Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Q: Slip 78. Sherif Abd el Mayin of Slip 68 becomes el Main, el Mayein, el Muein, el Mayin, and el Muyein.

A: Good egg. I call this really ingenious.
From an exchange between T.E. Lawrence and his proofreaders.

Q: Slip 20. Nuri, Emir of the Ruwalla, belongs to the 'chief family of the Rualla.' On Slip 23 'Rualla horse,' and Slip 38, 'killed one Rueli.' In all later slips 'Rualla.'

A: Should have also used Ruwala and Ruala.

Q: Slip 28. The Bisaita is also spelt Biseita.

A: Good.

Q: Slip 47. Jedha, the she-camel, was Jedhah on Slip 40.

A: She was a splendid beast.
Read it all.

There are 32 ways to spell Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi.

Online instruction wins: It's about time

A new empirical study by the US Department of Education finds that education outcomes in online environments are superior to face-to-face instruction. And that a blend of the two seems to be best. The key reason seems to be that students spend more time studying when they are doing it online.

Inside Higher Ed:
Notably, the report attributes much of the success in learning online (blended or entirely) not to technology but to time. "Studies in which learners in the online condition spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition found a greater benefit for online learning," the report says.

In noting caveats about the findings, the study returns to the issue of time.

"Despite what appears to be strong support for online learning applications, the studies in this meta-analysis do not demonstrate that online learning is superior as a medium," the report says. "In many of the studies showing an advantage for online learning, the online and classroom conditions differed in terms of time spent, curriculum and pedagogy. It was the combination of elements in the treatment conditions (which was likely to have included additional learning time and materials as well as additional opportunities for collaboration) that produced the observed learning advantages. At the same time, one should note that online learning is much more conducive to the expansion of learning time than is face-to-face instruction."

Interestingly, online quizzes had no effect: "The use of video or online quizzes -- frequently encouraged for online education -- 'does not appear to enhance learning,' the report says."


Thursday, June 25, 2009

What recession? Colleges offer students valet parking

Inside Higher Ed:
When the concept of starting a valet parking service came up at a recent Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees meeting, it seemed less out of place than one would think. With the number of students growing, and the number of convenient parking spaces on campus unchanged, the idea to charge students and faculty for such a convenience did not seem unreasonable.

Florida Atlantic is just talking about valet service. Other colleges have implemented it. Florida International University and Columbia University introduced valet programs this spring. The University of Southern California has had a program in place since 2008, and High Point University brought in valet at the behest of its president, Nido Qubein, to provide a better student experience. California State University at Sacramento has also begun a premium parking program.

At Florida International, valet service started this spring as a way for visitors to find convenient parking. The valet stand was set up on a busy part of campus -- one where a lot of visitors arrive, according to Bill Foster, executive director of parking and transportation. The service was meant for visitors, but students, faculty, and staff were not precluded from using the service, and commuter students had a particular demand for it.
I can see this going over very well in the UAE. University administrators, are you listening?


Monday, June 22, 2009

The power of crowds

Monday, June 08, 2009

Paris Hilton depression recovery plan

It worked for me.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The expat's brain and other links I liked

  1. Being an expat in good for your brain.
  2. The big floating storage debate
  3. "Peru’s extraordinary performance in financial markets was founded on its credible commitment to service its debt with guano"
  4. Can't take of your parents? Send them to India. They really like older people there.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Plus-sized women are more sensitive?

I didn't go looking for it, but at The Economist I found another story on the economics of plus-sized ladies' clothing. (Earlier DD post here where it is also relates the fact that it costs more to make plus-sized clothing.)

From The Economist FreeeXchange blog:
In this [recessionary] market, the relationship has deteriorated further. Recently, several fashion lines and department stores have downsized or eliminated their plus-size collections. It's not personal. Plus-size clothes are more expensive to make because they require more fabric, and different models and patterns. Also, plus-size women tend to be more price sensitive. That suggests smaller profits.

"They’re really bargain shoppers," says Catherine Schuller, a plus-size expert and former editor at Mode, a magazine for larger women. “Many are homemakers who can’t spend considerable amounts on clothes and are willing to sacrifice their own spending for their families, especially now”.

With people cutting back on consumption you’d expect women spending less on clothes, but the declines have been much larger in the plus-size market. Regular-size women’s-clothes sales have fallen by only 2%, while plus-size sales have fallen 8%.

It is curious that plus-size women are more price sensitive. Overweight women tend to earn less, so they have even less disposable income.
Emphasis added. Why "curious"? Even if they do tend earn less that doesn't make it immediately less likely they would more price sensitive about clothing. Indeed, if they tend to earn less then that could be channel of commonality that explains why they are more price sensitive.

UPDATE, June 28: Virginia Postrel explains why large sizes are disappearing from the stores, and much more (graphs here):
Because they require more fabric, larger sizes are more expensive to manufacture. “The cost of clothing is disproportionately in the materials and not the labor, due to the shift in production to low-wage countries, which means that it is going to be more expensive to produce clothing for large-sized women, and more resources will be tied up in garments on the racks,” notes Susan Ashdown, a professor in the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design at Cornell and a leading researcher on improving apparel fit. Imagine the fury that would greet prices that went up with dress size.
Much easier publicity-wise just to eliminate larger sizes. And,
The most common weight—130 pounds for women under 25 and 140 pounds for those 26 to 35—is well below the average, which is raised by all those women spread out in the distribution’s fat upper tail on the right. (The distribution looks similar for other age groups, though the specifics differ.) There really are a lot of larger women, but “larger” covers a lot of different weights. ... Translated into clothes, that means a lot of different sizes. ... The statistics also explain why plus-size clothes tend to be less tailored, even though larger women often look more attractive in body-skimming clothes.

Time lapse of Dubai urbanization

See it happen. I saw it live - although from ground level.

Watch several times. The first time you'll focus so much on The Palm you won't see anything else.

Thanks to UAE Community blog for the link.

Does the UAE need a statistics czar?

WSJ Numbers Guy blog:
Spurred by alarmingly low public confidence in official figures, Parliament authorized the creation of the U.K. Statistics Authority, tasked with overseeing government numbers, monitoring their use and auditing all 1,200 national statistics over the next five years. The new organization is well funded, at five million pounds per year, with about three times the budget for monitoring of its predecessor, the Statistics Commission. That funding level is exempt from the usual review process, to reduce political pressure via the pocketbook.

“Statistics have potential value, but it’s only realized when they’re used in a way that delivers some value to the public,” said Richard Alldritt, head of assessment for the authority. “That use could be in government itself, in formulating policy, but it could be equally in decisions about allocating money, or decisions in commercial sector.”

To unlock that value, the authority will continue monitoring the use of government stats, as it has already done with high-profile critiques of releases of knife-crime and migration numbers.
In answer to my headline question, I'd say yes the UAE needs a statistics ombudsman, too. But the larger question is, where are the government stats collected by the UAE? Where do you, um, pull them from?

Wal-Mart and obesity

Wal-Mart may attract fat people, but it does not make you fat.

In our first round of statistical analysis we [Art Carden and Charles Courtemanche] found that greater consumer access to a Wal-Mart store was associated with lower body-mass indexes and a lower probability of being obese.

As we gathered more data on Wal-Mart discount stores, Wal-Mart Supercenters, warehouse clubs like Sam's Club, Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club, and other outlets, we found that the correlation holds up under a variety of different circumstances, with a clear relationship between warehouse clubs and better eating habits emerging over time. Further, we found that Wal-Mart's effect on weight is largest for women, the poor, African-Americans and people who live in urban areas.
We found the largest and most identifiable link between Wal-Mart's presence in a community and that community's weight is for its discount stores, which carry few groceries. So Wal-Mart's effect on obesity works mostly through an income effect, not a substitution effect. We also found a clear relationship between better eating habits and warehouse club presence, suggesting that people might be taking advantage of bulk buying to stock up on healthier foods.

Our data suggest that we buy healthier food when our purchasing power increases.
So why is Chicago's mayor so opposed to a Wal-Mart in the Southside of Chicago? Who would lose?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Marks & Spencer had it right the first time

Why should smaller ladies pay the same as larger ladies when larger bras cost more to make? That's what Marks & Spencer thought when it ended its uniform pricing practice. But then larger ladies complained. The result?
An M&S spokesman announced: “We’ve heard what our customers are telling us — that they are unhappy with the pricing on our DD-plus bras and that basically we’ve boobed.

“So from tomorrow, no matter what size you buy, the price will be the same.
Read it all here.

I'm waiting for the smaller ladies to complain that M&S is not giving them enough support.

Thanks to Harlette for the pointer.