Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Copier Story

I've had this Xerox copier that has broke down several times over the past month.  Finally, the technician comes out with several parts today, to fix a 14-month old copier.

So here in....lies the problem.  This is a fancy copier which doesn't use a toner cartridge...instead, Xerox went to this "slabs" like the size of a piece of soap, which slide into each tray, and melt.  It's a wax-type formula, for the four colors.  Course, it's awful hot, but this is ten times better than the old toner cartridge system.

Well....this fancy idea came from the Japanese.  So they were the ones on the hook for our orders of the fancy slabs which would arrive in a box....you shove into the side of the copier.....and in minutes, you had 90-percent of the color needed for next month or so.

So some vendor in Japan was responsible for Cyan-color.  He had the contract and nice little operation.  And he ran this out of the town affected by the earthquake and tidal wave.  Course, there was total destruction, and this vendor and his company just disappeared.

Xerox figures this out quickly, and starts looking for Cyan-color vendors to make up the slack.  Course, no one really knows the formula that this one guy had for his slab.....to melt correctly.  So Xerox finds this Japanese vendor, who steps in and figures up a similar deal.  He delivers.  Xerox ships out to the world, and life goes on.

There's a problem though.  The recipe for this slab of cyan-color....just ain't the same.  So the new slabs get tossed in (compliments of me)....melt....but they just don't melt in the right fashion.  Call it chunky melt or whatever....but things end up making the Xerox machine clog up and give an error code.

So my guy spent 90 minutes today replacing the clogged piece, and told this story.

The thing you get out of this....some Japanese guy had a great formula and decent business.  The formula was ultra secret probably.  And one day.....a tidal wave washed away him....the business...and the secret formula.

Life is a bit more complicated than you think.  The guys who hold the secret recipe for Coke, Mountain Dew and Pepsi?  Well....it gets a guy to thinking.  You'd really like to think that some disaster wouldn't destroy all knowledge of what it takes to make Pepsi....but it could happen.

Just something to pause and ponder over.

Math Scores

About every four months, there's some meeting somewhere in the world to discuss the math scores across the globe.  Finland always ends up in the top five....for some odd reason.  The US?  Well, this is what drives the press release....they talk on and on about the lousy US scores, and how we rated number fourteen or number eighteen on the worldwide math scores.

The next week after this....there's some meeting in the US where they bring out this article and the scores....talking up how more money would help to fix the problem.  The US needs to lead the world....as we are often told.

Well....this is reality.

Using 2011 data and tests conducted on eighth graders for math, you get this odd picture of American math scores.

In actuality, Massachusetts, Vermont and Minnesota are competing at the level that folks often compare to Finland or the top three countries.  New Jersey and Montana both follow....looking extremely good.

Then you come to the bottom five: Louisiana, California, DC, Alabama, and Mississippi.  The scores are thirty points less for the most part.

If we just allowed the top five states to compete on the world scale....we'd be in the top three countries in the world.  But they won't allow that.....you have to compete....country by country.

What are the top states doing that the bottom states aren't doing?  You really can't be sure of anything.  The fact that California makes the list is troublesome.  For the three southern states....it could just be local conditions where math isn't that important.  The books being used?  Maybe.  The fact is....you just don't know.

What you can predict is that this position of advertising how terrible the US is in math scores will continue, and often be used as a method of pay increases.  Someday, math teachers will be making $100k a year.  Maybe that will fix the problem, but I doubt it.