Athletes DO graduate from college

Race, Class, and Graduation Rates

These two together make a valuable point that’s often missed in the operatic hand-wringing about the failures and abuses of college athletics: when you’re talking about graduation rates, it’s important to compare apples to apples.

Interesting article.  Everyone has heard about the abysmal graduation rate of college athletes, especially at the top sports schools.  But the point here is that comparing the graduation rates of athletes to the overall graduation rates isn’t fair.  If you look at the graduation rates separated by race, it becomes clear that the problem is not that too few athletes graduate, but that too few minorities graduate. 

This is not to say that this isn’t a problem.  But the potential solutions to the problem are very different.  It reminds us that it’s very important to actually identify the problem before trying to solve it.  This should be obvious, but too often it isn’t.

Back in college, as a math major, I remember hearing over and over how important it was to first understand the question.  At times, I thought, “Leave me alone, of course I understand the question, and if I didn’t, it’s your fault for the way you wrote it.”  But then you get to the real world, and it becomes less and clear what the questions are.  I guess my professors were right. 

Anyway, the article suggests that athletes’ graduation rates would take care of themselves if we helped out minority students.  Which seems like a good idea to me.

Its almost time.

Just over fifteen hours until Nano starts. I’m ready to go. I’ve got the beginning of the story rattling around in my head. I’m a little afraid that the beginning is ALL I have in my head, and the whole middle and end thing is going to be a struggle. But now is not the time for doubts.

I didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m not sure why, but it’s going to make it even harder to stay up until midnight tonight and start before I go to bed. I do that most years. It feels like a nice head start.

Anyway, I’m excited about the story.  I have a name for my main character.  Well, I have a first name.  She needs a last name.  I notice that none of you slackers responded to my request for character names.  That’s fine.  When I’m a rich and famous novelist, I’ll just forget all of you.

Net neutrality is not net neutrality

Obama pledges Net neutrality laws if elected president | Webware : Cool Web apps for everyone via Boing Boing

Net neutrality, of course, is the idea that broadband operators shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade Internet content and services–or charge content providers an extra fee for speedier delivery or more favorable placement.

Actually, net neutrality is a problem that would just go away if we had real broadband competition in the United States. Techdirt repeats this ad nauseum. Broadband operator_ should_ be able to offer different levels of service for different prices. In fact, they do now. No one seems to think that Verizon offering a cheap DSL connection, then a more expensive fiber optic connection, is a horrific affront to the fundamentals of the internet. And broadband operators should be able to prioritize content.

If people really had choices in the broadband market, this would cease to be an issue. Provider A could degrade whatever they wanted, and Provider B would step in and take all their customers. Look what’s happened in Japan, when they forced sharing of infrastructure. OMG, fast cheap internet! And competition! Without net neutrality laws!

I won’t blame Obama for this – I imagine he has good intentions, but isn’t getting the whole story. The rest of the Democrats are right in line with him on this, too, so it’s not just his mistake. It’s just funny how people want to promote the freedom of the internet by adding regulation to it.  And, frankly, I think the Republicans are mostly against it as a knee-jerk “no regulation is good regulation” sort of thing.  I doubt they actually took any more time to understand the issue than the Democrats did.

Well, its not quite under $300

A little while back, I said if the Bookean Cybook Gen3 ebook reader was less than $300, I would buy it.  So it was released today, and it’s $350, or $450 with some extra accessories.

I still want one.  I’d love to be able to play with it first, but I may not be able to resist.  I mean, why did I go to college if it wasn’t to get a job so I could afford to spend $350 on totally awesome gadgets now and then?

Go see a play

On Thursday, the wife and I took my mother-in-law to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  NB that I am not linking to the official website of the play because it has a stupid Flash intro.  You can Google it if you’re interested, and the Wikipedia entry probably has a link, too.

Anyway, it was very funny.  There’s one sad song that lasts way too long near the end that doesn’t seem to fit the play at all, but otherwise it’s all very good.  The whole play is, as the title suggests, a spelling bee.  They invite a few members of the audience up to spell along with the cast members.  It’s quite obvious that the audience is supposed to set up a few one-liners, and then go back to their seats.  One of the audience members actually spelled some word I had never heard of correctly, and they had to give him another really hard one to get him to go sit down.

I think my favorite part was when they defined “Mexicans” as “An American slang word for people from Guatemala, El Salvador . . .”  I think there was more, but I couldn’t hear over the laughter.

Anyway, I recommend the play to anyone with the opportunity to go.

Whats with the spam?

My Akismet spam filter on the comments here at Complaint Hub has been letting me down lately. In general, it has been fantastic. It’s caught about 8,000 spam comments since I started the site, and only caught maybe three or four real posts. But lately it has been holding more and more spam comments in moderation, emailing me and making me tell it that the comment is spam.

Some of what it’s been letting through are quite obviously spam. The latest was a brief message and then forty links to hardcore porn.

I hope this means that Akismet is just nearing the next step in their release cycle, and the spammers are getting better at fooling the filter, but all will be back to normal soon. I hate captchas, and don’t ever want to use one here, so a filter like Akismet is a necessity.

If Dante were writing The Inferno today, what circle of Hell do you think he’d put the spammers into? I’d throw them into the Eighth circle with the panderers (a person who serves or caters to the vulgar passions or plans of others (especially in order to make money [source]). There they would walk in a line, being whipped by demons. That seems appropriate.

Curse you, rain

Well, not really.  We need the rain.  But it’s messing up my weekend.  We have flag football on Saturday morning, and my mother-in-law will be in town from far away, and wanted to see the game.  My mom was going to come from less far away, and everyone was going to watch.  But since it’s been raining for two days now, and isn’t expected to stop until Saturday afternoon, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we’ll be able to play.

This probably also doesn’t help the wife’s plans to take her mom around the city tomorrow.

On the bright side, it’s been so long since I’ve actually seen rain that it was really kind of nice.  It wasn’t raining that hard when I was outside, and it’s still warm enough to be pleasant.  As I was waiting to cross 16th Street yesterday, I watched the rain run down the windshield of a Ford Explorer that was blocking the crosswalk as the light was changing.

As I stood there watching, I wondered if anyone had ever uttered the phrase, “The warm rain running down the windshield of your 1993 Ford Explorer is hauntingly beautiful.”

Then I wondered if I had accidentally ingested some drugs without knowing it.

But then I decided that it’s just my subconscious getting ready for Nanowrimo.

Anyway, we need the rain.  But it sure would be nice if the fields were dry enough to play on this Saturday morning.

Date Night – Half-Birthday Edition

On Monday, the wife took me to Perrys in Adams Morgan to celebrate my half-birthday.  Yes, neither Perrys nor Adams Morgan has an apostrophe, according to the web site.

Half-birthdays are a wonderful tradition that my mom did for us.  We got a little present and maybe a cupcake.  We being my brother and sister and I.  Anyway, because the wife is so great, she has continued this tradition for me.  In addition to dinner, she got me a t-shirt from Design by Humans and some bamboo boxer shorts from Shirts of Bamboo.

Anyway, Perrys.  We ate on the open-air roof overlooking the top of 18th Street.  It was great.  The weather was perfect for it.  And the food was great.  We started with some edamame, which had too much salt on it, but was otherwise good, and a bottle of French grenache-syrah, which was also good.  It was a screw cap bottle, which I’ve almost never seen outside of New Zealand wine.  But the screw caps are getting more popular, and I’ve heard from at least two people who should know that even a lot of wine snobs are okay with the screw caps.

Then we had assorted sushi, which was quite good.  The spicy tuna roll was great, and the fatty tuna nigiri just falls apart in your mouth.

Overall, it was a great restaurant experience, and I would definitely recommend it.

Meat and potatoes for dinner

Tomorrow, my seafood-and-vegetables-only-eating wife is going out to dinner with a friend.  I think I’m going to take this opportunity to cook some french fries and a large slab of red meat for myself.  Not that she opposes me eating red meat and I have to do it while she’s not home, but it seems silly to cook two dinners.

Anyway, I’m not sure how to prepare it.  I think we have some four-year-old steak seasoning in the cupboard.  But that’s not really exciting.  What’s an interesting and not too complicated way to prepare a steak?  My cooking skill level is a bit above average, I think.  I can follow a recipe, and I can do a little experimentation outside of a recipe, but I’m never going to be on tv for my cooking skills.

OMG it worked!

PicturesWe finally got some pictures hung.  It was a huge pain in the neck.  Have you ever used a hammer drill?  If not, don’t.  It taps as it spins the drill bit, and it makes the most awful noise.  It makes a nice hole in the cement, though, so that was good.  We picked up a roll of aluminum flashing, which they use for something or other.  Then we got a cheap piece of molding, painted it, and screwed them both into the wall.  I even made an attempt to countersink the screws, and it almost worked.

Anyway, it looks pretty hot.  And now that we know we can do it, we’ll go back and get some more wood and hang some more pictures.

By the way, the photo on the left was taken by the wife on the honeymoon in Melbourne, and the one on the right I took in photography class in college.