Daily Archive: 03/28/2011

Mar 28 2011

Regional Finals Day 1

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2011

Not a good day for underdogs.

Sunday’s Results

Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Score Region
1 *Connecticut 35 – 1 68 5 Georgetown 24 – 11 63 East
2 *Duke 31 – 3 70 3 DePaul 25 – 10 61 East
2 *Texas A&M 30 – 5 79 6 Georgia 24 – 11 38 Southwest
1 *Baylor 34 – 2 86 5 Wisconsin-Green Bay 34 – 2 76 Southwest

But I am hopeful for tonight.

Gonzaga is going to have to pull off a miracle to get past Stanford, but I sure wouldn’t mind if that happened.

Notre Dame is a better bet.  A number 2 over a number 1 is not that big an upset and Notre Dame is a good team, probably the second best in The Big East.

Besides, don’t you think Pat Summit looks tired?

Current Matchups

Time Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7 pm 1 Tennessee 33 – 2 2 Notre Dame 28 – 7 Southeast
9 pm 1 Stanford 31 – 2 11 Gonzaga 30 – 4 West

Follow the 2011 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on The Stars Hollow Gazette.

If you don’t like squeeky shoes you can look for alternate programming here-

If you like a more traditional bracket try this NCAA one, they also have a TV schedule.

Mar 28 2011


A School in a Quandary

By RICHARD WEIZEL, The New York Times

Published: September 01, 1996

Going to Stratfield, it was thought by many, was a way to prepare one’s child for the Ivy League.

That was all before a cheating scandal at Stratfield was revealed in April by the school superintendent, Carol Harrington.

On both exams there were significantly higher erasure rates than at other schools, and on both tests 89 percent of erasures at Stratfield had been changed to correct answers.

“At first nobody at the school, actually no one in the school system, wanted to believe that this had happened, particularly at such a wonderful and prestigious school that has received so much positive attention in recent years,” said Ms. Harrington, who was harshly criticized at the time by Stratfield School parents for revealing the news to the media before the school year’s ending, and before they had been informed.

“There was a lot of denial and people wanted to blame the messenger, but now I think most people accept that there was tampering and want to get to the bottom of it,” said Ms. Harrington.

(A)fter carefully reviewing the test results, which had up to five times the number of erasures of the other schools’ exams, officials at Houghlin-Miflin, the parent company of the Iowa Test, concluded otherwise, saying their review “clearly and conclusively indicate tampering.”

And when Stratfield’s third graders were retested in March, as requested by the school board, they fell below two other town schools. On the first test, the school’s third graders scored higher than 89 percent of students nationwide on vocabulary and reading comprehension. But on the monitored retests, their scores dropped to 80 percent on vocabulary and 79 percent for reading.

The school’s 512 pupils, 22 teachers and its long-beloved but now beleaguered principal started a new school year last week amid several investigations, in addition to one already completed by the forensic expert Dr. Henry C. Lee, who most recently gained prominence for his work on the O. J. Simpson case.

Dr. Lee’s findings, which were released in early July, did not resolve the mystery. He concluded only that there was no evidence of chemical erasures and that the erasures were made by one or more persons. He also concluded that some of the tests had different patterns of pencil strokes and others had more consistent style patterns.

What was in fact happening you see is that teachers and administrators go through test sheets to ‘clean up erroneous marks that might effect proper scoring’.

And at Stratfield Elementary School in Fairfield Connecticut, one of the highest rated and most prestigious in the United States, at the behest of and under the direction of their Principal- Roger Previs, these people were changing student answers so the school would itself test higher.

Now in my Connecticut School District we called cribbing answers from a cheat sheet, well…


So what do you call what Fenty, Duncan, Obama, Third Way “Democrat”, Charter School loving Michelle Rhee did?

Test Gains at Michelle Rhee’s Favorite School Possibly Fabricated

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Monday March 28, 2011 8:00 am

This doesn’t fully prove a case of fraud at the Noyes School: as Kevin Drum noted, perhaps students at Noyes were taught to look over their answers before completing the test. But he adds, “the pattern here sure seems to follow a pattern we’ve seen in other school districts that have reported startling test gains and later had to recant them for one reason or another.”

I think it’s important that this is part of Michelle Rhee’s legacy, while I’m not necessarily holding her responsible. She put a premium on success at DC schools, and that pressure can lead to some dastardly things. Moreover, if the Noyes School is found to have cheated on standardized tests, it invalidates a lot of the results Rhee held up as a model in how to best teach students.

And I will point out that this is exactly the excuse offered by Roger Previs and proven false by Dr. Henry Lee.

Correcting your own answers as a test strategy doesn’t result in conclusive findings by forensic handwriting analysts that erasures and new answers were made by two different people.  Has something changed since I took the SAT and you’re now allowed to pass your paper to your neighbor because you have writer’s cramp and carpal tunnel?

Mar 28 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

Pual Krugman: American Thought Police

Recently William Cronon, a historian who teaches at the University of Wisconsin, decided to weigh in on his state’s political turmoil. He started a blog, “Scholar as Citizen,” devoting his first post to the role of the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council in pushing hard-line conservative legislation at the state level. Then he published an opinion piece in The Times, suggesting that Wisconsin’s Republican governor has turned his back on the state’s long tradition of “neighborliness, decency and mutual respect.”

So what was the G.O.P.’s response? A demand for copies of all e-mails sent to or from Mr. Cronon’s university mail account containing any of a wide range of terms, including the word “Republican” and the names of a number of Republican politicians.

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The Midwest’s new class politics

The battle for the Midwest is transforming American politics. Issues of class inequality and union influence, long dormant, have come back to life. And a part of the country that was integral to the Republican surge of 2010 is shifting away from the GOP just a few months later.

Republican governors, particularly in Wisconsin and Ohio, denied themselves political honeymoons by launching frontal assaults on public employee unions and proposing budgets that include deep cuts in popular programs.

Doyle McManus: Obama’s nuanced call to arms in Libya

The Obama administration says the goals of its bombing campaign in Libya are crystal clear, but it has tied itself in knots trying to explain them.

This isn’t a war, White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week, “it’s a time-limited, scope-limited military action.”

“What we are doing is enforcing a [United Nations] resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis and setting up a no-fly zone,” said national security aide Ben Rhodes. “Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end. But … we are not getting into an open-ended war, a land invasion in Libya.”

Clear enough for you?

Mar 28 2011

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Business

1 Russia aims to boost caviar exports with fish farms

by Eleonore Dermy, AFP

Sun Mar 27, 6:10 pm ET

GAMZYUKI, Russia (AFP) – Once the world’s top exporter of black caviar, Russia is building fish farms to harvest the gourmet delicacy as it aims to bring its sturgeon stocks back from the brink.

In Gamzyuki, a tiny village in the Kaluga region, around 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Moscow, a fish farm has the ambitious goal of producing 16 tons of the sturgeon eggs per year by 2014.

Opened three years ago, it is one of dozens of sturgeon farms that have opened in Russia recently, aiming to rebuild the nation’s reputation as the world’s premium exporter of caviar.

Mar 28 2011

On This Day in History March 28

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 28 is the 87th day of the year (88th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 278 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1979, the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island overheats causing a partial meltdown. At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat.

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974 on a sandbar on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.

Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station

The power plant was owned and operated by General Public Utilities and Metropolitan Edison (Met Ed). It was the most significant accident in the history of the USA commercial nuclear power generating industry, resulting in the release of up to 481 PBq (13 million curies) of radioactive gases, and less than 740 GBq (20 curies) of the particularly dangerous iodine-131.

The accident began at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, with failures in the non-nuclear secondary system, followed by a stuck-open pilot-operated relief valve (PORV) in the primary system, which allowed large amounts of nuclear reactor coolant to escape. The mechanical failures were compounded by the initial failure of plant operators to recognize the situation as a loss-of-coolant accident due to inadequate training and human factors, such as human-computer interaction design oversights relating to ambiguous control room indicators in the power plant’s user interface. In particular, a hidden indicator light led to an operator manually overriding the automatic emergency cooling system of the reactor because the operator mistakenly believed that there was too much coolant water present in the reactor and causing the steam pressure release. The scope and complexity of the accident became clear over the course of five days, as employees of Met Ed, Pennsylvania state officials, and members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) tried to understand the problem, communicate the situation to the press and local community, decide whether the accident required an emergency evacuation, and ultimately end the crisis. The NRC’s authorization of the release of 40,000 gallons of radioactive waste water directly in the Susquehanna River led to a loss of credibility with the press and community.

In the end, the reactor was brought under control, although full details of the accident were not discovered until much later, following extensive investigations by both a presidential commission and the NRC. The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that “there will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects”. Several epidemiological studies in the years since the accident have supported the conclusion that radiation releases from the accident had no perceptible effect on cancer incidence in residents near the plant, though these findings are contested by one team of researchers.

Public reaction to the event was probably influenced by The China Syndrome, a movie which had recently been released and which depicts an accident at a nuclear reactor. Communications from officials during the initial phases of the accident were felt to be confusing. The accident crystallized anti-nuclear safety concerns among activists and the general public, resulted in new regulations for the nuclear industry, and has been cited as a contributor to the decline of new reactor construction that was already underway in the 1970s.

The incident was rated a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale: Accident With Wider Consequences.

Mar 28 2011

Six In The Morning

Libya: coalition attacks Sirte for first time

Coalition planes launched air strikes on Sirte, Col Muammar Gaddafi’s home town, for the first time on Sunday night.

2:39AM BST 28 Mar 2011

Libyan television confirmed the Gaddafi stronghold had been the target of strikes by “the colonial aggressor”, as had Tripoli, and there was a large deployment of troops on the streets of Sirte.

Nato commanders say Libyan regime forces have begun digging in to make a stand in Sirte, raising the prospect that a bloody battle lies ahead as rebel forces barrel westward.

Regime forces who retreated in the face of the rebel advance have begun locating their armour and artillery inside civilian buildings in Sirte, Nato sources said, a tactic designed to make air strikes fraught with risk.

Sirte, which Col Gaddafi repeatedly tried to turn into Libya’s capital, is dominated by members of his tribe, the Gaddafi, who remain largely loyal to the regime.

Mar 28 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for March 27, 2011-


Mar 28 2011

Pique the Geek 20110327: How Nuclear Reactors Work. Part the Second

There was a good bit of feedback from last week’s installment, and I want to point out that I am always glad when people point out flaws in my treatment.  I emphasized a particular sort of reactor, and neglected a couple of other ones.  I intend to set this right tonight.

The concern that seems to be in the forefront at present is the radiation leakage from the stricken plants.  As I write this (20110326), it is still not clear whence it comes, but I suspect that fuel rods are compromised and that nuclear fuel rod material is becoming commingled with the water that is supposed to cool the systems.

I say that because it is unlikely that if the spent fuel rod ponds were the source that the high levels of radioactive materials would have found their way into the turbine rooms, where the subcontractors were exposed to extremely high levels of radiation.

The primary thrust of this piece is to go through some of the fission products in the spent (and in use) fuel rods.  This will give us a basic understanding as to why used nuclear fuel is so much more dangerous than new fuel.

Mar 28 2011

Evening Edition

I’ll be sitting in for ek hornbeck who is Live Blogging the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Championship Games for the next few days. Come live blog with us.

  • Libyan rebels push towards Tripoli, promise new oil exports

    by Marc Burleigh

    BIN JAWAD, Libya (AFP) – Libyan rebels’ push westwards towards Tripoli gathered momentum on Sunday amid promises the uprising would not further hamper oil production in the areas under their control.

    The rebels’ pursuit of Moamer Kadhafi’s forces saw them wrest back control of key oil town Ras Lanuf and press on as far as Nofilia with Kadhafi’s hometown of Sirte firmly in their sights 100 kilometres (60 miles) further along the road where the next major battle was expected.

  • Japan radiation reading a ‘mistake’

    Operator of quake-hit nuclear plant says reading that radioactivity was 10 million times more than normal was an error

    The operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi quake-crippled nuclear complex has said a spike reported in radioactivity at the plant is a mistake.

    Jiji Press quoted the Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) as saying on Sunday that the mistake – which indicated radiation levels 10 million times higher than normal – was due to confusion between readings of iodine and cobalt in the water.

    The inaccurate reading had forced emergency workers to flee from the complex’s Unit 2 reactor.

    “The number is not credible,” said TEPCO’s spokesman, Takashi Kurita. “We are very sorry.”

    He said officials were taking another sample to get accurate levels, but did not know when the results would be announced.