Monthly Archives: December 2006


Here is a nice post with some interesting comments on how to deal with cheating:  Marginal Revolution: The Law of Below Averages

I agree that cheaters ‘on average’ never prosper. But it is the ‘on the margin’ stuff that is more interesting.

I suppose though that is why we worry about all the grades when making the decisions.  I wonder too, exactly what we are certifying with our grades.  It is confusing enough to decide to make them absolute or relative.  So I make them relative, but you cannot pass or get an A unless you make some sort of absolute level.

How good are humans at judging expertise, anyway?

Can you tell I did grades this week?

One of my favorite professors used exams to explain dynamic consistency, and rules vs. discretion.

We have exams to make sure you work to learn the material.  But off course, once you learn the material, why bother with the exam–it only makes extra work for everyone. It is therefore optimal to cancel the test once you have studied and the instructor knows that you have studied.  If you knew that was the outcome, why study, since you will never be tested.  Hence, exams, and rules for requiring exams.

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Something new

A student at the exam I did not recognize.

Too much

There is too much great music to listen to; too many good books to read; too many excellent wines to try; too many interesting places to visit; too many brilliant foods too eat; too many interesting people to talk to; too many places to hike.

The older I get, the more I realize that the constraint is time.

When i first got my PhD, I was sure that I could keep up with the broad field. After all, I was well-trained in the basics and could read and figure out anything. I still believe that, but I now realize that I just don’t have the time nor the energy. I can feel the depreciation of my intellectual capital, day by day, minute by minute, class by class.

I could fix it, but I don’t have the time. I often spend days running around like a chicken with its head cut off because of the stress–yet I not able to find the time to sit still and concentrate.

I suppose that I am more efficient at writing papers, but surely I am less efficient at sitting and thinking about what to do. And having ideas, making intellectual connections and so on. There is always another report to write, another class to prepare, another meeting to attend, another student to meet. Nor can I stay at work for hours and come in all weekend–I have a home life (yay!).


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And you shall know them by their trail of dead

I have just noticed a new (to me)  kind of researcher.  One with lots of nice projects all done with different co-authors.  The researcher has a good vita, while the co-authors all have really short vitas, tending not to make it through review and so on.

It is informative about both the researcher and the co-authors, I guess.
But who is helping who here?  I do not know, not at all.

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Matches on an airplane

On Monday, a woman started lighting matches on a plane in order to cover up her flatulence.
Passengers reported the odor of burnt matches, and the embarassed woman tried to pretend as though she hadn’t done anything.

I have seen worse behavior in stressful situations, too.

New Word on a Mac bug.

I was working away on word, and it refused to save my file anywhere–the hard drive, the usb key, my ipod. Why? Out of disk space. But I have lots of disk space. Close the program, reboot, retype the file, and everything works fine.

My computer and I, we are cursed.

The Wall Street Journal is getting smaller.

In this piece from Slate this morning, I learned that Canadians are frostbacks:

For the sake of Journal readers—which include me—I hope the changes are for the better, but Seelye’s reporting convinces me that the redesign is part of a greater Wall Street Journal retreat. She notes that it recently closed its Canadian bureau (before you e-mail me the predictable Canada joke, remember that the frostbacks are the United States’ biggest trading partner), and that it has reduced its overseas operations.

There are some good slogans for the paper. Here is my favorite:

Smaller but pompous as ever. —Tim Surdyk

(That might describe some of my terser writing.)

The reporting is top-notch in the Journal, but I often scratch my head reading the editorial page. It’s like there are two separate papers there.
Frostbackingly yours,