Friday, April 20, 2018

Vanilla Ice Gets Modern Press

It's kind of sad when law enforcement is a partisan issue, but leave it to some College Republicans to make a funny out of it:
The College Republicans at the University of California, Merced advertised their club last month with signs that read "I.C.E. I.C.E. Baby" and provided the phone number for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now the student government is considering defunding them and similar organizations, in part because College Republicans might use those funds to attend conservative conferences and spread hateful rhetoric on campus.

The initial advertising campaign provoked a response from school administrators several days after the incident. The officials condemned the group's "bigoted and hateful" tactics but reminded students that "as nasty as the club's signs were, they are protected by the First Amendment."
Of course the libs want to go too far in response:
In an April 16 statement, the California College Republicans say they "view any attempt to defund CRUCM as an explicitly biased attack against conservative values and ideas....Any repercussive action by UC Merced student government or campus administration is an assault on First Amendment rights." They don't say whether they plan to take legal action if they lose their fees, but they're hinting that this issue won't be resolved quietly. This is, after all, the same litigious College Republicans chapter that threatened to sue their school when administrators quoted high security fees for bringing the right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro to campus.
A reasonable comment:
Fears of deportation, or of having their Dreamer or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) revoked, are real for many students. A call to I.C.E. from an antagonistic fellow student would be life-altering to some in UC-Merced's student body. But even shitty, loathsome speech is protected by the First Amendment. The more we equate words with violence, the easier it becomes to justify suppressing speech––and who would be in charge of drawing those boundaries for what type of speech is allowed? The best responses to the College Republicans' flier will consist of nonviolent activism and other forms of speech, not measures that chip away at everyone's First Amendment rights.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

California Government Wants All Businesses To Leave The State

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since before I was born. It benefits certain people, though, to repeat the so-called statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. What does that statistic even mean? How was it determined? Can anyone tell me?

No, of course they can't. And they don't want to, because that would shoot their entire narrative. And with lefties, it's all about the narrative.

So, we have a national law that's been on the books for over half a century, but California decides it's going to up the ante a bit:
A bill introduced this week in California (where else?) would force businesses to submit payroll data to the state, so it can police whether or not men and women receive equal pay.

It would be yet another absurd regulatory burden and massive bureaucracy expansion in a state already hampered by both.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced the bill before a Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Jackson said, "Women are in the workforce primarily because they need to be and it’s important that women are paid equally."

She added, "It’s an enormous problem."

It's not. The wage gap is a myth that does not account for differences in job selections, work hours, the danger of the job, or anything else. Women tend to make less money than men because a work/life home balance is more important to women than men. Men are more likely to think it perfectly fine to work 60 hours per week than a woman, especially one with a family. Further, men tend to select higher-paying job fields than women. This alone accounts for much of the gap.
Read the whole thing, and marvel that this state still functions at all with such idiots in charge.

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Too many of today's university student protesters are not brave civil rights warriors, they're pathetic children who aren't even smart enough to think their actions through.  University administrators, rather than giving in to the entitled little brats, need to demonstrate exactly who is in charge of the university (this assumes, of course, that the administration isn't completely happy with the social justice warriors and their tantrums).  New York University shows one such way to out today's Freedom Riders as the Freedom Hiders cowards they truly are:
At NYU, administrators threatened the protesters’ financial aid, and the woke warriors went back to their rooms.

Spare a thought for those knights of social justice, the student protesters. Motivated by the yearning for a better world, they sacrifice their time and energy in service to their ideals. They display courage, stamina, determination, and creativity in coming up with rhymes in their chants.

Except if you tell them they’re jeopardizing their financial aid or their housing. Then they fold immediately...

NYU administrators showed little patience for the activists disrupting the proceedings at the Kimmel Center for University Life. But how to dissolve the protest? It turned out that there was no need to bring in the police. Ringing up the students’ parents was all it took. The phone calls advised parents that students who interfered with campus functions could be suspended, and that suspensions can carry penalties of revoked financial aid or housing. The students “initially planned to stay indefinitely,” notes the Voice’s report. “Instead, the students departed within forty hours.”
The school called mommy and daddy, and the kiddies folded.  Classic.
 NYU shows us that it’s possible to maintain order on campus, even in the face of the strenuously aggrieved, with a tactic as simple as a phone call. If it disabused the protesters of any notion that the world must stop and listen to them any time they’re feeling feverish with injustice, it did them a favor. Undergraduates often joke about how ill-prepared they are for life after graduation, “out there in the real world.” Colleges and universities should seize the opportunity to teach the real-world fact that being woke is not a license to interfere with other people’s business.
Hear hear.

One Of The Benefits Of Living In A Federal Republic

This post will make much more sense if you first read this one from a couple weeks ago.

So, from that post you can see that the government here in The Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia is trying to "protect" me from the ills of mismarked Everclear.  It's bad enough that I couldn't get 190 proof Everclear in the past, only 151 proof--but now I can't get any, all praise to my glorious benefactors downtown.

Not every state in this country is run by batcrap-insane liberals, though.  Some states trust their residents to behave like adults (and penalize them when they don't), and being over half-a-century old, I have friends all over the country.  When I got home from work today I noticed a package on my porch.  What's this, I wondered, as I haven't ordered anything from online recently.  When I saw the return address, I knew what it was.  And sure enough:
It's limoncello season once again :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Rest Of The Country Is Tired Of Subsidizing California's High Taxes

Until recently, California could get away with ridiculously high state and local taxes in part because those taxes could be claimed as a deduction on federal income taxes.  As a result, while Sacramento got to keep the money raised by those taxes, Washington didn't get as much money from California.  There's an argument to be made that the rest of the country was thereby subsidizing California's high taxes.

I'm not saying that the Republican Congress and Republican President intended to shaft California specifically, but honestly, could you blame them if they did?  Regarding the tax reform bill signed into law in December, here's the keening from The People's Republic of Kalifornia, Ignorer Of Federal Law and everyone's favorite Sanctuary State, where illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens do:
President Donald Trump’s tax cuts will be anything but for about 1 million California taxpayers who will owe Uncle Sam more money a year from now.

They’re the Californians who will lose a collective $12 billion because the new law caps a deduction they have been able to take for paying their state and local taxes, according to a new analysis by the Franchise Tax Board.

Very wealthy Californians earning more than $1 million a year will pay the lion’s share of that money, with 43,000 of them paying a combined $9 billion.

But some middle-class Californians will pay more, too.

About 751,000 households with incomes under $250,000 probably will owe more tax. All together, they’ll owe an extra $1.1 billion...

He (Governor Moonbeam) also said in January that he’s worried that the changes will provide an incentive for wealthy Californians to leave the state, potentially starving the state of tax revenue. The state’s wealthiest 1 percent, for instance, pay about 48 percent of the state’s personal income tax.
What was it Margaret Thatcher said about socialism and running out of other people's money?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

System of Professional Growth

For some reason my district prides itself on its System of Professional Growth, which is a fancy term for my evaluation.  It's so complex that you don't just get evaluated; no, you have to attend 1- or 2-day training sessions in order to learn how to participate in your evaluation.

I got the email yesterday saying I have the pleasure of being evaluated next year. They graciously gave me many dates for training, all of which I’ll ignore because they're during the summer--and I don't plan to be home much this summer. Besides, if you need training in how to be evaluated, something is wrong with the evaluation system.

I have an idea. Why don’t they just make one of those stupid training videos for us to watch, like we have to for suicide prevention or web site accessibility or using hand sanitizer? Or, do we have to attend evaluation training in person, rather than online, because evaluations are so much more important than suicide prevention or web site accessibility for the deaf or blind?

*sigh*

Being A Teacher Is Getting Worse

Schools are a microcosm of the communities from which they draw their students.  Sadly, that's why we have this list of "10 things teachers did not have to deal with 10 years ago".  Here are the items:
  • The inability to punish students.  The author is as much a fan of so-called restorative justice as I am.
  • Cell phone addiction.
  • Online bullying.  Honestly, unless something happens at school, this is an area where I think schools should but out or, at the most, notify parents and let them take care of the out-of-school issue.
  • Pep rallies for standardized testing.
  • Constant student anxiety.  I've written before how ADD used to be the "gold standard" for getting special accommodations in school, now anxiety is.  
  • Fear of school shootings and lock-downs.  You're much more likely to get killed when you get in a car than you are at school--but the author seems resigned to the idea that this fear is justified anyway.
  • Heroin and opioid epidemics.
  • Politicized schools.
  • Era of "feelings" where students are never wrong--because they "feel" their grade is unfair, it is.  By definition.
  • Naked utilitarianism in education--schooling exists solely to prepare students for jobs or, in the case of many schools, college.  Anything besides going to college is failure.

California Students Score Among The Worst In The Nation

I guess all our “diversity” and “caring” and “compassion” aren’t translating into much academically.

Yes, someone has to be worst, but Liberal Utopia? Why is it that the most liberal places—I’m talking about you, San Francisco and Berkeley—have some of the worst outcomes?
California’s poor students performed worse on a national exam than needy kids from all but one other state, according to results released last week by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Congratulations, folks. We beat Alaska.

These students’ lackluster scores on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress come despite the state’s $31.2 billion investment in their learning under a new school funding method championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013.

Can Humans Melt the Antarctic Ice Cap?

If math is haaaaaard for you, maybe you don't want to read this:
When discussing climate with people who do not have technical backgrounds, I have learned much of the climate discussion is a foreign language to them.

Phrases like “Dalton minimum” or “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation” make their eyes glaze over. Once, after I explained what causes wind, the reply was, “my head hurts.” So, I no longer try to explain atmospheric science. Besides, I am an engineer, not a meteorologist. I have had better luck by sharing simple examples that let people reach conclusions on their own about human versus natural influence. Telling them I can show them the math if they want to see it adds credibility, because few, if any, alarmist publications intended for the general public include any math to support their claims. Describing the energies that drive weather, and therefore climate, is a good way to do this.

So, I take them through a few examples of how much energy is involved and how miniscule human activity is by comparison. Done properly, this lets a non-STEM person grasp the huge amounts of energy involved...

These types of examples are good for communicating with nontechnical people. They let people relate atmospheric physics to their own life experience and everyday understanding of the world in which they live — even if that understanding might be skewed or incomplete.
Then follows some math and science that most people should be able to follow.  Here's the conclusion:
I know, I know. This is a very simplistic analysis that ignores the complexities of actual heat transfer. But that’s the point; non-STEM people can follow it if they know a little math.

And yes, the alarmists would argue human emissions are indirectly causing heat to transfer to Antarctica, and this type of analysis is therefore irrelevant. So what? They must show how human emissions transfer that heat, and how much heat is being transferred.

My goal here is to show the enormous energy levels involved and how ridiculous it is to blame humans for any significant ice melt. That’s my hypothesis; let the alarmists come up with the null.
And they can start acting like they believe their own doomsday scenarios, too.  If they did that, at least I'd be able to have some respect for them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sacramento Supe Salaries

Want to make some good money?

Sacramento school superintendent salaries have exploded in recent years, growing to challenge the paychecks of university presidents.

Locally, superintendent salaries range from $240,000 for Sarah Koligian in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, which has 20,353 students, to $330,951 for Christopher Hoffman, who leads the region's largest school district, Elk Grove Unified, with 63,297 students, according to 2017-18 state enrollment figures.

Hoffman's pay is more than the salary of President Robert Nelsen of Sacramento State, who is paid $324,029. The California State University campus serves 29,000 students…

Being a Sacramento area superintendent can be lucrative:

Evans, who runs the smallest of the six districts, with 14,895 students, also earned a 6 percent bonus, or $17,580, in 2017, bringing his pay this school year to $311,184. He also is eligible for extra pay if he works more than his contracted 220 days…

Finkelstein said superintendents use comparisons with other districts to get bigger paychecks. "They are watching what their peers are making," he said. "Salaries are reported publicly all the time. They are saying, 'The person down the street is getting a $20,000 raise. I need a $20,000 raise.' "

He said there is no evidence to support the idea that school districts that offer higher pay get better results academically or otherwise…

We teachers are getting pay raises all the time, right? I mean, if that district down the street is getting a 4% pay raise this year, I need one, too, right?

Teachers in the Sacramento region have also seen boosts to their salaries in recent years, although the raises have been significantly less than those of superintendents. Teachers' salaries have grown from 9.5 percent to 16 percent in the last five years, depending on the district, on top of regular step increases.

I don’t think we’ve gotten 9.5% in my district in the past 5 years.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Don't Follow Your Passion

It seems that Mark Cuban and I agree on something, and for the same reason:
"One of the great lies of life is 'follow your passions,'" says Cuban as part of the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series. "Everybody tells you, 'Follow your passion, follow your passion.'"

Cuban says that's bad advice because you may not excel at what you are passionate about. 
This is why students should get as much education as they can, especially in K-12 where there's no out-of-pocket expense.

I wonder how many teachers, who often dish out this bad advice, planned on being teachers when they were in high school.  I certainly didn't.

Intentional Juxtaposition

Joanne has two juxtaposed posts over at her blog:

Gourmet food delivery goes to college

and

Hungry in college?

Yes, they can both be true, but it seems to me that if the latter is true, then people are making some seriously bad financial decisions--both about college and about food.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Lost In Space

The original series, which started the year I was born, was ultra cheesy.  And I don't just mean the non-existent special effects, either.  The stories were ultra cheesy.  And the Robinson family was right out of the 50s/early-60s, to the point where Mrs. Robinson was doing laundry in one of the early episodes!

The 1998 "reboot" movie?  It wasn't cheesy.  It was just bad.  Matt LeBlanc played Major West.  His acting was so terrible, all I could see was Joey (from Friends) playing Major West.  Until that time I had thought LeBlanc a great actor for playing Joey's goofiness and bad acting so well; turns out, that was just his own bad acting!

But enough about LeBlanc, what was with that Robot?  When the Battlestar Galactica reboot hit the screens in 1998, just about everything had been changed except the Vipers.  The writers knew that if people remembered (and liked) one thing from the original series, it was the Vipers, so they kept those the same.  And it worked.  What's the one thing everyone liked about the original Lost In Space?  Robot!  Even today, more than 50 years after the show premiered, people still joke about "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!"  So what did the writers of the 1998 movie do?  They completely changed Robot.  It wasn't even an endearing character anymore.  There was nothing endearing about that movie, it was a disaster.  Even Mimi Rogers, William Hurt, Gary Oldman, and cameos by June Lockhart, Angela Cartwright, and Mark Goddard couldn't save that pile of steaming poo.

All of which brings us to today.  Premiering on Netflix today is a new reboot of Lost In Space.  Irwin Allen was involved in the 1998 movie, and he's involved in the new series.  Robot is still different.  But I have hopes that this series will be a good one, at least based on the trailers that have been released.  If nothing else, it can only be better than the movie!

I'll review the first episode or two in an update.

Update, 8:47 pm:  I've watched the first episode.  Interesting story, totally unlike the original.  Only at the very end do we see (Parker Posey as) Dr. Smith, and she's clearly a "bad guy".  Robot--nothing like the original; in fact, we don't even know its origins. The Robinsons are a "modern" family, which means instead of nuclear family bliss we have dissension and strife.  We start to learn the backstory through flashbacks, and I'm sure one of these flashbacks will explain why all the Robinsons are white except Judy.  Also, the Jupiter 2 is a total loss, so it appears the Robinsons, rather than roaming the heavens, are marooned on a Cinderella world with earth-like gravity, air, and vegetation.

Bottom line:  this Lost In Space is nothing like what came before--unless you count the cameo by Billy Mumy!  Only the names are the same.  Still, I enjoyed the first episode once I could keep track of what was happening, and I'll keep watching.  If you're expecting a remake of the old Lost In Space, you won't be happy.  If you're willing to accept a new story of humans stranded on another world, this could be a wildly entertaining show.

Update #2, 4/14/18:  I've binge-watched most of the first season.  That should give you an indication of how much I like this show.

Your Feel-Good Story of the Week

Despite some of the idiot commenters, I find no one doing anything but good here:
First-ever homeless shelter Girl Scout troop sells 6,000 boxes of cookies, surpassing goal

Girl Scout Troop 6000 of New York City is celebrating an extra special cookie season this year. The region’s first homeless shelter- based troop has surpassed its goal of selling 6,000 boxes of the beloved treats in their inaugural year of cookie sales.

Troop 6000 is a Girl Scout troop specially designed to serve girls in the New York City shelter system.

“A lot of people ask us, what’s the difference between us and traditional troops, and there really isn’t a difference. They’re exactly the same, just that they don’t have a home,” troop leader Giselle Burgess told Fox 5...

Troop 6000’s cookies are available for purchase through their online page.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Next Stupid Idea Out Of California

Way back when, back when I was in the army--and this was pre-internet--there was a list floating around of statements supposedly made on British officer evaluation reports.  These were brutally honest, hilarious statements that might really have been written about certain officers, or perhaps they would in later days have been called "fake but accurate" or "fake news" or "urban legends".

I've never searched the internet to find out if they were real or not.  It doesn't matter to me one way or the other.

But one that I remember went something like this:  "This officer is so bad that soldiers would only follow him out of a sense of curiosity."

Sometimes I hear that if you want to know what America will be like in 20 years, watch what's happening in California today.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is what's going on in California today:
California needs a Secretary of Youth. The next governor should appoint one.

California’s next governor will have an opportunity to expand the state’s talent marketplace by making bold changes to education and workforce systems. That includes creating a cabinet-level position focused on expanding economic opportunities for youth across the state.
We have an entire Department of Education. We have an Employment Development Department. Let's create a 3rd agency that overlaps both of those!

If the rest of the country follows California, it can only be out of a sense of curiosity.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Finally, Information From Overseas

Every time I've heard about or read one of these studies about teenagers and later start times from schools, I always ask the same question: do other countries/cultures have the same problems American teens seem to, or is this an American issue?  Well, we now have information from one small-scale study done in Singapore, and the results mirror what we've been told about American teens:
A new study published by the Sleep Research Society found support for pushing back school start times, showing that a later start to the day led to more sleep and better mood in teenage girls. The research was conducted at an all-girls school in Singapore and focused on about 150 students in seventh through 10th grade (average age 14). The school delayed its start time by 45 minutes, changing from a 7:30 a.m. to an 8:15 a.m. beginning, and studied the effects on its students.

After one month, students reported about 23 more minutes in bed. In addition, the percentage of students who had at least eight hours in bed each night increased from 6.9 percent to 16.1 percent. The most significant finding, however, was the students’ self-reported improvement in mood. They reported less depression, less sleepiness and overall “feeling more refreshed” during the school day.

The benefits held up after nine months, according to the study, an encouraging finding because it implies that changing school start times can have a lasting effect. 
If school starts later, won't kids just go to bed later? 
Some have worried that delaying school start times could delay bedtimes, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of inadequate sleep. However, at nine months, researchers found that the participants were spending roughly the same amount of time in bed as they were at the one-month follow-up. 

Also at the nine-month follow-up, students had not just an increase in time spent “in bed,” but also an increase in time spent asleep.
I'd like to see this done on a bigger scale, but this is a good start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bird Of Prey

I was talking to a friend in the parking lot after work today, when the most beautiful hawk (?) flew by and landed in a nearby tree.  Black-and-white-striped feathers across its wings and tail, just beautiful.

If would stay in one tree for a few minutes, then fly to the next, wait a bit, then fly to the next.  We watched as the ground squirrels skitted around on the sidewalks, seemingly oblivious to its presence.  Whenever it landed in a nearby tree, it kept a close eye on those ground squirrels.

But never did it swoop in for dinner.  After 20 minutes or so, it flew off to the front of school.  And the squirrels seem never to have noticed.

This was as close as I could get, not wanting to spook it.

Miss America's Outstanding Teen To Attend West Point

This is good news:
Miss America's Outstanding Teen announces that its national titleholder, Jessica Baeder, has accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. "In joining the Long Gray Line, I am honored to continue the military legacy of my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, who all served in the military," says Baeder. "This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl."
Yes, she's attractive.  But check out the "fitness" picture (towards the bottom) in this article. Pretty impressive.