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2020 August 1

UC is implementing anti-Asian policies

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:58
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Two decisions made by the Regents of the University of California this year initially made no sense to me.

Eliminating SAT/ACT.

In January 2019, at the request of the President of the University of California, the Standardized Testing Task Force started studying whether the known disparities in outcome for SAT tests was hurting low-income students, first-in-family students, or students form underrepresented minorities (Hispanic, Black, or Native American) from gaining acceptance to UC.

Their report came out in January 2020 and is available at https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/underreview/sttf-report.pdf.

The report looked at the data very carefully and came to some surprising conclusions:

It is true that the racial mix of students admitted into the freshman class at UC is quite different from the racial mix of high school seniors from the same year. Consider the groups that UC collectively refers to as Underrepresented Minorities (URM): Latino, African-American students and Native American students. In 2017-18, these groups constituted 59.1% of high school seniors in California, but only 37.0%of UC admits among California residents.

The second question is whether this 22.1 percentage point gap arises due to UC admissions decisions. The Task Force considered this in detail. Figure 3C-7 shows that about one-quarter of the gap is due to the admissions decisions of the UC campuses, but the remaining three-quarters of the gap relates to outcomes that occur before UC admissions officers read files. The single biggest factor is that relatively few of the students in the three underrepresented racial/ethnic groups complete the A-G coursework that both UC and CSU require for students to become eligible to apply. The other key factors include differences in the rates of graduation from high school and in applying to UC.

The fact that admission decisions explain only about one-quarter of the disparity in racial mix of high school seniors and admitted UC freshmen is important, but a reasonable person could wonder whether this contribution, although relatively small, might indeed indicate bias of some sort against applicants from some groups relative to others in admissions itself. We will look into this in responses to some of the questions below.

So there is some imbalance in who gets admitted, but only about a quarter of that is due to the UC admissions decisions—and even less is due to the standardized tests:

To re-state this more simply, large inter-group differences in SAT scores do not translate into major differences across student groups in admission rates at UC. This is probably the most important finding the Task Force has made in its data analyses.

Relying more on high-school GPA after eliminating SAT scores is likely to hurt minority students, rather than help them:

Given the Task Force’s findings that the SAT scores are evaluated in a way that effectively renormalizes scores to take disadvantage into account, SAT scores do not appear to play a big role in differences in admission rates between disadvantaged and advantaged groups. Other admission factors play a role in reducing the share of disadvantaged groups that are selected in the admissions process (as well as in reducing the share of disadvantaged groups in the admissions pool). A prime example is high school GPA. The report shows that variations in GPA matter more than variations in SAT in explaining admission rates.

Of course, the Office of the President then proceeded to ignore the data and the report and push for eliminating the SAT, even knowing that doing so would hurt minority applicants.  They convinced the Regents to go along with this.  Why would they do this?  Were they so convinced of their prior beliefs that they ignored every evidence that contradicted them, or were the never interested in helping minority students in the first place, but just using them as an excuse for a policy that had an entirely different motive?

If it is not to assist the admission of under-represented minorities, then perhaps the point is to reduce the admissions of the group that has the highest average SAT scores—the Asian-Americans.

Asking to repeal Prop. 209

UCOP also persuaded the Regents to call for a repeal of Prop. 209, which had added the following text to the California constitution:

SEC. 31. (a) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
(b) This section shall apply only to action taken after the section’s effective date.
(c) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex which are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as invalidating any court order or consent decree which is in force as of the effective date of this section.
(e) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting action which must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, where ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.
(f) For the purposes of this section, ”state” shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the state itself, any city, county, city and county, public university system, including the University of California, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the state.
(g) The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of then-existing California antidiscrimination law.
(h) This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with federal law or the United States Constitution, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that federal law and the United States Constitution permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

The reason was so that the University could re-institute racial preferences (which they refer to as Affirmative Action).  How badly are racial preferences needed to rebalance the student body?

According to https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/infocenter/fall-enrollment-glance in Fall 2019, the undergraduate enrollment across all the UC campuses was

category ugrads@UC percentage of non-international
International 29754
Unknown 5855 2.98%
White 48433 24.66%
Asian/Pacific Islander 75676 38.54%
Hispanic/Latinx 55971 28.50%
Black 9371 4.77%
Native American 1065 0.54%

How does this compare with California population?  According to https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/CA, the California population consists of

category percentage UC%/population%</th
Unknown or multiple races 4% 0.75
White 36.5% 0.68
Asian/Pacific Islander 16% 2.41
Hispanic/Latinx 39.4% 0.72
Black 6.5% 0.73
Native American 1.6% 0.34

So all groups except Asian/Pacific Islander are underrepresented, and whites are more underrepresented than Blacks or Hispanics.  (The Native Americans are the most underrepresented—they have always been treated the worst by the American educational system.)

So the push for racial preferences clearly has a single target—reducing the representation of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The whole point of both admissions policies being pushed this year is anti-Asian sentiment.  It is not to help the under-represented minorities, but to discriminate against Asian-Americans.

This interpretation makes perfect sense of both decisions.  UCOP and the Regents knew that they couldn’t get away with saying that they wanted to reduce the admission of Asian-Americans, nor that the group they wanted to help was the white students, so they had to pretend that they were helping the under-represented minorities.

They didn’t care what the conclusion of the STTF report was—they already knew that SAT scores helped Asian-Americans, and they did not care what happened to the under-represented minorities.  They were hoping for a fig leaf to cover their naked anti-Asian attitudes and were no doubt disappointed that the data did not provide them one.

The whole mess looks a lot like the biased admissions of the 1950’s, when various non-academic criteria were added by many elite universities, in order to exclude the Jewish students who were performing the best on all the academic criteria.  We are seeing the same game being played out today, with Asian-American students in the role of the Jewish students.

 

2020 July 24

COVID-19 mask #2 now working

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 23:36
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For Covid Mask #2, I complained that the top straps were too wide and that they wouldn’t stay above my ears:

The thin tie at the bottom works well, but thick tie at the top is too wide and does not fit comfortably over my ear.

I replaced the top tie with a thinner self-fabric tie quite some time ago, and I sewed a place to put a wire stiffener over the nose (having given up on getting the 3D-printed nose clips to be reliable). I’m using 22-gauge copper wire (with insulator) in a triple thickness to get something that has the right stiffness and malleability.

The mask sort of worked with the thinner ties and the nose wire, but even the narrow ties would not stay in place over my ears and got quite uncomfortable after a while. I also had trouble keeping my glasses from fogging, despite the nose wire. I had stopped wearing this mask, relying just on my first COVID mask.

Last week I had an idea on how to make the mask work better—instead of trying to keep the upper tie above my ears, I tied it below my ears:

The tie below the ears does not slip and does not crush my ears.

The low tie also pulls the nose wire firmly against my nose, and I’ve been able to walk or bicycle for 45 minutes without my glasses fogging and without needing to fiddle with the mask.

The change in how I wear the mask has changed this mask to being my favorite, though I still plan to make or buy some more, as having only two masks means that I sometimes don’t have one that has been laundered since the previous wearing.

[The astute reader will notice that my beard is much greyer in the newer photos—I’ve not been dying my beard this summer, and all the dye has either washed out or the dyed hair been trimmed off. The colors now are the natural colors of my hair.]

2020 July 16

Updated plot for COVID-19

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:36
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My previous COVID plot showed New York having reached its peak and California doing really well, but things have changed a lot for California in the past month, and even more dramatically for Southern states:

Santa Cruz has shot up in the past month, but is still doing better than much of California.

I added Santa Cruz (county) as a possible location to highlight, but I’m having to manually copy data from the Santa Cruz website, which is a pain, as they update it daily with corrections extending back a week or more. I probably should try to find where the data exists in downloadable form.  Santa Cruz is still a month or two behind California as a whole, but seems to be catching up.  We’ll probably hit a peak just as school starts.

Florida has now reached the top of the leaderboard in terms of cases/million each day, as Arizona seems to have moved past its own peak.  Louisiana is probably the only state that is seeing a second wave (rather than a delayed first wave), having brought the new cases down for quite a while.  It probably won’t be long before Arizona and Louisiana surpass New York in total cases per capita.

Bay Tree Bookstore at UCSC has come out with “Fiat Face Mask”:

It isn’t a very creative design, but it has a certain appeal to it. I’m getting one to add to my rotation of cloth masks.

2020 July 1

Forty-fifth weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 08:25
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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.

My weight has finally stabilized—I’m not packing on the pounds like I did in March, April, and May.

I’m not quite at my highest weight ever, but I’m about 15 pounds heavier than I want to be.

My exercise has been very limited—I averaged only 0.97 miles a day of bicycling in June (slightly better than the 0.75 miles/day for April and May, but less than a fifth of January), and probably not much more in walking (about 115k steps for the month—again, slightly better than the two previous months, but less than half of January). I have not cycled up the hill to my office for several months now—and bike commuting was my main source of exercise!

2020 June 29

Mad at myself and Zoom

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:29
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Yesterday I was serving as the technician for a Zoom memorial event for my Dad, who died last Wednesday.  My sister handled the MC role, and several of us gave short eulogies.  My task was to share a screen of a slide show before and after the speeches, mute and unmute mics during the speeches, give one speech, and record the session.

I screwed up in two ways:

  • At the beginning of the speeches, I forgot to press the “record” button until a couple of minutes in, in the middle of the first eulogy.
  • At the end, I shared the screen for the post-talk slide show, but accidentally started the pre-talk slide show (which was almost identical), so everyone saw just the initial slide.

Those mistakes are both mine, so why am I mad at Zoom? Mainly because the feedback to the presenter is so poor:

  • The “recording” indicator is tiny, and nothing is shown when not recording, so there is little visual indication that you forgot to start recording.
  • When sharing the screen, the presenter is not shown what everyone else is seeing.  I was seeing the window that was running the slide show, completely unaware that everyone else was seeing a different window.  Zoom had shrunk the chat box, so the message to me that the image was frozen scrolled out of the chat box before I noticed.

I had one job to do … (well really 5, but I screwed up 2 of them).

These were good lessons for me about using Zoom (always scroll the chat box back, even if you are sure you’ve seen everything, always ask for confirmation that the shared screen is what you think it is, always check for the tiny recording indicator if you mean to record), but I sure wish that they had not happened during the memorial for my Dad.

I don’t know why Zoom does not show the presenter what the audience is seeing—having the Zoom window disappear may be a reasonable option, but there should be some way to stop it from happening.

 

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