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Joe Patterson
Communities and Collections

Seems like the "other" jpattersons of the world are out looking for jobs. One wants to be an admin assistant in Cincinnati. Jordan, on the other hand, is a physical therapist from Baltimore looking for work at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. Or possibly a CSR. It's not entirely clear from the e-mails. But this one I really felt like I should reply to, just out of curiosity, even though I'm fairly certain my reply will be lost to the bit bucket of time. So I figured I'd share it here:


I'm just really curious here.

On the one hand, you really should validate e-mail addresses, which you clearly don't. Failing that, having some way to "unsubscribe" without logging in would be nice (because, since this is my e-mail address, I could reset the password on this account, which would be bad for Jordan, but might be worse for me. It would stop the e-mails, but might have unfortunate side-effects for me. It's unclear whether it would be considered unauthorized access by the CFAA amendment to (18 U.S.C. § 1030), so in the worst case scenario, I could face fines and/or jail time for simply trying to clean up my inbox).

On the other hand, people (like for instance Jordan) who are submitting resumes should really make sure their e-mail address is correct.

But, putting all of that aside for the moment, I really feel like the footer for your e-mail is sending mixed messages. It says "Send comments or questions to", which seems clear and straightforward. But with an e-mail address of DONOTREPLY, I'm less certain that you actually want replies to that e-mail address. My strong suspicion is that the reply I'm writing right now will end up in the bit bucket, unread. Maybe if I'm feeling adventurous I'll forward it to your abuse address, on the off chance that it's monitored.

Thanks for your time, if you've taken any. Remember to always validate e-mail addresses, and have a great day!


Well I'll be damned.

I just got a cyborg call that was actually honest. Some political call, can't remember what they were selling, but I could tell it was a cyborg, so I did my normal "Can you say the word 'butterfly'?", and they responded with something unrelated, and I said "OK, so you're a robot, thanks for calling" and they actually replied and said "No, I'm definitely a person, I'm just using a voice board because I can't speak intelligibly" Which, on the one hand, yeah, sure, that's exactly what a robot would say... but on the other hand, that means that they actually anticipated people calling them out on their cyborg-iness and prerecorded a response to specifically address that situation!. That's... kinda neat.

Apparently McDonald's Father's Day promotion requires that you actually bring a child with you. Like these cargo shorts don't speak for themselves.

Generally speaking I have a hate/hate relationship with telemarketers, but I have to say I'm fascinated by what I'm going to call 'cyborg calls'. They're not quite robocalls, but almost. I'm fairly sure there's a human operator behind them, but that operator doesn't ever actually speak, he or she simply listens to what you say and chooses a response from among a list of pre-recorded responses, questions, spiels, and I'd assume, something that says "I'm so happy you've decided to buy our product, let me transfer you to one of our order-takers to complete your order". These are interesting for a number of reasons.

First, I'm sure that the primary motivation for these is to allow call centers to be staffed with people who understand English, but don't speak it well or accent-free.

Second, it paves the way for computers with good speech recognition and AI to take over those call center jobs entirely (which may have already happened, there's really no way to know)

And third, they really are fairly effective. I usually only notice when I'm really paying attention and can hear the subtle switchover from actual silence on the line to the silence with microphone hiss that precedes the recording beginning to speak.

Of course, the fun part is verifying that you are, in fact, talking to a cyborg caller. I ask "Before we go on, I need you to do one small thing for me. I need you to say the word 'butterfly'." It's my own personal phone CAPTCHA. This morning's response to that was "OK. Yes. I can do that for you...." "Alright, go ahead and say it for me." "...OK, I'll go ahead and remove you from our list." CLICK.

DST Mondays are the Mondayest Mondays.

So if you put up a road sign with a QR-encoded robots.txt, will google street view honor that?

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I went looking for some data, and I found it (lots of it), and now I'm more confused than when I started, so I thought I'd ask if anyone can see where I went wrong.  I was looking at data about US public school teacher pay.  It seems that the US census bureau actually gathers a fair amount of data on the subject.  Right here: is a set of documents relating to public school system finances.  So, looking at the state-level tables, table 8 shows "Per Pupil Amounts for Current Spending of Public Elementary-Secondary School Systems"  It shows data per state, and for the US as a whole.  So if you look at that table, cell G11 should hold the average per-pupil spending of public elementary-secondary school systems on instructional wages and salaries.  This doesn't include benefits and is separate from administrative salaries.  It's $4,305

The US department of education's national center for education statistics lists average class sizes here:  Granted that data is from 2007/2008, and class size isn't always the same as student-teacher ratio, but based on my experience the data seems to generally fit fairly well.  Then numbers for the US as a whole range, depending on what sort of class, from 15.1 to 23.7.

So, given those numbers, even if the average class size is closer to the bottom number of 15.1, the average teacher salary should be around 15.1 times $4,305, or $65,005.50.  That certainly doesn't ring true. The NEA puts the average starting teacher salary at $36,141 ( and puts the average salary at $46,904.  The department of education says $56,383 (  Granted, the difference between $56k and $65k isn't huge, but remember we're making the worst-case assumptions about class sizes.  If average student to teacher ratios are a more reasonable 20:1, then that should put salaries at around $86K.  I can pretty much guarantee you that's not an accurate average salary (source: I know some teachers)

So what gives here?  Is my math wrong?  Is the census department lying?  Is everyone using median salaries instead of mean, and there's some shadowy cabal of "the one percent" of teachers who are raking in the cash and skewing the median from the mean?  Are there enough classes with multiple teachers that the actual student-teacher ratio is more like 11:1?  Of all the numbers I've looked at, everything except the census bureau's "feel" right, but as a source of data, I've always considered the census bureau a trustworthy source.  I just don't know what to think, and it's frustrating.

Post has attachment Microdrones and butterfly nets are one thing, and it would be really interesting to codify a concept of personal sovereign airspace, but there's a part of me that wants to see this as a new direction in the hunting sports.  I see myself a decade or so from now, sitting peacefully in an urban rooftop hunting blind, a hot cup of coffee in one hand, my herf gun cradled gently in the crook of my other arm, watching the sky for signs of Amazon delivery drones.  At my side, my faithful golden retriever sits calmly, eyes closed... but then her ears perk up, and I know she's heard the distant telltale buzzing that lets her know soon I'll call on her to go fetch our fallen prey, find out what sort of merchandise we'll be taking home tonight.

While I understand that pre-mother's-day spam is going to be an inevitable thing, when your subject line is "These deals are almost as amazing as your mom!", years of being on the internet have predisposed me to take that the wrong way.

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I think this puppy has run out of pep.
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