Good post, but are we going to get a follow-up on what teaching community college is like in Qatar??
@awk Then just scroll past them. Don't spoil it for the rest of us who still very much enjoy reading these stories.
By velveeta chz on Logan Saw a Dude Steal Some Coffee And Said Nothing And Mike Is Like, That's Wrong
I'm a public defender, so I'm with Logan here. The criminal consequences of a theft of even a minimal amount can be severe for someone who is already on the fringes. In MD, theft under $100 carries a potential penalty of 90 days in jail, with additional penalties possible if the person has prior convictions. I have seen people who stole less than $10 worth of stuff go to jail, even when the complainant got his or her money back. Sometimes people have mental illness, sometimes they have substance abuse issues, sometimes they're just poor and trying to make a little cash on the side. I know a lot of people have more sympathy for the guy stealing lunch than they do for the guy lifting DVDs from walmart, but I have to say, having had both those clients, often their lives are equally unstable. This isn't to say that I think theft is okay, or that the law shouldn't prohibit it, but once someone gets brought into the machine of the criminal justice system, it brings about a whole host of consequences, some very far-reaching, that are often disproportionate to the offense. I just think the criminal justice system is horribly, terribly unfair to poor people, which for me is best encapsulated in this quote, "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, 23 (1956) (quoting Anatole France).
@mean terry gross body shamer I'm not a psychology expert, but there's an interesting social psychology concept that's now being talked about behavioral economists called "ego depletion." Basically the idea that humans have a limited reserve of willpower, and the more difficult decisions you have to make in a day, the harder it gets to make further decisions, and the more likely you are to just do the easiest thing. It's mooted as an explanation for why poor people make "bad choices" when it comes to things like savings or health care -- they are so stressed out and have so many struggles just in their day-to-day lives that the cognitive burdens of longer-term planning are just too much to handle. In the context of depression, I do think that having more financial or social resources to draw on would make it easier to deal with, in the sense that the less "everyday" stuff you have to struggle with just to survive, the more cognitive energy you have to devote to managing your condition. Even if there were free, wonderful mental health care available to everybody, just dealing with the paperwork and getting too and from appointments and such might be too much to cope with for someone who is depressed AND significantly resource constrained in their day-to-day life.
@Britta Sorensen@facebook I thought this too, as a teacher. I work with ELL students at an international high school. We also have native English-speaking American students. It is a huge challenge to try to teach grade-level content and critical thinking to students who do not have the vocabulary to access texts and discussions. For example, today I was testing new students in English speaking skills (W-APT test), and one of the tasks asked them to discuss "fact" and "opinion". I couldn't explain to them what those meant. They couldn't translate. Kids who are very smart and undoubtedly can discuss concepts like that in their own language really struggle when thrown into another language. Our students are here in order to become academically competent in English and to get an American high school degree. I see a lot check out early on because they are simply overwhelmed - and then it is hard to get a kid back. Obviously, this is a different situation (our students tend to be immensely economically privileged), but it's easy to see where a lack of vocabulary can become an academically limiting factor elsewhere.
As a teacher, I couldn't agree more. Vocabulary is a major barrier. Not knowing the words makes every single subject in school difficult. If you are involved in education at all, you probably know about the studies that show the enormous gap in vocabulary between kids of different socio-economic backgrounds on entering kindergarten. I deal with it every day- 3rd graders who don't know the meaning of words like "parade," "field," or "brave." They struggle to understand what they are reading, to explain their ideas, to learn new things in science and social studies, and to do word problems in math class (which is basically all of math from 2nd grade up). Even if these kids learn new vocabulary at the same pace as richer kids, they will never catch up. They need a lot of targeted, rich, purposeful vocabulary instruction and practice. Thanks so much for sharing this!
@josiahg I was just drawing on what I remembered from lectures about health care administration in grad school, but there is data to support it: "In the United States, health care administration cost $294.3 billion, or $1,059 per capita. In Canada, health care administration cost $9.4 billion, or $307 per capita... A system with multiple insurers is also intrinsically costlier than a single-payer system. For insurers it means multiple duplicative claims-processing facilities and smaller insured groups, both of which increase overhead. Fragmentation also raises costs for providers who must deal with multiple insurance products." http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa022033#t=articleBackground
having just been through the experience where a HUGE payment went through my account twice instead of once, thus incurring fees on the next seven purchases with my debit card (as i had no reason to believe i had less than a thousand dollars in my account) totaling in $245, i would have to say that you should definitely have said something. putting someone through the rigamarole of having to prove that the charge was unauthorized is kind of awful, and that money doesn't get returned to them like, straight away or anything. plus i think i'd just be paranoid that it would get traced back to me and i wouldn't have any way to prove i didn't just steal somebody's credit card info.
Yes. Half of my job - and nearly all of my job success - depends upon getting busy professors to write back to me about things they don't feel like dealing with. While this is decidedly different from trying to get celebrities to write back to you, the same basic rules apply. (Plus: if you do need lots of info for some reason and it's plausible that this person will/should respond, phrase them as multiple choice wherever possible and number them, so people can write back "1. yes 2. no 3. Assistant Professor of Anthropology 4. I like plan a you've proposed here 5. Will do") And even if you have to send something to a lot of people - I frequently do - if at all possible, write each as an email addressed to that specific person by name.
@faustbanana You're right, I didn't think that through. Sometimes I get on The Billfold and just start typing. But on a serious 4-real note, my grandmother lived the last ten years of her life with my parents and me, with no Segway or fine bourbon or sailboats or anything. She didn't plan it that way, of course, but she was totally destitute after her husband died and would have been financially screwed without my mom to take care of her. And they raised my mom on a shoestring, she went to college on scholarship and lived at home for all four years of it, she settled for a pyrite instead of a genuine gold monogrammed four-finger ring, etc. I don't plan on spreading my seed as a safety net, but for my grandmother, having kids turned out to be a solid retirement plan.