Back to School Repost Post

As our school and college students prepare to head back to school, I thought I’d go ahead and round up some things I’ve said over the years (mostly, with a couple new links too) for your entertainment:

Have a great school year.

In closing: I think this BlogHer post might have been talking about this one!

It’s time for Things I Learned This Semester!

That’s right, another semester is over! If you’re curious about things I’ve learned in the past, please enjoy some links to other posts. So let’s get going with the latest revelations:


  • Eventually, the staff in charge of cleaning bathrooms will notice the graffiti on the back of the bathroom stall door.
  • The kind of high school student who takes college classes is motivated to succeed.
  • An alarming number of undergraduates don’t even know there’s a difference between viruses and bacteria. Come on people, take the whole run of antibiotics and never take somebody else’s meds.
  • Parking on campus gets easier after midterms.

Child Psych:

  • Because of a quirk of how children learn language, most children can relate to Ramona Beasley or Amelia Bedelia misunderstanding what they are told.
  • We adults might not like to think about it, but children are aware of sexual issues much earlier than puberty. Put CCSD’s issues in context.
  • The most messed up thing I have ever read for a class — any class — is the story of David Reimer.


  • I knew that “You can’t out-train a bad diet”. I didn’t know this was mathematically provable. Go ahead and plug some numbers into a calorie calculator and an activity calculator. You can eat a lot more calories than you can possibly burn in a day!
  • The Food Pyramid is gone, and good riddance. Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies, and don’t worry too much about grains.
  • You don’t have to pay Carl Daikeler to put together a workout and diet plan for you, but it’s better than what many people would put together for themselves.
  • A lot of people apparently take Nutrition as an easy class.


  • In a college Spanish class, there are likely to be one or two people who speak Spanish ok but want to learn better grammar and spelling.
  • A Spanish professor from Spain and a Spanish professor from Central America have some fundamentally different ways of doing things.
  • Public speaking is more difficult in a foreign language.
  • Spanish doesn’t actually have a “past tense.” Instead, they have a “preterite” that serves the same function.
  • Don’t be afraid of the Hispanic grocery store. Odds are very good that the employees you’re likely to encounter are bilingual.


  • Fun and danger in a chemistry lab often go together. It’s important to have a good lab partner and follow directions.
  • The chemical reactions that let antacids work often create gas. If you know how to do the math, you can figure out exactly how much acid you’re neutralizing and exactly how much gas you’ve burped.
  • Some guy actually built a periodic table.
  • Even though the pH scale familiar to swimming pool owners goes from 0 to 14, a pH of less than 0 is possible. This guy won a Nobel Prize for it.

That’s it for today. I’m skipping the closing bits. Have a great weekend!

Moment of Silence

December 7, 1941: Pearl Harbor.

Last week, I did see one of these on the road:



These guys are still out there.

In Closing: having a hard time working up sympathy for the lady who’s so scared of being a “bag lady” that she buys a fur coat. Thank heaven at least one person — Rep. Loretta Sanchez — had the good sense to ask the right question. And an accidental flash of common sense (don’t worry, we won’t let any of that near a school again!).

Music Monday: Too soon?

No, just too tacky. Urban Outfitters swears that their new vintage style Kent State sweatshirt isn’t meant to look like it’s spattered with blood, merely has “discoloration.” So what do you think: ignorance or bad sense of humor? Which would be worse? Don’t try to order one, they’re sold out.


In Closing: follow the money, of course; nothing says “unbiased prosecutor” like potentially raising money for a guy who many think should face murder charges; Max on UBI; Aww I didn’t think they cared; interesting. Have a  great week, folks!

More for the College Bound Crowd

This time of year, I usually link back to my 2007 post on campus drinking. And hey, it’s still unfortunately relevant.

Today I’d like to remind you that  hand in hand with college drinking is the problem of sexual assault on campus. No victim blaming is intended here, but if you are headed off to college — especially if you are female — here are some things you need to remember:

  • Sexual assault is a crime and should be reported to police, not campus officials. It should be prosecuted in a real court and not a campus disciplinary panel designed to deal with such infringements as scholastic dishonesty.
  • Your campus may have a vested interest in making sure few serious crimes — including sexual assault — are reported. After all, they want to look parents of prospective students in the eye and talk about their low crime rate.
  • Victims of a crime have the right to have their complaint taken seriously, even if the alleged perpetrator is a campus hero.
  • More protections might be coming, but they of course must be balanced against the rights of the accused (who are still “innocent until proven guilty”, and yes some are unjustly accused — another argument for involving the real police and real courts early).
  • Just like with most crimes, it is always a good idea to be a little proactive about not becoming a victim. Use common sense. Use the “buddy system” when you go out and keep an eye out for one another. Watch your consumption of booze and other intoxicants. Be aware that not-nice people exist. These tips are useful for preventing theft and the more mundane sort of assault too.

Look, I sincerely hope you never ever have to call the cops to report a crime on campus. Likewise, I hope you won’t hesitate if the need arises.

In Closing: More on privacy, watchlists, andreform“, with a bonus blast from the past; dude, highway deaths are so down in Colorado; in the Navy; co-signing is a bad idea; mountain lions don’t like opera; airport playground.

A Few Random Education Items

Sorry if this feels like a tab dump. I stored up a bunch of things I’d hoped to say more about, but it’s clearly not happening. From the top, please!

So, let’s start by talking about online college courses. First up is this nice little infographic. One little detail left out is that some schools have moved entire courses to “online only” as far as I can tell. It makes scheduling a whole lot easier, both for classes that many students must take (say, history 101) and for classes with limited interest (“seminar in 20th century politics”). I’ve taken multiple online classes, with satisfactory results. Here’s some perspective on online classes from a guy who actually understands higher ed.

Of course, not everybody makes it through college. Many drop out because they have trouble with the work, and many others drop out because they have trouble with money. Federal policies may make the latter worse. You know what might also be making things worse? Wall Street.

So, before you can get into college and start amassing student loan debt, you have to actually get into college, right? So is anybody at all surprised that upper class kids do better on the SAT?

Back to the beginning now. It turns out that all the calculators, manipulatives, and fun songs do less to teach kids math than good old fashioned “drilling the basics.” I’m not sure why it is that every few years we get away from the old-fashioned way of teaching math that actually works. I suspect it’s because the teachers get bored with the basics.

And finally, the silliness that is a super-hard kindergarten admissions exam. It seems to me that when I was 5, all they wanted to know was “does she know letters, numbers, and colors?”

Yo, Brian Williams “Raps”


In Closing: Ok, we got us a whole bunch of NSA stuff, including some items courtesy of Comrade Misfit; college graduation season is a nice time for life lessons, such as “it’s a bad idea to hide the fact that you’ve dropped out, and a worse idea to hide that fact by calling in a bomb threat to graduation”; the American worker is still screwed, more so if they are of color, and that’s partly because certain people in government thought it was more important to bail out the banks and businesses; I don’t even know what to make of this (EDIT!!); read the labels, people; oops, maybe appealing to science was a bad idea; I clearly don’t link Dave Johnson enough; the real reason for the War on Teachers?; introducing Naia; and Godzilla is growing.

Double Feature

I don’t normally talk about the so-called “rape culture”.

However, if what I am reading about what happens on our college campuses is even halfway true, we should all be outraged. All students — regardless of their gender — have a right to attend school without fear of assault, sexual or otherwise. The idea that some colleges want to cover up these assaults rather than make sure that criminals are prosecuted is absolutely outrageous. It is a travesty that some students feel that the only thing they can do is take matters into their own hands.

Of course, not all rapes happen on campus. It is a sad fact that all too many women have to deal with these issues, and sometimes little is actually done to help them.

More on the freaking NSA.

Glenn Greenwald has been been making the interview circuit, both bringing attention to how little has changed when it comes to the NSA and hyping his new book on the topic. Let’s not forget that he wouldn’t have the story without this guy. In the meantime, remember how we were told that it would be harder to catch terrorists with this information out there? That might not be quite true.

In Closing: on Net Neutrality; what a 10′ sea level rise means to the United States; on nutrition information; Oktoberfest was originally a wedding festival; and you are a great leader.