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May 4, 2005

Dumbing down the SAT


The most fascinating thing I read in today's papers was Michael Winerip's article in the New York Times about the new SAT Essay test.

Among the amazing, hard–to–believe–but–confirmed–true items:

• There is no penalty for factual errors. The College Board states in its "Official Guide for Scorers": "Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or 'Anna Karenina, a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' You are scoring the writing, and not the correctness of the facts."

MIT Professor Dr. Les Perelman, one of the directors of undergraduate writing at MIT, said in the Times article, when asked how to prepare for the SAT Essay test, "I would advise writing as long as possible and include lots of facts, even if they're made up."

Perelman analyzed the College Board's sample essays and made an amazing discovery: "It appeared to me that regardless of what a student wrote, the longer the essay, the higher the score."

He said, "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one. If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90% of the time."

Guess what: that's probably how most of them actually were graded.

The College Board's got its knickers in a twist over Perelman's revelations, and is busy backing and filling and explaining away his findings, so far without much success.

SAT graders are told to read an essay just once and spend two or three minutes per essay, then assign a score of one (lowest) to six (highest).

Reporter Winerip wrote, "Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid–fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk. 'That's a 4,' he said. 'It looks like a 4.'"

Perelman said of the new SAT Essay test's grading system, "It's exactly what we don't want to teach our kids."

Repeat after me: "Africa is not a country."

The College Board told Winerip that "as to facts not mattering, it was a necessary accomodation on such a short, high–pressure test."

"'We know students don't write well when they're anxious,' said Ed Hardin, a College Board test specialist. 'We don't want them not to go forward with that little detail. Our attitude is go right ahead with that missing date or fact and readers should be instructed not to count off for that.'"

May 4, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's Scariest Jar Opener


I challenge you to bring me one anywhere close to the contraption above.

It looks like it's ready for launch.

Black & Decker makes it.

It's called the Lids Off™ automatic jar opener.

"Gripper top adjusts to fit any size, height, and width of jar."

8.5"W x 10"H x 7.75"D.

$59.95 here.

But perhaps madame would prefer to see something a little lower tech?

No problema.

How about the Twister Jar Opener below?


From the website:

    • Simply slide our jar opener over lids up to 4.5" diameter

    • Crank the top handle

    • With next to no effort the lid pops open!

    • Stainless steel with wood handle

$8.95 here.

May 4, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'I'd like to become the first female president - that would really cool' — Jennifer Lopez


All right girl, way to throw down.

I'm having the following bumper sticker—

We Can't Wait — J.Lo in 2008

printed up after I finish this post cause everyone's favorite wide–girl is tossing her whatever into the ring.

Jennifer Lopez, born and bred in the Bronx in the U.S.A., turns 35 on July 24, making her eligible for the presidency.

In a brief item in the New York Times today about an interview appearing, also today, in the German celebrity magazine Bravo, she said, "I'm a total powerhouse. I'd like to be the first female president – that would be really cool."

And she could count on that extra limousine Chris Rock insists she needs.

Britain's Sun headlined its story on the interview "I'll be Jennifer Lo–Prez!"

I like it.

Megastar.co.uk called her "the booty–clencher" and "the big–bummed one."

All I can say is, good thing she's not standing for P.M.

I don't think the U.K.'s ready for our version of celebrity politics, starring such luminaries of the silver screen as Ronald Reagan, Arnold, and who knows who else?


You GO J.Lo!

But watch out for Paris Hilton, who'd undoubtedly say, if asked if she'd like to be president, "That's hot."

She'd carry the pink states for sure with that slogan.

The only problem is that she's 24 and won't turn 35 until February 17, 2016.

Just in time, though, for that year's election to succeed two–term incumbent President J.Lo.


You GO Paris!

May 4, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MorphWorld: Lou Holtz into Granny Clampett


Too explosive for the National Enquirer.


The Drudge Report found it far too hot to handle.


But bookofjoe goes where no one else dares.


"Up from the ground come a bubblin' crude" — indeed.

May 4, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Catbot — Omron's Mecho–Cat


Linton Weeks wrote a story which appeared in the April 24 Washington Post about the new new thing in robotic pets.

The Catbot makes Sony's Aibo look like a walking Erector–Set.

Created by the Omron Corp. of Japan, but not yet available commercially in the U.S., the Catbots are being used as psychotherapeutic aids by psychologists Elena and Alexander Libin (above, with their Catbots) of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who describe themselves as "robo–therapists."

They are coming.


Some are already among us.

Are you ready?

The Catbot makes the immobile cat pillow and 3–D cat featured here previously so last century, in my humble opinion.

But then, who said I was entitled to an opinion?


After all, opinions are things peculiar to humans.

Cats don't have opinons.

Nor do computers.

Except for yours, which thinks you're very annoying and thus takes measures to thwart you whenever possible.


You really didn't think those were "glitches," did you?

If you simply can't wait for the kitties to get here and you understand Japanese, Omron will sell you one


for $1,530.

May 4, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jesus Watches


This U.K. firm offers watches with "a fashionable Jesus logo."


"Our watches provide a purposeful concept that could be used for the individual to affirm their faith in Jesus and as a tool to evangelise the gospel," says the website.


[via Maria Doulton and The Financial Times]

May 4, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Medic Alert Bracelets


Tens of millions of Americans are afflicted with conditions that warrant wearing a Medic Alert bracelet — a "no–tech" but potentially lifesaving tool.

From epilepsy to diabetes to hemophilia, many conditions are unknowable until it's too late.

California–based non–profit Medic Alert estimates that no more than four million people world–wide participate in its program, fewer today than a decade ago.

Along with a Medic Alert bracelet comes an 800–number service that provides contacts and medical records to doctors in an emergency.

ER physicians say the reason so few people wear a Medic Alert bracelet is because their physicians don't recommend them, either because of an oversight or because doctors believe wearing a tag is a personal rather than a medical decision.

In any case, wrote Kevin Helliker in an April 5, 2005 Wall Street Journal article, "many patients with potentially fatal drug allergies or other dangerous conditions have never been advised to wear a bracelet."

Helliker continued, "The American Medical Association has never issued a statement recommending the bracelets, even though its own publication, the Journal of the American Medical Association, has published several research articles concluding that the bracelets are crucial for patients with allergies to drugs and food, or other disorders."

Medic Alert bracelets bear a medical insignia on the front and on the back a brief message detailing the wearer's diagnosis, along with an 800–number to call for more detailed medical information.

The bracelets and necklaces cost about $15 and the 24–hour information service costs $35 the first year, $20 annually after that.

Medic Alert was founded in 1956 but hasn't marketed itself very well, Helliker concluded.

In addition, patients have qualms about privacy and wearing a bracelet that broadcasts "medical problem" and can lead to unwanted attention.

Also, the bracelets themselves look primitive and cheap.

In response to this complaint Medic Alert is upgrading its offerings.

So stop diddling around with your own life or that of a loved one: go here and sign up, already.

May 4, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bolt Cufflinks


Marine–grade stainless steel bolts, perfectly machined and finished.


"Unscrew one end, push through the cuff and refit the bolt — job done, no tools required."


Heavy metal elegance.


£9.95 ($19) here (velvet bag included).

May 4, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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