What are we reading now?

Agent to the Stars by Scalzi:  Hilarious.  Very much like other Fantasy/SF books about the Hollywood movie industry (Bride of the Rat God, The Revenge of Kali-Ra), and every bit as enjoyable.  (Though with aliens instead of ancient curses.)  I didn’t particularly want the plane ride I started it on to end, or the book for that matter.

Con and Conjure by Lisa Shearin:  Meh.  Another marking time book.  I liked the way there was actually some closure in the previous book.

Psych:  Mind Altering Murder by William Rabkin:  It was ok.

The Wide Awake Princess:  Lots of fun!

Kitty’s Greatest Hits.  A bunch of short stories about Kitty, other people in her books, and historical vampire/werewolf fiction.  The ones with kitty are the best… the historical ones aren’t as much fun.

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison.  Definitely YA, an easy read and a clever concept.  Plays around with fate vs. free will rather than good vs. evil, which is a nice twist on the grim reaper genre (or shinigami genre…).

Template by Matthew Hughes.  No Henghis Hapthorne in this one, but the main character, a professional fencing duelist, is also interesting.  We revisit many of the cultures we’d already discovered in Fools Errant and the Henghis Hapthorne books.  There’s an underlying anthropology message in this one– what is culture, what are mores, how do we experience the world based on our culture?

The travelin’ one of us has been reading a bunch of Heyer: a re-read of Lady of Quality, plus Faro’s Daughter.

The Mongoliad:  awesome idea.  A book written by committee, and unfortunately it shows.  But still you should maybe read it. It’s like an RPG video game but in a good way. Some info-dumping about swordsmanship, which fortunately is authentic as Neal Stephenson is authentically a real historical sword guy. The book is dedicated to Guy Windsor, one of the most well-known experts in the field and an amazing font of knowledge.

Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez:  light enough to read on choppy plane or when jetlagged in foreign hotel room at 4am.

Discount Armageddon:  I’ve read a bunch of this author’s other stuff but I enjoy this one most so far.  Very silly.  Solid start to a new urban fantasy series.

Cancer Vixen:  rapidly becoming a classic in the field, and I can see why.  Read it.

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction:  Hells yes.

Plus a WHOLE BUNCH of other books!  Yay, summer!

Any summer recommendations for us?

Percentage vs Percentage Point: A Primer

If your (ordinary least squares) regression coefficient is .047, that is an increase of .047 points, or an increase of 4.7 percentage points.  When X goes up by 1, Y goes up by 4.7 percentage points (or 4.7 ppt for short).

It is not an increase of 4.7%.

To determine what percent change it is, you need to start with a base or an average. If, for example, the mean of the Y variable is .47, then an increase of .047 would be: .047/.47*100 = an increase of 10% off the mean.

Note that 10% is not the same as 4.7%.

Percentage vs. percentage point is a way that people lie with statistics.  A small percentage point change can look large in percentage terms and a large percent change can look small in percentage point terms.  Most people don’t know the difference, and think both mean percent.

*disclaimer:  if both your X and Y variables are in natural logs then, because of the beauty of Taylor approximations, the regression coefficient can be read as a percent with certain assumptions about the size of the change etc.

Student loan grumples.

#1:  so my student loans got sold to this stupid mohela place and their website is stupid

 #2:  they’re still low interest though, right?
just a pain to pay?
 #1:  right
 #2:  how many years ya got left?
Maybe they’ll get sold again…

#1:  wow, that’s dumb.  To make a one-time extra payment, you have to set up a recurring payment but just stop it before the second one would happen.

talk about yer non-intuitive
 #2:  sounds like something they don’t want you to do
 #1:  no, they really don’t
too effing bad
(update:  the payment went through, at least…)

Link love

#2 spent the week jet-lagged.  #1 spent the week trying to meet deadlines.  We’re sure not much happened on the internet while we were busy.

Um… a crap-ton of toilets from Karifur.

Evolving PF with a well-reasoned post on the controversy over whether or not SAHP without their own incomes should be allowed to get credit in their own names alone if they don’t have income in their own names.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

CPP and Catteson Pollock.

Mutant Super Model on how to not blow your gift budget every single time.

Ask the grumpies: Tracking

Leah asks:

I assume you prefer tracking students based on ability in K-12 or at least 6-12/7-12. maybe yes? Have you seen any good evidence for that, or is there better evidence for having lumped classes where assignments/projects are differentiated to ability?

We’re not really up on the tracking literature for non-gifted kids.  Our impression is that once you cut off the tails of the distribution, mainstreaming has better outcomes than tracking.  There is good evidence that mainstreaming gifted kids has worse outcomes both for the gifted kids and for the middle of the distribution in cooperative learning environments.  The literature on mainstreaming for learning disabled kids is mixed, but I suspect that mainstreaming is good for kids who are misdiagnosed (generally because they are poor or minority) and for those with specific learning disabilities, and bad for kids who need more than just pull-out programming for their individual kind of disability.  It would be awesome if they could, say, track math classes for kids who have dyscalculia, because math can be taught to kids with dyscalculia, but it has to be taught in a different way than mainstream math is taught.  But it’s hard to do that kind of thing except in a major urban center.

As a teacher, it is much easier to teach to a tracked class, but that’s just personal anecdote.  There’s a lot more work to go into differentiation, and God bless the teachers who are willing and able to put in that effort.  We salute you and wish you smaller class sizes!

Differentiation, when done well, has good outcomes across all ability levels.  Ability clustering within a class (allowing clusters to change as abilities change) also has good outcomes for everybody.  Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom has an excellent literature review of the differentiation and ability clustering literature for all kids, not just gifted kids.

Do any of our grumpy readers have more knowledge about tracking to share with Leah?  Any experiences to share?

Accusing people of lying

We’re from the Midwest, and in our part of the Midwest we don’t lie, we don’t dissimulate, and silence is deadly because if you can’t say anything nice, you don’t say anything at all.  In the Midwest one of the rudest things a person can do is say someone is lying (without proof). We don’t *do* that.  We’re not always the softest-tongued people, but you can trust what we say when we say it.

So when someone accuses someone else of lying, especially when the accused person is not there to defend hirself, we don’t really feel a need to be nice to that someone. That’s one reason people who say that “parents who say their kids are gifted are liars” are not welcome to say such things here. And we’re not happy when people make statements that they know people IRL who pretend to be happy or pretend to be balanced. Those are horrible bitchy things to say, especially if you don’t have any proof. And they’re worse when you’re telling them to someone from the Midwest where lying is taboo.

One of us has also lived in SoCal and knows that saying things people want to hear is more the social order and there isn’t as big a taboo on bending the truth. There was a period of adjustment for her learning that. Of course, she didn’t change herself to start bending the truth (when she said, “Let’s do lunch,” she really meant it– especially if she said it 3 times), but she learned the social cues that put truth probabilities to people’s statements so she could figure out what was actually going to happen and what people thought might be nice to happen if the stars aligned. That sort of thing.  So perhaps our reaction to accusing people of lying behind their backs isn’t at the same level as or as understandable for everyone on the internet.

Still, if you’re going to accuse people of lying without proof… here is not a good place to do it.  We’re likely to get out the big stick of moderation after warning you politely.  Go find a blog with other assholes and you can complain about whatever you want behind peoples’ backs.  That’s the beauty of the internet.  But you’re not worth our time, and despite Midwesterners being a generally hospitable people, you’re not welcome here unless you can learn some manners.

Things we wonder about

  • Ungla Schluppe… who are you?
  • Perhaps a zen koan:  If you are deluded into thinking that you are happy, are you really not happy?
  • Is something always going to be annoying you and there’s no point in getting rid of annoyances, or do annoyances hit randomly and pile up so you should get rid of them ASAP?
  • How do you get to graduate school and still not know the difference between loose and lose?
  • Why don’t we see kids blowing bubble gum bubbles anymore?  Or really, chewing gum much at all.

Grumpasaurs, do you have solutions for us?  Or other ponderable imponderables?