Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Annoy Stage I

The annoy-a-tron has been deployed in the cubicle shared by three of our chemistry instructors. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LA Times Article on Evaluation of Teacher Performance

This LA Times article on comparing teacher performance is a must read for anyone interested in education issues. Essentially, they used statistical analyses of how a teacher influences the performance of his/her students relative to teachers in the same school which should control for student background and other variables. A lot of the comments following the article take the LA Times to task for teacher bashing. Do you think the article is unfair? If so why?

A few take home messages:
A) The district never performed a similar statistical analysis to show their teachers how they're doing at teaching math and English basics.

B) It is almost impossible to fire teachers that are demonstrably ineffective. That doesn't mean they don't care or aren't personable. In fact, experience, education or personality type don't necessarily tell you which teachers are actually effective at teaching basic skills.

C) Apparently the teachers union is contemplating boycotting the LA Times for this article. What?!? This is some of the better journalism I've seen lately. Asking tough questions of powerful monopoly institutions and demanding performance is what our journalists SHOULD be doing.

D) I don't think anyone would advocate using student performance as the ONLY factor in a teacher's evaluation. The problem is, it currently is not used in the LA school district--or most I would imagine. Why shouldn't student performance be part of the equation?

Here's a rebuttal claiming that the value-added statistical analysis is flawed for individual teachers because student assignments aren't random. It think she's probably wrong because the analysis still factors in a student's individual performance in prior and subsequent years so you can spot a year where a student did worse than their normal performance. If this pattern repeats for most of the students in the class then you should be able to draw some robust conclusions and this should control for some slight heterogeneity in classroom populations.

An FAQ on the methods used in the analysis.

The technical nitty gritty (I did not read this).

Friday, August 13, 2010


Thanks Senor Gif! Vote for your favorite in the comments.
funny gifs - How do you keep score exactly?
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funny gifs - Careful man, there's a beverage here
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funny gifs - Brick plus Washing Machine equals LOL
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funny gifs - Pants on Fire
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funny gifs - Go Team Raptor!
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funny animated gif - This Karma doesn't bite
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funny gifs - Whale Ballet
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funny gif - Hide the ball will you? Take That!
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funny gifs - Mr. Miyagi would approve
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funny gif - Goodbye Worldcup, hello Football season!
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funny gif - Obligatory Nutshot
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Nate Oman Weighs in on the GM/Chrysler Bailout

In a Washington Times editorial one of my favorite Times and Seasons Bloggers, Nate Oman, weighs in on the GM/Chrysler bailout (h/t Junior Ganyemede). A good short read and can I just give a hearty amen? The only thing he omits that I would have mentioned, although a commenter does make the point, was that when they "payed back" the TARP loan it was just with other TARP money! (Read this for an explanation of the debt shuffle.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Little Something to Get You Pumped for Cougar Football 2010

OSU DB = pwnd by Tonga
Yewt QB Wynn = pwnd by Pendleton
Losing Harvey Unga = BYU pwnd (ah yewt!)

BYU Football from Andy Brimhall on Vimeo.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Interview with Virginia AG on Legal Challenge to Healthcare Bill

Virginia Attorney General walks us through the four claims in the Obama administration's motion to dismiss Virginia's challenge to the health care bill and why the court dismissed the motion. Don't worry, there is limited commentary from Mark Levin. He mostly just lets Cuccinelli talk.

Questions: Should the federal government be able to regulate inactivity via the commerce clause? Are there cases where this already happens? If the federal government can regulate inactivity is there any constitutional limit to what it can regulate?

Protecting the Public: Exhibit A

Lemonade purchasers beware!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

World Poverty Rates Graph

The photos Mat linked to reminded me of this graph I found a while ago--probably linked from Cafe Hayek--and just hadn't gotten around to posting it here. I believe MENA = Middle East & North Africa.
Some thoughts generated by this graph:
1. People were worse off in East Asia than in Africa before 1980.
2. Maybe it's time to buy some stocks in African companies on the chance that economic development starts to take off there. There are a couple of ETFs that track Africa or Africa + the Middle East. Could Africa pull it off or will they languish in poverty for decades to come? I would bet on the former.
3. Don't believe anyone who insists that life on earth is getting worse (at least materially).
4. How many of our crises are crises of affluence? In other words, we only have time to worry about the social issues of the day because we're not subsistence farmers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Amazing Pictures

Check out these 40's era color pictures!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Anxious Hipsters, Rejoice!

Arcade Fire are back. In aged and faded technicolor.

Brand new (though made to look aged and faded) album release tomorrow. *relieved sigh*