Bizarre Choices, and the Justification of Them

This post is part 2 of my “poor decision making” series. It’s based on my experiences the weekend of the 12th March, when I was on a trip with my school for its prefects.

I talked in part 1 about why I was unfairly the subject of negative bias because my parents were teachers. In this post, I will talk about why the decisions that were made were not the best ones. Had my reasoning in this post been listened to, I would not necessarily have gotten the position; however, a number of those that were chosen would most likely have not gotten the position either.
It’s worth noting that the information I am basing this post off of is not directly from the teachers. It is second hand, from other students who say they have talked to teachers. So please, take this with a grain of salt.
I’ve heard two things about why the people were chosen. The first, is that they were people who don’t do too many activities. This supposedly means that they will have more time to devote to their duties as head students. Now, it’s interesting to point out that the student who found this out from the teacher actually mentioned to the teacher that they were not a good pick because they didn’t do many activities (meaning that—for some of the students—they were not particularly active and well-known in the school community). To me, it sounds like this reasoning is the teachers’ way of justifying what they already know to be a poor decision. Otherwise, did they ever think that maybe students who already do a lot of activities are very good at managing their time, and thus they are able to take on more duties? And perhaps students who don’t already do a lot of activities aren’t as good at managing time, so more duties may put too much pressure on them?

The other thing that I’ve heard was that they were chosen because on the trip, they played cards with others a lot. This supposedly means that they are already good at getting along with others. Now, on the one hand, I can see that there may be some logic in that. However; I know that myself, and others, didn’t play cards because it is antisocial. To us, playing cards did not seem like a good way of demonstrating leadership qualities such as good team skills and communication with the whole group. Again, it seems like some very crafty justification for the decision the teachers made.

I do have one more complaint about the decision-making process. This time, it’s not based on what I’ve heard second-hand from the teachers, but from what I’ve heard first-hand from one of the students who was picked. Specifically, the student who was picked as head boy. Now, on the one hand, he is actually an incredibly good pick for the job. He’s very well known, quite outgoing, he speaks well in public—even if he doesn’t enjoy it—but I actually disagree very strongly with him being picked. Why? Because he didn’t really want the job. He had to be talked into accepting the position by the three head teachers.
What’s the problem with that, you may ask? There are two problems: one which is simply about fairness and equal opportunity—something the head teachers had discussed with us earlier when telling us why they were choosing two boys and two girls, even though the ratio in our school is boys:girls 2:3 at best—and the other is to do with specifically choosing a person who is best for the job. As I said before, the person who was picked as head boy would have been the best person if he had wanted it. However, because he didn’t really want it, and was instead talked in to taking the position, he won’t be likely to do it as well as someone who really wanted the position and was working as hard as they could to show that they are good for the position (and to overcome negative bias that was already there against them).
The other reason, fairness, is very much related to the more logical decision of someone who wants the position being someone who will work harder at it. It simply doesn’t seem fair to give the position to someone who doesn’t want it—or who may only have agreed to accept the position for their CV—versus someone who really does want the position. It isn’t fair that other people who wanted the position missed out to someone who just isn’t that interested.
Part three in this series will talk about why I respect the teachers’ decisions, and will therefore give the head students the respect that the position should warrant. 

I do have one more complaint I could make about another person that was chosen, but because there’s a chance that he will read this, I won’t. Instead, why don’t you leave me your thoughts on the matter? Do you think it’s fair that a person who is better suited for the job, but doesn’t really want it got the position? I would be very interested to see a counter-argument to this. Please feel free to leave a comment about anything you like, and remember, you can comment anonymously if you feel the need.

Negative Bias? The overcompensation for the appearance of bias

This post is part 1 of my “poor decision making” series. It’s based on my experiences last weekend (12th–13th March) when I was on a trip with my school for its prefects.

 

My school recently introduced a system of prefects, and I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of them. The prefects who were chosen went on a training trip with the head teachers. One of the purposes of the trip was to pick from the team, four “senior” prefects: a head boy, deputy head boy, head girl, and a deputy head girl. It is the decision of who was picked for these four top positions that I am writing about.

This post is about the problem of what I am calling “negative bias”. Basically, negative bias is when someone overcompensates for something that may be construed as being bias towards someone, and it in fact becomes so that they are bias against them.

One real-world example where this could be easily seen is in sports. Let us take a hypothetical match between the Broncos and the Rabbitohs. Let’s say the referee in this match supports the Rabbitohs. Because he wants to do his best to be neutral, he deliberately becomes stricter against the Rabbitohs then he normally would be. While this should dispel any of the complaints of bias, it is then very unfair for the team being discriminated against. It would most likely actually have been fairer if the referee had acted as he normally would, although in this situation people would perceive the ref as being bias towards his preferred team.

While this particular example is unlikely to come up—sports tend not to allow referees to work when a team they support is playing—I experienced a very similar situation this past weekend on my prefect trip. I was one of the students interested in being head boy or deputy head boy, and I think I would have been a very good candidate for either of these positions. However, my parents are teachers at the school, and so had I been picked (even if it was based purely on merit), it would have seemed to the parents of others (who, at international school, are often very quick to complain) that I had been picked because of my parents being teachers. This is the perceived bias talked about earlier. Instead, the teachers responsible for selecting head students will have ruled me out as a candidate for the job. Ruling me out is overcompensation for the appearance of bias.

Now, obviously, I can’t say for certain that if I weren’t a teacher’s kid, I would have been selected. But I do strongly believe that had the situation been different, I would have been selected. I can say this based on who was actually picked, and other circumstances around their selection, which I will go into in the second post of this series.

So, what do you think? Have you been in any situations where you, or someone you know, have been the subject of negative bias? Do you think that there are any situations (perhaps even the ones I mentioned), where negative bias can be justified? Let me know in a comment below. If you’re a student at the school, I encourage you to consider posting anonymously if you’re talking specifically about the people who were chosen.

Hate Apple announcement? I said no such thing…

Despite my bad luck in the past, this next Apple announcement is perfect for me. It starts at midnight on Thursday the 2nd of September, and, for the first time, I shouldn’t have anything stopping me from watching live blogs. The amazing timing of a public holiday means that I don’t have school the day after the night of the announcement, so I can watch it.

To make it even better, this should be the first time Apple live streams video of their own events. Despite it only being available on Apple’s own devices, this is still perfect for me. It will also be the first time Apple’s had an announcement since I got my first Mac.
All-in-all, some great timing for me, much more so than any in the past.

Macs never have the problems Windows PCs have? BS!

A little while ago I got my first Mac: a second tier, 13-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve really been enjoying using it, and, due to the faster speed in booting up and the portability, among other things, I have been using it more than my Windows desktop.

 

Yesterday, I decided I was going to go ahead with my plans to dual-boot Ubuntu Linux onto it. So I went onto my desktop, and did a little bit of research, and came up with this site. Armed with the comment by “cyberdork33”, I went to my MacBook Pro and opened Boot Camp. I

 

started following his instructions, until it came time to install Ubuntu. I chose to install it, rather than run it off of the disk, and it started doing something that looked like it must be installing, but then it came to a black screen with white text. It had some code, and said to type “help” for a list of commands I could give. I did this, but none of the commands seemed useful.

 

I gave up, and decided to forget about Ubuntu — I’m happy with Mac OS anyway, all I was going to do was mess around with Ubuntu, I had no plans to use it as my primary OS. So I held the power button, and it didn’t shut down. After a few times of doing this, it finally did loose

power, and I booted up again under Mac OS X. Using boot camp, I restored the disk to a single partition under Mac OS X. I continued using the computer until I went to bed, shut it down, and left it on to charge over night.

 

The next morning, after I get up, I go over to it and turn it on. I notice it stays on a blank white screen for longer than it should, but I’m doing other things, so I ignore it and let it boot up as normal. When I get to the computer, I notice it has a black screen with white text, saying

 

No bootable device — insert boot disk and press any key

 

Typically, given this screen, pressing any key would get it to do something, and even if there is no disk inserted, it will tell you as much. However, when I press any key (in fact, I pressed every single key on the keyboard, from the function keys, to letters, to modifiers), it simply ignores my press. I notice that pressing “caps lock” does not cause the light over the caps lock key to turn on.

Because there is a disk in the drive — and I can’t eject it — I try to power down the device by holding on the power button. But no matter how many times I do this, or how long I hold the button down for — short, long, or just tapping it — it won’t power off.

 

If I could get it to power off, there are many things I could try. From holding down option to make sure it’s booting off of the correct partition, to holding down “d” to run the Apple hardware test, to make sure there isn’t a problem with the hard drive. However, all of this is irrelevant, since I can’t get the computer to turn off in the first place. I can’t even follow the instructions and insert the restore disk, since there’s a disk in the computer I can’t get out.

 

I’m trying to power down the computer by killing its battery, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll try taking it into an Apple authorised repair service, and hope that all those people who talk about how great Apple Care is are right.

 

Don’t read on if you’re concerned about inappropriate language.

So to all you people who say Macs don’t suffer from the same problems that Windows PC users get, I say to you: Bull. Shit.

Let me know if you have any suggestions, or if you’ve had a similar experience. As always, any comments are appreciated.

Why I hate Apple announcements

Now, before all you Apple fans out there start flaming, just here me out. This post is not based on the announcements as such, but just some bad luck on my part.

Apple announcements invariably take place at 10:00 AM United States Pacific time. This unfortunately means for me that it is invariably at midnight. On the dot. Every time there is an Apple announcement, I have the option of staying up past the time I normally would to see the announcement live.

But it’s not just that. I think that Apple hates me. Their last two major announcements (the iPad and iPhone OS 4) have been at times that are very inconvenient for me, and the next coming one will be even worse. When they announced the iPad, it was right in the middle of my mock exams. I got up and checked my Twitter the next morning to find out that it was called the iPad, but it wasn’t until a few days later that I could finally watch the video of it. There was certainly no option of reading a meta-live blog of any sort.

Later, when they announced iPhone OS 4, it was perhaps less of a nuisance, but still quite inconvenient. I was away from home on holiday, and I should have been in bed (had to get up fairly early the next day). The hotel I was in had very dodgy WiFi (although I was very glad to have any at all), and it didn’t work on the old family laptop. So I was forced to read a meta-live blog on my iPod Touch. Not too bad, all in all, but far from ideal. Whether it was because of the iPod or the WiFi, I don’t know, but I frequently had to manually refresh the page, and a lot of the images didn’t quite work correctly. But still, I got the general gist of it, and when I could later watch the video there wasn’t anything super new to me.

The upcoming announcement — whatever it may be — as I said above, will be the worst. It begins at midnight on Tuesday 7th June. That’s the same day that I have my final IGCSE Additional Maths exam. It’s probably one of the toughest subjects I’m taking this year, and so there is NO way I am going to be able to stay up late to find out about it live. Unlike in the past, however, this time I am determined to keep a media blackout until I am able to watch the video Apple releases on their iTunes podcast. I am even going to the extent of unfollowing anyone on Twitter that I think it likely to be talking about this. I’ve got a .txt file on my desktop listing all these people, so I can follow them again afterwards.

More after the break Continue reading