Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Imagining A Future

From EIA:
“We know we could experience an immediate, short-term loss of membership.” Last year I posted a PowerPoint presentation from the California Teachers Association titled “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share.” It illustrated CTA’s own belief that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn agency fee laws across the nation.

But CTA is not alone in its belief. NEA itself is trying to prepare all of its state affiliates for the inevitable day when they have to recruit all their members, and not rely on the threat of loss of their jobs to persuade reluctant teachers to join or pay agency fees.

The union created “Engaging Members and Leaders in a Non-Agency Fee World: A Toolkit” to assist those affiliates in recruiting and retaining members in a free and competitive market. NEA warns them, “we know we could experience an immediate, short-term loss of membership.”

I have posted the full 28-page document online and it is accessible through EIA’s Declassified page. Read through it all, but here are a few highlights....
They might start by earning the money, the respect, and the loyalty of teachers by representing all of them and by not being a political bully or an arm of the Democratic Party.  Until they do that, they can rot in hell for all I care.

CA "Kids First" Conversations

Here's the press release for the discussion I attended downtown this afternoon:

March 31, 2015

Cynara Lilly
CLilly@wearerally.com or (206) 915-7821
Students Matter, Congressman Miller Join Forces to Reimagine California Public Education
Miller to Lead Series of Stakeholder Meetings Across California 

SACRAMENTO, CA—Students Matter, the nonprofit organization behind the historic Vergara v. California lawsuit, is kicking off a groundbreaking California event series, “Kids First Conversations,” today in partnership with Congressman George Miller. The series will include a string of roundtable discussions across the state hosted by the former House Education and Labor Committee Chairman and will culminate in a report summarizing public findings and best practices that can be used as a blueprint for reimagining California’s education system.

There is no aspect more critical to tackling our education challenges than reorienting our education system to put kids first,” said Miller. “I am excited to partner with Students Matter to take on this challenge in California, to find solutions to the current problems facing our schools, to listen directly to parents and communities about what they want for their children and to translate that into reimagining our current education system.”

By ruling in favor of the Vergara plaintiffs last summer, Judge Rolf M. Treu created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to refocus California’s education system to one that serves kids first. Using that as a starting point, Miller and Students Matter will lead a six-month process to create substantive findings to guide California’s education system. The project kicks off today in Sacramento. Attendees include parents, teachers, and school administrators, as well as local elected officials, civil rights leaders and education organizations.  

“The opportunity presented by Vergara and the conversations we are planning around the state open up an opportunity for community members—including low-income parents—to have a real seat at the table to translate their stories into a public policy roadmap for children of the 21st century," said Ben Austin, Policy Director for Students Matter. “We are excited to work with Congressman Miller to ensure that the real stakeholder voices—kids, parents, community members and educators—are heard and truly included in the policymaking process.

The Kids First Conversations series is the latest move by Students Matter to ensure public education delivers on its promise and obligation to provide a quality education to every child. The announcement comes on the heels of a set of policy pillars the organization released earlier this year to help guide the 2015 California legislature. Read Students Matter’s Teacher Employment Policy Pillars on the Students Matter website
In addition to Congressman Miller’s leadership, Students Matter will also partner with a major academic institution to release an official report inspired by the series featuring testimony from roundtable participants. The report will guide policy and discourse in Sacramento by giving lawmakers a blueprint for how to create a kids-centered education agenda. 

Next steps
Today’s event in Sacramento is the first in a series, with additional events scheduled for: San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles, Bay Area and a tele-townhall. 

About George Miller
Congressman George Miller of Contra Costa County served in the United States House of Representatives for 40 years as a widely recognized leader on education, labor, and the environment, fighting tirelessly to improve public education for students throughout California and across the country.


Students Matter is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to sponsoring impact litigation to promote access to quality public education. Learn more at studentsmatter.org.
Let's point out that George Miller is a Democrat from the Bay Area--which means, at the very least, he's not conservative, not in the least! But we can find common ground in wanting what's best for all kids, and I'm always willing to "reach across the aisle" when I can. On today's topics we seemed to have quite a bit of common ground, which I'm happy to find. He introduced himself as one of the principal authors of No Child Left Behind, and he, along with Ted Kennedy, are not conservatives. How do we come to agree, then?  We arrive at the same point; Miller and Ben Austin taking a left-wing route, me taking a right-wing route, but we get to the same place.  We get to that place because we genuinely care about students, we don't just say we do; we put Kids First, not adults.

I'll write more about the event itself after I've had a chance to digest it a bit.

Update, 4/3/15:  More detail on the discussion itself is here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Spammers Are Back

In the early days of this blog I got a lot of spam comments--then I switched from unmoderated to moderated comments.  I still got a lot of spam but it it was easier to avoid having it show up in the comments.

Some posts are "spam magnets".  I don't know why, but certain posts here and there, with seemingly nothing in common with each other, would start attracting spam.  I don't know enough about how spammers operate to know why they do that, but they do.

For the longest time I haven't gotten much spam--more accurately, Blogger's filters have weeded it out before it ever even shows up in my "to be approved" comment listing.  Lately, however, the spam is showing back up.  It's nothing more than an inconvenience, but I still hate it.  Given the opportunity to do mean and terrible things to spammers, I would willingly and cheerfully do so.

Brave New World of Teaching

One of the teachers at my school recently sent the following post to members of our staff:

Whenever a college student asks me, a veteran high-school English educator, about the prospects of becoming a public-school teacher, I never think it’s enough to say that the role is shifting from "content expert" to "curriculum facilitator." Instead, I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The "virtual class" will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country’s best teachers (a.k.a. a "super-teacher"), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record.

I tell this college student that in each classroom, there will be a local teacher-facilitator (called a "tech") to make sure that the equipment works and the students behave. Since the "tech" won’t require the extensive education and training of today’s teachers, the teacher’s union will fall apart, and that "tech" will earn about $15 an hour to facilitate a class of what could include over 50 students. This new progressive system will be justified and supported by the American public for several reasons: Each lesson will be among the most interesting and efficient lessons in the world; millions of dollars will be saved in reduced teacher salaries; the "techs" can specialize in classroom management; performance data will be standardized and immediately produced (and therefore "individualized"); and the country will finally achieve equity in its public school system.

"So if you want to be a teacher," I tell the college student, "you better be a super-teacher."

I'm not a Luddite, but neither do I see the imminent replacement of flesh-and-blood teachers.  Thomas Edison thought that the movie projector would revolutionize education because it would allow every student to have the best teachers in the world...does that sound at all like what we're hearing about the internet?

I don't think teachers are going away, and I don't hold this position not from a romantic point of view but from a practical one.  Yes, humans are social animals and yes, it's much easier to learn in an interactive environment than from a video screen (as someone earning a master's degree online, I state that last point categorically).  Teachers will remain in large part because of those two points (and I would wager that the classroom of 50 years from now won't look all that different from the way it looks today).  Do you really think Edison's position will finally hold sway because of the internet?  A large proportion of the planet has access to Harvard, Yale, and MIT professors and lectures entirely free, and yet...

The other concern at the linked article was the pendulum swing from the teacher as "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side".  That pendulum will always swing, there's no reason to believe that the teacher will ever permanently become a mere facilitator of curriculum--again, my own experience reinforces that belief.

I'm far more worried that the state teachers' retirement system is going to go broke before I retire than I am that the teaching profession itself will disappear.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mixed Messages and Mixed-Sex Bathrooms

What with all the brouhaha lately about so-called “rape culture” on American university campuses, as well as the increasingly watered-down definitions of rape and assault, one wonders why a university would want to make it easier for men to have access to women’s bathrooms:
NBC Charlotte learned Tuesday night, due to an anonymous tip, that the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus now allows transgender students, faculty and staff to use the restroom of their choice…

UNCC posted an update on it’s website, reading, “The current policy states that any student, faculty or staff member may use the restroom that corresponds to the individual’s gender identity.”

Where Are The Howls From The Left?

If this turns out to be true, it's more than a little sick:
San Francisco sheriff’s deputies arranged and gambled on battles between County Jail inmates, forcing one to train for the fights and telling them to lie if they needed medical attention, the city’s public defender said Thursday.

Since the beginning of March, at least four deputies at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St. threatened inmates with violence or withheld food if they did not fight each other, gladiator-style, for the entertainment of the deputies, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said.

Adachi said the ringleader in these fights was Deputy Scott Neu, who was accused in 2006 of forcing inmates to perform sexual acts on him. That case was settled out of court. 
This happens in San Francisco and there's no protesting in the streets.  I'm reminded of a far less physically abusive situation at Abu Ghraib prison, which obviously generated a different response.  Why might that be, do you think?

Mastering Math Teaching

As this post shows, it's not "drill and kill" but "drill and skill":
Britain has imported math teachers from high-scoring Shanghai to demonstrate teaching techniques, reports The Guardian....

McMullen spent two weeks observing at a Shanghai primary school in September. Math lessons are shorter there, but better, he says. “I saw better maths teaching in 35 minutes than I had ever done in an hour and ten minutes.”
In Shanghai every child of the same age is on the same page of the same text book at the same time.

. . . Children have mastered their jiujiu (times tables) back to front and inside out by the time they are eight. Classrooms are bare and text books are basic, minimal, “not that appealing” to look at, admits McMullen, but of exceptionally high quality and thoroughly researched.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

So-called Rape Culture

From Instapundit:
Campus rape is a serious problem. But while public attention is focused on students carrying mattresses and the discredited Rolling Stone report about rape at the University of Virginia, the fact is that sexual assault is more common off campus than on.
Consider this: If you lived in Gallup, New Mexico in 2013, you were 47 times more likely to be raped than if you attended Harvard, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics. Yet chances are you won’t see any protesters in New Mexico. Coverage of campus rape has likely increased for a variety of reasons – the social media influence of the at-risk demographic, the ability of victims and supporters to articulate the problem and because it — like any other type of violent crime in poor communities — is more of a surprise. That’s not to lessen one or the other; just a diagnosis of the arc of public attention.
A 2014 report from the Department of Justice called Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013 found that non-students aged 18-24 were 20% more likely to be sexually assaulted than students. Also, as these Reuters graphics show, the severity of the assault was worse for non-students, the rate of completed rape as opposed to other kinds of assault being 50% higher.
Follow the link for the graphics. Also, note that 6.1 out of 100,000 isn’t the same as 1 in 5.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh emails: “I think 6.1/100,000 is the yearly attempted/completed/threatened sexual assault rate as reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and so isn’t directly comparable to the 1 in 5 assertion, which purports to measure the rate for the entire span of time in college; to make it comparable, I think you’d need to multiply it by 4 or 5 years. The difference remains vast, but not quite as vast.” A fair point. 24.4 out of 100,000 is still well below the 20,000 out of 100,000 we’d need for the 1 in 5 figure.
If you talk about “rape culture” but refuse to accept the FBI’s statistics, you’re more interested in touting your liberal bona fides than in reality--which, in this case, is really kind of sick, don't you think?

Update, 3/27/15:  Another update to the Instapundit post, correcting some math:
It looks like the Reuters story on which we were both relying got things badly wrong, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch it when I first corresponded with you. 6.1 per 100,000 would indeed be a very low attempted/completed/threatened sexual assault rate, amounting to only an equivalent of 9,000 per year for all women in the U.S. – even though women of college age are much more likely to be targeted for sexual assault than women who are materially younger or materially older. As the correspondent below notes, the original Bureau of Justice Statistics number (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsavcaf9513.pdf) is that the yearly victimization rate for college-age women is 6.1 per 1000, not 6.1 per 100,000. Again, even multiplied by 4 or 5 it’s well below 20%; but it’s about a factor of 7 or so below, not a factor of 700.

Do You Really Care About The Achievement Gap?

From Joanne:
In 41 cities, charter students learn significantly more than similar students in traditional public schools, according to a new report by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO. The average gain was the equivalent of 40 more days of learning in math, and 28 more in reading.

Disadvantaged students — blacks, Latinos, English Learners, low-income and special-education students — gained the most. Whites did worse in urban charters than in traditional schools.
If you talk about the achievement gap but don’t support charter schools despite their proven success, you’re really just interested in touting your liberal bona fides rather than actually having children learn.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Joanne has two consecutive post up on reading:
Finland: Girls Read Well But Not Boys, and
Boys Are Catching Up In Reading (but presumably not in Finland!).


A round-up of Iraq topics--including video, so no one can challenge what was really said--is available here.  It's nice to have all that information available in one place.

You can't get clearer evidence that this president has been a disaster.

Then Enviro-wackos Are Going To Have To Turn Up The Heat On Americans

Why?  Because Americans just aren't buying their global warming alarmism:
Americans' concern about several major environmental threats has eased after increasing last year. As in the past, Americans express the greatest worry about pollution of drinking water, and the least about global warming or climate change.
Who says so?  Gallup.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Price Diversity?

Would you rather your kid have a teacher of the same skin color, or one that's bright?
Should we select teacher candidates for their smarts? asks the National Council on Teacher Quality Bulletin. If so, “can we raise the bar without endangering equitable access to strong teachers or limiting diversity?”
I wouldn't want to work at a place that hired me, or not, because of my skin color.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Guess If You're Foul Enough, University Professors Will Adore You

The so-called reality-based community has never explained, at least to my satisfaction, the allure of communism, especially given its death toll in the 20th century.  In overall numbers the communists make the Nazis look like pikers, and that's not an exaggeration.

About 5 months ago I wrote about UCLA's having Angela Davis' picture on banners around campus, holding her up as an exemplar of what UCLA students should aspire to and how they should act.  I didn't mince any words in that post and I'm not going to mince them now--Davis is a sickening human being.  Yes, her ideas are "different", but that doesn't mean they hold any value for sane people.  That the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will pay her as much money for one speech as I make in three months--well, they're sick, too:
Massachusetts taxpayers are questioning the speaking fee for activist communist Angela Davis to talk to students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this month.

MassLive.com reported on Tuesday that Davis is scheduled to deliver a talk titled “Sustaining Social Justice Movements and Intersectional Struggles” at the university’s Fine Arts Center March 30.

The announcement drew criticism from taxpayers online, who commented on Davis’ controversial past.

Davis was tried as a conspirator in the 1970 armed takeover of a Marin County, California courtroom in which four people died. Davis purchased the guns used in the tragic incident, and was on the run from the FBI for a time before she was eventually acquitted of aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder, according to Wikipedia.org.

Davis was a leader in the Communist Party USA in the 1960s and reportedly had close relations with the Black Panthers. She was fired from her teaching position at UCLA in 1970 for repeated references to cops as “pigs,” and other “inflammatory language,” according to media reports.

MassLive commenter seekthetruth posted that he didn’t appreciate the public university using tax dollars to finance Davis’ speaking engagement.
What value can she possibly bring to university students?  What redeeming qualities does this thing have to merit such money and feting? 

I'm glad there's someone in Massachusetts willing to challenge this.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

California Governor Beclowns Himself

Governor Brown said today that Ted Cruz' stance on global warming should be disqualifying for president:
Responding to comments made by Cruz on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Democratic Governor Brown said of Cruz, "That man betokens such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data. It's shocking and I think that man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office"...

Brown said the drought being experienced in California could be traced to the buildup of carbon from coal and other sources, and that leaders need to take measures to prevent dire consequences. 

"Could be"?  If Brown likes science (and government) so much, perhaps he should pay attention to NOAA:
Natural weather patterns, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought parching California, says a study out Monday from federal scientists.

"It's important to note that California's drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state," said Richard Seager, the report's lead author and professor with Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The report was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal but was reviewed by other NOAA scientists.

"In fact, multiyear droughts appear regularly in the state's climate record, and it's a safe bet that a similar event will happen again," he said.
That he has been elected to so many offices in California, so many times, shows that the drought isn't necessarily California's biggest problem.

The Purest Science

Reverse Midas

Can you come up with one foreign policy success of the Obama Administration?

It certainly wasn't his Grand Apology Tour.

Iraq, which in 2010 had been touted as a success (video here), is now run partly by IS and partly by Iran. 

President Obama thought Afghanistan was the right war and Iraq the wrong one.  How are things going there?

Remember when the American Left was going nuts over President Bush's mythical preemptive war against Iran to keep it from getting nukes?  Is that worse than a fake deal that would essentially allow Iran to develop nukes?

President Obama backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's elections.  That didn't turn out well for the US, for Egypt, or for the Muslim Brotherhood. President Obama offered to meet with the incoming president of Egypt but couldn't bring himself to make a phone call of congratulations to Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel this past week after he won the election there.  After Morsi was overthrown the standing of the US in Egypt was greatly diminished.

President Obama chose to "lead from behind" in Libya and then wanted to tout our great success.  That hasn't turned out well for the US or for Libya, which isn't even a real country anymore.

President Obama asked Russian president Medvedev to let Vlad Putin know that after the 2012 election he would have more "flexibility" to deal with the Russians because he wouldn't have to run for election again.  That hasn't turned out well for the US or for Ukraine.  A missile defense system sound like a good idea right now, especially to Eastern Europeans.  And remember this comment from the 2012 debates?  It was a witty zinger--but who ended up being right?

President Obama drew a "red line" in the sand regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  Syria used such weapons, Obama responded with silence.  Actually, no, not with silence, he denied ever having made the "red line" threat in the first place and tried to say that the world did so by passing a "no chemical weapons" treaty--when, after World War I?  Anyway, his stance hasn't turned out well for the US or for the Syrian civilians who were killed with chemical weapons.

President Obama, a mere 6 months ago, touted Yemen as an anti-terrorist success story.  That hasn't turned out well for the US or for Yemen, which this past week fell to Iranian-backed rebels.  All that was missing from the US withdrawal was an iconic picture of a helicopter on the roof.

Where in the world is the US better off today than it was in 2008, when this disaster of a president was elected?  Where in the world is the US more respected and more valued today than it was in 2008, when this disaster of a president was elected?  Where in the world have US actions contributed to peace, stability, and a better life since 2008, when this disaster of a president was elected?

Where has our stature been diminished?  The list above is a good start.  The Instapundit has been saying since 2009 that a "Carter rerun is a best-case scenario" and, sadly, he could not have been more correct.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Joke, Or Real?

I'm not one who believes that racial jokes should never be made.  On the other hand, when such a joke is made it should be very clear that it's a joke--and in the video here I can't tell at all whether he's joking or not:
A principal at a middle school in Fresno, Calif., has come under fire for saying “I just don’t like black kids” in a video taken on the cell phone of a student.

Scandinavian Middle School Vice Principal Joe DiFilippo was put on paid administrative leave while an outside investigator gathers facts and makes a “credible determination,” according to the Fresno Bee.

After the investigation, Fresno Unified spokesman Jed Chernabaeff says administrators will decide DiFilippo’s future with the district.

In the video that was posted on YouTube, DiFilippo wears dark sunglasses and stands casually against a pole outside the school cafeteria talking with a student. A young voice is heard asking, “Mr. DiFilippo, who at this school do you not like?” Another voice responds “All of us.” Following a flurry of inaudible comments, DiFilippo says, “I just don’t like black kids.”

Friday, March 20, 2015

Truth Is No Defense

How do you even deal with people so nuts that they think that that banning a college student from class for being right is entirely acceptable:
A student at Reed College has been banned from class for denying the existence of “rape culture” in the United States and arguing that the oft-repeated statistic that one in five women are raped at college is bogus.

Jeremiah True, 19, received an email from professor Pancho Savery on March 14 telling him he was making his classmates so uncomfortable that he was no longer welcome to participate in the “conference” sections of his Humanities 110 class, a course which focuses on the art and literature of classical Greece, according to BuzzFeed News.

True says he sparred with his classmates on a variety of issues, but says it was his criticism of the 1-in-5 rape statistic that ended up being the tipping point.
The 1-in-5 statistic has been debunked more than just about any other statistic in recent memory.  Facts are never an impediment to the left, though.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Three Months From Today

The flights have been paid for.

Hotels have been booked.

Yesterday I went to the bank and picked up two different foreign currencies.

Today I made the final payment on the cruise.

Three months from today, baby.  Stuff is getting real!

People Like This Are Exactly Why We Need A First Amendment

For starters, she's so stupid that she thinks Bill Maher is a right-winger:
In the US, however, no such laws exist.  Right-wing hatemongers like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Bill Maher, and Sarah Palin (to name just a few) are allowed to freely incite hatred and violence, oppose human rights, and undermine progress with impunity.  When people like this are allowed to sway public opinion against the common good, it can have disastrous consequences.  Just ask the millions of people killed due to wars pushed by right-wingers, even though propaganda for war is illegal under international human rights law (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights mandates that all countries outlaw propaganda for war).
Freely incite hatred and violence?  Really?  Read her entire piece and see who you think is inciting hatred (as well as who you think is bat-crap insane).

She would limit free speech to those who think like she does.  That's no freedom at all.

I'm thankful every day for the First Amendment.  And I hope that author gets the mental health help she needs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Most Transparent Administration in History

Perhaps the most transparently corrupt, or the most transparently anti-Western, or the most transparently un-American administration in history:
The Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

Its backlog of unanswered requests at year's end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.
And this comes from the Associated Press, a very left-leaning source.

In so many ways, this president is a disaster.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

This Is A Good Dress Code, Not A Sexist One

Watch the video here first, about the dress code at a Catholic school's awards event.

Several of us worked at last Friday's dance and we were shocked at the way the girls dressed.  When I started at that school a dozen years ago, girls came to dances dressed in one of three ways:  a small number were way overdressed, as for cotillion; most were nicely dressed; a small number dressed as hookers.  Those three categories are essentially gone now; by almost universal agreement, the vast majority of the girls at Friday's dance were dressed in what I'll nicely call "pole-dancing chic".

For starters, 14-17 year-olds don't need to be wearing 6" heels.  Most of them can't walk in them anyway, and sometimes it's funny to watch them clomp around in them.  After pictures are taken they ditch the shoes anyway, walking around the gym and the concrete breezeway in their bare feet.  One wonders what they think when they go into the restroom.

Then there are those dresses, the ones that are Saran-Wrap-tight and are so short that every few steps the girls are pulling the backs of their dresses down to ensure their butts are covered.  I am not making this up.

And there was a school administrator at the door who allowed all of them in.  This floors me.

With boys it's pretty easy.  They wear slacks and a shirt, probably a tie, and that's it.  There's no need to tell boys that they can't wear muscle tees to a nice event, and there's no societal norm, even for adult men, to have their pants slit up to their you-know-whats.  Dress codes for guys are easy.  "Keep it classy" is a fairly clear instruction, as was the rest of the boys' dress code in the video above.

It's is not so clear with women.  "How do you put into a dress code that dresses shouldn't be skin tight like that?" was a question that came up in the staff lounge just today when discussing what's appropriate attire at a school dance.  Dress codes for girls need to be more detailed because there are more ways for girls to dress, both good and bad, than there are for guys.  It would be nice if "choose an outfit pretty enough to show you are a woman and covered enough to show you are a lady" were all that was needed to ensure the girls dressed appropriately, but sadly it's not.

The dress code isn't sexist, it's appropriate.  Perhaps if someone addressed how having breasts or butt cheeks popping out of a tiny dress could be considered sexual harassment, just the same as a dirty joke can....

Remember, Media Bias Is A Myth

It's a myth if you're a leftie, because all the media agrees with you--how could there be any bias in that?
A sweeping study of some 130,213 news articles on the 2012 presidential match between President Obama and Mitt Romney has proven anew that there was a strong pro-Democratic bias in the U.S. and international press...

"Overall, media reporting contained more frequently positive statements about the Democrats than the Republicans. Overall, the Republicans were more frequently the object of negative statements," wrote the study authors, Their conclusion: "The Republican Party is the most divisive subject in the campaign, and is portrayed in a more negative fashion than the Democrats."

Teachers, THIS Is What Your Union Dues Pay For

I got this post wrong.  I retract it, and I'll leave it here so that you know what I'm retracting.

I misunderstood the nature of the banner.  I understood the "all cops are bastards" banner to have been printed by the organization; rather it appears to have been a hand-drawn poster that may, or may not, have been sanctioned by anyone at the NEA.  While Wisconsin Jobs Now is obviously a leftie organization and NEA no doubt supports them financially and ideologically, the NEA isn't responsible for every utterance (or every poster) of every loser in that organization.

Here's my original post (from a few hours ago) which, again, I retract:

Good job, NEA, you continue to make all of us look bad:
Attendees at an anti-police protest in Wisconsin funded heavily by the National Education Association — America’s largest teachers union — unfurled a banner declaring “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS.”

The Wednesday event was organized by Wisconsin Jobs Now, reports EAGnews.org.

Despite the name “Wisconsin Jobs Now,” the small, radical group has spent considerable time and energy in recent months protesting police tactics.

Wisconsin Jobs Now has long targeted the Milwaukee police department. It has now branched some 80 miles west to Madison.

The National Education Association is a major financial donor for Wisconsin Jobs Now. The teachers union — the largest in the United States — gave $125,000 to Wisconsin Jobs Now in 2014 alone.
Imagine the hue and cry if someone were to suggest that all NEA officials were bastards.  At least that comment would be correct.

An Honest Discussion Of Race Includes Discussing The Race-Baiters

This president has been a disaster, which I expected--but I didn't expect him to be a disaster in race relations, which every poll has shown have gotten worse during his time in office.  Think of his response to Cornel West's run-in with the police (they acted "stupidly"), his involvement in the Trayvon Martin imbroglio (if he had a son, he'd have looked like Trayvon), and the Ferguson, MO riots:
The most recent news from Ferguson concerns what Eric Holder has rightly called the “ambush shooting” of two police officers outside the city’s police department. This incident occurred in the wake of two detailed reports released by the Department of Justice. The first report deals in depth with the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson....

Let’s start with the DOJ report that exonerated Wilson. The federal prosecutors ran an exhaustive review of all the physical, forensic, and testimonial evidence in the case. It is necessary to state its final conclusion in full: “Darren Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242, which prohibits uses of deadly force that are ‘objectively unreasonable,’ as defined by the United States Supreme Court. The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson’s uses of deadly force were “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition. Accordingly, under the governing federal law and relevant standards set forth in the USAM [United States Attorneys’ Manual], it is not appropriate to present this matter to a federal grand jury for indictment, and it should therefore be closed without prosecution.”

The legal conclusion is surely correct, but the tone of the report’s findings are slanted against Wilson. It is not just the case that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution. It is that, beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence supports that Wilson’s conduct was fully justified. During the initial encounter, Brown had tried to wrest Wilson’s gun from him by reaching into Wilson’s Chevy Tahoe SUV. Wilson’s story was corroborated, to quote the report, “by bruising on Wilson’s jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson’s DNA on Brown’s palm.” Later on, the evidence also showed that Brown was running toward Wilson at the time Wilson fired the fatal shots, not knowing whether Brown was armed or not. The incident was far clearer than the oft-ticklish situations in which the courts have to decide whether a police officer used excessive force against a person who was resisting arrest, as with the controversial grand jury decision not to indict any police officer for the killing of Eric Garner.

What the DOJ now has to do is to acknowledge that the killing of Michael Brown was a justifiable homicide. It must abandon its contrived legalisms and defend Wilson, by condemning unequivocally the entire misguided campaign against him, which resulted in threats against his life and forced his resignation from the police force. Eric Holder owes Wilson an apology for the unnecessary anguish that Wilson has suffered. As the Attorney General for all Americans, he must tell the protestors once and for all that their campaign has been thoroughly misguided from start to finish, and that their continued protests should stop in the interests of civic peace and racial harmony. In light of the past vilification of Wilson, it is not enough for the DOJ to publish the report, and not trumpet its conclusions. It is necessary to put that report front and center in the public debate so that everyone now understands that Wilson behaved properly throughout the entire incident.
In other words, "hands up, don't shoot" was a lie from the beginning, but it was aided and encouraged by a black president and a black attorney general for reasons too sick to tolerate.  When the attorney general said, early in his tenure, that America is a nation of cowards because it doesn't talk about race, I say we're just the opposite--too many people talk too much about race and nothing else. 

It's not 1957 anymore.  The president and the attorney general should join the rest of us in the 21st century.

"Checking" White Privilege

This guy makes sense to me:
When students are compelled to have “White Privilege 101” classes, we have every right to ask: Why, and for whose benefit?

If you’ve been white lately, you have likely been confronted with the idea that to be a good person, you must cultivate a guilt complex over the privileged status your race enjoys.

It isn’t that you are doing, or even quite thinking, anything racist. Rather, your existential state of Living While White constitutes a form of racism in itself. Your understanding will serve as a tool … for something. But be careful about asking just what that something is, because that will mean you “just don’t get it.”
He's right so far.
To be sure, there is, indeed, a distinct White Privilege. Being white does offer a freedom not easily available to others. You can underperform without it being ascribed to your race. And when you excel, no one wonders whether Affirmative Action had anything to do it. Authority figures are likely to be your color, and no one associates people of your color with a propensity to violence. No one expects you to represent your race in a class discussion or anywhere else.

These are the basics of White Privilege, disseminated in key campus texts such as Peggy McIntosh’s foundational “Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” from 1988. It’s become a meme of Blue America’s mental software, recently focused by the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner.
Schools are giving "white privilege" lessons, too. Gotta indoctrinate the young, I guess.
“This is messy work, but these conversations are necessary,” says Sandra Chapman, director of diversity and community at Little Red School House in New York City. OK—but why? Note that the answer cannot be, “So that whites will understand that they are the privileged … etc.” That makes as much sense as saying “Because!” So I’m going to dare to ask a simple question: What exactly are we trying to achieve with this particular lesson?


I assume, for example, that the idea is not to teach white people that White Privilege means that black people are the only group of people in human history who cannot deal with obstacles and challenges. If the idea is that black people cannot solve their problems short of white people developing an exquisite sensitivity to how privileged they are, then we in the black community are being designated as disabled poster children.
Did you catch that? For those of you who need to know this before evaluating his comments, the author is black.  And his last remark is a body blow to why affirmative action is so insidious.
The question, then, becomes: Precisely what benefit do White Privilege 101 lessons add to all of what there already is? (Again, “knowing about White Privilege” is not an answer.) What are we hoping will happen in the wake of these lessons that hasn’t been happening before, and crucially, upon what evidence has that hope been founded?

America is by no means post-racial, but it is not 1960 either; change happens.
For liberals it's always the 1960s (or earlier).
It is often assumed that someone expressing views like these has roughly the take on race of Samuel Jackson’s character in Django Unchained. Not. I am neither criticizing activism nor saying that everybody needs to just pull themselves up by those proverbial bootstraps.

I get too much hate mail from the right to submit gracefully to the sellout label. I deplore the War on Drugs, linguistic discrimination against black people, and naïve dogma that keeps poor black kids from learning to read. I support prisoner re-entry programs, supported the Ferguson protests ardently, and was behind Barack Obama earlier than many black writers. I have never voted Republican in my life.

However, I firmly believe that improving the black condition does not require changing human nature, which may always contain some tribalist taints of racism. We exhibit no strength—Black Power—in pretending otherwise. I’m trying to take a page from Civil Rights heroes of the past, who would never have imagined that we would be shunting energy into trying to micromanage white psychology out of a sense that this was a continuation of the work of our elders. I am not “being a contrarian” or “stirring up the pot”—I do not consider this a renegade position. Plenty of ordinary black people nationwide would agree with me on the difference between White Privilege teach-ins and continuing the struggle.
Seems to me like he would rather channel his energies into something useful, not something just for show. In that we entirely agree.

And here's the finale:
They deserve civil answers to their questions. The white high schooler who doesn’t get why she needs to be smilingly commanded to recognize her status as an unjustly “privileged” white person is not a racist because she doesn’t “get” it. She deserves to be given a rationale, and if that rationale is essentially a repetition of the White Privilege lesson paradigm, then we need to ask some more questions.
Well done, sir.

School Discipline

How can it be that letting students get away with whatever they want doesn't lead to Utopia?
“Progressive” discipline policies such as “restorative justice” are reducing suspensions — and making schools less safe, argues Paul Sperry in the New York Post...

All over the country, teachers are complaining that student behavior has worsened under lenient policies, writes Sperry.

It has created a “systemic inability to administer and enforce consistent consequences for violent and highly disruptive student behaviors” that “put students and staff at risk and make quality instruction impossible,” wrote Syracuse Teachers Association President Kevin Ahern in a letter to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Los Angeles Unified also is seeing problems, writes Sperry.

Monday, March 16, 2015


What kind of adults make rules like this?  One regular reader of this blog will point out that this behavior on the part of administrators is completely understandable given the perverse system of rewards and punishments that school administrators live under.  I counter that their living under a perverse system is not an excuse to require children to live under a perverse system:
Earlier this school year, a sixth-grader in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School in Bedford, Virginia was suspended for one year after an assistant principal found something that looked like a marijuana leaf in his backpack.

The student, the 11-year-old son of two school teachers, had to enroll in the district's alternative education program and be homeschooled. He was evaluated by a psychiatrist for substance abuse problems, and charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court. In the months since September, he's become withdrawn, depressed, and he suffers from panic attacks. He is worried his life is over, according to his mother, and that he will never get into college.

The only problem? The "leaf" found in the student's backpack wasn't what authorities thought it was -- it tested negative for marijuana three separate times.

All of this is laid out in detail by Dan Casey in a column in the Roanoke Times today. While the juvenile court dropped its case against the student after the tests turned up negative, the school system, in a community located midway between Roanoke and Lynchburg, has been far less forgiving. That's because stringent anti-drug policies in school districts in Virginia and elsewhere consider "imitation" drugs to be identical to real ones for disciplinary purposes.
Getting kicked out of school for drugs, no actual drugs necessary.  It's like getting kicked out of school for firearms for pointing your finger at another kid and "shooting", like every normal kid has done since the invention of firearms.  Or merely for biting a Pop-Tart into something that might appear to some to look something like a firearm.
The Bedford sixth-grader has been allowed to return to school starting today. But he has to attend a different school, separate from his former friends and peers, and he's still under strict probation until this September. The terms of his original suspension letter state that he'll be searched for drugs at the beginning and end of every school day until his probation is over.
School officials should be searched at the beginning and end of every school day for signs of intelligence.  I'm sure that such signs will be found just as often as drugs will be on the 6th grader in question.

Hat tip for the link to a reader who so far doesn't comment--but I'm glad she sent this!

Jefferson Got It Right

Today is Founder's Day:
Founders Day is the annual celebration of the founding of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. During the American Revolution, Fortress West Point was considered by George Washington as the key to the continent. The academy's legacy began on March 16, 1802. In legislation signed by President Thomas Jefferson, West Point became America's first school of engineering, predating the engineering programs at Harvard and Yale. It remains the longest continuously occupied military garrison in Department of Defense, the Army's undergraduate college, and a national historic site open to the public.

Graduates, supporters and the greater West Point family celebrate across the globe, usually near March 16, emphasizing the academy's mission to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Factual Consistency Is An Oppressive Tool Of The Patriarchy

If a woman feels that she’s been raped, then she’s been raped, misogynists!  That seems to be the view of some on the left, and it's just insane.  Fortunately there are still plenty of people with their wits about them:
Nancy Gertner's feminist bona fides can hardly be questioned. A college friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Gertner is well known for her staunch defense of women in court...

So what made such a staunch feminist advocate think twice about the current climate revolving around sexual assault on college campuses? It happened when her law firm took the case of a young man Gertner believed to be wrongly accused of rape even though a grand jury indicted him. In the case Gertner described, the man was accused 10 months after the encounter by a woman whose story constantly changed and was contradicted by witnesses... (boldface mine--Darren)

During a panel Thursday discussing campus sexual assault and Gertner's recent article in the American Prospect, the former federal judge discussed some sensitive topics that, had a man such as Washington Post author George Will said them, would have been excoriated.
I'll stop right here and point out that if the sex or color of the person matters regarding the truth of the statement, then the person to whom it matters is probably a bigot.  Just sayin'.  But let's continue:
Alas, Gertner's feminist credentials allowed her to address some issues activists have not been so open to discussing.

1. Investigating an accuser's claim is not victim-blaming...
2. Not all sexual assaults are created equal...
3. The alcohol element cannot be ignored...
4. The system is inherently biased against the accused...
5. The current process has to be changed
Gertner's common sense is severely lacking in some of her compatriots on the left.

And just a reminder:  women are less likely to be raped at college than in the public at large.  The 1-in-5 number has been debunked so thoroughly that anyone who uses it (except as an example of bad statistics) is a demagogue and a liar.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's A Good Time For Americans To Travel Abroad

Rather suddenly the dollar has jumped in value.  I hope it stays strong until after my trip this summer!

Three years ago, when I went to Italy, the euro was considered a good buy at $1.33.  Today it's $1.05.

The last time I went to Canada the two currencies were at parity.  Today there is CAD1.28 to the USD.

The last time I went to Mexico there were about 12 pesos to the dollar.  Today it's 15.48.

I haven't been to Britain since 1986 so I don't remember what the pound was, but today it's $1.48.  That's not bad, and it's almost a 10 year low.

Ten years ago the Icelandic krona was hovering around 60 to the dollar.  It spiked during the 2009 economic crisis but soon settled at about 120 to the dollar.  It's now at 140.

On the other hand, commodity prices go down when the dollar is strong.  We like cheap oil, but silver is at a 5 year low at $15.58/oz.  Gold is also at a 5 year low, at $1155/oz.

I'm no financial advisor, but if you think your job is relatively secure then now might be the time to travel and buy precious metals!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Have You Ever Read The Fine Print?

The following comes from Carnival Cruise Lines' terms and conditions:

(b) No tools of trade, household goods, presents and/or property of others, jewelry, money, cameras, documents, valuables of any description including but not limited to such articles as are described in Title 46 of the United States Code section 30503 shall be carried except under and subject to the terms of a special written contract or Bill of Lading entered into with Carnival prior to embarkation upon application of the Guest. The Guest warrants that no such articles are contained in any receptacle or container presented by him as baggage hereunder, and if any such articles are shipped in the Guest’s baggage in breach of this warranty, no liability for negligence, gross or ordinary, shall attach to Carnival for any loss or damage thereto.
Really?  No jewelry, money, or cameras?
(c) Carnival shall not be liable for: (1) Guest’s failure to comply with the requirements set forth in Clauses 4(a) and 4(b); (2) any loss or damage before baggage comes into Carnival’s actual custody on board or after baggage leaves Carnival’s actual custody on board, including, but not limited to, loss or damage by airlines or other transportation services; (3) any loss or damage of baggage while not in the actual possession, custody and control of Carnival; (4) damage due to wear, tear or normal usage; (5) any loss or damage of perishable items, medicine, liquor, cash, securities or other financial instruments, or (6) any loss or damage while in the custody and control of stevedores.

(d) It is stipulated and agreed that the aggregate value of Guest’s property, does not exceed $50 USD per guest or bag with a maximum value of $100 USD per stateroom regardless of the number of occupants or bags and any liability of Carnival for any cause whatsoever with respect to said property shall not exceed such sum, unless the Guest shall in writing, delivered to Carnival, prior to embarkation, declare the true value thereof and pay to Carnival prior to embarkation a sum equal to 5% of the excess of such value. If Carnival shall be held liable for the loss of or damage to Guest’s baggage or property it is agreed that such liability shall not exceed the lesser of: (1) the actual cash value, or (2) value declared in the manner above provided (up to U.S. $100 USD if no such declaration has been made). Declared value amounts to be proportionately reduced in any case where less than all of Guest’s baggage or property is lost, delayed or rendered unusable due to damage.  In no event shall Carnival be liable to pay any compensation if the nature or value of the property has been misrepresented.
We really have to agree that our belongings don't exceed $50 in value, otherwise we have to pay Carnival for the privilege of bringing them on board?

Sometimes I really hate lawyers.


Each month at our faculty meeting one department brings snacks.  The math department, clad in our matching green shirts (it was also "twinsies" dress-up day for students, so that worked our serendipitously), brought pizza pi(e)s to the meeting on Thursday.  That not being enough, we also brought Reese's PIeces.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it :)

And let's remember back to this post....

Who Treats Young Children This Way?

Have you seen the picture of the boy eating lunch at school, with a cardboard privacy shield around him, to ensure he's isolated
Plagued with car trouble, the daughter, Nicole Garloff, knew her son, Hunter, would get detention because of his late arrival.

His elementary school had a policy — in order for students make up work they missed because they were late, they would receive detention for every three tardies.

She was already upset by the situation, so she decided to visit her son during lunch. Once she arrived, she learned that Hunter’s “detention” entailed sitting by himself at a lunch table, separated from all of the other children.
Some people are a little more compassionate than the adults at that school:
Meyer contacted Lisa McClease-Kelly, the owner of a local automotive shop, to see if she would repair the family’s vehicle free of charge.

But after determining the repairs would cost more than the value of the Dodge Durango, another local company, Rapid Repo and Collections, stepped in and offered to donate a van to the family. McClease-Kelly contributed by providing $1,400 in maintenance for the new van.
Stories like this, though with a happy ending, give those of us in the teaching profession a bad name.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Got Home A Few Minutes Ago

I left home just before 7 this morning.  It's been a long day.

I've given a lot of assignments lately that take a long time grading, specifically project write-ups in statistics.  Yes, I have them write essays in which they're supposed to demonstrate their knowledge of the material.  Essays take awhile to grade, and throw in quizzes and tests, which also take awhile to grade, and I'm being kept quite busy at work lately.

7th Period, our name for Happy Hour, was sparcely attended today.  After socializing over a drink for awhile, the two of us remaining moved to the dining portion of the restaurant for an expensive but exquisite dinner.  Much chat over current events ensued, including the fact that the euro is now within a few cents of parity with the dollar!  When I went to Italy 3 summers ago there was about $1.30 to the euro and that was considered pretty good, so I'm looking forward to a good exchange rate when I get to Northern Europe this summer.

Chit chat went on much longer than we had planned--I had planned to go back to school and get some more grading done--but instead when we got back to school it was time for dance duty.  I'm of the belief that high school dances are anachronistic, but that's a post for another day.  We tolerated Gomorrah Burning until not too long before 11, at which time we were released.  I took my Kindle Fire so that I could listen to an audiobook on economic theory (it's very interesting) but we had so many teacher supervisors there that a few of us spent the night talking instead, all the while ensuring no Isis infiltrators snuck in through the back door.

It was a long day.  I'm looking forward to a restful weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Indivisibles and Infinitesimals

For my master's class I struggled through a reading by Galileo--it all seems so pedantic!--and still have no idea why the paradox he identified is a paradox at all.  I watched a class/lecture on the topic and still don't get it, but the instructor did make a point of identifying the difference between "indivisibles" and "infinitesimals"...

Today has been so long that it seems to me to have had many additional "indivisibles" inserted into it.  The amount of work I've accomplished can only be calculated if you multiply an amount variable by an "infinitesimal" time value, and add up the infinite number of pieces.

And that is why I'm going to bed now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I'm Not Interested In Suffering With You

The 2nd of the 3-hour classes started off with a bang when a fellow teacher asserted that Republicans attack the President because of a bias due to his race.  No, it's not that we disagree with his policies or think he's a moron, it's all because he's black.  I'm coming more and more to the belief that liberals are actually incapable of believing that anyone can hold views other than theirs; they're not smart enough to accept this, so they have to assign reasons that they can understand--and they certainly understand racism.  They practice it day in and day out, don't they, along with other types of discrimination.

Anyway, that comment was considered ok, and in fact was solicited by the instructor. 

37 minutes into the training, President Obama was brought up again.  The instructor is biased, clearly, and while she teaches us about "filters" she's completely oblivious to her own processing of any information with which she doesn't agree.

Some of the people in the class are so unaware that they don't even see their own stereotypes.  The same goes with cognitive dissonance, the definition of which was provided:  biases that influence a person to selectively accept or reject ideas and impressions on the basis of their conformance with currently held assumptions and beliefs.  It's amazing to have people talk about flaws in others that they themselves are draped in.

The instructor continued to assume that none of us are self-reflective enough to be anything other than ignorant of our "deficiencies".  That's a very interesting assumption, don't you think?  Is it because we're white?

She gave us the following handout which we didn't discuss at all.  I've underlined some of the more interesting parts; I don't think I need to provide any commentary, as their intent is pretty clear:

Last week's session was a waste of time but relatively harmless.  This week's was insulting and devolved into being offensive.

Since 18 hours of professional development are required (it's included as part of our salary), and since sometimes our district does "interesting" things with pay, I asked my principal if I'd get paid for the 6 hours I've already wasted if I do not go to next week's training.  Without getting too much into the weeds, another teacher and I will not attend the final training and will instead conduct some Common Core-related work for three hours--although it won't all be at one time!

I honestly don't understand what kind of hatred must be behind people who think the way the CTA does--and remember, the CTA is the instructor's employer.  Whenever I start to feel sorry for them, though--because it must be difficult carrying around that kind of hatred of others--I remember what it feels like to have them direct that hatred at me, and then I just leave them alone to suffer on their own.  I am not interested in suffering with them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2nd 3 Hours of "You're A Racist" Training Today

It was bad.  Real bad.

But since I just got home, I don't want to blog about it now.  I want to go to bed and try to have a better day tomorrow.

Monday, March 09, 2015

THIS Must Tick Off The Liberals!

Information from a recent Quinnipiac poll:
Fox News has the most trusted network and cable news coverage in the United States, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday. But network TV is much less trustworthy than it was in the days of Walter Cronkite, American voters say.

In comparison rankings, 29 percent responded that they trust Fox News the most. CNN follows with 22 percent, CBS News and NBC News are at 10 percent, ABC News at 8 percent and MSNBC at 7 percent.

Asked whether they trust the journalistic coverage of each network, 20 percent said they do “a great deal” for Fox, and 35 percent said “somewhat.”
Not getting cable, I don't even watch Fox News--but I'm "accused" of doing so all the time by lefties.  They're just not happy if there's a shred of dissent anywhere--except for their own dissent, which is patriotic, of course.

Let's Hope A President Walker Will Sign Such A Law For *All* Americans

In fully half of US states, workers are not required to pay a union for the "privilege" of union representation:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a right-to-work measure Monday that makes his state the 25th in the nation with such a law. That effectively means that mandatory union membership and dues are banned at privately owned businesses — a move strongly opposed by unions, which say it restricts collective bargaining.

Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio reports: "Walker signed the bill at an invitation-only ceremony Monday morning at Badger Meter, north of Milwaukee. He was surrounded by company officials and others who supported the divisive proposal, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald."

Before the signing, Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate for 2016, said the law "sends a powerful message across the country and around the world"....

Monday's move comes four years after the governor signed a bill that all but ended collective-bargaining rights for most public sector unions. The right-to-work law goes into effect immediately.

When The Facts Contradict Your Expectations, Believe The Facts.

Is the Democratic Party really a friend to women, or even to blacks?
When I grew up, I thought the Democratic Party was the great friend of minorities and women. The party wanted a world of equality, I thought. Most people I knew believed that too.

Sorry, I was an idiot.

Here’s our contemporary world as it actually exists: Ayaan Hirsi Ali — a woman who has had a clitoridectomy and has had literally hundreds of death threats, maybe thousands, risking her life daily fighting the horrible mistreatment of her sex under Islamic Sharia — has her honorary degree withheld by Brandeis University while Hillary Clinton — the putative Democratic Party nominee (still, I guess) for president — takes multimillion dollar donations from Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t even allowed to drive.

Something is wrong with that picture. Now how about this?

Barack Obama, the first black president, comes into office and black unemployment actually increases while, for the first time in years, relations between the races in our country are reported in a recent poll to be worse by both blacks and whites.

Something’s wrong with that picture too. Did Americans suddenly become more racist or is it something else — that something being the policies of the Democratic Party, encouraging division and then living off those same divisions like a parasitic animal?

The Republican Party is unimpressive, to be sure, but the Democratic Party is indeed an animal feeding on our nation and making it weaker and weaker. The way that party approaches women and blacks is quite remarkably similar — treat them as a unified interest group and then exploit them. How insulting, how deeply reactionary. If I were a woman or a black I would be disgusted. Obviously, not enough are — yet.

When "Fair" Is Inconvenient To The Narrative

Why do some women hate men so much that they're willing to deny them constitutional rights?
The Chronicle quotes New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand celebrating the revised version of the Campus Safety and Accountability Act (CASA), introduced last week, on a an expanded bi-partisan basis (up from eight co-sponsors to twelve), to the Senate. Rejoiced Gillibrand, “”The bill actually has clarified rights for the accused,” since the current system “doesn’t serve the accused.”

The celebration of fairness for the accused seems a little out of place for Gillibrand. After all, this is a senator who in two official statements posted on her website referred to a resident of her state as a “rapist,” even though the affected student, Paul Nungesser, had been found not-culpable by Columbia and was not even charged by police. Clearly Gillibrand’s definition of due process differs from that of, say, a typical civil libertarian.

In any case, FIRE’s Joe Cohn took a look at the bill. In 51 pages, it contains a mere two references to due process for the accused. Here’s Cohn: the bill “provides both students with notice of the charges and sufficient time to ‘meaningfully exercise the due process rights afforded to them under institutional policy.’” The phrase meaningfully exercise isn’t defined. This is what Senator Gillibrand thinks is a good deal for the accused.

The bill also repeatedly refers to students who level allegations of sexual assault as “victim” or “victims”—even though, of course, at a pre-adjudication stage there’s only an accuser or an alleged victim, not a victim. For instance, here’s how the bill describes rights afforded to the accuser in the original intake interview: “The victim shall be given the option to have the interview recorded and to receive a copy of the recorded interview.” How did the senators decide the accuser was already a “victim”? Did they use the Gillibrand rule, that accusers must be assumed to be truthful?

The bill also seeks to mandate colleges creating a “confidential advisor” for the “victim”—again, presuming that the accuser is automatically a victim—while ordering no comparable personnel assistance for the accused.
That's enough to make my point.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Bag Ban Bad

I'm a conservationist; I don't think we should pollute more than necessary, or waste resources, and we should tread as lightly on the earth as is reasonable--especially given technological progress.

I despise hypocrisy on the subject, though--jetting to Davos on your private jet to suggest the plebs need to sacrifice, or having a 10,000 square foot house (or several of them) while suggesting the plebs need to sacrifice, being driven in a limosine to your next interview or conference at which you'll suggest the plebs need to sacrifice, or even just flying around the world to travel or driving a low-mileage car while suggesting everyone should save the earth from global warming.

I despise doing ineffective things for show, a la the TSA's security theater at airports.  Other show-acts are driving a Prius (their carbon footprints are quite huge, when you consider the manufacture of their batteries) or carrying reusable grocery bags.  And California has passed an upcoming ban on so-called single-use grocery bags.  We're supposed to be oh-so-European and use cloth reusable bags, never mind the health issues involved if you don't launder them often enough or the water use if you do.  We just have to show how "progressive" we are.

But what if those inexpensive, made-in-the-USA, convenient bags, which I certainly use more than once (cleaning up dog mess, lining my garbage can), could be not only reused but recycled?  Would that be something worth considering?

If only.  I understand those plastic bags aren't necessarily made from petroleum at all, but rather are often made from natural gas or bio-based plastics.  What if we could recycle them as we do other plastics?

That's what I was thinking when I read this article in a small local paper:
A city-backed initiative received national recognition on February 17th as it was revealed that the “Energy Bag Pilot Program” in Citrus Heights successfully produced 512 gallons of synthetic crude oil from typically non-recyclable plastic items.

“We were very proud to be the first community in America to participate in the Energy Bag initiative,” said Mayor Sue Frost. “The program demonstrated how communities nationwide can benefit by diverting typically non-recycled plastics from landfills and give them new life as an energy resource.”

Sponsored by Dow Chemical, the Flexible Packaging Association, Republic Services, Agilyx, Reynolds Consumer Products and the city of Citrus Heights, the initiative began in 2014 and purple collection bags known as “Energy Bags” were distributed throughout the community.

The items collected for conversion came from approximately 26,000 local families who agreed to take part and ranged from juice pouches, candy wrappers, plastic pet food bags, laundry pouches, and plastic dinnerware.

Rather than disposing of them in the garbage, local residence put these items in their purple bags which were collected with the rest of the households’ recyclables.

Upon release of the official results of the initiative, Dow Chemical said that some 30 percent of the city’s population had participated and approximately 6,000 pounds of normally trash-bound plastics were diverted from landfills.

Nearly 8,000 purple bags were collected over the course of approximately two months. The plastics now slotted to become fuel were separated from other recyclables and sent to a separate plant where Agilyx used their patented thermal pyrolysis technology to produce synthetic crude oil from the contents of the purple bags.

Using this technology, the crude oil can be further refined and made into valuable products for everyday use such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, fuel oil, lubricants, and can even be transformed back into plastic.
This is a good and entirely reasonable way to deal with what would otherwise be mere garbage.

Update, 3/9/15Here's yet another way we can progress technologically, decrease our waste, and do something good for the environment:
California-based company Reduce.Reuse.Grow has just discovered a new way to recycle effectively, and it involves reusing one of the most commonly thrown away items out there.

The company has succesfully (sic) created organic coffee cups that contain embedded seeds — allowing them to grow into trees.
Pretty cool.