BLURT thread

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Re: BLURT thread

Postby IanC » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:51 pm

Im off to the midlands tomorrow, for a Warhammer Fantasy tournament over the weekend.

My Daemons are finished, and im ready! Hope i do well :)
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby sum yun gai » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:59 am

Judas Maccabeus wrote:EDIT: Note, of course, that Romney's also spoke out for openable windows for the (pressurized) cabins of passenger aircraft, so, maybe expecting too much coherent out of him is a stretch.


this was actually a joke comment, which is somewhat easy to tell from the actual video of the event he said that at. unfortunately, the original article quoting him on that assumed people would understand it for a joke. you'd think that in 2012 people would understand that text has no inflection but apparently not....
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby jvcc » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:23 am

I think I have been drunk more often in the last five weeks since becoming a teaching assistant at my university than in the entire summer. You need a few drinks to read student papers. They're working on rhetorical analyses. So, so bad. But I got to play at a playground again tonight, which was cool.

I have a loft bed, so I have to climb a ladder to get to sleep. Not looking forward to that.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby jvcc » Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:39 am

I made it! I'm in bed.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby Skimba » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:15 am

Whoooo. I made it also@!
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby Skimba » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:16 am

I love my hair.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby jvcc » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:28 am

I vote that the Blurt thread become the drunken ramblings thread.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby Judas Maccabeus » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:22 am

jvcc wrote:I vote that the Blurt thread become the drunken ramblings thread.

I'd love to think what changing the name would do to all the older blurts in here...
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby Skimba » Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:09 pm

IanC wrote:Im off to the midlands tomorrow, for a Warhammer Fantasy tournament over the weekend.

My Daemons are finished, and im ready! Hope i do well :)

I hope you did also. How'd it go?
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby IanC » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:10 pm

Won 1 game, lost 4. Looking back i can see what i did wrong in at least 2 of those games (i deployed wrong in the last game i lost. for example).

Still, i had fun though :)
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby Zombie Protestor » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:11 pm

Well, there ya go. The key strategy to becoming a better player at anything is being able to review yourself and accept your own criticism. For years I was really bad at Magic cards and always losing. Then I sat down and started looking at how I was doing it and some professional feedback and started criticizing the way I played. Today I'm not a competition-level player but I can easily identify which cards are feasible strategy-wise now and build accordingly.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby jvcc » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:31 pm

The director of the first year composition program where I work observed my class on Friday (it's a routine observation--another one of the three directors will be doing it again next semester). Afterwards he went over his notes with me and had a lot of nice things to say about how I taught my class. Towards the end of our discussion he asked the question, "But you've taught before, right?" He was surprised when I said no, and said I was a natural.

It's funny, because I had been so nervous about him observing my class that I had almost been physically sick that morning (and I never get nauseous from nerves).
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby MysticalDescent » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:41 pm

I sometimes wonder why there is a such a gender disparity in terms of numbers of pupils in some academic subjects. I don't know if it's the same in other countries, but I was just thinking about it as I looked at the Physics Department graduation photo yesterday while I was sizing up some frames. Our physics group had something in the region of 40 students in the final year, with only four women. When I studied Physics at College, we had a class of 14, with one girl. Maths was the same, as my group consisted of five boys and two (whittled down to one later on) girls. Looking back at University again, it was difficult to work out a clear number due to the fact that there were far more students, a total of around 200, and also because all 200 students were seldom seen in the same room together as we studied different modules. I'd say it was approximately 60-40 in favour of men, though, and I think there were around four girls amongst the twenty or so Medievalists. I knew a few mathematicians and was told that they weren't an awful lot of women studying maths, either.

On the other hand, I was asked by one relative why it was the case that my graduation ceremony, which was made up of students from the various sciences, saw mostly female students graduate. At my University, Forensic Science and Biology were exceedingly popular and were packed to the rafters with women, with the ratio seen in Physics reversed. Similarly, English Literature was dominated by women (which was also the case at College).

Why does that actually happen? I presume that it's some sort of attitude that develops pretty early on, because a generalisation such as 'girls can't do maths' or something similar is obviously just nonsense. How does that attitude foster, though, and at what stage? I never noticed any of my teachers take a different approach to their subject with boys or girls, so I suppose it could perhaps be that the standard teaching styles for one subject sit better with one gender than the other, but I can't see why that would actually be the case.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby chrismachine » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:27 pm

Literacy for boys is a real thing. The emphasis is getting boys to read ANYTHING. The backs of baseball cards, sports scores, 3-panel comic strips, whatever. The approach is reactionary to boys' reading scores being considerably below that of girls in the early 90s to mid 2000s. Whether or not that affects things like stdy choices later on is for the sociologists to decide, but there you go. Girls actually do better in math scores more often than not as well in grade 3, but worse by grade 6 (as societal attitudes change?). I had about 3:1 girls in my classes when I was in the English program, and about 4:1 during my B.Ed.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby sum yun gai » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:19 am

i got degrees in both physics and computer science, and in physics we had about five women in a department of about 60 students i think? on the professor side, it was about even, but most of the women professors were not american. in CS it was pretty much 99% guys. i know in CS circles, there is a lot of sexism which makes women feel unwelcome so they pursue programs which they feel are ...safer? for them. in other words, other degree programs provide them the education they desire without all the endless jerks treating them as sex objects all the time.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby jvcc » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:06 am

Yeah. At the university where I did my undergrad I had female friends in nuclear engineering and computer science, and they felt uncomfortable with all of the guys in their programs that hit on them. That's certainly not the only reason that women tend to stay away from certain technical/scientific majors, but it is a factor.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby ntw3001 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:43 pm

I read an article on BBC News recently about the underrepresentation of girls in Physics. It was just complaining rather than providing any insight, but the tone irritated me a little. It seems to be very much the BBC's official stance that girls are supposed to excel and boys the opposite; underachievement in boys is reported as routine and unexceptionable rather than actually problematic, whereas the same in girls is treated as a failure of the system. It's not strictly the case here, as it's dealing with an imbalance in representation rather than achievement, but it showed up a bias that always irritates me. Aside from this I'm sure the quality of the BBC's reportage has gone downhill in the last few months. I did read a comment on one of the string of 'Diving in Football is Solely the Underhand Trickery of Johnny Foreigner!' articles suggesting that they may have snapped up a few thickos from the collapse of News of the World. Maybe it's true!

On the subject of education, I also read of new plans for universities! The idea is for a new system to replace the current degree, including both an academic rating and some kind of additional material detailing extracurricular pursuits. It's not a good idea! I rather wonder if post-secondary education is experiencing some kind of subtle, intentional sabotage.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby chrismachine » Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:21 pm

It is more likely that the subtle rumblings about "how useful is a degree for most people, really?" due to way more people getting degrees are starting to get more pronounced, and the system is looking to establish a new way for people to artificially set themselves apart without having to actually prove themselves to an employer, and for employers to rely on external systems to pre-screen people without having to devise creative and effective ways to select the best candidates.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby ntw3001 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:57 pm

I may have been a shade facetious with the 'intentional sabotage' claim. But I can't think of a more effective way to ruin university than by measuring students' extracurricular activites. At what point are leisure activities actually leisure activities? Aside from that, I feel that measuring everything that can possibly be measured is counteractive to useful experience. My own experience in school was that we weren't there to learn, we were there to be tested, and the marks in the tests would measure our ability to take tests. We were mightily prepared for careers in test-taking, but found that that industry wasn't booming in the way the government had apparently predicted. Students spend their formative years learning that the sole purpose of their education is to perform pointless tasks in order to achieve meaningless grades, which is a pretty toxic lesson. Expanding it to the things students dedicate themselves to will only serve to reinforce it, while employers are struggling with graduates who are unprepared for a world where assessments and feedback aren't presented in a graded format.

It's a whole bunch of additional pressure to perform in extra ways, and I really doubt that it's something employers even need. If a graduate has been in the rowing team, why does their degree need to reflect that? Is the problem really that the 'other interests' segment on a CV is too bafflingly subjective? The problem employers actually complain about is that graduates are woefully unprepared for work. I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn't helped by an emphasis on testable, rather than usable, skills. Grades are meaningless, and that's a genuine problem for employers trying to select candidates from an expanding pool of unemployed graduates, but the solution surely isn't to expand the field of meaningless statistics from which they draw. All I see is pressure on students, reinforcement of poisonous life lessons and a failure to respond to the actual problem that students aren't learning what they need to know.

In cases like this I usually have a little faith that the plan is more expansive than advertised, and that reviewing it in full will reveal clever solutions to rebut all these worries, but I do feel that the government in the UK has a long-term habit of leaning extremely hard on data collection and analysis (the same fear that brings us our unholy swarm of CCTV cameras). Not that there's anything inherently wrong with objective measurement and statistics (of course a policymaker needs to be informed by hard numbers, although analysis is crucial and statistics are more than capable of portraying a distorted image), but I rather think that politicians use data acquisition as a crutch, in (justified) fear of being held severely to account by public and media; any high-profile decision is potentially career-ending, and I suppose that pressure is the downside of a usually-desirable state of relative transparency in government.

But that ain't on topic. My conclusion: I find it completely believable that the intention is to solve the graduate skills shortage by producing a different set of data from a system which will remain essentially unchanged.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby chrismachine » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:52 pm

All of this operates under the assumption that students who go to university do so to be employable and not educated. Since I would agree with this assumption, the current setup would seem to me catered to an audience that makes up a fairly small portion of its clients. Why can't political science degrees be offered in such a way as to make courses 50% slanted toward useful applications of what they are teaching you? The ones I took were basically an outline of guiding principles and theories not grounded in anything. Alternatively, a forward-thinking university could simply keep the content fairly similar to what exists, but change the assignments and graded portions to reflect the needs of jobs in related fields rather than standard essays and tests. Industry leaders could be brought in to design projects that reflect what they seek. I know that I was asked in one of my courses to write a research report in one of my classes in second year by this one professor who is Canada's foremost expert on women in Shakespeare and an editor of an encyclopedia of literary criticism, so clearly a very analytical mind. I received a grade of 40%, and the first line of her comments was "This is not a research report." Now I subsequently pulled off a 95% on the final exam to salvage a B in the course, but had the exam also been non-traditional I may have been taking the course again. Many people with Lit degrees end up doing jobs that involve research and, I assume, reports on their findings. I never did find out exactly what was expected of me in that assignment, but if I were forced to do so I would certainly be better prepared for a job that requires research.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby MysticalDescent » Thu Oct 18, 2012 3:27 pm

It's funny that you should mention the way in which a greater emphasis is apparently going to be placed on extracurricular activities. I was actually listening to a work colleague champion the idea loudly the other week. It was quite difficult for me to make any comment though, as I've got quite a heavy bias. His argument was that any old idiot can get a First or an Upper Second at University, but people who spend their spare time stacking shelves in supermarkets or whatever may end up getting a lower grade but should be infinitely more employable and there should be some official way of reflecting this, rather than just listing a degree title and class. He does have rather Marxist leanings, though, and I think he was under the impression that the majority of students who get good grades are supported by wealthy parents and don't have to work, whereas those who do not get good grades are spending all of their spare time performing minimum wage jobs. Try as hard as I might, I can think of a grand total of one person who has held a job during term time at University. Everyone else, no matter what their background, has either lived with their parents and gone to a local University, or survived off their student loan. I can actually put forward two examples here.

Taking myself as the first example, I skipped out on pretty much every expense - stayed at home, no drinking, no smoking or other expensive habits, minimal spending on clothes - and on extracurricular stuff so that I could focus on getting the best marks possible. I thought before I started that a dual-honours degree might balance the workload somehow, so that you did the same amount of work that you would do for a regular degree, but over two subjects. It turned out that you end up doing the equivalent of two whole degrees. Factor in travel time and there's not an awful lot of time left to be spent on campus doing things, when I can be at home, working. In the end, it paid off and I got a First.

The second is a person I know who ended up with a Third class degree and spent their entire final year campaigning for a position in the Student Union and volunteering at women's centres. I'm not certain of the overall effect this work had on their final classification as after being in the same class as them throughout High School and College, I wasn't particularly surprised by what they got - although anything as high as an Upper Second wouldn't have surprised me either. Apparently it led to their dissertation being a little neglected, causing it to get quite a low mark.

The guy's argument in this case would be that as the person I know was involved in the Student Union and was a volunteer, two things that he felt were worthy of particular merit, their degree should be worth more than mine. I didn't really want to throw myself into the discussion at the time, as I didn't want to cause any bother with someone who feels very strongly about it all and who I could be sharing an office with for some length of time, but that doesn't seem quite fair to me.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby chrismachine » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:46 pm

I don't know if the argument is that it be worth more than yours, but that future degrees reflect that sort of work. You would have struck a different balance during your university career had that been the case, and the argument he was likely making is that such a decision would have been to your benefit. He may also have been subtly saying they worked harder, but that part is him being a dick.
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby IanC » Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:52 am

I started volunteering at a branch of the PDSA today, one of their shops. Getting me out of the house and all that :)
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby chrismachine » Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:53 pm

That sounds like a fantastic decision and rewarding work :)
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Re: BLURT thread

Postby badplantmommy » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:58 am

I think I'm finally starting to get Perspective Drawing.
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