Improving Scores with Gender Segregation

In classrooms across the US today, some 80% of teachers are female. A recent report shows that in these classrooms, it is quite likely that the teacher in front of these classrooms then affects how those students learn – but perhaps not in the way you might think. If the teacher is female, she is likely to see the male students as disruptive. If the teacher is a male, the female students are less likely to think the class useful to their future.

Interesting. I never really thought of it. Perhaps there is something to this. It is also interesting that in the case of a female teacher it is the male students who are disruptive and in the case of the male teacher it is the female students who find the class does not fit into their future plans – there doesn’t appear to be any issue that the male teacher has with the female students. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about how it appears to be the females who are unsatisfied, and I’ll just keep moving along.

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Everything's Smaller in New Orleans

As on-again, off-again Ernesto bears down on Florida, we’re reminded that it was one year ago today that Hurricane Katrina was battering New Orleans, and this produced an entirely new paradigm. As people in Texas like to say that everything there is bigger, when you speak of New Orleans, everything there is smaller. Before you go and get upset, bear with me. I’m not trying to insult anyone.

Let’s start with the fact that some four hundred thousand resdents are still missing. I don’t mean that they are absent and need to be found, I simply mean that the population of the city is that much smaller than it was at this time last year. Well, at this time a week ago last year. You know what I mean. That’s the first indication that things are smaller. While some are undoubtedly trickling back in, it will be quite some time before this city is anywhere near its prior size – if it ever is that size again. And this isn’t the only thing that has become smaller.

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Proposing an Official Language

I’ll admit that I’m a white guy who is all too rapidly approaching middle age and doesn’t get a lot of things, and at the risk of sounding even more clueless than usual, one of those is why so many people are against an official language for the United States. Unlike a lot of people, I really don’t have a problem with it and why it makes news when people want to create an official language really baffles me.

Of course my support comes from the assumption that the official language is English. If the official language is Albanian, I might take issue. Nothing against the Albanians, mind you – I just don’t speak the language. It would also seem to make sense that the language of the majority would be the most logical choice, but then our government and logic don’t always go together, do they?

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Coastal Wine Trail of Southeastern New England

On our recent trip to Rhode Island, we decided to visit a winery. Surely there are wineries in the area, right? As it turns out, there are. But first, we thought it would be even more interesting to stop and get some cheese when we stumbled upon this page, which mentions many companies offer tours of their facilities. We’ve previously been on wine trails – what could be cooler than a cheese trail?

After calling at least a dozen of these companies who we’d be somewhat near to, we found that only one of them was open to the public, and several just seemed to have no idea what you were asking when you inquired about tours of the facilities. So we went back to wineries. We didn’t find the bounty we did with cheese-makers, but still, we found one, and we filed it away for later.

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Pluto, We Hardly Knew Ye

The International Astronomical Union, meeting in Prague, agreed on a proposal to define what exactly makes up a planet – and in so doing, trimmed our solar system to eight “classical” planets, unceremoniously giving Pluto the boot.

The new rules say that not only must a planet orbit the sun and be large enough to assume a generally round shape, but that it must “clear the neighborhood around its orbit” – something not done by Pluto because its orbit periodically overlaps that of Neptune (no word on why Neptune makes the cut with this happening – apparently this road doesn’t travel in both directions).

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Blockbuster Rewards Are Anything But Rewarding

After our first trimester of participating in the Blockbuster Rewards program, I’m not happy, I’m not feeling rewarded and if there was ever any doubt in my mind why this company is financially troubled and young upstarts such as Netflix are so popular, it’s long gone.

First, an introduction. The program offers what seems to be a decent incentive: Join for a reasonable fee (roughly $10, but the cost may vary by store) and you get 1 free rental per month. I’m not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but I know enough to realize this won’t be a new release. Still, their stores are fairly well stocked, and the kids like some of those movies in the middle of the floor, so when the manager-type says that you get to select from anything “not on the wall”, once a month, for an entire year, for just $10, it’s really not a bad deal. Guess again.

The first rental wasn’t bad. The second rental wasn’t either. The third time around was like a mugging, only worse, because you paid for the privilege up front instead of just being jumped in a dark alley. After the joy that is watching your kids fight over who gets to choose that month’s video, you stand in line and are charged for the rental. When you ask if this isn’t free, you then have the privilege of being berated by a high schooler because you don’t have your free rental coupon.

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Are Security Checkpoints the Way to Go?

While undoubtedly there are those who will tout the announcement that the UK has foiled a massive plan to blow up a series of trans-atlantic planes a success and we should all be growing warm fuzzies about now, I’d suggest that perhaps the exact opposite is true: About now, we should be feeling even less secure than ever.

The reason? Because the plot itself centered around a decade-old plan that uses liquid explosives to do the damage. This in itself should probably not cause any new panic, but the problem is that existing detection equipment cannot detect the explosives in question. That should make you wonder. The reaction of the government in our country is not to try and figure out how to do so, it is instead to make it mandatory that you remove your shoes.

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The Root of All Evil

It appears that Dennis Kozlowski, the former head of Tyco and infamous for being one of the executives associated with looting their companies while shareholders suffered, is the recipient of another blow. What’s so special about this one? His wife, Karen Kozlowski, has filed for divorce. Nothing odd there, you figure – with him likely headed for some prison time, that’s probably not even noteworthy. Normally, you’d be right.

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Public Schools versus Private Schools

Not so very long ago, we made the decision to enroll our kids in a private school. Though I’ve never particularly been against private schools, I haven’t really been for them either. I always figure that they were a bit unnecessary. But we made the decision, and with just about every day that goes by, I’m glad that we did.

Today, for instance, we received a letter from the school our oldest was supposed to attend (the public school, I mean) saying that we need to send $20 the first week of school to pay for a locker fee (not to cover the lock, but just to have a locker), student handbook, an academic enrichment fe and a team activity fee to “provide recognition, rewards and team-building actvities and items throughout the year”. What a crock. At least with private school you know you’re paying.

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