Tuesday, January 31, 2006

From the genius bringing us the 65% delusion

Coming in at 97 on CNN's 100 Dumbest Business Moments of 2005 is the genius behind the 65% delusion, Overstock.com's Patrick Byrne.

According to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Byrne spent a 61 minute conference call with investors railing about:

Miscreants; an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison; gay bath houses; whether he is gay, does cocaine, both, or neither; phone taps; phone lines misdirected to Mexico; arrested reporters; payoffs; conspiracies; crooks; egomaniacs; fools; paranoia; which newspapers are shills and for who; money laundering; his Irish temper; false identities; threats; intimidation; and private investigators. All in 61 minutes.

According to CNN Bryne also sent "increasingly shrill pronouncements about nefarious short-sellers driving the company's stock into the ground" After the conference call Mark Cuban short-sold 10,000 shares of Overstock.

The sad part is, he is just as qualified as Margaret Spellings on education issues.

Monday, January 23, 2006

How to do a quick and easy readability score on a document

Like most teachers I learned how to calculate the readability score of a reading sample and like most people who have been out of school for awhile I've forgotten how to do it. Luckily, MS Word has a built in readability test, a Flesch-Kinkcaid readibility score, enclosed with the Spelling and Grammar checker. However, the readability score is not part of the default settings, so you will have to tell MS-Word to perform the test.

The steps to tell MS Word to do a readability assessment are:

1. In MS Word, click on the "Tools" menu and select "Options"
2. Click on the "Spelling and Grammar" tab
3. Check the box that says "show readability statistics"

From now on whenever you do a spelling and grammar check on a document it will provide you with a report similar to this:

The picture shows the Readability Statistics for a reading sample given to 4th grade students on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). You can find it yourself at The National Center for Education Statistics website by searching for "Mir". Please note the Flesch-Kinkcaid grade level and be sure to mention it whenever someone starts bad mouthing the public schools for their NAEP scores.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Most Important Lesson I Ever Learned

Colleges of Education are currently under attack from the "reform" groups who claim they are nothing but liberal indoctrination camps. I went through two excellent teacher training programs at LSU and the University of South Florida. I had literally hundreds of hours in the classroom by the time I graduated and knew how to run a classroom

However, the most important lesson I learned came in grad school. I had a little old retired professory (I'm sad to say I can't remember her name) who had done studies on reading disabilities and had found that 95% of all 1st graders who had trouble reading had some kind of vision problem. Of the remaining 5%, 80% had hearing problems.

Our final exam featured this question:

What's the 1st thing you do with a child with reading difficuties?


Please share the other important lessons you learned.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My hobby

One of the things I'm trying to do this year is make time for my hobby. My buddy and I have built a couple of electric "sorta-scale" warbirds and have been flying them a great deal. They're fairly quick to build, can take a massive amount of abuse for just being foam. The all up cost is not too expensive, however the one thing we've found with electrics is you can never have enough batteries, as they typically take about 2 hours to charge.

It's kind of a tradition that I take a picture of my daughter with my new planes, however, as she becomes older she gets less happy with this tradition. The all up weight on this one is only 13 ounces, so it can only be successfully flown on relatively calm days.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A hilarious quote from Molly Ivins

I found this quote, attributed to Molly Ivin's, in Harvey Kronberg's Quorum Report Daily Buzz section. It pretty much sums up how I feel about politicians in general, and lately, Republican politicians.

The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse is because you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal, Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery & Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.

I usually catch the latest Molly Ivins' column at The Star-Telegrams website.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Gov. Goodhair wants Texas schools to teach intelligent design

Via The Austin-American Statesman comes this story about Gov. Goodhair, a.k.a. Rick Perry. According to statements released by his office, the gov. "supports the teaching of the theory of intelligent design," and feels "intelligent design is a valid scientific theory, and he believes it should be taught as well."

The best quote regarding intelligent design comes from independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, who says of intelligent design, "I'm agin it; there's nothing intelligent about it."

Kinky for governor!

P.S. For those of you not from Texas, agin=against