Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Standards Matter

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  • Bart Janssen,

    Late last year Steven Pinker pwned Gladwell

    Thank you for that Russell!

    Igon value ... snort

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Without even getting into how the concrete reality that follows Key's wonderful feelings, as charted by Brash and his taskforce, involves dismantling social welfare.

    Just like it's a gut feeling that tells Pauline Hanson that foreigners are destroying "Australian" "culture" to such a degree that it's unrecoverable. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    DHC gives the impression of being threatened by informed debate, which is .. unfortunate. I thought there was a horrid hypocrisy implict in the article, in that she seemed to be taking Russell to task for somehow stifling public debate, which couldn't be further from the truth - PA is a great forum for no-holds-barred debate, yet with a certain commitment to principles of good faith by most participants. In contrast, most opinion columnists are a blight on society.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    WRT 'Freakonomics', I got sucked into the hype and was mildly excited to get a copy out of the library. Very disappointing. I finished more or less every chapter thinking 'well, duh'. Most of it appeared to be stating the bleeding obvious. Isn't looking at the data in different ways what stats guys and economists are meant to be doing anyway? If there's something in the data that seems anomolous, you go looking for the reason, rather than ignoring it, right?

    And their sequel, where they suggest geo-engineering the earth to combat global warming by adding SO2 to the stratosphere where it oxidises to SO4 (sulphate) aerosols which, since they are reflective, reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the ground.

    Just...but....uh....what?

    I did enjoy one of the spin-offs - Sudhir Venkatesh's 'Gang Leader for a Day'. If you liked 'the wire', you'll probably enjoy it.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And the least that DH-C could do is back up her arguments here, she's fully welcome to do so.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5433 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Isn't looking at the data in different ways what stats guys and economists are meant to be doing anyway? If there's something in the data that seems anomolous, you go looking for the reason, rather than ignoring it, right?

    You can see how that approach might be news to "poor dishevelled Deborah" (ouch).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Some key tenets of the "New Zealand sucks" meme -- especially that by global standards our taxes, government spending and regulatory burden are high -- can be trivially disproved (indeed, in each case the opposite can be shown) but the actual data have been trumped by people feeling that we suck, because they're angry or something.

    Exactly. And the 'warriors' of the right can hardly bleat about a defeatist attitude when they have repeatedly lied to create it. Nothing ambitious there.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I did enjoy one of the spin-offs - Sudhir Venkatesh's 'Gang Leader for a Day'. If you liked 'the wire', you'll probably enjoy it.

    I thought it was an interesting story, but not well written/told.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    "poor dishevelled Deborah"

    Why would you take cheap shots at her appearance when her column is such a target rich environment?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I think he may have been referring to the recent change in the picture that accompanies her column. I just liked the pathos.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I thought it was an interesting story, but not well written/told.

    True. Given that you can read both books ('freakonomics', and 'gang leader') and never find out exactly what happens to JT or his lieutenants, it's a rather frustrating 'story'. But for me, the wealth of incidental detail more than made up for it.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    I have just caught up with the DHC column. Outrageous and ironic. I always saw her as coldly flippant and Russell as warmly reasonable.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    While the DHC opinion piece was flagrantly ignominious (yes, I'm just trying use big words), this article on the deterioration of the internet seemed to make some interesting points for consideration.

    One of the main targets of Lanier's critique is the concept of the "wisdom of the crowds" or the "hive mind". This is the idea beloved of so many social media enthusiasts that the collective wisdom of a large number of people, generally harnessed online, will exceed that of the individual. Wikipedia is the classic example often cited in support of this theory.

    Lanier believes that by fetishising and over-stating the power of this collective so-called intelligence we undervalue individual humans.

    "The 'wisdom of the crowds' effect should be thought of as a tool. The value of a tool is its usefulness in accomplishing a task. The point should never be the glorification of the tool."

    Has anyone read the book You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto? Interested to know whether it's worth a read.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • sallyr,

    Lanier's written an article on this in the latest Harper’s. A bit woolly and sometimes obvious, but worth the read.

    Since Jun 2007 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I haven't got hold of the book yet, but he's spoken and written very usefully in the past against the cult of information. There are some godawful 'critics of the Internet' out there and he isn't one of them.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    I cannot help but feel that this is another piece of the puzzle. Vouchers by any other name.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    So the ACT Voucher Bussing err Education system is on the table.

    Top 5% and bottom 20%, I think we've found the first attemp at excluding kids from schools in order to achieve the 80% rate that a normal distribution of ability would fail to do.

    A new market in education, a broker. FFS, brokers did so well for our investment market didn't they (?).

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    She said the top, gifted children and the bottom, worst-performing children would be able to switch between schools during the school day for different subjects ...

    The working party report says there should be an eight-step initiative where the top 5 per cent of pupils and the bottom 20 per cent are identified and put on to a personal learning plan at an approved "provider". The provider would only be funded two-thirds of the cost of the child's course, with the final third paid as a performance bonus when the child succeeded.

    Yeah, right. I'm sure that'll all work smoothly, and not cause any disruption at all.

    Also, everyone will get a pony.

    What a ridiculous fucking mess of an idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    And what's this bollocks about a "learning broker mentor"?

    I thought brokers were only useful for arranging insurance or buying and selling uranium shares.

    I'd like to know what the working group were smoking when they formulated this policy.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    She said the top, gifted children and the bottom, worst-performing children

    What a bloody stupid proposition. So, we will see this top 5% chauffeured to Auckland Grammar and the bottom 20% put on a bus to some already over-crowded school? Why should the already privileged 5% get more privileges?

    What bothers me most is that the Maori Party seems to be part of this extremely stupid idea.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Totally agree Russell.

    There is a Special Education Review underway led by Roy. This voucher/even more transport required plan does not appear to be part of that consultation. And how would it fit in with Tolley's standards implementation process? Do all those children who don't meet the standards get pushed out? What if they never meet the standard, so the private company (think shoddy English language type school model) doesn't get paid?

    Why don't we just bring back residential institutions and forget about the right to education or humanity for 20% of the population?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3218 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover,

    Why should the already privileged 5% get more privileges?

    Hang on, who said the top 5% are necessarily privileged?

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yeah, right. I'm sure that'll all work smoothly, and not cause any disruption at all.

    Also, everyone will get a pony.

    It's like a card game where you get dealt your hand and then pass three cards onto the person to your left and then wonder what you're getting from your right.

    Heather Roy opened the book of wacky right-wing theories and picked one at random.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    The provider would only be funded two-thirds of the cost of the child's course, with the final third paid as a performance bonus when the child succeeded.

    Okay, I think I've got past the incoherent swearing. If I get sent to do somebody's supermarket shopping with only 2/3 of what their list is going to cost me, and have to bring the groceries home to get the other third, that is NOT a performance bonus. That appears to be a school loaning money to the government.

    My second, larger problem: WTF does "succeed" mean in this context? Are the success criteria set by the person who only gets paid properly if the child "passes"?

    Closing special schools, national standards, and now this: schools are just going to be queueing up for those expensive special needs kids, aren't they?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    Even Anne Tolley wouldn't countenance this!? (And that nice John Key would see that people were upset and he wouldn't let her anyway.)

    Apart from the overall weirdness of it all, what about the cost of transport: to the environment and for the parents?

    Doesn't Auckland get clogged up enough during term time anyway?

    Better to enable kids' local schools to provide what local kids need and bring teachers and specialists to the schools to help individuals than move the kids around in fairly large numbers.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

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