Monday, November 30, 2015

Asserting the Superiority of Western Values

This Is How An Adult Leader Responds to The Childish Protesters Present On So Many University Campuses Today

The President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University published the following letter on the university's web page, and I feel compelled to copy it here in full.  All boldface is mine.

This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!

Dr. Everett Piper, President

Oklahoma Wesleyan University

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.

This is not a day care. This is a university!
It's so good I had to boldface half of it!  This guy is my new hero.

Kids Say The Darnedest Things--Textbook Adoption Edition

I've written before (here and here, for starters) about the mess our district has made of piloting math textbooks for adoption next year.  I have a classroom set of statistics books sitting, unused and still in the boxes, on the floor of my classroom; I have 3 statistics classes.  No way could I just "drop in" a different book into one of those classes, that just wouldn't work, it's not the way things are supposed to be done.  So I got the textbook publisher to give me online access for all of my stats students; this gives them access not only to the online version of the textbook but also all the additional (and costly) goodies that publishers now include to make their crappy books more palatable.

I offered students a small amount of extra credit to "review" the online materials for me.  They had access for two of our chapter tests, so I suggested they look up the topics we're studying, find the pilot textbook's coverage of those topics, and see if it helps them at all.  They could take practice tests/quizzes, read how a different textbook explains material, and watch the videos that are designed to enhance instruction.  I told them bullet points for "pro" and "con" would be enough, and several students went above and beyond that standard to give me very detailed feedback.  I'm pleased at their efforts.

Here's how one student described the videos in particular:  "video has the resolution of a potato".  I actually burst out laughing when I read that :-)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What I Accomplished, What I Didn't

It was nice to have a week off.  As my regular readers know, I headed up to Washington on Monday to visit my son for Thanksgiving.  Left Friday evening, got home Saturday evening.

Got the unpacking done but didn't do any laundry.  Got my Christmas decorations up, including the tree, and finished grading the stats survey write-ups I brought home.

Did next to no studying for my final exam.  I want to take the final, then begin work on the research paper I have to write.  I don't think I'm "behind schedule" or anything, but if I don't take that final by the end of this week I probably will be.

Back to work tomorrow!

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Left Washington last night, just got home several minutes ago.  Long drive.  It was good seeing my son, though.

Every time I drive through Oregon on I-5 I laugh.  I always forget, and then relearn the lesson.  In so many of the small towns along the freeway, right next to the freeway, is a shop with a huge sign:  Adult Store.  Makes me laugh every time.  Are Oregonians just that horny? 

You might think those are for the truckers but I don't recall seeing such stores anywhere in California on I-5.  Washington, either.  Just Oregon.

It's a different place :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

West Point Idiocy

It's bad enough that my alma mater's football team couldn't win a game against Santa's elves, but to have this kind of press is unimaginable:
Cadet pillow fights like the bloody one that left 30 injured this summer will be banned, and actions are being pursued against many of those involved, U.S. Military Academy officials said Wednesday.

First-year students, known as "plebes," organize the annual pillow fight as a way to build camaraderie after a grueling summer of training. But the pillow fight Aug. 20 escalated into a free-for-all with plebes being hit from behind and knocked to the ground. Injuries included a broken nose, a fractured cheek and 24 diagnosed concussions. One cadet was found unconscious, according to a report on the pillow fight released Wednesday.

"While never officially sanctioned, it is now officially banned, and we will take appropriate action to ensure that all faculty, staff, leaders, the Corps of Cadets and everyone at West Point knows that it will not be tolerated," West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen said in a statement.
Putting locks, etc, in the pillows? What are those people thinking?

Says the 3-star general in charge of West Point:
"I am taking appropriate action based on these findings — to include administrative actions against senior military members and cadets alike — to send a clear message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated at our nation's premiere military academy."

Good News Is Bad News For Certain Liberals

Can't make this stuff up:
When you're committed to perpetuating the myth of a rampant "rape culture" on college campuses, evidence to the contrary becomes baffling.

And so it goes for the American Association of University Women, which analyzed 2014 reporting data from colleges and universities across the country and found that 91 percent of schools had no reported incidents of rape. Most people would see that number and cheer. Hooray! College women aren't being raped in the U.S. at rates on par with the Congo!

But not the AAUW. Accompanying that percentage on a chart on its website are the words: "What's wrong with this picture?"
When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts. When the facts contradict your hopes, get confused.

What kind of people want there to be more rapes, anyway?  Sickos.

The Transitive Property

Can't blame conservatives, TNR is a liberal mag.

Hat tip to Instapundit for the pic.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Taking Scissors To A Gun Fight

A growing number of Texas public school districts are embracing more aggressive tactics that allow campus staff members to defend themselves against armed intruders.

The tactics — everything from hurling scissors and textbooks to stealing the bad guy’s gun — are a departure from the drop-and-hide strategy educators have used for years.
It's what I tell my students to do, rather than sitting passively and hoping not to get shot. While better than nothing, I guess, it's still weak tea.

Hat tip to reader MikeAT for the link.

Thanksgiving Break/Hiatus

Posting will be very light to perhaps nonexistent this week as I take to the road to go see my son, a soldier stationed in Washington State.  The house and watchbeast are in good hands, and I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving :)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Maybe This Explains Why Lefties Are Always Fighting "Racism" And "Sexism"

Perhaps it's because it's so rampant in those areas in which they hold overwhelming sway:
Liberal Hollywood men effectively form a secret society that blackballs anyone with more natural estrogen than Caitlyn Jenner from becoming director of a major motion picture.

We learn this from Liberal female columnist Maureen Dowd, writing in the liberal New York Times Magazine. She's alarmed that less than 2 percent of the top 100 movies boast a female director.
Anyone want to argue that the entertainment industry is overwhelmingly conservative, at least politically?

Higher education, overwhelmingly liberal.  Recent events indicate that perhaps higher education is awash with racism, sexism, and rape.

K-12 education.  Haven't you heard that it's institutionalized racism that's keeping black and brown students down (but allows Asians to do better than whites)?

As they ask on Instapundit so often, why are leftist enclaves such bastions of racism and sexism?

Is There A Disconnect Here?

Posted without commentary:
The report released on Tuesday, which looked at the financial statements of every person who serves in Congress, discovered that the median net worth of Democrats has jumped from $946,511 in 2013 to $1.1 million in 2014—an increase of $153,489 on average per member. Republicans, on the other hand, saw a decrease during the same time period, going from an average net worth of $1,107,017 in 2013 to $1,093,279 in 2014.

The most recent Personal Gain Index from Ballotpedia—which tracks changes in net worth of U.S. senators and representatives during their time in office using data from 2004 through 2012—shows that Democrats make up seven of the top ten greatest gains in personal wealth.

This Flower Belongs In A Greenhouse, Not At A University

If you want to talk about "privilege", keep in mind the privilege of someone who goes to Columbia, and then marvel at this complaint:
A student at Columbia University is urging the school to inject more diversity into its required courses, claiming she suffered severe emotional trauma from reading too many books by and about white people...

One of the panelists at the event was black Columbia student Nissy Aya. Aya was supposed to graduate in 2014, but instead is only on track to receive her degree in 2016. That, Aya says, demonstrates “how hard it has been for me to get through this institution,” though it’s worth noting she is an exceptional case, as Columbia has one of the highest four-year graduation rates in the country.
I wonder if the little peony will ever even consider that perhaps, just perhaps, the problem lies with her and not with Columbia's curriculum.

Anyone who takes her argument seriously is an idiot.  There, I've said it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Digital Time Capsules

Within the last week I've received two emails from myself.  One was from fall 2005, the other from fall 2013.  The first I sent via a link on Forbes, the latter through

There was nothing earth-shattering on either one, really, although I'd forgotten how rough my life was in 2005.  The emails mainly had snippets of what life was like--what was going on with me and my family, how much I was making, what my waist size was (hint: smaller than it is now), what was up with my son, what my aspirations were.  It's so funny reading them because it's so obvious they were written by me, to me.  So very matter-of-fact, even in very personal details.  I can be very blunt with myself.  Financially I'm better off than I was in either of those two years; that's not hard to do when you work for a government entity.  Can't complain about that.

Some time soon, maybe next week on break, I'll compose another letter or two to "future me".  I hope I'll enjoy reading those as much as I enjoyed reading the ones I just received.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When The Liberals Have Lost Mother Jones...

I wonder.  The liberals who are so anxious to bring Syrian "refugees" to the United States--do they really believe that claptrap they're spouting, or do they just spout it to show off their liberal bona fides?

I mean, when Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Kevin Drum of Mother Jones actually make sense, maybe the rest of the liberals ought to listen:
Here's the thing: to the average person, it seems perfectly reasonable to be suspicious of admitting Syrian refugees to the country. We know that ISIS would like to attack the US. We know that ISIS probably has the wherewithal to infiltrate a few of its people into the flood of refugees. And most voters have no idea how easy it is to get past US screening. They probably figure it's pretty easy.

So to them it doesn't seem xenophobic or crazy to call for an end to accepting Syrian refugees. It seems like simple common sense. After all, things changed after Paris.

Mocking Republicans over this—as liberals spent much of yesterday doing on my Twitter stream—seems absurdly out of touch to a lot of people. Not just wingnut tea partiers, either, but plenty of ordinary centrists too. It makes them wonder if Democrats seriously see no problem here. Do they care at all about national security? Are they really that detached from reality?
Mocking it is the worst thing we could do. It validates all the worst stereotypes about liberals that we put political correctness ahead of national security. It doesn't matter if that's right or wrong. Ordinary people see the refugees as a common sense thing to be concerned about. We shouldn't respond by essentially calling them idiots. That way lies electoral disaster.
Not just electoral disaster, either, but the real kind.

Here's some information on Schumer,  here's some on Dianne Feinstein.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The President and Free Speech on University Campuses

From the Washington Examiner:
"I don't want you to think that a display of your strength is simply shutting other people up, and that part of your ability to bring about change is going to be by engagement and understanding the viewpoints and the arguments of the other side," Obama said.

This is the second time Obama has publicly defended free speech on college campuses. At a town hall event on Sept. 14, the president told an audience that speakers should be allowed to give speeches on college campuses, even if students don't like what they'll say.

"I've heard of some college campuses where they don't want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don't want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal toward women," Obama said. "I've got to tell you, I don't agree with that, either. I don't agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view."
Sounds good, right?  But how does it jibe with this, from the New York Post?
Barack Obama’s presidency has been pockmarked by rioting, looting and protests. That’s no coincidence. It’s what the former community organizer sought from Day One. And it’s just going to get worse before he leaves office.

The senseless protests we’re seeing break out on the campuses of the University of Missouri, Yale and other colleges, as well as on bridges and highway overpasses and outside police stations, are precisely the kind of thing Obama was trained to organize while attending leftist agitation schools founded by Chicago communist Saul Alinsky. He learned to a fare-thee-well how to “rub raw the sores of discontent.”

Now Obama is returning the favor of his Alinsky masters, training and cloning an army of social justice bullies to carry on his revolution to “fundamentally transform America.” He’s doing it mainly through a little-known but well-funded group called Organizing for Action, or OFA, which will outlast his administration.

OFA, formerly Obama for America, has trained more than 10,000 leftist organizers, who, in turn, are training more than 2 million youths in Alinsky street tactics.

The leftist group, which recently registered as a 501c4 nonprofit eligible for unlimited contributions, holds regular “organizing summits” on college campuses.

Through social media, they mobilize flash mobs against “biased cops,” “climate-change deniers,” “Wall Street predators” and “gun extremists.” They hold rallies against conservative foes of gay marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Modal Trigger

In addition, Obama has trained hundreds of thousands of junior agitators through AmeriCorps, a Clinton youth program he’s dramatically expanded, and through My Brother’s Keeper, the “racial justice” initiative he launched in the wake of the 2012 death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. My Brother’s Keeper agitates for “school discipline reform” — that is, touchy-feely alternatives to suspensions and expulsions — and other measures to “improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.”
Gawd, he's a disgusting human.

Showing Your Work

Joanne has a slew of good posts today, including this one on the difference between "showing your work" and "explaining your answer" in math.  A commenter puts it most clearly for me:
Requiring written “explanations” is also (here I’m generalizing) counterproductive for learning and understanding mathematics by those who do not have such handicaps.

There is a right way to “show understanding” in mathematics. It has been understood for many generations and taught in the best classrooms. Yes, it has also been done poorly, but this is no reason to supplant it with inferior methods.

The whole point of mathematics is to learn efficient and effective ways of doing problems that can be formulated in abstract ways. Natural language is highly inefficient and often ineffective and misleading in doing such tasks. So the objective of math education should be to teach these methods and assist students in honing their skills in the use of these efficient tools.
There are plenty who insist that Common Core mandates the inefficient, and I'm not convinced they're wrong.

So-called Diversity Training

From Joanne's blog:
In Psychology Today, Peter Bregman, who provides training for corporations, concludes: “Diversity training doesn’t extinguish prejudice. It promotes it.”
That was certainly my experience when we had such training a year or so ago.

I'm sure that such training can be done well.  Unfortunately, the people who want to conduct such training are probably not the ones who would do it well.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spaghetti Sauce

I work with a man of Italian ancestry.  When we have potlucks at school he usually brings in ziti baked in a delicious pasta sauce.  His secret recipe, that ingredient that gives a slight sweetness to his sauce?  Grape jelly!

I'm not as poor as I may seem, having just written about my extravagant shopping excursion to Big Lots, but last week I was at Grocery Outlet.  I love it there, you never know what you're going to find!  When I was there last week I found ground lamb.  What could I use that for?  I didn't quite have an answer at the time, but I bought it anyway because I love the taste of lamb so much.

When I make spaghetti sauce, I fry up some meat (or heat up meatballs), put the meat in a bowl, and pour pasta sauce from a can or jar over it.  2 minutes in the microwave and I have a delicious spaghetti sauce.  No, it doesn't have that slight sweetness that grape jelly would add, but the meat and the sauce go so well together.  I did that tonight but with the ground lamb instead of ground beef.  It was exquisite!  You could taste just enough of the lamb, even in the sauce, to celebrate the flavor without its being either excessive or overwhelmed.

In other words: perfetto.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pictures of the West Point Campus

No one can argue that the real estate isn't beautiful, that's for sure.

Big Lots

The students in the AVID program at my school collect and deliver toys to elementary students who are at the other end of the economic spectrum from the students at our school.  Third period classes at our school can "adopt" a class at that elementary school and buy presents for the children in that class.  My 3rd period class chose to adopt a class, and we got a pre-K class.

I usually have to "prime the pump" on these types of activities, so off I went to Big Lots.  You can get nice presents in the $10-15 range, and that's what I did.  I'll put them in the box at the front of the room tomorrow, thereby reminding students that we made a commitment and must live up to it.  They will live up to it, but it would be better if they didn't wait till the last possible moment to do so, as the AVID students need some time to wrap all the presents!

But I didn't stop with a couple of children's toys.  No, I most certainly did not.

Usually on the last day of school before Christmas break, I wander around campus and give small gifts to some of the people I work with.  Usually it's candles, but Big Lots had such great deals on liquid hand soaps, hand lotions, and Christmas tree ornaments filled with bubble bath, that I had to buy a ton of them.  Neat fragrances, just like the candles I usually give.  I guess I'm a scent-ual person.  Or is it scent-uous?  Whatever, I'm magnifi-scent!

Gifts don't have to be expensive.  They don't even have to be personally meaningful.  What they need to be is given in a spirit of friendship, kindness, and appreciation--and these gifts definitely will be.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

It Took 7 Years...

...and a terrorist attack.

France Celebrates Obama's Big Win
--Huffington Post Headline, 2008

French Officials Criticizing ‘Absence of US Leadership’ Against Terror
--after yesterday's terror attacks in Paris

The Europeans loved Obama back then.  I wish they had elected him.

I Marvel That College Students Could Be Such Idiots

These college students are the children of my generation.  We as a group have clearly screwed up as parents:
A large mock-up of the Berlin Wall meant to remind students at the University of Michigan of the importance free speech was instead roundly criticized by many students, with some even declaring that the display constituted a “bias incident.”

The mock-up was erected Monday, on the 26th anniversary of the real wall’s demise, in the center of campus. It included spray painted graffiti comments representing censorship, including “report me,” “safe spaces,” and “trigger warning.” At one point demonstrators even mimed the historic moment during which East Germans took mallets and hammers and tore down the wall.

The display’s objective was to both commentate the historic event as well as link USSR-era repression of ideas and speech with modern politically correct speech and thought police movements on campus, organizers told The College Fix.

Yet many students declared the fake Berlin Wall offensive and an example of privilege – and at least one student told organizers – Young Americans for Freedom – that the display should be reported as a “bias incident.”
If it's biased against communists, I'm all for that.  I wonder who *they* think it's biased against, though.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Glimmer of Hope on a College Campus

From the Claremont Independent of Claremont McKenna College:
Lastly, we are disappointed in students like ourselves, who were scared into silence. We are not racist for having different opinions. We are not immoral because we don’t buy the flawed rhetoric of a spiteful movement. We are not evil because we don’t want this movement to tear across our campuses completely unchecked.

We are no longer afraid to be voices of dissent.
Welcome to the party.

Paris, The City of Lights

Islam, the religion of peace.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Vertical Lines

Sometimes I think mathematicians are amazingly creative.  Leonhard Euler's solution to the Konigsberg Bridge problem is elegant.  Cantor's proof that the set of irrational numbers is uncountably infinite is elegant.  Much of ancient Greek solid geometry in elegant.

Other times I think mathematicians aren't creative at all.  I offer as one example the symbology of vertical lines.  We use vertical lines to mean entirely different things depending on the context; do we lack so much creativity that we couldn't come up with different symbols?

| | .  A pair of vertical lines.

That symbol is used 4 entirely different ways that I know of, and there's plenty of math I haven't even heard of.  Perhaps it's even used other ways as well.

In a case like |x|, the vertical lines mean "absolute value" of a number, be that number real or imaginary.

In a case like |z| it represents the magnitude of vector z.

It could also represent the determinant of a matrix, det A:
| 3 5 7|
| 2 4 6|
| 1 4 9|
or |A| for short.

Lastly, at least in my experience, it represents the cardinality of a set--that is, how many items are in the set.  |1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11|=6, or |Z+| = אo, which means that the set of positive integers (Z+) is countably infinite, symbolized by "aleph-naught".

Maybe, instead of worrying that mathematicians aren't creative, I should celebrate the efficiency of using the same symbol so many different ways.  That's a much more positive way to look at things.  Yes, that's what I think I'll do.

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum

I hesitated on the title of this post.  Is it politically correct to refer to asylums, or is that insensitive to those with mental illnesses?  And are people in asylums (asyla?) "inmates" or "guests"?

We can play such silly games forever, and that's what happens when you let entirely unserious people pretend to be serious.  Political correctness has been eating away at our colleges and universities for quite a long time, but now it's beginning to eat its own--and none too soon.  The inmates are are showing why they're completely unsuited to running the asylums, and its time for college and university administrators to reassert some control.  Yes, I'm suggesting that the adults should take over from the children.

Yale.  Missouri.  Claremont McKenna.  Berkeley.  Ithaca, Vanderbilt, Smith, and Iowa (link).  Like a virus this temper tantrum is starting to spread.  Fortunately, unlike a virus, this tantrum can be controlled.  Isolation might be required for awhile, and we might try that in order to let itself burn out, but if that doesn't work we need to fight back.  Hard.

First, the problem:

A recent tweet shows more of the problem:
Are our universities really full of racists?  Or is that a convenient excuse to push some radical ideology on everyone?  There has been plenty of racial "crying wolf" lately, and this article doesn't go as far back as Daisy Lundy:
As the University of Missouri is engulfed by a number of bratty students offended over racial incidents that might not have even happened, it's important to note that race hoaxes tend to pop up on campuses throughout the country. Here are the top ten race hoaxes that have occurred on campus.
More here.

Did the swastika-ca even really happen at Missouri? I find it odd that not a single picture of it exists.

I was listening to Mark Steyn on the Hugh Hewitt Show on the way home from work tonight.  He, correctly pointed out that sadly, we've raised a generation of students who value tribal identity more than the First Amendment.  "Wrongthought" is not just to be disagreed with, but punished.  We can't offend anyone.  We need safe spaces to practice our thoughts, and to hell with anyone who doesn't share our thoughts.  Say anything at which we can choose to take offense, and we will.  They have become the bullies, and we adults have let them.  In fact, some adults have taught them to be this way.  Orwell's 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not a how-to manual.

Is this really what it means to be a university student nowadays?

Isn't spitting a real form of assault, as opposed to an idea you don't like?  Do adults spit on people, or is that something children do?  We all know the answer.

Do minority students genuinely feel "unsafe" at universities?  This isn't how underdogs act:

If you want to protest, protest.  But to expect your professors (the adults) to endorse your temper tantrum and let you take a test some other time--well, they got what they wanted this time, I guess, but I'm quite sure it will by a Pyrrhic victory.

And while we're making everything about race, are we going back to segregation?  It's not whitey saying this, it's minority students themselves saying it:
Student protesters at the University of Missouri asked white supporters to leave Wednesday night in order to create a “black only healing space.”
How about a "blacks only" meeting at a public high school?

We were supposed to have gotten away from racial segregation in public places a long time ago.   We decided a long time ago that that was not the kind of society we wanted.  This doesn't sound "progressive" to me at all, if we pretend that "progressive" has anything to do with "progress".

Just how good is that education they're getting, anyway?  I hope this student isn't representative.

"Demands"?  Geez.

My conclusion is summed up in this City Journal piece:
The Maoist Millennials threatening reporters in Missouri and shouting down adult voices outside a Yale residential college are the perfect marriage of inchoate anti-capitalism and racial rage. They represent a generation weaned on cynicism about the prospects for justice in twenty-first-century America. They don’t know who the 1 percent are, or how they got that way—apart from the nefarious, rapacious Koch brothers, of course—but they know that these modern Robber Barons call the shots and always have. They don’t know much about Thomas Jefferson, except that he owned slaves, and thus the mere mention of his name invalidates their identities. They know only outrage. They feel only pain.

A college freshman in 2015 was 11 years old when Barack Obama was elected president. What themes has he absorbed? The United States is an unjust nation in most respects. Capitalism is a rigged system that only benefits the already rich. If you’re a black man in America, you will be railroaded into prison as soon as you leave school.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. The average 18- to 25-year-old remembers the lofty promises of hope and change that he heard from Obama during his presidential campaigns. He looks at the American political system and thinks to himself: “Even the great Obama can’t snap his fingers and bring about the world of perfect justice that I desire.” What does he conclude? That all politics—even Democratic Party politics—are irredeemably broken. It’s time to tear that down, too.

How to placate this angry and organized element that threatens to hold hostage the Democratic Party and its electoral prospects? Does the party establishment stand for free speech and civil discourse, or does it support burning it all down? We hear a lot about the Republicans’ Tea Party problem but almost nothing about the Democrats’ Maoist problem. What’s Bernie Sanders’s take on the goings-on at Missouri? What’s Hillary Clinton’s?

The sparks from the fires being set in Columbia, Missouri, and New Haven, Connecticut will catch flight on the dry wind of social media over the coming days and weeks, igniting copycat conflagrations at other schools. As with the turbulent campus radicalism of the 1960s, this new outbreak will be mainly the liberals’ problem to solve. The typical American college campus is run by cadres of old-fashioned liberals—not revolutionaries, just plain old American liberals who like mom, apple pie, FDR, LBJ, and Obama. At the higher levels of administration and on boards of trustees and overseers, you may even find the odd moderate Republican. What you don’t find many of are radicals such as those that have been videotaped abetting the anti-free-speech temper tantrums in Missouri.

We’ll soon learn whether the old- fashioned liberals have what it takes to stand up to the Maoists. So far, it’s not looking good.
Taxpayers may well decide that paying for the so-called education of these little fascists isn't worth our money anymore.  It's time for the adults to establish themselves.

P.S.  Don't forget this post from yesterday.

Update, 11/16/15:  A tweet by blogger Iowahawk:
Campuses today are a theatrical mashup of 1984 and Lord of the Flies, performed by people who don't understand these references.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Silliness of Teachers Union Positions

Larry Sand, president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, wrote the following and gave me permission to post it here in its entirety:
California students are not learning and teacher union leaders blame tests.

Every two years selected students across the nation take the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), a test known as the nation’s report card. This year our kids didn’t do well. Actually they never do well, but this year the scores were even worse than two years ago. Just 36 percent of fourth graders are proficient in reading, and 33 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math.

Some blame the new Common Core curriculum for the downturn – and there may be something to this – but even if you add a few sympathy points to the scores, they still stink. And when national news stories started rolling out about our poorly educated students, like night follows day, teacher union honchos put on their Sunday-best spin outfits and trotted out damage control sound bites. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten stated “slipping NAEP scores are evidence that the nation’s focus on using standardized tests to judge teachers and schools has failed….”

Sure. Let’s see – teachers teach kids. Kids do poorly on tests that are based on what teachers teach. And that’s proof that teachers shouldn’t be judged by how poorly their kids do on tests that measure what they are teaching. Okaaaaaayyyy.

National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García, also playing defense offered, “The recent release of the NAEP scores once again demonstrates what educators have said all along. The effectiveness of a system cannot be judged by a single test score.” (Trust me, if the scores were good, there’d be none of this “single test score” blather.)

Here in California, our NAEP scores are in the toilet. Average fourth-grade math scores place the state at the bottom of the nation, just one point on above New Mexico, Alabama and Washington, D.C. In fourth-grade reading, only New Mexico and Washington, D.C. fared worse than the Golden State.

For those who think a “single test score” is meaningless, let’s look at another metric. The Early Assessment Program is a collaborative effort of the State Board of Education, California Department of Education and California State University, and measures readiness in college-level English and math for all high school juniors. The 2014 assessment showed that one-half of all students in the state did not demonstrate college readiness in math. In English, more than six out of ten didn’t. And of course some districts don’t live up to the average. In Los Angeles, 70 percent of the juniors are not college ready in English and 64 percent are not ready in math. In Fresno, it’s even worse: more than three out of four do not demonstrate readiness in reading and two out of three in math. (While the tests are given in grade 11, not many appreciably improve in grade 12.)

Last week – one week after the NAEP scores were released – the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released a report which reveals that 42 states and the District of Columbia require student growth and achievement be a consideration in teacher evaluations. (Just six years ago only 15 states did so.) Regrettably, California is one of the eight that does not, despite the fact that it has been the law (the Stull Act) to do so since 1971. In 1999, the state legislature amended the ghost law, requiring that the governing board of each school district “shall evaluate and assess certificated employee performance as it reasonably relates to: the progress of pupils toward the standards established pursuant to subdivision (a) and, if applicable, the state adopted academic content standards as measured by state adopted criterion referenced assessments.” In other words, a teacher’s evaluation must be based at least in part on how well her students perform on state tests. But school districts still turned a blind eye to the law.

Then in 2012, per a suit brought by Sacramento-based nonprofit EdVoice, a judge ordered the inclusion of test scores to be part of a teacher’s evaluation. However, in a report released earlier this year that sampled 26 districts’ compliance with the decision, EdVoice found that half of them were ignoring that court-ordered requirement to use the test scores. (Yet another lawsuit has been filed against the 13 districts not following the law.) And until districts start to live up to the law, California will continue to flail away, having no objective method of measuring teacher effectiveness and therefore no accountability.

Pointing to the importance of evaluating teachers on student performance, Sandi Jacobs, NCTQ Senior Vice-President of state and district policy, put it very succinctly. “The bottom line of teaching is whether or not students are learning. If you stand up in front of a classroom every day and deliver great lesson after great lesson but no one in the class is gaining anything, then something is off.”

AFT’s Weingarten, pulling the misdirect string, retorted, “Rather than test-and-punish systems, we need teacher evaluations that will help support and improve teaching and learning.” Of course teachers need support, and it’s important to note that no state relies solely on student test scores, but rather uses test results along with a variety of other metrics to assess a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom.

So as most of the country moves on, California wallows in low test scores and unaccountable teachers. And then there is Fresno, the city in the Central Valley where a great majority of kids are way behind in reading and math. The Fresno Teachers Association has refused a 7 percent salary increase and is threatening to strike. This past Friday, the union issued a statement suggesting that the school districts refusal to continue negotiations “indicates students and educators in this district are not the priority.”

I am speechless.

Debate Questions For Democrats

I'll reconsider my position on the existence of liberal media bias when these questions are asked at a Democratic debate:
1) Hillary Clinton, your husband has had numerous affairs, has had sex with an intern and he settled a sexual harassment case with Paula Jones. Incidentally, there are far worse accusations than that against him that haven’t been proven. So, isn’t it fair to say that your husband is part of the war on women?
2) Hillary Clinton, in the first debate, you said you were proud to have drug companies and health insurance companies as your enemies. However, your campaign and the Clinton Foundation have received millions of dollars from both industries. Will you be giving that money back?
3) Hillary Clinton, in Bob Woodward’s book, The Choice, he noted that you communed with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi from beyond the grave. Your husband also confirmed in a 2012 speech that you used to commune with Eleanor Roosevelt; so this isn’t something that you can credibly deny. Can you explain why you did that and what you believe you learned from talking with the dead?
4) Hillary Clinton, do you think someone who hasn’t even driven a car since 1996 is in touch enough with the average person to run the country?
5) Hillary Clinton, in the first debate, you were proud to have Republicans as enemies. Since that is your attitude, wouldn’t electing you as President guarantee non-stop partisan warfare?
6) Hillary Clinton, the constant refrain from Republicans has been that you’re not qualified to be President. Can you name your 3 biggest accomplishments that you believe qualify you to be President of the United States?
7) Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation took in millions in donations from foreign governments and defense contractors, some of which you helped rather significantly when you were the Secretary of State. Your husband also collected some rather extravagant amounts in speaking fees. According to the International Business Times,
"Under Clinton's leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation...The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation....American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department..."
This is unethical on its face and it raises serious questions about whether you took bribes from defense contractors and foreign governments as Secretary State. If you had it to do over, would you have done things differently?
8) Hillary Clinton, back in 2002, after reading the same intelligence reports that George Bush did, you took a position to his right on whether Saddam Hussein had WMDs. You said, “It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." Given that you made the same mistakes that George Bush did when it came to knowing whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, do you think it’s unfair for people to accuse him of “lying” about the evidence?
9) Hillary Clinton, you were caught lying to Americans when you claimed a video was behind the Benghazi attack. You were also caught lying when you claimed you came under sniper fire in Bosnia. You’ve also been caught lying about whether you had classified information on your private email server among other things. Why should the American people trust you after you’ve been caught lying so many times?
10) Hillary Clinton, you’re going to be 69 years old next year and you suffered a very serious head injury in 2013 after you fainted. That caused a blood clot in your brain along with a concussion your own husband said it took “six months of very serious work” to get over. Are you healthy enough to handle a job as incredibly demanding as being President of the United States? Additionally, can you assure the American public that there was no brain damage from your injury that might make it difficult for you handle the position?
11) Bernie Sanders, in a 1972 essay, you said, "A woman enjoys intercourse with her man - as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously." Do you believe most women fantasize about being raped by 3 men simultaneously and what were you trying to get across with that comment?
12) Bernie Sanders, you have attacked Uber on multiple occasions. You’ve called it “unregulated,” you say it has “serious problems” and yet your campaign has exclusively used Uber instead of taxis because it’s cheaper. Does that make you a huge hypocrite?
13) Should a woman be able to abort a baby that can survive outside the womb? Should she be able to abort a baby the day before she’s born? At what point, if any, should an abortion become illegal?
14) Do you think men who claim to identify as women should be allowed to use the same bathroom as women? If your answer is “yes,” do you think this is unfair or even potentially dangerous to women?
15) All the candidates on the stage are strong supporters of the Affordable Care Act which was the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s agenda as President. However, the ACA was sold to the American people with a lot of untruths. Barack Obama said that if people like their plan and their doctor, they could keep them. He claimed that the ACA wouldn’t raise the deficit. He said the average family would save $2500 in premiums per year. None of these promises turned out to be true and yet, none of you have criticized the President for misleading the American people. Since that’s the case, why should anyone believe your promises?
16) There are hundreds of thousands of American citizens who have been victimized by illegal aliens who wouldn’t be here in the first place if our border were secured and our immigration laws were enforced, something nobody on this stage plans to do if elected as President. What do you say to the victims and families of the victims who’ve been raped, assaulted, or robbed by illegal aliens? What do you say to an American mother whose child has been molested, murdered or killed by a drunk-driving illegal alien?
17) How much of a problem is white privilege for America and if you do think it’s a problem, what can we do to combat it? Also, what would you say to white people who disagree with the idea that they have white privilege?
18) Do you think an illegal immigrant who takes welfare on behalf of his child should be allowed to become an American citizen? What about an adult illegal immigrant who has never paid income taxes? If the answer is “yes,” how does allowing people to become citizens who will be drains on the taxpayers help America?
19) Please raise your hands: Would anybody on the stage be willing to make the White House a gun-free zone to reduce the chance of gun violence there? If not, then does that policy really make sense for our schools?
20) Since 2008, the Democrat Party has lost 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, 910 state legislative seats and 12 governorships. Has your party gotten so far out of the mainstream that it will make it difficult for a Democrat to be elected President in 2016?

They Must Be Racists!

What other explanation can there be, right?
A plurality of voters in California—including a majority of black voters—and nationally believe that the growing number of immigrants in their area is making their family’s financial situation more difficult...

A plurality of whites (44%) and a majority of blacks (51%) in California felt that immigrants were making their financial situations more difficult.

Begging To Be Treated Like Children

Students of the 60s wanted universities to get out of the in loco parentis mode, today's students want to return to mother's warm bosom:
Half a century ago, student activists liberated themselves—partly, at least—from in loco parentis: the paternalistic notion that college administrators should serve as watchful guardians, restricting students’ activities and rights in order to provide a safe environment for them, the way a mother or father would. Today, students across the country are determined to undo this liberation.

At Yale University, a group of aggrieved minority students have demanded the resignations of administrators who wisely rejected calls for emotional coddling...

Students at the University of Missouri were even more immediately successful: they forced President Tim Wolfe to resign for being insufficiently attentive to a string of painful incidents—someone yelling a racial slur at the black student government president, the appearance of a swastika on campus, etc. Wolfe’s ouster was prompted by a student’s hunger strike and the football team’s decision to boycott all future games.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about these students’ censorious actions is how profoundly conservative they are. By communicating an expectation that their master or president protect them from unsightly Halloween costumes, or promise them no more hurtful words will be said at their expense, students are essentially calling for a return to campus life under in loco parentis. They reject not merely a free and open campus dialogue, but adulthood itself.
Schools (and students) expect mommy and daddy to pay for college, they want the college to protect them from scary monsters who don't think like they do, but they want to be free from any strictures themselves.  In other words, what we're seeing is the very definition of a spoiled brat.

Perhaps mockery is part of the solution:
David Burge, a.k.a. @Iowahawkblog, had the perfect idea last night to answer the lunacy of what we’re witnessing at college campuses across America.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to #NatioanlOffendACollgeStudentDay...
What follows at the link is comedy gold.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Some People Don't Have A Strong Need For Intellectual Consistency

From Professor Reynolds' current USA Today column:
Police are horrible, racist monsters who want to lock up minorities over even trivial violations of the law! And police are also the only ones who should have guns!

These two beliefs, it seems from my observations, are often held by the same people. 
He continues, of course.  Go read the whole thing.

What Every Stats Teacher Needs!

Stats plushies!

Abuse of Statistics

The results of a peer-reviewed study aren't quite up to snuff?  Who knew?!
Heard about that scientific study which scientifically shows non-religious kids are scientifically more altruistic than unscientific religious kids? The Guardian summarized it thusly: “Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds: Religious belief appears to have negative influence on children’s altruism and judgments of others’ actions even as parents see them as ‘more empathetic’.”

Scientifically speaking, this is crap. Here’s why. 
His snarky fisking of this piece is fun to read.

Harvard, Stanford, et. al.

I tell this to people all the time.  It's not something people want to hear:
As a former admissions officer for two "elite" schools -- one Ivy and one West Coast Ivy-equivalent -- I am in a unique position to offer some insights for parents that may be of help in raising healthful teens. Exasperated as much by the reaction to a couple of recent teen suicides as I am to the acts themselves, I offer my views here not because I'm an expert in suicide-prevention: I'm not. I offer this post because we're all looking for some way to help our community's kids. My Facebook feed upsets me when people surmise that these suicides happened because of mental illness, or tiger parents, or school stress, or, or, or ... because we just. don't. know. I don't think any family from the last suicide cluster came forward with a definitive reason, and I doubt anyone did now. We don't know what drove these kids to take their lives -- but we do know what's hurting our kids now. In fact, this local teen, Martha Cabot, sums it up pretty well: "Parents, calm down."

I want to tell every parent reading this post that you need to assume, right now, that your child is not getting into Harvard no matter what he or she does. (And no, he's not getting into Stanford either, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or MIT. Probably not UC Berkeley either. No, I'm not kidding.) Your kid isn't getting into the college you think he is.

What? So-and-so's child is at Princeton right now? and got what on his SATs? and did those activities? Hmmm. Interesting. Sure, you can prove me wrong with some examples. And I can prove myself right with a hundred more. Stanford's rate of admission was below 5% last year. Do the math.

In the spirit of "I want to do something," I offer below some Q & A that I hope y'all read and take to heart....
The rest of the post is a little snippy at times, but I believe every word this woman wrote.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Common Core Math, Reform Math, Etc.

We've heard the stories, we've seen the idiocy, so let's take a more calm approach:
Briefly, none of these methods is anything new, and all have been taught in one form or another for years. The difference, however, is they used to be taught after students mastered the standard methods of addition and subtraction, as a type of mental shortcut. Teachers gave students a few exercises to do using the new method. It was up to the student whether to use the method. Mastery of the alternative method was not required.

It is true the Common Core standards do not explicitly mandate students master these methods, but the sequence of the standards and how they are written create this perception just as they affect the agenda of math reform, which predates Common Core by at least two decades.  (boldface mine--Darren)

The reform math agenda continues, almost unabated: Understanding and explaining one’s answer is key; all else is dismissed as just doing without knowing. Getting an answer correct is not enough. Students who cannot explain the reasoning behind how they solved a problem—even one as simple as 2 + 3 = 5— are deemed not to understand math. The explanation is thought of as both the evidence of and the pathway to “deeper understanding.”

What happens in reality, however, is such explanations are something the student is given to memorize. Thus, “deeper understanding” is nothing more than “rote understanding” and, in my opinion (and probably others’), likely to lead to a deep hatred of math...

My hope is the ill-suited approaches brought by the reform math agenda in the name of “deep understanding” are not so deeply embedded in American education that they will have taken permanent root. I am hoping whatever replaces them resembles the successful and well-written standards once in place in California, Indiana, and Massachusetts before Common Core superseded them.
While I thought they were a bit aggressive, California's pre-Core math standards were always given fairly high marks when people and groups evaluated them.

So Inappropriate

Here we have an assignment involving underage drinking, unprotected sex, and contracting herpes--and no, it's not an assignment in health class, which would be bad enough.  No, it's a homework writing prompt for an eighth grader!
According to the parent, the superintendent said the assignment is part of the core curriculum and goes along with a book the students were given titled "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens."

The book is marketed as a "handbook to self-esteem and success" for teens.
Do I even need to list the myriad ways this assignment is just plain wrong?  If so we could start with age inappropriateness, the continual sexualization of younger and younger children, and the sickness of suggesting writing about getting an incurable disease, to start.  We might also throw in that while we know some students will drink, do drugs, have sex, and plenty of other things they probably shouldn't be doing (especially at 13!), do we at school have to suggest these activities?  

This goes back to my thoughts on appropriate dress (you're not at the beach), appropriate dancing at school dances (it's not a strip club), etc.  And yes, I believe that while our school health classes should teach about the reproductive system, we should emphasize abstinence.  Teaching students about specific sexual activities probably shouldn't be part of the public school curriculum (here are two examples)--neither should suggesting they write about the possible life-long effects of things they hopefully haven't been doing yet, especially not in 8th grade.

I've heard it said that "kids will be kids".  Well, they won't be kids at all if we keep encouraging hypersexualization, especially in school.

Saturday, November 07, 2015


I used to collect coins, but I never really had the money to assemble "sets" of coins so I just bought coins I liked. 

Nowadays, though, I collect "history".  Sometimes that history is coins, sometimes it's currency.  I don't know much about currency, I just know what I like.

It's been over a year since my first and only visit to Hawaii.  While there I learned some amazing history, including much about the monarchy.  Throughout most of the 1800s Hawaii was an independent kingdom, and 'Iolani Palace in Honolulu is, in fact, the only (formerly) royal palace anywhere in the United States.  Today I bought an 1883 quarter dollar coin with the image of Kalakaua on it, my only coin from the Kingdom of Hawaii.

After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 there were reasonable fears of a Japanese invasion of Hawaii.  To prevent the Japanese from capturing a large amount of American currency, the military governor ordered that US currency be recalled and in 1942 new currency was issued.  In fact, it was old American currency but had the word "Hawaii" stamped on it on the front and back.  If the Japanese invaded Hawaii, the "Hawaii" currency could then be demonetized.  Today I bought a $20 Hawaii note.

Hawaii's history is as fascinating and rich as the islands are beautiful.

Friday, November 06, 2015

You Like Britain's National Health Service?

Do you think nationalized medicine in the United States would be any better?
The UK has one of the worst healthcare systems in the developed world according to a damning new report which said the nation has an “outstandingly poor” record of preventing ill health.

Hospitals are now so short-staffed and underequipped that people are also dying needlessly because of a chronic lack of investment. The verdict, from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will make embarrassing reading for David Cameron who denied the cash-strapped NHS is heading for its worst winter crisis.

Staff are too rushed to improve levels of care that have in many areas fallen below countries such as Turkey, Portugal and Poland. Almost 75,000 more doctors and nurses are needed to match standards in similar countries the OECD said in its annual Health at a Glance study comparing the quality of healthcare across 34 countries. 
How do you get 75,000 more doctors and nurses?  How do you pay them when you're already "cash-strapped"?

Maggie Thatcher said it best:  "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money."

Hypocrisy? Or Insanity?

They're not necessarily mutually exclusive:
We have reached a bizarre moment in our politics, where the “progressive” left resists having conservative speakers on a college campus because they make students feel “unsafe,” but insists that boys who identify as girls be allowed to shower with girls in the public schools, and misgivings must be educated away, or litigated into submission.

Can't Have This Kind of Critical Thinking, Can We?!

Female student pens scathing review of 'rape culture' for college course

I'm somewhat encouraged by the response of her instructors:
Her essay has been uploaded in full to a website dedicated to clearing the names of wrongly accused young men.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this assignment came after the student turned it in. Instead of admonishing the student, the graduate student instructor was appreciative of her counter viewpoint. The instructor commended the student for not believing everything she hears and for providing a different take.

The student told the Washington Examiner that the reason she doesn't adhere to the popular narrative surrounding campus sexual assault is that a close friend of hers was falsely accused and expelled.
Not everyone is so welcoming of her logic, I'm sure.

He Said It, Not Me

A great "compendium" post at Instapundit:
PROMISE MEETS EXPIRATION DATE: 15 Times Obama Said He Would Not Put American Boots on the Ground in Syria

Earlier: 36 times Obama promised “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan:”

Related: A Long Post: The [Previously!] Complete List of Obama Statement Expiration Dates.
There's video at the link, for those of you who don't trust the reporting.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A Change More Important Than That of the Clocks

Last week we set the clocks back an hour to standard time, but last night I was cold.

I keep the house cold when I sleep, with a programmable thermostat that warms the house up just before my alarm goes off--I like to sleep cold, but I don't get out of bed if it's cold!  Yeah, I know, I'm picky.  Anyway, I was shivering all night; even wrapped up in a sheet and the bedspread I couldn't get warm.  It wasn't a pleasant night.

The solution is simple.

Off come the smooth, cotton, "summer" sheets.  On go the fleece sheets, along with a blanket under the bedspread.  Tonight I should be warm.

What's the point of getting an extra hour if you're too cold to sleep?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Are You On The Autism Spectrum?

I took the test here and these are my results:
You scored slightly higher than average on this test, but are still below the threshold of 32 points that would likely indicate an autistic spectrum disorder. Just because you have scored higher than average, it does not mean that you are likely to be autistic - many people who score highly have no problems functioning in their day-to-day lives. This can be because of a good match with their chosen career (anecdotally, mathematicians and computer scientists score higher in this AQ test) or because they have a supportive family/social network that prevents any secondary problems occurring. If you feel that you are not able to function normally in day-to-day life, it may be worth talking to your GP about these test results.

SAT Getting Tougher?

After "recentering" the test so that scores were higher, I'll wait to see if these SAT changes will truly make the test tougher:
Students across the country are preparing for a new, more challenging SAT that will debut in March, the first major revision of the college admissions exam in a decade.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, decided last year that the test needed to better reflect what students are learning in class, particularly as most states have adopted Common Core State Standards.

Among the biggest changes: Obscure vocabulary is no longer a primary focus. Now students must analyze text and show that they understand how the author uses words in passages.

Math will focus on problem solving, data analysis and algebra. There will be more graphics and more word problems in the math sections than in the old test, according to Michael Boothroyd, executive director of college admission programs for Kaplan Test Prep...

One of the key changes to the SAT is that the essay section, which has grown from 25 to 50 minutes, is optional for most students. Only 13 percent of the nation’s schools, including University of California campuses, require the essay for admission.

Read more here:

Read more here:

A Great Prank

Usually the squids beat us on anything requiring creativity and wit, but I think Army wins this one:
Shots fired! Army-Navy game season has officially kicked off in the form of a fake City of Annapolis news release announcing the Maryland capital's first annual "Go Army Beat Navy" day.

The faux announcement went up on the news release site PR Newswire on Nov. 4 and by midday had been picked up by Yahoo! News and tweeted out by two West Point-affiliated Twitter accounts...

Mike Nemeth, a 2004 West Point graduate and former intelligence officer who now works in marketing in Ohio, conceived the scheme: Using his newswire access, he posted that the Annapolis City Council had voted 7-1 on Wednesday to celebrate "Go Army Beat Navy" day on Nov. 6 as a nod to West Point supporters and alumni living in the Naval Academy's shadow.

The release included comments from fake business owners — identified as Sylvia Thayer and Fred Steuben, a nod to West Point's first superintendent Sylvanus Thayer and a Prussian general who trained Continental Army soldiers: "We constantly hear from our customers that there's more to this town than supporting the Navy. Not everyone likes boats — [i]t'll be great to support real soldiers for once."

A spokeswoman for the City of Annapolis was happy to debunk the supposed city council proclamation.

"We know these pranks happen every year and we look forward to them, but to that I say, 'Go Navy!' " said Rhonda Wardlaw, adding that the city, of course, has the utmost respect for the other service academies...

"My favorite part has been friends of mine screenshotting reactions from midshipmen and Naval Academy people," he (Nemeth) said.

How Democrats Suppress The Vote

Given the source, lefties can't complain about it :)
But when it comes to scheduling off-cycle elections1 like those taking place today, the Democratic Party is the champion of voter suppression...

Scheduling elections at odd times appears to be a deliberate strategy aimed at keeping turnout low, which gives more influence to groups like teachers unions that have a direct stake in the election’s outcome...

For readers who are sympathetic to the perspective of the off-cycle election proponents (typically Democrats), it is worth noting that these are very much the same arguments that Republicans might make in favor of voting restrictions that make voting a little bit harder for the average American. Just like voter ID or voter-registration requirements, off-cycle elections impose a cost on political participation. The cost is evidently high, since very few people participate in local elections when they are held in odd-numbered years. Maybe the cost leads to a more enlightened electorate. Or maybe it is Democratic-sponsored voter suppression.

Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton made a speech about voting rights in which she said, “Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of?” For Democrats like Clinton who are apparently aghast at Republican efforts at voter suppression, today is a good day to take a look in the mirror.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

What To Do When The Facts Contradict Your Expectations?

Believe the facts:
A new NASA study found that Antarctica has been adding more ice than it's been losing, challenging other research, including that of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that concludes that Earth’s southern continent is losing land ice overall.

In a paper published in the Journal of Glaciology on Friday, researchers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Maryland in College Park, and the engineering firm Sigma Space Corporation offer a new analysis of satellite data that show a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001 in the Antarctic ice sheet.

Climate scientists caution that these findings don’t mean it’s time to start celebrating the end of global warming. More than anything, the paper shows how difficult it is to measure ice height in Antarctica and that better tools are needed.
We don't know enough to justify messing with our entire way of life, our prosperity, our progress.  Combine this with what I quoted from Dr. Dyson here and you can understand why I'm not a climate alarmist--in fact, I believe any warming is entirely natural and cyclical, just like the cooling is.

How Far Left Have The Democrats Moved?

I quote the entirety of an Instapundit post:
CHANGE: “There was a time when Democrats were horrified at the idea of a president having an ‘enemies’ list.’ Now their probably presidential nominee brags about it during a debate. And no one seems to care except Republicans and Joe Biden.”

Monday, November 02, 2015

High School Graduation Requirements

Sometimes my school district is so screwed up, we implement even the bad ideas long after everyone else has.  The most recent idiocy being considered is changing our graduation requirements to meet our state university system entrance requirements.  Yes, fellow Californians, that means the "A thru G" requirements will be required to graduate from my school district if the idea gets adopted.

I understand the sentiment behind it--everyone should have a chance at higher education, blah blah blah.  To that I say, they already do.  Well over 50 years ago, when California's Master Plan for Higher Education was passed, our 3-level higher education system was enshrined.  The University of California system was designed to take the top eighth of high school graduates, while the California State University system was designed to take the top third.  Anyone else could go to community college and, if they showed themselves capable, transfer to a CSU/UC school.  I grant that the transfer portion of that great idea still isn't perfected all these decades later, but the general idea is sound.  What's changed?  Back in "the day", when people learned something in high school, we planned for only a third of our students to attend a university.  Why do we think that now, by fiat, all students will be capable of attending a university?

It's stupidity, plain and simple.

This has been tried in districts around the country and the endgame is as predictable as you might imagine: watered-down coursework, thereby making even fewer students truly ready for college-level work.  Why a district that can't even get textbook adoption done correctly thinks it can get all of its students college-ready--a goal that isn't met anywhere, if you want to be honest--is far beyond me.  I hope our school board doesn't give into this feel-good crap and instead shoots this idea down--but I'm not holding my breath.

CBS, Really?

I received an email today containing the following information:
CBS Television Studios announced today it will launch a totally new Star Trek television series in January 2017. The new series will blast off with a special preview broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The premiere episode and all subsequent first-run episodes will then be available exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access, the Network's digital subscription video on demand and live streaming service.

The next chapter of the Star Trek franchise will also be distributed concurrently for television and multiple platforms around the world by CBS Studios International.

The new program will be the first original series developed specifically for U.S. audiences for CBS All Access, a cross-platform streaming service that brings viewers thousands of episodes from CBS's current and past seasons on demand, plus the ability to stream their local CBS Television station live for $5.99 per month. CBS All Access already offers every episode of all previous Star Trek television series. 
I like Star Trek as much as the next guy--remember, I kicked in $25 to make Axanar--but I'll be damned if I'm going to pay $6 a month to watch Star Trek.  Big Bang Theory is free!  What the heck!  I don't have cable, satellite, or Dish--I get my TV the old-fashioned way, over the air.  If cable didn't have commercials I could understand why someone who watches a lot of tv might choose to pay for it, but even cable tv has commercials now!  I get nice HD broadcasts over-the-air so there's no way I'm going to pay for television.  Already I've had to give up Monday Night Football because it's no longer on ABC, but ESPN....

Bad call, CBS, bad call.

Update, 11/5/15This pic on Twitter says it all.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Why Are The Crusades, and Crusaders, Considered To Be Negative Today?

What's wrong with the Crusades?

I can understand why the Muslims don't like the Crusades, but so what?  Muslim armies conquered the so-called Holy Land from others, why was it somehow morally wrong for the Europeans to try to wrest it from them?  That anyone gives credence to the Muslim victimhood complaint both confuses and irritates me, but here we are today, over half a millenium after the last Crusade, and the Muslims complain about them as if they were yesterday and delicate snowflakes treat the complaint seriously:
The small, private liberals arts school in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania has decided to get rid of its longstanding nickname of “Crusader” because it is not a “beloved and unifying symbol..."

The S.U. board has asked Lemons to “convene a committee comprising alumni, students, faculty and staff” to come up with a replacement for “Crusader,” and to design a new mascot.

I don’t know why the school needs a new mascot; it’s currently as inoffensive as possible — an orange tiger with a cape.
The Crusades took place intermittently between the 11th and 15th centuries; Muslim armies challenged Europe, and were at the Gates of Vienna, well into the 17th century.  Put another way, England had well-established colonies in the New World when Muslim armies were invading Europe--but it's only the "crusaders" who are bad guys.

I'm reminded of a quote by Jean Francois Revel: A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.

How Can Unions Be Forced On Americans?

Especially when they behave this way....

EIA tells how unions bully people who want out:
A union can require that a member who wishes to resign must do so in person at the union hall, provide a written letter of intent, and show photo ID, thanks to a ruling this week from the National Labor Relations Board.

This is clearly a measure to discourage people from leaving the union. I expect many direct challenges to this policy, but I suggest a flanking maneuver instead.

When the union wants its dues money every two weeks, tell them that a union officer must ask for it in person at your workplace, provide a written invoice, and show photo ID.

If the procedure isn’t a burden for you, it shouldn’t be a burden for them either.
Think the NCLB would accept that argument? I don't either.