Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Who succeeded Winston Churchill as prime minister of Great Britain in 1945, and was succeeded by Churchill in 1951?


I loaded Skype a few days ago, and today put it to its first real test. I spoke for an hour and a half to an old West Point friend--she lives in Stuttgart, Germany, with her husband and two kids. She and I kinda dated and kinda considered marriage many years ago, and now she's married to a colonel whom I first met when he was a 2LT and I was a cadet assigned to an air defense unit in Germany in 1985. She and I have stayed in touch via email--often talking about our kids!--for a very long time now, but today was the first time we'd heard each other's voice in a dozen years or more.

When that call ended I was so excited that I skyped a former student of mine. She's a graduate of Smith College, and has been living in Italy for awhile--teaching English and learning about winemaking. Her goal is to return to California some day and open her own winery. We talked for just under half an hour, but what a kick it was! Tentatively my Summer 2012 travel plans have me in Rome and Venice, so we're definitely going to stay in touch and see if we might be able to meet up for a day or something.

Video-phones. When I was a kid they were the stuff of science fiction, but stuff we knew would exist in the very near future. And today, with no additional out-of-pocket costs, I had video calls with two friends in Europe.

In a couple weeks, at the May staff meeting at school, I'm supposed to give a Student of the Month Award to one of my students. Clearly I can't go to the meeting, but the principal and I have already arranged for me to present the award via Skype.

Skype is my new favorite toy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
In what year did Thor Heyerdahl make “big waves” (get it???) by sailing his raft, the Kon-Tiki, from South America to Polynesia?

I Admit It---Part Of Me Is Chuckling About This

Of course it's not the appropriate way to deal with a teenager who talks back to you, but still, who among us has never thought of this?
A Derby High School sophomore said today that he was hit by a Taser and had his arm broken by two school resource officers for refusing to pull up his pants...

Jonathan Villarreal, 17, said he was walking with friends to the bus after school on Wednesday when one of the officers ordered him to pull up his pants. He told them he could wear them how he wanted because school was out, he said.

1869 Harvard Entrance Exam

It's most, uh, impressive.

Community College Board Threatens To Replace Striking Professors

I don't know enough about the specifics of this situation to know which side is "right" and which side is "wrong", but for a community college in liberal Oregon to threaten to replace their striking unionized professors, well, that's pretty impressive just on its face:
The Mt. Hood Community College faculty association offered a sharp response Tuesday to MHCC's plan to hire permanent replacements should union members decide to strike.

On Tuesday, MHCC's board announced it was prepared to hire full-time replacement faculty if union members walked out and administrators are reviewing applications.

ROTC To Return To Stanford

It won't be any time soon, as "plans must be made" and all that, but at least they seem to be moving in the right direction:
About four decades since it voted to ban ROTC from campus, Stanford University’s faculty senate has voted to allow ROTC back on its campus today. Twenty-eight senators voted to allow to allow the program’s reinstatement, while nine voted against it and three abstained...

In a statement, Stanford University President John Hennessy said about the vote, “Based on the vote of the Faculty Senate, we will begin conversations with the U.S. military about the process for re-establishing ROTC at Stanford.”

I Thought Such Language Was Inappropriate...

...especially at places like the New York Times, the arbiter of all that is "civil"?
But the most compelling part of Representative Allen B. West of Florida is his own biography, there for all to see: an African-American Tea Party activist Republican congressman and ally of hard-right Israelis who, after his beloved career in the Army ended under a cloud, defeated the sitting Democrat in a largely white, politically polarized district here and quickly became one of the right’s most visible spokesmen...

Mr. West’s place in the Democratic crosshairs stems, he said, from the fact “that I scare the liberal establishment.” (boldface mine)

I guess that language is inappropriate only if it's directed at a liberal.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The UN became effective (for lack of a better term!) in October 1945, and NATO in April 1949—so just under four years.

Today's question is:
From which country did Iceland declare independence in 1944?

Yahoo Mail

I haven't been able to access my Yahoo Mail account all day, so I decided to contact Yahoo to find out what's up. Based on the messages shown above in the "live chat" window, they have other problems besides just an email access problem! At the rate they're going....


According to this article, IQ tests measure not just innate intelligence but also motivation--to which I say, Duh! But, if someone isn't motivated to do well, they're probably not going to! In that regard, the IQ tests are still predictive.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


When teachers were protesting in Wisconsin a few months ago, I was very strong in my condemnations. They were acting in violation of state law, lying about being sick so they'd still get paid while protesting. I was also aghast at the doctors who wrote them false "sick slips", in effect aiding and abetting the teachers' illegal behavior.

Well, some of those chickens are coming home to roost:
UW Health doctors who wrote sick notes for protesters at the Capitol in February face penalties up to a loss of pay and leadership positions, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health said Tuesday...

The Wisconsin Medical Society criticized the doctors’ actions, saying they threatened the public’s trust in the medical profession.

The Madison School District told teachers who turned in fraudulent sick notes to rescind them by last month or face discipline. The district received more than 1,000 notes from teachers during the protests.

If you don't come down hard on this kind of behavior, it will be repeated. Kudos to UW and to the school district.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
USS Missouri, BB-63, “Big Mo”, currently a museum ship in Pearl Harbor.

Today's question is:
How many years passed between the establishment of the United Nations and the establishment of NATO?

And The Orthopedic Doctor Says...

...I'm out for the rest of the school year. In 3 months I should be "ok", it'll take 6-12 months to heal. Skiing next season isn't out of the question.

The folks at school are looking for a long-term sub. I have some tests coming for me to grade tomorrow, but after that I don't know what I can do.

Education Buzz

This week's collection is posted here and includes my post about appropriate dress for teachers. Go check out the other entries.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Tortilla Flat.

Today's question, the first in 1940-1949 Week, is:
On the deck of which US ship was the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II signed?


Everything is a major effort, requiring time and involved planning.

If I'm lying down and want to sit up, I have to devise a lengthy series of steps to follow; once I start following them, it can still be a full minute or two before I'm standing.

A round trip from my living room to my library is a full 10 minutes, even with the aid of a walker.

Undressing, bathing, and dressing yesterday took over an hour.

I'm not helpless, but I feel darn close.

Everything I do, it feels like I'm moving through molasses. Fortunately, time is one thing I have in abundance right now.

Going To Jail Because of Truant Students?

I'm torn on this one. I mean, if parents are actually trying, and not aiding/abetting the truancy and the kid is just out of control, do we accomplish anything by locking up the parent?
About a dozen parents have been sentenced for their children's truancy this year and some have gone for jail for the crime, the Baltimore Sun's Erica Green reports...

Criminalizing parental laziness has had something of a nationwide movement lately. California's new strict anti-truancy bill took effect at the beginning of this year. Parents can serve up to a year in jail if convicted of allowing their children to skip class. Florida and Texas already have similar laws on the books. And one Michigan prosecutor wants an ordinance passed to send parents who miss parent-teacher conferences to jail for three days a pop.

On the other hand, if the parents don't seem at all concerned by all the truancy, then maybe it's ok to throw away the key.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Superintendent Announced Her Retirement Today

In this economic climate, can you blame her? Our district has a budget of about $365 million per year; we'd already planned to cut about $36 million, and with no good news coming from the state it looks like we're going to have to cut $50 million or even more. There's no good way to do that; can you blame her for wanting to spend more time with her grandchildren?

Let's Pick Up Where We Left Off With Trivia

The answer to last Friday's question is:
The Empire State Building in New York City.

Today's question, the last in 1930-1939 Week, is:
Which novel, published in 1935, was John Steinbeck's first literary and commercial success?

Back Seat Driving

I set my phone alarm to go off every 4 hours--all night long--so I can wake up and take my pain drugs. I'm groggy but alive.

What could I possibly be doing up at this hour, you ask? Well, I'm trying to run my classes from home! I've emailed the school secretary as well as the teachers whose rooms are on either side of mine, letting them know where things are and what might can be done in my extended absence. I'm fortunate that our retired stats teacher can cover my classes tomorrow through Thursday so I know my kids will be in good hands. I don't think today will be too much of a problem, and I've told everyone that I'm keeping my phone close to my person in case they need me for something. I hope this back seat driving is more helpful to them than annoying!

The fun starts in 45 minutes, when I call and schedule my first-ever appointment with my doctor and start down the lengthy road of physical therapy.

Update: Can't see a doctor until tomorrow, but there's been a flurry of email activity between my home and school. Tomorrow's test is getting copied, I apparently have a very good substitute today (and a recent retiree from our school for the three following days), and everything's been found right where I said it would be. The news from school has been so good that I can probably just back off now--the plane's pretty much on autopilot now. That's the caliber of people I work with.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why I Haven't Been Blogging

Yesterday I headed up to Boreal to go skiing again. I just got home from the hospital, having suffered a mediocre wipe-out with a pretty serious injury. I might eventually post the pre-surgery picture of the wound!

I'm exhausted and need to go pop another pain pill. Don't know when I'll be back "online" yet, but don't want you to think I've forgotten you!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm Both Surprised and Pleased

It's no secret that I don't view the ACLU favorably, but when they do something right I am always here to cheer them on. This post at The Volokh Conspiracy sums up my views precisely:
By the way, I should stress — especially given the criticism that I’ve seen of the ACLU from some commenters — that ACLU chapters deserve praise for defending the anti-Islam speech in the two incidents I blogged about today: The blocking of Terry Jones’ planned demonstration outside a Dearborn, Michigan mosque, and the firing of a New Jersey Transit worker for burning a Koran.

There’s much that I disagree with the ACLU about, and I’m sure we all can find things on which most organizations — including the ACLU — have been inconsistent under our definition of consistency. But I’ve seen quite a lot of excessive criticism of the ACLU as supposedly being unwilling to protect speech by Christians, anti-Islam speech, speech that’s generally labeled as “politically incorrect,” and the like. Yet cases such as this (and these aren’t the only two) show that a good chunk of the legal defense of free speech, including of the freedom to engage in anti-Islam speech, is being fought by ACLU chapters. They deserve credit for that.
What will frost my hide, though, is when someone at the ACLU will say, "See? We do support the free speech of conservatives! We supported the Nazis in Skokie, and we support Crazy Pastor Jones!" The assumption being, of course, that those in any way represent modern American conservatism. I'm sure they do, to certain liberals, and that says much more about those liberals than it does about any conservative.

Going Too Far

Too many people, especially in Wisconsin, are taking the whole union thing up there way too far. First it was police who refused to do their duty in clearing the Capitol, then it was unions threatening boycotts against businesses who refused to post pro-union signs in their windows, and now this:
A Sheboygan gas station owner is baffled after a mystery caller tells a clerk it's a bad idea to do business with a Sheboygan-area state senator.

It started Tuesday when a woman called Dick Hiers's Northeast Standard gas station after she thought she saw Senator Joe Leibham there. Her call was caught on the answering machine.

"I think that this whole thing has to end. It has to stop," said Hiers. "This type of stuff is totally uncalled for."

Hiers never thought his little gas station in the heart of Sheboygan would be the stage of political controversy. Then again, his week has been full of surprises.

"I was working back here and the answering machine went off, and I was a little surprised by that, and when I heard the message here, I was even a little more surprised."

The answering machine here in the back of the store was left on from the night before and was recording the entire conversation.

Caller: "Can you verify that was Senator Leibham at the gas station this morning?"

Gas station clerk: "Senator Leibham?"

Caller: "Yes. Do you guys support him?"

Clerk: "I have nothing to say about that, I am not politically involved."

Caller: "Alright, well you can tell Dick he's not good for business, I'll tell you that."

Shocked over the 26-second conversation, Hiers quickly traced the call -- only to get surprise number two.

"And it turned out to be coming from the Sheboygan area district school office," he said.

Turns out the school employee was not yet on the clock, but some undisclosed disciplinary action is said to be occurring.

I have to ask, is this really the kind of society we want, one wherein everything is political? Do we want to live in a society in which we hate people who think differently than we do? Hey, I have an idea, what if we hated people who look differently than we do? Perhaps we could post signs that say "no coloreds allowed" or "Irish need not apply" or "soldiers and dogs, stay off the grass". Is that what we want in this country?

If so--and that would be sad--you may as well quit reading, because I'm not going to change your mind. But if it's not what you want, then don't sit quietly by while someone says "we've got to fight because it's personal now". It's always personal for someone, buddy, but decency dictates certain levels of decorum, and certain lines that shouldn't be crossed in a civil society. Have so many forgotten the old adage about disagreeing without being disagreeable?

This isn't really a left/right issue, because going too far is wrong no matter which side does it. It's no big secret, though, which side wins the Super Bowl of going too far, too often.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

George Carlin offers some comments on this auspicious day. (NSFW)

Hat tip to NewsAlert.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Upon its completion in 1931, what was the world's tallest building?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

These Stories Keep Popping Up

I'm not looking for them. Honestly, I'm not. But sure as the sun rises in the east, I keep finding them.

Just two days ago I wrote this. Earlier today came this. And now:
After spending four depressing days this month at a meeting of 3,000 writing teachers in Atlanta, I can tell you that their parent group, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, is not really interested in teaching students to write and communicate clearly. The group’s agenda, clear to me after sampling as many of the meeting’s 500 panels as I could, is devoted to disparaging grammar, logic, reason, evidence and fairness as instruments of white oppression. They believe rules of grammar discriminate against “marginalized” groups and restrict self-expression.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
When did Prohibition, which had been the law of the land since 1920, end in the United States?

The Video Is Very Hard To Watch

Socialist Teachers Discuss Indoctrinating Public Schoolchildren

Did The World Go On Without Me?

Yesterday morning, my son, a friend of his, and I headed up I-80 to Reno for the night. We stopped off at Boreal for me to get an hour or two of skiing in, and this morning on the way back we stopped again for the same reason.

Here are some cell phone pictures from our hotel room this morning, looking roughly southwest to west towards the Sierra. (We were at the western most of the big hotels/casinos, which is why you don't see any others in these pictures.)
click to embiggen

Forty minutes away, in those same mountains, was the ski slope:

And this was the first 20-plus minutes of the drive home after skiing:
A good time was had by all--especially by the casinos and their slot machines :-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What was the name of the US Coast Guard cutter at Howland Island, the cutter that picked up Amelia Earhart's in-flight radio transmissions and conducted a failed search for her missing aircraft?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Francisco Franco.

Today's question is:
In what year was the Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey?

What Passes For Teacher Education

Based on my own experiences and what I've read elsewhere (especially since becoming a blogger), I have to believe that this is the rule and not the exception:
Even worse than the book itself were the discussions in class that came out of it. One event in particular stands out. In a chapter that discussed the difference between “knowing” and “understanding”, a chart presents examples of “Inauthentic versus Authentic Work”. In this chart “Practice decontextualized skills is listed as inauthentic and “Interpret literature” as authentic. The black and white nature of the distinctions on the chart bothered me, so when the teacher asked if we had any comments, I said that calling certain practices “inauthentic” is not only pejorative but misleading. I asked the teacher “Do you really think that learning to read is an inauthentic skill?”

She replied that she didn’t really know about issues related to reading. Keeping it on the math level, I then referred to the chart’s characterization of “Solve contrived problems” as inauthentic and “Solve ‘real world’ problems” as authentic and asked why the authors automatically assumed that a word problem that might be contrived didn’t involve “authentic” mathematical concepts. “Let’s move on,” she said.
Oh, it gets so much worse. Go read the whole thing.

I've written about this before, and have even used the example in this (brilliant) comment:
I think we should take the same approach in driver's ed classes. The state driver's manual should only be used as an occasional resource. The students should spend most of their time in driver's seats in authentic traffic situations. What better way to inspire them to figure what needs to be done in order to get back safely. Automobiles and traffic rules, just like mathematics and literacies, are social constructs, and, as such, should be grappled with and (de)(re)constructed by individual students according to their distinct learning styles and points of entry.
But see? We can't teach driving that way. Driving is too important.

AFT Does Not Support CFT's Pro-Mumia Abu-Jamal Resolution

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a convicted cop killer, yet somehow has amassed a cult following of people who want him freed from prison. Why the left adores people like Abu-Jamal and Che Guevara I do not understand, but they do--but that's beside the point.

The California Federation of Teachers, the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (the smaller cousin of the NEA), recently passed a resolution (see Resolution 19) in support of Abu-Jamal. Fortunately the publicity has made things a little hot in CFT's kitchen, so much so that AFT's President Randi Weingarten has spoken up:
The California Federation of Teacher resolution expressing support for Mumia Abu-Jamal received the national seal of disapproval from AFT President Randi Weingarten yesterday, after she received a complaint from Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police...

She concluded by characterizing the CFT measure as an “isolated, and in my judgment, unfortunate resolution.”

I applaud her for doing the right thing--and point out again what unionism, especially teacher unionism, means here in California.

Update, 4/21/11: When you're in a hole, it's usually best to stop digging.

Why FDR Was Against Public Sector Unions

Michigan Union Leader: We Will Use Public Jobs as ‘Weapon and Shut This State Down’

Why Taxing The Rich Isn't Good Enough

"Tax the rich!" is a great rallying cry, but it's not going to solve our national financial problems. "Cut foreign aid!" isn't going to work, either, although it's not necessarily a bad idea. "Cut farm subsidies!" and "Stop funding PBS, NEA, and NPR!" are great ideas, too, but not necessarily because we're going to balance the budget by doing so.

Why won't taxing the rich, who don't pay their "fair share" (whatever that means), work? Because they don't make enough money to solve our problems:
A dominant theme of President Obama's budget speech last Wednesday was that our fiscal problems would vanish if only the wealthiest Americans were asked "to pay a little more." Since he's asking, imagine that instead of proposing to raise the top income tax rate well north of 40%, the President decided to go all the way to 100%.

Let's stipulate that this is a thought experiment, because Democrats don't need any more ideas. But it's still a useful experiment because it exposes the fiscal futility of raising rates on the top 2%, or even the top 5% or 10%, of taxpayers to close the deficit. The mathematical reality is that in the absence of entitlement reform on the Paul Ryan model, Washington will need to soak the middle class—because that's where the big money is...

We recognize that 2008 was a bad year for the economy and thus for tax receipts, as payments by the rich fell along with their income. So let's perform the same exercise in 2005, a boom year and among the best ever for federal revenue. (Ahem, 2005 comes after the Bush tax cuts that Mr. Obama holds responsible for all the world's problems.)

In 2005 the top 5% earned over $145,000. If you took all the income of people over $200,000, it would yield about $1.89 trillion, enough revenue to cover the 2012 bill for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—but not the same bill in 2016, as the costs of those entitlements are expected to grow rapidly. The rich, in short, aren't nearly rich enough to finance Mr. Obama's entitlement state ambitions—even before his health-care plan kicks in.

So who else is there to tax? Well, in 2008, there was about $5.65 trillion in total taxable income from all individual taxpayers, and most of that came from middle income earners. The nearby chart shows the distribution, and the big hump in the center is where Democrats are inevitably headed for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks.

Tax at 100% everyone who makes over $100,000--just confiscate their earnings--and we still can't balance the budget for one year. That's how much we're spending ourselves into debt. Additionally, if we confiscated all the wealth of all the billionaires in this country--not just their annual earnings, but all their wealth--that would not balance the budget for one single year. And then that wealth wouldn't be around to generate jobs (and tax revenue) next year.

Those who want someone else to pay higher taxes--well, ask not for whom the tax bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Go look at the referenced chart and see where that first big jump in money is (hint, it's at $50,000 in income).

There are only two ways out of this mess, and those are entitlement reform (that's where our biggest expenditures are) or just--I can't even bring myself to contemplate the Weimarian inflationary disaster that would arise from just printing money and our defaulting on our debts.

Socialism doesn't work--because it's a Ponzi scheme. It's too expensive. And we need to get off this ship now, while the waves are lapping over the Promenade Deck, and not wait until the Sun Deck is almost under water.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
1933, in Camden, New Jersey.

Today's question is:
Who ruled Spain after the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 ended?

Academic Socialism

"We want to redistribute some of your GPA..." "The 4.0 is kind of excessive..."

"It's not fair."

Gawd, I love the hypocrisy shown in videos like this one.

I Got Your Free Speech And Civility Right Here

It's not free speech when you use yours to stop someone else from being heard. And these are adults treating a 14-year-old girl this way.

We've seen this before. I know the woman in this video. Union members, are you proud of this behavior? Shame on you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

As Good An Argument Against Internet Commerce Sales Taxes As Any I've Heard

From Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe:
All other things being equal, consumers no doubt prefer a tax-free shopping experience. But all other things are rarely equal. E-retailers (or mail-order catalogs) may have a price advantage, but well-run “Main Street’’ businesses have competitive advantages of their own. They attract customers with eye-catching window displays. They play up local ties and neighborhood loyalty. They give shoppers the chance to see, feel, or try on items before buying them. They enable the serendipitous joys of browsing. They don’t charge for shipping. And they offer potential customers a degree of personal service and warmth that no website can match.

The current system is far fairer than the one Durbin wants. Bricks-and-mortar merchants charge sales taxes based on their physical location. The same rule applies to online merchants. A Pennsylvania tobacco shop doesn’t collect Ohio sales taxes whenever it sells a humidor to a visitor from Ohio. Amazon shouldn’t have to, either.

“Out-of-state companies that aren’t paying their fair share of taxes,’’ Durbin argues, “are sticking Illinois residents and businesses with the tab.’’ What tab? Taxes paid should bear some relation to services received, and merchants with no “substantial nexus’’ to a state receive no services from it. They don’t use its firefighters or sewers, don’t send their kids to its schools, and don’t expect it to plow their streets after a blizzard. To force them nevertheless to collect and remit that state’s taxes would be grossly unreasonable.

Durbin’s bill would only hurt the consumers he claims to be “looking out for.’’ The existing arrangement has worked well for 40 years. All it needs from Congress is a good leaving-alone.

I'm sure my favorite commenter on all issues related to economics will agree. Max?

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the last in 1920-1929 Week, is:
William Jennings Bryan, former Democratic presidential candidate of “Cross of Gold” speech fame, argued for the prosecution, and Clarence Darrow defended biology teacher John Scopes.

Today's question, the first in 1930-1939 Week, is:
In what year was the first commercial drive-in theater opened in the United States?

Leftist Thugs Show Tolerance

Of course I jest.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Who Knew? I Agree With Dick Cavett.

Who'd'a thunk that I'd agree with a celebrity talk show host?
I’ve never quite understood why this word — “offended” — is so horrifying. What doesn’t offend somebody? And who wants to see, read or write anything that is simon-pure in its inability to offend those dreaded “someones”?
Anyone working in the media can tell you that there seems to be an always-ready-to-explode segment of the populace for whom offense is a fate worse than anything imaginable. You’d think offense is one of the most calamitous things that could happen to a human being; right up there with the loss of a limb, or just missing a parking space...

“What sort of thing offends you, Mr. Cavett?” an interviewer asked me recently. “In other words, what to you is politically incorrect.”

“Anything that is politically correct.”

Such as?

Well, the infantilism of the phrase “the n-word,” for example, and of those of less than fully formed cerebral development who have bowdlerized Mark Twain’s masterpiece because of the references to Huck’s beloved friend in the authentic vernacular of the time. I hate to spoil the fun of the benighted and alleged educators who have even pulled this great book from the school shelves, but Jim is the moral center of the story.

Not much I can add to such clarity.

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
October 24th.

Today's question, the last in 1920-1929 Week, is:
Which two famous attorneys opposed each other in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925?

Why Socialism is Un-Christian

I've said this before, but the snip below from this post encapsulates my views perfectly:
The reason that the ”cosmic justice” mentality is un-Christian is that it relieves individuals of the duty to act justly in their own lives, by transferring responsibility to that vast amorphous entity, “society.” And instead of people acting personally to help those in need — showing kindness, mercy, charity and hospitality to others — the “cosmic justice” mentality tells people that it is more virtuous to express morality through politics, including such political sermonizing as the idiotic “Dear Woman” video.


Group Work

While this post pertains to business schools, it's just as true regarding high school:

Group work is largely an academic joke, a process where the weaker members of the group rely almost exclusively on the stronger, more conscientious students to carry them all to the grade they want. (Of course, the same “weak rely on the strong” dynamic prevails in real-world group work as well.) Group work serves lazy students and professors quite well — the low-performing students can relax while their peers complete the task, and the professors have fewer papers or projects to grade.

I remember very few group projects in high school, and only a couple of engineering design projects at West Point (where I remember everyone pulling his/her own weight).

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Much Tax Money and Coerced Student Fee Money Is Contributing To This?

What is it about so many colleges and universities that the people who dwell therein can be so crazy? I mean, let's be honest here, I support "social justice" just as much as the next guy--but if the next guy is a lib, our definitions of what constitutes "social justice" are going to be very different:
Social issues ranging from human rights to social justice will be among the topics of discussion April 16 during Cal State Fullerton’s seventh annual Social Justice Summit. “If Not Me, Then Who?” is the theme of this year’s free, public event.
Among the speakers are Paul Watson, founder of the marine nonprofit organization Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and featured on Discovery Channel’s “Whale Wars,” who will speak at 9 a.m., and comedian Jamie Kilstein, a political and free-speech activist, animal rights advocate and co-host of “Citizen Radio,” who will speak at 4 p.m.
More than 25 educational workshops will be held on such topics as the health implications of nuclear weapons use and a first-person account of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan from Sgt. Brendan O’Byrne of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo.” A free vegan lunch and a resource fair featuring regional and international organizations also are available. For a complete list of workshops, visit
The Social Justice Summit is about being proactive, educating oneself, getting involved and taking a stand, said Amy Mattern, coordinator of Cal State Fullerton’s Volunteer & Service Center, which hosts the event. “The summit is for those who don’t even know what is meant by the term ‘social justice,’ as well as those who have actively been engaging in this type of work already,” Mattern said. “It’s important for the university to present an event such as the Social Justice Summit to provide an avenue for the community to come together and talk about issues affecting our communities, our country and our world — and, most important, to take action.”

Just remember, the people putting on and attending this workshop are having their educations subsidized by the taxpayers of California, presumably so they can go make a good living in the world upon graduation. In other words, they're some of the luckiest, most privileged people in any society on the planet--and they want to tell you what you need to do and what you need to give up in order to help the underprivileged. These privileged 20-somethings, who benefit from your work, want you to feel bad about what you have and what you do. These kids, who benefit the most--oh, they're not willing to give up anything, they're not even willing to pay a little higher tuition, or have their parents pay a little higher tuition, without squealing like stuck pigs and protesting and marching around with signs and chanting. The irony and hypocrisy just amazes.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What was the date of Black Thursday, the day in 1929 when the stock market crashed, essentially ushering in the Great Depression?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When Are We Gonna Have To Use This In Real Life?

It's been awhile since I've done one of these posts, so here you go.
Anyone – teachers, parents, community members – involved in education needs to grasp these concepts and be able to relate them to their students. Why? Because we don’t know where they’re headed in life.

I’ve always felt that education is about preparing someone to pursue whatever they’d like to pursue in adulthood. It doesn’t mean every kid necessarily gets to study every topic that interests him, but he should be equipped with the skills he’ll need to pursue what his school or community might not have been able to offer.

And that’s why we gotta know this, Mr. Sprague. We gotta know it because we don’t have a clue what the students we’re charged with teaching will do after high school.
A brilliant blogger with whom I'm acquainted wrote something similar over 5 years ago:
Bottom line is, I don't know when you're "ever gonna have to use this stuff". But isn't it good knowledge to have, just in case? And why cut yourself off from fields you don't even know about yet? I'll bet the women in school in 1930s Britain never thought they'd be using math to help shoot down Nazi aircraft.
Here's a similar example.

It's undeniable that the more education/knowledge they have, the more opportunities they'll have--with or without a college degree. Our business in education is to open doors for children, not to close them.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Clarence Birdseye.

Today's question is:
In what year was Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, released?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is The President Ever Honest?

How many times has Barack Obama inspired people with lofty rhetoric, only to operate in the mud and the muck? Remember the classic "there is no red America, no blue America, only the United States of America?" Remember being president of "all America"?

Do you remember driving off the road, drinking Slurpees, not wanting to hear much from the "red" Americans while the gallant "blue" Americans got the car out of the ditch?

What about this neck-snapping case of hypocrisy, noted by ABC's Jake Tapper?

Education Buzz

This week's Buzz is posted here and includes my post about a nice email I recently received from a former student.

Wednesday Trivia

Then answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Who invented the flash-freezing process that is still used for frozen foods today, and is credited with creating the frozen foods industry in 1925?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Bad Off Is My Retirement Fund?

This bad:
The actuarial analysis concludes that under current practices and assumed returns, the fund will be depleted in about 30 years.
I'm screwed. See the link for a scary graph.

Why I Sometimes Have Problems With Unions

In principle, I support unions. However, the further the union gets from the worker (i.e., the state and national unions) the less "American" they act and the more I dislike them. And when people join unions, sometimes you get this herd mentality wherein people will do things that they would never do on their own--like knowingly and willingly break the law:
Only a fool would think that the sick out that closed down Madison schools for five days in February was anything but an illegal, union-coordinated, illegal strike.

But there are a lot of fools in Madison, aren’t there?

Now there is proof that the sickout was a premeditated, union-authorized job action -- a phone tree of teachers calling other teachers to close down the schools. This kind of activity is prohibited by the union’s own contract and illegal in WI Statute Chapter 111.84(2)(e):

It is unfair practice for an employee individually or in concert with others: To engage in, induce or encourage any employees to engage in a strike, or a concerted refusal to work or perform their usual duties as employees.

Yep, phone message shows a concerted effort. Either strike legitimately or don't, but what those teachers did was just plain wrong--and I said so here.

And what is the CTA planning for California?
Earlier today, I posted about the California Teachers Association’s plan to occupy the State Capitol on May 9-13 as part of the union’s protests to increase tax revenue for the state’s schools and teachers. I now have further information, including the news that CTA has budgeted $1 million for the protests.

The union has set up a web site of material for activists at The documents include the handout I posted earlier, plus a 10-page list of “potential activities” the CTA State Council dreamed up. The State Council consists of more than 700 elected union representatives from all across the state. I’ve also posted this document on the EIA web site.

The “potential activities” include:

Go see the list. I question whether most teachers--or most any decent person, for that matter--would individually approve of many of those items. Get them in a group, under cover of anonymity, and light up their passions, though, and you get goons.

Update, 4/14/11: The disinfectant of transparency and daylight has forced CTA to "unpropose" some of its more unsavory acts of protest.

Update, 4/15/11: Some Michigan union "activists" have an "adult conversation" about a Republican governor.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
King Tut's Tomb.

Today's question is:
In what year did J. Edgar Hoover become director of the FBI?

Monday, April 11, 2011

School Forbids Student Lunches From Home

Wow. If I were a parent at this school I'd probably sue:
At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

Remember, Idiot Elsa has a college degree--maybe even a masters degree.

Any parent who would submit to that almost deserves anything they get. Fortunately, I'm not the only person who thinks this policy is a little cuckoo:
"This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility," said J. Justin Wilson, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, which is partially funded by the food industry.

"Would the school balk if the parent wanted to prepare a healthier meal?" Wilson said. "This is the perfect illustration of how the government's one-size-fits-all mandate on nutrition fails time and time again. Some parents may want to pack a gluten-free meal for a child, and others may have no problem with a child enjoying soda."

For many CPS parents, the idea of forbidding home-packed lunches would be unthinkable. If their children do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals, such a policy would require them to pay $2.25 a day for food they don't necessarily like.

"We don't spend anywhere close to that on my son's daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk," education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach wrote in an email. Her son attends Nettelhorst Elementary School in Lakeview. "Not only would mandatory school lunches worsen the dietary quality of most kids' lunches at Nettelhorst, but it would also cost more out of pocket to most parents! There is no chance the parents would stand for that."
Yet another stupid idea out of Chicago--you know, like an unprepared president or something.

Today's Higher Education Bubble

Mr. Thiel is the cofounder of PayPal and has lots of contrarian opinions on lots of things. Agree or not, what he says makes some sense:
So Friday, as I sat with Thiel in his San Francisco home that he finally owns, I was curious what he thinks of the current Web frenzy. Not surprisingly, another Internet bubble seemed the farthest thing from his mind. But, he argued, America is under the spell of a bubble of a very different kind. Is it an emerging markets bubble? You could argue that, Thiel says, but he also notes that with half of the world’s population surging to modernity, it’s hard to argue the emerging world is overvalued.

Instead, for Thiel, the bubble that has taken the place of housing is the higher education bubble. “A true bubble is when something is over-valued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”

Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe. The excesses of both were always excused by a core national belief that no matter what happens in the world, these were the best investments you could make. Housing prices would always go up, and you will always make more money if you are college educated.

Like any good bubble, this belief– while rooted in truth– gets pushed to unhealthy levels. Thiel talks about consumption masquerading as investment during the housing bubble, as people would take out speculative interest-only loans to get a bigger house with a pool and tell themselves they were being frugal and saving for retirement. Similarly, the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. “It’s what you’ve been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt,” Thiel says.

Thiel isn’t totally alone in the first part of his education bubble assertion. It used to be a given that a college education was always worth the investment– even if you had to take out student loans to get one. But over the last year, as unemployment hovers around double digits, the cost of universities soars and kids graduate and move back home with their parents, the once-heretical question of whether education is worth the exorbitant price has started to be re-examined even by the most hard-core members of American intelligensia.

Making matters worse was a 2005 President George W. Bush decree that student loan debt is the one thing you can’t wriggle away from by declaring personal bankruptcy, says Thiel. “It’s actually worse than a bad mortgage,” he says. “You have to get rid of the future you wanted to pay off all the debt from the fancy school that was supposed to give you that future.”

But Thiel’s issues with education run even deeper.
After an intro like that, you know you have to read the whole thing.

What Does Today's Democratic Party Stand For?

This Democratic Senate and White House are clearly willing to disappoint their base on many issues. They've agreed to spending cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy, scrapped a public option, and continued warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detention of terrorism suspects and unnecessary wars on Arab dictators. But in last week's budget debate we glimpsed the party's unshakable core: dedication to the abortion lobby.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
1923. He was tried and convicted in 1924 and sentenced to 5 years, but served less than 1 year. While in prison he wrote Mein Kampf.

Today's question is:
What major archeological find was made in 1922?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the last in 1910-1919 Week, is:
April, 1912.

Today's question, the first in 1920-1929 Week, is:
In what year was the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler's failed coup in Bavaria?

California's High-Speed Rail Boondoggle

Yes, it would be fun to ride one of these, but I've read there's only one in the entire world that makes money--and California doesn't have too much tax money in the coffers to spare right now:
Before the election, the cost of the project was estimated at $33 billion for the Los Angeles/Anaheim to San Francisco portion, and an additional $7 billion for the spurs to San Diego and Sacramento. Voters narrowly passed a $9.95 billion bond in 2008, and the federal government and private investors were supposed to cover the remaining $30 billion. We were promised that a one-way fare between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost about $55, making it cheaper than flying.

After the election, costs rose to $43 billion for just the Los Angeles-San Francisco phase (chances are the San Diego and Sacramento lines will never be built) and ticket price estimates nearly doubled to $105. Yet none of this seems to bother the California High-Speed Rail Authority or cause it to re-evaluate the feasibility of the project.

Ridership estimates are projected as high as 117 million passengers a year. To put this in perspective, consider that Amtrak’s Acela Express service, which serves the larger, denser Washington, D.C.-New York-Boston corridor at speeds up to 150 mph, counts just 3 million passengers per year. In fact, the entire Amtrak system, which includes more than 500 destinations and 21,000 miles of track in 46 states, serves only 27 million passengers a year...

California continues to run deficits of $20 billion to $25 billion each year and must address hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities in years to come. The state is facing severe service cuts and significant tax increases (again), yet it persists in pouring in billions upon billions of dollars to subsidize the train travel of a tiny percentage of the population.

I'm on the hook for this lemon. Those are my tax dollars that are going to be poured into this bottomless money pit.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Interesting Day

I went skiing this morning. Bought a season pass for next year (good from now till the end of next season) online and headed up the hill. I've skied Boreal over the course of a few decades now and I don't think I've ever seen so much snow up there. It was amazing. Temps in the high 30s to low 40 with no wind. At one point I stood on top of the mountain and to the east, towards Reno, I could see blue sky, but I was in the middle of a few snow flurries!

I got home and walked 2 miles to Sam's Club because, quite honestly, I didn't have anything better to do! Didn't buy anything there, but I really wanted to.

I have a friend who comes over for "movie night" almost every Saturday, and on the way home from Sam's I got this wild idea that I should make some homemade salsa for tonight. So I went to Safeway and bought some tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, pineapple, white and yellow corn, black beans, and two fresh mangoes. Then I dropped by my mother's and picked up some fresh mint from her front yard. I just started mixing things together and ended up with two different types of salsa. I hope at least one of them will taste fantastic. Guess I'll find out in about an hour.

Tomorrow's "gym day". Maybe I'll cheat and take my swimsuit and hang out in the hot tub for awhile!

Update, 4/10/11: Neither salsa was as sweet as commercially available salsas--I didn't put any sugar in mine!--but they both tasted pretty good! I just had some of the bean and corn "compote" for breakfast, and will use one of the two recipes (probably the pineapple-mango) for a chicken topping for dinner tomorrow night.

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
4: Reagan, Nixon, Ford, and Kennedy (in that order).

Today's question, the last in 1910-1919 Week, is:
In what month and year did the RMS Titanic sink?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Why Is Discipline Non-existent In Some Schools?

Go read this post by Mr. Chanman. If you're not a teacher and didn't know things like this existed, it'll make your jaw drop; if you're a teacher, you'll just shake your head in knowing disgust and rage.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
1914, and 1917. The war ended in 1918.

Today's question is:
How many future US presidents were born from 1910-1919?

More Liberal Civility

How loud would the screams and lamentations be if Republicans tried this? How many more hollow calls for "civility" and "decency" would rise from the blue feverswamps?

If the federal government shuts down come Friday, House Speaker John Boehner may be in for quite a mess at his Washington, D.C. residence if some Facebook users have their way.

A Facebook event, entitled "If Boehner shuts down the government I am taking my trash to his house," has popped up and is gaining steam as the shutdown showdown ramps up on Capitol Hill. If the federal government shuts down, one of the District's services that will stop is trash pickup.

"Speaker John Boehner is ready to shut down the government, including District of Columbia city services like trash collection," it says on the page. "Well, if he won't allow us to use OUR TAX DOLLARS to pick it up, maybe we should just BRING IT TO HIM"...

Organizers of the event - Jonah Goodman and Nolan Treadway - write on the page that even if the government shutdown doesn't occur, they will "move forward with this event, we'll provide details on location(s) and we'll make sure it's done in a sanitary and respectful way. Please don't list any personal addresses for members of Congress on this page."

Goodman is listed in the Democratic National Committee network. Treadway is the political and logistics director for the liberal group Netroots Nation.

These aren't just your garden variety kooks, these are bigwigs in the liberal movement who are organizing this.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Teachers Bullied By Students

Law enforcement should be brought in. No one, and that includes children, should be allowed to behave like savages.

Teachers in Bakersfield, Calif., report being scared to go to work. They have been shoved around, cursed at and had eggs thrown at them. Students are reportedly bringing and using drugs, bombs, alcohol and weapons on campus. Many teachers in the district say they are afraid to go to school each day, and constantly fear for their safety.

It's a trend that has been going on for years, but no one wants to talk about it. Recently, however, at a school district board meeting in Bakersfield, teachers had finally had enough and brought it to light. More and more teachers are being verbally and physically abused by students -- and their recourse is dwindling.

I can't believe this is even an issue. This floors me.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Montana Republican Jeannette Rankin was elected in 1916.

Today's question is:
In what year did World War I start, and in what year did the US join the war?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Dressing The Part

When I was getting my teaching credential, I had to prove "subject matter competence". There are two ways to receive proof of this competence--first, a California university could bless my West Point math major transcript, or I could take three different tests. I tried Option One.

First, I called the math department at UC Davis, the closest University of California campus. They asked if I got my degree in California; when I replied that I had not, they said there was nothing they could do for me.

So I called CSU Sacramento. There I spoke to a gentleman who was more than willing to meet with me, and I scheduled an appointment to go see him. Having never been to a "civilian" university before, I dressed as I thought appropriate--slacks and a collared shirt. I mean, this wasn't an interview, but I wanted at least to make a good impression.

I arrived a few minutes early for my appointment and, since it was obvious the professor was in his office speaking to someone, I waited in the hall. A few minutes later a person left the office and started walking down the hall. He was wearing cut-off shorts, a t-shirt, no shoes, and his Afro-style hair bounced behind him as he walked. I was mortified that anyone would dress that way to speak to someone so high up in the math department! A minute or so later that same guy came back around the corner and said, "Darren? Great, come on in."

That's a very long lead-in to this post about appropriate dress standards for professors:

To appreciate the connection between respect for authority and outward appearances, consider the one setting obsessed with maintaining authority —courts. Judges always dress the part though sartorial details vary. Severe black robes are standard while some wear special hats, even wigs and all sit high above the court proceedings. To drive home respect, judges are addressed with “your honor” or “may it please the court” and lawyers must ask permission to “approach to the court” for private conservation. Discussions are all judge-controlled and disrespect is punishable by contempt of court. All rise when the judge enters and nobody would dare catch up on e-mails during a trial. This is the physical aspect of respect for rule of law. Professors should be so lucky.

Other knowledge-based professions similarly understand the need to draw a sharp line between the expert and the client, the erudite and the ignorant. You can always spot top trial lawyers—sharply-tailored dark suits, flashy cuff-links, elegant ties, expensive leather attaché cases, real fountain pens, costly Swiss watches, perfect haircuts, and all the other “superficial” details that announce, “I am successful, very successful so you better listen to what I tell you!” Even doctors in a profession hardly famous for its Beau Brummels still wear ties and, when not in white, suits and decent sport coats.

The justification is obvious: who would heed a lawyer, financial advisor or doctor who showed up in dirty jeans, a frayed sport shirt, filthy running shoes etc. etc., who carried his professional papers in a nylon backpack? Not even a department dominated by radical egalitarians would hire a job applicant who arrived as if he was on the way to the beach. This would be insulting, a sign of disinterest in the job, and these egalitarians would be right.

At a minimum, dressing well informs students that one is serious about classroom responsibilities. If I can spend an extra hour before class matching ties and shirts, checking for stains, polishing my wingtips, combing my hair and all the rest, you can certainly pay attention.

Now consider a student who arrives for the first day of class and sees a professor who resembles a 1960s hippy-like graduate student (Levis, rumpled un-tucked shirt etc.) and if male, scraggly facial hair wearing a baseball cap and if female, tacky “folk” jewelry and a permanent bad hair day? It could be worse—the political billboard tee-shirt to remind today’s uninformed youngsters that “Bush Lied and People Died.” It makes no difference that this instructor may have a doctorate from Harvard and is being fast tracked to an endowed chair. Cultural conditioning is inescapable and ubiquitous: respect is given to those who dress the part and when they refuse, deference is not forthcoming. Professors should not look like janitors or stand-up comics.
I know teachers who wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops to school. I just can't do it. Maybe, just maybe, if they wear dressy-looking shorts, maybe I can see that, but they don't. To me it's just not appropriate, for all the reasons quoted above and in the rest of that post. I wear slacks and collared shirts to school, and on Fridays I might wear jeans and a staff t-shirt.

I don't remember where I heard or read this, but it's a rule of thumb I find appropriate for both students and teachers: if, when you get home from school, you don't feel like changing into something more comfortable, you're not appropriately dressed for school.

Update: By the way
, the Sac State professor wanted me to take three more math courses before he'd bless my transcript. I ended up taking the three tests instead.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The Danish West Indies, now called the US Virgin Islands.

Today's question is:
In what year was the first woman elected to the US Congress?

I Coined A New Phrase This Week

Many non-teachers (and I'm sure there are non-teachers who know no differently!) probably assume that all algebra classes, for example, cover pretty much the same material at the same pace; in other words, in any given school, all the algebra classes are pretty much covering the same material at the same time. The same goes for geometry, and biology, and Spanish, etc. In other words, there's a set curriculum and pacing, and courses/teachers are fairly interchangeable. Of course, everyone knows that some teachers are "better" or "easier" than others, but still, the material covered in this class today is, within a section or two, the material covered in that same course. And all the algebra teachers give their chapter tests within a day or two of each other because, of course, they're covering the same material at the same time.

My school has never operated that way.

Several years ago I heard my school described not as a school, but as a "collection of 60-plus individual contractors". Teachers were given a textbook and taught what they thought was important out of that textbook. After all, if the state and the district purchased that textbook, then that must be the curriculum that needs to be taught, right?

For the most part this isn't a problem, but when students for whatever reason need to change classes, they can end up a chapter or more away from where they were. Our school is in an affluent area and students generally do well, so in the past that wasn't a problem. But this is the present.

Our district has been dragging us, kicking and screaming, towards "common assessments" and "benchmark tests", which will essentially compel us to teach the same material at a similar pace. We just had a very unpleasant accreditation experience, in part because in many places on our campus there's no similarity between what's going on in this class and what's going on in the classroom next door, even if it's the same course being taught next door!

I don't have any problem with somewhat more standardization than what we have now. No, I don't think it will lead to "being on exactly the same page each day". It will, though, ensure, that an algebra course is an algebra course everywhere, and that a US history class is a US history class everywhere.

Our departments need to coordinate to make this so, hence my new descriptive phrase: coordinated academic instruction.

So with that, should I buck for an administrative job at the district office, or go on the lecturing/professional development circuit?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Finally, The United Nations Does Something Right

I received the following email today. This is probably the wisest thing the UN has ever done; it's certainly the UN's best expenditure of money:
United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC)

Attention: Honorable Beneficiary

I wish to congratulate you for the approval of the compensation payment of $405,000.00 USD by this commission. The United Nation Compensation Commission (UNCC) was created in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the UN Security Council. Our mandate is to retrieve lost fund through various law agents and also to process claims and pay compensation for losses and damages suffered as a direct result of Internet Fraud.

You can view this page for your perusal then do the needful by contacting the paying agent accordingly.


Your approved compensation payment fails into Category 'E' and your payment have been directed to the New York Control Unit. The sum of $9,000.00 USD equivalent of your local currency have been approved and programed to be sent to you every day until you receive the total of $405,000.00 USD. This payment have commenced and will last for 45 days so contact your pay agent urgently.

Your first Payment has been sent today with below detail.

MTCN: 7471409156
SENDER FIRST NAME:.. Abdul rahman
Test question: REF
Answer: Today
Amount: $9,000.00 USD

To check the status of this transfer; go to

kindly contact the below Paying Agent who is in position to release your
payment today.

Contact Person: Mr. Mark James
Tel: (347) 829-5165

The Western union payout center have been mandated to issue out your payment and you have to stop any further communication with any other person(s) or office(s) to avoid any hitches in receiving your payment. Note that the Paying Agent will require that you reconfirm the following particulars:

Your Full Name: ---------------
Address: ------------------------
City/Zip Code: -----------------
Country: ------------------------
Tel: ------------------------------


Note that this payment will be 'on hold' pending when you secure your 14 DIGIT ELECTRONIC FUND TRANSFER PIN (EFTP) for a one time payment of $275.00. EFTP payment should be sent to the origin of your Compensation Payment Advice, i.e Republic of Benin.

Failure to contact your Paying Agent will result in payment cancellation.

Mike Hills
UNCC/Protocol Officer

With the upcoming pay cuts, I can certainly use this money.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What islands did the United States purchase from Denmark in 1916?

Monday, April 04, 2011

OK, So You Voted For Obama 2 1/2 Years Ago...

What possible reason could you have to vote for him again at the end of next year? Let's look at his not-so-impressive string of accomplishments, shall we?

The very first executive order he signed (to much fanfare) was an order to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay within one year. Here we are two-plus years later, and there's no closure in sight.

This is good, because all those terrorists that Obama wanted tried in our civilian courts--including KSM, the Ron Jeremy-look-alike who was the reputed mastermind of 9/11--will now be tried by military tribunals, just as they were planned to under President Bush. And those tribunals will be held at Guantanamo Bay.

The stimulus/porkulus bill, the one that cost the nation 3/4 of a trillion dollars and was supposed to prevent an economic catastrophe and keep unemployment under 8%--well, unemployment peaked over 10%, is still over 8%, and underemployment is reportedly about 20%. And the economy still sucks, only now it sucks with $750 billion dollars more debt.

Remember those soaring words that there's no red America, no blue America, just the United States of America? No other president has so derided and attacked his political opponents (sit in the back seat, sipping Slurpees, don't talk too much) as much as this one has.

Remember how high gas prices got while Bush was president? You blamed him for them. They've now doubled since the day Obama was inaugurated.

What about those cowboy wars? No one reasonable objected to Afghanistan, but plenty of people complained about "going it alone" after a "rush to war" in a "Muslim country" that had "oil". There would be no more Iraqs! We at least knew the mission there--depose Saddam Hussein, and introduce a democratic government in Iraq. It was stated at the outset. There were plenty of setbacks along the way, but we succeeded. What's the mission in Libya? To "prevent" an atrocity? To depose Gaddafi? To impose a no-fly zone? How's that coalition, which was only half the size of the Iraq coalition, holding together? What's our "exit strategy"? Did it take 18 months for Obama to decide to bomb Libya? Is Libya a Muslim country? Does it have oil? How about popping targets inside our ally Pakistan--do the anti-war supporters like that?

Gotta love that "smart diplomacy", no? Remember the great "Apology Tour"? How about sucking up to our enemies and crapping on our friends? How cool must Queen Elizabeth have thought he was, when he gave her an iPod loaded with his speeches?! Shipping a bust of Winston Churchill, which had been a gift from Britain, back to Britain? Giving the British Prime Minister a gift of DVD's with the wrong region code, so they couldn't be played in a British DVD player? How about the improperly worded "reset" button with the Russians? Yeah, that diplomacy's been smart.

His "signature" legislative accomplishment was one he turned over to the Congress, and his only contribution was his signature. Yes, I'm talking about the health care reform bill, the one that continues to drop in popularity and was the single biggest contributing factor to the Democratic Party's historic rout in the 2010 election.

How many times in our nation's history have we not had a federal budget? We still don't have one for this fiscal year, and the year is over half way done. Oh, but the Republicans are causing trouble, you say. Well, the Democrats held both houses of Congress and the White House for the first few months of this fiscal year and for all of the last fiscal year (when this year's budget should have been decided).

This president is a failure as a leader. He can't lead his party, he can't lead this nation, and he can't lead the free world. He's a failure as a president. He's a disgrace to this country.

It took a Carter to deliver Reagan to us. I can only hope that the Republican Party can choose a candidate we can vote for instead of just an "I'm not Obama"--because "I'm not Bush" was enough to give us the current buffoon. And to top it all off, he's flip-flopped and is carrying out many of President Bush's policies now, but only when he's forced to by reality.

He's unfit for office, even after 2-plus years.

So you know what? I'm not even going to post "Bush was a so-and-so" comments. This post isn't about Bush or McCain. If you're a leftie and want to challenge me on this post, tell me what you think Obama's done right--defend him and his actions. You want to attack Republicans, go post that kind of crap over in the leftie echo chamber blogs where you don't have to back up what you say. I've stated categorically why this president is a failure and a buffoon. Go ahead, defend him. I defy you.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
In what year was baseball player Babe Ruth traded from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees?

Happy Monday!

I didn't quite accomplish everything I wanted or needed to this weekend--writing a letter of recommendation for an excellent colleague is turning out to be much harder than I anticipated--but the sun stops for no one and now it's time to get ready for work. Have a great day :-)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question, the last in 1900-1909 Week, is:
December 1903.

Today's question, the first in 1910-1919 Week, is:
In what year was the Boy Scouts of America founded?

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

Events compel me to change my outlook from "cynical" to "cautiously optimistic":
More than four decades after Columbia University, the heart of the Vietnam-era student movement, banned R.O.T.C. from campus in a moment of 1960s antimilitary rage, the University Senate voted overwhelmingly on Friday to support efforts to bring the group back.

The vote — 51 to 17, with 1 abstention — came in support of a Senate resolution to “explore mutually beneficial relationships with the armed forces of the United States, including participation in the programs of the Reserve Officers Training Corps.” It followed a series of sometimes venomous campus meetings and found its impetus in President Obama’s signing three months ago of a bill to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuality...

In early March, officials at Harvard announced that they would formally recognize the Naval R.O.T.C. 40 years after the program was banned. Since the signing of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal law, other universities have publicly expressed a similar interest in bringing back the armed forces officers’ group, which has units at more than 300 campuses nationwide.

For reasons both of history and institutional character, however, none has the importance of Columbia, which was home to a particularly vigorous chapter of Students for a Democratic Society — some of whose most militant members helped to form the left-wing radical group the Weathermen...

Professor Applegate said: “This is a culmination of something going back several years. Back in the ’60s, students kicked R.O.T.C. off campus. But in 2011, students brought them back.”

Brown seems to be a holdout:
She noted that the University will not need to offer academic credit for ROTC classes. When the University initially eliminated the program in 1969, one of the main concerns was that ROTC classes could bypass the University accreditation process...

Bergeron also discussed her attendance at the Ivy Plus conference — a consortium of universities, including members of the Ivy League as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago and Stanford — where deans from the universities discussed their respective plans to offer or not offer ROTC programs.

Of those universities, MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton and Penn already offer ROTC programs. Harvard announced its intention to reinstate its ROTC program earlier this month, and Bergeron said it looks likely that Columbia, Yale and Stanford will do the same. If this were the case, Brown would be the only Ivy League university not to have a ROTC program on campus.

ROTC isn't back yet, but the trajectory seems to be right. And if someday soon it turns out my cynicism was unwarranted, I will never have been so happy to be wrong.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question, the last in 1900-1909 Week, is:
In what month and year did the Wright Brothers make the world's first reported controlled flight, at Kitty Hawk?

When Worlds Collide

What do we in this situation?

A Connecticut high school teacher faces the loss of his job after asking a student, who is overweight, if he had eaten his homework. According to the Hartford Courant, officials in the Brookfield school district want to fire Robert Wollkind who, they say, has made a "string of inappropriate remarks over his 32-year career." Wollkind, a math teacher at Brookfield High School, was diagnosed in 2002 with Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder in which individuals have normal or above intelligence but struggle with social, communicative and sensory skills. Wollkind has been on administrative leave since the November 2010 incident...

(Superintendent) Bivona may well have concluded that Wollkind was a potential legal liability, and that 'Student 21' and his family might bring a lawsuit against the school district, charging that it had failed to protect the student's rights and caused him to be discriminated against in his math class at Brookfield High School.

On the other hand, as Wollkind does have a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, it is possible that he simply did not realize the extent of his effect of his remarks on others. He had been a teacher in Brookfield for 32 years: Why had no one called him on his sarcasm until Bivona (who has been superintendent of the district for four years)?

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act require the district to "accommodate" this teacher's disability, even at the expense of student hurt feelings?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
In what year did the Tunguska Event, an explosion that leveled trees in over 830 square miles of Siberia, take place?