Why My Facebook Account Is Disabled

This will be brief because the reasons aren’t complicated.

The political vitriol from all sides was getting old before Trump even declared his candidacy, let alone won the nomination and election. Facebook’s privacy policy is built on a shifting shoal and I don’t like trying to keep up with it. I’m tired of scrolling through the feed mindlessly looking at those “Tasty” videos, which for some reason I find annoying but hard to look away from, like when I’d pass through the living room as a ten or twelve year old child while my younger sisters were watching Barney, only to find myself sucked into it somehow, and then have some inane earworm stuck in my head for the rest of the day. And I’ve now seen enough photos of other people’s croissants to last several lifetimes.

It’s been a long time since I logged in and felt that I was getting any real value or enjoyment out of Facebook. So that’s why my account is disabled.

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Grading Ohio’s Schools

Ohio’s school district report card system is as useless as a cat-flap on an elephant house. The recent revisions to the system didn’t fix it, they just changed how the system is broken.

I can’t speak for every charter, dropout recovery program, or “Big 8” urban district, but I can talk about ECOT. The typical ECOT student is below the poverty line, and came to ECOT because traditional schools weren’t working for them. Many ECOT students have been victims of bullying or crime. Many are parents, and some work full-time to help support a family. ECOT is not a dropout recovery charter, but in many ways ECOT’s high school functions like one. For the typical ECOT student, ECOT represents the student’s last, best chance at earning a high school diploma.

Many students come to ECOT partway through high school, having earned very few high school credits. ECOT doesn’t turn anyone away, and often accepts second-semester seniors who have no hope of graduating on time. Many of these students eventually earn a high school diploma from ECOT, but they count against ECOT’s 4-year graduation rate even though they were only at ECOT for the twilight of their 4-year graduation window.

Furthermore, the value-added score on Ohio’s district report cards — the measure of how effectively districts educate their students relative to where the students were at the beginning of the year, instead of in absolute terms — is so opaque that districts and charters often don’t know how they earned the score they did, or how to improve it, making the score meaningless. The methodology for computing this score is a proprietary, private-sector, out-of-state “black box” that very few at the Ohio Department of Education have access to. Taxpayers have no access at all.

Sadder still, the single best indicator of district performance on Ohio’s report cards is the percentage of students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch; i.e., students in poverty. That districts and charters could be punished by the Department of Education for serving a high proportion of poor students is shameful.

The report cards measure the hand a district is dealt, not how well the district plays its hand. Ohio deserves a better system, so taxpayers, students, teachers, and parents can see how their school districts are really performing. A better system would include meaningful, transparent value-added metrics, and must take into account students’ socioeconomic conditions.

Published on www.dispatch.com on 8 February 2016.

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The Most Depressing Book Ever

I once asked my friend Andrew Linn to name the most depressing book he has ever read. He told me it was Microwave Cooking for One. I assumed he was joking; as it turns out, it’s a real book and Amazon sells it.

Well, Andrew, I’ve discovered an even sadder book. It’s called Knit Your Own Cat.

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My parents invited me to join them for dinner this evening. I arrived and let myself into the house. The aroma of vegetables cooking wafted towards me from the kitchen, and along with it the sounds of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 hit single Baby Got Back. Much to my surprise, the music was selected not by one of my teenage sisters, both of whom were out, but rather by my mother, a 50-something English professor at a Catholic seminary.

I walked into the kitchen, and Mom offered me a mojito. It was tasty, but it’s important to remember to muddle the mint, not shred it. In any case, the meal was delicious.

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My Gluten-Free Experiment

I have two good friends who are on a gluten-free diet: one for his own health & wellness reasons, and the other because her son has an extreme gluten sensitivity, and it was easier for the whole household to go gluten-free than it was to teach a six year old what he can and can’t eat. Both friends always have great things to say about going gluten-free: they have more energy, they don’t get the mid-afternoon energy drain, etc. I decided to give this a shot for 30 days. Here is what I learned.

  1. I did feel more energized after about two weeks on the gluten-free diet. However, at around the same time I went gluten-free, I started waking up much earlier and exercising. I changed too many variables at once. When I reintroduced gluten at the end of my 30-day trial period, but continued with the rest of my new routine, I didn’t feel any more sluggish. Therefore, I don’t believe my increased energy was associated with the lack of gluten.
  2. Foods designated gluten-free tend to be more expensive and often taste pretty bad. So, rather than buying gluten-free bread, etc., I just didn’t eat foods usually containing gluten during July.
  3. Fortunately, there are other grains (rice, corn, potatoes) that are naturally gluten-free.
  4. Several ethnic cuisines are almost entirely gluten-free, including Indian, Mexican, and most Asian foods.
In short, it was an interesting month, but I doubt I’ll return to a gluten-free diet any time soon.
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Coming Soon

I may start posting here soon, so come back again. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with me using the contact information on the homepage.

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