RatS 6: Bipolar Opposites

We’ve never paid particular attention to Scott Alexander (pseudonym) and his blog, Slate Star Codex (now Astral Codex Ten). Long ago, we ran into a few SSC posts and our very vague memory is that we liked them. Then, while reading more on the New York Times‘s crucifying of Donald McNeil, we came across the Times‘s smelly article on SSC, including the gratuitous and sleazy outing of Alexander.* We explored a little, including reading this thoughtful critique of SSC. Still, we didn’t, and don’t, look to have an opinion on SSC, or on the “rationalism” in which it is supposedly immersed. (We did however, come to the opinion, that the New York Times has lost its collective fucking mind.)

A couple days ago, however, and completely by chance, we ran into an old, 2014 post on SSC. Alexander is a psychiatrist, and this post was on his long and futile attempt to conduct a study of a screening test for bipolar disorder, a test that Alexander suspected was of limited worth and knew was being widely misused. From the introduction to Alexander’s saga:

You ask patients a bunch of things like “Do you ever feel really happy, then really sad?”. If they say ‘yes’ to enough of these questions, you start to worry.

Some psychiatrists love this test. I hate it. Patients will say “Yes, that absolutely describes me!” and someone will diagnose them with bipolar disorder. Then if you ask what they meant, they’d say something like “Once my local football team made it to the Super Bowl and I was really happy, but then they lost and I was really sad.” I don’t even want to tell you how many people get diagnosed bipolar because of stuff like this.

Alexander’s post struck a particularly strong chord. Our father was a clinical psychologist, and he saw the worst. The whole Cuckoo’s Nest thing. More importantly, he didn’t think the not-worst was generally all that much better. In general, he regarded his psychologist and, especially, psychiatrist colleagues as arrogant, narrow-minded, drug-pushing quacks. Alexander’s story is from a different angle, but it fits right in.

Alexander’s post is alternately hilarious and horrifying. Read it. And then scream.


*) The kind of thing that a toady like James Massola would do.

WitCH 55: Oregonian Dreamin’

It must be something in the water.

This one, with due credit to Bill and Melinda, will be appearing in plenty of right wing snicker-rags in the very near future. It’s really a PoSWW. However, given the previous (and much more important) post, we decided to make it a companion blivit-WitCH. (As well, we’re working on another post on this stuff, in defense of it.)

Courtesy of the Oregon Department of Education, teachers there are being offered a “micro-course” on Equitable Math Instruction. More specific links are below. Good luck, and Good God.


1. Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction

2. Fostering Deep Understanding

3. Creating Conditions to Thrive (zip file)

4. Connecting Critical Intersections

5. Sustaining Equitable Practice

Whole Course (zip file)



WitCH 54: California Dreamin’

OK, this is one of those blivit WitCHes. Yeah, sorry, but what are you gonna do? We don’t have the time (or the stomach) to give the stuff below the full-blown critique that it warrants, and there is a stormfront much closer to home.  Given the thing has been brought to our attention, however, it also seems an error to not raise it on this blog. And so, here we are.

The inestimable Jo Boaler is one of the writers for the California mathematics curriculum review, and the proposed new “framework” is now up for public comment. The screenshots below are from youcubed‘s newsletter, and further below are links to individual chapters of the new framework (all also available here, along with other relevant material). Good luck.

CHAPTER LINKS (Word files, because making PDFs is apparently so damn hard)

(There’s also grade level brochures on this page, but, at posting, the links weren’t working.)

1. Introduction

2. Teaching for Equity and Engagement

3. Number Sense

4. Exploring, Discovering, and Reasoning With and About Mathematics

5. Data Science

6. Mathematics, Investigating and Connecting, Transitional Kindergarten through Grade Five

7. Mathematics, Investigating and Connecting, Grades Six through Eight

8. Mathematics, Investigating and Connecting, Grades Nine through Twelve

9. Supporting Equitable and Engaging Mathematics Instruction

10. Technology and Distance Learning in the Teaching of Mathematics

11. Assessment in the 21st Century

12. Instructional Materials

13. Glossary

Yes, Creighton is the Dumbest Man on the Planet

Meanwhile, GregHunt (one word) and ScoMoFo and BlackShirts Dutton, you know, the people responsible for the little things such as the country and borders and health and vaccines and whatnot, do nothing but play to the camera with their fuck-you-all smirks.

Luckily, Andrews and Victorians have shown themselves to be way smarter and way more responsible than these Liberal and NeoLiberal shitheads. And they, we, will do it again.

Take care, Victorians, and ignore these assholes.

RatS 5: Woody to Get Hatcheted Again

We’ve posted previously on the lynch mobbing of Woody Allen. Now, HBO is coming out with a four-hour documentary on Woody and Mia. And here we go again.

Documentary filmmaker Robert Weide has written carefully and compellingly about the nonsense accusations against Woody Allen,. He has spent time with Moses, and he has looked carefully at Golden Boy Ronan.

Weide now has a new post, on the coming documentary, what to watch for and why he doesn’t trust it. If you do not believe Allen molested his daughter, then you should read it. If you do believe Allen molested his daughter, then you’re either ignorant or you’re an idiot and you should read it. Here is an excerpt:

For all the years that Mia, Dylan, and Ronan Farrow have been having their say on mainstream and social media, I’ve never seen them put in a position where they weren’t in control over who was questioning them, so I’ve never seen them have to hold up under cross, so to speak. Now, in this documentary, there might be some very “soft” cross questions to make it look like the interviewers are going for the truth, but these will likely be questions where the responses are already known, creating the illusion of due diligence. (And if the answer doesn’t suit the filmmaker’s needs, it can always be left on the cutting room floor.) I know several people who could question these three Farrows … that, in five minutes, would turn each of them into Cmdr. Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.”

Ask yourself why Ronan Farrow blocks anyone who ever questions his statements on Twitter, no matter how polite or well-informed they are. (This is the same Ronan Farrow who wrote an editorial for The Hollywood Reporter asking why Woody Allen isn’t asked “the hard questions.”) Why did Ronan Farrow never respond to my Tweets offering a $100k donation to the charity of their choice for a shred of “evidence” of any number of his provably false claims? When Ronan and I were both invited to debate the issue live, on stage, at the SoHo Forum in NYC, I responded, “Fly me out and put me up, and I’m there.” Ronan declined to even respond. Ronan is a lawyer and a Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative reporting. I won a prize as “Most Outstanding Student” from the Rotary Club when I was in 8th grade. So what is he afraid of? 


UPDATE (08/03/21)

Robert Weide writes about the HBO train wreck, and Weide publishes his non-interview. On the latter, Weide notes

Woody Allen gave an interview to the WSJ months ago. It was cancelled before publication. He also gave an interview for CBS This Morning that was cancelled just prior to air. This online publication asked me for an interview. I consented. Then they cancelled it. Everyone OK w/this?

Rumoring Scotch

The other day we were teasing a friend and colleague who teaches at Melbourne’s Scotch College, and we got seriously puzzled. We have a question.

Scotch is arguably the strongest and most prestigious school in Melbourne, now and always. Its alumni include a number of Australia’s greats, including Sir John Monash, Sir Ninian Stephen, Professor E R Love and Batfucker Smith. But here’s the question:

Why does Scotch College not offer the International Baccalaureate?

It is weird. Scotch has enough money for seven polo fields, and Lexus rowboats, and Gucci footballs. Whatever. The place is dripping with status and wealth and privilege. Moreover, and almost uniquely, the school has academic standards and, specifically, it employs some strong mathematics staff, who know mathematics and can teach it. So, why, when the school has an easily available option, does Scotch force their students into the fifth rate swill of VCE? Why not sell a couple of boats and start IB?

We really don’t get it.