Truthy infographic

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  Now there may be some selection bias in what claims the choose to subject to the test, but I think there’s pretty clearly something systematic going on here.  Among, other things, it’s now wonder Kasich is far less popular with Republicans than those truth-defying clowns in front.


I have not purchased my last Iphone ever

So, after using an Iphone 4s for years, I pretty recently upgraded to the 5s (love the fingerprint sensor– and wow, the whole thing is way faster).  Why not a 6?  Too damn big.  I want a phone that easily fits in my pocket and has easy one-handed operation.  I’ve already told people I’m not purchasing another Iphone till they bring back the smaller size.  Good to know that after a generation of phones– 6 and 6s– Apple has discovered there’s a lot of people like me who want a smaller phone.  Remember when a small phone was actually a good thing?  Anyway, the Apple SE is coming (basically, a 6 at the size of a 5) and I’m happy that I’ll be purchasing this once I get tired of my 5s (though, not for a couple of years).  I liked this Atlantic article because it gets at the gender discrimination involved in the overly large phones:

The new phones end what was essentially a long game of chicken played between Apple and its customers. Since September 2014, when the company first released iPhones with big screens, some users have pleaded for smaller devices. (I wrote a story that month asking if the new phones were too large for many women’s hands.)

Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, has used jumbo-sized smartphones to show the consequences of involving few or no women in a device’s design process…

“Increasingly, on the latest versions of the kinds of phones I want to use, I cannot type one-handed. I cannot take a picture one-handed. I can barely scroll one-handed,” she wrote. Tufekci cited research that the average male hand was about two centimeters longer than the average female hand.

On Monday, Greg Joswiak, an Apple vice-president, said that the company sold 30 million four-inch iPhones in 2015. The scale of that number convinced Apple to update its smaller iPhone line.

Hand size also correlates with height. As Apple continues to grow into international markets, it needs to market itself to customers with smaller bodies. The average Chinese man, for instance, is three inches shorter than the average white American man. Joswiak said the majority of iPhones sold in China were outdated four-inch models.

Yes!  And I feel the same way and nobody ever called Steve Greene a short-fingered vulgarian!  For what it’s worth, I can reach a 10th on the piano.  And I even measured my handspan out to 10 inches after listening to this.  Anyway, even my plenty long fingers appreciate the smaller phone and I shall look forward to my Iphone SE or whatever replaces it.

On-line gradebooks

Really enjoyed this Laura McKenna piece in the Atlantic on how on-line gradebooks are changing K-12 education:

How did my son perform on his high-school physics test this morning? Seconds after the teacher posts his score online, I can find out. With just a few more clicks, I can also tell you how the grade affected his overall performance for the quarter, his GPA for the year, how many times he was late for school, and what he ate for lunch this week.

All of this information is readily available to parents at any time through our school district’s virtual gradebook—an increasingly popular tool that is reshaping parental involvement in schools nationwide and opening up the black box of student assessment. Experts predict that these programs will evolve using the latest technology to measure increasingly varied facets of students’ educational lives. While many parents seem to appreciate the increased connections with their schools, others—myself included—are not interested in the constant surveillance and assessment of their children…

Some parents have reported that this new software is an effective method for increasing communication between school and home. Many of my friends are very happy with this technology. One said that she learned that her daughter was struggling with reading by reviewing her marks on the online gradebook; the teacher never informed my friend of these issues. With this knowledge, she was able to get help for her daughter early in the year. Others have said that they’ve been able to correct teachers’ grading errors with these programs.

To respond the proliferation of these online gradebooks, the Harvard Family Research Project has a list of useful tips for administrators, teachers, and parents on how to effectively use these new tools. It recommends that parents strike a balance between monitoring data and allowing the child to progress at his or her own pace, noting that parents should avoid constantly checking online portals, also known as “e-hovering.”

Others are less impressed with the impact of this technology on family life. Madeline Levine, a clinical psychologist and the author of The Price of Privilege, described online gradebooks as “a miserable idea.” Teachers these days grade “everything,” even works in progress, she said, and the online gradebooks make these scores subject to constant inspection by parents—potentially discouraging kids from experimenting or making mistakes that are integral to learning.

Personally, I love this technology.  It has absolutely undoubtedly helped prevented my oldest son from failing classes he would have otherwise failed.  We tried to check on him and make sure he was turning in his assignments.  He told us he was.  Powerschool said otherwise and he was able to make them up before it was too late.  We try not to hover– no daily checks, but I love automatically getting an email each week.  The thing is, though, it is so clear that this very much depends on the individual child and his/her relationship with their parents.  With David– who earned straight A’s last semester– this technology is a godsend.  It allows quick, effective, communication between teachers, students, and parents that I can attest just doesn’t happen via email.  Now, my third child is only in 4th grade (the issue is irrelevant for my second’s special education curriculum), but I feel pretty confident in predicting I won’t really need to check Powerschool at all when he is in middle and high school.  If we were checking him constantly, it would likely be unncesseccary and just erode our relationship.  Our oldest certainly understands why we check on him.

Anyway, I can absolutely see how this technology presents some real potential problems.  But used correctly and on an individualized basis, I think it can be a very, very positive thing.

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