Thursday, October 31, 2013

Turnabout's Fair Play

The prosecution in a criminal case wants the judge to forbid the defense from referring to the prosecution as "the government".  The defense attorney filed the perfect response.

While a small portion of this rebuttal relies on the 1st Amendment, the rest relies on common sense and mockery.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Technological Nirvana

I finally have the technology setup that I've been seeking for my classroom for years.

70" widescreen TV, big enough for everyone to see everything I project onto it.  Sharp's anti-glare screen is very good.

Capability to project what's on my computer screen up onto the TV.

Elmo document camera wired into the TV--full screen projection when using the Elmo, no black bars on the sides or top/bottom.

It works much better than the iPad Elmo-like setup I had and it's everything I've been trying to get for years.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The President Is A Liar, And Everyone Knows It

There's a difference between being wrong and knowingly stating something false, and this president is a proven liar.  Not only is he incompetent, he's a liar--and coming from West Point I don't use that terminology loosely.

If you voted for this man you voted for an incompetent and a liar.  The rest of us knew--you should have, too.  You were taken in.  You were duped.  You were suckered.

You brought this on us.

Update, 10/30/13:

Update #2, 11/3/13:  You lost your health insurance? Even CNN reports that it was Senate Democrats that supported the rule that caused you to lose it.  Now you see why they had to pass the law before we'd know what's in it (Nancy Pelosi said that); it never would have passed if they'd told the truth.  I'm still glad that not a single Republican voted for this.

Update #3, 11/17/13:  New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says they all knew (video at the link).  When asked "so were you misled" by President Obama:
Gillibrand offered a startling revelation:
He should’ve just been specific. No, we all knew. The whole point of the plan is to cover things people need, like preventive care, birth control, pregnancy. How many women, the minute they get pregnant, might risk their coverage. How many women paid more because of their gender, because they might get pregnant. Those are the reforms.
If “we all knew,” as Gillibrand claimed, that means that in addition to further confirmation that the president knew he was lying during the at least 36 times that he told the public that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” the following Democrat senators were also all lying, when they promised Americans, as the president did, that they can keep their health insurance plans...
She wasn't trying to throw anyone under the bus, she was just trying to make her point.  But in making her point she jumped under that bus and dragged her fellow Dems along with her.

The Full Red, White, and Blue American Experience

My German foreign exchange student was chosen as Elks Club Student of the Month for our school this month and I got to escort him to the Elks Lodge today for the luncheon.

The Student of the Month from a nearby school was also a foreign exchange student, from Spain, and--I don't remember how it came up actually, or who brought it up, but somehow the subject was broached and the two Europeans were asked if they'd ever fired a rifle.  I got the impression that neither of them had ever touched or perhaps even seen a firearm, so I asked if they'd like to go to the rifle range some time.  Eyes got wide with excitement.

I'll check with my student's host family, and the other teacher will check with his student's host family.  If the adults agree to it we'll take the two students to a nearby rifle range and let them put some rounds downrange.

And afterwards we'll go have some apple pie and sing God Bless America :-)

The Law of Sines

The other trig teacher at my school came to me with a problem today.  I, too, am stumped as to how to explain *why* the Law of Sines doesn't work to solve this problem correctly.  After getting two answers I can see why, I just wouldn't have anticipated this issue a priori.  I'm quite embarrassed to ask, but if anyone can offer help beyond "start with the Law of Cosines, stick with the Law of Cosines", I'm listening.

Here's the problem:
Start with the triangle shown, given only the 3 sides, and solve for angle A.

Now use the Law of Sines to solve for angle B, then calculate angle C.

Here's where the issue comes.  Go back to the original triangle having solved for angle A, and instead of solving for angle B next, solve for C instead, and then calculate B.

Here's what I get.  Solving for B first is in blue, solving for C first is in red:

There's only 1 right answer, and it's the blue one.   The Law of Sines ratio doesn't work for all three pairs of angles/sides in the red triangle.

So the question is this: doing an arcsin won't give you the correct answer if your angle is in the 2nd quadrant (because the range of the arcsin function is (-90 degrees, 90 degrees).  How would you know, then, to check for an obtuse angle in this case?  Perhaps the better question is, without checking the Law of Sines ratio for all three pairs, would one know that the red answer is incorrect?

Have I done something procedurally incorrect?  Again, any help is appreciated.

Monday, October 28, 2013

When We Shoot Ourselves In The Foot

Only educators could say something so stupid with a straight face because they want to believe it:
Scary: Only 57% of college freshman could solve the simple division problem above (231 / 7 = 33) without a calculator (using old-fashioned long division) based on a math assessment test given by Professor Cliff Mass in his Atmospheric Sciences 101 class at the University of Washington. Here’s a hint why – according to a math teacher quoted in the NY Times, “We don’t teach long division…. it stifles students’ creativity.” 
And today I'm told that students have to be able to write about math or else they don't understand it, or they need to explain how and why something is true or else they don't have a deep understanding of it (a la Common Core).  My reply is always the same:  "Can you do long division?  (I assume that every adult can.)  Explain to me why the algorithm works."  Yet we can all do long division till the cows come home....

It's Hard To Feel Sorry For Them When So Many Voted For The Guy

More and more people are already getting screwed by Obamacare:
Universities are cutting back on adjunct professors’ work hours to comply with Obamacare–an unfortunate wake up call for some liberal academics who supported the law.

“I understand that colleges don’t have money to throw around and there’s a larger issue here, but it is frustrating to feel like, that in the face of this legislation designed to help people, that instead it’s hurting people,” said Amy Poff, an adjunct professor who teaches art classes at various Maryland colleges, in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

Under the president’s health care law, employees who work 30 hours each week are eligible for health benefits. Since many adjunct professors teach enough classes to meet that bar, college administrators must choose between paying extra healthcare costs or cutting back adjunct work hours.

For many universities–both public and private–the decision is an easy one: punish the adjuncts.
Who could possibly have foreseen this consequence of Obamacare?  Answer: anyone not blinded by socialism in the first place.

Extreme Environmental Laws

I'm sure it's not just me, so I won't ask the "is it just me, or..." rhetorical question, but this seems pretty darned extreme:
It’s hard to wave your spirit fingers when the city shuts down the cheerleading squad’s fundraising car wash to protect the environment.

This is what happened to Lincoln High School cheerleaders  trying to raise money to attend a national competition in April. The San Jose Mercury reports that local environmental officials warned the high school cheerleaders that their car wash violated the city’s water discharge laws.

“We had a visit from the city of San Jose Environmental Services Department who said that the car washes at Hoover [Middle School] are in violation of water discharge laws, therefore we had to cancel this and all future car washes,” said an email that was sent out to neighborhood email lists on Oct. 18.
This is how far government can take things.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

This Hasn't Happened In A Long Time

Today I took the 2nd test in my Probability Theory class.  I was allotted 50 minutes, and when 50 minutes hit I wasn't done.  Sure, I could have taken another 5 minutes, tops, and finished it, but I had to sign that I played by the rules and that 5 minutes isn't worth as much as my integrity.  I stopped mid-problem and wrote "out of time" and turned my test in to my proctor.

I'm hoping for some "max partial credit".

Update, 11/3/13:  I got 97%.  I lost 3 points on the problem I didn't finish.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


For the first few decades of my life I thought that Sunset Magazine was for old people; it's only been in the last few years that I've learned it's for those of us who live in the West!

It's a fun read, and the pictures are usually spectacular, but some of the stories sure get the wanderlust going.  For instance, the cover story on cabins in the most recent edition included a link to these cabins, within a stone's throw of Yosemite.  How awesome is that A-frame???

Looks like a nice, non-electronic place to visit.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Today, the 89th day after I started, I broke out the limoncello and started filtering it.  It certainly smells and looks good!  When I'm done filtering I'll see how it tastes.

Update:  Holy crap!  It's so good!  Darn strong, too, considering that it's made with 151 proof grain alcohol.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Leaving The Plantation

I wish we in California had the same rights that workers do in Michigan.  The Michigan teachers union doesn't want teachers exercising their rights, though:
Michigan teachers are discovering that their union is determined to make it as hard as possible for them to take advantage of the state's new right-to-work law, which prohibits workers from being forced to pay dues to a union.

Nine teachers sued the Michigan Education Association in the last week alleging unfair labor practices.

Eight teachers sued the MEA on Monday. They are being represented by the conservative Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. Their complaint alleges the union is violating the intent of the right-to-work law by only giving them a very brief period — the month of August — to drop their membership...

Big Labor hates right-to-work laws because they typically mean fewer members and therefore less dues revenue. Union leaders complain that they cause what economists call a "free rider" problem, since workers still get the benefits of union contract negotiations. Nothing prevents unions from negotiating "members-only" contracts though. They'd just rather have the additional dues coming in.
In states like California, in which unions are entitled by law to workers' money whether the workers want union membership or not, labor unions can do whatever they want.  In a right-to-work state like Michigan, the labor union has to earn those dollars by providing a service that members and potential members see as useful.  Which sounds more reasonable to you?

"A Solution In Search of a Problem"

For a few years now I've had an Elmo document camera (like a video camera) connected to both my computer and an LCD projector; with this setup I can project what's on my computer screen or whatever I put under the document camera.  Think of it as an improved overhead projector!

I've been less than happy with the LCD projector; color, which is fairly important in a math class, especially when graphing, appears washed out, and the bulbs for those projectors run into three digits.  I've said for a while now that I'd rather have a large screen TV up on the wall--the image would be crystal clear, and the cost would be equal to one Elmo and one bulb.

I now have a 70" Sharp television, and it's beautiful.  It's *so* much easier to view, everything just "pops".  My principal also gave me an iPad and a mount that essentially allows me to use the iPad camera as an Elmo.  Additionally, I can project anything from the iPad up onto the TV.  Think of the possibilities!  Anyway, my principal asked me to try all this out and see what I think, and let him know if perhaps this is a direction the school should move regarding technology.

OK, I've only been using this setup for less than 2 weeks now, so it's possible I haven't had enough time to be sold on it yet, but to be honest, I'm just not seeing how an iPad makes my teaching or my students' learning any better.  The iPad seems like overkill when I use it as a glorified Elmo, and since being a document camera isn't its primary purpose, it's not even as convenient to use as an Elmo is.  I've been told, "there are all these apps you can use, and..." but it's so much easier (and seemingly more effective) for me to write on paper than it is to use apps.  If I'm teaching graphing, I'd rather do it on paper under a document camera than to use a stylus or, even worse, my fingertip, on an iPad.  When I work a problem out it's easier to do it naturally, with paper and pencil, than it is to try to use the iPad as a glorified whiteboard. 

It's like I'm trying to force the iPad to fit into my teaching, and it's not working, and I'm not really inclined to change my teaching so that the iPad fits in.  It's supposed to be my tool, not vice versa.  And I haven't even mentioned the once- or twice-daily glitches that I encounter; they're not horrible, but they exist, and they take 30-60 seconds to fix, which is more than enough time for a class to start getting off-task.

I mentioned to some students today that what would be ideal for me would just be to get the Elmo image up on the TV.  One student remarked, "The iPad is a solution in search of a problem."  He's quite right.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I've had my Kindle Fire for what, two years now?  And I've never used it to listen to an audio book.  Of all the things I can do on it, I've probably spent the most time playing games.  Age of Conquest is awesome (!!) but it's also a time-suck.

Each morning when I get up I get on the elliptical trainer for 20 minutes.  I turn on the radio but don't always want to listen to music or, what's far worse, the myriad commercials.  I want to burn 20 minutes!  I was discussing this with a guy at work one day and he suggested audio books.  Hmmm, I thought, not a bad idea.

And then I did nothing with that suggestion.  Until a few minutes ago.

I signed up on to get 2 free audio books, and I have don't have to pay anything for 30 days.  This gives me 30 days to see if I like listening to audio books at 6am any more than I like listening to the radio!  If I do I pay $14.95 a month, which includes one book download.

Now I'm going to go fire up the Kindle and see what books I should download.  I'm thinking one will be this book on John Adams.  Can't decide if, for the second book, I should get some "contemporary politics" or perhaps some good ole relaxing fiction. 

Identity Theft

A dozen years ago, when I hired on in my current school district, it had a good reputation throughout the county.  Today that reputation is a distant memory, and here's one data point why:

Two teachers that I know of at my school, and one teacher at another school in our district, have had their identities stolen.  All three of them have had credit cards opened up in their name at local stores (TJ Maxx (believe it or not), Office Depot, and others) and those new cards charged up to the maximum limit.  Of course the teachers involved aren't financially liable for the fraudulent charges but that doesn't mean they don't have to go through an extreme amount of work to start clearing their good names as well as their credit records.

One of them notified HR and payroll today about a potential data breach, given that he personally knew the other two and hence knew of three instances in such a short amount of time--there might be others in our district.  Did the district people say they'd look into it?  Did they say they'd have our IT people see if there was a data trail pointing to a breach?  Did they say they'd send out a message seeing if it happened to anyone else?

No.  They said to report it to the police, as if that hadn't already been done.  Real helpful, that.

One of our union reps said she'd take it to the union president to see if she could put some pressure on the district to look into a possible data breach.  That's an appropriate role for the local union to play and I applaud this rep for trying to move this situation forward.  I don't understand why people at the district office would be so nonchalant about something obviously so important.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your Prius Won't Save You

I never understood the idea of paying a lot of extra money up front just to save a little money on gas over a long term.  When I ran the numbers it was cheaper to buy a non-hybrid Camry than it was to buy a hybrid car.  It's the same with solar; I use so little (compared to others), and my electricity cost is moderate enough, that after 20 years I'd just about break even with a solar system.  Essentially, if I were to buy one I'd just be pre-paying for my electricity--and that's after getting government subsidies!

That was one introduction to this story, here's another.   Back when I was a sophomore in college I took a philosophy class which we cadets nicknamed "drugs".  In that class I learned about Kant's Moral Imperative:  what would be the result if everyone took the action you were considering taking?  If you wanted to lie, for example, what would the result if everyone were lying?  Obviously not good, don't do it.

Those two lead-ins bring me to this story.  What would happen if everyone drove a hybrid, or at least if they got good mileage and didn't use as much gas?  Why, gas tax revenue would decline!  Yet (in theory) we want all the things from government that that revenue pays for, so what to do?
Oregon is moving ahead with a controversial plan to tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of fuel they consume, raising myriad concerns about cost and privacy.  The program, springing out of a recently signed bill, is expected to launch in 2015 on a volunteer basis.

But it’s charting relatively new territory, and other states aching for additional tax revenue are sure to be watching closely to see whether to imitate the model.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blinded By Science

When I'm not annoyed by it, I'm marginally entertained by the quaint view that holds that "scientists" are entirely neutral people who seek out only the truth; that they have no biases, or egos, or any of the other foibles that we mere mortals have; that when they speak about "science" they speak some form of absolute truth.

The Global Warmers sure have the market cornered on that!

Here, though, are two stories that I came upon just today, both from the field of psychology:
“I SEE a train wreck looming,” warned Daniel Kahneman, an eminent psychologist, in an open letter last year. The premonition concerned research on a phenomenon known as “priming”. Priming studies suggest that decisions can be influenced by apparently irrelevant actions or events that took place just before the cusp of choice. They have been a boom area in psychology over the past decade, and some of their insights have already made it out of the lab and into the toolkits of policy wonks keen on “nudging” the populace.

Dr Kahneman and a growing number of his colleagues fear that a lot of this priming research is poorly founded. Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.
A plucky amateur dared to question a celebrated psychological finding. He wound up blowing the whole theory wide open.
I've written before about fake psychology, but the articles linked above are noteworthy for their detail.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Fulfilling Day

I was up at 5:40 this morning, and at school by 7:15 to help proctor the PSAT.  When that was complete I went to Sam's Club, where I bought some small Christmas presents and had a root beer float.

Then I came home and got to work.

There used to be 2x4's imbedded in my back patio, but over the decades they've done a good job of rotting.  A few hours and about 80 lbs of Quikrete later I got most of the wood removed and the gaps filled.

Needing some relaxation, I broke out a movie I hadn't yet seen--The Life of Pi.  It was nice story-telling.

It's now not even 7:00 and I don't know yet what I'm going to do for the rest of the evening!

Happy Anniversary...

...of the British surrender at Yorktown!

Friday, October 18, 2013

7th Period

The dozen or so of us who do a TGIF each week have taken to calling it "7th Period".  Today we went to the bar of a nice, upscale restaurant chain that most have probably heard of--we have a rotation of 3 or 4 places we frequent--a place we've been several times.

I recognized one of the waiters right away; I can't believe it's been 10 years since I had him as a sophomore in my Algebra 2 class.  When I said his name he turned around and recognized me right away, despite the fact that since he graduated I've shaved my head, and then he recognized all of us at the table, save one.

He's finished his bachelor's degree and is working his way through his 2nd year of law school; he's been working at this restaurant for 6 years but it's the first time we've seen him there!

It's nice to see former students, especially ones who are doing well.

Wrong On A Number Of Levels

Of course the kid shouldn't have been streaking across the football field (but let he who is without sin cast the first stone).  And no, he shouldn't have killed himself.
But do their laws have to be so draconian?  And did school officials have to be such asses?  The answer to both of those is "no", too:
A week after he was arrested for running naked across the Sparkman High School football field during a September 27 game in a streaking gag, and just one day after school officials threatened criminal charges against him that could have resulted in an adult prosecution and conviction requiring lifelong registration as a sex offender, 15-year-old Christian Adamek from Huntsville, Alabama, hanged himself. He died from his injuries two days later.

Christian reportedly was expelled from school over the incident, but school officials were pressing for a hearing in the Madison County court system to determine if formal criminal charges would be filed.

"There's the legal complications," Sparkman High principal Michael Campbell told the news station WHNT on Tuesday, October 1. Streaking was not just a harmless prank, he said. "Public lewdness and court consequences outside of school with the legal system, as well as the school consequences that the school system has set up." Christian hanged himself the next day.

A fifteen-year-old can be prosecuted as an adult for any offense in Alabama, which has some of the harshest and most extreme sex offense laws in the country, including lifelong registration on the sex offender registry and the imposition of registration and residency restrictions on people convicted of offenses involving nudity or sexual behavior not directed at particular victims. 
This story is just sad all around.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who Should Get Into Crowded AP Classes?

Should the best academically-prepared students get in, or should there be an egalitarian process like a lottery to get those coveted slots?
The Los Angeles Times reported last week that some high schools have made advanced placement (AP) courses open to all students regardless of ability. If an AP class is oversubscribed, the schools use a random lottery to determine who gets in, meaning some of the best students can be shut out.

This is a really bad idea. An AP course is supposed to teach college-level material, and high-school students can earn college credits if they pass one or more AP tests at the end of the year. These classes should be reserved for students who have demonstrated their potential to do high-level work. And if there is a limit on how large the classes can be, priority should be given to the students who are most likely to benefit...
Schools increasingly pursue egalitarian outcomes rather than tailor instruction to students based on their individual needs. Kids at both ends of the ability spectrum are hurt in the process.
That there's any discussion at all shows how far removed are common sense and logic in K-12 education.

Does Anyone Understand the Gamma Function or a Gamma Distribution?

I have to take another test in my current master's course and I feel clueless.  The worst part is not getting any feedback, or answers to questions, from my instructor.

I thought I was paying a lot of money to get an education in a difficult subject, I didn't realize I was going to pay a lot of money just to watch videos and have to figure everything else out on my own (or not figure it out, as the case may be).

Yes, I'm frustrated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why Does It Matter That The Kid Was "Special Needs"?

This is stupid whether or not the kid was "special needs":
A South Carolina mother says her son was suspended for drawing a picture of a cartoon bomb at home and bringing it to school.

Amy Parham told her 13-year-old son, Rhett, was suspended from Hillcrest Middle School after showing the drawing to classmates, who reported him to administrators.

"They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent," Parham told the station. "They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go with out making an example of him and take some type of action because they were worried about their perception."

Rhett, who has autism, was suspended indefinitely by school administrators.
I'm sure I've told this story more than once on this blog but I'm going to tell it again.  When I was very young, there was a local TV show called Miss Pat's Playroom.  Children could send in pictures to Miss Pat and, if they were really lucky, Miss Pat would show them on TV.  I sent in a picture once and was elated when Miss Pat showed it, saying something like this to describe my picture:  "And little Darren Miller sent in this picture of an airplane bombing a house."  No one panicked.  No one called for Miss Pat to be thrown off the air.  No one called for me to be psychoanalyzed.  Back then people were smart enough to realize that boys draw such pictures and it's perfectly normal, just like playing cops and robbers or cowboys and indians.

Now we've taken what is perfectly normal and criminalized it, stigmatized it, and freaked out over it.  Way to act like adults.  Why would any kid think you have his or her best interest at heart when you do something this stupid?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Most Efficient Studying Methods

The techniques I use are the ones this guy says are the least effective:
The most common study techniques — marking up the textbook with yellow highlighter, rereading and cramming at the last minute — are the least effective, writes John Dunlosky,  Kent State psychology professor, on the AFT blog. Taking practice tests and spreading out studying over time is much more likely to help students learn and remember, researchers have found.
I don't cram, but I do review notes and my highlighted text.  Actually, that constitutes the vast majority of my studying.  I find that what is most useful, though, is actually understanding the material!
Among the less-useful strategies are: rereading the text, highlighting and underlining, summarizing, using mnemonics and “attempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening.”
One wonders what I could have accomplished academically had I used those other methods!

Monday, October 14, 2013

"I Am Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise."

I wouldn't have guessed I'd come out most like him:
Your results:
You are James T. Kirk (Captain)

James T. Kirk (Captain)
Jean-Luc Picard
Beverly Crusher
Geordi LaForge
Will Riker
Deanna Troi
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Mr. Scott
Mr. Sulu
You are often exaggerated and over-the-top
  in your speech and expressions.
   You are a romantic at heart and a natural leader.

Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

The Golden State

What parts of the Golden State are the most liberal, the closest to utopia?  Two of these same areas, and the third is changing from conservative to liberal:
San Francisco, Orange County, and Los Angeles rank as the least affordable markets in the entire country.  Only 14 percent of homes for sale in San Francisco are currently affordable to the middle class (and this is tech central).  Orange County and Los Angeles rank at 23 and 24 percent respectively...

At least when it comes to real estate, California is no place for the middle class.
Good job, California.

Yet Another "Zero Tolerance" Story

Schools really should focus only on events that relate to school and leave everything else to parents or law enforcement:
Erin’s friend called sober Erin. Erin drove to a home on Main Street in Boxford and worked her way through a wild scene of partying teens until she finally found that friend — just as police from Boxford, Haverhill, Georgetown and North Andover showed up. They arrested a dozen underage drinkers and warned another 15 underage youths that they’d be summoned to court for drinking.

Erin Cox was one of those told she’d be summoned for drinking — even though she wasn’t, even though Boxford police Officer Brian Neeley vouched for her sobriety in writing in a statement Erin’s mother, Eleanor, took to court Friday. She filed a lawsuit hoping to reverse the high school’s punishment: Erin was stripped of her captain’s position and suspended, mid-season, for five games.
When we do such stupid things we teach children that we are unthinking, unfair, capricious goons, and that rules and laws are there to trip us up rather than to protect us. 

Good job, North Andover High School idiots.  You've made us all look bad.

I Look Forward To The Day When We Don't Need The Caveats

This boy's accomplishment is significant enough without having to bring his skin color into the discussion:
Standing next to the bleachers he helped build, James Hightower III recited the Scout Oath “On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

His father, James Hightower II, tells TODAY’S TMJ4’s Jesse Ritka how much being in The Boy Scouts means to the Hightower family, “We believe in scouting.  Where else can a young man, at the age of 10 or 11 start a oath by saying ‘on my honor'?  It starts with saying 'on my honor' and those are very powerful words and words to live by.”

They're words that the Glen Hills 7th grader takes seriously.  James joined The Boy Scouts when he was eight years old and now he is the youngest African-American Eagle Scout in the country.
And yes, I'd like to see a similar news story any time a junior high school student makes Eagle Scout regardless of his skin color.  It cheapens the accomplishment to add race to it; it's like saying that a 13-year-old white kid's becoming an Eagle Scout is ho-hum but a black kid's becoming an Eagle Scout is a "big deal".  Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations!

(And if a left-handed lesbian Muslim from Bolivia accomplishes something extraordinary, I hope we'll read about the person and her accomplishment and not fixate on the descriptors.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Too Much

Think you'd ever see such a spectacle for conservative kids?
Los Angeles public schools are encouraging teachers and staff to wear badges that identify them as “LGBT allies” and supporters of the pro-gay movement.

Superintendent John Deasy kicked off the effort Thursday, which he said was necessary to prevent gay kids from being bullied.

“We want all our youth and staff to know that it is safe to be you in LAUSD,” said Deasy in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

The move is part of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s “Out for Safe Schools” initiative.

The front sides of the badges have the word “ally” written on them in several different languages, which will help teachers celebrate the fabulousness of gay students, gay fellow teachers, and other gays, whose gayness automatically merits universal applause and celebration. Allies are straight supporters of gay people and gay marriage...

In an interview with CBS News, Deasy made clear that he wanted school staff to be not just tolerant of gay kids, but accepting.
I'm tolerant of all sorts of kids and their actions and beliefs, but I don't accept all of them.  But let's continue:
School officials did not specify what steps they would be taking to encourage teachers to extol students on the basis of their sexual orientation, nor did any local media ask about teachers who decline to join in the observance.
(In best Lowell Thomas voice) This is California.

Update, 10/13/13:  Oh, and lest you think I'm just a homophobe, I voluntarily have had a pink triangle "safe" zone sign on my front board.  For years.  On the back board, by the door, I have a "political safe zone" sign, letting conservatives know that my room is a "safe zone" for their beliefs.

What A Morning!

I was up at 3:30 to pick up the folks at 4 to take them to the airport.  When I got home I took a little bit of a nap, yet still by 8:10 the army's newest recruit and I were on the road to Apple Hill, less than an hour away.

We stopped at our favorite orchard and ate and bought Christmas presents from some of the crafts vendors, then went to just one or two other places.  By the time we headed home the tiny 2-lane country road inbound was backed up forever with people coming out to make a day in the foothills; you can see why we left so early.  Apple Hill, with all its orchards and wineries, is quite the tourist magnet--especially in October, when the apples are harvested.

I brought home a couple of apple pies, a gallon of cider, and 20 lbs of red delicious apples.  While there we had some tri-tip sandwiches with chipotle apple barbecue sauce (mmm mmm MMM!) and some ciders; I have the plastic bottles in the dishwasher now, getting nice and clean in preparation for my limoncello in about 2 weeks.

It's a heckuva way to spend a Saturday morning, but someone's gotta do it :-)

Friday, October 11, 2013

How I Spent The Early Afternoon

I took off school at noon and headed downtown.  At 1:30 my son was sworn into the army in the Delayed Entry Program.  Here's a picture of the two of us in front of the army flag:
Proud dad today :)

All the kids there looked so young....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Difference Between This Morning and Tomorrow Afternoon

This past Monday evening my son, his mother, and I went to the recruiter's office.  She and I signed consent forms, and my son signed up for the Army's Delayed Entry Program.  He signed up for a 5-year commitment as a Military Policeman.

This morning when he left for school was the last time (for a very long time) that I'll see him as a civilian.

After school today the recruiters took him to a hotel, and at zero-dark-thirty tomorrow they'll take him and several others downtown for medical exams.  Assuming he passes the medical exam, some time between 12:30 and 5:00 tomorrow afternoon he'll be sworn in.

I'll be there.  Beaming.  And maybe, just maybe, the slightest bit hesitant.  Maybe I want to hold on just a little bit longer :-)

The Definition of Hypocrisy

If the press were doing the role expected of it by the Founders, instead of being a partisan cheerleader en masse, the current president would never have been reelected.  How else to explain the lack of attention to clear hypocrisy:
Remember when President Obama was showered with kudos for his 2011 speech calling for "more civility in our public discourse"? He sure isn't practicing today what he preached then...

But, as a sample of his recent words used to attack Republicans proves, he hasn't followed his own advice:
• "Putting a gun to the American people's head."
• "One party in Congress might blow the whole thing up if they don't get their way."
• "Extortion."
• "Demand ransom."
• "Burn down your house."
• "Hold people hostage or engage in ransom-taking to get a hundred percent of your way."
• "Reckless Republican shutdown."
• "Little kids ... have been sent home from the safe places where they learn and grow every single day."
• "Making it more difficult for us to respond to potential natural disasters" (during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday).
• "Say to your boss ... unless I get a raise right now and more vacation pay ... I'm going to break the equipment."
• "Burn down the plant or your office if you don't get your way."
On CNN last week, moreover, senior Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer called Republicans "people with a bomb strapped to their chest." Yet at the Tuesday press conference, Obama actually quipped that "what the American people, I think, expect is just civility."
This list doesn't include what Nancy, Harry, and others in government say.

Update:  Here are Nancy, Harry, and others:

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

It's Not Child Abuse

Who'd'a thunk that this ruling would come from California, of all places:
A state appeals court on Tuesday tossed out child abuse findings against a frustrated Northern California mother who spanked her 12-year-old daughter hard enough with a wooden spoon to cause bruising...

Gonzalez and her husband testified that other forms of punishment such as groundings and taking away her phone had failed to persuade their 12-year-old daughter to do her schoolwork and avoid gang culture. The parents said that other family members had testified that spankings in the household were a rarity...

"We cannot say that the use of a wooden spoon to administer a spanking necessarily exceeds the bounds of reasonable parental discipline," (Justice) Rushing concluded.

Public Schools For Everyone's Kids Except Public Teachers'

I'd sure love to hear the CTA's/NEA's explanation and justification for this:
In his latest weekly column, economist and GMU professor Walter E. Williams presents these facts about where various groups of parents send their own children – private or public schools:

General public: Nationally, 11% of all parents enroll their children in private schools, and 89% of American students attend public schools.

Public School Teachers: Nationally, more than 20% of public school teachers with school-age children enroll them in private schools, or almost twice the 11% rate for the general public.

Obama and the Shutdown/Debt Ceiling Issue

It doesn't get more true than this:
Obama would like the public to think he can’t negotiate and that to do so would be unheard of. But in this, as in so many other things, he’s lying. What is actually going on here is that, in the past, presidents who have had to deal with divided government (as Obama is; the House is in Republican hands) have always known that in such a situation they must negotiate. Whichever party they have been affiliated with, and whether you think they were good presidents or bad ones, they have kept faith with the basic gentleman’s/woman’s agreement on which our government has always run, and that is that if the other side was duly elected to be in control of another branch of government, that group has some legitimate power and must be negotiated with.

Obama is different. He had the brilliant idea that, although Republicans are in control of the House right now, they have no power unless they agree with him, and it is okay for him to defy them because it will have no repercussions on either him or his party (which is largely aligned with him). Therefore he can Just Say No to whatever Republican demands might be, and blame them for the failure to come to any sort of agreement. And the reason he is able to get away with this is a simple one: he knows the media will not call him on it, but will instead support him and amplify his message.

It’s a toxic combination, and that’s what’s “unprecedented”—at least in this country.

Is This Worthy of Punishment?

I wonder if there's a racial angle here:
As first reported by the Sandusky Register, the Margaretta School District announced that it had punished a 15-year-old who had said the following of a player who is of Haitian descent: "He's got that getting-away-from-the-cops speed." The player was competing for a 7th grade team from a school from the Edison School District, which was visiting the unspecified Margaretta middle school...

In the meantime, the boy and his parents insist that the high schooler learned the phrase from the uber-popular Madden 12 video game, which frequently will declare that a player has "get-away-from-the-cops speed," on touchdown runs, particularly when the player in question is of African American descent.

The quote was first used by Fox announcer Gus Johnson, who credited Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson with the off-the-cuff intended compliment on a run in the video you see above.

"Watch out! He's got getting-away-from-the-cops speed!" Johnson said during the broadcast of a Titans game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Because the quote has been used on both television and video games before, the teenager's parents claim that he was punished unfairly and are now investigating a potential lawsuit against the Margaretta district.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Fat Joke

This post could just as accurately be called "Pot Calling The Kettle Black".

Yesterday in 6th period I mentioned that had seen Gravity over the weekend, and one student said that Neil deGrasse Tyson had written a piece saying how much of what happened in the movie couldn't happen.  I responded that I'd read a piece by Buzz Aldrin praising the movie, and "Buzz Aldrin has been in space, Neil deGrasse Tyson just takes up space."

I'm not usually that witty on the spot.  But whatever, I won :-)

Monday, October 07, 2013

A New Article On An Old Diane Ravitch

If you type "Ravitch" into the search engine at the top or bottom of this blog page you'll find maybe 8 posts in which noted "education historian" Diane Ravitch is mentioned--and not always in the most positive light.  There's a new article about her in City Journal, which I'll quote here:
Education writer and activist Diane Ravitch is very angry these days. She’s convinced herself and her followers that elements of the American corporate elite are working to destroy the nation’s public schools, the indispensable institution that has held our republic together for more than two centuries. According to Ravitch, these fake reformers—the “billionaire boys’ club,” as she calls them—are driven by greed: after destroying the schools and stigmatizing hardworking teachers, she says, they want to privatize education and reap the profits from the new market.

Heading Ravitch’s corporate enemies list are superrich philanthropists such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton family, and Michael Bloomberg, who’ve promoted the hated ideas. Equally despised are the education officials and politicians carrying out their dirty work—reformers such as ex-Washington, D.C., public schools’ chief Michelle Rhee, former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and education secretary Arne Duncan (and, by implication, his boss, the president, too).

A few years ago, Ravitch grew so troubled about the purported threat to the public schools that she went through an amazing life change for a 73-year-old historian, whose previous career had been spent writing scholarly books. She reinvented herself as a vehement political activist. Once one of the conservative school-reform movement’s most visible faces, Ravitch became the inspirational leader of a radical countermovement that is rising from the grass roots to oppose the corporate villains. Evoking the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, Ravitch proclaims that the only answer to the corporate school-reform agenda is to “build a political movement so united and clear in its purpose that it would be heard in every state Capitol and even in Washington, D.C.” The problem is that Ravitch’s civil rights analogy is misplaced; her new ideological allies have proved themselves utterly incapable of raising the educational achievement of poor minority kids...

Sometime around 2007, Ravitch began having second thoughts about the free-market components of education reform. In a public debate at Hoover, she teamed with Hirsch to argue in favor of a resolution affirming that “true school reform demands more attention to curriculum and instruction than to markets and choice"...

Then, Ravitch abruptly took yet another dramatic spin and wound up surrendering abjectly to Meier, champion of social-justice teaching and other progressive fads. For the progressives, it was similar to the defection of a top general from the enemy side. Ravitch later said that Meier had convinced her that she was wrong about everything. Not only had Ravitch changed her mind about school choice and testing; she had closed her mind to the possibility of any successful reforms, including national standards, curriculum, and classroom instruction. And anyone who persisted in supporting such “de-forms,” she maintained, must either be a reactionary or (like Duncan, presumably) a dupe of the reactionary corporate-reform movement. In Ravitch’s new lexicon, the word “reformer” became pejorative.

In April 2012, Ravitch launched a blog that today serves as a propaganda hub for the national anti–corporate reform coalition...The blog has all the subtlety of an Occupy Wall Street poster...

The latest incarnation of Diane Ravitch, then, depicts a Manichaean struggle for the future of America’s children. On one side are the forces of darkness, the malefactors of wealth, scheming to kill the public schools. On the other side are the forces of light, including all the courageous parents, teachers, and ordinary Americans struggling to preserve their precious schools. Any middle ground from which someone might offer an independent, case-by-case evaluation of the policies most likely to improve the schools is lost. As in the words of the union song, all Ravitch wants to know is “Which Side Are You On?”

This crude, politicized approach isn’t going to produce smart school policies.
There's much more, go read the whole thing.

If you read this post I wrote after listening to Ravitch speak you'll note that Diane doesn't deviate much from her latest script when she talks.  And I'm clearly not the only one who thinks she's angry.

Hat tip to reader Mr. Chandler.

I Always Liked Howie Long

Being a Raiders fan I have a soft spot in my heart for a hard guy, Howie Long.  He impressed me when he played and he impresses me now with his calm, measured, brief comments about the government shutdown's result that NFL games are not being broadcast on the Armed Forces Network:

I first saw the video here, where it's incorrectly labeled a "rant".  It's anything but.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Changing Variables

Even in college, changing variables (as was often done in advanced calculus) confused the heck out of me.  Now I'm taking this Probability Theory class for my master's degree, and I'm having a hard enough time understanding how if X is distributed somehow and Y is some function of X, then the density function of Y is such-and-such; I have no idea what I'm doing when U is distributed somehow and X is some function of U!  I could try to just memorize formulas but I'd rather understand what I'm doing, and it's clear I don't understand. 

I think I'm done for tonight, my brain is fried.  I'm gonna go watch football.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

West Point Bridge Design Contest

Our nation's first engineering school is sponsoring its 12th annual bridge design contest.  K-12 students are invited to download the free software (it's very easy and fun to use) and compete for thousands of dollars in scholarships (to the school of their choice, of course, since West Point doesn't offer "scholarships").  From the web site:
The purpose of the contest is to provide middle school and high school students with a realistic, engaging introduction to engineering. We provide this contest as a service to education--and as a tribute to the Academy's two hundred years of service to the United States of America.

The contest will provide you with an opportunity to:
Learn about engineering through a realistic, hands-on problem-solving experience.
Learn about the engineering design process--the application of math, science, and technology to create devices and systems that meet human needs.
Learn about truss bridges and how they work.
Learn how engineers use the computer as a problem-solving tool.
We also hope you will have some fun pitting your problem-solving skills against those of other virtual bridge designers around the globe.

Qualifying Round

The Qualifying Round of the contest runs from January 13 to May 2, 2014. To enter:
Form a team, consisting of either one or two members.
Download and install the West Point Bridge Designer 2014 software.
Use the West Point Bridge Designer 2014 to design a bridge. Save your design as a bridge design file.
Register for the contest. Don't forget your team name and password!
Log in to your Team Home Page and upload your bridge design file for judging. You will receive immediate feedback about your current standing in the contest. For more information about how designs are judged, please see the Official Rules.
Use the West Point Bridge Designer 2014 to improve your design.
Log in to this website and submit your improved design. You may submit as many designs as you like; however, only your team's best design will be included in the contest standings.
At the end of the Qualifying Round, the top 40 eligible teams will be invited to compete in the Semi-Final Round.
You can download the 2013 software now to learn how it works and to practice bridge designs.

What? iPads Don't Solve All of School's Problems?

Some people are too enamored with iPads and other tablets, acting like their use in schools will bring about something akin to the Second Coming.  It didn't turn out that way in Los Angeles and it's not turning out that way near Houston, either:
Widespread problems found by a consultant have prompted Fort Bend school district officials to shelve a $16 million initiative to integrate thousands of iPads into the classroom experience at 14 schools.

A review commissioned by the Fort Bend Independent School District found that the program, known as iAchieve, was rolled out last year with unrealistic goals. The review also concluded use of the devices was limited, managers had inadequate skills and the vendor hired to develop the learning platform was a startup with no relevant experience.

Officials hoped to improve lagging science scores by delivering an interactive curriculum for second through eighth grades using 6,300 iPads. Pilot efforts were conducted in fourth and eighth grades at three schools in spring 2012, and the initiative was expanded to 14 schools.

The superintendent, Timothy Jenney, and the chief information officer who led the implementation have left the district.

Current Superintendent Charles Dupre initiated the review by Gibson Consulting Group soon after he was hired in April.

“There was no clarity of why and how (the program) came to be and (was) executed, and that caused me some concern,” Dupre said...

In addition, the review found the iPads were not fully used in the classrooms. On average, only two schools reported that as many as half of their students used the devices daily.

Teachers surveyed about the program following a second round of pilots in fall 2012 said the quality of the content was poor, the platform didn’t function properly and the lessons were inconsistent with district lesson plans, the report said.
Can't say I'm surprised. Repeat after me:  Technology is a tool, not a goal.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT.

School Administration Looks Stupid

In my previous post I wrote about the Anaheim girl who was forced to remove her NRA t-shirt at school because it promoted violence.  It didn't promote violence at all, of course, so it wasn't a violation of the school's dress code--and the school has now apologized for being such idiots in the first place:
On Thursday, the school changed course and apologized to the 16-year-old and said campus staff will be trained so that “an incident like this does not occur again."

The offending T-shirt was white with an American flag and a silhouette of a hunter with a rifle and the slogan: “National Rifle Association of America, Protecting America’s Traditions Since 1871.”

In asking the student to remove the shirt, school officials said the depiction of the rifle was a violation of the school’s dress code. When the student’s parents wrote to the school’s principal, suggesting that administrators had infringed on their daughter’s constitutional rights, Principal Kimberly Fricker responded by sending the parents the school’s policy on clothing that depicts violence.

The school’s dress code prohibits clothing that promotes or depicts violence, criminal activity and anything that’s degrading to ethnic values, among other restrictions.

“In general, anything that is divisive or offensive to a staff member,” the policy said. “The administration reserves the right to restrict any clothing or accessories that in our judgment detracts from the educational environment of Canyon High School.”

However, after reviewing the pictures on the shirt, Fricker later concluded that the shirt didn’t promote violence, the Orange Unified School District said in a statement.
How can we expect students and their parents to respect us and the work we do when we do such stupid things in our profession?  What kind of ninny thinks a picture of a hunter "promotes or depicts violence"?  Pardon the pun, but we in education shoot ourselves in the foot when we act so capriciously, silly, and just plain ignorant.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

More Silliness With Firearms

I doubt there's much I can add to this that would make this principal look any more stupid than she has already made herself:
A student at a high school in Anaheim Hills said administrators ordered her to change out of a T-shirt that promoted the National Rifle Association.

Sophomore Haley Bullwinkle said when she wore her NRA shirt to Canyon High School last month, she landed in the principal’s office for violating the school’s dress code that forbids offensive, violent or divisive clothing...
Principal Kimberly Fricker responded in an email, which said, in part, “The shirt had a gun on it, which is not allowed by school police. It’s protocol to have students change when they’re in violation of the dress code.”

The girl’s father, who has retained an attorney, now wants to know how the school defines violence. He said the drill team is allowed to twirl fake rifles and the mascot is a Comanche.

My First Experience With Obamacare

I have a screwed up back.  People tell me I have an awesome butt; the reason for it is that my spine curves in and then out at the bottom so my butt protrudes more than it would if my spine were ideal.  Because of this situation I periodically get low-back pain and my monthly trip to the chiropractor works wonders for me.  Add in the hot yoga and my back feels awesome.

Today was my monthly chiropractor appointment, and the office was a zoo.  Everything behind the counter was chaotic; there were people back there I'd never seen. 

"Can you give us just a second, Darren?  We have an all-new system because of Obamacare."

They handed me a tablet on which I had to fill out a questionnaire.  I don't want to answer these questions for my chiropractor, and they don't want me to have to answer them!  My doctor spent our entire visit telling me how silly it is, all the hoops and hurdles they have to jump, and the repercussions for him if he doesn't jump.  There are also repercussion for him if I don't jump.  He said that if he doesn't do this, though, he's not allowed to get paid by the insurance companies.  Think of all the paperwork doctors and dentists had to fill out for insurance companies before Obamacare, and now double or triple it.

He was very blunt.  "They're trying to end private practice."  I asked for clarification; "they" is "the government."

All you liberals who want Obamacare so much--I thought you believed that medicine was best kept between a patient and his/her doctor without interference from the government.  My bad.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

TV vs. LCD Projector

Part of the deal for getting to try out that 4K tv was that I have to periodically evaluate its effectiveness in helping me convey content to students.  Here's the email I sent to my principal today:

As you know, with the help of Tech Svcs we’ve been able to get the 4k TV in my room talking to my computer over the wireless network via Air Parrot. Currently, though, only my computer monitor (henceforth, “monitor”) displays on the tv; when I switch over to my Elmo document camera, the Elmo image displays on my monitor and on the LCD projector but not on the tv. Tech Svcs will get back to me if they come up with a solution for that. Of course, so much of my instruction takes place with the Elmo that this is a big deal.

Today I showed a Khan Academy video to my pre-calculus students; I had the TV side-by-side with the LCD projector screen. Here’s what we’ve seen so far:

My monitor is “old school”, with a 1.25:1 aspect ratio. The TV, being super-high-def, is 16:9 (1.75:1). Air Parrot and the Apple TV are providing an exact mirroring of my monitor on the tv screen, which means that what is shown on the tv takes up only about half of the TV screen (because the 1.25:1 image is displayed on the tv). I can’t find a way to expand it to take take up the whole screen without cutting off the top and bottom of the image. Because of this mirroring, and because the tv is only 50”, the LCD-projected image is about 4x the size of the image on the TV screen. Perhaps a 16:9 monitor would resolve the first part of this issue? Even if the tv screen were full, the image would only be about half of the size of the LCD projected image.

The tv screen is clearly more colorful and has sharper detail. Text that cannot be read on the projector screen at all can be read easily on the tv screen by those close enough to see it. Again, the image is only ¼ the size of the projected image.

Glare from the lights, door, and windows is another issue. The ideal place to mount the tv in my room, then, would be on the wall between the door and the window, which is absolutely the worst place to mount it from a classroom management standpoint. I could always go into “Bat cave” mode and close the door and curtains and turn off the lights when I’m instructing, but you can imagine the impact that would have on the ability to take notes on my instruction. I don’t have a good solution for this yet.
That's just my first go-round. My principal forwarded this to the head of our district's Tech Services.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


World War II veterans had to storm the gates, so to speak, to get to the World War II Memorial in DC today.  Why are there barricades, anyway?  Why were there security guards to keep them away?  Unless that memorial has changed since I went there, it's a series if walls and fountains out in the open.

In other shutdown news, military academy athletic competitions will be cancelled:
Saturday's Commander-in-Chief Trophy showdown between Air Force and Navy could be canceled due to the current shutdown of the United States government.

The Department of Defense announced Tuesday that it has suspended all intercollegiate athletic competitions at the service academies, meaning no practices for the football teams at Army, Navy and Air Force. The shutdown also has an impact on the sports information department, and all media availability scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled.
These are too similar to cancelling White House tours "due to the sequester".   Several words come to mind:  spiteful, mean-spirited, petty, vindictive, imperial....

Update, 10/3/13:  Turns out that the WWII Memorial is still out in the open.  Someone had to give instructions for someone else to set up barricades to keep people away from it.   What kind of small person thinks that way?  I think the adjectives I listed a couple of lines up hold especially true now.

What's next, are they going to put a tarp over the Statue of Liberty so that no one can see her?

Let's remember, the president is the Chief Executive.  Every federal agency and department answers to him.  In other words, whether something stays open or gets closed is 100% his responsibility and 0% Congress' responsibility.  I understand if you're going to lay off park rangers and have to close Yellowstone--it's silly, and it's totally just theater, but I understand how to play the game.  But making a decision to barricade the WWII Memorial so a bunch of 90-year-old survivors can't visit it?  Or blocking access to trailheads that cost nothing to keep open?  Or so many of the other stories that have come out today wherein the objective seems to be nothing more than hurting the public just because he can?

I especially like this line: “Remember: The people telling you a government shutdown is a disaster are the same ones who told you 3 weeks ago that we had to invade Syria.

And you liberals held him up as some sort of Lightgiver or the Second Coming.  Rubes.

Update #2, 10/3/13This should be interesting:
Government watchdog Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get to the bottom of the National Park Service’s actions at the World War II Memorial in Washington this week. The NPS has barricaded the memorial and on Tuesday tried to prevent veterans from visiting the memorial, which has no amenities and is normally open to the public at all times.