Why would your first response not be “Maybe my preconceptions are wrong and I need to look at this again”? Given that those were the NAEP numbers and that they are valid as such, instead of trying to dispute the ‘interpretation’ of the data, data that is the standard for the evaluation of schools and districts, why wouldn’t you have the intellectual honesty to at least consider the possibility that your preconceptions, your biases were wrong?

    Instead of taking that course, you instead suggest that maybe the data needs to be put through more screening. Got to try a different filter hoping it will fall in line with your preconceptions. Step back for a moment and be open to the possibilty that what you have been told is wrong. That maybe your preconceptions aren’t really that valid.

    That if SOMETHING is wrong, is it more likely to be the NAEP data, or your biases and assumptions?

  59. Gator says:

    mclever if I insulted you please accept my apology. No offense was meant. Truly sorry.

  60. mclever says:

    rgbact,

    To decide if a state is “encouraging” diversity or not, perhaps it’s better to look at trends. Ten years ago, Iowa was 98% white, and the cities such as Ames, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport have all significantly increased their minority populations in recent years. The fact is that, whether Iowa has a welcoming policy or not, most of Iowa simply isn’t attractive to new residents regardless of race, because broad swaths of cornfields usually see younger people leaving rather than coming.

    What’s the ethnic breakdown in Illinois, for example? It’s supposedly the most-typical state in the union, with the same ratios of racial, socioeconomic, urban/rural, poor/rich, etc. as the nation as a whole.

    Is that because Illinois “encourages” diversity? Or is it because a big city like Chicago attracts more immigrants of all races?

  61. Gator says:

    mclever this was in the original post:

    “Please note: this has nothing to do with innate ability or aptitude. Quite to the contrary, I believe the test gap between minority students and white students can be attributed to differences in socioeconomic status. And poverty. And yes, racism. And yes, family structure. “

  62. shortchain says:

    So what I’m taking away from all of this is that Gator doesn’t think the results have anything to do with much of anything, union versus non-union, or race makeup, or any of those things. In fact, it’s a sample so small and corrupted by factors that are not understood — least of all by the author — that it’s entirely noise.

    But he copied and pasted the whole damned thing anyway.

    Now you know why I scroll past his comments.

  63. mclever says:

    Gator,

    Two things:

    1) It’s human nature when confronted with information that conflicts with pre-established beliefs to first reject the new information. I try very hard to guard against that tendency, but I can’t deny that it exists in all of us.

    2) I don’t question the NAEP data itself. (Well, OK, I have some questions about the way the tests are conducted, especially in Texas, because I saw some horrible data manipulation of school test results going on down there when I lived there, but that’s not really my point here.) My point is that I question the way the numbers are being used and manipulated. When presented with any alleged statistics, I always question the way those numbers are being treated and whether or not they can possibly show what they purport to show.

    In the specific case of the racial comparison across state lines, this is a topic that I have confronted and discussed with other educators and those who study school achievement, so I am familiar with some of the arguments already. Race gets put under a microscope for political reasons, but really it’s socioeconomic status that tends to be a stronger predictor of academic success (for a variety of correlated reasons). Therefore, comparing racial performances across state lines isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison if taken out of context.

  64. Gator says:

    Michael,

    I look forward to your input. Show me where he was wrong if you can.

    mclever

    To expand, I agree with you that it is socioeconomic differences that underlie the scores. Availability of books, intenet access, computers in the home and on and on that are all $ related. Nonetheless the NAEP data is what it is. And it CLEARLY shows that Texas out performs. And of course there are many things that COULD be adjusted for. Hell, you could argue the day of the week for testing was the culprit. Ultimately you have to look at what the avalable data tells you. And the available data is pretty clear. Again, apologies if you thought I was being unkind. Didn’t mean to be.

  65. mclever says:

    Gator,

    Yes, your original post referenced socioeconomic status, but in the context of explaining the gap between minority and white performance. I may have misunderstood you, but you don’t appear to be taking that into account for explaining the differences in white-vs-white or minority-vs-minority scores across states.

    Consider that in primarily white states, there are still impoverished people. If there aren’t any minorities there to be the impoverished, then those are necessarily mostly white people, which would drag down the “white” scores in the mostly white states. Similarly, in states with very high populations of minorities, some significant portion of those minorities will be high-achievers and will be middle-to-upper class rather than being the stereotypical impoverished or lower-working class. Therefore, in states with high populations of minorities, the average scores of minorities might be artificially inflated by the larger number who are in a higher socioeconomic status. Furthermore, if those white states are really as lily-white as you suggest, then it’s possible that there are insufficient numbers of minorities to get a reasonable statistical assessment of their performance, because it won’t be possible to get a comparable representative sample that you’d find in states with larger minority populations. The results could be wildly unpredictable in either direction in that case.

  66. Gator says:

    SC as I said to Max… pretty easy, just scroll on past. But that would mean not responding to my posts so you need to work on that. Why would you make it a point to respond to my post to say that you don’t respond to my posts.? Idiot!

  67. mclever says:

    Gator,

    Nonetheless the NAEP data is what it is. And it CLEARLY shows that Texas out performs.

    No, it doesn’t. It clearly shows that if you compare racial segments against racial segments, that Texas appears to be outperforming in some areas.

    However, taken in aggregate, Texas is still near the bottom educationally, so to consider the state with the 47th best overall scores to be “outperforming” seems to be missing the forest for the trees.

  68. Gator says:

    mclever

    I didn’t suggest that those states are lilly white. I posted an excerpt from IowaHawks blog. The numbers were what interested me. Still do. But the words were his, not mine.

    Am I forgiven for my inadvertent faux pas? I hate when women are angry with me. Conversely, I LOVE pissing guys off!

  69. Gator says:

    mclever

    The 47th ranking is based on SAT/ACT scores. That was his entire point. That ranking is disingenous and wrong. Talk about forest/trees! Gotta’ run. Back later. Please forgive me. 😦

  70. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    All this talk about union vs non-union and test data is merely OK. But perhaps the single most important factor is the PARENTS and the degree of “encouragement” they provide.

    Here’s a study that looks at that component.

    See also: “tiger moms”.

  71. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    sc,

    Gator: “SC as I said to Max… “. And as I said to Gator: “An unchallenged assertion may stand as fact. Thus I reserve the right to so challenge. Once that has been done, it is up to the original asserter to dispute the new assertion, else THAT now stands as the prevalent opinion.”

    Debate 101, aka courtroom testimony, direct and cross examination.

  72. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    BTW, in a partial answer to Gator’s question to mc:

    because experience has shown that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

    Simply posting raw data without any additional context CAN BE, and many times IS, essentially asking for trouble, as that raw data can be used to say almost whatever you want it to say.

    Only when the full data is put into context, with the various forms of analysis performed, can that data have real meaning.

    One of the FIRST and MOST important things one is taught in a Statistics class is WHICH of the various tests and analyses are most valid for the data.

  73. mclever says:

    Gator,

    If I withhold forgiveness, does that mean you’ll behave better? 😉

    I accept your apology as sincere. I’m probably just a tad hypersensitive today. (Pet at vet…minor surgery…makes me tetchy…) However, I don’t appreciate the double-standard even if it appears to favor me. We should all endeavor to treat everyone well, regardless of perceived gender.

    Also, my point in reviving the original SAT/ACT numbers is that they are also part of the picture. No, they obviously don’t tell the whole story, but you also can’t just dismiss the near-bottom performance of Texas students with a wave of NAEP data. Both pieces of information are important in forming an understanding of how schools are performing.

  74. mclever says:

    @Max

    Simply posting raw data without any additional context CAN BE, and many times IS, essentially asking for trouble, as that raw data can be used to say almost whatever you want it to say.

    Absolutely. And that was precisely my point to Gator, was that essential context was obviously missing from the NAEP numbers that he cited. (Context is missing from raw ACT/SAT scores, too.)

  75. Gator says:

    mclever

    No, nothing will make me behave. And I am very simpatico with your pet worries.

    You said:”And that was precisely my point to Gator, was that essential context was obviously missing from the NAEP numbers that he cited. ”

    So provide the context. Whatever else you may contend, you have shown nothing to counter the numbers I posted. You have explained why you question the conclusion but you have done nothing to refute it. Spewing tired statistics class lecture material does not suffice. Show something that uses data and facts to refute the ‘raw’ data that I posted.

  76. rgbact says:

    I’ll bet Nate Silver could crunch some of those education numbers. At least Nate uses his number crunching ability to provide some insights into data. Paul Krugman provides the same deep analysis I’d expect from Ed Schultz. Whats the point in having a PhD commentator if all you get is low level hackery? Too bad Nate isn’t as bombastic as Krugman–so he could replace him as a commentator. Sums up our problems—bombast beats smarts.

  77. Gator says:

    mclever you said: “However, I don’t appreciate the double-standard even if it appears to favor me. We should all endeavor to treat everyone well, regardless of perceived gender.”

    It doesn’t appear to favor you, it does favor you. I have absolutely no doubt that you are a woman. Your syntax and the way you process information makes that abundantly clear. Your approach and take on many subjects also illustrate your gender. And sorry, but I like women substantially better than men as a general rule.
    Certainly for the obvious reasons (ya’ll look real purty and ya’ smell delicious), but also because I find that women’s minds are far more complex and interesting than men’s. The average man is a feckless dolt in my not very humble opinion. Obviously there are exceptions to both rules.

    So you’re getting preferential treatment whether you like it or not. 🙂

    Heading out for cocktails soon. I may not make it back until much later but I’ll be looking for your posts, Michael. Rip those #s up, slick!

  78. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Gator,

    Have a Rob Roy (Glenlivet) and put it on my tab.

  79. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Oh, and an extra dash of bitters!

  80. mclever says:

    @Gator

    Hmph. I’m a little surprised that you decided I was female based on the content of what I’ve written, because most people seem to assume that I’m male based on my math/science geekiness and sports addictions.

  81. Gator says:

    Patron y Modelo… nada mas, nada menos

    mclever are you upset because I was right or because I was wrong? Never mind, I’m never wrong… am I?

  82. mclever says:

    @Gator

    So provide the context. Whatever else you may contend, you have shown nothing to counter the numbers I posted. You have explained why you question the conclusion but you have done nothing to refute it.

    I’m telling you is that you haven’t proven your assertion, which is sufficient “refutation.” I’ve explained why I don’t take your claims about what the NAEP numbers show at face value. That’s all I intended to do, because I’m not the one claiming that one state’s schools are better than the other. If you want to convince me that Texas schools are substantially better than Wisconsin schools (considering that I have some experience with the relative quality of both of those states’ education systems), I’ve explained to you the types of data you would need to take into consideration in order for your analysis to actually have meaningful merit.

    Until then, it’s just a bunch of smoke being blown around, and I’m not in the mood to start my own fires.

  83. dcpetterson says:

    Some interesting rumors regarding the Wisconsin attempt to destroy public employee unions. There may be some movement in the coming days: “four moderate Republicans are wavering and could break with the GOP and vote against Walker’s budget repair bill.” That would be enough to kill it, or at least to seriously change it. The author of the linked article says:

    … there are two points worth making. The first is that the drumbeat of polls showing strong opposition to Walker’s rollback of bargaining rights may be starting to shift the landscape. … The key here is that public opinion on this standoff has caught a lot of people off guard.

    Also: If the reports above are true, that could bear out the notion, articulated to me earlier today by a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, that Republicans are well aware that Walker’s impending layoffs could damage them more than Dems. … That may well be spooking Republicans who continue to stand by Walker.

    … the drive to recall GOP senators has also picked up in the last few days. So you have pressure on numerous fronts.

    Rumors like these, even if not true, will stiffen the resolve of those opposed to Walker’s bill. The Republicans have managed to really galvanize the unions. 2012 is likely to be very, very different from 2010.

  84. Gator says:

    mclever I disagree.

    They are apples to apples comparisons on the NAEP assessment tests along ethnic breakdowns. You may not like what they show. You may not agree with what they show. But they are most assuredly not smoke. And whatever you profess, you have provided nothing but your opinion. Maybe Michael can be your champion and find a problem on which to hang your objections. At this point you only have “I don’t like these stinky numbers!” Sorry that ain’t gonna’ cut it.

    BTW, I was asking if I was wrong on your gender. I KNOW I’m right about the data. I didn’t need clarification there.

  85. dcpetterson says:

    mclever, Gator is like to merely continue claiming victory and insulting anyone who doesn’t acknowledge his ironclad proof, despite having had many problems with his argument clearly pointed out. (And, of course, it’s not really even “his argument” at all, since all he did was cut and paste someone else’s argument. Perhaps you’ll get more of a response if he can find yet another conservative commentator to also cut-and-paste from. But not otherwise.) Getting into those sorts of discussions is like getting mired in a swamp. Not really worth the effort.

  86. filistro says:

    mc… it appears Gator has decided you’re a woman because you’re really, really smart, and he believes women’s mental processes are “more complex and interesting” than men’s.

    That could well be true. Maybe all the really smart people are women. However, I have to say that’s causing me some distress as I struggle to revise my mental image of… say, shortchain… and introduce slingback heels and a little black dress to that picture.

  87. filistro says:

    And people wonder why I love my Freepers so much!

    Just caught this gem over there…

    Fifty Reasons Sarah Palin will Run For president

    Really… where else could you get that much entertainment for free? 🙂

  88. filistro says:

    I think my personal favorite is #24:

    24)SARAH PALIN HAS THE STRATEGIC MIND OF A WARRIOR GENERAL; THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE WILL ALLOW HER TO UTILIZE HER TALENTS TO THE FULLEST

    Everyone needs an arena or outlet to display the God-given talents their Creator has bestowed on them.

  89. dcpetterson says:

    @filistro – LOL!

    Man, those Freepers are fun!

    Thanks, I needed some giggles 🙂

  90. dcpetterson says:

    one of my faves —

    12)BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN A EXECUTIVE (GOVERNOR) AND KNOWS SHE CAN DO THE JOB AS PRESIDENT

    Sarah Palin knows she will not become a victim of the Peter Principle if she becomes President

    If she does as well, we’ll have a new president two years after the election anyway.

  91. dcpetterson says:

    @filistro
    I struggle to revise my mental image of… say, shortchain… and introduce slingback heels and a little black dress to that picture.

    Some guys look pretty good that way. Just sayin’.

  92. Gator says:

    Fili said: “causing me some distress as I struggle to revise my mental image of… say, shortchain… and introduce slingback heels and a little black dress to that picture.”

    Eeewwwww! Eewww, EEEEEEEEEEEEEUUUUUUUUUWWWW! retch, hack, retch… Oh God I’m blind… thank you!

  93. filistro says:

    @DC… Sarah Palin knows she will not become a victim of the Peter Principle if she becomes President

    Jeez… How did I miss that one??!!!

    I’ve thought many times that Sarah Palin is a classic, living, breathing, flesh-and-blood EMBODIMENT of the Peter Principle.

  94. filistro says:

    Gator, stop barfing all over your pretty pink silk blouse. Those delicate ruffles are so hard to launder.

  95. Monotreme says:

    I said earlier:

    Thanks for proving what we know already, that standardized tests (most especially ACT and SAT scores) are a poor metric for school performance.

    I’m repeating myself only because one of the posters here doesn’t seem to understand what I am saying.

    Standardized tests including the NAEP are a poor metric for school performance.

    Not just my opinion:

    http://edr.sagepub.com/content/20/3/19.extract

  96. mclever says:

    @filistro

    I once knew a woman named Michael. She was pretty smart, too.

  97. dcpetterson says:

    @mclever
    I once knew a woman named Michael. She was pretty smart, too.

    I knew a woman named Keith. She was a computer programmer, and damn good at it.

  98. Gator says:

    Treme

    Huh, go figure. Educators not liking the assessment test that measures their performance. SHOCKING! LMAO! It is simply your opinion and the opinion of the person who wrote that piece. nothing even resembling data there. Nice try though.

    Fili

    I look quite fetching in pink! I have a pink Polo shirt that is one of my faves.

  99. mclever says:

    I have two friends named Brett and Geoff who got married recently. One of them is a woman, but I’ll not say which!

  100. filistro says:

    @Gator… I have a pink Polo shirt that is one of my faves.

    And I bet it has a teeny-tiny Gator embroidered on the pocket.

    Nevertheless…

  101. mclever says:

    @Gator

    And whatever you profess, you have provided nothing but your opinion.

    If I submit an article to a science journal, and the reviewer comes back with “you haven’t proven your assertion because you overlooked X, Y, and Z,” then my article doesn’t get published. Of course, that’s just the reviewer’s “opinion,” but there isn’t a need to refute something if the evidence is insufficient to support the conclusion.

    Oh, and I second what Monotreme said about standardized testing…

  102. mclever says:

    @filistro

    Pink Gator

  103. dcpetterson says:

    mclever,

    The funny thing is, the NAEP data actually includes stuff that would at least partially address your concerns. Some of it even supports Gator’s position. But as I said, he’d rather ridicule and and continue to claim victory — or post other people’s arguments — than actually do the work required to give a thoughtful and reasoned argument of his own. I wonder why? (that’s a serious question — I’m at a loss.)

  104. filistro says:

    LOL at the Pink Gator!

    Also interesting to note that the bikini-clad gator has no belly button. Of course they wouldn’t, right?… being reptiles and all. No need for a navel if you hatch from an egg.

    Which urgently begs the question (sorry, mclever ;-))… do monotremes have belly buttons?

    And does that constitute thread-hijacking?

  105. Monotreme says:

    OK, Gator. I’ll play.

    I assert that NAEP and other standardized tests are not valid for state-by-state comparisons. You assert that they are.

    The tote board currently reads

    On my side: one peer-reviewed article by a professional educator, and two educators who don’t use the NAEP but are familiar with it. Also, the existence of a multi-billion dollar Federal program which is apparently designed to correct the deficiencies in the current system.

    On your side: a bunch of right-wing bloggers who have cut and pasted the opinion of another right-wing blogger.

    So, specify what evidence you would like to see in order to be convinced of my assertion. Tell me what evidence would change your mind.

  106. Monotreme says:

    You can’t hijack a FFF thread.

    Monotremes have no placenta, therefore no umbilical cord, therefore no umbilicus (belly button).

    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  107. mclever says:

    @dcpetterson

    Maybe that was my mistake. I assumed that Gator had crunched the numbers himself, so it should have been easier for him to replace the race comparisons with socioeconomic comparisons to answer my questions. But if he hasn’t done any of the work either…

    It’s not just the ACT/SAT scores that are the counter-weight to his assertion that Texas is so much better than Wisconsin. Only if you parse it out by race do you see that. If you go by the overall scores, say for 4th graders in science, Texas gets 148 and Wisconsin gets 157, which should suggest that Wisconsin is objectively better. If we switch to look at low family income, then Wisconsin 4th graders with low family income get 141 on average, compared to 135 in Texas.

    Again, forest and trees…

  108. mclever says:

    @Monotreme

    You would be the expert on whether or not platypi have belly buttons!

    (Since they lay eggs, my guess would be not. I also understand that they secrete milk through the skin without defined nipples.)

  109. Monotreme says:

    By the way, Gator asserts:

    Educators not liking the assessment test that measures their performance. SHOCKING! LMAO! It is simply your opinion and the opinion of the person who wrote that piece.

    Maybe you would like to check Koretz’ CV before you try to defend this assertion. His performance assessment is not tied to the NAEP. Rather, he is one of the designers of the NAEP. He is a Harvard faculty member, not a schoolteacher.

    http://www.gse.harvard.edu/faculty_research/profiles/cv/daniel_koretz.pdf

    Perhaps it is his (peer-reviewed) opinion, but I’d say this person’s opinion would be weighted more heavily in a courtroom than say, your cousin Bob the Blogger.

  110. mclever says:

    I should be clear in my above post regarding the scores between Wisconsin and Texas 4th graders, that those values are taken directly from the NAEP website.

  111. Monotreme says:

    Mclever,

    For the epistemically closed, there are no facts, just competing opinions.

    http://bit.ly/fEjamO

  112. filistro says:

    George Will’s weekend column (syndicated in, like 500 newspapers) is going to explicitly address the ugly things Mike Huckabee has been saying this week, and go on to SLAM the right-wing crazies, birthers, bigots, bible-thumpers and assorted yahoos.

    The thrust of Will’s article is that the four or five serious Republican contenders who actually would have the ability to run the country.. and do it well… are going to be diminished and besmirched by a primary process that gives a forum to those “so-called contenders for the nomination” whom (his words) “serious American voters would not entrust with the operation of a lemonade stand, let alone the nuclear weapons codes.”

    Chris Matthews points out that if the serious contenders DO suffer because of what the crazies are out there saying, it serves them right… because they could step up anytime and show some courage, reject the ugliness within their own party and elevate the political dialog… but they won’t do it, and so they deserve the political storm that is gathering against them.

  113. dcpetterson says:

    @filistro

    I’ve never liked George Will very much. But I’ve always thought he’s pretty smart. Which is part of why I don’t like him much — he is so frequently so obviously blind and wrong that he makes smart people look bad.

    But in this case, it sounds like he has found the nail, and whacked its head good. The crazies are going to be out in force, and are likely to destroy the chances of any Republican who can be a serious Presidential candidate.

    And Matthews has it right in spades. The Republicans deserve it, if they’re too spineless to stand up to the vileness and the nonsense.

    Add to that having Obama on the ballot again, and the resurgent energy of unions following the attempted nationwide union-busting from stupendously over-reaching Republican governors, and we’re likely to see some substantial Democratic gains, and another Presidential landslide.

  114. mclever says:

    @Monotreme

    Excellent opinion column from the DMN. My spouse is a professor who likewise bemoans the lack of critical thought from students and tries to remedy that by designing classes that force the kids to engage in actual analysis of information rather than just rote homework and regurgitation. (Because I was an education major, I was a significant participant in helping to design the approach and suggest methods to get the kids to think beyond the words on the page.) A lot of times, the topics discussed have more than one “right” answer. Based on the class reviews, at least some of the students really appreciate this approach.

    Comments like, “Thanks for teaching us how to think critically, Prof M.”

  115. mclever says:

    @filistro

    I look forward to reading George Will’s column. I don’t often agree with him, but I do respect his intelligence. This sounds like one of those times I’ll be agreeing with him.

    Chris Matthews is also right, that if the “serious” contenders are all too cowardly to call out the nonsense, then they get what they deserve.

  116. filistro says:

    DC… you’re right… it’s taking on the early feeling of a perfect storm.

    An improving economy, a popular president, a proliferation of totally batshit crazy Republicans being given a national voice, growing public tolerance on divisive social issues, the resurgence of unions (people don’t really understand how FURIOUS and ENERGIZED the unions are now, roaring back full force after a couple of years of ennui)… and something I predicted months ago, which is that people are suddenly beginning to understand with brutal clarity that Republicans want to cut Grandma’s social security, collective bargaining rights and their kid’s teacher… but fought tooth and nail to preserve tax cuts for the richest Americans.

    I really think we are going to witness… wait for it….

    a bloodbath of historic proportions!

    Election night 2012 will be, I suspect, a Night to Remember 🙂

  117. dcpetterson says:

    Yes, filsitro – and add to that, Republicans want to re-instate the ability of insurance companies to deny benefits when you need them the most, and to restore pre-existing condition exclusions, and to put caps back on annual and lifetime payments for treatment — and also to infringe your right to sue for damages — I don’t think the public will stand for this nonsense.

    All the while digging us deeper into debt by, as you say, continuing to cut taxes for the wealthy, while pretending they give a damn about the deficit.

    Plus, killing Big Bird, denying health care to poor women, and shutting off environmental cleanups. Oh, and opposing repeal of DOMA.

    That they have done nothing to improve the jobs market, which is what they ran on in 2010, is going to be painfully obvious, even as the unemployment rate improves. Obama will get the credit, since the Republicans are quite proud of having done nothing. Their very loud substitution of divisive social issues for any attempt to improve the economy is going to really hurt them.

    I think you’re right — Nov 2012 will be a fun month.

  118. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    20 months amounts to SEVERAL eternities in politics.

    That said, short of a dead girl or live boy in the bed, my money is on the incumbent.

  119. GROG says:

    Fili, I love you but I need to set you straight on a couple things.

    1) Economy/Jobs. DC likes to ask “Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?” Well, see your comments on the Feb jobs report upthread. Well done Mr. Boehner.
    2) to preserve tax cuts for the richest Americans. See Feb. jobs report. Well done Mr. Boehner.
    3) Unions. Union membership is at an all time low and getting lower. Only 7.6% of private sector workers are unionized. The 30% of government workers who are unionized have been out in Ohio and Wisconsin saying to the private sector workforce…

    “I know we make more money and have better benefits than you but that’s because we’re smarter, more educated, and more skilled. Please work a little harder so you can continue to pay our higer salaries and better benifits.”

    Won’t go over well in the long run.

    4) Obama’s approval rating according to Gallup has gone from 51% to 45% since he took the side of the union in Wisonsin.

    5) Social Security. Republicans are not going to take old people’s social security. They have however, shown they have caveman like balls (unlike any Democrat) to actually deal with entitlement spending. Our federal budget has doubled in 10 years and we still have Democrats claiming we don’t have a spending problem. That’s why Republicans were voted in in the tsunami election of 2010. Elections have consequences.

  120. mclever says:

    @filistro

    You know I love your optimism, but it’s a little early to be predicting anything significant about the election. A lot can happen in 20 months.

  121. filistro says:

    @mc… A lot can happen in 20 months.

    I know that’s the conventional wisdom… but I think it’s different this time, for various reasons (some of which I have already enumerated.)

    For instance, I have a prodigious imagination and have been writing fiction for a long time, but even I would have a hard time creating a scenario that would result in significant Dem losses in the next election. There are too many variables that would need to be present but aren’t. You couldn’t write them in….

    1.) This president is abnormally steady, sober and careful… not at all given to drama, scandal, impulsiveness or costly game-changing missteps. Just not gonna happen.

    2.) Public opinion is not on the side of social conservatives who are the most powerful force in the party at the moment, and will continue to be for at least a few more years.

    3.) There is no goodwill toward the Republicans in this election cycle from the key voting blocs of Hispanics, women, blacks, unions, gays or working people… and there is not enough time (or inclination) for the Republicans to develop that goodwill

    4.) Most imprtantly, the Republicans do not have a candidate. By now it’s clear they will not find one. They will ultimately choose Romney and he will be angrily rejected by the social conservatives, causing a destructive split in the party. It will be a wipeout.

    Everybody says 18 months is an eternity in politics. The other side of that coin is that 18 months is a very brief period… much too brief for the Republicans to solve the systemic problems that are going to cost them so dearly in this election.

  122. dcpetterson says:

    GROG,
    1) Economy/Jobs. Mr Boehnor made it plain the Republicans are not doing anything to improve the jobs situation. Republicans insist the economy should take care of itself. So any improvement is due to what the Democrats did before the Republicans took over the House. Well done, Mr. Obama.

    2) to preserve tax cuts for the richest Americans. Adding $400 billion to the federal deficit. And doing not a thing to help the economy, since the people they gave the cuts to are already sitting on $2 trillion. The naked greed and hypocrisy of the Republicans could not be more plain.

    3) Unions. Yes, union membership is declining. That doesn’t mean people don’t recognize the gains unions have given us. Polls show that Americans, 2 to 1, disapprove of the Republican attempts to destroy the unions. Too bad for youse guys. No one buys your spin.

    4) Obama’s approval rating is still 10 points above where Reagan’s was at this point in his first term.

    5) Social Security contributes not a dime to the deficit or the debt. Republican efforts to gut the most successful Federal program in history are not going to go over well for them, despite their lies about budget impact. It isn’t about the budget, since Republicans don’t care about deficits (see point number 2). It’s about a narrow far-right-wing social agenda, which We The People categorically reject.

  123. rgbact says:

    Nothing to improve jobs? We just had our best jobs report in two years one month after GOP takes over. Sometimes it doesn’t take a govt program—just employers feeling better about the future.

    Still looks bad for the Dems. 15 vulnerable Senate seats –6 have already retired. Gonna be interesting to watch how these senators try to make deals to save themselves in the CR negotitations over the next 2 weeks. Don’t see how they stand tough against cuts and answer for a $1.6T deficit. Hopefullly it gets more discussion on this blog–although I can understand wanting to talk about gay marriage instead.

  124. rgbact,

    Hopefullly it [the budget battle] gets more discussion on this blog–although I can understand wanting to talk about gay marriage instead.

    Don’t worry, I’ll be writing more on the budget. But it probably won’t generate the kind of traffic that red-meat topics such as gay marriage or abortion do. Perhaps we need some stories on Charlie Sheen. 8)

  125. dcpetterson says:

    rgbact:
    Nothing to improve jobs?

    That’s right. Nothing. Nada.

    15 vulnerable Senate seats –6 have already retired.

    And the Republicans look to set loonie right-wing primary challenges against maybe 6 of their incumbents. Could be a wash. And by the way, out of Senators up for reelection, a bigger percentage of Republicans than Democrats have announced the intent to retire.

    Don’t see how they stand tough against cuts and answer for a $1.6T deficit.

    It helps that the Republican-recommended cuts clearly have nothing to do with the deficit, and everything to do with nutty social agendas. People aren’t stupid enough to think you can get $1.6 T in cuts out of a $400 billion discretionary budget. So Republicans either get to agree to tax increases, or try to gut Social Security (which contributes nothing to the deficit), or Medicare (which will lose them their core over-50 vote), or admit they really don’t care about deficits (since they run up deficits whenever they’re in charge, as we’ve seen for 30 years.)

    Governor Walker proved that Republicans intentionally create deficits in order to push their lunatic social ideas. We won’t forget that.

    Hopefullly it gets more discussion on this blog

    Sure hope so. The Republicans look really bad on this issue.

    –although I can understand wanting to talk about gay marriage instead.

    Instead? Certainly not. Although the rights of fellow citizens matter to me. Not to conservatives, I understand.

  126. JC2 says:

    @Michael –
    I have a ton to do today, but I do intend to run some analyses on the underlying data shortly. I’ll report what I find.

    I understand how busy your schedule may be, and will be very impressed if you can locate the required raw data at all. That said, with two kids currently employed in education and a personal interest in public/civil service relationships, I will be hanging on the edge of my seat until you bring closure on this. But, hey no pressure from me…

    @Filestro – It is so very nice to have you back. I hope you enjoyed your vacation to the maximum! Some voices come and go and are not missed so much but I truly missed yours.

    On the topic of Freeper.com, I comprehend the affinity for #24 but have to wonder if #25 and it;s supporting comment got lost in the belly laugh emanating from #24.

    To wit: #25) TO LEGITIMIZE AND MOTIVATE THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT

    If the TP does not have have a candidate it can truly rally around with enthusiasm, it could eventually not have the impact in the 2012 election that our side needs to win and eventually die off.

    I especially like the part about “our sides need to win and eventually die off.”

    Tia

  127. Whatevs says:

    rgbact

    Please tell me you understand that the jobs report was a report of the previous month the majority of which was before the Republicans started meddling with things. If Scott Walker and the Rethug Govs have thier way, that number will go back up.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/opinion/05sat2.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  128. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    rg,

    Not to sound snarky, but you spin a good GOP talking point. Very similar to the article in the current NYT on the rising costs of healthcare. Here’s the link to the Robert pear article, but I’ll quote one paragraph:

    health insurance costs are still rising, particularly for small businesses. Republicans are seizing on the trend as evidence that the new law includes expensive features that are driving up premiums. But the insurance industry says premiums are rising primarily because of the underlying cost of care and a growing demand for it.

    So the GOP is spinning for political purpose. But it’s not the Dems that rebut them, it’s the insurance companies!

  129. rgbact says:

    Thanks MW. Yep, sadly “red meat” is easier to explain in the media. Only us nerds like the number crunching debates I guess.

    I do think Dems are winning the media battle on budgetcutting, as all the focus is on WI, where their case seems more sympathetic. Every day DC Senate Dems can avoid media is a win imo.

    DC-Good point on GOP primaries. Watching Orrin Hatch these days is pretty fun. Overall, its pretty interesting to monitor how Senators up for reelection react in the coming weeks. Do you think any Dems may face primaries if they cave to big cuts?

  130. filistro says:

    @JC… Some voices come and go and are not missed so much but I truly missed yours.

    Thank you so much! I was touched when I read that. You know, I am often tormented by insecurity around here. I look at my four colleagues who are all calm, brilliant, balanced, data-driven guys with mountains of facts at their fingertips, and I’m reminded of the old Sesame Street bit where they would show an apple, a lemon, a banana and a harmonica, and sing:

    One of these things is not like the others
    One of these things just isn’t the same…

    We have a lot of very, very bright commenters, as well. It’s nice to know there’s still room (and tolerance) for a bit of silliness… 🙂

  131. Monotreme says:

    One of these things is not like the others…

    Yeah. I’m ineffably ugly.

  132. dcpetterson says:

    @rgbact
    Watching Orrin Hatch these days is pretty fun.

    Personally, I wouldn’t call it “fun,” but it is pretty interesting. McCain did the same thing, run very fast toward the right, in order to secure the Presidential nomination, and to retain his senate seat. I don’t know if it’ll work for Hatch or not. He’s pretty unpopular with the Teapers. Whatever happens, it’ll be a striking episode in modern American politics.

    Overall, its pretty interesting to monitor how Senators up for reelection react in the coming weeks. Do you think any Dems may face primaries if they cave to big cuts?

    I think it is possible, yes. In both parties, the base is the base. And the base tends to be more extreme than the majority of the rest of the party’s voters, more concerned with ideology and less concerned with pragmatism.

    OTOH, I don’t think the Democrats are quite as vulnerable to more extreme segments of their base as the Republicans are. I could be wrong on this, but I think the most vital lesson that Democrats learned from the ’08 – ’10 cycle is that, despite being Democrats, a little unity can be a good thing. What hurt Democrats in ’10 more than anything else was simply not standing together, and getting to the polls. I think most Democrats understand the importance of having candidates that appeal to the middle.

    In contrast, I think the lesson that the Tea Party learned from ’10 is to be ever-louder and more forceful in advancing their candidates and their agendas. I suspect ’10 emboldened them rather than chastising them, and they’ll feel encouraged to put forward more Christine O’Donnells and Joe Millers — who, in turn, will feel anxious to be even less inhibited about advancing very conservative social and economic policies.

  133. dcpetterson says:

    @Monotreme
    Yeah. I’m ineffably ugly.

    You can’t make statements like that without data. We need proof.

  134. Monotreme says:

    DC,

    All you are offering is assertions. If I say it, then it’s data.

  135. dcpetterson says:

    All you are offering is assertions. If I say it, then it’s data.

    Ah, irregular declension of nouns. If they do it, it’s bloviation.

  136. DC,

    Ah, irregular declension of nouns.

    It’s not necessarily an irregular declension of a noun. He might have just neglected to capitalize the D when he referred to Data.

  137. Pingback: The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Traffic | 538 Refugees

  138. rgbact says:

    DC-

    Blanche Lincoln nearly got primaried and she was the only red state Dem running? This time there are 6. You really think there won’t be some backlash if say Claire McKaskill or Joe Manchin peels off and sign on for deeper cuts. Let alone what happens when they sign off on cuts in Soc Sec later this year. Will you still be calling for unity? Lotta tough votes coming up.

  139. Monotreme says:

    Sen. Lincoln was a dead woman walking. Nate and others had her at 100% chance of losing for some time. Therefore, the calculation was to have a progressive go down in flames, or have a moderate go down in flames.

    Further, the Democratic Party wanted to send her a message. She had an opportunity to straighten up and at least support the party in the Senate during her last few months in office; she declined to do so.

  140. JC2 says:

    @Filestro
    Thank you so much! I was touched when I read that.

    I almost missed your reply. You are very welcome!

    You know, I am often tormented by insecurity around here….

    Your quick wit, insight, humor and inclusiveness are part of the very foundation of this site. I swear I even saw Grog blush at one (some) of your comments a couple of threads back. Who else could accomplish that?

  141. filistro says:

    JC… I swear I even saw Grog blush at one (some) of your comments a couple of threads back.

    LOL!! Making GROG blush is one of my favorite things. He’s just so CUTE when he blushes…. 😉

    BTW, I fixed your html. What you’re doing is putting double codes at beginning and end. Our system just requires single codes with the backslash after the selected portion. bracket i bracket at the beginning, and bracket /i bracket at the end, if you get my drift. I’m probably not the best teacher, since I’m still learning myself.

    It’s lovely to have you posting. You’re so smart and well-informed (as well as really nice to me!) Welcome aboard, we want to see a lot more from you.

  142. JC2 says:

    @Filistro

    Thanks for fixing that and for the tips. Hopefully html will come back to me.

    You flatter me. I am not a stats person (not even political really) but I took math and physics classes at a university in Hoosier country. Learned just enough to appreciate the pure genius of how the original 538 crew used Fourier analysis techniques to take one of the rogue pollsters down.

    I might be tempted to post more often but I don’t have time to do pure research and the regulars here are so fast and thorough that anything I would know off-hand is usually brought up, dissected, analyzed and expounded on before I manage to plod through the articles.

    Don’t know why I am getting an occasional edgewise word in lately. The good news is, the view is usually pretty good from up here on the wall.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for your efforts.

  143. JC2,

    anything I would know off-hand is usually brought up, dissected, analyzed and expounded on before I manage to plod through the articles

    Happens to me, too. It’s intimidating in some ways, but I sure learn a ton hanging around here. Sometimes because of what I read from someone else, and other times because I read an assertion and just have to see if it’s true or misrepresentation.

  144. dcpetterson says:

    @rgbact
    You really think there won’t be some backlash if say Claire McKaskill or Joe Manchin peels off and sign on for deeper cuts. Let alone what happens when they sign off on cuts in Soc Sec later this year. Will you still be calling for unity? Lotta tough votes coming up.

    I did say that I think there may be primary challenges to Democrats who vote for deeper cuts. Take a look at my comment of March 5, 2011 at 07:56. I said “I think it is possible, yes,” and then I gave some deeper nuance.

    “…cuts for Soc Sec…” We’ll see how that comes out. Soc Sec has nothing whatever to do with the deficit, so with any luck, most Democrats will find a backbone and refuse to let it be cut. By the way, some of the suggested changes (such as raising the retirement age) I’m not sure would classify as “cuts.”

    And would I, personally, “still” be calling for “unity?” (I hadn’t been aware that I ever had been. I’d thought I’d said that Democrats in general may have taken this as a lesson from 2010 — which is different from me, personally, calling for unity.) Well, let’s see what the political climate is like, say, 18 months from now. In general, I’d rather have Senators who support progressive causes 80% or 90% of the time, rather than 0% of the time. I tend to be a pragmatist.

  145. Jc2 says:

    @Michael

    Happens to me, too. It’s intimidating in some ways, but I sure learn a ton hanging around here. Sometimes because of what I read fnrom someone else, and other times because I read an assertion and just have to see if it’s true or misrepresentation.

    It is intimidating in a lot of ways. And the checking and/or cross checking can be exhausting.

    That certainly slows me down, and I have to wonder how great is the effect on like minded thinkers who are quicker than me.

  146. Number Seven says:

    The crux of the buscuit is this: the Public Cons will always be envious of what progressive, liberal policies have accomlished. Social safety nets, putting men on the moon, etc.

  147. shortchain says:

    And now for something completely different.

    “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

    I’ve been expecting this for more than a decade. OK, that’s not strictly accurate: I’ve been hoping for this for more than a decade.

  148. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    sc,

    Yeah, we want to “kill all the lawyers”, except when we, or one of our familiy, gets on the hook, civilly or criminally, THEN we want the biggest, baddest, gun-slinging mothereffer we can afford!

    After all WE CHOSE to go the route of the adversarial courtroom to come to terms, versus just shooting the sumbitch!

  149. Mainer says:

    I have said for years an artifical reef made up of lawyers in cement overshoes would perhaps make a useful contribution to society but it would be years before any fish would use the reef. I have several lawyer and judge/exlawyer friends and I suspect they hate to see me arrive on occasion but we have had some great give and take sessions over the years. Lawyers provide a service for a fee and the good ones end to earn that fee. The prblem is the profession seems to be a sleeze magnet. For every good hard working officer of the court you get there appears to be 5 shysters just looking for a quick buck or a way to screw society.

    A funny story. Back a number of years I got called to testify for a former student and employee on a pretty major issue. When I got into court it occured to me that the jury was made up almost entirely of former students of former students parents (remember I live in a very small population rural area) this was a jury that knew me very well and actually almost across the board had good reason to trust me or that which I might say. The judge my chance was an old family friend of my dad and when I got on the stand and he realized who I was stopped the proceedings and pulled the prosecuter and the DA to the bench to inform them of such. The defense had no problem with itand the DA as much as told the judge “so what?” and the judge directed the proceedings to continue.

    The first thing the DA did was try to discredit me or show I had no standing in the matter. I’m telling you he pulled out all the stops because he most likely knew that if he could ditch me he had a win. The problem was he tried to use cute snarky linguistic games to do it in an effort to discredit me. I love word games and as it happened that was one of those days when all of the brain cells were up to the challenge. I suspect that when several veins in the lads forehead reached the point of explosion and his face color matched that of his power tie that he should have quit…..ah but he did not he decided to threaten me with a number of things that had no place in that setting. All this time I’m watching a jury that would have convicted him before they would have convicted the young lady on trial and he was too full of himself to even see it.

    Well long story short, the judge just allowed himself to dig his own prosecuritorial grave. The jury was out all of 15 minutes and came back in favor of my former student as they should have and after the trial I was given the rare opportunity to go back in chambers with the judge and both the DA and the defense attorney. I then learned that judges can be pretty hard on dip wad lawyers and DA’s as he carved both of them a new anal pore in my presence. I could not imagine why I was there. When he finished he turned to me and asked if I could have halted the whole trial had I been interviewed before hand? Well as it is quite impossible to be in two places at the same time the answer was yes. At that point I had to relate that I had tried to tell the DA’s office that they were barking up a stump but was blown off and that considering my back ground in the area and that the jury was made up entirely of people that knew and respected me his tactics had at best backfired.

    So are there lawyers that we could do with out????? Yup and the same goes for judges but it is the system we have and I think we had best stay with it. Oh and that DA he has since disapeared from the scene and the defense guy has since been removed from the lawyer roster……some thing about looting a trust fund he was supposed to be administering.

  150. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    Technology advances so fast, that people underestimate what computers can do, possibly because it wasn’t that long ago that the best computers were strictly computation machines fed by punch-cards. For at least ten years now, HR software companies have been using the “related concepts”-logic for resume searches. Resumix, for example, learns from repeated searches what terms tend to show up with the one that the searcher entered. So, “manager” as a search term will find resumes that describe a manager even if the word “manage” never appears. I can only imagine how that logic has continued to advance with the newer stuff, so I’m not surprised that this is making its way into the legal profession.

    What’s next? Artificial life? (Hello Issac Asimov!)

    Then, you’ll be telling us that aliens exist.

    Oh, wait, they do!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/digitaltrends/20110305/tc_digitaltrends/nasascientistfindsevidenceofalienlife

    😉

  151. shortchain says:

    Max,

    Hey, if a guy can’t quote Shakespeare, it’s a sorry world.

    What we really need is to ramp up the automation in the field of medicine a couple of orders of magnitude. Sure, you can google your symptoms, but what we really need is a website or group of websites that can be trusted. When that happens, the cost of medical care is likely to drop dramatically. Some insurance companies are trying, but we really need to get the medical profession on board and develop reliable programs for this. (They’re nibbling around the edges already.)

  152. mclever says:

    And, for a more skeptical look at the possibility of microbial alien fossils in rare meteorites:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/03/05/has-life-been-found-in-a-meteorite/

  153. mclever says:

    @shortchain

    Part of the problem with medical diagnostics (as I understand it) is that differentials for different conditions can seem remarkably similar and can only be properly diagnosed by some sort of test, such as a blood test. Plus, sometimes the patient doesn’t even realize they have a symptom that may be more readily apparent to their doctor.

    Still, I agree that it would be cost-beneficial overall if they could get WebMD or similar to be a better screener for “Do I really need to go to the Doc for this, or will chicken soup and a good night’s rest do the trick?”

  154. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    sc,

    It’s a sorry world.

    Why else do you think we have all these debates!!!!!

  155. filistro says:

    Speaking of “all these debates”…

    What the heck is THIS?

  156. mclever says:

    @filistro

    Regarding the Tribune article. It says: “A judge in a defamation case has ordered news media outlets in Indianapolis to reveal information that could help identify people who posted disparaging comments about an official on their online forums.” It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Should “cyberbullies” who post scurrilous information about someone online be protected from revealing their identities?

    Indianapolis has a “shield law” that says newsies don’t have to reveal their sources, but there’s an assumption that those sources are verified as valid by the news organization even if they remain anonymous in print. Also, in this country, we’ve also got the Constitutional right to know who our accusers are. Supposedly, people can’t be anonymously accused of crimes. While we all support freedom of speech, should slander and libel be covered under a cloak of anonymity?

    I know what I think, but it’ll be interesting to see what the courts finally decide.

  157. filistro says:

    @mc… “cyberbullies” who post scurrilous information

    As I read it, the commenter said the pol was “greedy” and “warranted investigation.”

    Is that information… or opinion?

  158. Monotreme says:

    I think you’d have a hard time making a libel case out of saying something “warranted investigation”.

    It sounds like a single judge who doesn’t understand the Internet.

  159. filistro says:

    Interesting to note, BTW, that the Frepeers are very exercised over this case in Indiana, and busy posting info on how to generate fake names, passwords and online I.D.’s

    I get the feeling all these angry old Teapers spend much of their day sitting at their computers and posting negative stuff about “lib’ruls, socialists and Marxist Obama” at hundreds of websites. If laws like this start passing, they’ll have nothing to do with their time.

    Imagine poor Pete Kent with his huge online attack network and his paranoid fear of being “outed.” He’s going to go nuts 🙂

  160. Monotreme says:

    If I weren’t afraid of being dooced, I’d use my real name.

  161. Monotreme says:

    “The Ad Hominem Fallacy Fallacy”

    http://plover.net/~bonds/adhominem.html

  162. mclever says:

    Monotreme,

    That plover.net link is awesome! I love how he spells out very clearly the difference between abuse and ad hominem.

  163. Monotreme says:

    mclever:

    You must be right, because you’re so beautiful.

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