Monday, April 23, 2018

Learning styles

A study of 426 undergraduate anatomy students finds no correlation between preferred “learning style” and learning:

Results demonstrated that most students did not report study strategies that correlated with their VARK assessment, and that student performance in anatomy was not correlated with their score in any VARK categories [visual, aural, reading/writing, kinesthetic]. Rather, some specific study strategies (irrespective of VARK results), such as use of the virtual microscope, were found to be positively correlated with final class grade. However, the alignment of these study strategies with VARK results had no correlation with anatomy course outcomes. Thus, this research provides further evidence that the conventional wisdom about learning styles should be rejected by educators and students alike.
Or in plainer language: Most students did not keep to their supposed learning style when studying. Students’ grades showed no correlation with keeping or not keeping to a supposed learning style. And certain study strategies led to better grades, regardless of a student’s supposed learning style.

The study, by Polly R. Husmann and Valerie D. O’Loughlin, is behind a paywall. But here’s an article that summarizes its findings.

I remember some years ago being told that I am a “visual learner.” Yes, I prefer to read a text than have it read to me, though in VARK terms that makes me an R, not a V. But if I’m really an R, how did I ever manage to get so much from all the classes in which I sat and listened and took notes as professors lectured? Or how did I figure out fingerpicking patterns by listening to Mississippi John Hurt records?

As Husmann and O’Loughlin write, “the adage of ‘I can’t learn subject X because I am a visual learner’ should be put to rest once and for all.” I look back at this post and cringe.

Sean Hannity’s “property empire”

The Guardian reports on Sean Hannity’s “property empire.” And here I was, thinking that Hannity was asking Michael Cohen for advice about buying that cute little split-level ranch in the new subdivision.

From my dad’s CDs

I’m still making my way through my dad’s CDs: Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Ivie Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire, Mildred Bailey, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Art Blakey, Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins, Clifford Brown, Dave Brubeck, Joe Bushkin, Hoagy Carmichael, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, Charlie Christian, Rosemary Clooney, Nat “King” Cole, John Coltrane, Bing Crosby, Miles Davis, Matt Dennis, Doris Day, Blossom Dearie, Paul Desmond, Tommy Dorsey, Billy Eckstine, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Erroll Garner, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Stéphane Grappelli, Bobby Hackett, Coleman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Dick Hyman, Harry James, Hank Jones, Louis Jordan, Stan Kenton, Barney Kessel, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, Peggy Lee, Mary Ann McCall, Susannah McCorkle, Dave McKenna, Ray McKinley, Marian McPartland, Johnny Mercer, Helen Merrill, Glenn Miller, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk, Wes Montgomery, Gerry Mulligan, Red Norvo, Anita O’Day, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass, Art Pepper, Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell, Boyd Raeburn, Django Reinhardt, Marcus Roberts, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Rushing, Catherine Russell, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, Artie Shaw, George Shearing, Horace Silver, Frank Sinatra, Paul Smith, Jeri Southern, Jo Stafford, Art Tatum, Claude Thornhill, Mel Tormé, McCoy Tyner, and now, Sarah Vaughan.

Here are two Vaughan performances from the 1961 Roulette recording After Hours: “Sophisticated Lady” (Duke Ellington–Irving Mills–Mitchell Parish) and “In a Sentimental Mood” (Ellington–Mills–Manny Kurtz). Accompanying Vaughan: Mundell Lowe (guitar) and George Duvivier (bass). Recorded in New York City, July 18, 1961. Hypnosis!

Also from my dad’s CDs
Mildred Bailey : Tony Bennett : Charlie Christian : Blossom Dearie : Duke Ellington : Coleman Hawkins : Billie Holiday : Louis Jordan : Charlie Parker : Jimmy Rushing : Artie Shaw : Frank Sinatra : Art Tatum : Mel Tormé

[No, Irving Mills didn’t write a note. But he got his name on the song, which meant royalties.]

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Fans of Van Dyke Parks should know that Turner Classic Movies is airing The Swan (dir. Charles Vidor, 1956) today, 6:00 Eastern. VDP plays young George.

See also VDP in The Honeymooners.

Related reading
All OCA Van Dyke Parks posts (Pinboard)

Bad mail days

The opening paragraph of a story in today’s The New York Times:

A mail carrier in Brooklyn stashed about 17,000 pieces of undelivered mail for more than a decade because he was “overwhelmed” by the amount he had to deliver, the authorities said.
“The authorities”?

And if you read the article, you’ll see that it’s never made clear who “the authorities” are.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

From the Saturday Stumper

A neat clue from today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper: 17-Across, ten letters: “Battery side?” (Notice the question mark, which signals a tricky clue.) My first guess: CONGADRUMS. No spoilers; the answer is in the comments.

Today’s puzzle, by Greg Johnson, is challenging, extremely so. I was ready to say DNF (did not finish) and give up, but finish I did. A good strategy, always, with puzzles: when you reach an impasse, step away and start again later. Sure enough, it worked.

[CONGRADRUMS? I imagined conga players standing still as a drumline marches.]

The new Nancy

I think Olivia Jaimes’s new Nancy is just plain terrific, with a distinctively dry, snarky sense of humor. But I learned from The A.V. Club that the pseudonymous artist’s strip has become the subject of heated debate, with some readers fiercely loyal to Guy Gilchrist, the strip’s previous artist and writer: “It’s 2018, and people are suddenly screaming at each other about 85-year-old comic strip character Nancy.”

Four things I like about Jaimes’s Nancy:

~ The spareness of the art, which, however spare, could never be mistaken for Ernie Bushmiller’s art. Jaimes’s cartooning is more severe; her strip, lonelier.

~ The meta touch that was often evident in Bushmiller’s Nancy, with characters who comment on their cartoonist and comic-strip conventions, and a cartoonist who posts messages for the reader.

~ Traces of contemporary reality: bots, earbuds, Marie Kondo, Snapchat filters. In his day Ernie Bushmiller referenced hippies, television, and abstract art.

~ A plaintiveness that I think would please Bushmiller, as when Nancy opens her report card next to fly-ridden dumpsters because she doesn’t want to ruin a landscape of butterflies and flowers with a painful memory. Guy Gilchrist’s final Nancy strip is all flowers and cheer. I vote for Our Nancy of the Dumpsters.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Union Iron Works

[“Union Iron Works. Decatur, Ill.” As seen in downstate Illinois. Click for a larger front step.]

Union Iron, est. 1852, is still going. I’m glad the company signed its work.


On NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, David Greene cited Donald Trump’s remark to James Comey about putting reporters in jail for a few days to get them to reveal their sources — something Trump suggested after Comey spoke of the value of “putting a head on a pike as a message.” Jailing reporters would be bad enough. But Trump said more. From Comey’s memo describing a meeting on February 14, 2017:

He replied by saying it [finding leakers] may involve putting reporters in jail. “They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk.” I laughed as I walked to the door Reince Priebus had opened.
“Make a new friend”: it doesn’t take great powers of imagination or inference to conclude that Trump was joking about sexual assault. NPR did not mention that part of Trump’s remark.

See also remarks by Trump’s lawyer Jay Goldberg, speaking to CNN‘s Erin Burnett yesterday about Michael Cohen’s unfitness for “the rigors of prison life”:
“I think, in many ways — and it’s difficult to say this — prison has a racial overtone, and a person like Michael doesn’t see himself walking down Broadway while people are clamoring, ‘You’re going to be my wife.’”
Nothing about the pain of separation from loved ones and everyday life: just fear of becoming a black man’s “wife.” Burnett didn’t address Goldberg’s remark: instead, she followed up by asking whether Cohen has “the goods” on the president.

Media decorum about such brutal imaginings won’t help our democracy, or to what’s left of it.

[Broadway: “the ground floor of a prison.”]

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Recently updated

“Salacious material” The release of James Comey’s memos clears up a question I had about who said what.