Archive for the 'academia' Category

Heartwarming graffiti

Posted by mikedaum on August 17th, 2007

Saw this in the bathroom today.  Thought I’d share.

Why I’m gonna work at a coffee shop this afternoon

Posted by mikedaum on July 25th, 2007

Just found this in my inbox:

Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 14:44:54 -0400
Hello all:

U of T police have just sent out a community alert about a highly dangerous
individual who is wandering around campus, possibly with a knife. The link
is attached below. Could you NOW please place this prominently around your
buildings AS WELL as on an appropriate place on the websites you manage.

It may be that you choose to simply have a link on your homepage for the
next period of your time, asking people to please take note of the alert
that is linked… We will advise you of any changes in this alert.

Heartwarming, really.

Heliocentrism Revisited

Posted by mikedaum on June 18th, 2007

One of the best parts about being back in school is that I have full access to UofT’s extensive digital library. After I posted on the 2006 GSS, and how it showed that only 73.6% of surveyed U.S. adults knew that the Earth goes around the Sun, I figured I might like to have a closer look. So I googled the GSS, and was informed by the website that thanks to an agreement they have with UofT, I would enjoy full access to the data. Wow!

Well, turns out the full dataset is 300Mb, and in a format which is designed to be read by high end statistics packages (which I sadly do not have access to yet). So it took me a little while to write some software to begin to look at this data.

Once that was done, I thought I’d start simply — using the earth/sun question which had originally intrigued me so. In the above graph, you can see the % of correct responses to the question plotted against the highest grade level completed by the respondent (5 for 5th grade, 16 for four years of college, &c). The results are both expected and unexpected. The dominant trend of the graph shows a strong and pleasing (at least to those of us who have left comfortable jobs for difficult slogs as born-again students…and who also think it’s important to know who revolves around who) correlation between answering correctly and being educated longer.

Strangely though, the group with only 2nd grade education scored extremely high…as high in fact as those who completed 3 years of college. This group consisted of only 9 people, so it’s easy to write it off as a low-statistics anomaly. But both the 5th grade and the 7th grade groups were smaller, and fit nicely into the correlated trend. Furthermore, it’s easy to see from the error bars that despite the sample’s small size, the high marks were above the linear fit in a statistically significant sense. Sadly, the sample group did not contain any 3rd or 4th grade dropouts, so we can’t see how the data behaves in that gap.

The chart more or less speaks for itself. The good news is that education seems to correlate with heliocentrism. The bad news is that if you continued in school past the 2nd grade in the U.S., you won’t have better than a 50% chance of knowing that the earth revolves around the sun until your Sophomore year of high school.

Antioch College Closing

Posted by mikedaum on June 13th, 2007


The Columbus Dispatch has a story about how Antioch College is closing its doors!

My brother Jer started his path of higher education at Antioch.  I visited there during the height of political correctness in the mid 90’s.  Even just being there for a day or two was pretty shocking to me.  One really had the feeling that the chickens were running the hen-house.   They also had a co-op program where they would send kids out into the world to work with little oversight or quality control over the jobs.

Part of me is sad on general principles of not wanting to see an educational institution close its doors under any circumstance (not sure if I’ve ever heard of this happening before, actually).  But most of me is so unsurprised at this demise that all I can think is “Good Riddance”.