People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Going underground

Posted by schroeder915 on December 16, 2006


Four days to go until G-day. I’m re-taking the GRE for the second time in … I won’t say how many years it’s been. I’ll just say it’s longer than the Educational Testing Service holds on to previous scores, which is why I have to take it again. How does it feel? Painful. My brain strains and shudders and sobs every time I open up my sopororific study guide. But re-learn the FOIL method I will, and commit to memory the meaning of words like “Donnybrook” I shall.

The paragon institution of erudite liberal arts academic pursuits to which I have applied has ordered that I be subjected to the base ritual of a standardized multiple choice exam to determine if I am, indeed, capable of taking standardized tests, can still solve for x in a polynomial equation, and can find an angle formed by a transversal across parallel lines. There is no possibility of obviating the requirement, supplicating the review board, or malingering in the specious notion that it might be overlooked.

So, until I emerge from my apprenticeship in the requisite skills to cheat the GRE test creators out of their ardor to separate me from my goal in complete opprobrium, I shall be obdurate in my quest, and abate my garrulous proclivities.

In the meantime, I offer the photo above as a reminder that this completely gutted house in a severely-flooded neighborhood wouldn’t be posted for sale, and the owners wouldn’t have moved somewhere else, if it weren’t for the fact that the federal government first destroyed their house, and then abandoned them without due compensation. Tens of thousands of other Americans are being forced to make the same decision, to retain only the memories of the homes and lives they once had, and of a city they loved as one of the most unique in the world.

15 Responses to “Going underground”

  1. Brian Boru said

    Thirty-some years ago I was a faculty rep on the graduate council of a major midwestern state university when the graduate dean announced that the GRE would henceforth be required for admission to the graduate school. He reiterated after numerous queries that it would not be used to affect admissions decisions; it would merely be some sort of tracking device, so we could see how students with various GRE scores actually performed. Science reps (and the deanlet who reported the proposal was a chemist) were particularly incensed, noting that there was a significant language barrier for many of their applicants (which never impeded their being let loose in classrooms as TAs — a different rant). It didn’t take long for a GRE cutoff score to be established by the administration over faculty protests.
    There are studies that show that PSAT, SAT, GRE, whatever pretty much correlate with one another and have no real predictive value in assessing students’ future performance in college, graduate school, businiess school etc.
    As a nearly 50-year veteran of higher ed teaching (and a second generation academic), I remain seriously dubious about the value of these tests.

  2. Notme said

    THee GRE is such a big joke. I took it eight years ago, 15 years after finishing high school, and didn’t remember much from geometry. I haven’t had to use any more geometry since taking the GRE than I did in previous post-high school years either. I have, meanwhile, worked at several state universities since, and heard seasoned faculty argue that so-and-so should be looked at carefully for admission and funding given that he or she scored high on the GRE. And I can’t help but think, Did this particular would-be bright star take a prep course, a la one of the Princeton Review or Kaplan programs. If these companies have a proven history of helping people score higher on the GRE (and SAT, etc.), as they say and I believe some educational authorities have admitted, then how can the test be taken remotely seriously, especially by seasoned faculty?

  3. A long time ago I was thinking of getting in a masters program in visual arts and I took the GRE. It sucked – can you imagine standardized tests having anything to do with art? The LSAT sucked worse, though, so take heart. Good luck!

  4. maitri said

    Far be it from me, a computer geek, to admit that I liked the written version of the test more than the computer one. Then again, I took the test on computer (almost nine years ago) when screens were miniscule. Good luck!

  5. Michael said

    Best of luck…full disclosure: back in the day, I took standardized tests quite well. But that was a LONG time ago.

    The last time I tried one (LSAT, 2002), my score was barely above average.

    One thing I recall from back in the day: you can usually eliminate one or two choices right away.

  6. Berg Roller said

    If Vandal O’Riley of the Big Easy Rollergirls weighs 135 lbs and is skating at 10mph, and little maSCARa comes up behind her, weighing 102 lbs and skating at 14mph, what is the relative force of impact when Vandal performs a blocking maneuver that sends them both to the floor?

  7. Hips or elbows?

  8. Ray said

    I was always bad at theoretical ass physics. Applied ass physics, on the other hand…

  9. Berg Roller said

    Hips, elbows or ass is irrelevant…

    But what you need to factor in is the 2.5 seconds it takes for Vandal to swap panties with Cherry Pi.

  10. Don't Blame the voters here said

    Blame them everywhere:

    “One person who will not take notice of Gore’s warning is Australian Prime Minister John Howard – lovingly known here as Bonsai, as he’s a little Bush.
    Even during a massive drought and horrific bushfires the poor little fool can’t seem to grasp that global warming is real.

    Sadly, Bonsai and his conservative sheep have been voted back into power for some ten years, so who is to blame? Nobody but the voters!

    Hopefully as we now have a new opposition leader things may change, but I fear it’s too late. Sometimes it’s nice to be old.

    Thanks to Arianna for presenting this forum!!

  11. scotchtape123 said

    I thought I heard that this policy had actually been changed quite recently. Some federal court case where it was decided that insurance companies have to pay people for water/flood damage no matter what their policies said about exempting water/flood damage. For those without insurance, I’m not sure.

    And what do you mean the federal government destroyed their home? Do you mean they came in and gutted/stripped/demolished it, or do you mean that the home wouldn’t have been inundated if the levees hadn’t collapsed due to insufficient maintenance and/or design flaws? In that case, I see what you’re saying.

    And do you have any posts about the worst case scenario for a hurricane hitting New Orleans. Know Hurricane Katrina wasn’t worst-case scenario, just really, really bad. I’m thinking most people don’t. Worst was if it stayed Cat. 5 and hit just to the West of the city, water level would be 26.5 feet higher with highest ground 12 feet underwater(if it had 29 foot storm surge like in Mississippi) and giant waves on top of the storm surge.

    People need to know that this isn’t as bad as it can get. They need to know that it can be worse, and that it’s only because of a wobble and an eyewall replacement cycle right before landfall that there are any gutted homes left that people can’t sell, or any people left who cannot sell them. Without the wobble and the eyewall replacement cycle, there would have been no refugees at the Superdome, Convention Center, or freeway overpass with which to sympathize. Sure, don’t let them forget about government screwups that kept people stuck in a drowned city, or the poor engineering, insufficient maintenance, and complacency that allowed the levees to fail. At the same time, don’t let them forget that there almost weren’t any people left alive to suffer, dry land for broken levees flood, or a city left to drown. That, but for a wobble and eyewall replacement cycle, there wouldn’t be a New Orleans left to rebuild.

  12. schroeder said

    Don’t blame the voters here: I know now not to move to Australia if the voters here go with another idjut for president. I’m thinking Ireland, or perhaps New Zealand … unless, of course, Louisiana secedes!!!

    Scotchtape123: The reports are mixed on the strength of Katrina. It was a monster out in the Gulf — in the top 5 most powerful hurricanes if I remember correctly (there is more discussion about that here and in other local blogs — I’m just too lazy right now to dig it up). As it came ashore, however, the wind speed dropped to Cat 3 or 4. Inside New Orleans, wind speeds were Cat 2 or 3. The thing is, I don’t think the water surge diminished much. That surge that hit Louisiana and the Mississippi coast was over thirty feet high (on the Mississippi coast) and by the time it hit New Orleans, it was around 5 feet high. The problem is, the levee walls are higher than 5 feet. They were supposed to be designed to handle that kind of surge. That they didn’t is squarely the fault of the Army Corps of Engineers. There are a lot of mitigating factors — the local levee boards weren’t doing their jobs of inspecting the levees, being more concerned with things like casinos, and citizens didn’t want to have to sell their land adjacent to levees for levee improvements so the Corps designed I-walls instead. Nevertheless, the Corps hid the evidence of deficiencies in the soil underlying the I-walls, and the construction was substandard. The story isn’t complete yet on why the levees failed, but the federal government is at fault. Consider Times-Picayune reporter Mark Schlefstein’s analogy. He lost his house in Lakeview near the 17th Street canal. If the army “accidentally” bulldozed your house, or drove a tank through your living room, you’d be right to demand “compensation,” not “assistance.” All we’ve gotten to date is “assistance” to clean up streets of fallen trees and moldy furniture. Private and federal flood insurance settlements are in most cases totally inadequate to rebuild homes, as are the slow-moving Road Home assistance grants. Whole neighborhoods are being abandoned with for sale signs all over the place. It’s tragic on a biblical scale. To drive through some neighborhoods and wonder what happened to all those families is tearjerking. We need a revolution in thinking at the federal level about how to deal with this situation, and make sure it doesn’t happen again here, or Sacramento, or New York, or anywhere else in the country that has water control issues.

  13. Surge lebouf said

    It was the highest Water surge recorded to have hit the gulf Coast. But insurance companies don’t pay off of actual damage. They pay off of storm ratings and wind speed estimates.

  14. Building Community said

    In the late 1960s Appleyard conducted a renowned
    study on livable streets, comparing three residential
    streets in San Francisco which on the

    surface did not differ on much else but their levels of
    traffic. The 2,000 vehicles per day street was
    considered Light Street, 8,000

    traveled on Medium Street and 16,000 vehicles
    passing down Heavy Street. His research showed
    that residents of Light Street had three more

    friends and twice as many acquaintances as the
    people on Heavy Street.

    Further, as traffic volume increases, the space
    people considered to be their territory shrank.
    Appleyard suggested that these results were

    related, indicating that residents on Heavy Street
    had less friends and acquaintances precisely because
    there was less home territory

    (exchange space) in which to interact socially.

    Light Street was a closely knit community. Front
    steps were used for sitting and chatting, sidewalks
    for children to play and for adults to

    stand and pass the time of day, especially around
    the corner store, and the roadway for children and
    teenagers to play more active games

    like football. Moreover, the street was seen as a
    whole and no part was out of bounds.

    Heavy Street, on the other hand, had little or no
    sidewalk activity and was used solely as a corridor
    between the sanctuary of individual

    homes and the outside world. Residents kept very
    much to themselves, and there was virtually no
    feeling of community. The difference in the

    perceptions and experience of children and the
    elderly across the two streets was especially striking.

    Excerpted from Project for


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