Linky Friday #71

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. O2: That article offers a lot of reasons why workplace hierarchies persist, and close to the end, Pfeffer says,

    Why, then, do so many people hang on the fiction that things are changing? Pfeffer says it’s partly wishful thinking — that as organizations flatten, so will power and influence. The emergence of inexpensive communication technologies, social networking and crowdsourcing has also “increased the tendency to see hierarchy as disappearing and being irrelevant,” he writes.

    I can think of another reason, too. The “fiction” Pfeffer refers to can also function as a way for the hierarchy to legitimate and maintain itself. If people believe things are changing, perhaps they won’t clamor as much for change.

    Once upon a time, in my quasi-Marxist stage, I would have been indignant about that. I’m no longer indignant now. Just observing what seems to me to be a true thing.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Oranizational hierarchy doesn’t have agency like that, though. It’s not monolithic, and even in a fairly well run org each of the departments has conflicting purposes and goals.

      Your standard sort of classical silo’d organization has real reasons why each silo would want the others to be flattened. The guy in charge of Finance would very much like it if the IT department and the HR department and the Sales department were flattened. There’s guys and gals in each of those departments that the head of Finance would like to fire, if nothing else.Report

      • I wouldn’t say I believe that organizational hierarchy has agency–however, what I said suggested I believe it–but I do think once the wheels are set in motion and once the incentives are there, hierarchy reproduces itself. Or a process happens that very much resembles something that looks like the hierarchy reproduces itself even though it doesn’t really have the “agency” to do so.

        You’re right about the fact that a hierarchy isn’t a monolith. At my present workplace, there are the formal hierarchies you find in a large organization, the political hierarchies you find in the public sector (the private sector has them, too….just different ones), and a set of unofficial hierarchies and loyalties that are kind of hard to parse. (Alas, that’s as much detail as I can go into on a public forum.)Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    E1- I have a friend from South Carolina whose parents sent him to a boarding school on Long Island for high school because the quality of the local public and private schools didn’t impress them. They idea of a state-run boarding school is fascinating and completely alien from the North East perspective.

    O3- If this is true than France is truly a civilized country.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    S2-Slate had an article about this awhile ago. Well, it was really about sex and reproduction in space. The article said the tricky part is getting people to go low fertility for a very long time during the the journey to another planet and than getting them to go through a very long baby boom once they start colonizing.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Well, boinkers gonna boink. But there is such a thing as contraception.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      This one?

      The writing project has me looking into a lot of this. It involves a group of space refugees settling in our solar system. The reproductive aspect of it has resulted in a lot of thinking. Right along these lines.

      One of the more interesting things about Hunger Games was when the protagonists were in the underground rebel colony. It did not allow much in the way of personal freedom, and couldn’t. Made a lot of sense. Somewhere in there is a good lesson about the city versus the countryside. But a spaceship would likely be the same way.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        Gene Woolfe’s Litany of the Long Sun is required reading here.

        Me, I don’t believe we can colonize another planet without a lot of back-and-fourth traffic, and the biological risks are enormous. Just look at what small pox did. Microbes evolve fast, humans and their immunities slowly. We don’t even begin to comprehend the flora and fauna of our own bodies yet. We are clueless.

        To escape the solar system, I think it would be send them off, and keep them in your prayers, but don’t expect to ever see or contact them again. And to make such a journey, a living ship (Moya!) would be required, not just a machine. Probably a hybrid of living and machine.

        But from my perspective, it’s not the big passengers that are the problem, it’s the little ones, and we big passengers don’t know nearly enough the little ones. We are too dependent upon them to travel without them, and once they grow in deviant directions, they make the us big passengers a danger to one another because we carry them with us.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Ever read A. Bertram Chandler’s “Giant Killer”?Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Given a generational ship, absent “miracle” technologies for fabricating hardware and AI software to run almost everything, you will need far more than 10,000 people on board just to propagate all of the necessary knowledge and skills to keep things running. Consider the number of engineering specialties required to build an MRI machine, for example (which for today’s machines includes superconducting magnets and billion-transistor integrated circuits). Add in that the engineers need the usual raft of other things besides medical care: food, housing, clothing, recreation, kids’ education, religious services…

      It seems like you’d have to work pretty hard to avoid having the necessary genetic diversity in a population that size.Report

  4. Avatar Morat20 says:

    E2: Kids SHOULDN’T be getting a lot of computer science education, not in the weirdly “most kids should take it” vibe I’m getting from that article.

    Computer literacy is important, yes — which includes things like “What’s SSL and why do I care if that little lock icon is up there when I’m shopping” and “what’s a certificate and why do I care” and “Basics of handling malware or ad-ware”, in addition to “How to use basic software like Word, Excel”.

    But computer science? Most kids don’t need to learn to code, not in high school. Not ever, really. I mean I know this is the internet and we’re all “CODE RAWR” but, really, 99% of jobs it’s more superfluous than calculus. Maybe learning the basics of Excel macros, but spending a semester or year learning Java or C or whatever? No.

    The kids that’ll end up being programmers will already be taking CS classes (which at high school are really introduction to a programming language and very basic stuff), and the rest…won’t need it.

    Anecdotally: The school my wife teaches at has several “computer” classes — there’s a web development class, a straight up CS class, and a graphic design class that’s an outgrowth of the art program. The CS class has the smallest number of students — which it should, because the smallest number of kids are going to go on to become outright coders.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

      We shouldn’t presuppose that the only reason to learn to code is vocational. More often than not, it’s true value is in teaching skills like problem solving, troubleshooting, and attention to detail in an unforgiving environment.

      I learned Pascal in high school and that was already useless by the time I got to college. The syntax, I mean. The other stuff wasn’t useless at all. Clancy had to take it in college for her undergrad, and she too found it worthwhile. Lain will learn to code, whether that’s a career interest or not.

      That said, I think this…

      The kids that’ll end up being programmers will already be taking CS classes (which at high school are really introduction to a programming language and very basic stuff),

      While true much of the time, is either misguided or circular. I think there are a non-trivial number of people (particularly of the female variety) who would be a lot more interested in coding if they got the introduction because they might find out that (a) they can do it and (b) it’s kind of fun. People for whom it otherwise wouldn’t be on their radar. Coding “[wasn’t] for me” until I did it. And it was still never my vocation (Pascal certainly wasn’t).Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Will Truman says:

        Pascal was written as an instructional language; it’s never been useful for anything real-world, really.Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre in reply to Will Truman says:

        @patrick
        [Pascal has] never been useful for anything real-world, really
        “Useful” is carrying a lot of freight there. I’ve been on projects (early-mid 80s) that deployed modestly complex systems (enrichment centrifuge control system; distributed SCADA with VAxen and LSI-11s) written in Pascal. Portable? No, not particularly (exceptions and AST semantics were hideously unportable in Pascal, formatted I/O sucked, and variable length arrays were hokey if you wanted guaranteed portability*), but I’m far from convinced that doing the same project in K&R C or F77, the two viable alternatives at the time, would have been all that much easier or more maintainable.

        Yes, I read Kernighan’s paper, and his criticisms were mostly legit (recall that his main test case was trying to reimplement his Software Tools in portable, pre-ISO Pascal without variable length arrays or procedure parameters – a next to impossible task).

        *in practice, I never ran across an actual compiler where a couple of tricks for producing static lifetime, call by reference and faking sizeof() didn’t work portably, but the readability hit was quite real (or, complex – definitely not int).
        Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Morat20 says:

      Couldn’t disagree more. A full year of programming probably isn’t necessary, but there should be some in math or science class. The average person is going to need to understand how code works more often than, say, the parts of a cell. The average biologist may well need to understand code better than the parts of a cell, because you’re not doing a lick of research these days that isn’t computer-based. No matter what you do professionally, you’re going to have an advantage if you understand how computers think.

      To Will’s point – you’re right about the benefits of learning to program. It’s been a long time since I went through school (k12 or college), but I wouldn’t even call what went on in my head “thinking” until I had instruction in formal logic. That’s all programming is – with the added benefit of presenting the results of erroneous thinking in a concrete, real-time way.

      One last comment. This is the key sentence of the article: “Many parents mistake the computers they see in schools — and the seeming ease with which teenagers manage their devices — as a signs of computer science understanding.”Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Pinky says:

        Yep. There’s a huge push to include technology in the classrooms, but it’s mostly being embraced and implemented by people who don’t know a damn thing about technology. In my own teacher training program, I’m constantly being asked to use certain tools, with the expectation that I’ll then go on to teach my students how to use them.

        Some of that, of course, makes sense. But it’s clear from my assignments that the instructors don’t actually understand the point of the tools I’m being asked to use–I’ve been asked to use a wiki in every one of my classes–but never in ways that ask us to collaboratively create and/or modify content. Every damn thing they’ve asked us to do on a wiki would be better accomplished by a blog, email, or just by using the assignment turn-in feature correctly.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to Pinky says:

        It’s also worth noting that teaching kids to program will also teach them what to do when they encounter an error. It’s amazing how often googling random terms will be useful in the workplace or in life, but it’s a skill that many people seemingly fail to master.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Morat20 says:

      I think that the important thing about “teaching kids computers” is that it’s the closest they really come to being taught how to figure out how mechanistic/algorithmic stuff works in school. In school you learn some science facts and a little bit about the scientific method. You learn some rote mathematics algorithms and a little bit about mathematical reasoning and proofs. But the only course I can think of where you learn how practical things work and how to use reason to debug things is auto shop.

      Fixing computers and writing simple programs is a great way to fill that void. It has very little to do with learning to program as a vocation and a lot to do with developing what I like to call a “cause and effect understanding” of how to the world works. People who never have fix something that’s broken seem never to develop that type of understanding of the world. The seem to think everything happens at random rather than saying, “What might be wrong with this thing? I know that X causes Y and Y isn’t happening, so I’ll take a look at X.”

      I see it a lot in bug reports. Some people say stuff like, “Whenever it crashes, I hear a beeping noise about 10 seconds before. Might that be related?” Good bug report. More often I see, “Sometimes when it crashes I’m wearing a hat. But not always. Do you want a picture of the hat?” I have no idea how these people get through day to day life.Report

      • More often I see, “Sometimes when it crashes I’m wearing a hat. But not always. Do you want a picture of the hat?” I have no idea how these people get through day to day life.

        Slightly OT – when my brother was doing some computer work for a university, he would resolve many bug reports with the acronym PICNIC.

        Problem
        In
        Chair
        Not
        In
        ComputerReport

      • I always had the tendency to err too much in the other direction, trying to figure everything out before turning it back in to development. One of the Android apps I use has a bug in it. What I have thus far (before I organize it into something more comprehensible):

        “Program fails to save file position when the device has been turned off with the device on. Occurs 100% of the time when Dropbox and GDrive compatibility is turned on, but I have thus far been unable to isolate that as the cause because it does happen otherwise, depending on whether file has been opened with Dropbox and GDrive support before. When the audiobook has multiple files, it usually (though not always) forwards to the end of whichever file it is on, otherwise forwarding to the end of the book.”

        What I want to be able to say:
        “It is failing to remember the file position, and here is specifically when the error occurs [fill in] and here is it appears to be related to [thing] because the issue doesn’t occur otherwise.”

        On the other hand, when you have 100% reproducibility, sometimes you gotta just pull the trigger.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        @troublesome-frog — This, and @will-truman ’s point as well. There is a huge benefit to having some notion of what a computer actually does, what an algorithm is, and how this stuff fits together. It’s about exposure, a curiosity for the world we live in. I mean, why teach physics to people who will be physicists or math to folks who will never prove a new theorem? These questions answer themselves.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        The big thing for me is that people should know how to figure things out. We tell students about the scientific method and then give them prefabricated “experiments” to do, but the hard part is getting good at coming up with useful hypotheses and figuring out how to evaluate them. Having them do it in a chem lab is really hard because you have to know a lot about chemistry before you can reliably answer practical questions through experiments you’ve designed. Experiments in real lab sciences either tend to be too clever or complex for students to come up with on their own or too trivial to teach them much about the process.

        Effectively debugging computer (or automotive) problems requires the same methodical problem solving process that lab scientists use to design experiments, but the barrier to entry is much lower. You can learn enough about a car or a computer in a few days to start figuring out “What’s that noise?” or, “Why is every fourth entry in the output incorrect?” Based on their very simple understanding of the system, they can come up with hypotheses, test them, and drill down to real conclusions all on their own. That exercise is incredibly powerful.

        In fact, even though I’m a computer guy who can’t do much with cars, I’d be just about as happy to see my kids taking auto shop as computer science in high school.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Does Home Ec still exist?Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        Sometimes. I’m in a teacher training program right now, and one of my classmates is preparing to be a home ec teacher.

        But the school she just interviewed for hasn’t actually had a home ec class in many years.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        I took Home Ec. I learned to cook and sew.Report

  5. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    E1: So Clancy is an X-Man? I knew someone who attended a public boarding school. He was from South Carolina, I wonder if it was the same school. The idea of a public boarding school for high school students fascinates me but I am largely opposed to it. That being said, I sought out small liberal arts colleges because of their smallness as a factor. Unlike you, I think I would have drowned in the anonymity of a big state university with 500 person lectures.

    E5: I think Chris and Sally Kohn are both right but in different ways. Charter schools seem like a scam to me and in cities it seems like the typical charter school family is well-educated but of relatively modest finances. Journalists, Public Interest/Government Lawyers, Professors, etc send their kids to charter schools because it allows them to live in the city but not spend a huge amount on private school tuition. These parents know how to work the system and get their kids into the charter schools but they are not as wealthy as people who send their kids to the local fancy private schools. This basically turns charter schools into an urban version of the upper-middle class suburban public school.

    O2: I’ve only had one office space type of job and it was when I worked for a mega-corproation in Japan and taught English as a Second Language. Though not really because it was a “conversation school” and I had and have no training in ESL or pedagogy. The company later went bankrupt in a rather spectacular manner in 2007. There were stories in the news of stranded English professors who haven’t been paid for weeks. I suppose this is one of the benefits of being a theatre guy who switched to law.

    O3: This is getting exaggerated in the English press because let’s make fun of France but I am too lazy right now to find the article with the fuller picture. Also the Anglo tendency seems to be making everyone miserable at work instead of everyone joining together and fighting for benefits and work-life balance.

    O5: Again being in theatre and then law has seemingly insulated me from office speak but my eyes do glaze over when I see people use it.Report

    • E1 – Despite going to a school over 10x the size of yours, I actually had only three auditorium classes that I can recall*. I probably would have been fine with more, though. I don’t know if it has to do with my institution or the fact that I was in the Honors College. I suspect the latter, as a lot of the classes I imagine would be auditorium were HC classes.

      * – Three, as best as I can remember, and two don’t really count. The first was Intro to Psych, which was the prototypical auditorium class. The second was physically in an auditorium, but I don’t remember the class being that large and when I needed to reschedule a test I had no problem approaching the professor about doing so. The third was a hybrid, where we had lecture twice a week and then the class broke down into sections twice a week, so you did get the small-classroom component of the class.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to Will Truman says:

        Interestingly when I tell people about SLAC experience, they think it is kind of nuts and they tell me they liked all the large and anonymous classes. I suspect because it was easier to cut class undetected and/or not participate.Report

      • @saul-degraw To me, the time to sit and be left alone is high school. I always got the most out of the classes I was engaged with in college. My problem with a SLAC is the same reason I am glad I went to a high school bigger than your college. And the reason I tend to prefer cities to small towns. Namely, the larger the group, the more likely I am to find my cohort within that group.Report

      • they tell me they liked all the large and anonymous classes. I suspect because it was easier to cut class undetected and/or not participate.

        I went to a non-flagship state school of about 20,000 students. And I “cut” class only a few times (fewer than 10 and probably fewer than 5) when I was sick. And I think I liked it a lot better than I would have at SLAC. I don’t know for sure, of course, because that’s not the choice I made.

        Part of my reason is the same as Will’s (the ability to find a cohort). Another part is the anonymity. I got the most out of my classes and was a very aggressive student, but I also liked having my own privacy. I don’t think I’d like to be in a place where everybody knows my business, which is how I imagine SLAC’s to be.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    E2 — My sweetie responded to a faculty posting, requiring computer expertise. (He teaches electronic music signal processing) in a non-computer technical dept at a university; there was certainly reason to believe they would have need of his kind of skills. But the listing didn’t really specify what they were looking for, just expertise.

    So he sent them a resume, and they called him in for an interview; and I’m completely unsure why. Their idea of expertise was someone comfortable teaching internet classes; not someone capable of programming in dozens of languages, across platforms, and able to develop architecture to combine pull elements of those platforms into a single cohesive for a project. It was someone who knew how to turn on a run a video feed and could answer student emails.

    He’s also found that most of the students he has (advanced students, at the end of their degrees) taught themselves to program; they learned basic stuff in school, but nothing beyond a basic Visual Basic class, if they even had that.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to zic says:

      You laugh, but I recently took a partly online class from an instructor with limited “answer e-mail” type skills, and it was not a fun experience, let me tell you.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Alan Scott says:

        I know it’s actually a problem.

        I think the point here is that technical competency wasn’t spelled out as ‘knows how to handle email and live video feed,’ legitimate skills. The admins who called him thought that this was technical competency, and so wrote an add that would attract high-level programmers, and totally did not understand what he put on his resume beyond, “this guy knows how to play the piano and knows about computers.” I’m dissing the old farts.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    G2 — Equal pay. Uggh.

    I am beginning to think we measure the wrong thing to understand the discrepancy in pay, for it does exist. We keep trying to understand how women get paid less, and I think we should instead look at why men get paid more.

    Brute labor jobs are sort of obvious.

    But a lot of it may have to do with where non-work time goes, and how work time get’s carved out from standards to allow for non-work time obligations, particularly for child rearing, house hold chores, parental care. I wondering if it’s not that women are underpaid, but that men are overpaid because many of them are relieved from the on-the-job distractions of these things to greater extent. I have no idea how one would measure this; but I think when non-work work loads are more balanced between genders, much of this gap within same work might disappear because men will either be getting paid less or the distractions are so the norm that women will get paid more.

    The other side of the gender income gap that is disturbing is that professions that traditionally have more women (nursing and home health care, teaching, retail, clerical) pay less overall, and important questions need asking about why women’s fields are less financially rewarding.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to zic says:

      @zic ” I wondering if it’s not that women are underpaid, but that men are overpaid because many of them are relieved from the on-the-job distractions of these things to greater extent. I have no idea how one would measure this; but I think when non-work work loads are more balanced between genders, much of this gap within same work might disappear because men will either be getting paid less or the distractions are so the norm that women will get paid more.”

      I think that there is a lot of truth in this statement, but as we have less children per family, and later in our lives, I think this will balance out. Also, its not that they are over paid per se, but that they can devote all of that time to work, increasing the value they bring to an employer and necessitating greater pay. For example, now that my son is off in college, my wife and I can both work as much as we feel is necessary for our careers, and our combined income as increased dramatically.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to zic says:

      More or less this…

      I have to admit a bias, here. I think a substantial portion of pay (and advancement) is based upon “what my boss thinks my commitment to the job is”, for “my boss’s idea of what the job is”, as opposed to “what the job is”.

      I’ve seen many, many cases of commitment to the job being measured in ways that are terrible. But there is a common vector in that a lot of those terrible measures are also those which “traditionally” men have an easier time meeting than women.

      Getting rid of those terrible measures as a way of compensating people, culturally, would go a long way to getting rid of the pay disparity. It would also give us a better, more efficient workforce.

      I don’t know how to do that, though. I don’t even think it’s necessarily possible. On my bleak days, I kinda suspect it might be impossible.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

      “The other side of the gender income gap that is disturbing is that professions that traditionally have more women (nursing and home health care, teaching, retail, clerical) pay less overall,”

      Pay less overall than what though? What I mean is, what are their direct counterparts these days that are paying more? (vice the large number of executive, managerial, and or professional* white collar work which pays more and is still male dominated).

      It is my impression (and my ancestor’s experience on both sides of the family) that such ‘pink collar’ workers were drawn from the working class, and so their male counterparts were the mass industrial worker of the mid-century, nowadays a rarer breed.

      *though, if I am not mistaken, there are equal or greater numbers of female law and medical school graduates as there are males, so all things being equal (which they are not – as each link in the ‘gender’ section of the original post shows), there theoretically should be much more parity once the boomers and the early x ers age out of the workforce over the next 20 years.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Kolohe says:

        As the first point indicates (non-work obligations), parity might need some shifting of that balance; it has shifted a great deal, but the lopsidedness is still pretty profound. Work/life balance is as much you taking your daughter to dance class in the afternoon as it is you wife working; it’s you arranging dinner or laundry or bathroom cleaning or your mother’s doctor’s appointment, not passing it off to your wife and doing what she says on her honey-do list.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to zic says:

      What’s striking to me is the degree to which pay for a job changes when the gender balance of the people doing it changes.

      In the from the origin of computers through the mid sixties, the vast majority of computer programmers were women. Then there was a big shift, and men became computer programmers. At the same time, we stopped paying computer programmers like secretaries and started paying them like engineers.

      This is a shift that happens again and again throughout the workplace. Today, for example, nursing is paying more at the same time as more men are entering the field. There’s certainly a lot of correlation vs. causation issues going on here, but it’s still a pretty telling set of circumstances.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

      As you point out, a good number of the decisions that people make regarding work often have nothing specifically to do with work. Rather, they are driven by how their work fits in with other aspects of their lives. It is hard for me to see how that is a problem, however; at least as long as people are fully informed and free to make those decisions as they see fit.

      I’ve had women say things to me like, “I want to be a pharmacist, because it is a flexible career and is good for a woman who wants to have a family.” In a more idealized world, she might have said, “it is a flexible career and good for any person who wants to be the primary homemaker in their family.” Of course, part of what she was conveying to me in that first sentence is that she wants to marry a man who is the primary breadwinner. So, as long a significant number of women have a preference for men who earn more money than them, men are likely to keep making the choices that maximize their attractiveness to women. And, in turn, are likely to keep out-earning men.

      Seems to me that the only way to get around this is to start enforcing some sort of social norm of absolute equality. And that doesn’t seem preferably from either an ethical or an economical standpoint. It’s probably not great from a psychological standpoint as well.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to j r says:

        Let’s leave enforcement aside, then (I agree, this would be a challenging area to legislate in). But surely in our personal lives, it would be better to strive for a social norm in which men did more of the housework (although I’m a big fan of Jonathan Chait’s solution).Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        I can see that some people have an a priori preference for a world in which gender equality is maximized, but other people have a preference for a world in which people generally conform to gender roles. So long as the parties involved have the freedom to choose one way, the other or some amalgam of them both. Couples should come to their own agreements on how to split housework in the way that maximizes their own personal preferences.

        As an example, a world in which people are free to marry people of other ethnicities is a more ethical world than one in which there are legal or social prohibitions against interracial marriage. However, it doesn’t flow from that we should necessarily want more interracial marriages.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      The thing to understand about this is the profound inequity found among trans teens, relating to their opportunity to fully occupy their natural gender in the face of parental and institutional opposition. The policies in place before would allow perhaps 1/10000 trans gals to qualify, with the perfect parents and the perfect school district in the perfect state, with exactly the right sequence of improbable events. These hurdles are too high and sustain social inequity that are very much at odds with the mission statements of these schools.

      That said, things are changing fast. I expect in a few years this will be a non-issue.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw in reply to veronica dire says:

        I’m almost absolutely against single-sex education in general but it is a hot button issue and each side has their studies.

        Says the guy who went to the school that switched from all-women to co-ed in 1969.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to veronica dire says:

        I think there is a place for women-only education, and certainly in a very different way that what male-only education would represent. The reasons for this are pretty simple, which are the radical imbalances in the conversational dynamics between men and women, and how men are favored in terms of classroom time. I mean, the differences are stark. Moreover, they are largely invisible, meaning people don’t actually perceive the imbalance. It has to be measured.

        As a feminist I believe this has a simple explanation: men expect to be the speaker and the knower, and women are expected to be silent, except when the topic is frivolous, and thus any speech by a woman is perceived as too much speech.

        Of course, this is not absolute. There always seem to be those women with just a certain personality, who can overcome this, but such women are rare, and I want our classrooms to well-serve women who do not have this trait. Likewise, women with a preexisting mark of status have less trouble, such as a boss or teacher. But it is the shy, quite girl in the corner who I want to help.

        Given this reality, an all-woman educational environment sounds like it would be an amazing place.

        Of course, under the old system I would not be eligible.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica dire says:

        My main problem with the advocates of single-sex education is the sheer classcism and un-reality in their vision. Most liberal and progressives advocates of single-sex educaiton for girls are imagining a short of all-girl Dead Poet Soceity-like environment where upper-middle class girls learning things in a preppy boarding school environment while bonding with each other. Maybe you will have a low-income girl or color and a transgender girl for that extra-special flavor but basically its a very white, upper class vision.

        Our maternal grandmother went to an all-girl high school and she learned to be a book-keeper. It was about as far from the Dead Poet’s society as you could get without being a reformatory. If your going to create single-sex schools for girls, most of them are still going to be public and the majority of them are going to be more like a typical public school rather than Miss Porter’s School for Girls or whatever.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — I don’t see the connections. Yes, there is classism in education, regardless of if we have women’s-only schools. I fail to see how the existence of the latter compounds the former. Surely the problem of the “token minority” or “token queer” will exist in full measure in an all-gender privileged school. Furthermore, the arguments that justify women’s-only schools are not tied to income. If rich girls will benefit, then I suspect poor girls would as well.

        Your argument seems to apply to elite institutions in general. But you target it on women’s institutions only, and largely for (it seems) cultural reasons. You should explore your reasons for this imbalance.

        Show your work.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica dire says:

        I’ll get the link latter but many articles that I’ve read that advocate single-sex education for girls have this particular boarding-school like vision of what its going to be like. They frequently invoke all girl’s private schools like Miss Porter’s School for Girls in Conneticut as examples of the benefits of same-sex education in their advocacy. If same-sex education was common enough to provide for all girls in the United States than most of schools really wouldn’t be at the level of a high-class private school because of the money involved. It will be at the level of ordinary public school but with only one gender.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — Well, true. But we are talking about places like Smith.

        With regard to working class education, I really don’t know. Right now it seems that working class women are out earning working class men — although I suspect that data gets overplayed in a “man bites dog” sense. But anyway, I think women’s-only education makes much sense for the middle class, where clearly there is vast inequity. For working class people, I think maybe…

        Well I dunno. I’m very ignorant here. How many of those women are raising kids and doing housework without a man, because that jobless man would never stoop so low as to clean a sink or change a diaper? And who is that woman’s boss, a woman or a man? What are her advancement opportunities? Why is the man the way he is, kind of a deadbeat — at least that is the stereotype? What cultural message has he internalized? Who wrote the TV shows he watches, women or men? The video games? What are his models of masculinity and where did they come from?

        I take the following as established fact: 1) patriarchy is alive and well in our broad culture, 2) discourse patterns vastly favor men, 3) women are ongoing targets of oppressive structures. Given these facts, we are justified in having women’s-only schools in a way that men’s-only schools would not be justified.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica dire says:

        @veronica-dire, I’m mainly talking about single-sex education at the pre-high school level. Nearly all the fantasies revolving around all girl’s high schools end up looking something like an all-female, more liberal version of the Dead Poet’s Society

        http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/the-never-ending-controversy-over-all-girls-education/284508/

        If you ever create a system where nearly every boy or girl could attend a single-sex high school if they or more likely their parents wanted them to, you aren’t going to get most people at elite, single-sex schools because of problems of scale. The model just doesn’t scale up. What your going to get is a bunch of single-sex schools that operate on the level of an average public high school. That might still be an improvement but I’m dubious.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — Well, right. I don’t see this becoming widespread exactly, since there is some value is mixed sex education as well. (And I don’t even want to imagine “all boys” schools. Yikes.)

        That said, there is a place for women’s schools at the university level, for those women who choose them. For high school, I know they have done girls-only math classes with some success, but which does not require a fully sex-segregated school. Things like that are probably a good idea and can be done without overwhelming cost.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica dire says:

        @veronica-dire, if the quality of teaching remains the same than I think that any benefits that might come from a single-sex math class or any other class aren’t going to be that great. The single-sex education debate isn’t about the university level, its about the high school and bellow level. There seems to be a decent amount of people that think that single-sex education for girls at the high school level is a good thing. They tend to have a particularly unrealistic vision of what an all-girls high school is going to be like.Report

  8. Avatar Mo says:

    N2: Shouldn’t it be, “A man was found guilty of breaking an electronic devices law that did not apply”?Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Mo says:

      I have a question about the “e” in “electronic cigarette”.

      I think of “electronics” as things that have chips or circuit boards, or complex control systems or wiring.

      I thought an e-cigarette was a simple device more like a small toaster; a power source, a switch, and a heating element – maybe a temp control.

      I don’t call my toaster “electronic”, I call it “electric”.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Also, there’s something unseemly about the judge pulling the old switcheroo, charge-wise, once it became apparent that the original charge (phone) was bogus. Especially because the defendant didn’t have time to figure out that the law he was newly being charged under was inapplicable and tell them before he got convicted, so now he has to go to Appeals.

        Maybe on such a trivial charge, it’d be much better to just dismiss the original case and let the defendant off with a warning, and save everybody some time and $.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Glyph says:

        Your toaster is probably electronic, nowadays. Your e-cigarette is still electric, though.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @patrick – well, where does the line get drawn?

        And you may be right about my toaster. I just remembered it’s got buttons for “Frozen” and “Bagel” and I think one or two other things.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Glyph says:

        “well, where does the line get drawn?”

        The transistor.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Glyph says:

        An e-cigarette presumably has some active components in it, to turn the heating element on upon detecting airflow (also the cop probably thought it was a phone due to the ornamental LED).

        But if an e-cig qualifies as “portable electronics” then presumably a hearing aid or pacemaker would also.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        Different devices differ. The ones I currently use have a button. The ones I used before all you had to do was suck.

        My guess is that the officer pulled him over thinking that he’d gotten someone on their phone, but then when they discovered that wasn’t the case just gave him the ticket anyway because quotas Management Directed Goals.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Do they activate upon draw? The ones I’ve seen in the wild, it looked like the user was pushing a button.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Glyph says:

        My guess is that the officer pulled him over thinking that he’d gotten someone on their phone, but then when they discovered that wasn’t the case just gave him the ticket anyway because quotas Management Directed Goals.

        Or because he suddenly felt ridiculous for making a mistake and to quote Jack Woltz, “a man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridiculous!”Report

  9. Avatar aaron david says:

    G4): Is Clancy happy? Are the two of you financially secure? To me those are the real things that matter. My wife has been slowly working on her MPA, and the financial cost/benefit ratio is marginal, but the cost/personal satisfaction benefit ratio is very important.Report

  10. Avatar Mo says:

    E1: I find the current trend against tracking to be one of the worst current educational fads around. If anything, there should be more tracking. Ideally more subject specific and with more movement up and down year. There’s no reason why a kid should have to be in the same track for math as for reading.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Mo says:

      Mo: I agree that that’s the best way to do tracking, but inevitably that’s not the way schools choose to do it. Tracking as practiced in the real world just splits grade level classrooms into high-performing and low-performing groups. Everyone in the high-performing group does ever so slightly better, while the low-performing group becomes a disaster zone.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mo says:

      Most of the tracking that occurred in my school was subject-specific, at least after the sixth grade. Where I subbed, some of the schools actually did it for late grade school.

      The biggest problem I had was that once I was tracked, it was nearly impossible for me to make the jump in any subject. So I was a terrible student in the 6th grade, but in the 8th grade I was making straight A’s but was ineligible for advanced/honors classes for pretty much anything but social studies. (Maybe if I had gone to some summer school program or something?)

      Even despite all of this, I am a pretty big supporter of tracking.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Mo says:

      One of my kids (well, both of them, but one in particular) tests out in the 99.99% and above in numbers of high-level skills in both language arts and math-science testing.

      And in the 6% in some of the sequencing and short-term memory skills required for writing with ease. This was torture; and it didn’t matter if it was in the gifted classes or the remedial classes. Aging beyond 25 seems to have settled much of the problem, a fully-developed frontal cortex will do that for you, if you’ve the mind to re-teach yourself the skills as an adult. So what to track seems problematic to me, at least for some of the more unusual children.

      But I think there’s a related thing to tracking that we could and should be doing with children, and that’s helping them better understand their skill set and what sort of work/career they might thrive in; so long as it’s not too restrictive. I like a lot of the European systems, where kids are guided in different directions based on their abilities; though I have some concerns about too-early tracking here, too.Report

  11. Avatar Glyph says:

    Via BoingBoing, I thought this was interesting, though in some ways it simply confirms anecdotal folk wisdom:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-dads-influence-teens-happiness/Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Glyph says:

      That research is missing a key variable: shotguns.Report

      • Avatar Citizen in reply to James Hanley says:

        Never underestimate the rule of buckshot.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to James Hanley says:

        Well, dad isn’t around with the shotgun.

        I thought it was interesting how they attempted to somewhat control for genetic factors by comparing sisters where the older one had dad around and the younger hadn’t, and the younger saw menses on average 11 months earlier.

        Now, that doesn’t prove it’s dad’s absence that’s causing it (birth order has other weird correlations, like younger brothers being more likely to be gay, potentially due to intrauterine hormone exposure). But it’s suggestive.Report

  12. Avatar Kolohe says:

    S1: Who knew plot points in 2010 could still be relevant?

    E3: In college level (and possibly high school) education, classroom time may not matter. I am extremely doubtful that this research is applicable for pre-teen education. (and they did seem some effect on reducing class time in the linked study)

    G1: I don’t think the article’s thesis statement “Why the struggle over priesthood for women looks so different in the LDS Church than it does among Catholics” has as strong of support in the article as the article’s author thinks it does. There are definitely key differences, mainly in size and focal points of the two different organizations, which create a difference in the strategy and tactics of the ‘reform’ movement in each. But while there are obvious differences in theology and other doctrine that emerge in governance, the ‘nuts and bolts’ stuff listed in the article “such as collecting tithes, allocating funds for activities, deciding what will be taught on Sunday, serving on disciplinary councils, conducting temple worthiness interviews, etc.” are largely duties reserved to the ordained priest in the Catholic Church as well. (or at least, their management and oversight, and especially any key decisions).

    O2: today I learned that the boss in the Bennigan’s* knock off restaurant was Mike Judge. And I’ve seen that movie too many times to count.

    *talk about a relic from another eraReport

  13. E1 – One thing I didn’t mention in that post is that I know a couple other people who attended one of those schools. In one case, she was a smart girl in a not-good home environment and she was having a lot of problems. She was probably fifteen or so when we lost touch and my thoughts of her at the time was that she was headed nowhere good. Her home life wasn’t good. Not of the “father beats/molests her” variety, but of the “uphappy marriage, mother is openly cheating on her father with a man half her age” sort of thing. She was in with a pretty bad crowd considerably older than she was (including the guy sleeping with her mom). It certainly looked like she was experimenting pretty aggressively with drugs.

    Anyhow, I reconnected with her via Facebook. It turns out that she went to one of those schools. Went on to Tulane and Southern Tech to get a master’s in accounting. Married, child. I don’t know how much of that can be attributed to the school. It does seem to me, though, that getting her out of that environment was an unmitigated good (I can imagine that her parents may have been exploring such options for that reason).

    The other person I know had no such issues, as far as I am aware. I think she actually underperformed after high school. She did talk incessantly about the experience, though.Report

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