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Friday morning reading

September 5, 2014

I’m very gratified to say that my Lede Program for data journalism at Columbia is over, or at least the summer program is (some students go on to take Computer Science classes in the Fall).

My adorable and brilliant students gave final presentations on Tuesday and then we had a celebration Tuesday night at my house, and my bluegrass band played (didn’t know I have a bluegrass band? I play the fiddle! You can follow us on twitter!). It was awesome! I’m hoping to get some of their projects online soon, and I’ll definitely link to it when that happens.

It’s been an exciting week, and needless to say I’m exhausted. So instead of a frothy rant I’ll just share some reading with y’all:

  1. Andrew Gelman has a guest post by Phil Price on the worst infographic ever, which sadly comes from Vox. My students all know better than this. Hat tip Lambert Strether.
  2. Private equity firms are buying stuff all over the country, including Ferguson. I’m actually not sure this is a bad thing, though, if nobody else is willing to do it. Please discuss.
  3. Bloomberg has an interesting story about online PayDay loans and the world of investing. I am still on the search for someone who knows exactly how those guys target their ads online. Hat tip Aryt Alasti.
  4. Felix Salmon, now at Fusion, has set up a nifty interactive to help you figure out your lifetime earnings.
  5. Felix also set up this cool online game where you can play as a debt collector or a debtor.
  6. Is it time to end letter grades? Hat tip Rebecca Murphy.
  7. There’s a reason fast food workers are striking nationwide. The ratio of average CEO pay to average full-time worker pay is around 1252.
  8. People lie to women in negotiations. I need to remember this.

Have a great weekend!

Categories: musing, news
  1. September 5, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Regarding grades (and probably I should post this on Pachter’s webpage, not yours), some universities do offer guidance for grade cutoffs. For instance, during the years I was there, MIT had a specific policy against “grading on a curve”. Of course, different faculty interpreted this policy differently (or simply ignored it). However, it is a step towards addressing the issue. Moreover, the math department maintained files on each course for recent semesters, and new course coordinators were given those files to guide their own courses. This also helps maintain consistency from semester to semester.


    • September 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Thanks. Speaking of M.I.T., that’s a great example of how grading on a curve makes NO SENSE. M.I.T. students are hands down the best calculus students I’ve ever met, and someone in the lowers quartile at M.I.T. is probably an A student in any other setting.

      On Fri, Sep 5, 2014 at 8:57 AM, mathbabe wrote:



      • josh
        September 5, 2014 at 9:45 am

        I disagree. I think people know that you can’t compare from one college to another. A C at MIT means you did badly relative to other MIT students. How would it be better if they gave everyone A+s based on your reasoning.

        While MIT does still give a few Bs, Harvard has apparently adopted your recommendation. All of their students are A students (well, most).


        • Min
          September 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

          You would think that people would take college differences into account when comparing grades, from what I read they do not, at least to the degree that they should. For one thing, how can they, when there is no direct comparison available?

          As for grade inflation, what about the Flynn effect? People have gotten smarter in academic terms over time. If someone would have gotten an A by the standards of 1960, why not now?


  2. josh
    September 5, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Functionality and display of Felix’s career graphic are great. The premise and content are questionable.

    According to it, college dropouts earn the same lifetime as graduates. Is that true?

    Also, this implies that education is the determining factor. Going to college (or not) is, at least in part, a proxy for other factors.


  3. P
    September 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I know some business schools essentially adopt a pass/fail metric, to deliberately make it difficult to rank the students based on how they did in classes. Many students still worked hard to impress their professors.


  4. ms8r
    September 6, 2014 at 6:28 am

    “8. People lie to women in negotiations” … if I read the article correctly the reverse is true as well: if you’re male you are much more likely to be lied to by a woman than by a man in a negotiation. I need to remember this … 😉


  1. September 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm
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