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Problems in Education

What makes "higher than 600 on ONE section" a cutoff above which counts as an "eminently respectable" score?

Anyone who claims that teachers are stupid is using propaganda instead of ETS data.

Would you accept "mediocre"? ;-)

Problems in Education

First, the horrible spelling, grammar, and punctuation leap out at me immediately.

Me too. Good thing they're not trying to improve writing ability!

I just read that grant in its entirety. I noticed one possible typo, but did not find other bad grammar or spelling.

The VERY FIRST SENTENCE has minor punctuation issues and refers to "Excellence in Leaning (sp) Through Technology" - I refuse to believe that the original Senate bill being referred to failed to spell the word "Learning" correctly in its title. :-)

The second sentence puts a space before the colon for no apparent reason.

"The moneys this school is requesting" => should probably be "money", though I'd accept argument to the contrary. "With request to ..." => should probably be "With RESPECT to"

"This shows community support for improvement and a move forward with the support of a technology plan." => You can tell what the writer is trying to say, but the writer is not actually saying it; the sentence is just broken.

"Teachers will...learn ho to integrate this technology" => should be "learn HOW to integrate..."

That's just the first page, and it's not even ALL the issues on the first page. Fortunately, the following pages are much better than the abstract page (which was painful). The second page is missing a bunch of hyphens - that's a problem throughout - but otherwise not too bad.

Third page: "A desired outcome of this project is an increase in tile number of students taking high level science." => change "tile number" to "total number" and possibly change "high level" to "high-level"

"By using MBL’s, less time is required" => change "MBL's" to "MBLs" - it's not a possessive.

"The purchase of this equipment would be in support of Colorado economy." has a missing article; change it to => "would support THE Colorado economy"

"accommodate this set Up." => "setup".

Under IMPACT: "By obtaining these funds and implementing this program more students will be able to participate in hands on leaning" => again, it should be LEARNING, not LEANING. Also it's "hands-on", not "hands on"

"This science lab will be in place alter the grant period is over." => AFTER the grant period, not ALTER.

Much of this suggests a very bad writer - less than 8th-grade level - who is using a spell-checker. But there some other mistakes that seem like the document might have been electronically scanned. For instance, the budget mentions "guides for teachers arid students" => should obviously be "teachers AND students" but I can't imagine a human writer accidentally writing "arid" for "and" and "ri" does look an awful lot like "n".

Ritual Report 2012: Life, Death, Light, Darkness, and Love.

Reciting the litany may or may not actually be useful for this, especially in group settings. I actually lean towards it NOT being that useful, but being harmless and fun.

I thought the Litany worked really well as a running gag, especially with the addition of the meta-litany as a punchline.

If reciting the Litany of Tarski in a group setting is valuable, I desire to BELIEVE that reciting the Litany of Tarski in a group setting is valuable. If reciting the Litany of Tarski in a group setting is NOT valuable, I desire to believe that reciting the Litany of Tarski in a group setting is NOT valuable. Let me not become too attached to beliefs I may not want.

Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism

I remember once saying, "Well, have we ever tried blindly throwing lots of money at the educational system?"

Kansas City was one of the more notable examples of having tried that; it didn't work out well: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.html

Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism

I'm struggling to think of any actual examples of this behavior in action

If you've ever said or thought "Okay, just for the sake of argument, I'll assume your point X is correct..." you were holding a position back in reserve.

One typical example is arguing with a religious nut that what he's saying is incompatible with the teachings in his own holy book. Suppose he wins this argument (unlikely, I know, but bear with me...) and demonstrates that you were mistaken and no, his holy book really does teach that we should burn scientists as witches. Do you immediately conclude that yes, we should burn scientists as witches? No, because you don't actually hold in high esteem the teachings in his holy book.

Against WBE (Whole Brain Emulation)

And we do, in fact, have toys that achieve flight by being bird-shaped and flapping their wings.

Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism

The number of global warming skeptics who jumped straight from "it's not happening" to "well we didn't do it" to "well we can't do anything about it without doing more harm than good" should also...give us a bit of pause.

Actually, that move is perfectly consistent with real skepticism applied to a complex assertion.

To see why, let's consider a different argument. Suppose a True Believer says we should punish gays or disallow gay marriage "because God hates homosexuality". You and I are skeptical that this assertion is rationally defensible so we attack it at what seems like the obvious first link in the logical chain. We say "I doubt that god exists. Prove to me that god exists, and then maybe we'll consider your argument." At this point you can divide the positions into:

"god hates X"/god doesn't exist

Now let us suppose TB actually does it. He does prove that god exists. Does this mean that we skeptics immediately have to accept his entire chain of reasoning? Of course not! We jump to the next weak link. To establish the original claim, one would need to prove god exists and is benevolent and wrote the bible and meant those passages in the way TB interprets as applied to our current situation. Anything less, and the original assertion remains Not Proven.

If any link in the chain fails, we don't have to accept the compound assertion "God hates X, therefore we should do Y". We can reasonably express skepticism towards any link that hasn't been proven until the whole chain is sound. Right?

Now returning to global warming, the larger claim that is implied by saying things like "global warming is real" is "greenhouse gases are warming the globe; this process will cause net-bad outcomes if we do nothing and net-less-bad outcomes (including all costs and opportunity costs) if we do X, therefore we should do X". The skeptical position is that not all the links in that chain of reasoning are strong and the warmists need to solidify a few weak links. I don't see how disagreeing over which link in the logical chain is weakest or focusing on the next weak link when one formerly-weak link is strengthened constitutes "sophisticated apologetics". I would have rather called it "rationalism".

The Unfinished Mystery of the Shangri-La Diet

As I understand it, ECA pills that contain actual ephedrine in amounts as high as you used can no longer be sold either in the US or in the EU - even the link you gave is now invalid because they've reformulated your pill. (The new Forza has "30 mg of Ephedra Extract" instead of 60 mg of ephedrine HCL; they recommend you take twice as many pills as before to get a similar effect.)

The good news for Americans is that we can still legally buy 25 mg Ephedrine. It can't be sold with weight-loss/bodybuilding claims but it's a legal over-the-counter treatment for asthma, if you don't buy too much of it at one time. So we can make our own ECA stack using three separate pills. I used this stack: 25mg Ephedrine (Vasopro), 200 mg Caffeine (No-Doz) and 325 mg aspirin.

And...it's working! You were correct to claim real Ephedrine would have a significant appetite suppressant effect - this was immediately apparent the first day I took it. It'd probably be stronger if I doubled the Eph dose to approach what you were taking - I might do that in a bit. It's too soon to tell whether I'll reach my long-term goals but things are definitely moving in the right direction!

UPDATE (2009): it's still working. So far (about 3 months along), my BMI has dropped from 27 to 25.7; bodyfat has dropped from 23% to 20.5%, and weight has dropped from 86kg to ~81 kg.

I've been reading all the medical literature I can find on ECA and editing the wikipedia entry. A few things I've realized along the way: (1) the aspirin component really isn't necessary; all that matters is the ephedrine and caffeine. (to the extent that it's been studied, there's no clear benefit for most users). (2) It is possible - albeit pretty statistically unlikely - to overdose on ephedrine or ephedra or have bad health effects. When ECA was legal as a supplement there were a great many "adverse effect" reports including perhaps a dozen deaths attributed to it. The FDA banned the sale of ephedra supplements because there was what they regarded as a significant risk associated with it and they didn't count the fact that it enables easy weight loss as an offsetting benefit.

However, my estimate is that the benefit of this drug far, far outweighs the cost. Every plausible back-of-the-envelope calculation I've made says I should keep taking it.

UPDATE (2015): Much like Shangri-La, that initially promising effect of ECA reached a plateau. I didn't reach my target weight. It seemed like a bad idea to keep taking speed for the indefinite future so I stopped. After I stopped, I regained all the lost weight and then some.

(And as of today my current weight is low once again, but that was accomplished using a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT mechanism which is worth a separate post of its own. No oil or ephedrine were used in the method that ultimately proved successful for me.)

Mate selection for the men here

Who is going to teach them all the dating rituals that they missed during adolescence, and give them back the self-confidence that they lost? Society isn't.

Society used to teach some of this explicitly in the form of cotillion classes. One modern analogue for adults is PUA workshops. I took The Art of Attraction class from Pickup101 a few years ago and found it extremely worthwhile. My favorite part of the class was learning how to improve my body language in various ways. Confidence is a lot about physical behaviour - how to stand, how to walk, how to look at people... The most interesting and persistently useful part was learning how to touch someone one doesn't know well and have this come across as friendly rather than creepy or awkward. Some people are naturally physically demonstrative - they find it easy to give a reassuring pat on the shoulder or the wrist or the back, or a hug. Most women have this ability; many men don't. But being able to touch people in an appropriately friendly and comforting way is a physical skill which can be acquired with training and practice. Now that I have had this training, I even find it easier to touch or hug my own parents than before I took the class.

Another option is dance classes - you can learn Salsa at any age. Anything that gives you lots of practice comfortably standing and moving in close physical proximity to members of the opposite gender can't help but help.

Changing accepted public opinion and Skynet

Robotics is not advanced enough for a robot to look scary, though military robotics is getting there fast.

Shakey the Robot was funded by DARPA; according to my dad, the grant proposals were usually written in such a way as to imply robot soldiers were right around the corner...in 1967. So it only took about 40 years.

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