Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High School Me's Head Is Spinning From Indecision

Are you kidding me?  These are on the same night and less than 20 miles apart??

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo | Toto


Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Even "modern me" is a little torn.  I've seen both once--Tom Petty was my first concert, in September 1981, and I saw Pat Benatar just a few years ago.  Tom Petty will be held inside, which is certainly a consideration in the Sacramento Valley in August.  But Pat Benatar and Toto?  Come on, you know they'll perform Africa (here's one of my favorite versions of it).

Decisions, decisions.

Healthier Lifestyle Starts Today

I look and feel gross.  I'm afraid to step on the scale, knowing it will tell me I weigh more than I did 7 years ago when I started dieting and exercising and lost almost 25 pounds in about 4 months.

I did it before, I'll do it again.  I won't have hot yoga to help me this time, but perhaps next week I'll zip over to Costco and buy a 24 Hour Gym membership and spend some of my summer days there.

I've got to do something.  Ugh.  And in an attempt to hold myself accountable, I'll post my weight each Monday.  If I fail to do so, remind me!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Be It Ever So Humble

I'm back, about a week early.  And there's a reason for that.

I left last Tuesday, towing my trailer with my pickup and headed for Colorado Springs.  I reached Ely, NV, that evening, and the truck was acting up.  It ran like crap.

On Wednesday I visited 3 different mechanics in Ely, taking up pretty much the entire day.  The last one figured out I was running on 7 cylinders; his solution was to replaced the grossly-fouled #6 spark plug with a new one and to send me on my way.  He said I'd make it to Denver and back and then might need a new engine.

Thursday I somehow made it into Grand Junction, CO.  No power on hills at all, and it shuddered as if not getting any fuel or air.  I called a GMC dealership--but they don't work on 1979's, too old.  (You can't plug a diagnostic computer into them.)  Another shop referred me to a 3rd, and they gave me directions to get there.  I made it about 100 meters before the truck died on the side of the road.  I coaxed and cajoled the poor thing and finally limped into the garage.

They checked and there's plenty of pressure in all 8 cylinders, so not an engine problem.  The #6 spark plug, with only a few hundred miles on it, looked as if it had a few hundred thousand.  A loose grounding strap in the distributor and a bad #6 spark plug wire looked like a a reasonable fix.

It was not.

They drove me to a hotel that night--which was a dump and exceedingly overpriced due to Country Jam 2017 being held less than 10 miles away that weekend.  Friday morning, right before checkout, I got a call that the truck was ready.  They even came and picked me up.

I got about an hour east of Grand Junction, where the climbs really start, and realized that the problem remained.  It died a couple times on the way back to town, but I made it to the shop.  They replaced the fuel filter and fuel pump.  Then they put in a 2nd fuel filter when the first one made it run even worse!  They stayed after quitting time to install these for me--but the shop isn't open on weekends.  It would either work or I'd have to wait till Monday.

It didn't work.  And because of Country Jam there were no rooms or camping spots to be had.  A dozen or more rigs camped out in the Walmart parking lot Friday night.

I was able to get a camping spot on Saturday afternoon, and reserved it for 2 nights.  My mother had offered to tow my Camry out to me and tow the truck home, and at this point in the debacle I took her up on her offer.  She and her friend showed up Sunday afternoon after driving with absolute minimal stops.  We swapped out vehicles and they headed back immediately--they'd put their own trip on hold to help me out.  I got the trailer ready for travel and left a few hours later, of course going much more slowly than they were because I was towing with a Camry.

They put my truck in the garage around Monday noon.  I stopped off in Reno for the night to blow off a little steam--and darn near every room in the city was occupied because of a rodeo in town!  I was lucky to get a (somewhat inflated-price) room via Hotels.com, as calls to reservation lines had lengthy waits.

I stopped for a $6 breakfast today and made it home around 1:30 pm, a week after I'd left.

There's no place like home.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Blog Break

Blogging will be intermittent to nonexistent for the next two weeks.  Should be up and running again at full steam by July 1st.  See you then!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Happy Camper

This camp starts today.  Can you imagine how much fun I'd have there?  I'd stir the mud, they wouldn't want me there spoiling their groupthink.
Northern Illinois University will be hosting a “social justice summer camp” for educators June 11-14.

According to the event description, the three-day camp will aim to “bring together teams of educators to investigate multicultural and social justice education. Campers will have significant opportunities to discuss social justice issues, both general and specific to their schools, with experts and colleagues, as well as time for individual reflection.”

The camp will also focus on presenting a “candid and nonjudgmental exploration of multiculturalism, privilege, identity, oppression and more.”

The Thin Veneer of Civilization

I've long said that civilization is only a quarter inch thick.  Take away the simplest modern conveniences, take us back to the 18th or 19th centuries, and most of us would probably become as brutish as our ancestors were.

Late last week there was a notice on my front door from my electricity utility--for about 9 hours tomorrow, my neighborhood will be without electricity.

My house is mostly electric.  Yes, I have a gas water water heater, but the controller on it is electric.  When the power goes out, I don't think my water heater will continue to heat gas.  Everything in my kitchen is electric--how am I to cook?  How long will the food in my frig and freezer last?

At least I'll still have running water.  And an outdoor barbecue, if I *really* need to cook something.  But internet?!  My DSL comes in over the phone line, but my router requires electricity.  I'll be without internet all day!

Should be a pretty boring day.  Perhaps I'll get some reading done.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman

I finally saw Wonder Woman today.

Given all the hype, I expected to see The Best Movie In The World.  It was good, but it did not transport me to Nirvana.  I give it a solid B.

Should you be interested, look up Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston.  He was a "unique" fellow, to say the least; for those of you who won't believe anything unless it comes from NPR, here's an even juicier version:
The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.
Wonder Woman was written to have an alluring sexuality--and both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot have been capable of playing that up.  In fact, when her hair is pulled back, Gadot bears a striking similarity to Carter.  But while Carter's Wonder Woman was limited to the censors of 1970's television, Gadot most certainly is not.  Carter was hot, Gadot exudes sexuality but with barely a nod to it.

Carter's Wonder Woman used violence only as a last resort, and when she did use it, she used no more than was necessary to accomplish her task.  I don't recall her ever having killed anyone, for example--but again, that's a limitation of 1970's TV.  Gadot's Wonder Woman is a fierce fighter and takes out many people (while looking good doing it).

I know the argument for setting this movie in World War I, when Wonder Woman's story actually took place in World War II--and I don't accept the argument.  Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Superman all have a place in World War II, and the war was big enough for them not to bump into each other.  I grant that the WWI story line was a good one, I just don't accept that it was necessary to deviate from "canon" for this movie.

It dragged in a few places, too.

The movie started and ended in the modern day, so this World War I story line seems to be a one-off.  That also sets the stage for the modern Justice League, which will no doubt be DC's version of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D.  I'm looking forward to such movies.

Overall, I give the movie a B, perhaps because it would be near impossible for it to have lived up to the hype.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Who Do They Think They Are, The TSA?

On what planet would this be considered even remotely acceptable?
A newly filed federal lawsuit claims that police officers groped 900 students at Worth County High School in Georgia during a warrantless drug sweep that yielded no results.

The human rights group, Southern Center for Human Rights, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students against the Worth County sheriff over an April 14 incident when 40 officers came into the school with no advance notice, KTLA-TV reported.

According to the lawsuit, the officers put the school on lockdown for four hours, during which they ordered students out of the classrooms and into the hallways. Students were allegedly then forced to stand spread eagle against the lockers while officers conducted intimate searches of male and female students, including touching the breast and genital areas, KTLA reported.

The lawsuit mentions one girl in particular, using only her initials K.A., who was searched by Deputy Brandi Whiddon. The lawsuit goes into disturbing detail about how in-depth Whiddon’s search of K.A. was...
No warrant?  No immunity.  There should be arrests, all right. Those officers are going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money, and they shouldn't be able to shield themselves from the effects of their own negligence by hiding behind their badges.
Worth County School Board attorney Tommy Coleman told CNN affiliate WALB-TV that authorities had a list of 13 suspects within the school, but only three of those students were in attendance that day, KTLA reported.

“The egregious thing that happened was he didn’t search just those individuals but he searched every single student at the school,” Coleman told CNN. “There was aggressive searches and touching of undergarments and breast and genitalia by deputies.”
Every student in the school?  If that isn't "unreasonable", I don't know what is.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Applied Statistics

Perhaps we all believe in science until the science goes against our personal convictions:
Children brought up on almond and soya milk are shorter than youngsters who drink just cow's milk, a new study has found.

The plant-based products have become increasingly fashionable, with many extolling the health benefits of them, and others turning to them because of an intolerance or dislike of plain milk.

But the new study found that children who drink non-cow's milk - including plant-based milk drinks and milk from other animals, are growing up shorter than those given traditional fare.
This study could be a fun one to analyze. Not only do you get the math, you get cause/effect, correlation/causation issues, as well as “how much proof do you need to cause you to change your opinion” discussions.

Girls Can Wear Whatever They Want?

There's an easy solution to this:
A note left urging female students at a Canadian high school to respect “male education”, and to stop wearing skin-baring clothes at school just because “it’s too hot outside” has sparked a sexism row.
Here’s how you accomplish the desired result without giving certain people an opportunity to complain about the policy: claim that if they’re showing too much of their bodies, they’re creating a “hostile work environment” and are subject to discipline under the school’s/district’s sexual harassment policy. And then enforce the implied threat.

No leftie can speak against sexual harassment.  Problem solved.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Climate Change Hysteria

This article explains why the biggest problem with President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords is not the withdrawal itself, but with President Trump's hamfisted lack of explanation of why it's a reasonable course of action.
Instead of starting with the social case against the substantive provisions of the Paris Accords, Trump justified his decision by invoking his highly nationalistic view of international arrangements. He said the United States was once again getting ripped off by a lousy treaty that, in his words, would force American “taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” He then insisted that his first duty is to the citizens of Pittsburgh, not of Paris—giving the impression that there are only provincial arguments that support his decision.

Yet, ironically, the President has a stronger case on this point than he does with his attacks on free trade, which he justified in similar terms. Free trade has a natural corrective, in that no private firm will enter into any agreement that it believes will work to its disadvantage. That was decidedly not true of the Obama approach to the Paris Accords, which gives a free pass to China until 2030 even though its recent carbon emissions have increased by 1.1 billion tons, while the United States’ total has dropped by 270 million tons, and will continue to do so.
I like a lot of what the president has done so far, but he should do a better job than he's been doing of explaining himself--and no, Twitter isn't sufficient.

Here's someone who does a great job of explaining himself--Roy Spencer: climatologist, author, former NASA scientist:
But first let’s examine the basics of why so many scientists think global warming is manmade. Earth’s atmosphere contains natural greenhouse gases (mostly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) which act to keep the lower layers of the atmosphere warmer than they otherwise would be without those gases. Greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation — the radiant heat energy that the Earth naturally emits to outer space in response to solar heating. Mankind’s burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal, petroleum, and natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this is believed to be enhancing the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. As of 2008, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 40% to 45% higher than it was before the start of the industrial revolution in the 1800’s.

It is interesting to note that, even though carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth to exist, there is precious little of it in Earth’s atmosphere. As of 2008, only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air were CO2, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions 5 more years to increase that number by 1, to 40.

The “Holy Grail”: Climate Sensitivity Figuring out how much past warming is due to mankind, and how much more we can expect in the future, depends upon something called “climate sensitivity”. This is the temperature response of the Earth to a given amount of ‘radiative forcing’, of which there are two kinds: a change in either the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth, or in the infrared energy the Earth emits to outer space.

The ‘consensus’ of opinion is that the Earth’s climate sensitivity is quite high, and so warming of about 0.25 deg. C to 0.5 deg. C (about 0.5 deg. F to 0.9 deg. F) every 10 years can be expected for as long as mankind continues to use fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. NASA’s James Hansen claims that climate sensitivity is very high, and that we have already put too much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Presumably this is why he and Al Gore are campaigning for a moratorium on the construction of any more coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

You would think that we’d know the Earth’s ‘climate sensitivity’ by now, but it has been surprisingly difficult to determine. How atmospheric processes like clouds and precipitation systems respond to warming is critical, as they are either amplifying the warming, or reducing it. This website currently concentrates on the response of clouds to warming, an issue which I am now convinced the scientific community has totally misinterpreted when they have measured natural, year-to-year fluctuations in the climate system. As a result of that confusion, they have the mistaken belief that climate sensitivity is high, when in fact the satellite evidence suggests climate sensitivity is low.
For those of you who want to complain that I quote someone who's not a climatologist--well, here's a climatologist. Yes, I've found people who've spoken against him, and yes, I can find web sites attacking what he says, too.  So you choose to believe your way, Chicken Little, and I'll choose to believe mine.  The fervor with which the Believers attack and respond, though--yes, it's a religion to them.  And I'll enjoy taunting them as much as they enjoy taunting those with more conventional religious beliefs.

I wrote this post 7 1/2 years ago, and I still stand by it.  One of the benefits of getting old is the wisdom that comes with experience; I'm not as easily fooled as some are, if for no other reason than because I've seen this trick before.  The Believers have cried wolf too many times in just my lifetime for me to take their current howls seriously.

Not A Bad Choice

Putting someone from FIRE into a higher education post in Besty De Vos' Education Department?  Inspired!
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Adam Kissel, formerly of the Koch Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs, the department confirmed Monday. Politico first reported the hiring.

As director of the Individual Rights Defense Program and vice president of programs at FIRE, Kissel was a frequent critic of universities the group has accused of violating the free speech rights of students and faculty. He's also criticized broader "intolerance" on campuses. Kissel has also taken issue with the standard of proof used by colleges in the adjudication of recent sexual harassment and assault cases.

The Very Definition of Snowflake

For people to get this worked up over something so innocuous shows the state of our education system:
Two schoolyard supervisors were removed from Carroll Elementary School in Elk Grove after forcing eight students to sing and dance on stage last week as punishment for a recess infraction, district officials said Monday.

After a recess bell sounded Thursday, yard staff made sixth-grade students who were not standing still in line get on a stage to sing and play “Simon Says,” students said Monday after school.

“She made us sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and, like, the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ ” said Ava Mak, one of the sixth-grade students who was punished. “She also made us sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’ ”
Oh, the inhumanity.  Not group singing! (gasp!)

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article154519354.html#storylink=cpy
Principal Paul Hauder sent a letter to the school’s parents describing the incident and apologizing for it. He followed up with a letter to the parents of the eight students involved in the incident, which included an offer to provide counseling if needed.
This is how far schools have gone from the paddle of days gone by.  Are you happy with the results?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article154519354.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, June 05, 2017

If This Isn't Racism, I Don't Know What Is

If you have to use someone's race as anything other than a color descriptor, you are a racist:
White Women Drive Me Crazy

White women are so dangerous because they’re allowed to be so soft — innocent until proven innocent...

I don’t know if I liked sleeping with white women because I’m queer or because they all smell so good. Like if I pressed my body against theirs and breathed deeply enough, some of their clean might rub off on me. I just wanted to feel clean. I wanted to smell good. These days I mask my smell with the scent of roses and a Burberry perfume I can’t afford and everyone says I smell good but I don’t fuck (sic) white women anymore.
This person wails and rants against racism, and would probably be one of the first to tell you that she can't be a racist because she's a minority and only people in the majority or in "power" can be racists.  Convenient, that.

The Thayer Award

Sylvanus Thayer is known as the "father of the Military Academy", and thus it is fitting that West Point's Association of Graduates named its greatest honor after Colonel Thayer:
Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”

Thayer Award Criteria

The Award is given to a citizen of the United States, other than a West Point graduate, whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” The individual selected for the Thayer Award must agree to accept the Award at West Point.
I remember in 1983 seeing General Doolittle, of Doolittle's Raid fame, at the dinner in his honor in the Cadet Mess Hall, and marveling at what a tiny person that giant of a man was.  I also remember 1986, when I sat across a table from Doctor Teller, and, being one of only a few people in the office with him, got to speak to him.  I asked him how he answers the criticism sometimes leveled at him that he is partly responsible for the scourge of nuclear weapons and the deaths of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I also remember his answer.

General Doolittle and Doctor Teller were at West Point to receive their Thayer Awards, and today the Association of Graduates has announced the 2017 Thayer Award recipient.  I agree wholeheartedly that this person is one whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature are in keeping with the the motto Duty, Honor, Country.  Receiving the award 23 years after his father did, this year's Thayer Award will go to President George W. Bush.

Recipients of the Thayer Award are listed here; I'm not sure exactly what year the requirement was added that recipients not be West Point graduates, but it was clearly after 1973.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

As Official As Official Can Be

I received the transcripts I ordered.  I'm a master!

Because our seniors have already graduated, I have a few periods without students tomorrow.  I'll probably head down to the district office, paperwork in hand, and sit at someone's desk to ensure all of this is recorded properly so that I can get a pay raise next year!  Took me 5 years to get the degree, should take me 3 years to recoup that cost--so after 8 years I'll have broken even.