Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

5/2/2005

Update: Electoral reform is, like, boring. And hard.

The Vancouver Sun has another useless article about how damned little British Columbians know about the single transferable vote system. How little is little? Well, 39% of the electorate claims to know “very little” about STV, while 25% knows “nothing at all”. The vice president of polling company Ipsos-Reid suggests some reasons for this, namely: STV isn’t “sexy or interesting”; anyone (anyone!) who looks into it finds STV to be “very complicated”; and - my favourite! - “There hasn’t been enough media coverage to create a buzz, and even people looking for information might not find enough to make an informed decision.” One wonders if the journalists who find these things out just nod sadly - hmm, not enough media coverage. Crying shame, that, but not much WE can do - and then ferret out another poll about how little the unwashed masses, with their lack of information and access to media coverage, know about stuff.

But the kicker was that right beside this dreck was a shorter, better piece (not available online, of course) about how in Victoria, James Hansen, a fourth grade teacher with a Master’s in political science or somesuch, had taught his students about the very complicated STV system by having them vote on the class hamster’s name - first via the first-past-the-post system currently in use in BC, and then by STV. No word on how sexy the fourth-graders found STV, but they certainly seemed to find it interesting enough, and the consensus appeared to lean strongly in its favour. The article was filled with all sorts of great quotes from kids, most along the lines of “I liked this way of voting because even though the hamster didn’t get the first name I wanted, I got to pick a second choice.” I wish I could have run this sort of thing in my math classes - that right there, that’s a real-life application of math. CBC did something similar, with the smoothly run, and very clearly illustrated Ice Cream Election. (Double Double Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla were chosen, beating out crappy flavours like Peanut Butter Chocolate and Vanilla Cheesecake; this somewhat boosts my faith in my province’s electorate.) Anyway, my point is: the mechanics of hamster naming and ice cream choosing are apparently beyond the intellects of nearly two thirds of British Columbians of voting age, as well as The MediaTM.

Anyway, I fired off a snarky missive to the Vancouver Sun telling them that they should get Hansen on their staff; let him demystify this big, scary referendum for the ignorant voters who can’t find enough information about STV. Better yet, let’s get freelance jobs for his students, who seem to have a leg up on some 64% of people who are actually eligible to vote this month, and who could probably give a halfway decent explanation of electoral reform in simple language. Maybe I should rethink my general reluctance to teach little kids. Might as well teach them about the democratic process before they’re too old to understand it.

[Related, sort of: registering to vote by mail-in ballot is less of an ordeal than I expected. Not sure how good a thing that is, considering. And, although I said so in the comments - right now, I am quite sure that I will vote in favour of STV.]

The Job Search, or, Blog Posts That Write Themselves

File under: Righteous Indignation. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 12:43 pm.

Someone sent me an email the other day (reply forthcoming!) wishing me luck in the job search, adding that on the one hand she wanted me to have good students for my sake, but that on the other hand, the irritating and clueless students were so much more fun to read about. I see the tension between those goals. I am confident, however, that, even if by some miracle I end up with students who can add fractions and such, the well of irritation and cluelessness will never run dry, so long as I must deal with administrators, many of whom have been clueless and irritating since before my students were even born. The students who think that they won’t have to write finals, remember anything they learned prior to last week, or come to class to get the assignments? Amateurs, amateurs all:

Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 17:27:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moebius Stripper
To: employment@math.bcschool.ca
Subject: Posting #XXX-XX-XXXX

Hello,

I am writing you regarding Posting #2005-XX-XXXX, seeking a full-time mathematics instructor for the period beginning May 1 and ending August 31. I applied for this position last month; could you please tell me the status of my application? Your website indicates that applications have not been screened yet, but I assume that this is incorrect.

*

Date: Mon, 2 May 2005 9:14:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: Secretary to the Mathematics Department Chair
To: Moebius Stripper
Subject: Re: Posting #XXX-XX-XXXX

Dear Moebius Stripper,

Thank you for your query. The information on the website is correct. We had intended on screening the applications earlier, but there have been some unexpected delays. They will be screened in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience. We apologize for the inconvenience.

* * *

Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 7:35:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moebius Stripper
To: jobs@bccollege.ca
Subject: Application: mathematics and statistics instructor

To whom it may concern,

I am writing concerning an application I sent on February 15 to BC College for the limited-term position of full-time mathematics and statistics lecturer, starting August 1. I received confirmation for my application, but have heard nothing since. Could you please advise me on the status of my application? I intend to be out of BC for several weeks this summer and will at times have limited access to phone and email.

Thank you very much,
Moebius Stripper

*

Date: Fri, 29 April 2005 9:47:53 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jobs Secretary, BC College
To: Moebius Stripper
Subject: Re: Application: mathematics and statistics instructor

We did not advertise an opening for mathematics and statistics instructor at BC College.

*

Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 10:42:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moebius Stripper
To: Jobs Secretary, BC College
Subject: Re: Application: mathematics and statistics instructor

Hello again,

Thank you for your quick reply. I checked my files to confirm that I had indeed applied for the aforementioned position at BC College on February 15; attached is the email I sent to this address, along with my CV and teaching dossier. My application was confirmed by you on the afternoon of February 17 (see attachment). Could you please inform me on the status of this application?

*

Date: Fri, 29 April 2005 1:11:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jobs Secretary, BC College
To: Moebius Stripper
Subject: Re: Application: mathematics and statistics instructor

I have checked the advertised positions, which are available online at http://bccollege.ca/jobs/faculty.htm. All of the positions advertised in the last year are listed here, and the position you mention does not exist. Perhaps you are confusing us with another university, as we did not advertise for a mathematics and statistics instructor this fall.

*

Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 3:18:28 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moebius Stripper
To: Jobs Secretary, BC College
Subject: Re: Application: mathematics and statistics instructor

Hello again, and again thank you for your quick reply.

Attached is a copy of an ad for the aforementioned position, which was sent to you on January 31 by the BC College math department head, and which you then forwarded to my department chair; it clearly mentions that BC College was seeking a mathematics and statistics instructor for the fall. Could you please check this with him? Apparently the website is incomplete.

*

Date: Mon, 2 May 2005 12:15:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jobs Secretary, BC College
To: Moebius Stripper
Subject: Re: Application: mathematics and statistics instructor

I have checked with the department head, who confirms that you are correct, and that BC College did advertise a position for a limited-term, full-time mathematics and statistics instructor beginning this fall. However, the advertisement was later retracted as it was determined that BC College is not in need of a mathematics and statistics instructor.

We apologize for the confusion.

* * *

Date: Mon, May 2 2005 7:46:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moebius Stripper
To: postings@uokanagan.ca
Subject: University of the Okanagan Math Faculty Search

Hello,

I am writing to check the status of the application I sent on March 8, for the temporary, full-time position of mathematics faculty beginning September 1. Have these applications been screened yet? If not, when are interviews expected to take place? I ask because I will be out of the province for several weeks in the near future, and will not have regular access to phone or email.

*

Date: Mon, May 2 2005 7:46:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Employment Secretary
To: Moebius Stripper
Subject: Re: University of the Okanagan Math Faculty Search

I will be away from the office until May 16. Please send any concerns about employment to the appropriate department. Contact information for our faculty can be found at http://www.uokanagan.ca/resources/faculty/directory.html.

*

Date: Mon, May 2 2005 7:56:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moebius Stripper
To: mathdeptchair@uokanagan.ca
Subject: Fwd: University of the Okanagan Math Faculty Search

Attached is an email I sent to the employment secretary, who is out of town this week and next. Could you please inform me on the status of this posting?

*

Date: Mon, May 2 2005 7:56:44 -0700 (PDT)
From: mathdeptchair@uokanagan.ca
To: Moebius Stripper
Subject: Re: Fwd: University of the Okanagan Math Faculty Search

I am away at a conference until May 9. Any queries about employment may be directed to the Employment Secretary at postings@uokanagan.ca.