Monday, March 31, 2008
If you'd like to learn more about the California Teachers Empowerment Network, please click on the CTEN label at the end of this post or visit the CTEN web site at ctenhome.org. If you'd like to read and respond to some of the issues I have with the NEA, please click on the NEA label at the end of this post.
Snarky PS: Are the communists still meeting in the NEA cafeteria?
In 1971, Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University, named for a prominent Iroquois and an Aztec prophet, opened its doors. Its mission was to united indigenous people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Local law enforcement and the FBI called the place “terrorist tech.” While that threat never materialized, neither did much education.
Courses were highly politicized, such as Environmental Issues 301, about uranium mining on reservations, and Social Science 242, an Indian interpretation of early U.S. history. The reading list was a politically correct litany of militants. There were plenty of those in the 1970s, including Dennis Banks of AIM, the American Indian Movement. He fled South Dakota after a gun battle in a courthouse and California governor Jerry Brown granted him asylum. Though not known as a scholar or administrator, Dennis Banks duly became chancellor of Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University in 1975.
During the early 1980s, federal auditors cited DQU for various violations, failing to enroll enough students and leasing land to farmers. The audit recommended that the land be returned to the government. Management and financial problems continued to plague DQU, subject to a U.S. Department of Education investigation about mishandled financial aid. The Bureau of Indian Affairs also withdrew $300,000 in aid because of declining Indian enrollment.
The school lost its accreditation about 4 years ago.
Things aren't quiet yet out there:
Call me insensitive, but perhaps the board of trustees of the school would do better to turn the place into a Dairy Queen.
Eighteen people were arrested Monday at D-Q University on misdemeanor charges of trespassing, the Yolo County Sheriff's Department said...
At the request of the D-Q board of trustees, the Yolo County Sheriff's Department had to break down the doors to the old dorms to get those people out.
Some students made their way to Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento, where police were waiting to cite them. Some of the students were taken to a truancy center.
Chavez' grandson encouraged the students to stay in school:
However, Chavez's grandson, Anthony Chavez, said students should spend the day in class talking about history of labor and sharing that information with others.
My guess is that most of these students can't tell you anything that Chavez did or anything he stood for--such as the fact that he didn't approve of illegal immigration, correctly determining that it would undercut wages for legal farmworkers. My guess is that some, perhaps many, of these students walked out of class today because they had what they considered a good excuse.
If they value their education so little, the only jobs they'll eventually be capable of performing will be--well, you get the idea.
There's certainly nothing wrong with hard, honest work, but it would be nice if these students weren't forced into manual labor because it was the only option available to them.
Update: When I first posted this I couldn't find a link to the Channel 3 story. Longtime friend and loyal reader MikeAT found it for me!
How much electricity did San Francisco save buy turning off the lights on the west end of the Bay Bridge? Enough to power Al Gore's Tennessee house for 13 minutes.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Let's read that entire post linked above:
We West Pointers howled when Napoleon McCallum got to play for the Raiders while still serving in the Navy, and when David Robinson was released early from his service commitment to play basketball. We saw honor when Chad Hennings served his time in the air force and then played for the Dallas Cowboys. How superior we felt to Navy.
Is West Point to become just another farm team for the pros, with recruiting being the excuse given?
It just got worse.
Army is offering its top athletes a side door to professional sports. West Point has implemented an alternative service option program that allows cadets to turn pro – and play – right away.
Cadets accepted into the program "will owe two years of active service in the Army, during which time they will be allowed to play their sport in the player-development systems of their respective organizations and be assigned to recruiting stations. If they remain in professional sports following those two years, they will be provided the option of buying out the remaining three years of their active-duty commitment in exchange for six years of reserve time."
The Air Force Academy and Naval Academy do not offer such a program. Both academies require two years of active service upon graduation before presenting the option of swapping the final three years of active time for six years in the reserves.
Recruiting duty is important, but please don't insult my intelligence by saying that these men (and potentially women) are performing a service to the army--especially one worth 6 figures, the cost of a West Point education--by playing pro sports. And those 6 figures don't include the incalculable opportunity cost of the loss of a potential highly trained officer who couldn't serve the army and the country because a future professional athlete got that slot at West Point.
From West Point's web site, here's the school's mission. Every plebe is required to memorize it:
"To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army."
Why memorize it when we don't uphold it? This program doesn't even uphold the values of Duty, Honor, Country.
It's a disgrace and an affront to everything I was taught there.
Update, 7/27/08: First the Army screwed up by telling this lieutenant he could play pro football. Then it compounded that screw-up by pulling the rug out from under him in full view of the sports-watching public:
The Army had initially said Campbell, a football standout who played for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, could fulfill his military obligation by serving two years as a recruiter in his spare time. Academy graduates are usually required to serve five years...
But after a much publicized difference in policy between the Army and other services, Campbell's NFL dreams have been put on hold. The wartime exception for Campbell -- essentially his ticket out of joining the fight in Iraq -- rubbed many in the military the wrong way.
On Wednesday, the Army sent a letter to the Detroit Lions informing them that a change in Army policy means Campbell would have to cease getting ready to play for the football team.
Could they have screwed this up any worse?
Sadly, that herculean effort, which culminated (right about the time I was born) with the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, has now rotted. These words strike me as true:
Longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer once wrote that all great movements eventually become a business, then degenerate into a racket.Good job, race hustlers of today's so-called civil rights movement. You've got me agreeing with Pat Buchanan here.
That is certainly true of the civil rights movement. Begun with just demands for an end to state-mandated discrimination based on race, it ends with unjust demands for state-mandated preferences, based on race. (boldface mine--Darren)
But it got me thinking. Regarding alcohol, in our schools we we teach the equivalent of abstinence. Alcohol is bad and is to be avoided at all costs. Why do we teach abstinence for alcohol, but, often in the very same health course, teach not sexual abstinence but so-called safe sex?
I'm not suggesting that schools teach "safe drinking" =) What I am suggesting is that schools should be teaching abstinence in both arenas, and parents should decide whether or not they want to teach "safe drinking" or "safe sex" to their children.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Donna Hudepohl, a school resource officer called to remove the troubled girl from the classroom, was allegedly pushed and punched in the face during a struggle to restrain her.
Hudepohl responded by tasering the girl.
The student was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, disrupting a school function as well as resisting with violence and is being held at the juvenile detention center.
Hudepohl was treated for a possible broken nose.
This is one of the problems undisciplined children have--they don't understand that while their parents and teachers may be helpless, physically or legally, to physically restrain them, police officers are not. You will follow the instructions of police officers; if you do not, the penalty will be much more stringent than "time out" or a lunch detention.
Friday, March 28, 2008
As Barber explained to a somewhat incredulous audience Wednesday: Florida State is what she believes to be the only institution in the country that fines its professors when they turn grades in late at semester’s end. The tab: $10 per grade.
“We charge for every grade for every student that is not turned in by our deadline,” Barber said, adding, slowly for emphasis: “I’ll say that again: Every grade for every student that is not turned in by our deadline.”
Hat tip to Instapundit.
First microwaves, now cell phones. Is this the new Cuba? Raul Castro is revolutionizing his brother's island in small but significant ways — the latest in a decree Friday allowing ordinary Cubans to have cell phone service, a luxury previously reserved for the select few. The new president could be betting greater access to such modern gadgets will quell demand for deeper change.
Clearly, Raul is a Dear Leader when compared to his older brother's Imperious Leader, right? But of course.
Let's read further.
Could cellular phones in dissidents' hands give state security forces an edge in monitoring their conversations or tracking their movements by satellite? Perhaps, but government opponents — including the few who have cell phones — already assume someone's always listening.
If you really thought that George Bush was listening on your phone calls, you'd watch what you say. But you know he's not, so you don't. Cubans don't have that luxury. But they're just brown-skinned people living in a tropical paradise, right? What use do they have for bourgeois concepts like freedom and privacy? Heck, they probably like the thought of being thrown into prison. Maybe it's part of their culture.
Come on, lefties, defend Castro's record. Do it. I want you to.
There are two more statements from one man in the article, statements that will put the lie to any defense you offer.
The new program could put phones in the hands of hundreds of thousands of Cubans, especially those with relatives abroad who send them hard currency. But they will remain out of reach for most on the island because minutes are billed in convertible pesos — which cost Cubans 24 times the regular pesos they are paid in.
"I'd love one!" said Juan Quiala, a retiree living on a $10 monthly pension. "But how am I going to pay for it?"
The government controls over 90 percent of the economy, and while the communist system ensures most Cubans have free housing, education and health care and receive ration cards that cover basic food needs, the average monthly state salary is less than $20...
But some said the latest measure was less than revolutionary.
"Suddenly, there will be a lot more people talking on the phone," said Quiala, the retiree. "But not much else will change."
We can debate the success of the Cuban housing, education, health care, dual currency, and food distribution programs, but it's kind of difficult to dispute Sr. Quiala's points.
All humans yearn to breathe free.
There are some interesting counterpoints, though. My favorite was this, from a comment at the URL above:
‘The student body is white and asian- who cares?’
Double standard, at 6:50 am EDT on March 27, 2008
How true. Diversity only matters when it comes to skin color.
I read another comment on this topic somewhere else (but I can't remember where). That commenter remarked that perhaps the reason students' political leanings don't change so much in college is because the professors there are just continuing the indoctrination that already occurred in the K-12 arena. Food for thought.
I'll close with this statement from the article, which really spoke to me:
“Even if it were true that students totally took a Bart Simpson attitude toward their college professors and were completely uninfluenced by them, I still think it would be a tragedy that during those four years, they were not getting the good stuff,” Klein said. There is an “opportunity cost” when students graduate in four years and haven’t been exposed (or have only been exposed to negative ideas about) Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, Klein said. Too many students graduate with a “complete zero” in those and other people worth knowing, Klein said. So political leanings matter, he added, even without the assumption of indoctrination.
It's not about indoctrination, it's about diversity. It's about being with people like yourself. It's about feeling comfortable, knowing that your culture, views, values, and experiences will be validated and valued. Isn't that what diversity is all about?
When you metaphorically hold a mirror up to lefties by speaking their own words back to them, it's amazing how they'll twist and spin to avoid them.
The comments after the article certainly run a gamut of opinion.
Their schools fail big, too.
Clark County School District students tested in January on their grasp of first semester material in high school algebra and geometry didn't just fall short of the mark.
The preliminary report on end of semester exams shows they missed it in a spectacular way.
Across the valley, 90.5 percent of 17,586 students who took the new end of semester exams for Algebra 1 failed, scoring at 59 percent or lower.
In Geometry, 87.8 percent of 18,792 students earned the equivalent of an F.
The 10,032 students in Algebra 2 also made a dismal showing, with 86.6 percent unable to achieve a passing grade.
The preliminary numbers jolted Superintendent Walt Rulffes, who said Wednesday that district staff are analyzing the test, its implementation and the scores to identify why students made such a poor showing.
"Maybe this is the shock we need to get the system fixed," Rulffes said.
Are you kidding me??? If this guy knew the system was this broke and did nothing, and now hopes that a large number of failing students will shock him into fixing it, he needs to be led to the county line at gunpoint and "invited" never to return. If he didn't know that his schools were performing so miserably, then the statement above was just stupid.
I was prepared to give those schools a break--after all, I'm sure there are a lot of non-English-speakers in those schools, students from lower income families, two categories that typically don't perform as well as we'd like. Why do I think there are many of those kids in the schools? Because their parents are the labor force for the hospitality industry in that city. So I was prepared to cut them a little slack on the horrific performance, until I saw the sample questions at the end of the article:
The following questions are from practice exams in algebra and geometry developed for the Clark County School District. The practice tests reflect the material on end of semester exams, which the vast majority of students failed in January.
What is the value of w in the equation 82 = 9w +10?
Amelia ran a total of 60 miles in the first three months of her new running program. She ran equal distances in the first and second months, but ran twice that distance in the third month. How far did she run in the third month?
A. 15 miles
B. 20 miles
C. 30 miles
D. 40 miles
Which of the following equations is equivalent to 2(5m+4) = 7m - m ?
A. 10m + 4 = 6m
B. 10m + 8 = 6m
C. 10m + 4 = 7
D. 10m + 8 = 7
What statement is true about all right triangles?
A. A right triangle has 3 equal sides.
B. A right triangle has 3 obtuse angles.
C. A right triangle has no parallel sides.
D. A right triangle has 2 pairs of parallel sides.
Given two lines that intersect, which of the descriptions MUST be true?
A. The two lines are coplanar.
B. The two lines are coincident.
C. The two lines are concurrent.
D. The two lines are corresponding.
B, C, B, C, A
The article hinted at possible reasons students did so poorly: some schools' scores weren't counted correctly, some teachers aren't teaching all the required material, algebra and geometry classes have upwards of 40 students. If any of these things are true, and accurate test results were in fact somewhat higher than reported, this district still has some serious problems in leadership and management.
I'm glad I'm not working there.
North Dakota State University is investigating complaints about a campus skit in which a white student in blackface portrayed Barack Obama receiving a lap dance.
The same skit, part of a charity fundraiser held at a campus theater, also featured a depiction of cowboys having sex with each other, witnesses told The Forum newspaper, which first reported the backlash Friday.
“We’re trying to find out the right approaches for accountability, but at the same time try to heal wounds that have occurred and allow the campus to move ahead,” Janna Stoskopf, NDSU’s dean of students, told The Associated Press on Friday.
Let me assist you with finding the "right approaches for accountability", Dean Stoskopf.
The events that were described in the article were in extremely poor taste by today's standards, there's no doubt about it. However, poor taste is protected under the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution. You can make whatever public statements you want, distance yourself and the school community from this 30-second skit segment, even publicly chastise the students for not meeting NDSU's high standards of decorum, or some crap like that.
But the moment you try to punish those students, or impose some "accountability" on them, you're making a constitution-level error. I have no doubt that FIRE would take this case, and even the ACLU might, and you'd end up losing.
Huff and puff, Dean Stoskopf, but don't try to blow down anyone's house. It's all about tolerance, tolerating even those views you find particularly offensive.
I don't know the political bent of that particular university, but I wonder how an anti-conservative, or perhaps anti-Christian, skit would have been received by Dean Stoskopf and the student government.
Update, 3/29/08: The CNN version of this story has the Dean being a little more circumspect:
"One of the issues here is how do we balance what our policies and expectations about behavior are with the issue of freedom of speech," Stoskopf said. "Where does all of that get us?"
It's get you in court if you try to deal with it with a heavy hand.
They'd have been much better off putting out a statement that they're mortified and saddened by the lack of good character displayed by the students involved. The end. But an investigation that's going to take a month and a half? Stupid and wasteful--and doesn't reflect well on NDSU, either.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Anyway, a state appeals court is going to try again:
The 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed Tuesday to schedule another hearing in the case of a Southern California couple it ordered to send their children to a conventional school. The children were educated at home by their mother, who is not a credentialed teacher.
I'm always surprised how clueless reporters must be, because I haven't seen a related story yet that mentions that private school teachers don't have to be credentialed.
A high school student had an abortion after falling pregnant to her physics teacher, a jury has been told.
Stephen Peter Morrow, 55, is on trial in the County Court charged with 11 counts of sexual penetration of a 16- or 17-year-old child under his care, supervision or authority.
He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
But wait, it gets better.
Prosecutor Daryl Wraith said the girl was a student at a Melbourne school when the pair struck up a relationship in the 1990s.
He told the jury that Morrow used to pick up the girl after school and they would have sex in his car up to three times a week.
In the 90s??? Long statute of limitations in Australia.
But wait, there's even more.
Wraith said that about four months into the relationship the girl discovered she was pregnant...
The relationship continued after the abortion, with the pair sometimes going to motels, the prosecutor said.
Well, it's a step up from the car, I guess. The rest of the story is here.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
The three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.
Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged Wednesday with setting up the junket at the behest of Saddam's regime. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Al-Hanooti with 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.
The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. None was charged and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators "have no information whatsoever" any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.
"Obviously, we didn't know it at the time," McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. "The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That's the only reason we went."
The very definition of useful idiots.
Oh, and this al-Hanooti individual? Former head of the Michigan branch of CAIR. You've heard of CAIR, the "benevolent" Moslem agency, haven't you?
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
According to the FAQs on the IRS web site, it's free money. Well, not really, because it's just money that's been taxed and redistributed. These two questions and answers seem very clear on the subject:
Q. Is my stimulus payment taxable?
A. No. You will not owe tax on your payment when you file your 2008 federal income tax return. But you should keep a copy of the IRS letter you receive later this year listing the amount of your payment. In the event you do not qualify for the full amount this year but you do next year, you will need to have the letter as a record of the amount you previously received.
Q. Will the payment I receive in 2008 reduce my 2008 refund or increase the amount I owe for 2008?
A. No, the stimulus payment will not reduce your refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2008 return.Don't economists agree that the last time this was done, early in President Bush's tenure, it didn't work as expected? I'm not an economist so don't understand fully how this works at a macro and micro level, but I'd swear I've read in several sources that last time didn't do much good. No harm, but no good, either.
So, am I reading this correctly that Uncle Sugar is just going to write checks to over 100 million Americans? Just write checks to us out of the general fund, thereby putting the country further into debt?
As a math guy, I understand a small part of it. I used this calculator to determine that I'm eligible for a $900 rebate, to be deposited May 9th. Let's say I blow the whole $900--part of that will be recovered by the government in taxes on the businesses from which I buy. They'll use the untaxed portion of that $900 to buy other products, which will be counted as income for those suppliers and be taxed accordingly. Those companies will buy--well, you get the idea. In theory, I suppose that $900 "windfall" to me will return more than $900 to the federal treasury.
But if that's true, doesn't it show the benefits of people keeping their own money, of lowering tax rates so people have more to spend? Every economist knows that lower tax rates can increase tax revenues because people and companies then have more money to spend.
In this case, instead of giving me money to spend, why not just lower my tax rate?
I admit that the economics of these stimulus checks is not my area of expertise, so I invite the comments of those with more knowledge than I have.
I never dreamed anyone would take this idea seriously, but someone has--and they've extended it to aircraft security. If the video (which is a few years old) bores you, fast-forward to about 3:00 and then start watching it.
I have three questions. First, why wouldn't someone just take the shock bracelets off? Second, how would someone arm them in flight? And how would a crew zap only the right person?
Talk about dumb.
I still like the shock collars for school, though.
#1: I wonder what Queers For Palestine, or Queers United against Israeli Terrorism, have to say about this story?
#2: Pamela Anderson has ended another marriage, this one after only five months. The former husband was once married to Shannen Doherty for nine months, and was the male fling in Paris Hilton's home sex video. Throw in Britney Spears' first marriage--what was it, 48 hours?--and I'm forced to wonder how marriage of the 1.5-6% of the population that's gay could possibly undermine the institution of marriage more than the heterosexuals mentioned above have.
Monday, March 24, 2008
This post is no different.
In this post from almost 2 years ago I wrote about how, under pressure from FIRE, among other groups, NCATE backed off on the "dispositions" and "commitment to social justice" requirements in teacher education programs. Political litmus tests for teachers should be a non-starter, but we can always count on our friends on the left to force their views on others.
So NCATE backed off and was going to rewrite their standards. How well do you think they did? Take a look at their web site and judge for yourself.
Now that you've done that, I'll tell you what I think.
Some of the specific so-called social justice criteria are gone, but this remaining one makes me laugh:
demonstrate fairness in educational settings by meeting the educational needs of all students in a caring, non-discriminatory, and equitable manner
Really? Would that include color-blindness, you NCATE race mongers? Because that's what it sounds like, and I'm sure that's not what you mean. Why do I believe that? Because of the very next item in your list:
understand the impact of discrimination based on race, class, gender, disability/exceptionality, sexual orientation, and language on students and their learning
Who do they think is performing this discrimination, I wonder? I'll bet it's conservative white teachers.
You've got to love their (very defensive sounding) explanation about social justice:
NCATE’s Executive Board has clarified its definition of ‘professional dispositions’ as used within the NCATE accreditation system, and has issued a call to action to ensure that all children are taught by well prepared teachers.
NCATE has given particular attention to clarifying its expectations concerning "professional dispositions" in its definition of "dispositions" which had listed "social justice" as one illustrative example of a professional disposition, among others such as fairness and honesty. NCATE has never required a ‘social justice’ disposition; NCATE expects institutions to select professional dispositions they would like to see in the teachers they prepare. The term ‘social justice,’ though well understood by NCATE's institutions (you know what we're looking for, nod nod, wink wink), was widely and wildly misinterpreted by commentators not familiar with the workings of NCATE (those stupid conservatives). NCATE has never had a ‘social justice’ standard and thus did not enforce such a standard. When a draft of the 2008 Standards did not include the example of "social justice" in the glossary definition, NCATE was incorrectly accused by some of caving into pressure to eliminate a standard that it never had, and by others of abandoning its commitment to that non-existent standard. The glossary change was made in order to clarify for all what NCATE's expectations are and are not. (boldface and snarky commentary is mine--Darren)
In other words, they still worship at the altar of so-called social justice, still expect you to recognize and celebrate diversity as long as you do so with a leftie bent, and expect you, the potential teacher, to accept their views on so-called social justice. They just don't want to say so up front.
So what's changed between now and June 2006? Only the calendar. And some more obfuscating language.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
SEATTLE - Merle Brandell and his black lab Slapsey were beachcombing along the Bering Sea when he spied a plastic bottle among the Japanese glass floats he often finds along the shore of his tiny Alaskan fishing village.
He walked over and saw an envelope tucked inside. After slicing the bottle open, Brandell found a message from an elementary school student in a suburb of . The fact that the letter traveled 1,735 miles without any help from the U.S. postal service is unusual, but that's only the beginning of the mystery.
About 21 years passed between the time Emily Hwaung put the message in a soda bottle and Merle Brandell picked it up on the beach.
"This letter is part of our science project to study oceans and learn about people in distant lands," she wrote. "Please send the date and location of the bottle with your address. I will send you my picture and tell you when and where the bottle was placed in the ocean. Your friend, Emily Hwaung."
Brandell was able to track down Emily, now Emily Shih, and this part cracked me up:
"I don't remember the project. It was so long ago. Elementary school is kind of foggy," Shih admitted...
She also was a little chagrined by the offer to mail a photo to whomever found the letter and by the environmental implications of dropping plastic bottles in the ocean, and noted that times have changed a lot in 21 years. (boldface mine--Darren)
At least she absorbed the cultural fear and environmental brainwashing!
To soothe the bruised egos of educators and children in lackluster schools, Massachusetts officials are now pushing for kinder, gentler euphemisms for failure.
Instead of calling these schools "underperforming," the Board of Education is considering labeling them as "Commonwealth priority," to avoid poisoning teacher and student morale.
Schools in the direst straits, now known as "chronically underperforming," would get the more urgent but still vague label of "priority one."
Coming up with cute euphemisms for your problem doesn't count.
It takes the 17-year-old student member of the board to cut through the crap and become the voice of reason crying out from the wilderness:
"Why are we spending time on this?," said the 17-year-old. "I don't want to tiptoe around the issue. I'm not concerned about what title we give these schools. Let's work on fixing them."
Truth to power.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
The lawsuit, which a judge recently ruled would be heard by the B.C. Supreme Court, is one example of a growing trend of parents who, unhappy with their children's education, take their complaints to court. But it is also a sign of the extended reach of parental meddling. Increasingly, teachers are being challenged in court, in cases that accuse them of everything from emotional distress to victimization for offences that range from handing out low marks to punishing too harshly.
Emotional duress? Low grades? Oh yeah, I'd be sued for those. Guess I won't be moving to British Columbia any time soon, but I wonder how much longer I'll be safe from such suits here in California.
Friday, March 21, 2008
The state's new subsidized health insurance program will cost "significantly" more than the $869 million Governor Deval Patrick proposed in his 2009 budget just two months ago, the state's top financial official said yesterday, after insurers were granted an increase of about 10 percent.
To close the gap, the Patrick administration has asked insurers, hospitals, healthcare advocates, and business leaders to propose ways to cut costs and raise revenue...
Leslie Kirwan, secretary of administration and finance, declined yesterday to discuss specifics of the proposals or the size of the budget gap, but said that without changes, the state doesn't expect "to be able to live within" the proposed budget. (all boldface mine--Darren)
Raise revenue. That's fancy talk for raising taxes.
TANSTAAFL. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. You're not getting free health care, as you will pay for it. And you'll wait in longer and longer lines while the quality of care decreases, too--the Canadian system shows us that.
Extra Credit Assignment: How is Tennessee's state-run plan, TennCare, doing?
Thursday, March 20, 2008
A mathematical puzzle that baffled the top minds in the esoteric field of symbolic dynamics for nearly four decades has been cracked — by a 63-year-old immigrant who once had to work as a security guard.
Avraham Trahtman, a mathematician who also toiled as a laborer after moving to Israel from Russia, succeeded where dozens failed, solving the elusive "Road Coloring Problem..."
For eight years, Weiss tried to prove his theory. Over the next 30 years, some 100 other scientists attempted as well. All failed, until Trahtman came along and, in eight short pages, jotted the solution down in pencil last year.
Good stuff. But not the best:
The puzzle tackled by Trahtman wasn't the longest-standing open problem to be solved recently. In 1994, British mathematician Andrew Wiles solved Fermat's last theorem, which had been open for more than 300 years.
Far, far better than I could do, though :-)
I just don't get him. The race speech? What was new there? Nothing, if we're to move towards a post-racial society. The WSJ Online points out some common cynicism, though:
We didn't write about this back in October, because the whole kerfuffle was, at its root, silly. There are many ways of expressing patriotism, and if wearing a flag pin is not Obama's idiom, who cares? It was arrogant of him to imply that his own patriotism was more "true" than that of pin-wearers, but one could put this down to defensiveness at being asked a "gotcha" question.
But in light of his October comment, what are we to make of his extravagant use of the Stars and Stripes on Tuesday? If a flag pin on a lapel is "a substitute for true patriotism," is that not also true of eight flags on a stage as a backdrop to a political speech? Obama proclaimed himself too good for cheap symbolism, but resorted to it the first time he faced a real crisis. Is he really any different from the run-of-the-mill politician?
No, he's not. He's just another socialist.
And his speech may have explained, but certainly doesn't excuse, Wright's anti-Americanism and Obama's association with it. See, Wright's allowed to have his opinions, and Obama's allowed to have his. But everyone is judged by the company he keeps, and Obama has kept this man's company for 20 years. Just words? No, poor judgement, and not that of someone I'd want in charge of our government. You can't transcend race when you dwell in the deepest pool of racism. Obama's defense doesn't sound very post-racial to me or to the WSJ:
What it really demonstrates is that whereas whites are expected to be respectful, sensitive and fair-minded when talking with or about blacks, there is little expectation that blacks will reciprocate--to the point that a black presidential candidate doesn't feel inhibited from making a statement about "a typical white person."
Did you read the laundry list in his speech? It sounded to me like the typical "blame everyone else" game. It didn't sound at all like his "feed your kids breakfast and make sure they do their homework" speech that he gave to a black audience a couple weeks ago. No, in this one, intended for a white (or at least mixed) audience, we get a lot more of the feel-bad pablum that the guilt-laden left has foisted on us for decades.
I just don't get him. I don't understand why he's given a pass on these things--unless he's the affirmative action candidate. Or are we really so shallow as to vote for a man because he's good looking or merely a good orator? Because honestly, that's all I see in the man. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and I'd enjoy chatting with him at a barbecue, but I need more in a President.
I need someone with a moral compass. I don't know if Obama's points north. I need someone who says what he means and means what he says. I don't trust Obama to tell me anything other than what he thinks I want to hear. I need someone who shares my values. Obama isn't that man.
I just don't get him. And he does not have my support in his run for President. I trust he wasn't counting on it.
No, it's not Photoshopped. I took this picture on Virginia Street yesterday, across from the University of Nevada, Reno. The other side of the sign showed actual gas prices.
Let's talk about gas prices for a bit. WARNING: Anti-leftie rant mode is now /on/.
There are plenty of people out there, me included, who are none too happy about having to pay the same price for gas that we pay for milk. Some people, though, let their Bush Derangement Syndrome carry them away into Lala-land.
Let's establish something. The President does not control the price of gasoline. Neither does he control the price of housing, the price of lettuce, or the price of widescreen televisions. The President is Chief Executive of the government of the United States, he is not omnipotent in the market. Lefties want the government to control everything through socialism or communism anyway, so believing the President currently can control oil prices certainly fits their world view. They just happen to be wrong. Notice how the President only affects the "bad" things, but doesn't get credit for "good" occurrences--unless the President is a Democrat, of course. But I digress. Let's try to focus solely on gas prices.
I'll grant that the President might be able to influence oil prices, and hence gas prices, through diplomacy with OPEC nations. I don't know of any evidence that any President has ever shown this influential ability, but let's not assume that it doesn't exist. That's a far cry from saying the President sets oil prices.
Tangential tidbit: do you know the four top countries from which the US gets oil? Here goes, and the list might surprise you. The US itself, Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela.
What? No Iraq? No Saudi Arabia? Not even Indonesia anymore? Kinda puts the lie to "we invaded Iraq to steal their oil", doesn't it? Some might wonder why we're paying such high prices for oil, then, when we're not getting any from Islamic countries. Well, my budding economists, it's a world economy out there. We don't buy much of their oil, but the rest of the world does. And, for the most part, oil is oil.
What's the primary reason oil prices are rising so much? There are a few, and I'm not sure anyone truly knows which is the definite #1 reason, if such a thing even exists. What we do know, though, is that India and China (incidentally, two countries exempted by the Kyoto Protocols) are embryonic economic powerhouses, and such economies currently require oil. Since we can only pump so much, there's a supply and demand issue. And from Economics 101 we learn that increased demand and flat supply generate increased prices.
We could increase our own US supply, but remember, it's a world economy out there. Becoming self-sufficient with oil wouldn't bring back $1/gallon gas, because the US companies that pump our oil could sell it for more on the open market. But we could, by increasing world supply, lower prices somewhat, as well as reduce our dependence on idiots like Hugo Chavez.
So where is this additional US oil? It's off the coast of Florida, where NIMBYism and environmentalists prevent us from drilling. It's off the coast of California, where NIMBYism and environmentalists prevent us from drilling. It's in ANWR, where environmentalists prevent us from drilling.
You want lower gas prices? Quit crying for sympathy from the oil sheikhs. Agree to increase domestic supply--or, decrease demand by switching to clean, cheap, eventually-plentiful nuclear-generated electricity.
There's also the issue of the value of the dollar. I know this may come as a surprise to our friends on the left, but the President doesn't control the value of the dollar. That's set on an international market, and unless you want the President to conduct some "cowboy diplomacy" and dictate to others, at the point of a gun, what our currency is worth, currently it's at an ebb. Being worth less in the world, people will want more dollars to buy a certain amount of stuff--like, say, a barrel of oil--than they used to demand. Ergo, higher oil and gas prices.
If you've read this far, though, you're in for a treat. Here's where I really let our friends on the left have it. See, they always want "the government" to "give" them something "for free"--for example, government-run health care. They want someone else to pick up the tab, usually "the rich" or "big corporations" or some similar group besides themselves. If they're really stupid they don't even consider that "the government" doesn't have any money that it doesn't take from someone else, and our friends just expect "the government" to pay for it. Geniuses, these friends of ours on the left.
NOTE TO LEFTIES: all these things you want, you will pay for. You believe in the Church of Global Warming and want to impose even more stringent requirements on our industries? Don't whine when they ship jobs overseas (probably to India and China, which are exempt from Kyoto). You want cigarette taxes to pay for health care for children? Don't whine when higher taxes cause some people to quit smoking and the tax well runs dry for children's health care. You think ethanol is the way to go? Don't whine when corn prices rise. You think Detroit should be compelled to raise mileage standards for vehicles? Don't complain when the price of those cars rises. You don't want oil wells spoiling your views off Santa Barbara or Miami? Don't whine about higher gas prices.
Here's a good one. You know who advocated higher gas prices in the early 1990s, believing that would force people to economize? Why, Saint Al Gore, in his book Earth In The Balance. "Higher taxes on fossil fuels. . . is one of the logical first steps in changing our policies in a manner consistent with a more responsible approach to the environment." Of course, higher gas prices aren't going to hurt someone with all of Saint Al's money--but are they bothering you at all? See, Al doesn't like what you are doing and how you live your life, so he wants to tax you so that you'll change your behavior. He's not going to change his; change is just for the little people. You don't believe Gore really believes this? Slate, not known to be very right-leaning (at all), even says so, while taking the obligatory swipes at President Bush.
Do you think you should have to pay higher gas prices so that Al Gore's vision of the world becomes a reality? I don't think I should have to.
You know which political party is the only one that ever mentions a military draft? The Democrats. They usually mention one around election time in order to scare younger voters into the Democratic sphere of influence. Republicans never mention a draft--it's not something we believe in except in the direst of emergencies, which we're nowhere near.
You know which party mentions higher gas taxes? The Democrats. They love higher taxes. And with a per-gallon tax on gas in addition to a sales tax, states are rolling in gas tax revenues. So of course, we need to raise gas taxes even higher!
A Michigan congressman wants to put a 50-cent tax on every gallon of gasoline to try to cut back on Americans' consumption.
That would be John Dingell, D-MI. Just like Saint Al, John doesn't like your wasteful, polluting ways, Mr. and Mrs. America. He'll compel you to change by taxing your ability to afford your current lifestyle. It's so typical of the left, yet people still vote for this man and his ilk. We certainly do here in California, which has some of the highest gas prices in the country.
"But, but, we use so much gas! We've got to cut back!" say the tree-huggers and lefties.
The automobile is the nation's biggest polluter; Americans use more gas than the next 20 countries combined...
But others say it wouldn't change much. Even if Americans abandoned their cars, global emissions would fall by less than one percent.
I like my standard of living. I like the affluence of our nation. I'm not willing to give it up, not even for 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Did you get that? We could give up every car in the country and that would reduce the "problem", as they see it, by less than 1%. It's not worth it, not to me.
And let's not forget--John McCain, too, is a serial regulator.
While Dingell's idea will likely lie dormant until after the 2008 election, the idea of carbon taxes is not. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain all support some type of system that either directly or indirectly will raise prices to penalize polluters.
By polluters, they mean you.
Our friends on the left should be happy with today's high gas prices. It's what they've been pushing all along, in reality. Those of us on the right, though, don't like them, and see a solution in the market--not in the halls of Washington.
And when that change occurs, we'll see the effect on Virginia Street, right across from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Update, 3/22/08: We won't drill for oil off the coasts of California or Florida or in ANWR, but they'll drill for oil off the Falklands.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I parked across the American River from the university, in the Campus Commons neighborhood, and took Sacramento's own Golden Gate Bridge (the Guy West Bridge, actually) right-to-left, north-to-south, to get to the university.
This picture of the bridge is taken from atop the southern levee. The lanes are to keep bicyclists from running into each other.
I take it back. It shares nothing in common with the Golden Gate Bridge save for the fact that they're both suspension bridges.
Sac State's mascot is the Hornet. I saw this cousin of the hornet on the north tower of the bridge.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, click on the picture to enlarge it. (Mid-flight--how cool is that?)
This view is from the bridge looking west, with the Fair Oaks Avenue bridge in the near distance. On the left you can see the southern levee wall; the northern levee is beyond the trees to the right.
We wouldn't want to harm the elderberry longhorn beetle, now, would we?
Trying to reforest the river bank, I guess.
I'm not sure what this building is. I've emailed a friend who attended Sac State, maybe he knows. (Update: he says it's a water treatment facility.)
As you can see, some of the trees are still in winter mode and some are already starting to bloom. I wonder what's going on in the quad area below, though--it's usually covered with grass. In fact, that's the quad where Earth Day is held each year. Mother Gaia has been raped!
Sac State doesn't "feel" like a university. The buildings are too close together, and there's no real "open" space. It's heavily treed, which I'm sure is nice in the summer, but it gives the campus a "closed in" feel to me.
That doesn't stop me from admiring this building, though.
I saw this string of motorcycles over by the University Union (the UU). Apparently, at $3.50/gallon, not everyone needs to drive a car to campus.
When was the last time you saw a genuine moped?
The library quad, viewed from the library. Note the different stages of the trees.
Looking back towards the library and the library quad. Zoom in on the fountain in the center--does it remind anyone else of Shinzon's weapon in Star Trek: Nemesis?
Lots of trees make lots of shade. And don't you love the political statement of the sign? There's a lot of that kind of thing at Sac State, which isn't known for being a right-leaning campus. At all.
No one's going to invite George Will to speak at Sac State, that's for sure.
I'm sure that when this marker was placed, the people who placed it thought it was important.
Yet, you can barely see the marker hidden under a tree at the back of campus.
We suffer terrible allergies here in the Sacramento Valley.
It's the price we pay for being in such a beautiful area.
If you're going to have an emergency case of hay fever, though, the spot above is the place to have it.
I don't even know what these thumb-sized orange fruits are.
Ah, a poppy. In fact, I believe this particular variety is our state flower.
Here's a bit of the Parkway, across the river from campus. You can see the different stages of hibernation of the trees.
Oranges bigger than your fist.
The color of this plant is striking.
And I'm back at the car.
Do magnolias and palm trees belong in the same neighborhood?
Southerners will recognize the magnolia tree in the picture above, but might not recognize the variety shown in the 5th and 6th pictures from this post from last year.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is trying to address one of the most common complaints about the No Child Left Behind education law: It treats schools the same, regardless of whether they fail to meet annual benchmarks by a little or a lot.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings plans to announce Tuesday that she wants states to submit proposals for assigning different consequences to schools based on the degree to which they miss annual progress goals.
Both of my refunds have already been deposited in my checking account, 10 days or less from filing.
Monday, March 17, 2008
SEASIDE, Calif. — A 15-year-old girl who stopped an out-of-control school bus she was riding on was handed a Saturday detention instead because she was skipping school.
Marina High School student Amanda Rouse was on a bus with 40 elementary school students Wednesday morning when the driver fell out of her seat after a turn and hit her head.
Rouse jumped up and applied the brakes, bringing the bus to a halt after striking two parked cars. No one was injured.
But Rouse said she was punished because she wasn't supposed to be on the bus.
Police have reprimanded dozens of students at an Australian high school after a girl was filmed performing a sex act on a classmate and the footage was distributed to more than 100 other students.
Horrified relatives of the 15-year-old girl called New South Wales police after becoming aware she had been filmed and the footage had been sent to dozens of classmates at Woonona High School...
The girl told police the act had been consensual and she did not wish to file a complaint.
A Department of Education spokesman said yesterday that the principal was cooperating with police.
He said the incident had been filmed outside the school grounds.
It's that last sentence that makes me ask why the school is involved at all. The full article is here.
How much do the lunatics at Daily Kos hate their own country? So much that a diary posted yesterday actually argues that The United States needs to be invaded - not just invaded - occupied.
Because, according to the Daily Kos diarist, being invaded, slaughtered, and occupied is the only way we’ll become a nation of compassionate pacifists.
Saving money isn't a big problem for me. Being a teacher, making money is a bit hard for me, but given my background I don't have any difficulty stashing a few dollars away each month.
I was reading this article about tips for saving money, and I came across this section:
Wield a stick
You may be one of those people who respond more to the fear of punishment than the promise of a prize. Well, you can make a threat work for you too.
Outline a savings regimen - say, investing $500 a month - with the condition that you'll incur a penalty each time you don't follow it. Maybe you can't watch your favorite TV shows for a month or you have to forgo eating out. Your spouse or a friend can be the enforcer.
Or up the ante even further and make the penalty cold hard cash. A new website called Stickk.com, created by a Yale economics professor and two colleagues, allows you to create "commitment contracts" for resolutions ranging from losing weight to saving more dough. If you don't hold up your end of the deal (as verified by a designated "referee"), you pay an amount that you've agreed to in advance - $100, $1,000, whatever.
The idea is that you'll be more likely to stay the course if you stand to lose real bucks (or suffer in other ways) for breaking your resolution. This money can go to a friend or a charity or, in a clever twist, you can stipulate that the payment go to a nonprofit whose goals aren't simpatico with yours. So, for example, if you're an advocate of gun control, the National Rifle Association Foundation might get a donation each time you lapse.
I wouldn't mind dropping a few poundskis, so let's have fun. To which organizations should I give such money? NPR? Clinton's election campaign?
Suggest some in the comments. Be creative!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
It’s a lonely job, working the phones at a college rape crisis center. Day after day, you wait for the casualties to show up from the alleged campus rape epidemic—but no one calls. Could this mean that the crisis is overblown? No: it means, according to the campus sexual-assault industry, that the abuse of coeds is worse than anyone had ever imagined. It means that consultants and counselors need more funding to persuade student rape victims to break the silence of their suffering.
What? Is she saying people are using b.s. or made up statistics to push their own agendas? No, it can't be!
Now, before some of you start posting about how horrible rape is and how you or your sister or your best friend were raped and I couldn't possibly understand it and I don't know what I'm talking about and Heather is some gender-traitor--read the actual post. No one is minimizing actual rape at all. Save your breath, your keystrokes, and your blood pressure, and use your 10th grade English skills to find the main point of Heather's article. Address her facts, not your emotions.
ANNAPOLIS — The union representing the state's teachers announced yesterday that it had voted to support passage of a November referendum on legalizing slot machines.
Good luck with that.
It’s always interesting to see what friends of affirmative action say about it when they’re not being careful.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
My parents are both better off financially than I am--and I expect that after several decades of work. I can't imagine it being the other way around, of supporting them. I guess I'm pretty lucky.
Grandpa's people were "savers". I used to be a saver, but I've changed somewhat. But they saved everything--which is affording me an opportunity to enjoy a treasure trove of pictures and letters.
And I'm going to share some of these letters with you.
My great-great-great-grandfather, Joseph Leonard, was drafted into the Union army in November, 1864. At the time he was as old as I am now--thirty-twelve. I don't have any of the letters he wrote home to Pennsylvania, but I do have a few of the letters sent to him during his 7 months as a soldier.
I'm going to scan those letters and post them, one at a time, here on this blog.
I marvel at the beautiful script and the choice of language. I enjoy the first-person glimpse into the lives of the people who wrote those letters. I cringe at my great-great-great-grandmother's poor spelling, but who knows how much schooling she had. Her writing, though, is beautiful.
So with this introduction I create a new label, Letters From History, and take you back to near the end of the Civil War. I hope you enjoy these letters as much as I do.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Right now, feds might be looking into your finances
Ooga booga! Are you frightened? George Bush and his evil minions are spying on you! Let's read the first line of the story:
Each year, federal agents peek at the financial transactions of millions of Americans — without their knowledge.
Let's ignore the grammar error there (are the agents doing this unbeknownst to themselves, or unbeknownst to the millions of Americans?) and get to the author's point: be afraid, be very afraid, because Sam's violating your privacy.
Time out. Why are lefties, who seem deathly afraid that Sam might incidentally listen in to their 1-900-SMUT-4YU calls while wiretapping potential terrorists, the same people who want to put government in charge of everything, including health care? End time out. Game on!
Read a couple paragraphs down, though, and we're given some more information.
"I don't think Americans understand that their financial transactions are being reported and routinely examined," said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Boo! The ACLU guys are jumping out of the bushes as you walk by, scaring you about the evil that your government is doing. Let me ask: is this George Bush's fault, since he's the President, or the Congress' fault, because they're not using their oversight to stop it? Has anyone been harmed, Barry, and why is nothing being done to stop this menace?
The Treasury Department's database now contains records of more than 100 million financial transactions going back to at least 1996, said network spokesman Steve Hudak.
Here's where a little math knowledge comes in handy. There are over 300,000,000 people in the US. I'm sure most of those 300,000,000 (that's 300 million) people have some kind of savings, checking, or credit account. Think of how many such transactions are conducted in one year. I myself conduct hundreds of transactions a year--credit card purchases, debit card purchases, ATM withdrawals, deposits, online bill pay, old-style written checks, etc. How many transactions a year do you perform? How many do you think are performed each year in America amongst those 300 million people?
The number must be staggering. Now, multiply that number by 12 to get a rough idea of how many banking transactions have been conducted in this country since 1996.
And the Treasury Department has records of only 100 million transactions, the tiniest fraction of 1%. That's 1 transaction for every 3 people in the US over the last 12 years. And the ACLU is up in arms.
You know what I'd like to ask Barry? Hey Barry, how do you expect the government to find drug dealers, white collar criminals, and even terrorists if they don't look for anomalous financial activities?
Well, this is probably one of George Bush's ideas, part of the Patriot Act that is turning the US into a police state. Oh, but wait:
The reporting system dates to the early 1970s when federal agents sought to pinpoint drug dealers by looking for people making large cash deposits.
Financial institutions have long been required to report cash transactions over $10,000. Those reports — simple notices of a deposit or withdrawal — account for more than 90% of the records the enforcement network gets each year.
So this has been going on for 30 years or more. And what party ran both houses of Congress during the entire decade of the 70's, and therefore wrote the law?
What's Barry's problem? What records and tools does Barry think the government should use to identify and track down criminals?