Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Awesome Coincidence

My statistics students were working on a lab/project today, so while they worked I played music on Pandora.  One song was Hold The Line, by Toto.  The very next song--I don't remember which one it was, to be honest--was by Pat Benatar.

This Friday night, two friends and I are heading to the local Indian casino to see Pat Benatar and Toto in concert :-)

Monday, August 21, 2017

There's Nothing Educational About "Credit Recovery"

I what's considered "old fashioned". 

I don't think everyone deserves a high school diploma.  A diploma should signify some minimal level of education and competency.  If you don't earn a diploma, the problem is yours; the taxpayers shelled out a lot of money for you, and you either wasted it or weren't capable of meeting those minimum standards.  That's not a judgement, that's a recognition of fact.  The sky is blue.  The sun rises in the east.  Objects fall down.  You didn't earn a diploma.

Some people, however--and they work in education--think everyone is entitled to a diploma, whether they know anything or not.  It's bad enough when parents think that way, but we're doomed when teachers and district administrators think that way.

Which means we're doomed.

Credit recovery is a lie.  It's a sham.  It's a way to skirt requirements and give a diploma to people who haven't really earned a diploma.  And it's making a mockery of those who actually try to teach and learn:
Online credit recovery programs are used by 88 percent of U.S. school districts. They give high school credit for just a few weeks (sometimes a few days) of work, with little or no evidence that much is learned. School districts know they have a problem but often look the other way.

I can see why. Allowing students to cheat on the exams has helped raise high school graduation rates to a record 83 percent. In a recent column I suggested we overlook the problem, since restless students who hate high school are just going to drop out if we don’t give them some escape, like credit recovery.

Having thought more about the stories Jonnard, Davis and other teachers are telling me, I see I was wrong. Letting such dishonesty thrive poisons any respect teachers, students and parents have for our schools.
Integrity is important.  Accountability for taxpayer dollars is important.  Learning is important.

A graduation rate, when you think about it in detail, is a very difficult thing to measure.  Who counts?  What about people who move away?  How do you measure a school's "drop out rate" or "graduation rate"?  So we cobble together some convoluted formula, call it a "graduation rate"--and you know what?  It's just a marker.  It doesn't signify that anyone's learned anything, we just know, or think we know, that a higher number is better than a lower number.  In that way it's a lot like the "body count" statistic during the Vietnam War.  It didn't mean we were "winning" the war, whatever that would have looked like, we just knew that a higher number was better than a lower number.

And how did that turn out for us when all was said and done?

There is no value in credit recovery except for the school and district administrators who get to pretend that they're educating more children than they really are.


This morning's weight was 196.6 lbs, but who knows how accurate that is.  I can step on the scale 3 times and get three different values, sometimes with a range a 3 lbs!

Danged digital scale.  A spring scale might not be entirely accurate, but at least it would be consistent.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Good Guys

Remember, the press is trying to sell you on the story that these are good guys.

Just because you don't like fascists (even when you use their tactics) doesn't make you a good guy.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Have We Jumped The Shark With Bullying Yet?

The idea of "bullying" has gotten out of hand.

Before you bleeding hearts start squealing in mock outrage--no, I don't in general think people should exert physical or emotional control over others.  The issue is what constitutes bullying. 

I'm allowed not to like you.  I can even let you know I don't like you.  At what point does it become harassment or bullying?

How about this situation?
A former Los Altos High School student and baseball player is suing the school district and his former coach for hundreds of thousands of dollars because the coach repeatedly benched him.

According to the suit, the school’s head varsity baseball coach, Gabriel Lopez, repeatedly refused to let 17-year-old Robbie Lopez, no relation, play throughout his senior year. The suit claims this constituted a pattern of “harassment and bullying.”

The teenager and his parents are seeking $150,000 or more, according to the suit...

“It’s more of a targeted situation” than a standard case of a coach using his own judgement, Ponce said. “These are repeated actions by the coach, which we feel, my client and I, as well as his father, feel are intentional. They’re targeted against (my client) specifically.”

Ponce referred to a recent case in South Carolina in which a cheerleader claimed she was bullied by her coach, who made “derogatory comments about (the student’s) private body parts, causing other students to laugh at” her. The student and her father won a $100,000 judgment.

Ponce claimed what happened to his client was “more egregious” than the South Carolina example. But in a phone interview, Ponce did not give any examples of derogatory comments the coach made to the teenager. And no examples of insulting comments by the coach were presented in the lawsuit.
It's up for grabs whether the coach acted appropriately or not, but bullying?  Really?

What a wuss.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why It's Becoming Increasingly Impossible To Negotiate With The Left

The American left is moving so far, so fast, to the left, that you can't even take them seriously anymore.  It was only 21 years ago, in 1996, that President Clinton, running for reelection, touted his welfare reform, celebrated putting "100,000 police officers on the streets", and correctly identified illegal immigration as a problem that had to be corrected for the country.  Less than half my life ago, those are things Democrats celebrated.  Today no Democrat would be caught dead cheering such words.

With leftists, though, it always comes down to violence.  Scratch a leftist, and a thug bleeds.  They've moved so far to the left, though, that some don't even think it necessary to hide their bloodthirsty tendencies anymore:
For anyone paying attention over the last 100 or so years, it was only a matter of time before America's establishment Left, meaning elected Democrats and the mainstream media, found themselves so frustrated they would finally come right out and validate violence, or what can only be described as political terrorism, against their ideological enemies.

Going back to the Bolsehviks straight through to Barry Obama's terrorist-pal Bill Ayers, violence is always the end result of an ideology that demands purity and conformity, even at the point of a gun. And now, probably because they have been unable to bully President Trump to its will, The Washington Post has finally revealed itself as an un-American and un-democratic monster.

In an editorial published Tuesday, N.D.B. Collins, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, was handed the imprimatur of The Washington Post to call for "direct action," direct action in the form of actual political violence.
The editorial itself can be found here.

For too long conservatives have turned the other cheek, not fought back, let leftists define the terms of debate and set the agenda.  They're not going to like it when conservatives have had enough.  You want to riot, Mr. Collins?  Remember which side in this country's schism has more firearms and ammo, Mr. Collins.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Collins.

I'm As Surprised As I Am Hopeful

I hope her idea bears delicious fruit, I really do:
Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s 11th chancellor and the first woman to lead the nation’s top public research university, unveiled plans Tuesday for a “Free Speech Year” as right-wing speakers prepare to come to campus.

Christ said the campus would hold “point-counterpoint” panels to demonstrate how to exchange opposing views in a respectful manner. Other events will explore constitutional questions, the history of Berkeley’s free speech movement and how that movement inspired acclaimed chef Alice Waters to create her Chez Panisse restaurant.

“Now what public speech is about is shouting, screaming your point of view in a public space rather than really thoughtfully engaging someone with a different point of view,” Christ said in an interview. “We have to build a deeper and richer shared public understanding.”
Not the kind of language I'd expect to come out of Berkeley.  I hope she's sincere and wish her luck.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another Climatologist Explains the Global Warming Scam

Dr. Judith Curry conducted an interview with YouTube which was published on August 9, 2017 where she clearly lays out the many flaws and failures of “consensus” climate science and how this highly politicalized scheme tremendously misleads policy makers regarding the need for government directed climate actions.

Regarding the role that human greenhouse gas emissions play in driving the earth’s climate Dr. Curry concludes that:

“On balance, I don’t see any particular dangers from greenhouse warming. {Humans do} influence climate to some extent, what we do with land-use changes and what we put into the atmosphere. But I don’t think it’s a large enough impact to dominate over natural climate variability.”
The entire article, which includes the video below, is here.

Here's some info about Dr. Curry from the YouTube page:
Judith A. Curry is an American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests include hurricanes, remote sensing, atmospheric modeling, polar climates, air-sea interactions, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for atmospheric research. She is a member of the National Research Council's Climate Research Committee. As of 2017, she has retired from academia.Curry is the co-author of Thermodynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans (1999), and co-editor of Encyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences (2002), as well as over 140 scientific papers. Among her awards is the Henry G. Houghton Research Award from the American Meteorological Society in 1992.
Regarding climate change, she thinks that the IPCC reports typically neglect what she calls the "Uncertainty Monster" in projecting future climate trends, which she calls a "wicked problem." Curry also hosts a popular science blog in which she writes on topics related to climate science and the science-policy interface.

Judith Curry has argued that climatologists should be more accommodating of those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change. Curry has stated she is troubled by what she calls the "tribal nature" of parts of the climate-science community, and what she sees as stonewalling over the release of data and its analysis for independent review.

My Fiefdom Is Gone

(read this song with The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone" playing in the back of your mind)

I started teaching statistics in 2010, I think.  Prior to that time we'd always had 2 sections of stats; starting with the year I taught it, we've always had 3 sections.  And sections are always filled to the brim.  The course has always been open only to seniors, but because of some initiatives being pursued by our district, we decided we might open it up to certain juniors this year.

But still so many seniors signed up that we couldn't fit in any juniors.

Just yesterday our vice principal decided to open a 4th section of stats (there's all sorts of this that goes on the 1st month of school each year--don't get me started why!).  Teaching 4 of the same course would be sort of boring for me, and to minimize the movement of kids to new teachers he gave that section to a teacher who has previously taught statistics but is new to our school this year.  This class starts tomorrow--we don't have a teacher's edition of the text book for him, or even any books for his students!

Fortunately the first few days of stats is all about definitions of terms, and he'll only be 3 days of instruction behind me, and with a few waves of the magic want he'll be caught up to me by a week from this Friday--our Chapter 1 test.

For 7 years I've been the stats guy, but not anymore.  Now I have to share that title.

My fiefdom is gone.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Forgot to post it yesterday, but the scale hit 198.2 lbs.

It Arrived Today

It was only a week ago that I went to the DMV and, for the first time in many years, past the eye exam without corrective lenses.  Well, that's not entirely accurate--I still wear a corrective lens, but I wear it at night.  It changes the shape of my eye while I sleep, and the next day I have 20/20 vision.  In the corrected eye I have better than that, because in the uncorrected eye I have 20/70 vision, but I have 20/20 when using both eyes together.  Monovision is working great for me.

So for the first time in a long time, after "RSTR" (restrictions) on my license the word "NONE" is listed.  And in what used to be the empty space below that, my license now says "VETERAN".

I was at DMV a week ago, and my new license arrived today.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Speech vs Action

I am of the opinion that the Supreme Court screwed up when it invented "symbolic speech".  Words, whether spoken or written or otherwise published, are very different from action.  We have free speech, we have free press (to publish our words), and we have the right to peaceably assemble.

That's how it was the first 230+ years of our Republic.  That this needs to be said shows have far we've fallen in the past decade or so:
You have the right to be angry. You do not have the right to attack people, no matter how angry you are.

Trump made a vague statement about this madness. It’s not enough. He needs to call out both the alt-right morons and the Antifa dummies by name. And if he refuses to, he deserves the criticism he’s getting for it.

Political violence is wrong. It doesn’t matter how you justify it to yourself. It doesn’t matter how many memes you post of cartoon characters punching Hitler. If you take the law into your own hands to silence people, no matter how repulsive you find the things they’re saying, then you’re no better than they are.
Not quite sure what I'm talking about? We can start with the woman in this video I posted yesterday.  We can continue through Antifa (anti-first amendment) and BLM and anarchists and assorted other leftists.  We can continue with the 20-yr-old who drove a car into protesters a couple days ago (BTW, Virginia has the death penalty--do you lefties like it now?  I do.).

We need to get back to the values we held that allowed this country to become a beacon of freedom in the world.  If we lose those values, if we commit violence against each other just because we disagree, we'll be no better than many of the crapholes from which immigrants saw our beacon.  And our beacon will burn out.

Update:  what I wrote above is exactly why this is entirely the wrong way to go:
Professors attending a recent academic conference were advised to treat racial microaggressions in the classroom like actual assaults, according to attendees’ tweets...

“Treating racism in our classrooms as we would an assault removes the burden from the victim and begins to create safe space,” one scholar in attendance, Professor Shawna Mefferd Kelty of SUNY Plattsburgh, tweeted out.

Another attendee, Penn State Professor Jeanmarie Higgins, also tweeted: “Faculty: Treat racist microaggressions in classroom as you wd assault. Overtalking puts burden on students of color. -K Papailler.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Berkeley Teacher "Demands" Charges Against Her Be Dropped

How do you even discuss things with someone whose reality is as warped as this woman's is?  I mean, she makes every logical fallacy in the book.  Talk about cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs....

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Sad Situation All Around

Sue and Wil are my classmates from West Point.  West Point cadets at that time were divided into 36 companies of 100+ cadets who lived and ate together and roomed in the same barracks, and Sue and I were in the same company from the beginning of our sophomore year till her departure at the end of our junior year.  I knew of Wil, knew who he was, but didn't really know him at all.  Wil was not in our company.

I read Sue's 2013 blog posts accusing Wil of rape and was saddened by what I read.

Based on the details I read in those blog posts, I know whose story I found more credible.  I don't know if a rape occurred or not.  Almost thirty years after the fact I don't know how a determination could be made one way or the other.  This wasn't a rape case, though, it was a defamation case, and the jury decided fairly quickly whom they believed.

This is just a sad situation all around.  The last four years have been a black mark on our class.

And for a variety of reasons, I'm not going to say publicly which one of them I believed more.