Monday, February 19, 2018


Cold.  Dark.  Sleet. Those were the weather conditions upon arrival today.  Except for the darkness, it didn't change much throughout the day.  Rain wasn't continuous but it was ever a threat; there's a strong wind and some rain out right now (8:06pm local time--the blog stays on Pacific Time).

Unlike last year's, this year's hotel gave a room right away even though we were hours before check-in time.  We both needed a couple hours of rest.

Here are a few pictures from the last couple days' events:

Not a nice place, it was full of dicks!  :-)

Saw the aurora on the flight over.  It wasn't very bright but it was extensive!  I thought the plane would tip over when everyone started moving to the left side to take a look!

Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour of the city tomorrow.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Blogging May Be Light For Several Days

Instead of getting off a Monday or two for presidential birthdays, our district gets an entire week off.  Before you start attacking, though, note that we started school in early August this year, and that is what justifies this week off.

I'll be "out and about" so blogging may be light, perhaps until the end of the month.  Please check back periodically!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The New Laptop

I've written before about how my district not only wants to replace my perfectly functional desktop computer with a laptop, but also wants me to
  • perform the backup of all the files on my computer,
  • disconnect all the peripherals from my computer,
  • schedule a time to take my computer to the district office (it would have to be on my own time, wouldn't it?),
  • pick up the new laptop,
  • connect the new laptop to everything, and 
  • reload all my data files, as well as any software I'd loaded on the last computer.
My response was to ignore them.  There's no way I'm going to do that.  It's not only not my job, it's not even my area of expertise.  I'm no Luddite or technophobe, but there are plenty of things (especially given the lack of permissions they give me on the computer) that I just cannot do.

Before deciding to ignore them, months ago I talked to one of Tech Services people about some software on my computer.  We'd bought a license for me to use the software, how could we move the software without having to buy another license?  She said they could load the software for me, I thought that was great, and asked that she do so.  That was months ago.

Several weeks ago we got word that, because our school has so many technical issues, a Tech Services rep would be onsite each Thursday.  There's a clipboard in the office on which we can write our technical issues, and the rep would come by and address those issues.  I wrote on the clipboard that perhaps the rep could bring me that laptop that I absolutely don't want.

Today he showed up with the laptop.  I had no clue he was coming, I was in the middle of teaching, and he was there to swap out my computer.  He was flexible enough to come back maybe 40 min later when I could be ready and available.

Remember that software with the license I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago?  Of course it wasn't loaded.  You know what else was funky?  After connecting everything the rep said, "This computer isn't configured to get on the internet (via our district network).  I've got to change some settings."  Can you imagine if I had gone to pick up that computer, connected it all up, and couldn't get it to connect to the network--because some setting was wrong?  How long would I struggle before I'd call, and before they'd want me to bring the computer back to them?!  What a waste of time that all would have been if someone in the know hadn't been onsite to fix that problem pronto.

The tech rep got as much done as he could, at least got me up and running.  There are some things that still need to be addressed, but I can function as a teacher in the interim.

So now, instead of Windows 7, I'm running Windows 10.  That's quite interesting given that I'm still running Vista at home (and am reasonably happy with it!).

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

UVA/Rolling Stone Rape Story Is Legally Over

Yes, sometimes women do lie about rape.  Duh, they're human, not angels:
More than three years after Rolling Stone published the most significant false accusation of rape since the Duke Lacrosse hoax, the saga is officially over for the magazine.

That’s right, Rolling Stone is only now able to put this travesty behind them — at least legally. The magazine reached a final settlement in late December with the members of the fraternity that were falsely maligned in the story. The details have not been disclosed, but at least two members of the fraternity will be the beneficiary of the settlement.

You Couldn't Write Fiction Like This If You Tried

Given the history of domestic abuse in the NFL, this was bound to happen sooner or later:
NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem had a lot of people upset this past season. Even the discussion of politics that took over sports was enough to put some fans off the game. Yet players and their supporters insisted they had a right to be heard.

Of course, we're hearing now that San Francisco 49er Reuben Foster, one of that team's "kneelers" who wanted to protest police brutality, has been arrested for domestic violence....

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lefties Are, In General, Cowards

I read this and thought, "Yep, 100% true":
Our own Sarah Hoyt wonders if there isn’t a cosplay aspect as well:
The thing is that children – and LARPers [Live Action Role Players] – don’t play at things that are real to them. I’m fairly sure children in the frontier, during the long war between Amerindians and settlers didn’t play cowboys and Indians.  It was far too real to them. And part of what made Robin Hood and the Sheriff enjoyable was, of course, that I (okay, sue me, I was always Robin Hood. Look, it was an all girl’s school) could be caught, beaten, thrown in “jail” (it was actually a space behind the oak on the playground) and then when the bell rang, we’d dust ourselves off and go back to sums and spelling.

It’s the same thing. The left is playing at being oppressed and being brave resisters because they know they aren’t. They know they’re not in any way threatened, even if they’d probably rather die than admit it to themselves.  They know they can go around sloganeering and screaming and calling a freely elected president a tyrant and the equivalent of Hitler, and no one will do anything. People won’t even be rude to them. They certainly won’t be as rude to them as they’d be to anyone who so much as dares to express a conservative opinion in liberal circles.
Of course — when covering Trump, the media get to pretend they’re the equivalent of the plucky, brave WWII French RĂ©sistance, which goes in large part to explain why they’re quite sanguine over doxxing otherwise anonymous Trump supporters and with lunatics shooting up GOP congressional softball games.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Writing Well--It Comes From Good Teaching

In part, I attribute my writing ability to my high school teachers.  The English department at my school required us to write, and write, and write.  They also taught us grammar and punctuation--dry, even for them, but so critical.  Teachers do a disservice to students when they insist that "they should already know grammar before they get here" to high school, and then sit in amazement when articles such as this appear:
In the global workplace, good writing is crucial for professional success in any career. Today, employers want to hire college graduates who can write coherently and many of them ask for writing skills in their job advertisements. But the problem is that many students enter colleges with poor writing skills and graduate without making much improvement.

A lot of today’s students fail to write decently and even have to contact a professional paper writing service for ordering well-written academic papers. College professors complain that students struggle to write even at a basic level and experts in education are worried that even after years of instruction, many students show no significant improvement in complex reasoning, critical thinking, and writing. Students arrive and leave college without skill(s) they will need in the real world.

There are multiple causes of the decline of writing abilities in students. One of them is that colleges admit students who can’t write well because of inadequate writing instruction in their high school courses. Many educators believe that the root of the problem is that many teachers are unconfident (sic) writers themselves and lack training in how to teach writing. Many experts also point out that high schools mostly focus on improving skills that are tested in state exams such as reading, science, and math and don’t provide enough writing instructions...

Most students admit they don’t read books except those assigned for class and you can become a good writer only if you are exposed to good writing which can be found in works of literature and traditional media that modern students try to avoid.
Ah, yes. My teachers required us to read, and read, and read, as well.

My high school wasn't in the best part of town--not a bad part of town, but nowhere near the best part--but the education I received there was stellar.  I am truly thankful for that education and for the teachers who provided it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

What Does This Say About Us As A People?

Among the last things I judge a person on is their phone:
He’s just not that into your Android.

Good news for anyone who is thinking of splurging on the new iPhone. Americans are picky when it comes to dating, particularly those who have iPhones, according to a recent survey of more than 5,500 singletons aged 18 and over by dating site The survey, which was released ahead of the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iPhone this week, found that iPhone owners are 21 times more likely to judge others negatively for having an Android, while those who have an Android are 15 times more likely to judge others negatively for having an iPhone. And those who have older models of either smartphone are 56% less likely to get a date.

“We look for so many other ways in which we’re compatible with potential partners, why shouldn’t phones be on the list?” says Abby Rodman, a psychotherapist in Boston.
Because, Abby, it's a stupid reason. Duh.

We Like Science--Unless It Hurts Feelings Or Goes Against Our Prejudices

Let's not pretend that a high school science project that relies on an internet IQ quiz is rigorous science, but neither is a lot of what you see at a high school science fair.  What's the real reason this project was pulled?  The answer is pretty clear:
A science fair project at a California high school faced criticism earlier this week after it compared race and IQ levels in connection to participation in an elite program at the school, The Sacramento Bee reported Saturday.

The project, titled “Race and IQ,” was put together by a C.K. McClatchy High School student who is part of the school’s elite Humanities and International Studies Program. It was displayed in the fair on Monday, the outlet said.

In comparing intelligence levels, the project reportedly questioned whether particular races were smart enough for the school’s magnet program and whether a racial disparity was justified.

“If the average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and Hispanics are lower than the average IQs of non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians, then the racial disproportionality in (HISP) is justified,” the hypothesis said, according to the outlet...

The project’s final conclusion reportedly found that “the lower average IQs of blacks, Southeast Asians, and nonwhite Hispanics means that they are not as likely as non-Hispanic whites and Northeast Asians to be accepted into a more academically rigorous program such as HISP,” the report said. “Therefore the racial disproportionality of HISP is justified.”
The clutching of pearls demonstrated in the linked article shows that some people aren't very smart, that's for sure.

Why not let the project stand or fall on its merits? This is what I identify as the important part of the story:
In a Thursday email to parents, the school’s principal Peter Lambert said they were taking the “incident very seriously” and noted that the school strived to “promote and embrace an inclusive environment and way of thinking which excludes any form of discrimination.”
No discussion of data, no discussion of the scientific method, no possibility that there might be some evidence to support the student's thesis.  We must have "an inclusive...way of thinking which excludes any form of discrimination."

Doctor Orwell, please call your office.  Doctor Orwell....

"My Body, My Choice"--Unless Feelings and Compulsion Are Involved...

...Then lefties throw their mantra right out the window:
WEST HAVEN, Utah -- When Natalie Richard’s sixth-grade daughter told her she couldn’t say “no” if a boy asked her to dance at Kanesville Elementary’s Valentine’s Day dance, she didn’t believe it at first.

“Oh no, no honey," Richard said of her reply. "You guys are misunderstanding again. That’s not how it is."

However, after speaking to her daughter’s teacher, she realized the statement was accurate.

“The teacher said she can’t. She has to say yes. She has to accept and I said, 'Excuse me,” Richard tells Fox 13.

Richard took her concerns to the school principal.

“He basically just said they’ve had this dance set up this way for a long time and they’ve never had any concern before,” she said of his response.

Lane Findlay with the Weber School District confirms it’s a rule, but he said it’s meant to teach students how to be inclusive.
That school system has some sickos running it.

Not Thinking Things Through

But who will they call when they want someone arrested, when they're in trouble, when a conservative dares speak outside the university's free speech zone, or when someone uses the wrong pronoun?
A socialist student group at California State University, Fullerton held a protest Wednesday against a memorial to fallen police officers hosted by the College Republicans for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

CR members expressed disappointment that the socialist group would seek to politicize the event, which was also designed to give students the opportunity to interact with campus police officers in a non-confrontational setting.

Thursday, February 08, 2018


We were told at our staff meeting today that if we want to continue using our school web sites (which is encouraged as an effective way to keep students and parents informed about homework, test dates, etc., as well as having files that can be downloaded for student use), then we'll have to undergo training on how to make our web sites accessible to everyone.  They mentioned colors and font sizes and the like, so that the disabled can more easily see what we post--how are the blind going to be able to read the homework listed on my web site?  If that is necessary, then it's above my pay grade, and the district needs to do more than have us watch a training video on the subject.  And can't people with seeing difficulties just enlarge the view on their screens, as I do so often with my not-so-young eyes?

If I don't complete the training, I won't be allowed to use my school web site.  I won't be allowed to keep students and parents informed about homework and tests and project due dates and the like.

Part of me says screw 'em.  Thank you, ACLU, which apparently has been filing suit up and down the state on this issue.

We all know that I won't screw 'em.  But I should.

You know what would solve this problem?  Give us a web site template with defaults that will satisfy the ACLU.  Then I don't have to do anything more, I don't have to waste school time I could better spend any number of ways, and everyone gets what they want.  Perhaps that's too reasonable a solution.

What's Good For The Goose Is Only Good For The Gander If It's A Female Goose

You're either for equality or you believe one sex (or race, or religion, or whatever) should get preferential treatment over others.  And if you believe in the latter, the left would call you some "-ist".

Unless you're a woman.  Then all bets are off:
College progressives these days are obsessed with gender parity: they say there aren't enough women seeking STEM degrees, for example.

But they do say they want "parity." So it must be progressive to criticize a lack of gender parity when men are underrepresented, right?

A Dartmouth op-ed recently criticized the school's hiring of primarily women to fill roles on the student life executive board at the school. Student Ryan Spencer made a bid to be part of the board, a bid that ultimately failed. Of the 19 current members, only four are male. In other words, 80 percent of those hired for the board are female.

Spencer took to the pages of The Dartmouth to take issue with the disparity. He stated his disbelief in claims that merit was the deciding factor, not gender.

Spencer has a valid point, of course. If the numbers were flipped, wouldn't feminists be outraged? Wouldn't people be demanding a change? Of course they would. They'd launch protests over the exclusion of so many women -- and maybe with good cause.

However, there are no protests planned in Spencer's defense. Instead, the outrage is all directed at him.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Exactly The Wrong Direction To Go

Not every person needs to go to college.

Let me restate that, with emphasis:  not every person needs to go to college.


Not only isn't college for everyone, it shouldn't be for everyone.  The only people who think everyone should go to college are people who have been to college.  Not every person wants or needs to go to college, not every job requires a college education, not every interest can be sated at college.

Yet, some refuse to accept anything other than "college for all".  New Mexico legislators are considering moving the state in exactly the wrong direction:
State lawmakers in New Mexico recently proposed a bill that would force high school students to apply for college unless they provide the government with alternative post-graduation plan.

House Bill 23, sponsored by Republican state representative Nate Gentry and Democratic state senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, would require high school juniors to “file an application with a college or show that the student has committed to an internship or apprenticeship or military service.”

Additionally, the bill mandates that local school boards must ensure that all students are “reasonably informed” about “the financial benefits of graduating a college and the availability of financial aid.”
We do such a disservice when we insist that high school students focus on college.  The message we send to those who don't go to college is that the very first adult decision they make is wrong, and that they've somehow failed.  What a terrible thing to tell the majority of students!  And what, they don't graduate if they don't file a college application (I'm sure the admissions officers will be happy with all the bogus apps they'll be getting), or commit to an internship, apprenticeship, or military service?  There's nothing else of value out in the world?

Those legislators are idiots, as is anyone who votes for that bill.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Who Should Change, Students or Professors?

A friend sent this article to me about the teaching of calculus:
Math departments fail too many calculus students and do not adequately prepare those they pass...

That is the message heard from engineering colleges across the country. Calculus has often been viewed as a tool for screening who should be allowed into engineering programs. But it appears to be failing in that regard, too. That is, it is preventing students who should be proceeding from going on, and it is letting students through who do not have the mathematical preparation that they need...

We now know that much of the problem rests with an outdated mode of instruction, a lecture format in which students are reduced to scribes. This may have worked in an earlier age when calculus was for a small elite group that excelled in mathematics. Today, professions that require calculus make up 5 percent of the workforce, a proportion that is growing at a rate that is 50 percent higher than overall job growth. We can no longer afford to ignore what we know about how to improve the student experience, both inside and outside the classroom...

Another example is to require students to read the relevant section of their textbook or watch a video before class, answer questions about the material to ensure they have done the assignment, and then describe their own questions and uncertainties. These can be great launch points for classroom interaction.

At West Point we were required to read the material *and* complete the assignment before actually coming to class.  Then the instructor would amplify the key points and respond to our questions.  It's not a bad way of teaching and learning, but it requires a significant time investment on the part of the student.  And if students won't put in the time *now* to figure out the material *after* it's been taught to them, why would they spend even *more* time *before* being taught the material?

I think too many students expect everything to be given to them, they're not willing to work for anything.

Active learning does not mean ban all lectures. A lecture is still the most effective means for conveying a great deal of information in a short amount of time. But the most useful lectures come in short bursts when students are primed with a need and desire to know the information. A lecture is a poor substitute for giving students the time they need to discover the answers themselves.
Time.  Three hours a week, for what, 15 weeks, tops?  Time is the commodity we're talking.  Well, time, and motivation.

I believe in the power of "and".  But if you had to choose one, given the time constraint, which do you think should change more, teaching methods or average student effort?

The Future of California?

Keep in mind that, especially in Northern California, we don't really have reservoirs to save water, we have dams and reservoirs to prevent flooding in our cities.  Is this where we're heading?
Welcome to Cape Town 2018, where the dams that feed the city are at an all-time low after three successive years of far below-average rainfall. Cape Town is a winter rainfall area, and the earliest we can expect heavy rain is late April -- assuming, and this is a big assumption, that normal rainfall returns after several years without.

Not surprisingly, everywhere you go in the city, there is just one topic of conversation: water. With authorities estimating that Cape Town could be just 75 days away from becoming the first major city in the world to run out of water, websites and Facebook pages like this one have mushroomed. A common theme is tips and hints on saving water and posts by MacGyver-types with innovative ideas and inventions...

The how is littered with missed chances and a failure to address warnings of a future crisis going back many years. As far back as 1990, South Africa's Water Research Commission cautioned Cape Town could run out of water within 17 years. And yet, no concrete steps were taken to prepare for this eventuality.

The crisis has been complicated by politicians playing the blame game about who's at fault.
Update, 2/11/18Rain:
When it finally came, restaurant diners rushed outside mid-meal to see the deluge for themselves. Others grabbed buckets to collect precious water from gutters to be used for washing clothes.

The rain that fell on Cape Town Friday evening was cause for celebration in a drought-stricken city headed for "Day Zero" -- the day when taps are expected to run dry.
Though whether the brief downpour was enough to delay "Day Zero" -- set now for May 11 -- remains to be seen.

How Stupid Can One Teacher Be?

This stupid:
A white New York City teacher is under fire after she reportedly singled out black students and told them to lie on the floor during a lesson on U.S. slavery.

The teacher, identified as Patricia Cummings from Middle School 118 in the Bronx, then allegedly stepped on the back of at least one black student to show her what slavery felt like.

Cummings pulled the stunt during multiple seventh-grade social studies classes about two weeks ago, the New York Daily News reported.

“It was a lesson about slavery and the Triangle Trade,” the newspaper was told by one of Cummings' students, who said the teacher instructed three black students to lay on the floor in front of the class. “She said, ‘You see how it was to be a slave?’ She said, ‘How does it feel?’”

When one of the students said she felt fine, Cummings stepped on her.

“She put her foot on her back and said ‘How does it feel?’” the student said. “‘See how it feels to be a slave?’”

Another student said the “lesson” followed a showing of a video of slaves being beaten, tortured and thrown over the side of a ship.
My initial reaction was that this teacher is an idiot.  However, a colleague of mine who teaches US history, and who taught it in junior high, said that this a "TCI lesson" (I didn't ask what that means) and that the teacher was following the lesson--except for stepping on the student, of course.  He said you're supposed to get the classroom dark, have the kids packed in and lying on the floor, to simulate a slave ship.  He also said he never had students lie on the floor, but that it is part of the lesson.

What a stupid lesson, as if lying close to your friends on a classroom floor in any way simulates conditions on a slave ship.  Can't a few minutes of watching Roots or Amistad provide enough context?

And to add to it, a teacher stepping on a student constitutes feeling like a slave?

Despite the additional information about the teacher's following a known lesson plan, my first impression was right.  The teacher is an idiot.