Archive for: February, 2012

REPOST: Graphic.... Wednesdays: The 7 stages of grading

Feb 28 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

From roughly a year ago:

I'm not convinced I'm going to make it until Friday, so this is early.

1) Immobilization: "I can't believe how many tests I have to grade. Why did I do essays? Am I a masochist? I can wait a few days before dealing with those."

2) Denial: "Do I have a thick accent or speak in another language during class? The students don't seem to have understood anything I have said. Am I in the right country? Where am I?"

3) Anger: "Why are my students trying to kill me? We went over this concept for 20 minutes, had a lab on it, and 40% of the class gets the answer right?"

4) Bargaining: "Maybe if I grade a few, then reward myself with something, it won't be so bad. Three exams, then ice cream. Mmmm, ice cream."

5) Depression: "Why am I even doing this? Am I horrible teacher? Do they tune me out? And why did I eat so much ice cream?"

6) Testing: "Maybe if I curve juuuuust slightly, I'll avoid a riot."

7) Acceptance: "Whatever, it's one test. Where's the scotch?"

4 responses so far

Suddenly I'm a Santorum supporter

Feb 27 2012 Published by under [Politics]

Alright, I promise I'll back off the politics after this... for a bit. However, it is a dominant feature of the lives of most people in the US right now because, well, you can't interact with any news-bearing medium without being assaulted by the latest politico-gossip.

It's so dominant that it even came up in conversation with my Dad the other day. I'll confess that I have an aversion to discussing politics with my Dad but not for any particularly good reason. He's generally right-leaning on issues of finance, but luckily left leaning on social issues. Nevertheless, as he gets older and migrates towards that state when people stop caring whether they might offend someone by what they say, part of me is waiting for him to take an indefensible stance on some social issue. So far this hasn't happened but I can't help the feeling of unease I get when the conversation shifts to politics.

So last night I braced myself when the GOP primaries came up and cringed when he said casually "I'm hoping Santorum is the GOP candidate". All of a sudden I saw my fears being born out in front of me, leaving me puzzled as to how any non-religious, non-fanatical individual could throw support behind such insanity. I think he saw me recoil because he followed up with "If Santorum goes to the general election, he'll be the Mondale of this generation. It'll force the GOP to take a step back, regroup and re-evaluate where they have gotten themselves to at this point. It'll be the death blow for the vocal Tea Party faction because if the GOP wants to regain relevance, they are going to have to realize the the country doesn't want right wing extremism."

Well played, Dad. Well played.

Up to now I had been considering what would be the least bad option for a GOP candidate but perhaps the most bad option is, in fact, the best option for the country. The idea of Santorum parading around the country this summer talking about "values" still makes me want to vomit, but if the result is a landslide in November that forces a GOP do-over, I can carry a barf bag around with me for a few months.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go order a few dozen of these.

15 responses so far

Weekend work music (UPDATE)

Feb 25 2012 Published by under [Et Al]

Who doesn't need a little Icelandic inspiration in their office?

UPDATE: Maybe working too hard. Although I like the above song, this is the one I actually meant to post:

One response so far


Feb 24 2012 Published by under [Et Al]

FSP's blogroll post today got me thinking a bit about my own blogroll. I cleared out some deadwood in there and added a couple of blogs I've been reading regularly, but hadn't gotten to adding just yet.

While I like to keep the blogroll short and limited to blogs I regularly visit that are not on the Scientopia network, I am always open for suggestions. I know that I get into a rut of reading only those blogs that are familiar to me until I force myself to go look around a bit. I'll be keeping an eye on suggestions in FSP's comments, but feel free to leave suggestions here as well. I'll keep an eye on blogs that come up here.

8 responses so far

So where are the liberal Christians?

I rarely use this space to talk politics and almost never to discuss religion, but last night's GOP debate, and really everything about the Republican national party these days, has essentially made the two inseparable. I didn't watch the full debate last night because I feel the same way about those things as I do about punching myself in the face - it's pointless pain. I did, however, catch some snippets and read about it afterwards.

Make no mistake, these candidates terrify me. Primarily because the front-runners think that their personal religious beliefs should be the foundation that guides national policy for the next four years. We're not talking about their beliefs on the role of government in healthcare or in guiding economic policy, or even the role the US should play in global affairs. No, we are talking about the role they feel their religion plays in these arenas. And the worst part is these are the front-runners, so a lot of our country thinks this is a good approach.

Not too long I ran across the following, which sums up my thoughts pretty well:


In the coverage I read on last night's debate, one of the most striking statements was from Santorum, who said "You can't be a Christian and a liberal" (EDIT: I'm unclear whether this was stated by Santorum last night or just several times in the recent few years.). Now I'm no expert on religions, not at all. I have, however, read more of the Bible than I would have liked and it seems to me that that Jesus dude was pretty liberal. Something about helping the poor and giving up material goods for the benefit of the downtrodden. I realize of course, that mainstream US Catholicism likes their idea of who Jesus was much more than what the Bible says he actually did, but has it gone that far astray? Can a social ultra-conservative make such a ridiculous statement* that flies in the face the very document he holds most dear without anyone objecting?

Where is the vocal faction of liberal Christianity? Perhaps it is out there in large numbers in places I am generally blind to, but the world is seeing Santorum as the spokesperson for US Christianity right now. It's embarrassing enough to be associated to that guy via geography, but if I identified myself as a Christian as well I would be bullshit right now.

So where is the outcry? Either liberal Christians have just started tuning Santorum's frothy ravings out or we, as a country, are in far worse shape than I thought.

*Yes, yes. I realize facts are harder to find at a political debate than Waldo

34 responses so far

Notes from the AE's desk

Feb 21 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

I've been an Associate Editor for an important journal in my field for roughly two full months now. Whereas I'm not sure it was my best idea ever to agree to this, it has certainly been instructive. I will undoubtedly be faced with dozens of novel issues as I receive more manuscripts to review, but below are a few things I have learned so far.

- The topic and quality matter less than the authors. I have handled a bunch of papers now that are seemingly similar in content and quality. The major difference between them has been the author list: Some have prominent* names on them and some do not. But finding reviewers for the latter category is like pulling teeth, while locating them for the former is not. I assume that people are more willing to spend their time reviewing for those they see as producing good work. If the author list is unremarkable, people figure their time is better spent elsewhere.

- Don't believe the project number of papers you will handle. I've been doing this for two months and have already handled what the editor told me would be my likely annual allotment. Just come a little closer, this won't hurt a bit....

- Ignoring a review request is a shitty thing to do. Everyone is busy. We get that. And sometimes you just happen to have more on your plate than normal and can't take a review. This is why you have a "no thanks" option. Use it. Don't leave the AE sitting around waiting for a response. Inevitably, the second I give up on someone and invite a couple more, everyone suddenly agrees to review. If I wait, the original person never gets back to me. Just make a choice.

- If you work in a specialized subfield and won't review papers in that subfield, who will? Twice I have gotten papers on a topic that severely limited my potential reviewer list. I contacted the extent of the qualified people that I was aware of and all of them declined. Oooookaaaaay, now what? Who's going to review your papers when you send them in?

- Getting rejected without review is better than dragging the process out. I know it sucks to get the letter rejecting the paper you sent into a journal you like. And without review! How dare that AE! Well, the thing is that your time just got saved. Rather than going through the whole review process, only to have the manuscript spit out the other end, you can now reformat and send somewhere else. Not ideal, but the better of two bad options.

- If you sit on reviews, you lose the right to complain about time in review. Self explanatory, really.

I'm sure there are other things I'm not thinking of right this second, but the main point is that reviewing is about the community. Like it or not, we are the vehicle that drives the speed of publication.

*In the field of interest for the journal, that is.

17 responses so far

Breaking News!

Feb 17 2012 Published by under [Et Al]

In an apparent move of "one-upsmanship" West Virginia is moving to give sperm half the rights of "any God-fearing man". The new legislation, proposed by District 3 State Senator Nohe seems to be in direct retaliation for the recently introduced Virgina legislation (HB1) that would grant civil protection, or "personhood", to fetuses. This bill has been accompanied by a slew of other Virginia legislation aimed at stripping away abortion rights and personal choice. West Virginia is widely considered "the more backward Virginia" and was clearly offended by Virginia's attempt to take that title from them.

"They simply aren't going far enough." claimed State Senator Nohe. "Sperm is just as much alive as you or I, but just half of what you need for a human. That's why we are only granting half civil rights to sperm."

When questioned why the new bill only provided civil protections to sperm, and not eggs, Mr. Nohe replied "Have you ever seen a human egg? I mean actually seen one? They show you pictures, but people have pictures of Big Foot and Leprechauns. If we give rights to these "eggs" people claim exist, we might as well give rights to Leprechauns and I'll be damned if West Virginia becomes a laughing stock on my watch!"

When asked whether the "Sperm rights Bill", as it is being dubbed, could be in violation of the consitution, West Virgina University Professor of Law, Marilyn Kapman opined "Constitution? These idiots realize that they are going to make male masturbation a felony, right? No? Really? I'm the first one to bring this up? Okay, now I kinda hope the bill passes."

And so the Bill will see its first test in the House, where opposition has yet to really mount, due to the initial perception that the Bill was an elaborate practical joke. Debate on the issue will begin next week.

13 responses so far

It's nice to share

Feb 14 2012 Published by under [Et Al]

I've been enjoying the video below, partly because it's cool and partly because it's slightly absurd, in an enjoyable sense. It's the answer to the question "what if a whole band could only afford one instrument.

The song is by Gotye and the original song and video are below. Also good, but I like the edge and creativity of the cover a bit more.

Perhaps not appropriate tunes for the day, but meh. Enjoy.

5 responses so far

insignificant parental advice

Feb 13 2012 Published by under [Et Al], [Life Trajectories]

Parental advice, it's everywhere. You can seek it out and read until your eyes cross or you can try and avoid it, only to have anyone and everyone who has ever seen a child offer up their opinion. Even the most reasonable people you know will tell you how to raise and care for your child or children. But if there is one thing that is extremely pronounced when you have more than one kid, it's that every child is different.

I've fallen onto this trap myself: something worked for you with your baby or toddler, so you're happy to share "what worked" with anyone dealing with a similar situation. Need to get your kid to sleep faster, I'll tell you what we do because ours goes right down and has for years! Instant authoritay! But unless you're a family of irresponsible douchebags making overpopulation a personal mission, there's a catch to your experience.

Your sample size sucks.

n=1? n=2? This gives you confidence that you can generalize your experience to another family? To even another child? So far my two daughters couldn't be more different, and I've only known one for 6 months. Things that worked great for the Wee One have failed miserably for the Weer One. We've come up with new strategies and adjusted to a new little being with opinions and needs.

But one thing os for sure, there is no one size fits all for kids and anyone who thinks they have the solution for whatever your child needs is most likely full of shit, full of themselves, or both.

14 responses so far

Travel budgets

Feb 09 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

In other grant thoughts for the morning, what are other NSFers putting in their travel budgets for conference travel. When I first started writing grants, someone told me it was normal to add $1K for a domestic conference and $2K for a foreign one. More recently I've realized that I can't walk out the door for less than about $1.5K and if I'm going overseas, we're talking at least $3k, but that's pushing it. Airfare is up and housing is often pricey. Add registration costs, etc., and the costs mount.

So I decided to adjust my budget accordingly in some recent grants. I colleague of mine actually noticed the increase when I asked the to take a quick look over the proposal and remarked that reviewers might think that was too much.

In various ways I have seen this type of thing manifest itself - "the cost of X must be $Y or else reviewers will baulk". But what if the cost of X is much greater than $Y? My opinion is that a couple of grand here or there in a grant budget is small change that no one should care about (hell, you could rebudget later if needed anyway), but this I've seen this type of reaction enough to be concerned about it in the review process.

So ask the NSFers among you, what are budgeting for travel? Has a reviewer ever remarked on that portion of your budget?

12 responses so far

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