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Comment: Re:How about replacing the College Board? (Score 1) 134

by MacAndrew (#46415799) Attached to: College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy

That's very much the ideal of the SAT, to draw out kids who are bright but haven't shown in through grades. It does happen. Statistically however, GPA is still a better predictor. It's just not the only one, and the SAT is overrated—hence even its creator talking about reform (again). My (totally unscientific) experience has been that a lot of the super-groomed kids don't come across so great. Having a soul is valuable too.

Ideally of course you have good grades *and* SAT scores! My kid has, to put it mildly, a very wide spread between SATs and GPA. I have no idea what the schools will think. They *are* in fact looking to GPA more and more. I think they are aware of the reputations of a great many schools and of grade inflation. Like you, I went to a prep school where everyone went to college, and its reputation stood for a lot. And straight A's in all AP classes at a school people have heard of is a fair criterion.

I think most admissions decisions are made on relatively little info and reflection. A lot of schools admit half or more of their applicants, and only a fraction actually matriculate. I doubt the 20-somethings doing most of the review are working too hard at analyzing the applicants. None of the schools my son applied to, for example, had interviews. On the other hand, yes, some schools get into it a little harder.

Oh BTW—congrats on pulling through the morass!

Comment: Re:How about replacing the College Board? (Score 1) 134

by MacAndrew (#46414489) Attached to: College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy

No. My scores for example were "so what" at Harvard. At those schools, the SAT scores of many applicants tend to be so good that they don't matter. The school can admit all the 800 scores they want, but do go looking for other qualities. The statistical validity of the SAT above 700 or so is not very good and is not useful for distinguishing among candidates—the test is designed around the much lower and heavily populated mean. Moreover, the SAT is technically not an IQ test any more, rather a measure of scholastic "achievement." (The "A" in SAT used to stand for aptitude, until 1992 or so. Mensa no longer accepts SAT scores I think. I'm not endorsing IQ tests here either.)


Comment: How about replacing the College Board? (Score 5, Insightful) 134

by MacAndrew (#46414065) Attached to: College Board To Rethink the SAT, Partner With Khan Academy

While they debate what to do ... the Board itself should be challenged for its power and profiteering. They overcharge for things that should be dirt cheap like score reporting, keep pumping out more and more tests, and have surprisingly little proof of the validity of the tests themselves. Meanwhile the test prep industry is making millions, providing (or insinuating) false claims of what they can deliver, and helping wealth discrimination.

Closely timed fill-in-the-bubble test-taking skills are not valuable life skills, in college or elsewhere. FWIW I'm speaking as someone who got near-perfect SAT scores, as did my son, and have to admit it's a scam. The scores do mean *something,* but it's all gotten out of control. GPA is the single best predictor of performance. (But don't get me started on grade inflation....)

Comment: Why would Russian internet be special? (Score 1) 1

by MacAndrew (#46169259) Attached to: Travel to Sochi for the Olympics, Get Hacked?

I have trouble understanding how hooking up to the internet in Russia would be any more or less dangerous than anywhere, or why the threat would be more likely Russian. Part of the damage was self-inflicted in the classic way by opening a "suspicious" email (an attachment?) that could have been sent from anywhere to anywhere. As for the compromised phone, I have no idea. This story sounds like a fairly unimaginative effort to ridicule Russia and draw attention to the reporter. Why wait several days to reveal the technical details that people need to protect themselves?

Comment: Is the term "library" going to die? (Score 2) 90

by MacAndrew (#46084991) Attached to: Public Libraries Tinker With Offering Makerspaces

And what will replace it? I'm sure this has been asked before but I don't know the answer. Library literally means a collection of books—static, physically recorded information—the kind of thing future libraries are least likely to collect. It's quite a transformation. Library is coming to mean a gathering/making place of things drawn dynamically from elsewhere.

Comment: Pragmatism (Score 1, Insightful) 359

by MacAndrew (#45993043) Attached to: Obama Announces Surveillance Reforms

I think what's missed is that "no drama" Obama is a pragmatist first. I think he feels genuine empathy and believes (for obvious reasons) in civil rights, but in office has been willing to sacrifice little in the name of idealism. Guantanamo, for example; I think he would have liked to close it but found out how political impossible it was unless the detainees disappeared somehow. In fairness, in the wake of 9/11 and a ridiculously reactionary right it's been pretty hard to do much for civil liberties without an avalanche of criticism for beign soft and withering blame for any terrorist acts (Benghazi). But at bottom I think pragmatism, political and leadership, explains most of his choices. I wish he'd tried to be more inspirational and led in a direction that might last for generations, but I settle for (partially corrupt but historically huge) health-care reform.

I can imagine better alternatives, but I worked for Obama because I saw considerably worse. You don't have to pick sinners and saints in these things, sometimes both sides are deficient. Just try for what's best for the time being. If I tried to confront the true enormity of what we're doing out there rather then try for incremental change, i think I'd implode. I don't think much of the "idealists" attacking Obama on morally correct grounds but without a realistic path to improvement. That's just ego.

Obama won't make any grand stands on privacy or civil rights generally (gay marriage is an exception, but I think the financial incentive there was pretty big). It's a rare politican who would, unfortunately. I hope the people will.

Comment: Re:It's about time! (Score 1) 1431

by MacAndrew (#45956667) Attached to: Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

No, this one is taken seriously. Other lawyers don't want these guys to be lawyers. I agree with cynicism towards bar enforcement generally, but this one is rightfully a hot button.

Note that there is a very serious free speech issue here too. It's still unclear what attorneys can or should say on websites and it ads.

Disbarment would be a very rare sanction! But at least most attorneys (generally as decent as anyone) and the public agree on something.

And, uh, actually chasing an ambulance and causing accidents is a whole 'nuther problem.....

Comment: Re:By a cop...let's not forget that fact (Score 1) 1431

by MacAndrew (#45956387) Attached to: Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

I don't think "good guy with a gun" was ever really defined, and regardless the NRA has opposed virtually any kind of restriction on gun sales—like the gun show loophole—so it is quite hard to believe they consider the good guy part any of their business or the government. Maybe they mean good guy as determined after the fact of the shooting, which it is true would be 100% accurate and 100% useless in making anyone safer. No, "good guy" is just more cynical crap from one of America's richest lobby groups.

Comment: Re:It's about time! (Score 1) 1431

by MacAndrew (#45956267) Attached to: Man Shot To Death For Texting During Movie

It's a funny wisecrack but note.... "Ambulance chasing" is grounds for disbarment. The bar imposes a waiting period of several weeks, as it should. And most lawyers don't regard the ones who approach victims and their families, looking to skim easy cases, with any high regard—like any profession, there are the good and the bad.

Comment: Re:What an idiot. (Score 1) 547

by MacAndrew (#45772127) Attached to: Harvard Bomb Hoax Perpetrator Caught Despite Tor Use

NB: "Circumstantial" and "direct" evidence are not truly meaningful concepts in law. Evidence is evidence. There's no bright line between good and bad.

Here, he had no way of knowing what they had or might get, and may have been very surprised even to be questioned. I doubt he would have done well lying (which itself itself may be illegal can only insist on silence, which will make them considerably more interested in you). It is legal for the police to lie too, up to a point. A confession isn't proof of guilt either...just evidence.

Heck, he may have simply had an attack of conscience. He still should have asked for a lawyer first, to get the fairest deal rather than make concessions that may have hurt him more than necessary (sometimes we exaggerate our own guilt or dig a hole through careless words). I'm sympathetic at least that he was under enormous stress. He made a terrible choice.

Comment: Re:What is the TSA for anyway? (Score 1) 427

by MacAndrew (#41243669) Attached to: TSA Says Screening Drinks Purchased Inside Airport Terminal Is Nothing New

Well, last shot: I didn't mean IQ, whatever IQ is, and I certainly never mentioned it. I meant competency and the ability to think independently. For one thing the "first batch" of screeners was probably different from the second, third, fourth etc. batches; at least in the beginning they were pretending TSA was something new. It could be a training failure or poor policy limiting personnel but—whatever the cause—I am NOT comforted by what I have seen that air travel is even a hamster's breath safer than it was before 9/11. Procedure is never enough, and the phenomenally stupid questions I have been asked by security do not suggest much more is being added. Some of the workers may be fabulous, but it doesn't save the program; too many are not.

Now, a toilet scrubber. I think you've hit on something there. How tragic that would even occur to you in connection with what is a very important job.

"If John Madden steps outside on February 2, looks down, and doesn't see his feet, we'll have 6 more weeks of Pro football." -- Chuck Newcombe