Saturday, December 31, 2016

And As Quickly As He Arrived...

My son took off this afternoon.  He's heading back north to Washington, and needs to get over the mountains into Oregon before the snow falls.

It was good seeing him, if only for a short time.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cool Currency

Here are some early Communist Chinese notes, before they started putting Mao on everything.  I have no idea what the denominations are, I just liked the pictures on them.  Also, look how small they are, even smaller than Monopoly money:

click to enlarge (no pun intended)


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Best Christmas Present

I had an inkling my hopefully-soon-to-be-a-corporal son was going to show up when he "suggested" I not take a trip to Reno.  Then he texted me that a friend of his was going to bring my present by.

A couple hours ago they both showed up on my doorstep.  What a great day :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

UC Santa Cruz Destroying Books

Written by a math professor for the San Jose Mercury News:
Over the summer, workmen removed most of the remaining books from
our Science and Engineering Library at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Roughly 80,000 books, worth between $2-$6 million were destroyed or shipped off campus to distant storage facilities.

The act was taken with virtually no faculty input.

In 1990, when I arrived to work at UCSC, I took pride in our Science Library.

By 2000 new journals were no longer displayed.

By 2010 the journal room was gone, turned into a large study. We could no longer browse new journals.

After journals had been vanquished, the next enemy was clear: books.

At the beginning of this Fall quarter I entered the library. No books on the first floor. I walked up to the second floor, where the math and physics collection used to be. Nothing. No books.

Space. Lots of space. Students scattered around on their devices. Some eating. Some drinking...

In shock, I went down to talk to a librarian. “What happened to all the books? I’d heard some were left.”

He gave me a wan smile. “They’re in the basement.”

Down in the basement about half the original collection of math and physics books huddled dejectedly in a corner, valiant survivors.

I’ve since found that the phenomenon of shrinking and destroying university research libraries is international. But as we like to say here at UCSC, we are at the vanguard.

Our head librarian prefers the word “de-duplicate” to “destroy”, “remove” or “shred”.

The rationale behind de-duplification? Space. Empty study space with desks for the flood of 600 additional students UC Santa Cruz was pressured to admit this Fall.

How did the library staff decide what books to de-duplicate? Data, analytics, the ubiquitous algorithm, devoid of a human element. If a book had not been touched, according to library data, in the last five years, then it went on their chopping list.
The story has a sad ending, of course,  but the apres-story in the comments begins thusly:
The UC is called a "system" because it includes all nine campuses and books can be sourced from any campus. If you need an arcane publication on the germination of the golf ball cactus or a dissertation on gerbil husbandry, you order a book from the UC Davis library. For obscure dental or medical topics you order from UCSF. For legal topics you order a book from UCLA. As long as UC Santa Cruz didn't toss out their books on Feminism, Transgenderism, Marxism, Cannabis, and Wicka, they should have plenty of resources to remain relevant in their areas of expertise.
Ouch!  I guess I'm not the only person who thinks UC Santa Cruz beclowns itself on a regular basis.

The Value of a College Education

I've been quite consistent with my belief that not everyone needs a college education.  I've stated that on this blog many times.  And I know that Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, et al., didn't finish college.

I've also said that there's a lot of foolishness at our universities nowadays, from far-left social justice warriors to excessive fees to silly classes that don't lend themselves to intellect.

This, however, is a bit puerile:
In a Facebook post, he announced that he was dropping out, despite having earned a 4.0 grade point average. He said that he would start his own business and learn more from that experience than anything he could hope to achieve at Kansas State or any college. He ran a photo of himself giving the finger to Kansas State, although he's since said he really wants to be doing that to all of higher education.

Many Inside Higher Ed readers will likely find his comments insulting and ill informed, and some faculty members and students at K-State have pointed out that he wrote some things that are factually questionable. But Willson is attracting many fans online as his Facebook post has gone viral -- and trashing course requirements and general education seems to be a big part of Willson's appeal.

"YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED," Willson wrote on Facebook. (The wording, grammar and capitalization quoted here and later in this story are verbatim from Willson's and others' social media posts.) "You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will see it some day. Heck you may have already seen it if you've been through college. You are being put thousands into debt to learn things you will never even use. Wasting 4 years of your life to be stuck at a paycheck that grows slower than the rate of inflation. Paying $200 for a $6 textbook. Being taught by teacher's who have never done what they're teaching. Average income has increased 5x over the last 40 years while cost of college has increased 18x. You're spending thousands of dollars to learn information you won't ever even use just to get a piece of paper."

He added: "Colleges are REQUIRING people to spend money taking gen. ed. courses to learn about the quadratic formula (and other shit they will never use) when they could be giving classes on MARRIAGE and HOW TO DO YOUR TAXES."
A few comments.

  • If you're learning the quadratic formula in college, instead of in 9th grade, something's wrong.
  • What do you expect a college to teach you about marriage, forchrissakes?
  • You're in college and can't figure out how to fill out a tax form?  How do you think all those non-college people do it?
Besides:
Others have noted that Willson's criticism of Kansas State for not offering the courses he wants (on marriage and taxes) is wrong. Kansas State has a School of Family Studies and Human Services with numerous courses on marriage and personal finance.
General ed can be valuable if it isn't watered down with tripe.  I don't know about Kansas State's general ed requirements, but you can get a good education anywhere if you want to.  The two most successful friends I have both graduated from state schools with degrees in engineering--financially and in most other ways, they're doing just fine, and they probably wouldn't have been so successful without that engineering education or those degrees.

Anyway, I hope the kid is successful in business.  Doesn't make him any less of an arrogant douche, though.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas


I got to talk to my son on the phone today.

I got some nice presents.

I get to spend time with family.

Is it any wonder it's my favorite holiday?

I hope you're enjoying yours as much as I have, and that yours is as peaceful as mine has been.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Something About Motes and Beams

UC Berkeley’s ‘income inequality’ critics earn in top 2%
Scholars from the University of California at Berkeley have played a pivotal role in making income inequality a major political issue. But while they decry the inequities of the American capitalist system, Berkeley professors are near the top of a very lopsided income distribution prevailing at the nation’s leading public university...

Social science researchers often measure income inequality with the Gini Coefficient – a calculated value that can range between zero and one. The higher the Gini Coefficient, the more unequal the country, municipality or community. If everyone in a population has exactly the same income, that group’s Gini Coefficient is zero.  By contrast, if one individual receives all of a community’s income (and everyone else receives nothing), the Gini Coefficient is 1...

Public employee compensation data allows us to measure income inequality on campus. The State Controller’s Public Pay database contains salaries for all UC employees, indicating which campus each employee is on. The Gini coefficient for the 35,000 UC Berkeley employees in the data set is 0.6600 – higher than that of Haiti...

High compensation for tenured faculty does not necessarily come with a heavy teaching workload. Instead, most of the teaching burden appears to fall on junior faculty and teaching assistants.
It must be good to be a member of the nomenklatura.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cool Currency

I'm not the biggest fan of the red color on this note from Honduras, but it's hard not to like the historical images:

click to enlarge

Update, 12/27/16: If you zoom in on the bottom right of the reverse, you'll see where this particular note was made.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Know What I'm Doing Tonight?

I'm wrapping Christmas presents!

I didn't sleep much last night, so I'm too tired to get any value out of studying the linear algebra course I finished 4 years ago.  Did I mention that my end-of-masters-program cumulative final exam, covering 6 of the courses I'll have taken over the course of 5 years, is this spring?  I've got a lot to study for--and I have to do it while taking my 10th and final course this spring!  So yeah, I've got a lot of studying to do, and I'm too tired to do any of it tonight.  Let's see if I can wrap Christmas presents without getting a papercut.

Most of my presents will go in gift bags, so that will make my task easier!  Then I can watch a little tv and be out like a light shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Leftie Definition of "Fascist"

Perhaps our friends on the left will take this column to heart:
Just because you disagree with someone, it doesn’t make them a ‘fascist’
Or a racist. Or sexist. Or a homophobe. Or any other name you lefties feel like calling anyone who dares disagree with you on anything, including which restrooms people should use.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Feminism

I was all for feminism when it was focused on legal equality between the sexes.  Then again, I was all for racial civil rights when the focus was on removing racial barriers, not on categorizing everyone by race.  That makes me old fashioned in today's environment.

I agree with Christina Hoff Sommers:
Perhaps the women's movement is too elitist and out of touch with ordinary citizens, especially working-class women. That seems right, but I would go one step further. Today's feminism is not merely out of touch with everyday Americans; it's out of touch with reality. To survive, it's going to have to come back to planet Earth.

First of all, it's time to stop calling the United States a patriarchy. A patriarchy is a system where men hold the power and women do not. Women do hold power in the United States — they lead major universities and giant corporations, write influential books, serve as state and federal judges and even manage winning presidential campaigns. American women, especially college-educated women, are the freest and most self-determining in human history. Why pretend otherwise?
 
Feminism is drowning in myth-information. Advocates never tire of telling us that women are cheated out of nearly a quarter of their salary; that one in four college women is sexually assaulted, or that women are facing an epidemic of online abuse and violence.

Such claims are hugely distorted, but they have been repeated so often that they have taken on the aura of truth. Workplace discrimination, sexual assault and online threats are genuine problems, but to solve them women need sober analysis, not hype and spin. Exaggerated claims and crying wolf discredit good causes and send scarce resources in the wrong direction.

Today's women's movement also needs to reckon with the fact that men struggle just as much as women. 
If that isn't enough of a start for you, nothing is!

Monday, December 19, 2016

You're Oppressing Me By Claiming To Be More Oppressed

What a circular firing squad!  I'll bet it would have been fun to be there, snacking on popcorn and enjoying the festivities:
‘Students of color’ conference at University of California reportedly dissolves into a fight over who is most oppressed...

There is a basic principle at work here that is invisible only to leftists who deny the reality of human nature. If oppression is the currency of social advantage, there will never be enough oppression to go around.
It was described as an "oppression Olympics" and a "safe space gone wrong".

I resent having to pay one dime for these snowflakes and the supposed education they're getting.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

This morning I was lying in bed partaking in one of my Sunday morning rituals, that being going to a news site app on my phone and reading BBC, CNN, Fox News, and USAToday.  3:1 liberal but it's nice to get different views, even if I disagree with them.

I came across this story on BBC:
Why you need sackfuls of banknotes to shop in Venezuela

Last week Venezuela announced it would withdraw its highest-denomination banknote from circulation. Long queues formed outside banks as people scrambled to change theirs before they became redundant. The withdrawal of the 100-bolivar note has now been delayed until the start of January, but ordinary people must still grapple with spiralling (sic) prices and increasingly worthless notes, as Gideon Long reports...

The losers are ordinary Venezuelans, whose salaries are losing value by the minute, and who have to queue for hours to buy basic foodstuffs that they can scarcely afford.

All this in an oil-rich country whose citizens were once famous for their international shopping sprees. It doesn't add up.
It used to be that Venezuela was an up-and-coming, oil-rich country with a strong middle class.  Next door Colombia was a hell-hole of FARC rebels and the Medellin drug cartel.  In the last 25 years, though, both countries have done a complete 180.  Colombia is relatively peaceful and prosperous while Venezuela continues to devolve into long lines, empty stores, and massive inflation.

Gideon Long says it doesn't add up, but Gideon Long is blind only because he will not see.  I read his entire article, and then had my browser search for the word "socialist" or "socialism" in the article.  There wasn't a single use of either word.

That is why it "doesn't add up" for Gideon Long.  That is why the BBC is considered left-leaning.

Update:  Let's not forget the information in this post from last summer.

Different Ways of Looking at the World

I work with a person who once told me a couple years ago when we were talking about society and politics and life, "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention."

That remark really bothered me.  I certainly didn't like the negativity it espoused, and I knew I didn't like the fact that it essentially forbade people to be happy, but I didn't have a pithy, yet meaningful, response.

Fast forward to late last night, when I came across this picture on Facebook and took a screenshot of it:
click to enlarge
Pithy and meaningful enough for me.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Eventually, Taxpayers Will Get Fed Up With Funding This Kind of Crap

The whole idea behind public universities is that they create some sort of societal good that is rightly funded by the taxpayers.  If you can find any societal good in this course, well...
The University of Wisconsin is offering a course this spring on the “Problem of Whiteness,” which is taught by a radical assistant professor who believes America is a terrorist state.

The course will cover institutional racism and “what it means to be #woke"...

“Have you ever wondered what it really means to be white?” the course description states. “If you’re like most people, the answer is probably ‘no.’ But here is your chance!”

“In Frantz Fanon’s famous White Skin Black Mask (1952), his chapter ‘Look, a Negro!’ interrogated the meaning and experience of coming to know oneself as Black under the constant scrutiny of the white gaze,” the course description continues. “It is an experience concomitant with W.E.B. Du Bois’s observation that under systemic racism, even well-meaning whites are constantly asking, in one way or another, ‘what is it like to be a problem?’ But, Like Richard Wright’s quote above, philosopher George Yancy’s book, Look, a White! (2010), turns the question around, and rightly returns ‘the problem of whiteness’ to white people. After all, since white supremacy was created by white people, is it not white folks who have the greatest responsibility to eradicate it? Our class begins here.”

The course is part of “Critical Whiteness Studies,” and will attempt to offer solutions to the “problem of whiteness.”
I'm old enough to remember when classifying an entire group of people by their skin color, and calling them a "problem", was considered racist.

Ties in nicely with this post.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cool Currency

In previous posts I've talked about inflationary currency; here's a note I have showing Brazil's inflation--to combat it they just lopped off 3 zeroes and counterstamped the note.  Here's one of Brazil's current notes:

click to enlarge

No current or former political leader, and the symbolism is elegant.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What College Freshmen Need To Know

Instead of teaching freshmen how to walk on eggshells around each other, and instead of teaching them to segregate themselves by race, gender, sexuality, etc., maybe schools should take this advice:
What new freshmen truly need is guidance on how to engage in robust debate. They should be taught something about constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment. They need to be acquainted with the Board of Regents statement on academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Above all, they need to know how reasonable, educated people in a university setting converse and interact in a civilized way.

UW’s obsession with “bias” and “microaggressions” won’t help students learn that. Instead, it encourages a divisive mindset that encourages students to complain about each other when they should be learning how to reason with each other.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Turnabout

An honest person will admit that if a school offered a course on resistance to Obama, it would have been considered racist:
This winter, students at Oregon State University will have the opportunity to take a new class that promises to teach them about how African Americans have historically resisted the “white supremacy."

The class, titled “African American Resistance in the Era of Donald Trump,” will be taught by Dr. Dwaine Plaza, a professor of sociology and current Chair of the Sociology Program in the School of Public Policy...

In a statement to Campus Reform, Plaza asserted that “the class emerged after the November 8 election,” because “In my opinion we are about to step back into the 1960s when whiteness was currency and people of color needed to be in the shadows struggling for whatever trickles down to us.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Limiting Free Speech Means Shutting Up Conservatives

I'm not old enough to remember the "free speech movement" of the 60s, but I was taught by people who lived through it.  I was taught to cherish free speech--and the rest of the Bill of Rights--as evidence of the goodness of America's body politic.  We are a nation where everyone has a right to speak up, to have a say.

So idealistic.

The epicenter of the free speech movement was America's universities, led by UC Berkeley.  Nowadays, it's our universities that are at the forefront of stifling free speech.  They designate Orwellian "free speech zones", craft Orwellian "speech codes", refuse to allow conservative speakers on campus, cut funding for conservative student organizations.  They are climates where the presumption is that everyone is liberal, and anyone who isn't is a, well, pick your favorite -ist (racist, sexist, etc.).

It's gotten this bad:
A group of Washington State University professors have decried “discourses of free speech” in an open letter to the campus community, suggesting such defenses of the First Amendment hurt “marginalized students"...

The scholars go on to suggest more must be done to crack down on what they consider hate speech and acts, telling the campus community that the defense of freedom of speech and freedom of expression is harmful...
If, only 20 years ago (that's during Bill Clinton's presidency), you predicted that, you'd have been laughed out of the room.  It was inconceivable then.

A recent report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reveals:
Major findings from Spotlight on Speech Codes 2017 include:
  • 39.6 percent of surveyed institutions maintain severely restrictive, red light speech codes—a nearly 10 percentage point drop from last year’s 49.3 percent.
  • Of the 449 schools surveyed, 27 received FIRE’s highest, green light rating for free speech. This number is up from 22 schools as of last year’s report.
  • Twenty schools or faculty bodies in FIRE’s Spotlight database adopted statements in support of free speech modeled after the one adopted by the University of Chicago in January 2015...
As the report details, however, there are still serious threats to free speech on campus:
  • 237 schools surveyed received a yellow light rating (52.8%). Yellow light policies restrict narrower categories of speech than red light policies do, or are vaguely worded in a way that could too easily be used to suppress protected speech, and are unconstitutional at public universities.
  • Of the institutions surveyed for this report, roughly 1 in 10 have “free speech zone” policies—policies limiting student demonstrations and other expressive activities to small and/or out-of-the-way areas on campus.
  • Hundreds of colleges have implemented bias reporting systems to solicit reports of bias on campus, which most universities explicitly define to encompass speech protected by the First Amendment. FIRE will release detailed metrics on these systems in the coming days.
You never hear of liberal viewpoints being  suppressed, only conservatives.  And schools are very accepting of all students, as long as they aren't conservative:
People who study patterns of discrimination talk about behaviors like “othering,” about marginalization, and about microaggressions. But in my experience, these behaviors are prominent in the world of academia, and they’re often aimed at conservative or libertarian students and faculty who depart from whatever the current left-leaning orthodoxy is.

When professors or administrators act as if Trump and his supporters are uniquely evil, as opposed to simply one political coalition, they are engaging in “othering.” The message is that Trump — and, more significantly, his supporters on campus — aren’t really members of the community in good standing. They’re a dangerous “other” who must be closely watched, carefully scrutinized, thoroughly stigmatized, and maybe shunned.
One wonders how long taxpayers will continue to fork over billions to fund such un-American institutions.
 
 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Liberals like to pretend that they're against voter ID laws because they think someone, somewhere, might be disenfranchised.  Since you can't do much of anything in the country without ID, there can't be that many people who would truly be disenfranchised.  Liberals, if you want to show that you truly are the compassionate folks you claim to be, seek these people out and help them get IDs.  And in California, which is run lock, stock, and barrel by liberals, lobby to have the state issue free IDs to citizens--once people have proven they are who they say they are, of course.

But we all know liberals don't want voter ID laws because--and I truly believe this--liberals know they won't win without voter fraud.

So when libs whine that the election was rigged (it probably was, but Clinton was such a bad candidate that she couldn't win an election rigged in her favor), and Jill Stein, et al., demand recounts, they can't really get upset when the people respond to their concerns:
Be careful what you wish for … you just might get it. Jill Stein didn’t get the recount she wanted in Michigan, but she did get the state to take vote-integrity issues seriously. Meeting in its lame-duck session, the state House of Representatives passed a tough voter-ID bill that includes $3 million for funding of free state identification and birth certificates after over 18,000 voters cast ballots without identification in the presidential election...

Current law requires a photo ID too, but also allows for voters to sign an affidavit under oath that attests to their identity and eligibility. The House might have had ample reason to wonder about abuse under that system when looking at the distribution of the practice. The Detroit News’ Jonathan Oostling reports that almost half of all such votes took place in heavily Democratic Wayne County, and almost 6,000 in the city of Detroit alone. That seems oddly disproportional, given that Wayne County accounted for just 16% of the state’s total.
If you complain about bad elections, you should support voter ID laws.

The Army-Navy Game Starts In A Little While

Will this (finally) be the year?

Not according to this site.  But it's still 2016, the year of Brexit and Donald Trump.  Let's hear it for the underdog!

Will unexpected victory come in 3's?

Update:  Army leads 14-0 at the half, and has more first downs in the game than Navy has total plays.  This is not the time to get cocky.  Just keep it up.  There are 30 more minutes in this game.

Update #2:  Army went down 17-14 but retook the lead with 6 minutes left, going home with a 21-17 victory!

Friday, December 09, 2016

Cool Currency

In other posts I've shown these pictures of inflationary currency I have from Zimbabwe, so let's look at a different Z, shall we?  How about Zambia:

click to enlarge

If the colors aren't beautiful enough for you, how about the images?

Thursday, December 08, 2016

A Vicious Rumor

It's no secret among those that know me that my favorite dessert is Chocolate Ganache Torte from Trader Joe's. Well, there's a rumor going around my school--started by a student who sought out a CGT--that Trader Joe's is discontinuing this dessert (which is found in the freezer section).

I will shortly be drafting an email to TJ's to confirm or deny this rumor.  Stay tuned.

Update, 12/14/16:  TRADER JOE'S ADMITS THEIR TREACHERY! Today I received an email confirming the rumor above.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Better Understanding

I've been able to calculate the determinant of a matrix forever.  If I didn't learn before my first linear algebra course in 1985, then I learned then.  When I took linear algebra in my master's program, there might have been spent 2 minutes on the subject because it's assumed a student at this level would know how to calculate a determinant.

I remember calculating eigenvalues and eigenvectors back in 1985, and I calculated them again 4 years ago when I took linear algebra.  I can calculate eigenvalues and eigenvectors till the cows come home.

Until today I didn't understand what a determinant "was", or what eigenvalues and eigenvectors "were".  I knew I didn't understand, I assumed there had to be some physical representation for them, I wanted to understand.  But I never got satisfactory answers.

Yesterday a former student--who is majoring in math!--dropped by school to visit.  He saw that under our new standards, we're covering matrix operations in pre-calculus in a lot more depth than we did under the standards in place when he was a student.  We got to talking about what we cover, and I mentioned that I still didn't know what a determinant really "was". 

He pointed me to a YouTube video he found.  I watched it this morning.  Within the first 7 minutes I had a good, big picture understanding of what a determinant is/does.  7 minutes.

Then I looked at the related videos in the column on the right.  There, near the top, was one on eigenvalues and eigenvectors.  Less than 10 minutes later I had the understanding that had up until today had eluded me. 

I like learning :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

I remember having hot chocolate and cookies brought into the barracks during finals week, but that's about it.  I certainly don't remember anything like this at West Point, thankfully:
A prestigious military school is providing coloring books for cadets to deal with stress.
The Virginia Military Institute, the first state-sponsored military college in the country founded in 1839, offers a “stress busters” program to provide students with yoga classes to “unwind and relax"...

“Stress Busters is held on Reading Day of each semester,” the school said. “This is an opportunity for cadets to unwind and relax before studying for finals. This event often includes stress reduction activities such as yoga, therapy dogs, coloring book stations, card/game stations, and grab-and-go snacks to take with you on your way to study!”
At least one person gets it:
“VMI once took America’s youth and prepared them for duty and the harsh realities of war,” a VMI alumnus and veteran told the Washington Free Beacon. “Now, for $20k a year, VMI will turn your teenagers back into children.”

Monday, December 05, 2016

It's Better Than Nothing, I Guess

It's not the Rose Bowl, or the BCS Championship Game, or anything like that, but for the first time in forever, Army is going to a bowl game:
Motivation level: Army has been to only one bowl in the last 20 years, so the Black Knights should be fired up to put an exclamation point on what has been a terrific season.
And for the opposition:
Best moment: Facing the second-rated defense in the nation at the time, Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns and North Texas beat Army 35-18 on a rainy field. It was the Mean Green’s first victory over Army in five tries.
They've already beaten us this year. Great.

Going into the Navy game, Army is 6-5.

Update, 12/14/16:  Going into the bowl game, Army is 7-5 :-)

Update, 12/28/16:  Coming out of the bowl game, Army is 8-5!!!  Good season :-)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Parking

When I got to the mall about 12:30 this afternoon, I had no difficulty finding a parking spot.  I'm not saying there were tumbleweeds blowing by, but I didn't have to drive all over the place to find a spot.  There were many to be had.

Is anyone else seeing the same thing?  I thought it odd because I've heard that consumer confidence is way up this season--thank you, President-elect Trump  :-) 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The Top And The Bottom

The 5 highest paying college majors

Video: 10 College Majors That Earn the Least

An Astounding Lack of Self-Awareness

I marvel that our friends on the left, nearly a month after the election, can still not be aware of the fact that their elitism, their bulldozing, and their disdain and hatred for those of us on the right, hasn't worked for them in years.  This author is so "enbubbled" that he not only misdiagnoses the Democrats' problem, but his so-called solution only works in favor of Republicans.  To believe, as he does, that the Democrats haven't been playing dirty and thus need to start (do I need to run through the list of dirty plays, starting with Obama's weaponization of the federal bureaucracy, specifically the EPA and IRS, to a degree that would cause even Richard Nixon to blush), is to be in such denial of today's reality that one wonders about his mental state:
The emerging Trump administration is a frightening mixture of free-market fundamentalists and C-list conspiracy theorists. This motley crew may well run headlong into political disaster. But Democrats should not assume that the Trump administration's incompetence will automatically result in a Democratic wave in 2018. Remember, Democrats are in their weakest position in national and state government since before the Great Depression.

So what should Democrats do? Take a page from the GOP playbook and obstruct everything.

One of the most galling things about the complete Republican takeover of American government that we witnessed last month is the way it rewarded the party's destructive behavior during the Obama years. Not only did voters never punish Republican leaders for pouring sand into the gas tank of representative democracy, they granted them victories in nearly every contested House and Senate race, proving incontrovertibly that voters simply do not care about or understand the ways that Republican leadership subverted longstanding norms of parliamentary procedure.

In perhaps the most brazen violation of democratic norms in living memory, the Republicans just stole the colossally important swing seat on the Supreme Court by obliterating precedent and refusing even to hold hearings for Merrick Garland. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer cannot continue their heroic work into their late 80s, the Democrats may be facing a hostile Supreme Court until most of Bernie Sanders' young voters are having their midlife crises.

But the Senate's Great Merrick Garland Heist is a symptom rather than the cause of our dysfunction. The towering mountaintop snowcap from which the swollen river of hateful, paralyzing, and destructive nihilism flows is the House GOP. The face of America's political torment is the smug visage of Utah's Jason Chaffetz, a man who epitomizes everything that is wrong with our politics, and who the Democrats have no realistic chance of ever unseating. Secure behind their ingenious 2010 gerrymandering plan, and the concentration of Democratic voters in big cities, it was Chaffetz and his minions who turned the tragedy of Benghazi into the 21st century's Scopes trial, and who decided to use the legislature's oversight responsibilities to hold a series of theatrical hearings about Libya rather than, say, holding President Obama accountable for his (morally outrageous and possibly illegal) policy of perpetual drone warfare.
Perhaps the author doesn't realize that tens of millions of us across this country don't want what he wants. Perhaps he doesn't realize that it was the Democratic congressional stranglehold on the Congress from 2007-2011, along with President Obama from January 2009 to January 2011, that was so hideous, so brazen in its actions, so un-American in its outlook, that the American people returned Republicans to power in the House of Representatives after only 4 years of Nancy Pelosi's so-called leadership, and two years later returned Republicans to power in the Senate, and last month gave Republicans control of more offices and legislatures than that party has had in a century.  Perhaps he doesn't realize that the American public does care about and understand their government, and they don't like what the Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, have done with it.

Perhaps the Democrats should have considered, while they were using the federal bureaucracy to attack their political opponents, that the federal bureaucracy would not always be in their hands.  And they should pray to the God that so many of them refuse to believe in that the Republicans don't return the favor, they should pray that a President Trump doesn't do to them what they hoped a President Clinton would do to Republicans.

After losing so handily, as the Democrats have, you might expect reasonable people to reassess what they've been doing.  You might think they would be a bit more reflective.  Doubling down on the hatred of the last 8 years--and let's be honest, that's what the author above is recommending--is not a recipe for his party's success.  The American public--outside of coastal urban enclaves--has shown no stomach for what he is suggesting.

Believing that as I do, I hope the Democrats follow that author's advice.  One rule about holes is:  when you're in a hole, stop digging.  A second rule about holes is:  when your opponent is in a hole, give him the nicest, biggest shovel you can find.  Take that author's shovel of hatred, Democrats.  Please take it.  I implore you.

Cool Currency

In this post from over a week ago I threw out the suggestion that maybe I could post pictures of some of the beautiful coins and currency I have, in part to show how money can be functional as well as beautiful (I think American money is quite ugly).

For those who think I'm asking to be robbed by doing this, I keep my collection in a secure, secured location.  And while I've been collecting since my first trip to Europe in 1974, most of what I have couldn't be sold for much--it means much more to me than it's worth.

Anyway, here's a note from South Africa that my nana brought back for me after her visit to see some relatives there in the 1970s (the quarter is for size reference):

Beautiful, isn't it?




Friday, December 02, 2016

What An Ideologue Regrets

Smart people knew 8 years ago that this was a foolish move, but hey, welcome to the party, Mr. Lundestad:
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama in 2009 was an experiment to encourage the newly elected Democrat to follow through on his lofty promises, according to at least one former member of the Nobel committee. But apparently, that was a failed experiment.

A regretful Geir Lundestad, onetime secretary of the Nobel committee, told the Associated Press that he hoped the award would strengthen Obama. But it didn’t, according to the group, despite the White House’s belief that the president “lived up to the standard that he has set for himself” regarding the prize.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

McDonald's In The News

I can't remember the last time I ate at McDonald's.  Or Burger King.  Or Wendy's.  I just don't do fast food much anymore.  Periodically a friend will pick up tacos at Taco Bell or Jack in the Box and bring them over for movie night, but otherwise, I just don't.

But I saw McDonald's in the news twice today and thought it might make an interesting blog post.

First, the Big Mac is almost as old as I am.  And its creator has died:
Michael Delligatti, the man who brought you the Big Mac, has died. He was 98.

Delligatti, more affectionately known as “Jim,” was one of McDonald’s first franchisees. He first created the Big Mac in 1967 at his Uniontown, Penn. restaurant, Business Insider reports.

Almost 50 years later, it’s the same recipe served in chains today: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions—on a sesame seed bun (for those of you old enough to remember the jingle).
That was the creative, entrepreneurial part of the story.  Now comes the economics segment:
As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.

It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing.

Let’s start with automation. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives. At the time, labor groups accused business owners of crying wolf. It turns out the wolf was real.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk...

Of course, not all businesses have the capital necessary to shift from full-service to self-service. And that brings me to my next correct prediction--that a $15 minimum wage would force many small businesses to lay off staff, seek less-costly locations, or close altogether.

Tragically, these stories—in California in particular--are too numerous to cite in detail here. They include a bookstore in Roseville, a pub in Fresno, restaurants and bakeries in San Francisco, a coffee shop in Berkeley, grocery stores in Oakland, a grill in Santa Clara, and apparel manufacturers through the state. In September of this year, nearly one-quarter of restaurant closures in the Bay Area cited labor costs as one of the reasons for shutting down operations. And just this past week, a California-based communications firm announced it was moving 75 call center jobs from San Diego to El Paso, Texas, citing California’s rising minimum as the “deciding factor.” (Dozens of additional stories can be found at the website FacesOf15.com.)
Idiot $15/hr protesters are protesting people right out of their jobs.  You can't rewrite the laws of economics.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let The Stress Begin!

Last night I heard from the department chair in my master's program.  Crap is getting real now.

Over the past 4 1/2 years I've taken one graduate course per semester; next semester will be my 10th class, my 30th unit, and then end of my program.  Rather than writing a thesis, though, I have to take a cumulative final exam over 6 of the 8 math classes I took as part of the program (the other two classes were education classes).  I got to choose which 6 classes to be tested on--yay me.

Last night the department chair sent me review topics for 4 of those classes.  The other two were taught by an instructor who died in a car accident about a year ago, so the instructions I was given for those two courses was "study the tests you took in those classes"--in other words, review those classes in their entirety!  By the way, the review topics for just those 4 classes took two typed pages.

So next semester I'll be teaching as well as devising new lesson plans for all the classes I teach (that takes time, if you want quality education for your kids) because we got new curricula this year.  I'll also be taking my 10th class--a math class, not an education class!--and studying math I've learned over the past 5 years in order to prepare for my cumulative exam.  And I'll take this cumulative exam a few weeks before I finish the 10th class, and that 10th class will be covered on the cumulative exam!

So yes, the stress curve has taken a jump.  Crap is getting real now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Fun of Teaching Probability and Statistics

There are so many interesting real-world examples from which to draw!

The last chapter my students studied was about probability, and the current chapter is on the normal curve.  I've been writing quiz and test questions (I don't really like using the "test bank" that comes with our adopted curriculum materials) recently and having fun. 

For example, last week I spent a lot of time sick in bed--playing Yahtzee on my phone :)  As I played I realized that I was constantly calculating expected values, probabilities, etc., in my head, and that some of these would make excellent quiz and test questions.  But that was last chapter's material.  No problem--my bonus question on each chapter test relates to last chapter's material, to keep it current in the students' minds.  I could use a Yahtzee question as a bonus question for this chapter's test!  Example:  I need 4 5's in order to score 63 points on the left (of the Yahtzee scorepad) and thus earn the 35 point bonus.  On my first roll I got two 5's and on my 2nd roll I got one 5.  What is the probability of getting 1 or 2 5's on my 3rd and final roll?  Example:  On my first roll I got a 23345. I keep the 2345 and roll the remaining die.  What is the probability of getting a 1 or a 6 on either of my next two rolls, thus getting a "large straight"?

Today we had 3 2-hour block periods (don't ask), and I spent about 20 minutes each period today teaching my students how to play Yahtzee.  My rationale was simple:  if they understood how to play the game, they'll be able to better understand what I'm asking on their test.  They'll be able to devote all their brain power to calculating the probabilities rather than trying to figure out exactly what I'm asking.  In another couple years I'll probably have to do that for playing cards, too, as entirely too many students today don't know what comprises a standard deck of cards (and hence have difficulty understanding probability questions about drawing from a deck of cards). 

My current master's class is on testing/measurement/assessment, and one of the last chapters in our book was about standardized tests.  We read about stanines, deciles, having a score in the xth percentile, etc.  Since standardized tests mostly assume a normal distribution of scores, questions about stanines, deciles, etc., are great questions for our current chapter on the normal curve.  Throw in a little SAT score information gleaned from the College Board and you have a smorgasbord of questions that can be asked, all of which have some applicability to the students themselves.  Example:  given that the average SAT math score is such-and-such with a standard deviation of this-and-that, what is the minimum score that would place a student in the top decile?  Example:  what fraction of test scores are in the 5th stanine?

If you're creative enough and thoughtful enough, writing test questions can be quite enjoyable.

Monday, November 28, 2016

In Solidarity With My Gay Brothers and Sisters...

...I recommend that we petition the City and County of San Francisco to rename Castro Street and the neighborhood known as The Castro.  After all, how can a gay enclave share a name with a notorious homophobe?
Fidel Castro was many things: a revolutionary, a communist, a garrulous orator. Amid the fawning encomia released upon his long-overdue death at the age of 90, it should never be forgotten that he was also an oppressor, torturer, and murderer of gay people.

“We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant,” Castro told an interviewer in 1965. “A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.”

In the eyes of Castro and his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara—who frequently referred to gay men as maricones, “faggots”—homosexuality was inherently counterrevolutionary, a bourgeois decadence. To a traditional Latin American machismo that viewed gayness pejoratively, they married an ideological fixation treating it as politically undesirable...

Though the Cuban regime closed down the UMAPs in the late 1960s, it continued to repress gay men as ideologically subversive elements. Openly homosexual people were prevented from joining the Communist Party and fired from their jobs. One of the country’s most distinguished writers, Reinaldo Arenas, recounted the prison experience he and countless other gay men endured in his memoir Before Night Falls. “It was a sweltering place without a bathroom,” he wrote. “Gays were not treated like human beings, they were treated like beasts. They were the last ones to come out for meals, so we saw them walk by, and the most insignificant incident was an excuse to beat them mercilessly.”

Gays comprised a significant portion of the 125,000 Cubans (“worms,” in Fidel Castro’s words) permitted to leave the island for the United States as part of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift.
You know, just in case you know of some leftie who worships this now-dead human piece of excrement.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Final Push

I've been kind of a slacker in my master's course the last couple weeks.  In my defense, though, I had worked ahead and was all caught up, and then some!

I have 4 short assignments, and one longer assignment, that are due by next Sunday.  I thought I'd better get started on them so I decided to tackle the longer assignment, which is a peer evaluation of a classmate's project.  Turns out, though, that she posted the wrong assignment, leaving me with nothing to evaluate.  I emailed both her and the instructor, and hope this will get fixed pronto.  (I have a comment I'm dying to make about this, but I'm not going to.  Maybe someday.  It's so hard not to!)

Instead I knocked out two of the smaller assignments.  I'm working late tomorrow and then going to my mother's house for dinner, so I doubt I'll do anything tomorrow (except send another email if the situation above still hasn't been corrected).  I can finish the other two assignments on Tuesday.  That leaves only Wednesday and Thursday to do the big assignment, because I don't want to be working on it during the weekend!  Ugh!

Now I'm going to go chug some more cough syrup and relax the rest of the evening, knowing I have to be healthy enough to go back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Professor Watch List

Is your professor keening over Castro's death?  Trashing capitalism, dead white men, and/or the Constitution?  Who you gonna call?  Not Ghostbusters:
Conservative student organization, Turning Point USA, has released a new project called the Professor WatchList. The website enables students and parents to research professors that have a history of promoting a radical liberal agenda in their classrooms...

(Project founder) Charlie Kirk told Independent Journal Review the site is merely a tool for students to help them make informed choices. Kirk writes:
“Alumni, donors, parents, and students deserve to know the biases that exist in our universities. This is an awareness tool, not calling for termination or action. We simply seek to educate the public on the radical behavior that has taken over our colleges and universities.”
You support transparency, don't you?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Break So Far, and Thoughts on Christmas

As no one brought up politics yesterday, what could have been a contentious family dinner was instead rather enjoyable :)

My near-death illness seems to be abating, but has instead left me with an itchy-as-heck rash on my neck and cheek.  Is this what growing old is like, mystery illnesses for no good reason?

I put up my Christmas tree this morning, and several minutes ago finished putting up my Christmas decorations.  I have two totes of Christmas decorations and paraphernalia but leave one of them entirely untouched.  I've decided which decorations I like a lot and which I can do without, and thus the two totes.  And of course, I've switched out all the candles in the house to the Christmas scents.

I don't really have a theme when it comes to decorations.  There's no unifying style, just random decorations here and there.  But it satisfies me, I like what I see.

My Christmas tree got a new ornament this year, from Calgary.  My tree is covered with ornaments from places I've been, thus allowing me to relive my past vacations each year when I decorate.  My tree, too, is a hodge-podge of ornamental styles, from my Star Trek (and one Battlestar Galactica) ornaments to military themed ones to vacations ones, and a few actual Christmas ones thrown in for good measure.  It may be odd but it is, however, my tree, and it brings me great joy.

For the first time in a couple years I've put my grandparents' manger scene out on my front porch.  I'm not plugging in the lights, but it's out on the porch--where it was every Christmas while I was growing up.

My mother and I, veterans both, went to Applebee's on Veteran's Day and received $5-off-your-next-visit cards that expire on Sunday.  Since only one card per table per visit can be used, I think we'll do appetizers there the next couple days to use our cards without spending too much money.

Did I mention that I buy presents all year long, and therefore I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping?  Well, I do, and I am.  That means I can go to the stores and the malls and just absorb the season without the anxiety of "having" to buy somebody something.

I started playing the Christmas CD's today.  I don't think I have one with my favorite Christmas carol, O Come All Ye Faithful, but I play what I have.  I should go find a CD of chorale music--including O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark The Herald Angels Sing.  The two "Christmas" songs I despise the most are Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and that stupid Christmas Shoes song.  Seriously, a dying mother gets people in the Christmas spirit?  Seriously?

How long can I sit on the couch and watch the lights sparkle on my tree?  A long time, I'd wager to guess.  It can be so hypnotic.

Update, 12/15/16:  I've heard neither the reindeer song *nor* the shoes song this entire Christmas season!  Glory to God in the highest!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Agency Fee Rebate

What a nice Thanksgiving gift!  Today in the mail I received my agency fee rebate check from the CTA.  If you don't know what that means, let me explain.

With regards to union membership, there are two types of states:  "right to work" states, wherein an employee has a right to work without being required to pay a union, and "fair share" states, where employees are required to pay a union.  Twenty-six states are "right to work" states, and of course California isn't one of them.  As a result, I'm required to pay a union as a condition of my employment.  In fact, not paying a union is about the only thing a teacher could do that would cause the teachers union to push for dismissal.

We all learned about "closed shops" back in high school history class, places where union membership was required as a condition of employment (BTW, closed shops were put in place to keep blacks from working, but that's yet another sordid detail from union history--that, and the violence).  Closed shops are now illegal in the United States.  As a result, I'm required to pay a union to "represent" me but I'm not required to be a union member.

Due to a few court cases, though, I'm only required to pay for those activities that a supposedly impartial arbiter (paid for by the union) determines are directly related to collective bargaining and organizing.  Each year I have to send a certified letter to the CTA requesting my refund, and each year they send it (why I only have to resign once, but have to request the money each year, is a situation that exceeds my own logic).  Usually I get somewhat over $300 of my over $1000 a year in union dues refunded to me.

This being an election year, though, my rebate check was slightly over $400.  Take a look at the percentages below.  The national teachers union spent almost 5/8 of its money on activities not related to collective bargaining (e.g., political donations), and the state and local unions spent about a third of their money on such activities:

Keep these percentages in mind when you hear unions and other lefties wanting to overturn the Citizens United case!

Anyway, if you're a California teacher and would like to learn more about your rights regarding union membership (or non-membership, if that is your choice), visit the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.

Perspective on Nazis

I'm not a fan of completely lifting someone else's posts and putting them here at RotLC, but what could I say that would improve on this:
PERSPECTIVE: An Awful Lot of Media Coverage for About 200 Losers Getting Together.
Jim Geraghty:
It is not that hard to gather a couple dozen or couple hundred people together for just about any idea or concept, no matter how obscure or outlandish. About 80 Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln presenters – don’t call them “impersonators!” – gathered for their convention in Vandalia, Illinois. The white nationalists couldn’t gather as big a crowd as the 300 mermaids and mermen at “MerFest” in Cary, North Carolina last year. Of course, all of these gatherings shrink in comparison to “BronyCon”; about 7,000 grown adults attended the last convention for My Little Pony fans. (You may find that a completely different sign of the Apocalypse.)
Yet from the headlines, you would think that this was some sort of burgeoning mass movement, marching through the streets and taking over the nation’s capital.
It takes a lot of effort to establish a narrative.
UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Seen on Facebook:

Progressives on 9/12: ‘Just because some Islamics are terrorists, doesn’t mean all Islamics are terrorists! It’s not okay to just walk up and assault them!’
Progressives on 11/9: ‘Some Trump supporters are Nazis so Trump and all his supporters are NAZIS! Just walk up and assault them!’
Yeah, pretty much.
When even Joy Behar says that we shouldn't be paying so much media attention to these people, maybe you lefties should realize that no one likes Nazis.  Maybe you should learn a little something about the right, something beyond your wildest evil fantasies about what we're like.  Red herrings and straw men don't make for a satisfying intellectual meal.

White Privilege






Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Would You Want This Guy Teaching Your Kid?

Seriously.  Watch this kid.  Listen to him.

And he goes to a multi-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-a-year school.  And he wants to be a teacher.  *sigh*

I'm reminded of this Amherst freshman:

He tutors "underprivileged" kids so he's a saint, but can't respond to D'Souza's point that "This college is privilege!"  (If you don't want to watch the whole thing, start at 8:35)

It's Hard *Not* To Write About How Bat**** Insane the American Left Is Acting

I'll cut/paste this, whole cloth, from Instapundit:
CHARLIE MARTIN: The Hysterical Left Is Making NeverTrumpers Reconsider.

I’ve got to say: if you’re trying to make a case against Trump via trying to reverse the election by mob rule, by threats of violence against electors, and by openly planning an insurrection — er, “disruption”?

Then you’re making one hell of a good case that Trump is less of a threat to democracy than his opponents.
Yes.
I'd rather write about something else, but let's face it, the left's complete and total meltdown is a big deal.  Seriously, harassing electors at their homes, and publishing their names and addresses?  Way to win friends and influence people, lefties.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Break, Day 1

I don't consider the weekends to be part of break time :-)

This morning I went to the DMV to pick up my personalized license plates.  I had an appointment, walked in a few minutes early, and there was no line.  Checked in and was given a number, and before I could even sit down, my number was called. 

Plates look good on my pickup :-)

I was in a meeting all day on Friday, so my substitute was left with the task of giving quizzes in each of my 5 classes.  I brought them home to grade.  Knocked out one class today, my plan is to do a class a day until they're all graded.

I haven't watched any NFL this season because the league (not just the idiot from the 49ers) has been taking an anti-American stance.  A friend asked me to meet him at a restaurant tonight to watch the game, though, and since we don't see each other often at all, I'll suspend my personal boycott tonight.

That will pretty much be my Monday.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Canadian Coins Captivate

I think American coins are ugly.  American currency is, too.

It wasn't always this way.  It wasn't until 1909 that we first started putting dead presidents on our coins, for example.  Until then, any humans on our coins were either representations of Lady Liberty or were Native Americans. I want to remove all dead presidents from our coins.

Washington and Lincoln made appearances on our paper money in the 1800s, and later even non-presidents did:  Hamilton, Lincoln, and Chase, for example.  But our paper money wasn't always so ugly.  Even though it's long been green and black, we used to have beautiful images on our currency.  This "educational series" note is one of the most famous and most beautiful.  And though that note has Martha and George on the reverse, I'd still be all for removing George, Abe, et al., from our currency.

Even our commemorative coins today are uninspiring, which is unfortunate given their themes.

There are plenty of countries around the world that produce beautiful coins.  If you want to see some genuine outside-the-box thinking on coins, though, you need look no further than to our friend to the north, Canada.

Just browsing the Royal Canadian Mint's web site turned up these three commemorative coin subjects:  Star Trek, DC Comics, and Star Wars.  Note that these are actual commemorative legal tender coins, not coin-like medals made by a private mint.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that our coins should be about pop culture.  But travel the world and you'll see all sorts of representations on even circulating coins, from animals, to sports (really!), to plants, to national crests and symbols, to historical representations, to landmarks, etc.  And foreign currency gets even more creative.  Have you ever seen, or felt, Australia's polymer, not paper, notes?  Imagine trying to counterfeit a note with a see-through spot on it!

Money is a tangible ambassador for its country of origin.  Ours is less than satisfactory.  Perhaps I should run a series of posts with pictures of very cool coins and currency that I have collected over the decades....


The Union Voting Guide

Here's a chart from the American Enterprise Institute showing voting patterns of union households in each presidential election since 1972:
click to enlarge
Do union voting guides look like that?  Are they at all representative of the obvious ideological diversity of union members?  No, I didn't think so, either.

Kinda Sorta A Victory For Sanity

If you just read the headline, this sounds like a victory for the forces of sanity against the delicate dispositions of the snowflake brigade:
Oberlin College has refused to suspend failing grades this semester despite requests for relief from students who skipped classes and missed study time to protest recent deaths at the hands of police across the nation.

A student petition, signed by more than 1,300, called for the college to institute a "no-fail mercy period" that would eliminate all failing grades and make a C the lowest possible grade a student could receive, the student newspaper reported.

President Marvin Krislov responded with an email to students on Sunday, saying he and the college's deans opted not to grant the reprieve after giving the request serious consideration.
Then you read the next sentence:
"We are in firm agreement that suspending grading protocols is not the way to achieve our shared goal of ensuring that students have every opportunity and resource to succeed," he wrote.
I would prefer something along the lines of "Choice have consequences.  Put on your big kid undies and face the day."  But no:
"To reiterate: we are firmly committed to supporting students in their health, well- being, and academic success," Krislov wrote.
Too squishy for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Unprofessional

This isn't the right way to address a colleague whose opinions you think are wrong:
Julie Mumma says criminal defense attorneys like her have won justice for the wrongly accused and changed unfair laws.

Former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy Jimmy Martinez contends criminal defendants are usually guilty and that their attorneys frequently lie in the courtroom.

The clash of ideas between the two Sacramento State criminal justice professors came to a head last month when Mumma took her students to Martinez’s Criminal Justice I class in Solano Hall and demanded a debate.

Mumma “hijacked my class,” said Martinez, recounting the morning his colleague came with her students to challenge him.

“I’m tired of his fiery rhetoric,” Mumma said. “I’m not opposed to conservative ideas, but I want to hear those ideas challenged, debated and discussed.”

Both professors said they have had positive feedback from their students about the rare classroom confrontation. As the judicial system and law enforcement face increasing scrutiny, the impromptu faceoff has prompted efforts to create a series of discussions among criminal justice professionals with divergent views.
Somehow, I have to believe that if the "conservative" instructor barged in to the "liberal" instructor's class and hijacked it, the thrust of the article would have been the denial of academic freedom, the hatred in Donald Trump-like views, and perhaps even something about the patriarchy.  We'd also probably be reading about the university president, a released statement therefrom, and potential disciplinary measures in the offing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Illusion of California

I'm told--often by people whose paychecks come from a government entity--that California is doing fine.  The economy is great, Governor Brown has Made California Golden Again, and unicorns are farting gold dust again.  You'll pardon me if I'm somewhat skeptical.

I came across these two articles today, the juxtaposition of which shows you just how far down the track to Crazytown my home state has gone.

First, utopia:
Democrats have dominated all branches of California’s government since 2011, when Jerry Brown succeeded Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. With the largest economy in the U.S. and the sixth-largest in the world, the state enjoys greater independence from Washington than most. It was the first state to adopt its own vehicle emissions standards, in 2002. In 2012, California created the only state-level cap-and-trade system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions after Republicans in Congress rejected a national model. California, which has more undocumented immigrants than any other state, offers them driver’s licenses as well as financial aid for college. It has imposed some of the country’s strictest background checks on firearms purchases. It’s one of three states to provide paid family and medical leave and one of five that require employers to offer paid sick leave. “This is unlike anything we’ve seen in modern political history,” says de León. “We’re going to do everything in our power to protect our people and our values as Californians.”

Hillary Clinton won more than 61 percent of the state’s vote, a higher share than President Obama won in 2012. Voters approved ballot measures decriminalizing recreational marijuana use, restricting ammunition purchases, and increasing taxes on the rich. The national election triggered a resurgence of California secession fantasies, this time under the hashtag #Calexit—a reference to Brexit, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union...

From January 2014 to September 2015, California released immigrants considered deportable under federal law in more than 11,000 instances, rather than keeping them in custody for federal agents, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained by the Texas Tribune. The next state on the list, New York, released people in fewer than 2,000 cases...

Governor Brown has devoted himself to strengthening California’s carbon pollution rules, already the nation’s toughest. “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time—devastating climate change,” Brown said in a statement that also referred to finding common ground with Trump and the GOP where possible. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says cities should be willing to uphold the Paris commitments at the local level. “You have 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from cities,” she says. “If all mayors agree to take action, we can actually render federal action irrelevant.”

California’s Democrats are also exploring ways to ensure continued access to health care. The Affordable Care Act guarantees federal subsidies for 90 percent of the 1.4 million residents insured by Covered California, the statewide health exchange, and about 5.5 million more Californians now have insurance via the Medicaid expansion made possible by the 2010 law. A repeal, as Trump and Republicans have pledged, would cost the state more than $15 billion in federal subsidies a year, according to the nonprofit Urban Institute. “In theory, California could implement its own universal health-care program,” says California’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones—though doing so, he warns, would require significant state tax increases.
If you think all this is free, think again.  Californians already pay some of the highest taxes in the country.  We also make promises to people that we're probably not going to be able to keep:
In 2015, California tried to reform CalPERS to address its shortfalls, but they didn’t do nearly enough. The system currently assumes annual returns of 7.5 percent, which is still far too optimistic. So CalPERS plans to revise its expectations downward, which would force governments to kick in more money to meet liabilities. Local government budgets, of course, are already stretched. It isn’t long before they’ll have to ask the state and, potentially, the federal government for a bailout. And with Republicans in control in Washington, it’s hard to imagine California getting any sympathy.

California’s state government has enjoyed finally being back in the black. But with all these pension liabilities coming due, it’s unclear how long the good times will last.
I don't pay into PERS (Public Employees Retirement System), but STRS (State Teachers Retirement System).  Same idea, different agency.  To keep STRS afloat we teachers are having to pay more into our retirement fund just to get what we've already been promised, and more increases are coming.   That may keep it afloat for awhile, but as Instapundit always says, "Something that can't go on forever, won't."  Eventually, after jumping off that balcony, you're going to hit the sidewalk.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

One Buys Two

I stayed home from work yesterday.  I felt OK enough to go in to work today, but after having been home for over 3 hours now, I'm not feeling better than when I got home.  Weaker, slower, painier.

I'll get about 8 hrs of sleep tonight.  That should get me through tomorrow.

Taking yesterday off work bought me the last two days before Thanksgiving break.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Here We Go Again With Sick Crap

I'm writing this post on Monday evening, as what I'm about to write is supposed to be kept secret.  It will be over by Wednesday afternoon, hence my scheduling of this post for that time.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, my school will be participating in the Every 15 Minutes program.  If you don't know what that is, here's a synopsis from a post I wrote years ago:
Genuine car accident cars are brought out to the field, and the whole school goes out to watch as actual emergency response personnel act out the scenario of a drunk driving accident. Pre-trained students are also involved, and have make-up on to simulate the wounds of the accident. The "drunk driver" is checked out by the police as the firemen use the jaws of life on the car to get a student out. A lifeflight helicopter transports the "wounded" student to the hospital, where they are pronounced dead and taken to the actual morgue. Throughout the rest of the day, pre-chosen students are pulled out of class by the Grim Reaper (in the past, it was our principal in the garb) every 15 minutes--they are taken to a site where they discuss the program, write "good-bye" letters to their families as if they had really died, etc. All of this is filmed, of course, and the next day at the Every 15 Minutes Rally the whole school watches the video and the students involved, along with their parents, talk about what it was like to simulate this tragedy.

To me it's emotional abuse. If there were any evidence at all that the program saved lives, perhaps I'd be more inclined to support it, but there is none. Not one piece. To toy with the emotions of teenagers for no measurable benefit, and to take two school days to do so--well, I've already said I find it manipulative and abusive.
This year we're upping the ante.  We're keeping the program a secret.  We're just going to spring this on our students, the goal being to go for "maximum effect".  To me, that means we're going to try to get maximum emotional trauma out of our students.  We want them to cry!  We want them to be scared!  We want them freaking out!  And that's the whole student body! 

And there will be no permission slips from parents, no excusals, nothing.  All students will attend.  But hey, we have chaplains and counselors and maybe even comfort dogs and coloring books at the ready if some kids lose their cool at our required, hope-you-get-traumatized event.

What's really sick is that the pre-chosen students and their parents will write letters to each other.  We have a woman at school who actually lost her son (in Afghanistan), and in the back of my mind every day is the fact that my son could very well go to that same godforsaken place within a year.  If the thought of my son's death crosses my mind, it's very real to me and I hide that thought in some deep, dark place in my mind and turn to something else.  I can't imagine what kind of parent can pretend their child is dead without losing their mind.  To me it's sick--but they're going to do it.  And then they're going to write letters to their "dead" children. And some of these letters will be read in front of the entire student body at Wednesday's mandatory gathering.  Maximum emotional trauma.

Some people really don't like it when I bring up these objections.  There is to be no disagreement, we do it, do it their way, and that's final.  I'd welcome the opportunity to have a study hall in my classroom for kids who don't want to attend or for kids whose parents don't want them to attend, but no one is being given that option.  Remember, it's all being kept a secret, we're just going to spring this on the students tomorrow.

This is public education.

Voting For Women

You can believe, if you so desire, that Republicans have some "thing" against voting for women.  I can't understand why believing that makes some people feel good about themselves, but apparently it does.

I'm happy to vote for women--because I don't care if they're women or not.  I care about what they think, not whether they have interior or exterior personal plumbing.  As a result, I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton, and I have never voted for Senator Barbara Boxer--who, incidentally is probably one of the dumbest people ever to sit in the Senate--or Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is not.  I did, however, vote for Meg Whitman when she ran for governor 6 years ago.  Are those who didn't vote for her misogynists?  The only two politicians to whom I've ever donated money were women, and they both lost their elections.  Heck, I've even voted for a woman who was a Democrat--March Fong Eu, when she was California's Secretary of State.  Her office made sure I had my election materials well in advance of elections when I was away from California in the army, why mess that up?

As an aside, I've voted for many Democrats over the years.  How could I not, when here in California we know the political parties of even those who run for supposedly non-partisan offices such as Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Insurance Commissioner?

But back to women.  I'd have been happy to vote for Governors Susanna Martinez or Nikki Haley or Sarah Palin, or Congresswoman Mia Love, had I lived in their states.  And I'd be happy to vote for Kristi Noem if I lived in her state:
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), just reelected last week to a fourth term, announced Monday she will run for South Dakota governor in 2018.
So you see, it has nothing to do with a politician's sex for me, it has to do with their views and capabilities.  It doesn't have to do with their ethnicities, either, as Governor Martinez is an American of Hispanic heritage, Governor Haley is an American of (East) Indian heritage, and Representative Love is an American whose skin is black.  And I wouldn't vote for them because of ethnicity or race, although I like to point it out to lefties because, for some reason, they like to talk a lot about such things.

The American Left likes to treat women like its own little voting bloc, one to simultaneously stir up and pander to for its own devices.  Maybe, hopefully, that tactic won't work so much going forward:
Sisterhood is dead. If the left learns nothing else from this election, perhaps they should understand that there’s no such thing as female solidarity — not, at least, as they envision it...

When women were genuinely oppressed — before they could vote, before they could own property, before they could have the same access to education or the same opportunities in the workplace — it might have been possible to appeal to them as a bloc, even as a movement.

But in an era when women get a greater percentage of the college degrees and women without children earn more than their male counterparts, most women don’t see themselves as victims, let alone ones who need to join hands in solidarity.
Let's hope.

Were Similar Concerns Brought Up 4 Years Ago? 8 Years Ago?

Video from the major Sacramento newspaper:
Is it right for a high school teacher to talk politics?
Nov 14, 2016
Teachers and staff at Oakmont High in Roseville were warned Monday not to share political views with students.
If this warning wasn't issued 4 years ago, 8 years ago, 12 years ago, etc., then it's just another case of political bullying by the left.

Update:  They're taking a different tack in San Francisco:
San Francisco's public schools have been offered a classroom lesson plan that calls President-elect Donald Trump a racist, sexist man who became president "by pandering to a huge racist and sexist base."

The union that represents city teachers posted the plan on its website and distributed it via an email newsletter to its more than 6,000 members. The school district has more than 57,000 students.

It is unclear how many teachers have used the plan outlined by a Mission High School teacher, but it appears to have the tacit support of city education officials.

Good Thing I Didn't Go To Work Today

A cough to rip the lungs out, and no voice.  I would not have been a very effective teacher today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

One Of Those Days

I got to school this morning, socialized for a moment, then headed straight to the office to the principal's secretary.

"How are we on subs today?"
"We're one short."
"Fine, I'll stay."

It should be pretty clear how I felt at 7:30 this morning.  I gutted it out all day, but now that I'm home, it's herbal tea and rest for me.  I've already put in for a sub for tomorrow, but given how little our district pays substitutes, and how many people I know of at just my school who will be out tomorrow, I don't have high confidence that  there will be someone waiting for my classes tomorrow.

If I feel great by 4am, I can cancel the sub request and go in.  Otherwise, there's no way in heck I'm going to suffer through another day like I did today.

Nap time now....