Clive Dunn is dead. The BBC obit is here. The only man to serve 4 years in a prisoner of war camp but 10 in the Home Guard.
Update: I told my 11 year old girl, after posting this, that Corporal Jones was dead. She was horrified—these guys are as live for her as Katy Perry is, and without the suspicion she has the Katy Perry is a fictional character. I assured her he was very old and lived well to the end, and that he was a lifelong socialist, all of which matter to the midwestern sisters. After looking generally sad she suddenly looked up with a grin said “maybe I should be allowed to listen to Dad’s Army in bed tonight” (usually forbidden on a schoolnight). Sure, I said, and wondered whether, whether, despite my unbelief he is in a position to watch. Because hearing that interaction would remove any doubt he may have had about the worth of his career.This weekend will be All Dad’s Army All Weekend in our house. Just in time for poppy day.
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Clive Dunn is dead. The BBC obit is here. The only man to serve 4 years in a prisoner of war camp but 10 in the Home Guard.
Laura (from 11d) at the Atlantic on Annette Lareau:
Jonah, did you ask your French teacher about why you got that B on that assignment? At 5:00 p.m. today, you have an orthodontist appointment. We’ll pick up Thai food on the way home and then you’ll finish your English homework. Don’t forget to put a book cover on your essay. A book cover always bumps a grade up half a point. Your dad can check your math when he gets home. Do you want tofu in your green curry or chicken? Ian, do you want noodles?
Every once in a while, you step back from yourself as a parent and say, “Dude! Did I actually just say that? I used to be cool. Did some alien take over my brain and turn me into this Mom Machine?” No crab-faced alien can be blamed for transforming me from a slacker in a black dress into what I am today. According to sociologist Annette Lareau, I’m a product of my social class.
The rest here.
This reminds me that I should long ago have alerted you all that the second edition of Unequal Childhoods was published in September. The new edition has a number of additions; including a follow up study of where the children were a decade or so later (none of the outcomes are very surprising, I’m sorry to report, but the details are fantastically interesting), and a riveting and uneasy reflection on some of the methodological and ethical issues with doing a longitudinal ethnographic study, describing the families’ reactions. Lareau gave copies of the first edition to each of the families after it was published, and, predictably, many of them read it and, equally predictably, about half were quite upset about the way they were portrayed. One family refused further contact—I was rather pleased with myself for being able to figure out, when she told me about this, which it was. In fact, the predictability of their reactions is a tribute to the first edition; the adults turn out to be the very people who were displayed to us 10 years earlier; witness Mr. Marshall’s response (cheerful disbelief when told that some of the families were upset: “It complimented everyone!”). This new chapter (14) should be required reading in all graduate level social science methods courses, and I have used it very fruitfully with undergraduates already. Interestingly, some of the families shifted their attitudes to the book over time. One middle class boy gave his father a copy of Outliers as a gift, which made the father better disposed to Lareau. One story is especially poignant, though also hopeful. Like several others, Mrs. Yanelli was annoyed at the way that her family had been portrayed feeling that it “looked down” on and was “highly critical of her family”. But her attitude changed:
Mrs Yanelli cleans the home of a Sociology professor I know slightly. One day he happened to be home when she was cleaning. She saw that he had Unequal Childhoods on his bookshelf. She told him she was in the book, and described how disappointed she and her family were with the book. Later, when I called the Yanelli’s…Mrs Yanelli told me he had “explained” the book to her , saying it was about things that were not right with society, with some people having more than others. She said that he had “made her” understand the book, and now she and her family were “fine with it”.
Fantastic news. The recall for Walker in Wisconsin needed about 550,000 signatures; a couple of hours ago about 1 million were turned in; in addition the recalls against 4 Republican state senators, including Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican Senate leader (about 30% over what was needed in his case) have gathered more signatures than needed. Signatures will be challenged, no doubt, but its unlikely that challenges will be successful. Prediction: once the Dems get a candidate this will be the most vicious, highest spending, election in Wisconsin history. I’ll provide links for non millionaire out of staters to help counterbalance the contributions of multi millionaire out of staters when the time comes.
Guardian obit here. Whenever I have written about mysteries on CT, Henry has put in a word for Reginald Hill. Quite rightly: by the late eighties Hill was one of the 3 or 4 best mystery writers in the English language, and, of that group, the most effortlessly enjoyable (the others?: James, Barnard, and, until he died, Symons. Go on, tell me I’m wrong). He is most famous for his Dalziel and Pascoe books, mainly for the combination of complex plotting, interesting delightful characters, and many very comedic moments. The first 5 or 6 are fairly straightforward whodunnit/police procedurals (with the exception of Deadheads which defies one of the central conventions of the whodunnit), but one reason Hill became so good is that he experimented, frequently, in the novels, with style, format, and, increasingly often, convention. Most of his non-series books (his other series about Joe Sixmith, a black detective in Luton, was much more relentlessly humorous) were written in the 70s and early 80’s, often under pseudonyms (he has published under at least 4 names, maybe more), before he got to be really good. But the last two were brilliant, especially The Woodcutter, which is riveting, as good as any of the Dalziel/Pascoe books.
Or as good as any so far. Honestly, I was expecting him to live another 15 years at least, yielding 5 or 6 more, so was sickened when I read my mum’s email this morning, which started “No more Dalziel..”. But, according the wiki page, there is one more to come, which this amazon.co.uk page seems to confirm. So, one more to come.
Another great radio piece by Emily Hanford (I caught the end of what I assume was just part of it on the NPR afternoon news show on Sunday) here (audio and transcript both there). She reports the research on the effectiveness of lectures in prompting actual learning: not much. Anyone reading who lectures must listen to/read it. A long excerpt (followed by some comments):
Lecturing was the way just about everyone taught introductory physics. To think there was something wrong with the lecture meant physics instructors would “have to really change the way they do things,” says Hestenes. A lot of them ignored his study and kept teaching the way they always had. They insisted their lectures were working just fine. But Eric Mazur was unusual, says Hestenes. “He was the first one who took it to heart.” Mazur is a physics professor at Harvard University. He came across Hestenes’s articles in 1990, five years after they’d been published. To understand why the articles had such a big impact on Mazur you have to know some things about his history. Mazur grew up dreaming of becoming an astronomer.
“When I was five years old I fell in love with the universe,” he says. “I tried to get my hands on to every accessible book on astronomy. I was so excited by the world of science.” But when Mazur got to university, he hated the astronomy classes.”It was all sitting in the lecture, and then scribbling down notes and cramming those notes and parroting them back on the exam,” he says. “Focusing on the details, focusing on memorizing and regurgitation, the whole beauty of astronomy was lost.” So he switched to physics. It wasn’t as heartbreaking for him to sit in a physics lecture and memorize things. Mazur eventually got a Ph.D. in physics and a job at Harvard University. Like most Ph.D.s, Mazur never got any training in how to teach.
Helen Ladd and Ted Fiske have an excellent piece in today’s Times explaining the relationship between educational inequality and income inequality, drawing on Sean Reardon’s contribution to Whither Opportunity?: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances. An excerpt:
The Occupy movement has catalyzed rising anxiety over income inequality; we desperately need a similar reminder of the relationship between economic advantage and student performance.
The correlation has been abundantly documented, notably by the famous Coleman Report in 1966. New research by Sean F. Reardon of Stanford University traces the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families over the last 50 years and finds that it now far exceeds the gap between white and black students.
Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that more than 40 percent of the variation in average reading scores and 46 percent of the variation in average math scores across states is associated with variation in child poverty rates.
International research tells the same story. Results of the 2009 reading tests conducted by the Program for International Student Assessment show that, among 15-year-olds in the United States and the 13 countries whose students outperformed ours, students with lower economic and social status had far lower test scores than their more advantaged counterparts within every country. Can anyone credibly believe that the mediocre overall performance of American students on international tests is unrelated to the fact that one-fifth of American children live in poverty?
The most striking graph in Reardon’s chapter shows the change in achievement gaps between black and white students (which declines from Brown on) against the change in gaps between children from the highest and lowest income deciles (which starts to rise as income inequality starts to rise, perhaps unsurprisingly):
More on Whither Opportunity? another time, but for now read the whole thing.
At 80. Not 77. In Basil D’Oliveira: Cricket and Conspiracy Peter Oborne suggests that D’Oliveira may have been the greatest batsman of all time. It is worth remembering that by the age at which Dolly made his test debut, many successful batsmen have retired from the international stage: he did not even play first class cricket till after he had turned 30. Whether or not Oborne is right about that, it is certain that if D’Oliveira had been white then a youtube search would show up footage of him, rather than bringing up an ESPN special about a lesser batsman, in which his name is tagged only because John Vorster preferred having SA expelled from test cricket to having Dolly tour SA with the MCC.
Guardian obit here.
My review of Oborne’s book here. I’ll embed footage of him actually playing if someone can find it. (You can see a little here if you really work at it; in clip 6 the narrator says that John Arlott regarded bringing Dolly to England as the greatest achievement of his life. See this clip of Vorster announcing the cancellation of the tour and make your own judgement).
Oborne has the last word:
Cricket writers often mourn the lost generation of white cricketers such as Graeme Pollock, Mike Proctor or Barry Richards. But at least they got to play some Tests and unrestricted first-class cricket. The penalty that Apartheid inflicted on Eric Petersen, Ben Malamba, Cec Abrahams, Basil D’Oliveira and numerous others was far more absolute. They were denied training, facilities, access to turf wickets and any chance to play for their country at all. Only D’Oliveira escaped to enjoy complete sporting fulfilment, and he got his chance only at the very end of his sporting career, by which time his reflexes had slowed and he was half the brilliant sportsman he had been as a young man in 1950’s South Africa…..It is likely that but for the barbarism of Apartheid D’Oliveira would now be remembered as one of the very greatest cricketers the world has ever seen. By rights he should have imposed his great and singular talent on the cricketing world of the 1950’s, matching himself against the great cricketers of that age: Len Hutton and Denis Compton of England, Everton Weekes, Frank Worrrell and Clive Walcott of the West Indies, Keith Miller and Neil Harvey of Australia.
Just wanted to give our Ohio readers a chance to tell us how inordinately pleased they are with themselves. And to tell anyone who doesn’t yet know that, in an exceptionally high turnout, Ohio voters defeated their state government’s union busting legislation by a large majority. Well done everybody. And, from your friends in Wisconsin, thanks. Fantastic.
We had the first set of recall elections for the Wisconsin State Senate yesterday. 6 Republicans, all elected in 2008 (during the Obama general election) were up; the Dems needed to take 3 in order to flip the Senate. In the end, they got two (districts 18 and 32), which is roughly what they expected. There had been talk of them hoping for District 14, but that didn’t seem realistic to me. It is a natural swing district, but the Dem candidate was uninspiring, turned out to have numerous moving violations and had, rather unfortunately, been caught on tape saying that paying child support to his exwife was a low priority; and Luther Olsen, the incumbent, has a strong personal following among independents which, given his competence and affable personality, was going to be hard to shake. His gamble (that he would be more likely to hold on to office if he caved into the Governor than he was to ever hold a committee seat again if he resisted) paid off. The appalling Alberta Darling held on to her seat despite a (to me) surprisingly strong Democratic showing, and I suppose it is still just possible that the results will turn out to be dodgy, reliant as her majority was on the reporting of Waukesha County, whose clerk is not renowned for her carefulness. But it’s unlikely. And there are some reasons not to be cheerful: the defeat of Randy Hopper, whose private life has been moderately scandalous, and who does not seem to have been living in his district, should have been much easier than it was.
Two Democrats face recalls next Tuesday (the 16th). The recall effort against the Dem senators was basically an attempt to divert energy and resources from the Republican recalls, but, perhaps predictably, the Rep candidate for the 12th district, a teapartier, has attracted a lot of out of state money (the estimate for yesterday’s elections is that $30 million was spent on the 6 races). If you want to pledge your own in or out of state support for Jim Holperin, the more vulnerable of the two Dem incumbents, click here.
Where does this leave things? Well, if things go well next week, the Reps will have a 17 to 16 majority in the Senate, vulnerable on a day to day basis to Dale Schultz, the one Republican who voted against the collective bargaining law, and who has been enjoying being seen as an independent. Some are declaring victory: as John Nichols points out, these were gerrymandered Republican seats, which have been Republican for a long time, and, as I indicated, privately I heard from a number of Democrats that they would be amazed to get 3, and please to get 2. And there is a case for saying that the momentum has been surprisingly strong, given that the protests ended in March.
Still, I am not personally thrilled, despite having not had high expectations. The left is clearly still galvanised, but the right has maintained its strength well. Walker has pissed off a lot of constituencies, but there isn’t enough momentum at the moment to make it clear that a recall will work, let alone that an as yet unknown Democrat can beat him. A recall of the Governor would require the collection of 550k signatures in 60 days, and because of the rules around recall, that signature collecting process cannot begin till November. If Darling, or even more so Olsen, had been defeated, it would have been a lot easier to convince an electable Democrat (i.e. Russ Feingold ) to declare prior to a recall which, in turn, would have made a recall more likely to succeed. All in all: things are not good, but they are not as bad as they might have been.
If anyone can find me a good link for contributing to the No (thanks Steve) campaign on the Ohio Collective Bargaining Limit Repeal, I’ll post it later. Update: contribution page here.
 Several other Democrats are regularly mentioned as potential candidates, but I am not aware of any who are dying to run, and no good candidate (that is, any candidate I would be interested in seeing become Governor) already has the kind of name recognition that would make it easy to define themselves in the campaign as anything other than the antiWalker candidate.
Its been a busy couple of weeks—we were on vacation sort of, and then catching up. It is wonderful to me that Wisconsin 2011 I learned of Sarah-Jane’s death from a bunch of 14 year olds I’d just made a really good dinner for. But I’d rather it weren’t true. Barry Letts, the Brig, and now Sarah Jane, its been a tough couple of years.
Grauniad obit here.
Choice quote: ‘Current producer Steven Moffat said: “Never meet your heroes, wise people say. They weren’t thinking of Lis Sladen.”’
For those interested, here is our Chancellor’s statement on the Cronon affair:
Members of the campus community,
Two weeks ago UW-Madison received an open records request from Stephan Thompson, deputy executive director of the state’s Republican Party, for email records of Professor Bill Cronon.
Professor Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. He is one of the university’s most celebrated and respected scholars, teachers, mentors and citizens. I am proud to call him a colleague.
The implications of this case go beyond Bill Cronon. When Mr. Thompson made his request, he was exercising his right under Wisconsin’s public records law both to make such a request and to make it without stating his motive. Neither the request nor the absence of a stated motive seemed particularly unusual. We frequently receive public records requests with apparently political motives, from both the left and the right, and every position in between. I announced that the university would comply with the law and, as we do in all cases, apply the kind of balancing test that the law allows, taking such things as the rights to privacy and free expression into account. We have done that analysis and will release the records later today that we believe are in compliance with state law.
Jon Wiener on Bill Cronon at the Nation’s blog.
I especially liked this:
He’s not Bill Ayers, the education professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago who happily defends his Weatherman past. Cronon describes himself as a “centrist.” He says he’s never belonged to the Democratic (or the Republican) party. Yet he faces a Republican demand for his e-mail, while Bill Ayers never did.
The power of this simple fact lies in the way it disrupts the Republicans’ explanation of what they are doing in Wisconsin. They say the new law there ending collective bargaining with public employee unions is an emergency response to this year’s fiscal crisis. They say it’s a response crafted by local Wisconsin state representatives to help their neighbors who are facing big new tax burdens. Cronon suggested that none of this is true: the law is not a response to the current fiscal crisis, it’s been a Republican priority for decades; it’s not a Wisconsin idea, it comes from a national Republican think tank. And the goal is not to protect the little guy in Wisconsin but rather to help the big corporations that fund Republican operations.
One tangential observation. A lot of people round here are getting new email addresses, and migrating sensitive work-related (including student) correspondence to them. Me too.
Additional Update: Imitation is the greatest form of flattery (Michigan: it’ll be in your state soon).
1) see Anthony Grafton (hat tip: JW)
2) from Cronon’s blog, the Republican Party’s extraordinary response to his second blog post: read in full, but pause, first, to remember Peter Cook (I don’t know why I thought of him, but it does look as it Cook wrote it, doesn’t it?):
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katie McCallum, Communications Director (608) 257-4765
March 25, 2011
In response to Professor William Cronin’s deplorable tactics in seeking to force the Republican Party of Wisconsin to withdraw a routine open records request, Executive Director Mark Jefferson released the following statement:
“Like anyone else who makes an open records request in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Wisconsin does not have to give a reason for doing so.
“I have never seen such a concerted effort to intimidate someone from lawfully seeking information about their government.
“Further, it is chilling to see that so many members of the media would take up the cause of a professor who seeks to quash a lawful open records request. Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner. The Left is far more aggressive in this state than the Right in its use of open records requests, yet these rights do extend beyond the liberal left and members of the media.
“Finally, I find it appalling that Professor Cronin seems to have plenty of time to round up reporters from around the nation to push the Republican Party of Wisconsin into explaining its motives behind a lawful open records request, but has apparently not found time to provide any of the requested information.
“We look forward to the University’s prompt response to our request and hope those who seek to intimidate us from making such requests will reconsider their actions.”
3) Today’s Times.
Ok, I’m being a bit parochial, but our UK-based colleagues haven’t posted on it, so I felt I should say something. (I thought about threatening them that I’d embarrass the whole site with a loving review of the new Slade Boxed Set (UK) if one of them didn’t do that, but then figured that I’ll probably be compelled to embarrass them all anyway). NYT coverage here; weaker BBC coverage here. The Met decided not to count the numbers, so we can’t be sure, but the standard report seems to be that about 250,000 people marched against the cuts in London on Saturday. I would take this opportunity to point out to my fellow Wisconsinites, what this means about the scale of the protests we have participated in—over 100k in a city of 200k and a state of 5m, versus 250k in a city of 7.5m and a country of 70m—I don’t say that to diminish the significance of the London march, but to remind those on this side of the Atlantic that our own movement has enormous potential, if only we have the nous to know what to do next (more on that later). Not being on the ground I’ll refrain from commenting on the potential of the UK march, but I did want to point to our friend CP’s comment on the role of the anarchist block in deflecting attention away from the political aspects of the demonstration and onto their own self-indulgence. And this rather good, if in some parts unlikely, comment about Fortnum and Mason and the Bullingdon Club, and this, on the BBC website, from a former Met officer.
 Yes, I know all about the Poll tax riots and about the role of violence and rioting in British political history, and those are fair points to make, but entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand, which involves a group of people who know perfectly well that what they are doing is self-publicising, not triggering any sort of larger and more threatening action.
My colleague Bill Cronon tells his story here. This part particularly struck me:
A number of the emails caught in the net of Mr. Thompson’s open records request are messages between myself and my students. All thus fall within the purview of the Federal Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA, sometimes known as the “Buckley Amendment,” named for its author Senator James Buckley—the brother of conservative intellectual William F. Buckley). The Buckley Amendment makes it illegal for colleges or universities to release student records without the permission of those students, and is thus in direct conflict with the Wisconsin Open Records Law and Mr. Thompson’s request on behalf of the Wisconsin Republican Party. I don’t know whether Mr. Thompson intended his request to generate a wholesale release of student records, but I myself think that doing so would represent a dangerous intrusion on student privacy. I’m pretty sure the law supports me in this view. If you’d like to review the terms of FERPA, see
A crucial point Cronon makes later is that without confidence in confidentiality many correspondents might either not email, or be less than frank in their emails. I could live with that when it comes to other adults. But my fear is that students, especially perhaps those who most need to break their silence, would refrain from emailing faculty about personal matters. I have been meaning to post for a while on a related issue, which is the very unusual character of some email correspondence between students and faculty—I have had interactions that I would not have had any other way, and therefore not at all prior to email. But on Cronon’s topic: I have emails from students which are deeply personal, expressing worries and sometimes telling experiences under an assumption of complete confidentiality. Sometimes they express ideas that they would not feel comfortable expressing in class, and which constitute some sort of “thinking out loud”. I have total confidence that without this way of communicating with me at least one student would by now have dropped out of college and probably worse, and I’m certain that others would have foregone considerable benefits. And if it were widely known, as it will be if the Republican Party gets hold of Cronon’s records, that no professor, and especially no professor who gets on the wrong side of a legislator of either party, can guarantee confidentiality, many such correspondences would not happen, to the detriment of the students and, at least in my case, the faculty (though the latter should not really count much in the calculation). The worry I have actually remains whether or not FERPA protects the emails of students (which, like Cronon, I’m pretty sure it does) because when they hear a story like this what they hear is “open records” “all emails” etc, comments like Cronon’s and my “pretty sure”, even if they are noticed, are not wholly reassuring. (Given that neither of us are lawyers, even “absolutely certain” would be cold comfort, especially from someone who thought Green Day come from Milwaukee).
Cronon is a moderate—I don’t know him, but have read his work and seen him talk—there is no question that he is sincere in his claim to be an independent.
It is not inconceivable that this is the beginning of a large fishing expedition triggered by the Carlos Lam affair. (Question: is this the end of Carlos Lam’s political career? Have prominent Republicans in Indiana started condemning him yet?)
Update: this is everywhere now. Here’s Krugman. Follow his link to Richard Vedder which seems to have nothing to do with whoever that is, but is riveting nevertheless)
Further Update: Our Chancellor comments.
Yet Another Update: Stephan Thompson, enigmatic man of mystery (thanks Kris).
JM informs me that St. Louis radio host Mark Reardon has been relaying the lies that the administration has been telling about Capitol clean-up after the protests. The original Dept of Administration estimate of $6.5-$7.5 million was met with incredulity by just about everyone including the rather honorable local TV news reporters (I was quite worried that one of the newsreaders was going to corpse when she read it out first, having apparently been given no warning). Of course, the very purpose of the nonsense was to give people like Reardon a figure to peddle, and that propaganda effect has been brilliant. The official figure was revised down, within a day, to $347,000. What’s that, 5% of the original? One might hope that the person who gave the first figure got a good dressing down, but I suspect such hopes would be in vain. This article in the Isthmus airs the beliefs of current and former DOA workers that DOA statistics are being developed in response to pressure from the administration. And, in fact, it may be that there was no damage at all (except, manifestly, to the lawns, which have to need reseeding, surely):
On March 3, the agency’s top lawyer claimed that protesters caused $7.5 million in damage to the Capitol, mostly to marble from the tape holding on signs and banners. Hastings notes that this claim was “flashed across the country” before being revised downward the next day to as little as $347,000.
On Monday, March 7, after the signs were all removed, DOA spokeswoman Carla Vigue said the agency was bringing in an “outside expert [to] determine the amount and nature of the work that will be needed to be done to bring the marble to its prior condition.” On March 9, she said “it may be several days” before this information is in hand.
Now, well more than several days later, no further information has been provided. “Still working on it,” said Vigue on Tuesday.
Jacob Arndt has a pretty good idea how much damage to the marble was actually caused: None at all. Arndt owns Northwestern Masonry and Stone, a Lake Mills-based company that he says “does consultation work and has contracts with the state of Wisconsin.” He toured the Capitol early this month with a DOA staffer, inspecting the various types of stone: Kasota-Mankato, Wausau red granite, Dakota red granite, verde jade. “I looked at each of these types of stones,” says Arndt. His conclusion: The painter’s tape used to affix signs left “little or no residue” anywhere. The worst problem he saw was some residue where media had taped cords to the floor, but even this was easily removed with simple cleaning agents. “There’s no damage to the stone,” says Arndt, who has been back in the building several times since, verifying this finding. He says the DOA official who showed him around agrees even the lower cost estimate is “completely ridiculous and politically inspired.”