A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? Are you happy to welcome November? Or are you already missing October?

Ours was a good week. We got back from Prague on Monday. Can you believe I took that photo above? The whole city is magical. I can’t wait to tell you about our favorite spots there.

Are you ready for the weekend? We’re having friends over for dinner tonight, and then going to a showing of Downton Abbey. School starts again on Monday, so I hope the kids get to enjoy every bit of the weekend. Also this weekend: It’s National Authors Day! So me and 7 of my author friends are hosting a little Giveaway on Instagram and the prize is a $200 Amazon Giftcard. Go see! It ends Monday at midnight EST.

One thing that’s giving me a baseline of stress at the moment is all the fires in California. It is an odd thing to read those headlines while knowing my two oldest kids are right there — classes cancelled, no electricity, breathing the smoky air. And of course, not just my kids, but so many people I love and care about. Both Ralph and Maude report they’re doing fine, but I suppose it will never not feel strange to be an ocean and a continent away from my kids.

But really, you’re here for the link list. And I’ve got a good one this week. Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

Twitter is banning political ads. I see this as good news. A good effort. Will Facebook follow?

-Hah. Running Is My Therapy and My Nutritionist Is Kale.

-A black activist convinced a neo-Nazi he’d save him from legal ruin. Then the real plan began. (WP)

-Groups are pushing for the UC schools (like UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, etc.) to drop the SAT. How would you feel if standardized tests were no more?

-The Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota leaked more than 9,000 barrels of oil.

-You know what my kids are missing? Our $20 air popper. We left it with Maude for her apartment (the plug wouldn’t work here anyway). I think I better track down a French version.

-I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb.

-The Trumps are no longer New Yorkers?

-“There is a saying in Korea that ‘your beauty is your ability.’”

-How do you feel about the color purple?

Here are some tweets I save for you, too:

-BEST Halloween post. A report from Tokyo’s annual mundane Halloween costume party. So good!

-Interesting responses to this tweet. What do you think the lower and upper age differences should be for relationships?

Voting advice.

-I’d never considered how many children were on the slave ships.

-Recipes simple enough to fit in one tweet.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.


14 thoughts on “A Few Things”

  1. I think standardized tests are the only way to get a clear read on how one student compares to another. It isn’t perfect, but A’s at all schools aren’t equal. If your school has a challenging curriculum and no grade inflation and my school is far easier or full of teachers giving easy A’s, then comparing your kid’s GPA to mine isn’t fair. There has to be someway to rank kids across school districts/across states. In my observation with my college kids and their friends, the ACT is a pretty good predictor of which kid will thrive in college and which kid will struggle.

    1. I see what you’re saying, but I think standardized tests are such an imperfect way to compare people, because test taking is a specific skill that some have and some just don’t. I am a good test taker. I can read a question and immediately understand exactly what the question-writer wants as a response and I’m able to give that response. It made my life so much easier and made it possible for me to succeed with very little effort. People who were just as smart as I was but who didn’t have that innate test-taking skill got left in the dust. No comparison. All because they couldn’t display their talent through the one tool we used to measure academic talent.

      1. Have you listened to the Revisionist History podcast where Malcolm Gladwell dives into the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT)? It is a two-episode series, but here is the first: (http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/31-puzzle-rush)

        It’s a fascinating listen, but the gist is this exact thing – test taking is a skill that some have and others don’t. It is not an objective measure of skill or intelligence, it’s just the thing we’ve decided to use because it’s easier for an admissions person to look at a number and say that one student is better or more qualified than another.

        Overall I have also benefitted in life from generally being a strong test taker, but I would love to see a system that migrates more toward evaluating other skills – grit, drive, creativity, etc!

        1. I think this is such an interesting conversation. As a researcher and admittedly poor test taker, I see it from both sides. On the one hand, having a single test that is administered in a controlled environment is certainly valuable, otherwise how do we really gauge differences between students?

          On the other hand, it certainly is reductive and one single score can never, ever tell the whole picture. Susan, you write that from your experience the ACT seems to be a good predictor of success in college. This is perhaps the *most* important piece of this puzzle but it’s important to look at it from a data-driven perspective, not from a perspective of personal experience (who’s to say your perspective or my perspective isn’t biased?). And the data, truthfully, is very mixed on this. ACT/SAT scores have long been correlated with parental income. And we know that kids from wealthier families do better in college probably because of the academic and cultural resources provided to them throughout their whole lives.

          Lastly, although I like the idea of measuring other skills, things like grit, drive, and creativity are culturally valued in more areas than others, and we just don’t have a great way of objectively measuring them.

  2. I thought the quote about Korean beauty was nice, like saying what’s really beautiful about you is what you’re able to do with your talents, as opposed to what you look like. Then I read the article and it means just the opposite! What you look like is a shorthand for your perceived abilities. I know every society falls prey to this, but to be at the point where you’re attaching a headshot to your resume… I couldn’t live like that.

    Regarding the tweet about the slave ships, it’s just gutting. I tried to imagine my little niece in that position and my brain rejected the idea. Wouldn’t even let me picture it. It was too horrific.

  3. I am all for getting rid of standardized testing! I never thought they measured a person’s creativity, drive or anything besides how well you can take the test! I also feel it is too income dependant. Rich children have the advantage of taking classes etc! Yeah UC schools!!!

  4. Eleanor Frances

    I am so finished with using Air BNB. I was an early user, 2008. At first I thought it was a great option. The last 5 years I feel the company has gone downhill. I have booked and stayed at a few places that are much more worn and shabby than their photos. One place was in a basement, and no where did it say that in the description. One 2 bedroom/2 bath in New Orleans had 1 window, torn furniture and i have my doubts that the bedding was clean. It seems Air bnb is encouraging a much larger audience to make money by getting involved in Air bnb, but with no quality control. I also feel the comments section is no longer credible. I am done with using this company.

    1. We had a horrible experience too with an AirBnB. Us three 30-something women and one toddler arrived at a booked house in Pasadena – although it was weird, the address on the posting is NOT where we ended up – the homeowner texted my sister the “actual” address (odd). The homeowner herself, who showed us around, was a little grubby/druggy looking, as was the house (oh, photos with your filters!). After she gave us the tour, we learned she would be staying in a camper….parked in the driveway about 5′ from the house. The house itself was so shabby. We all sat down on sheet-covered sofas after the homeowner left, looked at each other, and started calling hotels.

      AirBnb wouldn’t fully refund us since we didn’t take any pictures. We couldn’t “prove” anything I guess. We were just so shocked upon our arrival, at 5pm/dinner time with a toddler, trying to figure out where we’d stay and needing to eat dinner soon. Ridiculous.

  5. We used to use an air popper for popcorn, and then we were gifted a Whirly-Pop, and dare I say I prefer it. No plug required. Just oil and a stovetop! We use it multiple times a week!

  6. I found this article fascinating and it convinced me the SAT should be abolished.

    It discusses research showing that for 2/3 of kids, their SAT scores are concordant with their grades — the score sends the same signal to college admissions offices as the grades, such that they don’t really make any difference.

    But 1/6 of kids have SAT scores that are inflated as compared to their grades, and 1/6 of kids have SAT scores that are deflated as compared to their grades. The kicker is in the demographics: kids with inflated SAT scores are more likely to be white and MUCH more likely to be male and affluent. Kids with deflated SAT scores are much more likely to be black, Hispanic, and female. In other words, the kids helped the most by SAT scores are rich white boys.

    The article also discusses research showing that at schools that have made the SAT optional, students who get in just based on grades (having not submitted their SAT scores, which you can infer are likely low) do just about as well as students who do submit their SAT scores.

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