Saturday, November 30, 2013

Always Been At War With Oceana

There's always got to be a bad guy, and even though I find smoking to be vile and disgusting, I think political calls against it are to be resisted:
UC Davis officials announced in June that tobacco use will be banned starting Jan. 1 on all university property, including UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, as part of a University of California systemwide policy...

One campuswide ban being considered by CSUS President Alexander Gonzalez would prohibit all smoking, tobacco chewing and use of electronic cigarettes on school property except within a personal vehicle as soon as 2015. Smoking is now allowed on campus as long as it isn’t within 20 feet from buildings, in Hornet Stadium or on major walkways...

“We are supposed to be a community that works together, and we are ostracizing students that are making legal decisions as adults,” he said...

A survey conducted in 2011 by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services found that 14 percent of CSUS students smoked, according to the task force report.

Henthorn points to the low number as evidence that new restrictions aren’t needed. Proponents of the ban say the data show a small number of smokers are impacting the vast majority who must endure secondhand smoke...

At Sacramento State, smokers were hard to find Wednesday. Senior Julie Martinez said she isn’t happy about the possibility of a tobacco ban. “I pay a fortune for tuition,” Martinez said. “There are nothing but adults here. … It’s not the school’s job to tell me to stop smoking.”

Martinez said that some of the areas on campus where smokers congregated in the past now have “No Smoking” signs. “I’m glad I’m graduating,” she said.
What group will be next?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/29/5957665/csus-looks-at-smoking-ban.html#storylink=cpy

If Standardization Is The Problem, How Can A Czar Be The Solution?

Joanne asks this question in response to former NEA President John Wilson's contradictory article:
Well, one of my favorite Southern sayings may be even truer as it relates to those implementing Common Core State Standards: "A bureaucrat can screw up a two-car funeral procession!"

Who would have thought the "powers that be" could make such a mess of what started out as a powerful and game-changing idea...

The problem is not the standards; it is the implementation and the bureaucratic desire to standardize everything about the education process from lesson plans to testing. This must stop. Policy needs to change. Administrators must adjust practices. Teachers must be respected. The accountability system has to be overhauled or Common Core State Standards are doomed for failure.

To deal with the chaos, we desperately need a single authority to oversee the implementation, call out bad practices, and recommend policy changes to the politicians. We need a Common Core Czar. 
A "central planner" can solve any problem, right?  Those union types sure do like to think that way.

The TSA-holes Have Got To Go

Is the TSA doing anything of value that couldn't be done better, and more inexpensively, by private companies?
U.S. airport screening is run by the unionized Transportation Security Administration, which has a reputation for intrusive pat downs and inept management. Former TSA chief Kip Hawley called the agency "hopelessly bureaucratic." And studies have found that TSA security performance is no better, and possibly worse, than private-sector screening, which is allowed at only a handful of U.S. airports.

The TSA has a penchant for wasting money on useless activities, leaving it less to spend on things that benefit travelers, such as more screening stations. For example, a new Government Accountability Office report finds that TSA spends $200 million a year on a program to spot terrorists by their suspicious behavior — yet the program simply does not work.

Congress should move responsibility for screening to the airports, and allow them to contract out to expert security firms. Private firms would be able to flexibly adjust their workforces to reduce congestion, and they would end low-value procedures that wasted passenger time.
Is there anyone out there who truly believes that the TSA is making air travel safe?  Passengers have done more to stop terrorists (underwear bomber, shoe bomber) than the TSA has--unless you genuinely worry about Disney World snowglobes and shampoo.

Is there anyone out there who truly believes that keeping a paraplegic out of the country keeps us safe?
Ellen Richardson went to Pearson airport on Monday full of joy about flying to New York City and from there going on a 10-day Caribbean cruise for which she’d paid about $6,000.
But a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent with the Department of Homeland Security killed that dream when he denied her entry.
“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others.
The Weston woman was told by the U.S. agent she would have to get “medical clearance’’ and be examined by one of only three doctors in Toronto whose assessments are accepted by Homeland Security. She was given their names and told a call to her psychiatrist “would not suffice.’’
At the time, Richardson said, she was so shocked and devastated by what was going on, she wasn’t thinking about how U.S. authorities could access her supposedly private medical information
How is our "homeland security" enhanced by such stupidity?  Only in government....

It's A Small Start

The welfare state is dying--at least in one European country:
In an address to the people of the Netherlands earlier this year, the Dutch King Willem-Alexander declared the welfare state ‘dead,’ and said that the people of the Netherlands needed to look more after themselves in a ‘participatory society’ without depending so much on government.
The graphic showing public-debt-to-GDP is interesting:
budget-create-deficits-850
It's about -3.8% in the Netherlands.

Friday, November 29, 2013

On A Lark

I was out Christmas shopping with a friend today, when out of the blue, it hit me:  want to go to Reno?  He'd never been, so off we went.

The drive over the summit was beautifully clear, and Reno itself was crisp and enjoyable.  Great way to spend an afternoon/evening!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Republicans, The Party of Civil Rights

From National Review Online:
This magazine has long specialized in debunking pernicious political myths, and Jonah Goldberg has now provided an illuminating catalogue of tyrannical clichés, but worse than the myth and the cliché is the outright lie, the utter fabrication with malice aforethought, and my nominee for the worst of them is the popular but indefensible belief that the two major U.S. political parties somehow “switched places” vis-à-vis protecting the rights of black Americans, a development believed to be roughly concurrent with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the rise of Richard Nixon. That Republicans have let Democrats get away with this mountebankery is a symptom of their political fecklessness, and in letting them get away with it the GOP has allowed itself to be cut off rhetorically from a pantheon of Republican political heroes, from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to Susan B. Anthony, who represent an expression of conservative ideals as true and relevant today as it was in the 19th century. Perhaps even worse, the Democrats have been allowed to rhetorically bury their Bull Connors, their longstanding affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, and their pitiless opposition to practically every major piece of civil-rights legislation for a century. Republicans may not be able to make significant inroads among black voters in the coming elections, but they would do well to demolish this myth nonetheless.

Even if the Republicans’ rise in the South had happened suddenly in the 1960s (it didn’t) and even if there were no competing explanation (there is), racism — or, more precisely, white southern resentment over the political successes of the civil-rights movement — would be an implausible explanation for the dissolution of the Democratic bloc in the old Confederacy and the emergence of a Republican stronghold there. That is because those southerners who defected from the Democratic party in the 1960s and thereafter did so to join a Republican party that was far more enlightened on racial issues than were the Democrats of the era, and had been for a century. There is no radical break in the Republicans’ civil-rights history: From abolition to Reconstruction to the anti-lynching laws, from the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, there exists a line that is by no means perfectly straight or unwavering but that nonetheless connects the politics of Lincoln with those of Dwight D. Eisenhower. And from slavery and secession to remorseless opposition to everything from Reconstruction to the anti-lynching laws, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, there exists a similarly identifiable line connecting John Calhoun and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Supporting civil-rights reform was not a radical turnaround for congressional Republicans in 1964, but it was a radical turnaround for Johnson and the Democrats.
You should read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

California's High-Speed Rail Derailed?

If this boondoggle fails for the "wrong" reasons, I'm still ok with that:
California’s bullet train boondoggle was sucker punched yesterday, as a Sacramento Superior Court judge blocked $68 billion in bond funding. The same case saw a separate ruling allowing the state to spend $3.4 billion in federal cash for the project, while a second case (same judge) rejected the rail authority’s request to issue $8 billion in bonds that voters approved in 2008. The judge ruled the project would need to meet various mandates, compliances and environmental clearances before the funding stream can be allowed to flow.

The convoluted rulings are yet another sign that California’s toxic regulatory and legal environment makes any public works project slow, expensive and Pyrrhic...

We’ve long argued that the train is an awful idea, but it looks like it’s starting to fail for all the wrong reasons. It would be good to see some common sense shape a consensus that the project’s exorbitant costs and marginal utility make it not worth the while. But no, the train is being derailed by red tape.
Hoist by their own big-government petard, some might say.

The judge didn't give the "derail it!" side everything it wanted, though:
By rejecting the state’s specious legal arguments, refusing to validate the issuance of state bonds, and insisting on a complete financial plan as the law requires, Kenny signaled a strict attitude that could bode ill for the project in another big legal challenge next year...

One of Kenny’s rulings says, in effect, that the state can’t build that short stretch in the San Joaquin Valley without a plan that lays out how a much longer stretch from Merced to Southern California can be financed.

Since the state has barely enough money for the first stretch, the barrier to meeting the larger financial standard is very high.

The judge’s strict constructionist attitude toward the law governing the project could bite again when he weighs another suit that alleges other ballot measure standards are being ignored – such as requiring a 160-minute ride from downtown San Francisco to downtown Los Angeles.
So it could still happen, although the likelihood is now less.

This, California voters, is what happens when you vote what feels good instead of what makes sense.  Kinda like that stem cell research vote a few years ago; how much is that costing us, and why is it so important that California pay for that?

Let's close with some common sense:
Brown should acknowledge that the project as now planned is doomed and either kill it or go back to the voters with a revision that includes realistic routes and costs and lays out how it will be financed.

If it’s worth doing – a debatable point – it’s worth doing right and not with legal sleight-of-hand and pie-in-the-sky financing.
California doesn't need high-speed rail.  If it needs rail at all, it needs a car-train (and not one run by the government).  There are vast distances to be covered out here in the West, and putting your loaded car on a train one day and being in Portland or Seattle the next day sounds like a winner to me--at least, judging by the traffic on I-5 it does.

Update, 11/30/13Not surprised:
These are immense obstacles. Yet instead of acknowledging their seriousness, rail authority board Chairman Dan Richard depicted them as predictable “challenges,” and a spokeswoman said the authority would proceed with its plans to seize land for the project in the Central Valley via eminent domain.

So Many Interesting Points In One Article

From nearby UC Davis, aka Berkeley-lite:
A sustainability-focused UC Davis housing community is generating 87 percent of its own electricity, short of the university’s ambitious goal that the development produce all of the energy it consumes.

The $300 million West Village campus project opened to much fanfare two years ago, riding on the hope that it would serve as a model for future construction.

Touted as the largest planned “zero net energy” community in the nation, West Village elicited great interest from politicians and newspapers alike. Millions of taxpayer dollars went into the private project, including $17 million from UC Davis for infrastructure and $2.5 million from the California Energy Commission...

Though West Village is producing the amount of energy that models predicted, resident consumption is significantly higher than expected, according to the report. Residents at The Ramble Apartments consumed 131 percent more energy than expected, while those at Viridian Apartments consumed 141 percent more, including 306 percent more in common areas.

The clubhouse, which includes a pool, gym and theater, exceeded consumption projections by 178 percent...

Another problem lies in the way residents are charged for utilities. Energy costs are built into the rent rather than based on usage, eliminating one financial incentive to conserve. Residents also say high rental rates discourage conservation.

“I take pretty long showers and always keep the lights on,” said resident Meghna Bhatt, 21, who pays $850 a month for a single bedroom. “There’s no incentive to conserve. Of course they’re not getting zero net energy.”

England explained the complex cannot charge for electricity based on usage due to state utility regulations. Carmel Partners said it is exploring ways to encourage residents to reduce their usage...

Braun pointed to conflicting missions at West Village as part of the hurdle in achieving zero net energy. Student tenants can exercise at the gym, print for free at the business center or take a dip in the resort-style pool.

“This a real estate development. It has a purpose to not just house students, but also attract them,” he said. “Meanwhile, the university also has a sustainability goal.”
So we have conflicting goals, no real reasons to conserve (other than to be a "good person"), even more taxpayer money subsidizing some of the state's most privileged (to use a favorite term of lefties) young people who probably haven't signed up for Obamacare and are still on their parents' insurance--and surprise that these good, young, liberal students are wasting electicity.  Amazing.

But there's hope:
Despite the setbacks, England expressed hope that zero net energy is within reach. He predicted West Village would realize its goal in two years. A “biodigester” that would convert waste into energy is slated to go online in the next few months after being delayed.
How long will the solar panels last?  Will they recoup their cost?  How much does it cost to maintain this type of community; is it more or less than a "standard" community?  So many questions.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/26/5949323/uc-davis-west-village-progresses.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/26/5949323/uc-davis-west-village-progresses.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/26/5949323/uc-davis-west-village-progresses.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/26/5949323/uc-davis-west-village-progresses.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/26/5949323/uc-davis-west-village-progresses.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

California Is Losing Its Edge In Higher Education, But Not For The Reason Gavin Newsom Says

From the major Sacramento newspaper:
More attention must be paid to the California State University system and to the state's community colleges if California is going to produce the educated workers its economy needs, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says in a report set to be issued Tuesday.

The report commissioned by Newsom argues that the state is losing its place as a national leader in higher education.

The report, prepared by the nonpartisan Committee for Economic Development based in Washington, D.C., finds that the percentage of young adults earning associate and bachelor's degrees in California already is below the U.S. average and predicts the trend will persist unless the system is overhauled to serve an increasingly diverse and low-income population.
Perhaps we could start improving higher education by not brainwashing our K-12 students into believing that they'll only be successful in life if they go to college.  Perhaps we could start improving higher education by refusing admittance to our universities to students who need remedial math or English classes, and requiring them instead to attend community colleges until they meet university standards.

Cut down on the number of university students.  Restore importance to the bachelor's degree, and don't treat people who choose not to get one as pariahs.  When everyone gets a trophy, a trophy has no value.

And then let's cut all the absolutely useless courses and degrees.  I'm not saying there shouldn't be some fun, interesting, cool classes at universities, but let's not pretend that all courses, or all majors, deserve the taxpayer's consideration.

Are You Surprised? I'm Not.

For all I know I'm just as guilty as anyone else, but at least I don't "round up" grades at the end of the semester just so a kid can get a higher grade:
The average college student’s GPA rose from 2.52 in the 1950s to 3.11 in 2006. At many universities, the most common grade is an ‘A.’

These and other statistics show that American four-year educational institutions have massively shifted their grading systems to award ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades to most students, according to USA Today.

Is it a problem if the average college student receives above average grades? Stuart Rojstaczer, a former Duke University professor who studies grade inflation, thinks so.

“In a fair grading system, you reward people for their outstanding achievements,” said Rojstaczer. Grade inflation “lowers the intensity and intellectual level in many classes.”

Of course, grade inflation is not even across the board. Elite and private universities inflate more heavily, while community colleges give comparatively honest grades and even flunk students. Yale University, for instance, gave an ‘A’ grade 62 percent of the time last year.
Lake Wobegon.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Collective Mindset

"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."

Here's another, if you need it:


That's really all the commentary you need from me about this story:
A plan to squeeze most residents of the San Francisco Bay Area into multifamily housing offers a test case of whether land-use bureaucracies nationwide, encouraged by the Obama administration, should be allowed to transform American lifestyles under the pretext of combating climate change...

Owning a single-family home has long been part of the American dream, but Plan Bay Area embraces a dramatically different vision of the ideal community: crowded rows of high-rises and mass-transit platforms.

Population density in the region’s urban areas would increase by 30 percent during the next two decades under the plan. Nearly 80 percent of all new housing and 62 percent of new jobs would be located in just 5 percent of the region’s surface area.

Planners admit this will make single-family housing in the already high-priced Bay area even less affordable.
Who would want to live like that? And of those who do, why would you want to compel others to live that way?  The answer to the 2nd question is simple:  compulsion is central to the liberal way of thinking.

The Stats Survey Write-Up

Each year in early November my statistics classes conduct a survey of our school's students.  We spend days brainstorming questions, winnowing down the list, rewording, etc, until we get 20 questions we can ask.  Then we go into classes all over school, randomly select students to survey, gather the data, and input it into a spreadsheet (it's just easiest that way).  Then there's a write-up.

I don't give a lot of written instruction on the write-up for a couple reasons.  The first reason is best explained by an analogy:
When you're taking your driving test, the instructor doesn't say, "Put on your blinker, check your blind spot, merge into the right lane, and then turn right up at the next corner."  He says, "Turn right up at the next corner," and expects you to know that you're supposed to do all those other things.
If I tell them what to do I'm not evaluating if they know that they're supposed to do it.  I am also skimpy on the instructions because the students are all, with the exception of one junior, college-bound seniors.  They should be able to synthesize and create, contrast and hypothesize.  If I tell them everything I want them to do I may as well give them a fill-in-the-blank sheet instead of assigning a report.

I do, though, give a lot of verbal instructions and reminders of what I expect.  If they take notes in class, or have exceptionally good memories, great.  If they don't, well, they're probably not going to do well.  The overarching instruction is to demonstrate what you've learned in class so far.  I do list some specifics I want them to address; how they address those topics, and the detail they choose to employ, are up to them.

The write-ups were due last Thursday; I'm not so mean as to require them on the Friday before a break, and I thought it cruel to have such an assignment hanging over students' heads all break by having it due after break.  The reports are written by teams of 4 or 5 so there shouldn't have been that much work for any one person to do.  After all the data was entered there was a week and a half to do the write-ups.

The survey asked 20 questions on a variety of topics, and each team had to choose a topic of interest and focus their write-up on that topic of interest.  Some teams chose specific questions, others chose groups of questions that all related a topic; for example, some groups chose to focus on the three questions that had slightly different wording on the two different versions of the survey, and to write about the differences in responses to those questions.

I usually don't bring work home with me but chose to bring these surveys home over break and to grade only 4 per day; that should get me through all of them by the end of break.  The grades on the first four?  15/30, 17/30, 27/30, 29/30.

Update:  I've graded the next four.  The scores were 17, 21, 24, and 27.

Update #2, 11/26/13:  Tonight's scores were 24, 28, 29, and 30.

Update #3, 11/27/13:  Today's results were 24, 26, 27, and 29.

Update #4, 11/30/13:  I graded the final four today:  18, 28, 28, and 28.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Only In Education Could Someone Say Something This Stupid and Not Be Called On It

When men outnumbered women on university campuses it was a "problem" that needed a "bold solution".  Now that the numbers are reversed, though...
Alix Higgins has a total of three men in her four classes at Sacramento State. The gender imbalance is also apparent in campus libraries, restaurants and social spots where students – mostly women – gather...

While women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the 1980s, the gap has widened significantly over the last 15 years at local four-year public universities. At Sacramento State, nearly 3,400 more women than men are enrolled as undergraduates, a 30 percent difference. At UC Davis, the gender gap is nearly the same...

“I think this is just an exciting time,” (department chairwoman) Bellon said. “I think we are starting to see the real flowering of those seeds that were planted in the ’80s and ’90s, to make education more equitable between the genders.” 
How is this at all "equitable"?  This has been my point for decades--people who claim to want "equity" don't really want equity.  They want their people, whoever that may be, to be the ones on top.

Also interesting are the charts at the bottom of the linked article.  They show that at both CSUS and UC Davis, our two local universities, women undergraduates have outnumbered men undergraduates every single year since the 1980's.  This has been going on for 30 years now, and the charts show the trend is accelerating.  Worries about the patriarchy are a bit outdated and perhaps we should move past them, despite the howls of the entrenched interests who would lose power by accepting reality.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/20/5928262/gender-gap-widens-at-csus-ucd.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/20/5928262/gender-gap-widens-at-csus-ucd.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/20/5928262/gender-gap-widens-at-csus-ucd.html#storylink=cpy

Too Much Government, Redux

Yesterday I wrote about Vancouver's decision not to allow builders to install doorknobs in new houses.  Today's story comes from the People's Republic of California (as if you're surprised):
The city of San Rafael, CA, recently passed one of the most restrictive smoking bans in the whole country -- it’s now illegal to smoke in your own home if you share walls with another residence.
There is no more ardent opponent of cigarette smoke than I am.  To me it's just nastiness and I don't like being around it at all.  But is it the place of government to make this rule?
But that’s privately owned property. As a landlord, you have every right to ask your renters to not smoke inside. Or have dogs. Or paint the walls neon pink. That’s fine and dandy -- but it shouldn't be illegal...

Over-regulation is ridiculous and unnecessary. There is absolutely no reason for the government to come into our private homes and dictate which legal activities we may or may not participate in.
This is what happens when one group of people think they're smart enough to tell the rest of us how we're supposed to live.  Prohibition didn't work.

Juxtaposition: Race and Harassment in Higher Education

First, from UCLA:
Student demonstrators alleged that there is a “toxic” racial climate in the graduate school, including in Rust’s classroom...

In a letter sent to colleagues in the department after the sit-in, Rust said students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of "micro-aggression."
As the Instapundit said, "If you can’t take having your grammar errors corrected, you’re too dumb and immature to be in college, much less graduate school. Unsurprisingly, this was in the school of Education."

Next, from Minneapolis Community and Technical College:
The reprimand was due to the discomfort of two white male students who said they were being personally attacked while Professor Gibney led a discussion about structural racism in her political science and communications course.  These very students interrupted Professor Gibney during the discussion, expressing that it was upsetting to them that it was being discussed at all.   MCTC went so far as to identify Professor Gibney’s conduct in the class as a violation of the Non-Discrimination Policy and she was directed to meet twice with the Chief Diversity Officer to learn how to be more welcoming to people of  all backgrounds.

It is an outrage, albeit not a surprise, that MCTC would embrace such a backwards philosophy that places the comfort of two white male students as a healthy center for a discussion on structural racism.
If you think there should me two (or more) standards for discussion, (at least) one for dark-colored students and one for melanin-challenged students, then you are a racist--and a real one, not one of the fake ones that liberals always scream about when they don't get their way or someone criticizes the president.

The English were pretty good about coming up with "rules of thumb" about life, and there's one that fits this latter example to a T:  what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Petty Thuggery and Snobbery

I know what's best for your child, and if you don't see things my way, I'll make life difficult for both your child and you.

That's essentially the message that was sent to parents in this note:




What is the single most depressing aspect of this letter? Is it the idea of labelling eight-year-olds racists? Is it the moronic conflation of religion and ethnicity? Is it the ugly grammar ("As such our expectations are that all children in years 4 to 6 attend school on Wednesday…")? Is it the bullying tone? Is it the unconscionable choice of font? Is it that someone can write that way and yet hold a position of authority in a school?

Or is it this: that how ever many times prime ministers declare multi-culturalism to be a failed ideology, a petty, officious, bossy, self-righteous, self-serving, Leftist chunk of the public sector remains stuck in 1980?   link to the original story

Guys Won't Be Railroaded As Fast As Some Want Them To Be

Again, thank God for FIRE:
The federal government is backing away from the nationwide “blueprint” for campus speech restrictions issued this May by the Departments of Education and Justice. The agencies’ settlement with the University of Montana sought to impose new, unconstitutional speech restrictions, due process abuses, and an overbroad definition of sexual harassment and proclaimed the agreement to be “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country.” 


But in a letter sent last week to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the new head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Catherine Lhamon, said that “the agreement in the Montana case represents the resolution of that particular case and not OCR or DOJ policy.”
They will still be railroaded in Montana, but not in other places--at least, not by federal fiat.

Too Much Government

Good idea or not, why would anyone need or want government to make this type of decision?
In Vancouver, the humble doorknob is being phased out. Kind of. Effective in March, new housing will be required to install levers on doors and faucets, instead of the good-ol' round knobs of our forefathers.
If you want a handle, have handles installed in your house.  This is the very definition of nanny state.

Teachers Wouldn't Support Their Current Unions If They Weren't Required To

This is why states like California, with strong unions, are not right-to-work states--because given a choice, teachers would opt out of unions:
Two Wisconsin public sector unions failed to achieve re-certification Thursday, the latest sign that Gov. Scott Walker's sweeping reforms to the state's rules for public employee unions are causing workers to abandon labor organizations.

Wisconsin Association for Correctional Law Enforcement and the education unit of Council 24 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees both lost bids to re-certify Thursday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In the case of the teacher's union, it just barely missed, winning 49.5 percent of its 664 eligible members. It needed a bare majority of 51 percent to continue. The union said it may challenge the results.
If allowed to I'd voluntarily join my local teachers union. Their rule, not mine, states that if I want to be a member I must also be a member of the CTA and the NEA, which I absolutely do not want to be.  Mandatory association--it's thuggish, it's wrong, it's a sign that they don't really have anything of value to offer that people would choose.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Good Advice, Or Bad?

Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, didn't like one of the posters in his high school counseling office.  He's now made a new one.

Was he right?  Was it the worst advice ever?  It's certainly kind of elitist....

Tell Me Again How Democrats Are "The Party of Women"?

I'm not going to argue with this lady:
Why are women finally beginning to reject Mr. Obama? Because he betrayed their trust. It’s personal. With the truth of Obamacare on the table for all to see, including the higher premiums, the canceled policies, the excluded doctors and hospitals, the original targeted marketing of Obamacare to women has now been exposed as the cynical and manipulative fraud it really was. It would have been bad enough, but perhaps forgivable, had Mr. Obama simply been wrong or made a major mistake. To have flagrantly lied, though, about an issue fundamental to our health and future, is particularly unacceptable to women — the very people on whom he has relied for his elections and for support of his legislative agenda.

Crying Racial Wolf

Everyone but the diehard Obama fans is admitting what is clearly obvious--that the planning that went into this socialist disaster was horrible, that the president lied about being able to keep your insurance if you like it, that it's a screw-up of monumental proportions.  So what do those diehard defenders do?  They break out the race card!  I like Instapundit's response:
Yawn. Race-talk is employed when Democrats are losing. Nobody takes it seriously anymore, not even Democrats. “The charge of racism is a sign of desperation. Expect to hear it more and louder in the coming weeks and months as the ObamaCare failures multiply.”

Monday, November 18, 2013

You Think Media Bias Is A Myth?

Were these reporters reporting fact or opinion?

What They Said Before the Train Wreck: The Top 10 Worst Quotes Pushing ObamaCare

Safe Schools

It's either funny or sad that so many teachers truly seem worried about what we should do if we were ever in an "armed intruder" situation on campus.  The probability of ever being in such a situation is very close to zero:
It'd be easy to conclude that school has never been a more dangerous place, but for the USA's 55 million K-12 students and 3.7 million teachers, statistics tell another story: Despite two decades of high-profile shootings, school increasingly has become a safer place.
I'm glad someone's looking at statistics here, as if emotion and scare tactics and dramatic reenactments on the evening news are how we should arrive at good decisions.
By nearly every measure, safety has improved and violence has dropped for students and teachers, according to recent findings issued jointly by the Justice Department and Education Department...

"We can't make our schools into fortresses — they can't be prisons. If you look at the frequency of these (shootings), it's not what we need to do."
A ghost of sanity?  We can hope. 

I'm Glad The Court Took This Seriously

As someone who's been falsely accused of improprieties before--thankfully the school administration discounted them as baldfaced lies, so I wasn't permanently harmed by the accusations--I'm glad that the teacher saw this through and that the court/jury not only took him seriously enough to rule in his favor but imposed some fairly strong penalties against the lying scum kids and their parents:

Two years after San Jose schoolgirls branded a teacher as a "perv" and "creeper" who inappropriately touched kids and peeked into their restroom, a civil jury Friday found the children and their parents financially liable for defamation in a case that pitted the rights of the accused against the aim of reporting perceived abuse.

The jury awarded $362,653 in compensatory damages to former Catholic school physical education teacher John Fischler after finding the families spread false statements about him that damaged his reputation. The 49-year-old broke into a huge smile Friday when he heard the favorable verdict, which his lawyer characterized as "complete vindication"...

The Santa Clara County Superior Court panel also found that one of the girls -- who was 11 years old at the time -- acted with malice and is liable for punitive damages. The jury will decide how much during the second phase of the trial, which begins Monday. Judge William J. Monahan admonished jurors not to discuss the trial until it's over...

Fischler claimed several other causes of action, including negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jurors had to weigh the evidence against each of the seven defendants -- three girls and their four parents. They found the former teacher was only 10 percent responsible for the harm he endured.

They came down hardest on the "ringleader" student and the mother of the other two girls.


I'd be curious what the teacher did that merited his 10% of the fault.
 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why Are Ordinances Like This Ever Passed?

What possible good comes from such rules?
Darren Miller, owner of CJ’s Hot Dogs in McDonough, was cited on Friday by a code enforcement officer for flying flags above his restaurant that honor the military.

The restaurant, Fox 5 reports, is dedicated to police officers, firefighters and those serving in the military and Miller says it’s his right to pay tribute to each group -- both inside and outside his restaurant.

Three months ago, Miller put up the American flag, the Georgia state flag and banners for every branch of the military.
I may need to create a label called tyranny.

The Source of All Information...Isn't?

Some believe that Wikipedia is falling off its pedestal:
Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own. Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive. Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-­ranking quality scores.

The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage...

The project seemed laughable or shocking to many. Wikipedia inherited and embraced the cultural expectations that an encyclopedia ought to be authoritative, comprehensive, and underpinned by the rational spirit of the Enlightenment. But it threw out centuries of accepted methods for attaining that. In the established model, advisory boards, editors, and contributors selected from society’s highest intellectual echelons drew up a list of everything worth knowing, then created the necessary entries. Wikipedia eschewed central planning and didn’t solicit conventional expertise. In fact, its rules effectively discouraged experts from contributing, given that their work, like anyone else’s, could be overwritten within minutes. Wikipedia was propelled instead by the notion that articles should pile up quickly, in the hope that one Borgesian day the collection would have covered everything in the world.
At best I've always considered Wikipedia only a good first stop; usually I'm for more interested in the sources for a particular article than I am in believing the article itself.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Viral Video of High School Student Blasting Common Core Standards

I really want to like this.  I really do.  I have some academic concerns about Common Core, but my bigger concerns are about the fuzzy ways its adherents are telling us we are supposed to teach.  Content standards are fine, pedagogical methodologies are mostly fads.

Since I'm not a big fan of Common Core (but I really like California's math standards that we're now tossing aside), I really want to like this kid and his speech.

But let's be honest.  He's a high school kid.  What sounds deep to him is no better than the fluff that comes from having written too many "response to literature" essays in English class.  His facts at the beginning are pretty good, then he goes into the fluff.

Go watch the video at the link.  It's only 5:21 long.  I won't spoil the whole thing for you, but can you tell me what these statements mean?  In concrete terms that everyone understands?

"The standards illustrate a mistrust of teachers..."  how?  What he then describes is not part of Common Core standards.
"These subjective anxiety-producers do more to damage a teacher's self-esteem than you realize."  My commentary not necessary.
"...there will never be a system by which it's (teaching) accurately measured."  Does this kid not have "good" teachers and "bad" teachers?
"Standards-based education is ruining the way we teach and learn."  Who should determine what is to be taught, the individual teacher?
"The task of teaching is never quantifiable.  If everything I learned in high school was a measurable objective, I haven't learned anything."  Teaching is quantifiable to some degree--it's both an art and a science.  And I don't even know what he means by the second sentence.

His heart's in the right place.  I guess that's something.  But it's not a good enough reason for this video to go viral as the strike against Common Core.  It's a lot of smoke but no fire.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A True Budding Politician

Student politics on campus are among the least useful ways students can spend time (IMNSHO).  Of course others will disagree and share their anecdotes and such, and that's fine, but I don't see me changing my mind on this.  Campus politics strike me as being very much like that of homeowners associations.

Anyway, here's a story of a local student politician:
Associated Student Body member Jorge Riley was seen throwing away piles of the school’s student-run newspaper, The Current, at the Student Center Thursday.

The newspaper staff was informed early this morning that Riley was seen gathering copies of the paper by the Starbucks lounge areas in the student center and putting them in the trash.  The papers that were thrown away showcase Riley as the lead story after he was handcuffed and ticketed for public intoxication by campus police on Nov. 6...

Riley has had an eventful week after being denied the ability to run on the ballot for the special elections and being handcuffed and ticketed for public intoxication on campus.
There was a time when I'd say Mr. Riley wouldn't get far in politics, now I'm not so sure.

Keep On Digging

So let me see if I can get this Obamacare debacle straight.

Four years ago Democrats, without a single Republican vote in either house of Congress, passed a law that had to be passed before we could know what was in it.

The Supreme Court ruled that the law was legal under Congress' taxing authority, but didn't comment on whether the law was legal as it did not originate in the House of Representatives, as all taxing measures must as stated in the Constitution.

On multiple occasions, the president stated that under his signature law, you could keep your current insurance and/or doctor if you liked them.  Everyone in the administration knew this not to be true.  Even mainstream Democrats now admit this, it's really not up for debate.

President Obama, unilaterally and without any authority to do so granted by law, granted a one-year extension for businesses to cover employees.

One of the Republican demands during the government shutdown was an agreement to delay the individual mandate for insurance by one year.  Obama and the Democrats refused and eventually won that battle.

The Obamacare web site was opened in early October and flopped miserably.  People could not sign up for insurance.  If the contractor cannot get the web site operational by the end of the year, citizens will be put in a bind--they'll be fined for not having the very insurance they're incapable of signing up for.  There's no provision in the law not to fine them.

Democrats in Congress are starting to talk about delaying the individual mandate by a year, something they refused to do only a couple months ago back when only "terrorists" and "anarchists" were suggesting such a thing.

Concurrently, the president said today that he's looking at ways to allow people to keep the insurance that he promised that he could keep but that got cancelled because it did not conform to what his law said it should conform to.  There's no provision in the law to allow this, it would have to be a new law.  Obviously the insurance industry, which has spent years preparing for Obamacare, is now upset over even more changes they'll have to deal with (and which will certainly cost them money).

Have I missed anything?

To some degree I'm sharing Jonah Goldberg's schadenfreude:
If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn. Indeed, not since Dan Rather handcuffed himself to a fraudulent typewriter, hurled it into the abyss, and saw his career plummet like Ted Kennedy was behind the wheel have I enjoyed a story more.

Alas, the English language is not well equipped to capture the sensation I’m describing, which is why we must all thank the Germans for giving us the term “schadenfreude” — the joy one feels at the misfortune or failure of others. The primary wellspring of schadenfreude can be attributed to Barack Obama’s hubris — another immigrant word, which means a sinful pride or arrogance that causes someone to believe he has a godlike immunity to the rules of life.
Neither Jonah nor I are happy that individual Americans are suffering, so don't even try that stupid argument.  No, our joy is purely at the expense of the president and his beliefs.  What is happening is exactly what any thinking person knew would happen if this kind of law were passed, and perhaps there's some sense of satisfaction at having our knowledge validated by reality.

Oddly enough, Obamacare as been the best thing to happen to Republicans in general, and to the idea of conservatism, in quite some time:
In just six weeks, Republicans have completely erased a 9-point deficit in a generic congressional ballot question and are now running even with Democrats.
When you're in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging; the Democrats, however, seem intent in increasing the tempo of their digging!  I don't know if we should help them; rather, we should sit back, pass the popcorn, and enjoy the spectacle.  It's like watching the blooper episode of American Idol, and the singing just gets worse and worse. What conservatives really need is a Simon Cowell, the guy who's both loveable and hateable at the same time, to twist the knife even more with acerbic but absolutely correct commentary.

Update, 11/16/13Well said:
The public’s anxiety will not abate. Obama will not escape blame, and his party’s representatives in Congress fighting for their careers will continue to call new strikes against a law responsible for a wholly unnecessary crisis, the explosion of newly uninsured.

This is a tale of misfortune and woe so Shakespearean that only history’s greatest bards could have ever dreamed it. So many liberals sacrificed so much to bring this creation to life. As it has become clear that their creation is a monster, they are struggling against the increasingly inescapable realization that they may have to kill it in order to save themselves, and their party, from an age in the wilderness.
Update #2, 11/16/13:  Again, well said:
As Obamacare continues its spectacular public impersonation of the LZ Hindenburg, dropping flaming wreckage across the politico-economic landscape, I am still just utterly gobsmacked at the dazed bafflement on the face of the true believers in government.

"How could this be going so spectacularly wrong?" goes the hand-wringing lament.

How could it not? Seriously! You think a bunch of people can sit down and... Lux Fiat! ...re-write the rules for how 15% of the economy works in one fell swoop, in what amounts to a giant bong-fueled bull session, and have nothing go wrong? You might as well try to change the spark plugs on your car while the engine's running.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Have A Dream

I would actually join my local teachers union if it did this:
Three small local affiliates of the California Teachers Association voted to remove CTA as their exclusive bargaining representative and continue life as independent associations.
In principle I'm not opposed to unionism.  I'm opposed to mandatory unionism, and to bad unions. Ditch CTA and things improve immediately.

My idea for years has been this: ditch CTA.  Cut our union dues in half.  Our local can keep what it's currently getting, and the rest would retain the best labor law attorney firm in Sacramento County.  Let these attorneys go up against the district when negotiating contracts, rather than having teachers pretend to know what they're doing!

To be honest, I don't see a downside.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stupidity In Print

Wherever you fall regarding mandating health insurance-covered contraception, you have to agree that this is absolutely a stupid statement to make:
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to review the new federal health care law's requirements for contraceptive insurance, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is urging the court not to let corporate executives invoke their religious beliefs to deny birth-control coverage to female employees...

Access to contraceptives, the state lawyers said, "is critical to the health of women and infants, women's economic and social well-being, and women's opportunities to participate fully in society."  (boldface mine--Darren)
Can anyone explain to me how access to contraceptives is critical to the health of infants?  Is not the only reasonable argument exactly the opposite of that???

The Only Conclusion To Be Drawn Is That California Does Not Want This Industry Operating In The State

Does anyone truly believe that these new rules are for worker safety?  Really?
California’s workplace safety guardians have proposed an amendment to a bill that would require porn stars to wear protective goggles while filming.
This is on the tail of last year's law that requires all porn actors to use condoms during sex:
After the measure passed, the number of requests for porn production permits in Los Angeles dropped from an annual norm of 500 to two. Now it appears that California politicians are looking to implement even more expansive protective barrier mandates. 
Are there any other profitable businesses we don't want in this state? You know, like oil drilling, perhaps?

This is an example of too much government just chasing situations to govern.

Election Shenanigans

Claiming that requiring voter ID is racist is a canard designed to conceal voter fraud, it's as simple as that.  To show my sincerity I'd be willing to grant free identification cards to all citizens who have proven their citizenship and have no other ID, even though I question whether there's any citizen out there who truly doesn't have such identification.  After all, the list of things for which you need an ID includes just about everything but breathing.  How many people do you know who don't do any of these things and also don't have ID?  I don't know any, either.

Anyway, here's one opinion piece suggesting that requiring voter ID isn't suppressing the vote:
Democrats who oppose voter ID have consistently claimed that it suppresses votes. If they are correct, then Texas should have seen turnout drop off in 2013 compared with the closest comparable election.

Nobody But Liberals Believed That Tripe Anyway

The Republican Party Isn't Really the Anti-Science Party
Conservative conflict with science on evolution and global warming has been exaggerated—while liberals get a free pass for their own failings.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day Parade

My son marched in today's Veterans Day Parade in nearby Folsom (home of the prison).  He carried the US flag, an honor which was not missed by his dad :-)

So many organizations marched in the parade, but one of the most interesting to me was the local Sikh organization.  There's a large Sikh population and temple about 45 minutes from here so Sikhs and their characteristic turbans are non unknown in these parts.  In this parade, though, the way they honored veterans was unique; in addition to their float they handed out two different things.  The one which no doubt brought them much appreciation was their handing out of small bottles of water to parade-watchers along the route; let me just add that it was a nice sunny day today!  The other thing they handed out was this flier:
I thought it well done.

Happy Veterans Day.

Smooth Sailing

Today it begins.

This is the stretch of the school year that both teachers and students like.  Starting today, and going through Easter, are the following breaks:  Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Week, Christmas Break, Dr. King's Holiday, Ski Week (in February), and Spring Break.  Easter is late this year, April 20th, so there is only a month and a half between the end of Spring Break and the end of school!

Nice.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I've Said It Before and I'll Say It Again

Schools need to focus on what happens at school and leave what happens out of school to parents:
Just as parents are grappling with how to keep their kids safe on social media, schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus to protect them from dangers such as bullying, drug use, violence and suicide?
Focus on readin', writin', and 'rithmetic.  When we've mastered those, maybe then we can branch out and try to control our students' home lives.

Gonzaga Can Make Whatever Rules It Wants...

...so why would students choose to go to a school that explicitly requires them to forgo a constitutional right?
Two Gonzaga University students could be suspended or even expelled after using a handgun to defend themselves from an intruder in their university-owned apartment, an act which the university says violates the school's weapons policy.

Gonzaga University, a private, four-year university in Spokane, Washington, says the students violated the school's weapons policy by having firearms in their apartment, which is in a complex near the campus...

He added that the pistol that was used in the incident belonged to McIntosh, and was a gift to him from his grandfather several years ago. McIntosh has a state-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun, (students' attorney Dean) Chuang said. In Washington state, gun owners are not required to register their weapons.

In a disciplinary board hearing on Friday, the board, made up of three faculty members and two students, found Fagan and McIntosh guilty of two infractions -- possessing weapons on school grounds and putting others in danger by the use of weapons, according to Chuang.

Chuang told CNN the students expect to hear later this week what disciplinary action will be taken by the board. Fagan and McIntosh both face suspension or expulsion. Both are seniors and have exemplary records, Chuang said...

According to Chuang, one of the students had never lived in campus housing and was unaware of the school's weapons policy. The other, he said, was aware of the policy but didn't think it applied to him because the apartment isn't on campus.
I, also, went to a school that required me to give up, or at least curtail, a couple of constitutional rights.  I knew that going in, and the limited rights of military personnel have been repeatedly upheld by our national courts.

So many times I have students miss a day or two of school because they're doing "college visits"--they think they need to "see" and "feel" a college in order to know if it's a "good fit" for them.  I'll never understand this.  How can a few hours on a campus tell you if it's the "right place" for you to go?  What they should really do is research the school.  Check with FIRE and see if the place is a 1st Amendment hell.  Read the student handbooks and see if there are excessively burdensome requirements.  See if the school has made the news recently--as Gonzaga now has--especially if it has done so by going after students for some reason.  If you're a conservative and are not going to a specifically conservative school, these suggestions count double for you (and I've hit BYU in previous posts as well).  That is how you'll know if a school is a "good fit" for you or not.

A few years ago I had a student who wanted to attend Duke.  After the way the lacrosse students had been treated there I could not, in good conscience, assist a student in getting into that university.  His mother and I discussed it, calmly and rationally, in emails.  Turns out, though, that Duke uses the Common Application, used by plenty of universities across the country.  I did the paperwork for Common App.  He got into Duke and thankfully was not railroaded for perceived misdeeds.  To this day I can't understand why parents would send their child to such a school; are there no other schools equally as good, or better?  

I'm not saying that people should refuse to send their children to Gonzaga.  I'm saying that they, and their children, should consider more than just the look of the campus when making such an important decision.

Update, 11/12/13:  I'm quite sure that it's the bad press, and not any "thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues", that's causing Gonzaga to start reversing course:
Gonzaga University has agreed to review its weapons policy as two students who used a pistol to drive an intruder from their apartment appeal their probation for having guns in their university-owned apartment.

"As a Jesuit institution dedicated to thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues," Gonzaga will use the incident to re-examine its policy, President Thayne McCulloh said in a weekend statement.
Moe evidence that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Community College Troubles

What good are fees if you don't charge them?
The fees to attend California's community colleges are by far the lowest in the United States — less than half the national average — yet at least 40 percent of the 2.4 million students in the largest U.S. system of higher education do not pay them.

The reasons? An unusual financial aid program and a half-century-old vision that made affordability and open access the chief purpose of the two-year schools.

The costs are so low at $1,380 a year for a full-time load and are so frequently waived for students who meet income and social eligibility criteria that during the recent economic downturn the system relinquished more fee revenue — $577 million — than the $361 million it collected, according to 2011-12 data from the California Community College chancellor's office...

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education President David Longanecker has been trying to convince California officials that the 1960 plan needs to be revamped or scrapped.

"In the 20th century, we were trying to encourage people to go to college and that made a heck of a lot of sense in the 1960s when California was a wealthy state," Longanecker said. "Today, California is no longer a wealthy state and we are turning people away from college who want to come. What we have now is a low-cost pricing scheme that is starving the system and doesn't make sense in the 21st Century." 
Is California so broken that it can't even run a college system?

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/09/5895625/califs-low-community-college-fees.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/09/5895625/califs-low-community-college-fees.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Boys At School

I thought the juxtaposition of these two stories was slightly funny:

Let Boys Be Boys--stop treating them as defective girls

Boy suspended from school for wearing a purse--is wearing a purse truly disruptive to the educational environment?  Really?

George Will on Common Core

This article is mostly about the debacle called Cash For Clunkers, but at the end of it he gives a warning about Common Core:
The present, too, is prologue. There currently is heated debate about the Common Core, whose advocates say it merely involves national academic targets and metrics for primary and secondary education. Critics say it will inevitably lead to a centrally designed and nationally imposed curriculum — practice dictated by targets and metrics. Common Core advocates say, in effect: “If you like your local curriculum, you can keep it. Period.”

If you believe this, your credulity is impervious to evidence. And you probably are a progressive.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Not Changing My Latitude, But...

I'm definitely going to change my attitude.

A little over a week ago I came down with shingles--and yes, it hurts as much as you've heard it does!  Even as the rash is going way (thank you, anti-viral drugs!) I'm told the pain will last for weeks, at least.

So for the last week I've been in a lot of pain in inconvenient places (it hits me on my right hip, and then around front and back from there) and have been kind of grumpy.  I mean, it hurts!  And I have to go to work.  I can only be negative for so long, though, and I have to revert to my usual relatively upbeat self, pain be damned.  I'm tired of being the grumpy old man complaining about his maladies, so as of now I'm going to be more positive.  I'll look for positives instead of dwelling on the negatives.

It's not going to make the pain go away but attitude's gotta count for something!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Incredible Cadets

The link says it all:
http://www.businessinsider.com/most-impressive-students-at-west-point-2013-10?op=1

This Post Will Be 100% Positive

I have very pleasant students.  I enjoy teaching them, and it's amazing what I learn when I talk to them.  I have interesting things in common with so many of them.

When you enjoy the people you work with, work is quite enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Shooting Ourselves In The Foot, Episode 8 Zillion

Does any normal, reasonable, rational person think this woman is any threat at all to children?  No?  You're correct.  Who does think she's a threat?  A school principal:
An Army veteran living in Georgia says she wants an apology from her daughter's former school after being banned from the building for posting a photo of her concealed weapons permit to her Facebook page, WRDW.com reports.

Tanya Mount says she was approached by a police officer from the Richmond County Board of Education at McBean Elementary School and was warned that she was about to get a criminal trespass warning.

The officer told her that the principal at the school was “scared” of her and did not want her on the school property, she told the station.

"He asks: 'Were you in the Army?,"' she said. "I said, yes. He's like, 'Do you have a concealed weapons permit?' I said yes," she told the station...

Other posts on Mount's Facebook page are photographs of children trick-or-treating and recipes for pork tenderloin. 
The principal beclowns him/herself far more than I could ever do here, and makes all of us in education look bad in the process.

Monday, November 04, 2013

What Is Your "Fitness Age"?

This web site supposedly calculates your "fitness age".  I'm 48 and my fitness age is 40; not bad, but I'd like to improve that.
Fitness age is basically how well the body functions physically – compared to how well it should work – given the person’s age.

It is also a strong indication of lifespan, and, while not perfect, is a ‘rough estimate of cardiorespiratory fitness’, the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Medicine Science in Sports Exercise.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2487135/Whats-YOUR-fitness-age-New-calculator-tells-youre-old-years-simple-steps.html#ixzz2jjAa0Tvh

Union Thug

This surprises me not at all:
A Pennsylvania father is steaming mad after the head of a local teacher’s union suggested he may be a “neo-Nazi” for questioning a school assignment.

Josh Barry, of Camp Hill, Penn., expressed concern after his daughter brought home an assignment analyzing a New York Times article discussing the recent government shutdown. Examiner.com first reported the story.

The assignment asked questions like, “Whom do you hold most responsible for the government shutdown?” and “Do you feel it is principled or irresponsible for politicians to threaten a shutdown?”
Barry thought it was an exercise in indoctrination.

After contacting his daughter’s teacher, Barry heard back from the school’s principal. After a discussion, a friend of Barry’s relayed a voicemail she received from another teacher named Cydnee Cohen.

Cohen, who is also the president of the local chapter of the teacher’s union — the East Pembrook Education Association, which is part of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) — said on the voicemail, “We’re having some problems with a parent in our school district and on his [Facebook] page you are one of his friends … but I would like to know, some of it seems like he is a neo-Nazi.”
The guy is Jewish and not a tea partier, as if either of those things matters in this story.  He'd be just as right, or wrong, questioning the assignment even if he were a neo-Nazi or a tea partier.

Even The Local (Liberal) Paper Can't Ignore It Any Longer

From today's major Sacramento newspaper, on the latest socialist rage that's collapsing in on itself:
Hundreds of thousands of Californians who purchase their own health insurance are bracing to pay more for their plans, as the cost of the federal health care overhaul lands harder on middle-class customers.

Notices began arriving in recent weeks informing consumers that their plans are being phased out and replaced with policies that comply with requirements of the health care law. Many are being told to expect double-digit percentage increases in monthly costs, in part to help balance the cost of covering the underprivileged and those with pre-existing medical conditions who may not have had coverage.
This is the cost of "free" health care.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/04/5877848/in-california-hundreds-of-thousands.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Your Webcam Weather Report

I have an app on my phone that lets me view webcams from around the world.  I've added some favorites and now, based on what I can see on the cams, is your weather report:

Venice, Italy:  looks like there might be some "high water" in the island city, as elevated wooden sidewalks pass through the Piazetta and in front of St. Mark's Basilica.

Rome, Italy:  appears to be a nice, dry evening.  Not too cold, based on how people are dressed.

Vatican City:  well lit and dry.  What is that big stage that's been set up for weeks immediately south of the obelisk?

Paris, France: a perfectly clear night, a cobalt sky serves as a backdrop to a golden yellow-lit Eiffel Tower.

Schwangau, Germany:  a few patchy clouds are evident as the sun sets over Bavaria.  There is no fog at all, and Schloss Neuschwanstein is clearly visible up the hill.

Athens, Greece:  it's dark.

London, England:  appears dry, the sky is too dark to tell if there's high overcast or not.

Heidelberg, Germany:  a crystal clear sky dims over the Neckar River city.

San Francisco, CA:  the fog has mostly burned off over the Bay revealing a gorgeous view of Alcatraz and The City from Sausalito.  Clear skies.

Waikiki Beach, HI:  dark.

Cancun, QR, Mexico:  Ominous, low storm clouds cover the lagoon, the city, and the ocean.  The northern part of the island appears to be getting rain at this time.

Friday Harbor, SJI, WA:  Heavy white clouds with patches of blue sky.  Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day.

Victoria, BC, Canada:  it's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiney day.

Vancouver, BC, Canada: I don't see a cloud in the sky.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

7th Period

Yesterday I held our weekly "7th period", our TGIF, at my house.  Usually we go to a restaurant/bar near school, but since my limoncello turned out so well, I offered up my back patio and the yellow nectar of Italian gods.  Everybody who came brought something to eat.

It was nicely attended, about a dozen people overall showed up, more than usually hit the restaurants.  Just from sipping out of shot glasses we almost finished off an entire bottle of limoncello--it was definitely a hit!

I now have a kitchen full of cheese, crackers, etc.--as well as a crock pot of chili!  And it's a football weekend....