Light Posting For The Next Week

The bar mitzvah is getting close, and there has been much to do. <!--25d74b0c420b4df8a923513a74a91588-->
I spread wood chips (5 trips worth-100's of gallons, in 3 big buckets.  I think gas alone may have cost more than buying wood chips and having them delivered!) all over the dirt so our festivities would be less dusty.

I wrote the "program," laid it out, checked it 4000 times and had it run off so those attending the bar mitzvah and regular Saturday services will know who is who when they go up to the bima.

I also put in the program a remembrance of my father and brother (a common practice), both of whom are dead, but would have been proud of the son.  Writing it brought tears to my eyes, even though I thought I was sort of over that kind of reaction.  Nope.  I suppose things like this will always bring up the sadness and loss.  Cancer took my dad about 10 years ago, and sadness caused my brother to take his own life in 2007.  But we live on, tasked with remembering those who are gone.

So, one house is finished--the house where the party will be.

Now all I need to do is clean up my place (the bachelor pad--it's just the son and me) to make it presentable in case folks end up here for a bit over the weekend.  How do you clean a toilet?

I had to buy the Frustrated Son a suit.  It was too fucking expensive, especially given he will wear it once.  I could have bought a cheaper suit, but he would have looked cheap.  Priorities.

I will resume a more regular blogging schedule in a week.  For now there are archives, and the occasional post.


"Selecting On The Dependent Variable"

Many are skeptical of the current push to improve our education system by means of test-based “accountability” - hiring, firing, and paying teachers and administrators, as well as closing and retaining schools, based largely on test scores. They say it won’t work. I share their skepticism, because I think it will.

There is a simple logic to this approach: when you control the supply of teachers, leaders, and schools based on their ability to increase test scores, then this attribute will become increasingly common among these individuals and institutions. It is called “selecting on the dependent variable,” and it is, given the talent of the people overseeing this process and the money behind it, a decent bet to work in the long run.

Now, we all know the arguments about the limitations of test scores. We all know they’re largely true. Some people take them too far, others are too casual in their disregard. The question is not whether test scores provide a comprehensive measure of learning or subject mastery (of course they don’t). The better question is the extent to which teachers (and schools) who increase test scores a great deal are imparting and/or reinforcing the skills and traits that students will need after their K-12 education, relative to teachers who produce smaller gains. And this question remains largely unanswered...
All of it at Shankerblog.

Thursday Cartoon Fun: Dead Kings And Horses Edition


Rachel, You Missed An Opportunity

Rachel Maddow, who I really like, took on Governer Christie's lameness with New Jersey's RTTT application in which they included wrong numbers that ended up costing them $400 million, and a loss of RTTT money.

Yeah, it was a lame, costly mistake.

But ask yourself, Rachel, why the hell should states be competing for crucial education funds?  And, is it really that fucking funny, when you think about it?

Rachel, you could have begun to talk about the education wars that are going on all around you, and affect every citizen of this country, especially the most impoverished members, many of whom live in New Jersey.

You could have chosen to comment on the fact that our Education Secretary has never taught.  Not one day.

You could have remarked that it seems odd that billionaires are funding charter schools and CMOs that have shown they are no better than traditional public schools, and are often corrupt and run by non-educators.

You could have mentioned that to get RTTT funds states had to change their laws to allow for more charters, which have been shown to be useless as a way to scale up some magical education reform.

You could have talked about poverty and how it kills hope, health, and happiness (remember your happiness scale?).

But no.  You chose to make fun of the Governor.  You missed the story.

You missed an opportunity.

Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Matt Davies Edition


Dear Comcast

Comcast uses nasty marketing and sales techniques. I called today to try to get my bill lowered and was surprised to learn about my DVR-cable-box.  This letter was sent right after my conversation with the rep:
Dear Comcast,

I called today to see if Comcast could match or beat AT&T's offer made to me a week ago.

In the course of my conversation with the Comcast representitive it was made apparent that the DVR I currently rent from Comcast is an Hd-DVR that costs $5/month more than I thought.

I do not have an Hd television. Never have. Indeed, when Comcast came to begin my service in 2004 they hooked the cable up to my old non-Hd televisions (2 of them, still hooked up).  When I went in a year later to upgrade to DVR, there were no choices of Hd or non-Hd DVRs, and it was to cost $9.95/month.

Your representative said that because I did not specifically ask for a non-Hd-DVR when I went into your service center in 2005 to upgrade from cable box to DVR cable box, I got what "the majority of customers want" which, according to the representitive, was an Hd-DVR.  I was not asked what kind of DVR I might want.  I was not informed there were two different kinds of DVR (I still am not clear, actually).  I was told upgrading to DVR would be $9.95, not the $15.95 it is now (I didn't know the price went up because I went paperless and it gets paid automatically).

After accidentally (unknowingly?, un-informedly?) upgrading to an "Hd-DVR" in 2005, when all I wanted was DVR, I understandably asked the representative on the phone today if there was a non-Hd peice of equipment that was cheaper that should have been offered to me, as I have no need for Hd and I shouldn't be charged for unnecessary equipment given to me by Comcast due to an omission on Comcast's part.  She said they are all Hd and all $15.95 now.  Then she said, after I asked many questions based on previous statements made by her, there was a crappy one that was cheaper and not Hd, but nobody wants that one.  And on and on she went, trying to save herself from the misdirection, misdirection which is undoubtedly made at the behest of management.  Not offering the cheaper alternative is one way to make money!

What the majority of people want doesn't matter to me, your customer. Let me instead ask how could I possibly know there was a non-Hd-DVR if I was never told in the first place?

Your representitive told me on the phone that if I had wanted to know what kind of DVR I had I could look at my bill. I had no reason to think there were different types of DVRs, so her suggestion was ill-posed, to say the least.  But, I looked. The September 2009 bill (earlier too?  they are not available for download) shows an item listed as only "DVR". This month's bill has "Hd-DVR".  I think the fact that in 2009, and most likely all the way back to 2005 when I upgraded, the item was listed as only DVR when there existed different types, allowing for all the fudging your representative engaged in on the phone today.

So, for five years I have had a piece of equipment that is more than I can use, and I have been charged roughly $5/month during that time for the privilege.

How is a customer to know there are different pieces of equipment at different prices unless Comcast shares that information? Clearly customers can't ask for what they do not know exists, but you are suggesting I should have asked.  I sure never asked for an Hd-DVR!

I was sold (rented) an Hd-DVR because Comcast neglected to offer me the cheaper, less robust one. Your position, that your representative reluctantly had to agree with, is Comcast expects that a customer should know to ask for things that are not known by the customer to exist in this, or any other universe, and if they don't ask, they will be sold the more expensive version, even if they don't need it.

That sucks.

I think you owe me, and probably many others, a refund.

Thank you for lowering my bill though! Competition in business really works!  

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Doomsday Edition

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