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Thread: Some Non-trivial Things That Annoy Me.

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    Some Non-trivial Things That Annoy Me.

    People who profess that it's okay to let stupid people really hurt themselves. Especially those who cite "gene pool filter!"

    That came up after I had to educate somebody that there are seriously major differences between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that goes beyond mere pronunciation. This person thought that both were inert smothering gases and that CO exposure was okay in a ventilated space. (Enough to set off the ceiling alarms!) His answer was to open the windows until the alarms stopped.

    I felt compelled to elucidate his error and further more I wouldn't leave him alone about it until he found the source. (Roofers blocked the water heater flue.)

    Gaah!
    Last edited by BigDon; 2013-May-01 at 07:45 AM. Reason: English! Do I speak it Mother Smucker?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    People who profess that it's okay to let stupid people really hurt themselves. Especially those who cite "gene pool filter!"
    I agree, it's a vast oversimplification of a massively complex and poorly understood subject. There are plenty with high IQs and understanding of advanced subjects, who nonetheless act in nonsurvival ways, and even a few simple folks with common sense (though not as many as idealism might have us believe). Wisdom isn't genetic, and neither is foolishness.
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    What's more, they can take other people with them. So even if it were a guaranteed "gene pool filter" for those being idiots, what's the argument for letting them hurt others?
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    To be caught in the gene pool filter, you generally have to do that is obviously self harming AND it has to be unstoppable, otherwise it is just unfortunate.

    Ignoring someone who is doing something unwise is not something I would encourage. Life is just better that way. Heck, reaching out to those who do unwise things seems to be the operating principle of the police, fire departments, ER's, and usually Joe Average.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    That came up after I had to educate somebody that there are seriously major differences between carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that goes beyond mere pronunciation. This person thought that both were inert smothering gases and that CO exposer was okay in a ventilated space. (Enough to set off the ceiling alarms!) his answer was to open the windows until the alarms stopped.
    Is that stupidity or ignorance? Sounds like ignorance to me.

    Not everyone knows that CO bonds permanently to the hemoglobin in red blood cells removing their capacity to carry molecular oxygen.

    You can educate someone to remove ignorance, but can you teach someone to not be stupid? People who play Russian roulette and "chicken" in automobiles of their own free will would seem to indicate that stupidity is innate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    You can educate someone to remove ignorance, but can you teach someone to not be stupid? People who play Russian roulette and "chicken" in automobiles of their own free will would seem to indicate that stupidity is innate.
    But probably not hereditary. At least, odds are they won't be passing it along.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    People who play Russian roulette and "chicken" in automobiles of their own free will would seem to indicate that stupidity is innate.
    Especially if they're doing both at the same time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    But probably not hereditary. At least, odds are they won't be passing it along.
    Unless they already had engaged in risky behavior by having kids at a young age.

    But yes, it's probably more learned attitudes at work rather than anything genetic.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright
    "It is the duty of the writers to seduce me into suspending my disbelief!" Paul Beardsley

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    Clev, I recall seeing a picture of a man using a plugged in power drill, standing on an aluminum ladder, in the shallow end of a swimming pool full of water, working on a four bank fluorescent light system. That was on.

    My fingers almost didn't want to type that. That's so absurd that even an accomplished liar like myself is embarrassed to repeat it "out loud". (I want to get all Red Forman now but the board won't let me.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    Clev, I recall seeing a picture of a man using a plugged in power drill, standing on an aluminum ladder, in the shallow end of a swimming pool full of water, working on a four bank fluorescent light system. That was on.

    My fingers almost didn't want to type that. That's so absurd that even an accomplished liar like myself is embarrassed to repeat it "out loud".
    Yes, but that's not the same as the Chicken and Russian Roulette examples I was responding to.

    What you describe is a matter of inattention; which is partly based on innate characteristics, but not entirely. For instance I have a nephew with ADHD, and a mother who suffered brain damage in a car accident that affected her concentration, and both are undergoing cognitive therapy to learn to pay more attention to their environments. So while the tendencies towards inattention, overfocus or distraction is at least in part physical, it can also be mitigated with proper brain training; training that most people do not get.

    (I want to get all Red Forman now but the board won't let me.)
    I assume you're referring to the mute donkey that Red often invokes?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright
    "It is the duty of the writers to seduce me into suspending my disbelief!" Paul Beardsley

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    Yeah, that would be him.

    And I love that by the way. I'm going to have to use that. (within the board rules of course).

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    A good friend came over today to hang out and cook. First, he had to deal with my still-smoking-in-the-stairwell neighbours. Which meant that I took a quick run over to the office to complain. Since it's Friday, the manager wasn't there, and I had to deal with the assistant. She's been working there a year and a half, and she still doesn't feel confident enough in her job to make the decision on her own about what the next step is, so I'm going to go in Monday or Tuesday and apologize to the manager for the fact that she got called on her day off to be asked how to deal with it.

    Then, my friend started telling me about his roommates. One of them recently moved out to move in with his girlfriend. The replacement has a job that, shall we say, the State of Washington hasn't finished putting the new regulations in place for. And even when they do, he doesn't plan to do it legally, because he wants to join the military and is pretty sure they won't let him in if they find out he's done that particular job, even here or in Colorado under the new state laws. My friend was not consulted about their new roommate, and two of his roommates appear to have made the decision about their new fifth without the other two. If the new one gets busted, which is not outside the realm of possibility, my friend can end up with a criminal record despite not himself having broken the law.
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Something non-trivial that really bugs me when I hear it is "People who can, do, people who can't, teach." I mean deeply bug, molest, disquiet, bother, and make fume.

    That is so dead wrong, and such an insult to the (few) fantastic teachers I have come across. Nurturing expertise in others is an art form when at its best, and so often a nightmare when practiced at its worst.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
    Something non-trivial that really bugs me when I hear it is "People who can, do, people who can't, teach." I mean deeply bug, molest, disquiet, bother, and make fume.

    That is so dead wrong, and such an insult to the (few) fantastic teachers I have come across. Nurturing expertise in others is an art form when at its best, and so often a nightmare when practiced at its worst.
    I would have to agree with this. Imagine the HS Shop teacher who can't do any of what is being taught -- one can almost see the fingers lying on the wrong side of the classroom table saw

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    I freely admit that I had some lousy teachers in the public schools. However, even the so-so ones had one skill that the majority of the population doesn't--how to teach. I also had some excellent ones. Both my junior high and high school music teachers were also professionals--one was a composer and one was a jazz drummer. However, they both liked having roofs over their heads and food in the mouths, so they weren't trying to make a living at it. (Actually, the jazz drummer was a pretty lousy teacher, but the composer was one of the best teachers I've ever had.) I've even had a teacher or two who probably could have been making a living in their field, but they felt that passing that knowledge and those skills on to the next generation was important.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Here's another nasty disrupter of my mental peace: those who confuse survival of the fittest with survival of the strongest ("ley del más fuerte" in local lingo.)

    Wazzit, the naturalistic fallacy(?), combined with this leads to all kinds of ugliness.

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    I had a professor who actually could be described as "people who can't, teach". He bumbled through lectures, mixed up all the maths, said really inappropriate things; basically everything you wouldn't want in a teacher.

    He was the Best. Teacher. Ever.

    Despite all of his short comings, he never left me wondering about anything, he explained concepts and ideas, he would take time with us beyond his office hours, he even helped me set up a facebook/google+ page so that we could have study groups via chat and video conference. Plus he vetted my notes so that I could share them with Student Services (for blind, deaf, mobility impaired students) proactively instead of the usual as needed policy. He was really awesome.
    Solfe, Dominus Maris Pavos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
    Something non-trivial that really bugs me when I hear it is "People who can, do, people who can't, teach." I mean deeply bug, molest, disquiet, bother, and make fume.
    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I had a professor who actually could be described as "people who can't, teach". He bumbled through lectures, mixed up all the maths, said really inappropriate things; basically everything you wouldn't want in a teacher.

    He was the Best. Teacher. Ever.
    I think this points out the real difference (IMO) - teaching itself is a skill. I'll pick on Chemistry, since I'm a chemist, but I think it works for most things. There is the "doing" of chemistry and there is the teaching of chemistry. They are actually rather different skills. Of course, if you are going to teach chemistry, at a minimum you have to have some basic knowledge of it, but that doesn't mean you are a good bench/lab chemist.

    I've known all combinations: people who were good chemists, but couldn't teach it; people who were good teachers, but weren't particularly good chemists (for example, they didn't execute research well or come up with creative ideas), people who were good at both, and people who were good at neither.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
    Here's another nasty disrupter of my mental peace: those who confuse survival of the fittest with survival of the strongest ("ley del más fuerte" in local lingo.)
    Ditto. The whole thing smacks of old-fashioned Social Darwinism and eugenics.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright
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    I think the best teachers encourage you to self-motivate.

    I wasn't a very good student in high school, some of my report cards stated I tested really well but never did my homework. My Algebra 11 teacher changed that to a degree, at the start of every class he would check every students homework, sort of like a military review, walking by our desks. I hated it when he came by mine and I hadn't done my work, he wouldn't say anything just get this disappointed look on his face. Now I look back and see that he actually cared about how every one of his students did and that's a crucial quality for a good teacher.

    Another favorite was professor teaching Creative Writing Poetry in college. I could go in and talk to him and get pointers and suggestions, for instance one of my first pieces was going to be about something very personal and he suggested I wait till later in the course. He also gave in-class writing assignments that could feel brutal at the time, but really helped to develop skills and awareness.

    The next semester I took an English Composition course and couldn't connect with the prof at all, he just wanted to teach the mechanics of the writing and leave out anything personal. Even though one of his professors had been taught by Tolkien and we were both big fans of his work I couldn't make any real connection and didn't really feel that he had any personal commitment to his students.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I think this points out the real difference (IMO) - teaching itself is a skill. I'll pick on Chemistry, since I'm a chemist, but I think it works for most things. There is the "doing" of chemistry and there is the teaching of chemistry. They are actually rather different skills. Of course, if you are going to teach chemistry, at a minimum you have to have some basic knowledge of it, but that doesn't mean you are a good bench/lab chemist.

    I've known all combinations: people who were good chemists, but couldn't teach it; people who were good teachers, but weren't particularly good chemists (for example, they didn't execute research well or come up with creative ideas), people who were good at both, and people who were good at neither.
    Definitely.

    Teaching was really bad at Columbia Biz School when I got there. Fresh from being a trainer at a teaching and research institute in Madrid, I let the faculty "have it" in an op-ed in the school paper, with a spin on "Exit, Voice and Loyalty," a required reading in the program. After lambasting teaching qualities but praising research and expertise, I advocated a sweeping teacher training program.

    The headline could just well have read, "Upstart Student Disses His PhD'd Superiors During His First Term, The Nerve!" There was one nasty reprisal, when a teacher berated the performance of team I was on publicly in class, much to the knowing murmurs of disapproval in the room. However, I did get a prize on graduation for that and a few other pranks, so it turned out OK.
    Last edited by Hlafordlaes; 2013-May-06 at 10:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Ditto. The whole thing smacks of old-fashioned Social Darwinism and eugenics.
    I had a sociology teacher who ran through a whole lecture on Darwin, evolution and economics just to put that one down. It was a really good lesson.
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    Quote Originally Posted by starcanuck64 View Post
    I wasn't a very good student in high school, some of my report cards stated I tested really well but never did my homework. My Algebra 11 teacher changed that to a degree, at the start of every class he would check every students homework, sort of like a military review, walking by our desks. I hated it when he came by mine and I hadn't done my work, he wouldn't say anything just get this disappointed look on his face. Now I look back and see that he actually cared about how every one of his students did and that's a crucial quality for a good teacher.
    For the most part of the last two years in high school i didn't have to do homework for math. I was, like you, a student who never did his homework and the math teacher caught on to it. She didn't really check it all the time, but she noticed that i wasn't doing any. After she noticed that a couple of times she talked to me about it and we had a disagreement about the utility of the homework she was giving us. I pointed out that we were always given homework in the style of "calculate this, calculate that, ..." and that it was useless to put time in such questions since you could simply put it into a computer and get the answer immediately, nor was that actually mathematics in the sense of coming up with theorems and proving them, it was just a mindless mechanical application of rules. She, on the other hand, contended that, while i was correct in a certain sense, it was a necessary exercise of needed skills.

    Some time after that at the start of class she noticed i had again not done my homework - we were given some slightly intricate integrals to calculate out - so she wrote the most difficult one of them on the blackboard and called me to write down the solution i had found, with the idea that i would have to concede defeat and would actually start doing my homework. So i got up from my chair and slowly started to walk towards the blackboard desperately trying to solve that integral in my head and she started saying that she had just proven that i did need the homework when the sudden smile on my face caused her to stop talking, after which i walked faster to the blackboard and wrote down the solution. I obviously got lucky for seeing the solution in such a short time, but the result was still that for the next 1.5 years of math i didn't have to do any homework anymore.

    In any case, this resulted in a sort of healthy competition between me and my teacher. Whenever she proved a theorem i had to find a shorter and more elegant proof, whenever she gave a complicated method for something i had to find a simpler method. It helped a lot that she was honest enough about her subject to go by the statement "do whatever you want, just as long as you can prove it". The net result of all this was that i spent a lot more time at home on math than any other student, it just wasn't on our homework. By the last year of high school i also didn't have to participate in classes anymore, i was present and busy with mathematics but mostly just not the math that the classes were about, and she was fine with that.

    As far as i am concerned she was the best teacher i ever had (especially the best math teacher). If she had gone the way most teachers would, ie "you must pay attention at all times to what i am saying and you must do the homework i am giving you", that would probably have put me off to mathematics. But by doing it her way where i could do anything i wanted just as long as i could prove it she gave me the incentive to actually do math, because i loved doing it but also in no small part because of the drive to "win" against my teacher.

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    A lot of my teachers were pretty apathetic in high school, the rule we had in English 12 was if the instructor didn't show up after 15 minutes of the class starting we'd leave because he probably wasn't coming, which happened frequently. The Physics teacher kind of killed my interest in the subject for a long time, I spent a lot of my time at home reading SF and some of the current developments in science in the journals, but I barely passed his course because of how he presented it, and how boring I found it. Chemistry was much better, the chem teacher clearly enjoyed his field and wanted us to learn as much as we could.

    The Western Civ instructor was also really good and he finally motivated me by the end of the course and I did really well on the final. Some teachers are just there for the pay and to occupy their time I think and some truly enjoy helping and watching students learn and develop.

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    I had a series of really terrible math teachers combined with very badly written textbooks, that turned me so off to math that by the time I realized that without knowing math I couldn't really understand science, it was too late; I was practically discalculic. I still am to this day, it's like my brain shuts off when I try to do math. I need a calculator for anything higher than finger-counting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    I had a series of really terrible math teachers combined with very badly written textbooks, that turned me so off to math that by the time I realized that without knowing math I couldn't really understand science, it was too late; I was practically discalculic. I still am to this day, it's like my brain shuts off when I try to do math. I need a calculator for anything higher than finger-counting.
    I'm like that too, first year Calculus was way beyond me.

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    I struggled all the way from 9th grade trig to differential equations the second year of college. The teachers mostly didn't help, but somehow I managed to become an engineer anyhow. I'm actually quite fond of trig now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by starcanuck64 View Post
    A lot of my teachers were pretty apathetic in high school, the rule we had in English 12 was if the instructor didn't show up after 15 minutes of the class starting we'd leave because he probably wasn't coming, which happened frequently.
    My music teacher who was a jazz drummer could be like that. At least he had the excuse of having done a gig the night before, when it was first period he was missing.

    I had good math teachers, but there wasn't a lot they could do for me, alas. I reach a certain level, and no matter how good my teacher, there's not much I can do to keep my eyes from glazing over. I was the despair of several teachers--though one was writing his own textbook, so I was at least helpful in catching his typos!

    Today, I went to an appointment, and someone asked me my due date. The girl at the next desk gave me a high-five, because hers was a week ahead of mine. However, I have every reason to believe that she'll be delivering early. She stepped out before her appointment to go smoke a cigarette. Why are so many of my issues these days to do with smoking?
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    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Her poor kid! I hope it's not too late for the little one.

    (Apropos of nothing, Gillian, I like the new avatar.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright
    "It is the duty of the writers to seduce me into suspending my disbelief!" Paul Beardsley

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Why are so many of my issues these days to do with smoking?
    Because it's so gratuitously harmful.

    I have a colleague who is an ex-friend (it's complicated) who is half my age and who smokes excessively. Last month we teamed up to teach a large class (which went well) but she asked me if I would do most of the talking as her throat was so sore. Ten days later, her voice was noticeably worse and she kept rubbing her throat. Eventually I asked her if she would see a doctor. She refused, saying, "He'll just tell me to cut down on smoking, and I don't intend to do that." (More or less exact words.) I asked her, "What's the point in being able to speak five languages if you're no longer able to speak?" She thanked me for my concern but made it clear she would continue as before.

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