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some whinging and a stats question

Mother of fucking GOD this bullshit $8/hour fucking writing gig is going to kill me.

The that/which and comma shit - I let it go, not worth fighting. Not a grammar point I think worth the blood that gets shed over it. If I go insane over the Oxford comma, that/which debates put me to sleep. I care only about clarity - is the meaning clear? Then I don't care. Figure out how the editor likes it and do it that (ahem) way.

The prozeugma I introduced to avoid repetition, the one that the editor assumed was a basic case of typo/failure to proof?  Politely explain what a zeugma is, with link, acknowledge that I can understand how it might not be a stylistically appropriate choice for the genre/context (editor!) while refusing to allow her to categorize it as a grammatical error (since scores and thus paychecks get docked for those), and respond that her solution is better and more elegant anyway.

But this? This I draw the fucking line at. The project guideline asks for average scores. The example article gives average scores. The sample table template row header reads "Average scores."  The guideline says if the info is not available, delete the row. Source does not give average scores - it gives 25th and 75th percentiles. You can't get an average from those stats - and if you try, you're guilty of fudging statistics. I delete the row. So I get dinged because (says editor) I should have put the middle 50 in there. Well folks, if you want the middle 50, you'd best be asking for the fucking middle 50. I know it's been 15 years since I took statistics, but I am pretty fucking sure you cannot have a range for an average -- unless you are using "average" to mean "common" instead of "mean," which is a pretty stupid thing to do in a table devoted to statistics.

It's this kind of shit that made me want to leave the corporate world in the first place - I cannot fucking stand arbitrary nitpicky shit and I cannot stand inefficiency, error, and sloppiness in my putative superiors, in the in-place procedures, in the general workflow. It turns me into a bratty pedant. I still have a grudge against an editor that edited punctuation errors into a cover story I wrote seven years ago (because that moron's errors prevent me from using the piece as a writing sample). That makes me a bad employee.

Anyway, the question.  The source says that on its table, the 25th percentile is what 25% scored *at or below* (let's say it's 18 ACT composite), and its 75th percentile is what 25% of students scored *above* (26 ACT composite).  First of all, isn't this a little wonky? Shouldn't the 75th percentile be what 25% scored AT or above?

And so do I report the middle 50% for ACT comp. as 19-26? 18-27? What the fucking fuck?


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2012 07:22 am (UTC)
Yeah, $8 an hour is absolute bullshit. I'm sure there's no time/eneryg/etc. to look for other jobs now, but please believe that you have very marketable skills. Even with just an English MA there are decent opportunities, including part-time ones. Not sayin' they're on Craig's List, but with some luck or timing or connections you might find something better. And, yeah, I know you have a million other pressing things to do first.

One of my best gigs was tutoring ESL privately -- I had clients from elementary school up to businessmen. College students were convenient (we could meet on campus), but they often wanted me to rewrite their papers, so I preferred the others. Often companies will pay for tutoring for their international employees' (and sometimes for their families, too). Most of my students worked for a Japanese company and knew one another, so there was good referral momentum. I always kept at least 10 hours a week tutoring on top of a TA job, and guess which paid better? In the summer there were more hours for kids, which was always welcome. The going rate when I left Austin 13 years ago was about $30/hour. Plus travel when I went to their place ($6-12 per trip, based on miles). I have no idea if those rates are current or if they translate to your town. But I guarantee you someone is privately tutoring rich international kids on your campus, so it would be possible to find out.

There's also a lot of contract work in corporate writing and editing, though it helps to have connections. And there's adjuncting, although I know that can be demoralizing unless it's super convenient in terms of time and distance. Anyway, I did all of these part-time and they helped me get good full-time work after grad school. Please believe that you have some great skills and an attractive resume (if you can shift from cv perspective briefly). Ideally you'll get a university position for next fall, but if not, there will be options much better than slave wage gigs.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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