22 08 2007

Dear Deer,

Yes, seeing you outside the other day was wonderful. But seeing your fellow native wildlife INSIDE my house this morning was decidedly not. It was unacceptable! Suddenly happening upon a very alive and plenty big enough snake inside my house has never happened to me, not in a half-century of Florida living.

Now that it has, I’m not sure I will ever feel really comfortable in my own little habitat again.

You know that maladaptive deer-in-the-headlights frozen thing you did in the middle of the road? That was me, in the middle of my own kitchen. It took me half an hour to get off the stool — and now what?

Dealing With Snakes in Florida’s Residential Areas – Introduction
Steve A. Johnson and Monica E. McGarrity

This is not academic, it is PERSONAL!

As Florida’s human population continues to grow, remaining green spaces continue to be fragmented into even smaller areas of natural habitat. The outcome of this insidious process is the creation of small pockets of wildlife habitat in an otherwise urban or suburban landscape. As a result, encounters with snakes in residential areas are increasingly likely to occur.

When you say residential areas, I thought you meant towns and developments, like in the bushes or on the roadside. If you mean where I reside, as in IN MY HOME, that’s a whole different kettle of, um, tolerance for the environment, way past the reach of what I (until today) liked to congratulate myself for cultivating . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Death to the SAT?

22 08 2007

If the SAT has been statistically shown to be nothing but a shiny distraction, a mirror reflecting what we already know rather than a window to a brighter future of knowledge and wisdom and social progress, then are we smart enough to NOT show how smart we are with a shined-up test score?

The ever-controversial Charles Murray argues that society would be smarter, happier and most just if none of us had these shit-for-shinola scores in our heads in the first place.

The cognitive stratification of American society—for that’s what we’re talking about—was not a problem 100 years ago. . . (consider that in 1907 roughly half the adults with .high intelligence were housewives) . . .Because upper-middle-class families produce most of the smartest kids, there is no way to reform the system (short of disregarding intellectual ability altogether) to prevent their children from coming out on top. We can only make sure that high-ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds realize . . . that the system is not rigged.

The most immediate effect of getting rid of the SAT is to remove an extremely large and bright red herring. . .

Read the rest of this entry »