Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

11-16-10: "The Shadow Scholar"

I found an interesting article from The Chronicle of Higher Education this afternoon (through Marginal Revolution) that I couldn't stop reading until finished.

The article (well, essay) was written by a real person with the fake name of Ed Dante. Ed writes student term papers for a living, and makes a pretty decent living out if it at that. The essay goes through his clientele (ESL students, the "hopelessly deficient," and the lazy rich kids) as well as the type of work he does for the students. The sheer breadth was amazing; he's written papers on nearly everything (except math, so he probably hasn't done many engineering papers). He's also written papers of varying importance, ranging from simple homework assignments up to and including graduate theses. All this using primarily Google and Wikipedia.

The essay serves as a stern warning to institutions of higher education. Dante knows how helpless (or lazy or incompetent) his clients are. Some of the quotes he gives from students are scary - the grammar is just awful. But he doesn't mind the money. Why wouldn't he? This year he stands to make $66,000. That's not too shabby. The hours aren't great, but he seems to enjoy writing.

The warning is two-fold:

1) Pay more attention to the students. He finds it difficult to believe that none of his clients (not a one) have complained to him that the professors assigning the work don't believe the work is their own, never mind the fact that none, to his knowledge, have been expelled. He nearly goes as far as calling it gross negligence on the part of the school.

2) Stop putting all emphasis on grades and performance. His ESL and "hopelessly deficient" clients are simply not built to succeed in the modern university system. The fact that they may not know much English, or simply don't get it, works entirely against them. Rather than help, universities punish these students through the mindless examination system. Pass or fail - not their fault if you can't hack it.

I tend to agree with Ed. I won't go so far as to call the system broken, but it does tend to favor those of ill-gotten means, like his rich kid clients. I didn't have the luxury, or the lack of integrity, to hire some one to write my term papers. I was lucky enough to study engineering, which is a discipline where ineptitude can cost lives. With all due respect to the art, I don't know of any fatalities due to improper sentence construction.

I don't think for a second that people like Ed are the problem. They're servicing a market demand - students are coming to them asking for help. So what if the students don't know what they're doing? If you want know who is to blame, just look at the diploma. There are usually two names prominently displayed on each diploma given to graduating students: the school's name (sometimes in Latin - fancy!) and the student. If the school can't stand by the merits of the degree conferred, then they are doing a disservice to the student, even though that student is indeed cheating.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spurs vs. Blackburn Rovers

Spurs had a good match (finally) yesterday. Bale looked sensational again. Some lapses towards the end, and a couple misses earlier on, but a good win overall.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

11-13-10: "Last Days of the Coliseum" and a Peter Worrell Fight

When I saw the piece in the New Haven Independent about the program, I jumped on the online AT&T DVR site (plug not intended) to record "Last Days of the Coliseum" on Connecticut Public Television.

The New Haven Coliseum was a building built with great promise but poor luck and planning. The idea was good: build an entertainment hub in downtown New Haven by the intersection of I-91 and I-95 for people all over the state to come watch great concerts, sporting events, and various forms of entertainment.

The problems began right from the start. The original plans were too expensive, and shortcuts were necessary to make it work. The location was too small to allow for proper outdoor parking, so they put the parking garage above the arena. Then, there was the corrosion. Salt from the roads was picked up by cars and brought into the parking structure, which over time slowly corroded the metal structure. The building opened in 1970 and by 1980 pieces of concrete were breaking off onto the street below.

I drove by the old Coliseum site last night after dropping the lady off for a wedding rehearsal downtown. I didn't visit New Haven all that often growing up. We moved here in early 1996 and were already a full-on hockey family. I played at the Coliseum several times, which was always a blast. It was a BIG place - cavernous, but it always felt a little run down. The locker rooms we used were actually just dressing rooms. The ice was never great. But it was a fun time. The current site is a parking lot.

Though The Beast (AHL team) were only around for two seasons, my dad took me to a bunch of games. One player we loved to see was Peter Worrell. Worrell was a fighter, through and through. He played one full season for the Beast before being called up to the parent club Florida Panthers. There was a game I distinctly remember attending where Worrell got in a great fight. I don't remember who they played, but it was a great fight. Realizing that the Internet is a wonderful, wonderful place, I did some research to determine what game that was.

I got further than I expected, but am still not 100% sure. I know Worrell played for the Beast in both seasons of the team's existence (1997-1998 and 1998-1999). However, he got in a lot of fights. In the 1997-1998 season, in which he played in 50 games, he accrued 309 penalty minutes. I believe the fight I remember resulted in a game misconduct (as I remember Worrell being ejected and trying to come BACK into the game after undressing in the locker room). Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find official score sheets so far.

I did find a great website called, which tracks and rates hockey fights. All of Worrell's fights are logged on there. The site tracks date, opponent, size advantage, and whether or not he won the fight. Peter Worrell got in 22 fights during the 1997-1998 season (I don't think the game in question was during the 1998-1999 season), 10 of which were at home games.

With that site, I've narrowed down, based on fights Worrell had during home games, the possible dates for the game in question:

10/26/1997 against Georges Laraque

12/7/1997 (three fights)

12/28/1997 against Paul Ferone

The one issue with 12/7/1997 being the game is that it was on a Sunday. We didn't go to many Sunday games. However, further research is required.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

11-9-10: New Haven Promise

The City of New Haven, along with Yale University, is planning on offering local New Haven students free tuition to state universities. Most of the $4.5 million in annual funding for the New Haven Promise program is to come from Yale.

The whole point of the program is to help curb the horrendous drop-out rate in New Haven public schools. Each student will be eligible to receive up to 100% tuition for a state university if they maintain a 3.0 GPA and 90% attendance rate. Once they get in to college, they must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA to continue receiving the funding. The program also implements a sliding scale, allowing students who have attended New Haven public schools since kindergarten to receive the full 100% tuition, and students attending since the 9th grade to receive 65% tuition. Students must have attended New Haven schools since at least the ninth grade to be eligible.

Two things I like about this program are: 1) It has a lot of private funding and 2) It has a lot of caveats to mitigate risk of failure. It’s good for students who work hard and want to succeed

I’m not surprised to see Yale buy into this. As a New Haven resident, I see firsthand the issues Yale has with its community. It’s not uncommon to hear about incidents involving students and the community. This past weekend, a campus party ended with a bit of violence as uninvited “New Haven residents” got in a fight with members of the Yale heavyweight crew team while being escorted out of a private campus party. Earlier in the school year, several students were involved in a police raid on a private party in the night club district. The latter wasn’t a real issue of Yale vs. its neighbors – it was mostly Yale students vs. the New Haven Police. The former, however, is more common and more tricky to deal with.

Yale is practically a fortress to outsiders. I have friends who are students, and they’ve told me about the warnings they’ve received, and continue to receive, from the school regarding student safety. It’s a constant struggle. The surrounding neighborhoods are known for illicit activities. Yale has taken measures in the past to create a buffer for students, such as providing financial incentives for faculty to buy or rent property near campus to raise the local profile a bit. The decision to help fund New Haven Promise seems to follow along those lines – by encouraging local students to focus more on academics, it will help the city as a whole raise its profile and hopefully stem some of the problems that have plagued the schools for years.

Such a program will take several years to produce results. I hope the private funding does pick up. I hope students do take advantage of the program. Hopefully at the very least some get teaching degrees and give back to their community through education.

Well done, Yale.

Friday, November 5, 2010

11-5-10: New Car

Today I purchased a 2010 Subaru Forester Premium. I'm pretty pumped. Got a really good deal on it, too.

It's my first experience buying a car from a non family member. Overall, I think I did OK. I got a good rate (2.99%) on the loan from the dealer and put over half down. I test drove a bunch of cars after doing pretty extensive research online (including Consumer Reports thanks to my mother's subscription). I ended up getting a used 2010 model (6,250 miles, color is "Sage Green"), from Premier Subaru in Branford, CT. Great buying experience from those guys. I'd recommend them to any one looking for a Subaru. I also get $100 if you tell them I sent you. That's "Canny," by the way.

The drive home today was quite exciting.

Here are a couple pictures of the car:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Best Of Gareth Bale Versus Inter Milan On Video

Impressive performance from Bale the other night.


Sent to you by Pat via Google Reader:


via EPL Talk by The Gaffer on 11/4/10

Tuesday night's performance by Gareth Bale against Inter Milan was one of the most remarkable performances seen on English soil in quite some time.

Bale, the Welsh left winger, completely owned Maicon and beat the Brazilian on so many runs. Thankfully someone has captured all of Bale's wonderful runs and touches from Tuesday night in the above video. This is definitely one of those videos that Maicon and fellow Brazilians may want to not watch. A horror show, of sorts. But for those people who love the beautiful game or want to see how amazing Gareth Bale was, click play and be amazed.

Related posts:

  1. How Good Is Gareth Bale?
  2. Real Madrid's Proposed January Transfer Bid for Gareth Bale Would be a Step in the Wrong Direction
  3. The Fall And Rise Of Gareth Bale


Things you can do from here: