Tuesday, December 05, 2006

News/Commentary Digest

Back to the old TR format. The FBK/Gossip Hour is over.
The Argento interview is ok, but I can do much better.
New release: 12/9/06
Please no more FBK-related emails.
TR is for SG & Campus News, period.

Quit whining about 'minus' grades, UF

I encourage my students to be articulate, but this is just too much. This letter reminds me of the verbage used by Katie Holmes on Dawson's Creek (which btw used to annoy the hell out of me). Anyone that uses the word "mar" during self-talk should have been on the Dawson's Creek cast, or, on My So Called Life (MTV) but I doubt anyone besides Argento, Carmody, and Capezza even know what that show is.

While I understand her concept that the minus grades would significantly raise the bar, make grades more competitive, there should still be limits. The arguement that most schools have +/- doesn't hold water and I'll tell you why. For starters the professors that Ms. Holland is citing are wrong, UF grades are not presently inflated...they are no more inflated that at Ivy League schools where Grade Forgiveness is permitted! During 2004 when Sen. Heather Cumminngs (Innovate) wrote legislation for this very issue, many of us that supported her found multiple schools higher up than UF that allowed for this. The rebuttal was simple, "those schools aren't UF," so if that arguement worked for an issue that clearly would benefit the students, then that arguement should also hold for an issue that could very well be detrimental to them as well.

As a blogger, I am opposed to the +/= implementation and I think this school is already being force-fed this competition bullshit. Because of the competitiveness spouted by Machen and students like Holland, students will have to foot $1,000 increases in tuition and now sacrifice their GPA's. When they tell you to walk around barefoot on campus because it will make you more competitive, will you do that too? C'mon people, they're bullshittting you, wake up!

That's my opinion however. We each have one. Opposing views like those held by IRHA PResident E.J. Walicki and Student Senator Pedro Morales are good ones and strong on their own merits as well, but Ms. Holland's letter seems to be a little much. She has been contacted (as will anyone on whose work I comment, should wish to write a rebuttal to my opinion).

Slightly Older Stories Below

Ben & Jerry's makes transition to cage-free Hens

This is excellent news! As some of you may know, I've maintained a vegetarian diet since 1994 and have been an animal rights activist since then as well. Buying eggs from cage-free farms is not only more humane, but the chickens have less stress, and the quality is generally far-superior. Some factory animals are born, live their lives, and die all in a cage. Factory farming is cruel and often fails to meet FDA/USDA health regulations. I am so happy Ben & Jerry's is taking the initiative here, kudos to the Vermont Creameries on this one!

And yes...good job Stephanie Garry for publishing this. Great Work!

Grapski: Champion of the Masses

You know, for a blog that receives hits from so many kids in interested in law, in law school, and in the legal field, I was sure that we'd have some interesting debate goin in here. While Charlie could have been much more concise, there is defitnitely cause for alarm in the city of Alachua.

Think about this. There ia city government that has harassed, arrested, banned, and through the State Attorney's Office, has sought to file criminal charges against one man. Charles Grapski is the best friend democracy in America has, he may sue those he disagrees with, but guess what, that's our God-given right as Americans. In some countries you gun down your enemies or they gun you down, in other countries you put a spell on them (LOL), here in the USA we have the courts and God Blees 'em. Charlie, like myself and the vast majority of Americans has put his faith firmly in the letter of the law. And so far the State has offered him deals, which he's slapped away, and the courts through the state's case out.

Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, if you're an American, Charlie's cause should be your cause as well.

Student debates on Fox

This article called my attention some days ago and I wanted to rant about it a little. I for one am for the most part a liberal, though I have some issues with abortion (still making me Pro-Choice for gov't, though Pro-Life personally) and with religion. I believe religion has no place in government, but this article raised other concerns.

For starters Cross City is not a major metropolis, but should that matter? I'm thinking out loud here, I encourage y'all do the same in the comments area. So yeah, should Cross City be less-deserving of my secularist vision that say a small city like Gainesville or a large one like Miami? No. Still, in a place like Cross City it could be more feasible to make the case that the vast majority want the statue present, but then again....all it takes is for a handful to want it gone and then what?

I'm a firm believer in the division between Church & State, in fact, I'm also very skeptical of religion within the confines of the public school system and folks..organized religion has seeped into the system through the cracks. Some public schools are hardly as secularized as many of you might take for granted.

Although I want to agree with the dissenter on Fox, I think one bias I have towards the type of organization that this particular student is a member of goes back to my 40-Org Tour while campaigning for Access in the Spring 2004. I remember visiting the Atheist & Agnostic Student Association and sitting in for an entire meeting of theirs. I never arrived at org-meetings towards the end (even if the exec's allowed it), mainly beacuse if you as a speaker can't sit through their presentation why would on Earth should they sit through yours?

What I found odd about the group was that it seemed to be a clearing-house of all concepts anti-religion, as opposed to an association of like-minded people talking about their own faith, or lack there-of. To be an atheist simply means not to believe in a supernatural Being and to be an agnostic means to not be closed to the possibility of a supernatural Being. If they want to read Dickens and talk about how long it will take for their bodies to decmpose post-mortem then fine, but they mostly whine about the people with faith, they tend to be vicious and quite insensitive and it's almost like they have a great time making it crappy for those of us that believe in God. At least that's how it was when I was there and I felt very uncomfortable.

I don't care how far science goes, I will always believe in and worship Jesus & honor Mary (worship is not honor, get that fact right about Catholicism). I'm Roman Catholic and that's that. I believe in the division of Church & State and agree with the student on Fox, but I am more-than-slightly concerned with what his true motives were. Comments?


Pedro said...

This is Pedro again on minus grades, and the similar issue, the 2.5 bill.

I had a nice chat with some of the professional senators; Medicine Senator Ryan Wagoner, and he told me about the College of Medicine standards, and professional schools in general, where obtaining and keeping a 2.0/2.5 is hard-stuff! Same feedback from Pharmacy Sen. Alex Cosimano, and Sen. Delgado spoke con to minus grades too.

While I have stated why I think minus grades would be good from an accuracy and fairness perspective, the fact is that upon talking to these people, and thinking about it, the ruin of the proposal is that professors may have too much freedom in awarding grades to the same level of work, and the possibility of one person getting a B+ and a A- is real.

Heck, I know some distance students (for example, the College of Engineering EDGE (Electronic Delivery of Graduate Engineering)) online distance program; one of my good friends is a lady from NASA whose kids are at UF, and she has come to get her PhD at UF's CISE department. Over her distance courses, she collaborated with another distance student in the homework, and both got vastly different grades for comparable work. So with the minus grades, there is more margin for error and unfairness.

I still have not decided if I will attend the F/S meeting on 12/14 to pro for minus grades, but I would be willing to ask them to revise the proposal, incorporate an A+, perhaps partition the B+/A-, C+/B- divide a bit differently.

Regarding the 2.5 GPA, it would be hard and discriminatory to modify the constitution to say "2.0 required for the hard disciplines and 2.5 for the easy ones".

Lastly, I repeat, once PhD students pass their written qualifying exam, the GPA becomes irrelevant, because they take research hours (for which they obtain "S" grades) until they are done with their work. And who cares if you got a B+,A-,or A in "distributed systems" when your paper gets published in IEEE or ACM.

What is evident, is that the GPA, "the great equalizer", the number that everyone has, means different things to different professions, and regulating that would be so much more difficult.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why I'd have to read your blog for what already has been published in Alligator. It's not like I go to UF with pea size brain that I'd need your explanation to figure out what they wrote.

Christian Duque said...

Ah dear friend, it's not an explanation it's called BLOGGING. Weblogging is the little guy's means of taking in the news and giving his/her take on it, then if you agree or disagree with that "take" then you opine. The process makes for the concept of blogging, the concept of this page.

I think we talked about FBK enough, if you disagree, keep talking about it on the comments area. FBK is not a freak show and TR is not the circus. I like to talk about a lot of current event issues...not just pot Q&A's. I hope I won't lose you over this.

Christian Duque said...

TY Sen. Morales.

Anonymous said...

True statement about FBK...it's not a freakshow...now, "The Radikal," on the other hand...

Christian Duque said...

Voices from the peanut gallery :)

Anonymous said...

How about SG doing something more useful? Like getting students more tickets for the NC game, and make it less of a hassle? Too bad SG can't survive in real world among big boys. Lets put some more trash cans in a remote corner of the campus with a nameplate.