Jul 142011

The topic of grade inflation always interested me, since there are so many variables to consider. The New York Times Economix blog has a short piece on a recent study. From reading the article and the insightful comments as well, it raises many points I have considered before, but raises several new ones. The important issues to consider when looking at something like grade distribution data can be broken down to a few categories. Evaluation Metrics First and foremost when looking at statistical evidence that an event exists is to see whether what they’re measuring even makes sense. In this case, the primary metric–the distribution of grades–is very well documented and indisputable. We are getting significantly more A’s than ever [more . . .]

Oct 292010

The last four days has been a frentic coding frenzy–coding for 12 or more hours a day on an assignment for Stanford’s CS448B: Data Visualization course. The final product is the Iraq War Incidents Browser. Screenshot is below (click to enlarge). Application and (pretty messy) source code, and a much more detailed description on my CS448B page. Taking the entire data set of the recent Wikileaks leak of Iraq War Incident logs, the application can filter by date and region, and display histograms satisfying each filter. I am willing to call this version 0.5, since the bulk of the interesting data is in the text itself. For the eventual version 1.0, I will be adding the ability to view individual [more . . .]

May 132009

I am now in the midst of hiring the next class of Stanford CS106 section leaders for the fall quarter. Section leaders (SLs) here at Stanford are typically undergraduates (and occasionally graduate students) who teach a small section of a larger lecture class. These classes often also have a head TA who will help coordinate the high-level academic aspects of the class. CS106 is Stanford’s introductory computer science sequence, and includes CS106A, CS106B, CS106X, and CS106L. The enrollment is so high that we now maintain an active pool of around 60-80 SLs who will teach every quarter. The entire teaching program even gets its own course designation: CS198. You can read more about the semi-complex structure of the teaching program [more . . .]

May 042009

I have always been against teachers’ unions. If you do form a teachers’ union, it should be formed around the mission of education rather than blindly protecting jobs. This article makes me sick. Teaching jobs and pay should be merit based. Public school districts and their teachers have always bemoaned the fact that that lacks equality and oversight and is difficult to assign merit accurately, but please, just suck it up. The best teachers will almost always be recognized, and rewarded under a merit-based system. True, some teachers, good and bad, will slip through the system, but that system sounds much better than the current system in many districts where bad teachers stay for years, and good teachers lose interest [more . . .]

Feb 042009

Ashley Baker, who I know from tutoring at East Palo Alto Charter School (EPACS), and who now teaches there as a humanities teacher, referred me to this video: Absolutely amazing. I think I even recognize some of those kids, not to mention E-40, Keak da Sneak, and some other big names in Bay Area rap. This whole thing was put together by Kontac, that rapper wearing yellow stripes near the kids and the turntable near the end. He’s a bay area rapper, and also an incredibly dedicated physical education teacher at EPACS. And here is a pretty powerful interview with Kontac. You HAVE to watch this: If you stop by EPACS any time, just look to the playground, and you’ll [more . . .]

Dec 282008

I’d like to fancy myself as one who holds his own opinions about things. That’s why I get queasy come time for end-of-the-year top-N lists. On one end, I feel like I’m allowing myself to be quasi-brainwashed by other people, but on the other end, some of these toplists are so amazing. Fortunately, there are the lists of the “top” photographs–beau tiful and powerful and beyond ranking. Once you view them, whether or not something should be in the top ten seems so inane. Here are some of my favorite collections and selections: Boston.com: The Year 2008 in Photographs — One of the most amazing collections of photographs I have ever seen. TIME Pictures of the Year 2008 — With an [more . . .]

Nov 162008

The following is a hilarious segment of one of former Secretary of Defense William Perry’s lectures in my Stanford MS&E 293 class on national security: “The Washington Post responded to the announcement by running an article observing that I was soft-spoken and humble, and questioning whether those were the right personality traits for the job of Secretary of Defense. They were simply reflecting the well-known fact that those in Washington that traveled the high road of humility are never bothered by heavy traffic. As a result of the Post article, my confirmation hearing was a surreal experience. Senator Byrd, instead of asking me questions about my views on defense issues, took off on the Washington Post article. He observed that [more . . .]