The College Board has announced that they are revamping the SAT. Once called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, SAT now stands for nothing.
The SAT used to be an almost-perfect IQ test, and until 1995 it did the job so well that a high score was accepted by Mensa, the high-IQ society. It measured aptitude, not the ability to work hard, nor kindness, nor collegiality, nor a host of other factors that go into making one a success in life or in college.
But the fact remains that all other things being equal someone with a high IQ is going to outperform someone with a low IQ. All other things being equal, a student with a high SAT score will outperform a student with a low SAT score. The best predictor of college success isn't high school grades alone, nor entrance examinations alone, but grades and exam scores used in tandem. Work ethic matters. A good work ethic combined with an above-average IQ matters even more.
Americans hate the notion of IQ, particularly when expressed in its two-letter formulation. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently gushed all over the pages of his newspaper with praise for comments made by a Google executive, who said his company no longer used IQ in the hiring process and now hired primarily based on cognitive ability. Friedman saw this as a wonderful change.
Is Friedman, who is supposed to be an American opinion-shaper, too dull to understand that IQ and "cognitive ability" are exact synonyms? If this executive had declared that "Our employees no longer drive trucks to work; they now use pick-ups," would Friedman have the sense to understand that the man was speaking complete gibberish?
Back to the SAT. The idea of changes made back in 1994 and 2005 were designed to muffle the test as a measure of mere IQ and to reward those students who work hard mastering certain skills. The thought was that this would reward hard-working students with lower IQs at the expense of high-IQ slackers. It hasn't worked out that way.
A test which rewards hard work is going to help high-IQ students who work the hardest. Thus Asians, whose propensity for academic work is no secret, have tended to do quite well on the SAT. Highly intelligent students from a non-competitive academic environment have fared poorly. By attempting to measure hard work rather than merely IQ the makers of the SAT actually skewed it further in favor of the brightest students from the best high schools.
The College Board claims that the changes to the SAT are designed to more closely align the test with current schoolwork. In reality the changes will likely increase the importance of IQ as a determining factor of SAT success.
That's essentially the only two choices these test-makers have. They can test achievement and hard work and the winners will be those bright students who prepare the most. Or they can just test IQ and include some kids without a great work ethic or without access to a quality school.
In the end, achievement is the handmaiden of intelligence. Changing the SAT will alter scores a bit, but the final message is going to be one that society simply does not want to hear:
Some students are smarter than others, some students will work harder than others, students who prepare for any type of test will outperform those who don't, and some students will do well on virtually any test designed to measure intelligence or achievement.
The College Board can change the SAT, but insofar as outcomes are concerned, little will change.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The disaster known as Obamacare, combined with the sheer ineptitude and abuse of power by our executive-in-chief, has Democrats running for cover.
Some of the biggest Democratic names on Capital Hill are bowing out, fearing rejection from voters in the upcoming mid-term elections. For many it was just time to go, but I suspect some didn't want to face the prospect of a nasty election campaign that they just might lose.
Add to this the fact that many Congressional districts really aren't that competitive any more and you end up with some pretty weak Democrats taking their party's nomination. Thus you had South Carolina Democrats giving the 2010 Senate nomination to one Alvin Greene. The day after his nomination it came out that he was facing federal obscenity charges. Amazingly enough he still got 28 percent of the vote in the general election.
The latest Democratic star is Erick Wright, the only candidate for the Democratic nomination to Alabama's Second Congressional District House seat. The filing deadline has apparently passed, so he's the winner. He faces incumbent Republican Martha Roby, who took 63 percent of the vote in her last outing. She was first elected in 2010 in a squeaker over Bobby Bright, a very conservative Democrat, a once-formidable group that has essentially disappeared from Congress after suffering election defeats from both left and right.
Alabama's latest Democratic nominee, like most candidates, likes to place political ads on Youtube. It's a great way for candidates with a low budget to still get their ad out there. One of his ads is called "Politics From the Throne," and features him giving a political oration while sitting on the toilet. Yes, you've read that right. The Democrats have nominated a man for national office who videotapes political advertisements of him sitting on the commode!
This ad has now been scrubbed from Youtube, but I managed to get a copy of it.
Congress is more polarized than ever, and regional urban vs. suburban/rural differences have increased. The Voting Rights Act required the creation of as many "safe" minority districts as possible, and the result of moving all of the mostly liberal minorities into safe districts has been to create "safe" districts for both parties. Packing a substantial percentage of the nation's most liberal voters into minority districts has ended up creating a lot of very conservative districts. Few people want to be a sacrificial lamb, especially in a year like 2014, and so you end up with folks like Alvin Greene and Erick Wright getting nominated to a seat they cannot win.
Now as sure as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow I can guarantee that some Republican congressional nominee will say something incredibly stupid during the upcoming campaign season. Just as surely all of my liberal friends will go to Facebook as fast as their little fingers will run to claim said stupid statement represents all Republicans.
And just as surely you can expect me to simply share this blog post. I'm sure the Republicans will have some less-than-stellar nominees, but to date none of our guys are filming campaigns from the toilet.
Monday, March 3, 2014
|Photo of John Gideon Hurdle and his wife Jessie Inez Bunch|
|Charcoal drawing of|
John Gideon Hurdle
found in attic
In fact, I asked a cousin less than a week ago if he had any idea whatsoever who our mystery man was. He didn't. At some point the drawing was at risk of being thrown away, because there is just so much stuff one can keep. We're trying to clean out my dad's office and there isn't a big demand for drawings of unknown people.
Along comes my cousin, Michael Hurdle, with a new Facebook page called "Hurdle Descendents," to be used to share old photos and stories. Two of the photos he posted were of his great-grandparents, John Gideon Hurdle and Jessie Inez Bunch Hurdle, of Taylor. Although he died before I was born, John Gideon Hurdle, was or is my great-uncle.
I think Uncle "Gid," as the family called him, moved from Marshall to Lafayette County some time right after 1900. My grandparents lived in Lafayette County for a few years before returning to Marshall County. I'm pretty sure my grandfather worked with Uncle Gid in some fashion.
As soon as I saw the photographs that my Cousin Michael had posted I knew I had found the identity of our mystery man. What's interesting is that Michael posted a copy of a heavily damaged photograph. The charcoal drawing I have appears to have been drawn from that very photograph. Either that or Uncle Gid always wore his tie flipped over to the right.
Our charcoal drawing is a bit worse for wear, but I'm going to try to clean it up a bit and perhaps stick a frame on it to hang along the photos of other ancestors and relatives I've never met.
The following review was left on the Tripadvisor website for Craggs Hotel in Callandar, Scottland. The owner's response has gone viral; however, the review itself has been scrubbed from the Tripadvisor site. I was able to retrieve this through the use of Google Cache.
Eileen S. of Glascow, Scotland, wrote this, which is her only Tripadvisor review:
Eileen S. of Glascow, Scotland, wrote this, which is her only Tripadvisor review:
Stay clear of this hotel was the worst experience ever. Very poorly managed extremely disappointed:( Was a nightmare from very beginning as they double booked our room and continually lied to us about the booking. Our friends came all the way from England and were very disappointed as their booking was wrong also......will stay clear of this hotel and advise everyone else to!!!!The owner, one Alex Scrivenor, responded:
Valentines day has always held a special place in my heart… it was the day I first kissed my last girlfriend… who I then proposed to three valentine days later... and since she became my wife we have systematically, and quite deliberately, forgotten to mark the occasion.
However from henceforth I will remember Valentines as the miserable day that I had the misfortune to meet you, your husband and your friends from England!
And the 16th Feb will now be called ‘Hatchet Sunday’ in memory of the review you left us.
Before I reply I should make something clear...My doctor has told me that I must control my anger levels... he has told me that I must visualise my anger as a wicked demon that lives in a deep dark pit, and there the demon must stay. Instead of giving free reign to my anger, I have been attempting to be more understanding... less 'Basil' like... so I will attempt to be as understanding as possible… I am getting quite good at it… at my last appointment my doctor called me an 'empathy machine'!
So, in spite of my desire to rage against this review, I will attempt to be balanced…let me try and set the record straight…
I understand that you are angry with me... To arrive at a hotel and be told that you can’t have the room you booked is frustrating! I get that! That is why I gave you a free bottle of wine… and £15 off the room… and a free night’s stay in March! (I was contemplating also throwing in a wee hug for you both... but I felt there might be health consequences!)
You see I understand… I appreciate that having been given a different room you then felt the need to lock yourself away in your room and become incoherently drunk… it’s not my choice of behaviour… but needs must.... Horses for course, etc!
However, here is where things become difficult for me... I have struggled to understand why you then felt the need to go on a drunken rant through the hotel, threatening customers and shouting abuse… (hmmmm)… I also… have tried to understand why your husband wanted to drag me outside for a ‘kicking’, as he put it… (hang on a sec, do I really need to try and understand this sort of behaviour)… and the massive hole in the wall of my hotel? The one you kicked with your size 7 clodhoppers… must I try and be understanding that (I feel the anger rising... ).
And the crowning cherry on the ‘Cleveland Steamer’ that was your visit… was the fact you gave me fake credit card details… so that when I tried to process payment for your outstanding bill of £400 it was declined…
(I feel myself crumbling under the injustice of it all! My grip on reality is loosening… I am teetering on the edge of the great pit… and there, below, in the inky depths… lies… the demon!... he is coming!)
Do you know what… I think my empathy jet is flying on vapours!!! I think ‘Mr understanding guy’ has just been told to pack his bags and leave the building... escorted by the police! In... exactly... the same... way... that you and friends were escorted by the police out of my hotel! Must I still try to empathise with you?
No… no no no no no no no no no no no no I don’t understand any of it! Do you not think that there are one or two teeny weeny details that you omitted from your review… did you fail to recall 'twixt the instance of your arrival and that of your department that you and your husband went on a criminal rampage through the streets of Callander the like of which we have not seen wince William Wallace had a 'city break' in Carlisle! (however, to your credit you did refrain from rape, for which the menfolk of Callander thank you) Did it really slip your memory that your husband was charged with threatening behaviour, criminal damage and breach of the peace?
You wrecked valentines day for my customers and staff.. you wrecked my hotel room… you tried to attack me… you refuse to pay your £400 bill … the police charged you with crimes, which will no doubt be dropped…
And then… you write this review…
One star out of five for location? … What did Callander ever do to you?
One star out of five for rooms? Well, now that you have kicked all my walls down, I probably agree!
One start out of five for value? May I courteously remind you that you didn’t actually pay a single, tiny penny! Despite having sat in our restaurant, gorging yourself on wild boar and pinot grigio at my expense! £400 of my money which I will never retrieve… pursuing you for recompense through the small courts would be as fruitful as pursuing a turd down a toilet!
In conclusion… you have ruined me! You have set my therapy back some six months...You have stripped me of my greatest strength… my compassion... I will be, forever, a 'Basil'.
One last thing… in reference to the last line of your review ‘we will stay clear of this hotel’... I think the restraining order will ensure that remains the case!
Saturday, March 1, 2014
|This photo is of Uncle Joe and Misty Morn. I'm guessing it is after winning some minor field trial, and judging by the truck, some time around 1955.|
My uncle, the late Joe Hurdle, used to take all of us young-uns hunting back in the 1970s. This was an era when deer were truly scarce, and I never killed one. I could kill one a day with a bow if I was willing to hunt off my back deck today; but then I'd have to clean it.
|I don't know the dog or the man in the|
middle, but Uncle Joe is on the left and our
good family friend Hamlet Yarbrough is on
the right. Perhaps this is a National
Field Trial winner.
Uncle Joe was an avid sportsman, and for a number of years was the chief judge for the National Field Trials held at Ames Plantation at Grand Junction, Tenn. He was named to the Field Trial Hall of Fame in 1989. He died in 1993.
Back in the early 1980s Uncle Joe was asked to give a speech to a field trial judge convention in San Francisco, and he asked me to type up the handwritten speech he had written. So I went to my dad's office and with some effort converted his speech to typewritten text. Because of this I was able to make a copy available to my dad, who stuck it in his desk drawer, and that's where it remained until we cleaned it out the other day.
I grabbed it up and decided to reprint Uncle Joe's speech. I know the average person really doesn't care about this sort of thing, but the way of the Internet is that for those who do, here it is.
Oh, and the 2014 National Championship Field Trials just ran at the Ames Plantation. Bobby McAlexander, who is Joe Hurdle's son-in-law, was one of the three judges. And Shadow Oak Bo, a setter, won for the second year in a row. The double-win is even more amazing given that setters almost never win.
And so, for the record, here are my Uncle Joe's view's on field trial judging:
Some Thoughts on Judges and Judging, speech by Joe HurdleTo properly bring this subject into focus, there are many aspects worthy of discussion. I will endeavor to knit these various facets together in this discussion.
Exactly what is a field trial judge, his duties and responsibilities, and the clubs' responsibilities regarding the judiciary?
A field trial judge is in a unique area of responsibilities, his opinion is paramount, along with that of his fellow judge, in the determination of the winners of the stake. A judge is not a referee, or an umpire, or a linesman as in tennis. He and his judicial partner assume a mantle of complete responsibility as the term judge implies.
In going about his highly responsible job, his demeanor is all important as the example he sets should always be above reproach. At all times he must conduct himself as a gentleman, whether in the field or at social functions which accompany most trials. His behavior is always under scrutiny by each and every contestant. Respect begets respect. A judge must be in excellent physical condition, be always alert, have keen eyes, and above all an objective mind, capable of analyzing situations as they occur. He must also be a diplomat as sooner or later the occasion will arise, when he and his partner don't agree on the winners, and each must be capable of arbitration and analysis.
During the running, the conduct of the trial is entirely in the hands of the judges, therefore other factors also come into play. Each should set the pace of the event and should be thoroughly versed in what the pace should be. Marshals should confer with judges unfamiliar with new grounds, so that all dogs are afforded the opportunity to run their courses at proper pace to prevent overlaps. If a judge allows a handler the liberty of setting the pace, the end result will be unequal as each handler differs in pace. The judges should direct handlers as to their responsibilities to properly show their entries to them, not the judiciary chasing ever forward to glimpse a fleeting speck on every horizon. It is, however, a judicial responsibility to maintain an always forward of gallery posture, aloof but not oblivious to amenities with gallery or club officials during the running. A 100 percent span of attention is deserved, and should be afforded every brace that runs.
Two judges should discuss, prior to the running, what they are looking for in a winner, what they judge to be an unproductive, directing scouting activities, etc. They should meet unobtrusively at the end of both morning and evening runs to compare notes and should carry their top dogs in a timely fashion, day to day. Once a dog is dropped from consideration it should no longer ever enter into decisions again; this only leads to confusion and mistrust between judges. Mutual respect and trust between the judges is a must and in keeping with this each should be able to quickly and concisely describe to the other what each has seen during a separation period when covering birdwork, etc., and it should be done as it occurs, not trusted to memory for a later session. Accurate notes by each judge are always a must, and times of occurrence should be jotted down.
A judge should be above average as a horseman, as his responsibility is to be able to get to a find without mishap. Apprehension in the saddle also takes away from the concentration on the dog's performance.
One of the premier rules for a judge is positive judging, he should always accent the positive attributes of the dogs in arriving at a decision. Negative judging is merely looking for faults to throw a dog out on. All dogs have faults.
Let's discuss an example of positive judging, using an All Age brace, to wit:
First and foremost, a dog should run an all age race to be a contender, without this no amount of birdwork should be considered. If the race is of all age scope, did the dog complete his all age casts without excessive scouting, had a lofty gait, moved attractively and had letter perfect birdwork twice. Each find was clean and the result of a well defined forward cast showing hunting desire. The dog had an unproductive where his manners were good, stylish and in a birdy place, but none were put to air. At the hour's end, he showed a strong forward cast to finish ahead on the course. This dog had a group of positives and is in contention. His one negative is a lone unproductive. At this point in the running, after due discussion both judges agree this is their top dog. Later, another dog runs an equal in scope race, is over-handled, over-scouted and many times out of control, but he too has two cleanly handled finds of equal value with the top dog, but no unproductive. Now, how negative is an unproductive when weighed against the criteria of an erratic race, over-handling and excessive scouting? After discussion the unproductive is the lesser evil and there being no other dogs close, the winner is the original top dog because of accentuating the positives to eliminate the negative.
This is a formula example for not just for an all age dog, but a shooting dog or a walking shoot to the kill trial also, and is a basic for judicial decision. Again, only by timely discussion and comparison of judicial notes can two judges make such decisions. Remember, when judging, you the judges must be satisfied that you have named the best dog you've looked at as the winner. Again I stress, there are no hard fast engraved rules; opinion of the judges is what determines the outcome, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Each trial is a new contest, and a judge must constantly guard against predilection. Too much exposure to judging is usually the cause of this judicial fault. Remember every dog, even the worst outlaw, can have one of those spectacular performances. Never have a bias from a prior trial; guard against this at all costs.
What each club owes its entrants and judges.After selecting judges, they should be contacted at the earliest possible times, and once committed should receive details, dates, accommodations, flight schedules, etc. as soon as possible, and the judges’ names should always be included in the American Field ad. Six months ahead is not too early to get the above done. Judges to be announced, in a field trial ad usually indicates a lack of organization by the sponsoring club or a derelict secretary. This should be eliminated.
Clubs should select judges with experience, wherever possible, but at minimum have an experienced judge with a new man on the scene, who possesses attributes previously discussed. The club secretary should converse with the experienced judge and ask him to counsel with and help begin training the new judge. There is always a shortage of new judicial blood in this game, and the old heads are usually most cooperative in grooming aspiring new judges. It should always be remembered by judicial aspirants that the social aspects are merely sidelights, the running is always paramount. A thick hide is a looked-for attribute in a judge, as criticism is always a happening; only the winner is happy and sometimes the judge’s placement is his wrong dog. In most cases, judging is a thankless job. Therefore, a judge must always satisfy himself with his decision.
The club owes its judges decent lodging, nourishing meals, good horses, and should never allow any form of impuning to occur without a reprisal to the offender. All amateur events have hard fast rules in this regard. Open stakes should take a same stance, if not more forceful.
In recent years it has become the vogue in most sporting events to question the ref, boo the umpire. John McEnroe of tennis fame cusses linesmen. This has no business in our sport. Remember, your judges are the supreme authority during the running of your particular trial. Mistreatment of these judges should never be tolerated or unpunished. Bearing in mind the above, no judge worth his salt ever takes offense at a properly put inquiry as to dog placements, or why they didn't place; but both judges should be asked in a polite manner, at the same time and this should not be in front of a crowd, but private.
Once the trial is over, decisions made, etc., placements named, and all gone home, it is a judge' s responsibility to his fellow judge to never discuss their decision in other than a mutually agreed-on positive manner. One-on-one discussions with a disgruntled handler should always be avoided, as words can be twisted and hard feelings created between judges .
In summary, judges should be ever alert, knowledgeable (not just well read) but of practical working knowledge, bird-hunter background, work his own dogs or with his professional handler enough to gain experience. They should be in good health, possess stamina, maintain a high moral stature, and be known for their integrity. They should be average or above horsemen, and in the case of trials of long duration, should be expected to be in shape to make day after day in the saddle. Availability is not the prime consideration, but once committed, a judicial assignment should never be taken lightly. Only a major occurrence should create a cancellation, and once on the job, time should never be of paramount importance. The trial should be run in an orderly and timely fashion by the judges, but a weather delay due to unfair conditions for dogs should be taken into consideration, and time should not prevent a callback, if agreement between judges requires one to determine the best of the lot.
When one accepts the judicial responsibility, one must first, last and always satisfy himself that he and his partner have given every dog their undivided attention and after due process, have chosen the best performances which suit their (the judges) criteria to be named winners, runners-up, or third.
For anyone still reading I will share one more story. Men's Journal magazine did a story on the National Field Trials and Uncle Joe was featured in the article. The writer wrote about the shock that one experiences when a phrase that one has heard for a lifetime is suddenly used in the proper context. As it was when Uncle Joe, astride his horse, urged onlookers not to crowd the dogs: "Hold your horses, boys, hold your horses." The author had never heard anyone say "hold your horses" when that was literally what they meant.
Later in the interview the writer asked about dogs which had surprised the judges, both by underperforming and overperforming. In giving a reason for one poorly ranked dog's victory, Uncle Joe said, "Every dog has it's day."
Indeed they do!
Thursday, February 27, 2014
I bought a year's subscription to the Oxford Eagle last Friday. I had been buying it off and on from the rack, and I had an electronic subscription, but the fact is more times than not I wasn't reading.
Monday my first copy arrived in my driveway with the story about a student who was a regular customer at Mistilis Restaurant on College Hill Road back in the early 1970s. He wasn't a big tipper. He just didn't have much money back then, and at the time a lot of students just didn't tip. It's the type of story that I wish everyone could read about Oxford and Ole Miss.
Apparently, after graduation the student learned of the ways of the world and the propriety of leaving a tip, and he often thought of the waitress who frequently served him and his friends. He didn't know her name and asked the Oxford Eagle for help in tracking her down. The Eagle contacted Jo Dale Mistilis, who was able to do so.
And so, after 40 years, the waitress received her tips, with interest, in the form of a $500 check.
I'm afraid copyright law doesn't allow me to reproduce any more of the story than I have above. It's a fairly long piece and worth reading, but to do so you'll need to stop by the Eagle and buy a copy for 50 cents or pay $5 for a month's subscription to the electronic edition, unless you are already a subscriber.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Okay, today is probably the last day that Ragu is on sale for 99 cents at Kroger. Spaghetti is on sale for 50 cents per 12 ounces. This is about as good as it gets.
Back in 2008 or 2009 I was able to buy about 50 bottles of Ragu for 83 cents per bottle at the Maysville, Ky., Kroger store. I was also able to buy about 70 pounds of pasta at 50 cents per pound. I have not seen sub-dollar Ragu since 2009, so these prices are as good as they come and call for all-out buying.
In 2009 Maysville, Ragu was retailing for $1.33 on a week-to-week basis. So 83 cents was 50 cents less than the usual price. Today Ragu goes for a whopping $1.79 in Oxford, or even $1.99! So getting a jar of the stuff for 99 cents is a real bargain.
There are some cheaper sauces than Ragu. They taste really, really bad, and are a false economy since nobody will eat the pasta and it has to be thrown out. Some of the more expensive sauces are quite good, but Ragu is best in my book for economy and taste.
Twelve ounces of spaghetti usually goes for about $1.29. You can sometimes get it on sale for 79 cents, but 49 cents is about a low as it will go. I'd rather get a pound for that price, but 12 ounces is about all four of us eat in one meal anyway.
Now that our cabinets are overflowing with pasta and sauce, one of two things is going to happen.
First, we might have Armageddon in the form of economic collapse, nuclear war, a solar-flare-induced pulse which wipes out all electronics, or just massive riots by Obama's minions should their Food Stamp cards stop working one weekend; anything which might result in all the food being stripped off the supermarket shelves and not being replenished.
Should that happen we'll have two month's worth of pasta with sauce. Obviously, I have other food items purchased at deep discount which we can alternate with the spaghetti, including 14 boxes of Lucky Charms cereal I bought when it was marked down by about 70 percent. Lucky Charms has a one-year shelf life and will keep my daughter happy in the event of a total societal collapse. My dad used to say the cereal box was more nutritious than the cereal, so if a crisis actually strikes after we eat the cereal we can then eat the box, too!
Fortunately there is only about a one- to two-percent chance in any given year of a catastrophe so great that the food supply is disrupted. So what that means is that we'll probably just eat this spaghetti and sauce over the course of the next year. Since we have spaghetti at least once a week anyway, it's not like we're making a lifestyle change.
The only difference is that instead of paying $1.79 for our jar of sauce we will have paid 99 cents. Instead of paying $1.29 for our spaghetti we'll have paid 49 cents. Which means that over the course of 52 spaghetti dinners we'll spend $76.96 on pasta and sauce versus the $160.16 we would pay if we just pranced into the store and bought these items without regard to price.
The above cost analysis doesn't include the cost of ground beef, which should always be purchased from the old-meat rack. Lucy likes no meat. I like to use a half-pound of ground beef. Jinny and Ash want to use a pound-and-a-half of meat per jar of sauce, which is unhealthy, but sometimes I just can't stand the yammering.
Of course, when the jar of sauce costs 99 cents you can always just make two versions, one with two much meat and the other with meat used properly as flavoring. You lose the savings, but everyone gets what they want. Sometimes peace in the valley is worth it.