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....

Monday, November 14, 2016

Gauss-Jordan Elimination

After Sputnik went up in '57, plenty of Americans worried that our education system was substandard.  How could it not be, they presumed, given that the Russkies beat us into space?  Part of the solution became known as New Math.

By the time young Darren got into elementary school in the 70s, the New Math was firmly rooted.  I recall learning about set theory and numbers in different bases--presumably, the "smart" people decided that if students learned and understood those two topics, our deficiencies in math would be over.

I didn't pay much attention to education in the 80s, I was too busy protecting America from the commie hordes.  But the 90s turned us to "fuzzy math", and the counter-swing to that in the 2000s was a "back to basics" approach.

So here we are in 2010s, Common Core-ing away, and it looks to me like the "smart" people have decided that if students learned and understood matrices, our deficiencies in math would be over.  In the past I've taught how to add and multiply matrices, and even how to use Cramer's Rule (an application of matrices) to solve systems of equations.  But today--ah, today I taught Gauss-Jordan elimination.

It doesn't matter if you know what that is or not.  What matters is that I've never taught it before, so I did plenty of prep work to ensure it went smoothly.  I even created a step-by-step worksheet that my students and I worked on together.

It went so smoothly.  Before they knew what was happening, they'd solved a 4x4 system of equations and hadn't even broken a sweat!  Such a feat would have been extremely difficult and time-consuming using algebraic elimination or Cramer's Rule, but the Gauss-Jordan algorithm made light work of it. 

It was great fun teaching something new :-)

Blast From The Past

I hope we don't have to worry about such things with a Republican about to take up residence in the White House:

Do you remember this "Dear Leader" moment?

(As an aside, equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since before I was born.)

Will Our Students Learn Anything From This?

A week or so ago, our school newspaper reported that in a mock election held on campus, our relatively well-to-do school's students voted 2:1 for Hillary Clinton.

Do you think they'll learn anything about accepting different ideas?  About real diversity, which is diversity of thought and not of skin color?  About what animates people outside of northeastern Sacramento?

In California?  No, I don't, either.  Sadly.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Stand Up To The Man! Fight The Power!

I hope this is the start of restoring 1st Amendment freedoms on our university campuses:
DePaul University’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom says they will defy an administration ban on “controversial” speakers, and go ahead with an event next week at the Chicago school featuring conservative speaker Ben Shapiro and “Based Mom” Christina Hoff Summers.

Late Friday, YAF issued an open letter to DePaul University’s administration, noting that they could no longer accept DePaul’s argument that Shapiro did not “substantively contribute” to campus discourse, and that “security concerns” warranted keeping him off campus.

DePaul’s Vice President of Facilities, Bob Janis, issued the ban in August, telling YAF students that they could not host the author and radio show personality. He said this decision was based on an experience with the provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos — whose detractors shouted down and attacked speakers. DePaul’s modest security forces simply could not handle the ensuing chaos...

“Given the experiences and security concerns that some other schools have had with Ben Shapiro speaking on their campuses, DePaul cannot agree to allow him to speak on our campus at this time,” Janis wrote.

Since then, however, Shapiro has spoken at several schools, including Yale and UT Austin, without incident — as has Milo Yiannopolous, whose “Dangerous Faggot” tour has criss-crossed several states. YAF argues that it’s DePaul’s students, and not its invited speakers, that create the problem.

I've Been Saying This About Liberals For Years

From Bloomberg:
“Too many of my progressive friends seem to have forgotten how to make actual arguments, and have become expert instead at condemnation, derision and mockery. On issue after issue, they’re very good at explaining why no one could oppose their policy positions except for the basest of motives. As to those positions themselves, they are too often announced with a zealous solemnity suggesting that their views are Holy Writ — and those who disagree are cast into the outer political darkness. In short, the left has lately been dripping with hubris, which in classic literature always portends a fall.”

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What A Disappointment

This happens every few years--I seem to recall one such incident during West Point's Golden Age (1983-87)--but it's damned disappointing when it does:
Six cadets have been charged with drug-related offenses and placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation, according to the U.S. Military Academy.

Five members of the class of 2017...and one member of the class of 2016...have been charged under military law with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and wrongful use, introduction and distribution of controlled substances, according to the academy.

The six cadets, who have been placed on leave away from the academy, will go through a court-martial process, which began on Thursday when they were charged.

He's Angry About A Trump Presidency--But I Agree With His Message

Speaking to his fellow lefties:  "Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid and talk to them.  Persuade them otherwise, because if you don't, I'll tell you what you get--you get President Trump."

It's unfortunate that it took a presidential freakin' election for some lefties to admit that insulting and denigrating and dismissing the opinions of half the country is not the way to win friends and influence people.  I hope the lesson will stick, but I'm not optimistic.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Yet Another Post On How The Outcome Of This Election Spotlights What's Wrong On So Many University Campuses

The following is true:
A bunch of InstaPundit readers who are students or faculty at various universities have been forwarding me emails about dealing with the “shock” “fear” and “dismay” that people on their campuses are supposed to be feeling. These emails generally either come from, or are copied to, the school’s “Office of Diversity and Inclusion” or some such. Yet the notion that a candidate supported by a big electoral majority is somehow beyond the pale — so much so that merely contemplating the election results is psychological trauma — is itself a slap in the face at the notion of diversity and, of course, a way of excluding the (many) students at these institutions who supported Trump from the university community. This should be a wakeup call for higher education, but I predict that the snooze button will be hit again.
I got not one but two such emails at my University of Idaho account this week.

I was a student there 4 years ago, too.  I don't remember getting any "now, now dear" emails then after Obama's victory, but I guess it could have happened.  I wonder how many universities did offer such "help" to people who should act like adults, 4 years ago?  8 years ago?  My guess, with no data to back me up, is not near as many as there are this year.

University students:  if you want your university to act like your mommy, perhaps we really do need to return to the days of in loco parentis.  Lefties fought against that concept in the 60s, and they fought for free speech, too.  Funny how lefties have reversed course on both these days.

But wait, there's more:
So, Donald Trump won the presidential election, and colleges and universities around the country are predictably canceling classes and exams because students are predictably too devastated to be able to do their schoolwork.

It’s everywhere. A professor at University of Michigan postponed an exam after too many students complained about their “very serious” stress. Columbia University postponed midterms, a Yale University professor made an exam optional, a University of Iowa professor canceled classes and a University of Connecticut professor excused class absences — all because their students just absolutely could not function knowing that they’d have to live in a country where their president would not be the president that they wanted. And it’s not even just the students — a University of Rochester professor canceled all of his meetings with students the day after the election because he decided he just could not bear to talk about it with them.

Reading all of these stories, I really have to wonder: Do any of these people realize that this kind of behavior is exactly why Donald Trump won?
Update: A friend sent me the following a text stating that the role of college administrators is now riot control, policing Halloween costumes, inventing new pronouns, and recruiting sports teams. Notice how none of those relates to what should be the focus of universities, education, and that's part of the problem.

Update #2, 11/12/16:  Even blogger Joanne Jacobs, whom I surmise is not a Trump supporter at all, has this to say:
Elsewhere in the Ivy League, a Clinton supporter bragged to the Princetonian that she’d spent Wednesday morning crying in her dorm room. “I sat and sobbed and I still have the tissues all over my floor to prove it,” wrote Marni Morse, a politics major. (I think “brag” is the correct word.) Finally, she left for class, still crying, wearing her “Dare to say the F-word: Feminism” t-shirt and her “A woman belongs in the House and the Senate” sweatshirt to feel “stronger.”

This is feminism? She’s not even strong enough to pick up her tissues.

To Our Friends On The Left: What, Exactly, Are You Afraid Of?

The left is going unhinged.

Look, I understand the disappointment when "your guy" loses the election.  My guys lost the last 2, and I'm 5-4 in presidential elections.  I get it.

I was very afraid when Obama was elected.  Specifically I was worried about my 2nd Amendment rights, and I was justified in that--Obama talked about gun control all through his candidacy and all through his presidency.  Only Heller kept his worst impulses at bay.

I was worried about my 1st Amendment rights.  Candidate Obama talked about implementing the so-called Fairness Doctrine.  Fortunately, he dropped such talk within the first year of his presidency, and for that I was truly relieved.

I was concerned about socialism, and one of my worst nightmares came true when Obamacare was passed.  On the day that I learned that Chief Justice Roberts was the deciding vote that declared Obamacare constitutional, I admitted to myself that I was no longer a free citizen but a subject of a far-away government.

So yes, I get that you're disappointed, and I understand that you have some fears.  I don't understand what those fears are.

To my gay friends:  what are you freaking out about?  Gay marriage is a right as determined by the Supreme Court.  There's nothing a Republican Congress and president can do about that.  I get the impression that you're worried about violence against gays.  Why?  Because, after the election, someone points out that VP-elect Pence believes in gay conversion therapy?  Why do you care, do you think he's going to compel anyone to undergo it?  Do you think Trump is going to make anti-gay actions a part of his agenda?  If so, on what basis do you believe this?  Do you think that there were plenty of homophobes just dying to harm gay people, but were kept in check by Obama's presidency, but are now somehow freed from their shackles by a Trump victory and are going to go on some rampage?  What possible reason do you have for believing such a thing?  Have you checked even left-leaning Snopes?  Try here and here.

To my ethnic minority friends:  what are you freaking out about?  Do you think a President Trump is going to advocate lynching for American blacks, and deportation of anyone who isn't lily-white?  What basis do you have for believing such a thing?  Yes, he wants to temporarily stop Muslim immigration until we can feel relatively safe that we're not going to admit a bunch of jihadis into America and suffer the fate of Paris, Brussels, Cologne, etc.  One 9/11 here was enough.  And you may not like to believe it, because it goes against your worldview, but huge majorities of Americans of all stripes support that.  What is it, though, that you really think he's going to do?

Remember that Trump got a higher percentage of both black and Hispanic votes than Mitt Romney did.  Why do you think that is?  What do you think he's going to do, round Americans up and put them in camps or march them across the continent?  No, that's what Democratic presidents did in the past.  Why are you worried about a Trump presidency that might enforce some of our immigration laws, but don't lift a breath to complain when Obama's tenure has seen a significant (Trump would say huuuuge) increase in deportations of Hispanics?  What do you think he's going to do, such that you wail and, in some cases, burn down your own cities?

To women:  yes, Trump was recorded (10 years ago) saying vulgar things.  Have you never said vulgar things in private?  I have.  Yes, it was foul, but do you really believe that he's a misogynist?  Do you really believe that he'll--what, compel women to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?  What is it, exactly, that you fear?  Did you support President Clinton, after all of his actions were well-known?  (This Vanity Fair article, as you can tell from the URL, appears first to have been published in 1998.)  I get that you're not on the Republicans' team, and I get that you may not like Donald Trump, but what is it that you fear?  Do you think he, a long-time Democrat and liberal, is going to somehow unilaterally overturn Roe v. Wade--which, like gay marriage, has already been decided?

If you really, genuinely, truly believe that Trump has the desire to do these things, and that the president has the power to do these things, then I invite you to join me on the right and work to keep from consolidating so much power and authority in Washington, DC.  Let's return to having 50 states and a "laboratory of democracy", where we in California aren't impacted by what they do in Alabama and the people of Wyoming don't care what they do in Massachusetts.  If you support consolidating power in Washington, DC, you have no one but yourselves to blame when the "other side" takes control and tries to implement their vision of what's right.

Again,  I understand being disappointed.  But I'm trying, and failing, to see the logic of your positions.  Please--with the same decency and civility I've shown in this post--help me understand.  I may not agree with you, but this is a genuine outreached hand I'm offering.

Update, 11/12/16:  Added the Snopes links.

Update #2, 11/14/16:  What else does the man have to say in order to make his position known?
In an apparent attempt to assuage the fears of LGBT Americans, President-elect Donald Trump told Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes that he has no plans to roll back same-sex marriage rights. Asked by Stahl if he personally supports marriage equality, Trump replied, “It’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.” He went to clarify that even if he were to appoint a judge who opposes marriage equality, the issue has been “settled” and he’s “fine with that.”


As for the “fears” that other groups, such as blacks and Muslim Americans, have expressed since his election, Trump told Stahl, “I think it’s horrible if that’s happening.”
These groups' concerns aren't real.  They're manufactured in order to generate fear and divisiveness.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

College-Educated Americans Are Out Of Touch

Even had Donald Trump not won the election Tuesday, the central thesis of this article would still be true:
The most important divide in this election was not between whites and non-whites. It was between those who are often referred to as “educated” voters and those who are described as “working class” voters.

The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump. College-educated people didn’t just fail to see this coming — they have struggled to display even a rudimentary understanding of the worldviews of those who voted for Trump. This is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities...

But I also know that that those with college degrees — again, with some significant exceptions — don’t necessarily know philosophy or theology. And they have especially paltry knowledge about the foundational role that different philosophical or theological claims play in public thought compared with what is common to college campuses. In my experience, many professors and college students don’t even realize that their views on political issues rely on a particular philosophical or theological stance.

Higher education in the United States, after all, is woefully monolithic in its range of worldviews. In 2014, some 60 percent of college professors identified as either “liberal” or “far-left,” an increase from 42 percent identifying as such in 1990. And while liberal college professors outnumber conservatives 5-to-1, conservatives are considerably more common within the general public. The world of academia is, therefore, different in terms of political temperature than the rest of society, and what is common knowledge and conventional wisdom among America’s campus dwellers can’t be taken for granted outside the campus gates...

Thus today’s college graduates are formed by a campus culture that leaves them unable to understand people with unfamiliar or heterodox views on guns, abortion, religion, marriage, gender and privilege. And that same culture leads such educated people to either label those with whom they disagree as bad people or reduce their stated views on these issues as actually being about something else, as in Obama’s case (mentioned previously in the article but not excerpted above--Darren). Most college grads in this culture are simply never forced to engage with or seriously consider professors or texts which could provide a genuine, compelling alternative view...

The alternative, a reduction of all disagreement to racism, bigotry and ignorance — in addition to being wrong about its primary source — will simply make the disagreement far more personal, entrenched and vitriolic. And it won’t make liberal values more persuasive to the less educated, as Trump victory demonstrates.
Many lefties I know are trying to "explain" the riots that are occurring in the wake of Trump's putative election.  They want the rest of us to validate and understand the concerns and fears of the protesters (or other groups).  Perhaps they need to extend that same courtesy to the rest of us, to try and understand us--and not settle for the intellectually lazy refrains of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, etc.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Liberals Don't Like It When People Leave The Plantation

Some Gay Voters Say It's 'Dangerous' to Come Out for Trump
So will gay Republicans be wearing Trump 2016 t-shirts and "Make America Great Again" hats at LGBTQ Pride events this year? Eric said it's unlikely.

"It's easy to come out of the closet," he said. "It's dangerous to come out as a Trump supporter."
I can't imagine why. Liberals are always so tolerant.

Remember When Talk Like This Was Raaaacist?

I do.  It was only 8 years ago.
Progressive group vows to obstruct Trump presidency

Talking Politics In Class

I have a reputation for talking politics in class.  Liberals don't like it when you say anything that's not straight out of the DNC, and they complain loudly, so this reputation is somewhat exaggerated.  In fact, here's how much I talk about politics in class, contrary to popular opinion:
Students in the hall this morning: How could this happen?
Me: The universe owed me. I was due to be on the winning side after 8 years.
Students in the hall this morning: What, you’re a Trump supporter?
That's how much.

Actually, I’m not a Trump supporter, but I am a Trump voter. I can turn into a supporter if he pursues conservative means and ends. If he doesn’t, I’ll have to content myself with knowing he wasn’t the worst possible choice.

If You Don't Want An Abortion, Don't Get One. If You Don't Want A Plastic Grocery Bag, Though, No One Else Can Have One, Either.

Consistency is for rubes, I guess.
California really should be two states, Coastal California and Inland California.

California Wants Its Porn Natural

There was an initiative on the ballot that would require porn actors in movies made in California to wear condoms.  Californians rejected this, 54-46.  Yes, that's the kind of stuff we vote on here in the People's Republic:
Go figure.



If You Want To Know Why Trump Won...

Again, I didn't think he'd pull it out, but I'm glad that even a pseudo-Republican will be in the White House again.

There are plenty of people, though, who aren't glad about that.  And I get that, given that my side has been on the losing end of the last two presidential elections in a row.

But if you want to know why Trump won, if you want to understand the zeitgeist that propelled his movement, you need look no farther than on the other side of that movement, to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.  If you want to read bigotry, elitism, and condescension, you need look no farther than Paul Krugman.  If you want to understand why the same country that reelected Barack Obama four years ago could now replace him with a Donald Trump instead of a Hillary Clinton, you need look no farther than Paul Krugman.  The disdain, the contempt he has for those who don't think like he does--I admit it, I'm going to experience some schadenfreude over this:

We still don’t know who will win the electoral college, although as I write this it looks — incredibly, horribly — as if the odds now favor Donald J. Trump. What we do know is that people like me, and probably like most readers of The New York Times, truly didn’t understand the country we live in. We thought that our fellow citizens would not, in the end, vote for a candidate so manifestly unqualified for high office, so temperamentally unsound, so scary yet ludicrous.

We thought that the nation, while far from having transcended racial prejudice and misogyny, had become vastly more open and tolerant over time.

We thought that the great majority of Americans valued democratic norms and the rule of law.

It turns out that we were wrong. There turn out to be a huge number of people — white people, living mainly in rural areas — who don’t share at all our idea of what America is about. For them, it is about blood and soil, about traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy. And there were many other people who might not share those anti-democratic values, but who nonetheless were willing to vote for anyone bearing the Republican label.
He really believes that crap about Republicans. Read it again, and tell me who the real bigot is.

Last Night and This Morning

I went to bed last night not knowing who won the election.  Knowing I wouldn't be entirely happy no matter what the outcome, I thought it best to get to sleep on time so I could get up at 5 and get on my elliptical trainer (for the 3rd day in a row).

I woke up at 3 this morning.  I actually felt a slight headache, and I knew it was because I wanted to know the election results.  I fired up the phone and checked the few apps I had open and waiting from the night before.  My plan was to look and then go back to sleep.

I'll admit it, I didn't think Trump would win.  When I saw that he had, a wave of relief washed over me.  It's not that I'm happy that he won, I'm happy that Clinton lost.  Far more important, though, is that the Republicans retained control of the Congress, albeit weakly.

There's no way I'm going back to sleep.  I finally gave up on that and now sit at my computer with a cup of Earl Grey Creme tea.

For those of you who were not on the winning side last night, let me share some thoughts with you as someone who's been around this block a few times.
  • Yes, the Republicans will run the White House as well as both houses of Congress--but they won't have the supermajorities that the Democrats had from 2009-2011.
  • Now will you please reconsider wanting to consolidate power in Washington, DC?
  • Now will you please reconsider wanting a president who bypasses the will of Congress and attempts to rule by executive order?
  • Now will you please reconsider mocking and hating your countrymen, hence bringing about the very president-elect you decry?
And to our good friends in the press--well, at least those of you whose heads haven't exploded yet--will you please  perform the watchdog role the Founders assumed you would?  With a white male Republican as president, I'm sure you will, but it would be nice if you did it all the time.

Those are my initial thoughts on this, the Day After.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Hang Them From The Highest Tree

There are some things you don't mess with, and Toblerone is one of them--especially when you're trying to sneak one by the public:
Loyal fans of Toblerone reacted with horror on Tuesday after discovering that the distance between the triangular chucks in their favorite chocolate bar had expanded overnight.

Mondelez International (MDLZ), which produces the airport shopping staple, blamed rising ingredient prices for the change. By adding space between the triangles, the company was able to keep the bar's original packaging and length, but reduce the amount of chocolate.

The result is that bars that formerly weighed 170 gram have been slashed to 150 grams. Forty grams have been carved out of bars that used to contain 400 grams. The price remains the same, but customers are getting roughly 10% less chocolate. 
The pictures show how silly the new bar looks--it's obvious what they're doing.  The before-Brexit/after-Brexit picture is pretty funny, too.

I'm Shocked. Shocked, I Tell You.

Who'd've thought that there would be alcohol involved in fraternity or sorority events?  Certainly not I!  I can absolutely understand the draconian reaction to this unsavory news:
Officials on Monday banned all Washington State University sorority and fraternity events, from formals to football tailgates, for the rest of the semester.

The Pullman school's Interfraternity Council made the move along with the Panhellenic Council, an umbrella organization for some sororities. The councils made the announcement in a letter to students, staff and others, citing alcohol and drug-use issues, as the reason for banning all events as of 5 p.m. Monday.
When you're ready to blame the grown-ups for this, read to the end of the story:
Current WSU President Kirk Schulz tweeted Monday night that the move was not his decision but the decision of WSU student leaders. "Let's give them credit for taking a bold stand for student safety," Schulz said.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Pun of the Day

BOLIVAR OF BROKEN DREAMS: Venezuela’s Currency Is Dying.  link
These are a few of my favorite things:  coins/money (I'm a collector), puns, and jabs at socialism.  All three of them in less than a dozen words.

Well done.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Evaluating Schools

We ditched our high-quality state standards (at least in math, I cannot comment on English standards) and content-specific tests for vague (and modified) Common Core standards and a nationwide test (Smarter Balanced) that's not entirely aligned to our standards.  If that isn't bad enough, we have to use such testing to evaluate schools:
In an unexpected move, the State Board of Education postponed approving the method for determining a key element of its new school accountability system on Wednesday, potentially delaying by weeks or longer the release of the first district and school “report card” that it had promised for early 2017.

Board members said they’d prefer a better methodology instead of producing a report using flawed criteria and revising it next year. They want to take another look in January, at their next meeting.

At issue is how to measure student performance on the Smarter Balanced tests in math and English language arts, one of a half-dozen statewide metrics that will make up the new report card. The state board objects to the approach that for years the state has used – and the federal government has required – but staff at the state Department of Education haven’t yet presented an alternative.
It's not cynical to believe California is doomed, the evidence is right in front of our eyes.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

It Shouldn't Take Threats Before Universities Embrace The First Amendment

Yet, in many cases it does:
Yet again, FIRE has delivered a warning to public colleges and universities with highly restrictive speech codes: Revise the policies or risk a First Amendment lawsuit and personal liability.

Yesterday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) sent a national certified mailing to 111 of the country’s largest and most prestigious public colleges and universities. The colleges receiving the mailing earn FIRE’s poorest, red lightrating for clearly and substantially restricting student and faculty speech on campus. The list of letter recipients includes Clemson University, the University of Oregon, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Georgia, and the University of Kansas.

FIRE’s mailing reminds recipient institutions of U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Bob Goodlatte’s August 2015 letter urging administrators at red light schools to revise policies that violate the First Amendment. Further, as yesterday’s mailing warns, university administrators who continue to violate clearly established law with respect to expressive rights risk losing their “qualified immunity”—meaning they could be held personally liable for monetary damages in a student or faculty member’s lawsuit.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

I'm reminded of one of Milton Friedman's quotes:
“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.”
If you can't make it profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, making it painful for them to do the wrong thing might work.

UpdateThe UC system is in danger, too:
The UC CEO penned a piece in the Boston Globe titled, “It’s time to free speech on campus again.” I was encouraged on seeing this title. Having praised the University of Chicago’s defense of free speech on campus, I thought the University of California was offering its support. I thought that this might signal the beginning of the restoration of free speech—and with it, of learning—on America’s increasingly politicized, repressive college campuses.

I was wrong...
Read the whole thing for the reasons why.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Voter Fraud

Usually when I read stories about it, it occurs in other states--why would the libs need to commit fraud in California, where they already have a supermajority?  I guess it's who they are, it's what they do:
Jerry Mosna was gardening outside his San Pedro, Calif., home Saturday when he noticed something odd: Two stacks of 2016 ballots on his mailbox.

The 83 ballots, each unused, were addressed to different people, all supposedly living in his elderly neighbor’s two-bedroom apartment.

“I think this is spooky,” Mosna said. “All the different names, none we recognize, all at one address.”
(snip)
In a statement, the office of the Registrar said, “We are carefully reviewing our records and gathering information to fully identify what took place.  Our preliminary assessment is that this appears to be an isolated situation related to a system error that occurred causing duplicate ballots to be issued to an address entered for a single voter. We are working directly with the system vendor to ensure the issue is addressed and to identify any similar occurrences.”
It was an accident.  A one-off.

Of course it was.

Update, 11/7/16:  Let's play "guess the political party".

Getting More Minority Teachers

From the research I did for my recently-completed literature review on what makes a good math teacher, I don't have high hopes for these teachers or their students:
A controversial alternative route to certification that promises to put more minority teachers into classrooms won approval from the state Board of Education...

The proposal, revised several times since it was proposed in February, will allow Relay to grant teaching degrees to individuals, most of whom are already working in schools, usually as teacher aides. It takes a year to complete the program and will lead to certification in elementary education as well as English, math, science, biology, chemistry and physics at the secondary level.

Connecticut already has three alternative-route certification programs, two run by state entities and one by Teach for America.
Research I read showed that students of TFA teachers show significant achievement gains in math--teachers from other programs, not so much.  Intense PD, especially in math for non-math majors, isn't shown to work, either.

I'd like to be proven wrong here, but the research I read tells me I won't be.

What A Stupid Thesis

Out of New Jersey:
For all the changes that the state’s new PARCC testing has wrought for New Jersey’s public schools, one constant has prevailed: a wide and deep achievement gap.

The Christie administration yesterday released the school-by-school test scores from the second year of the new online testing last spring, and like the statewide scores released this summer, they should be mostly good news for schools.

Follow this Link to see your school’s scores.

Statewide, there were gains in passing rates in virtually every grade and most of the subgroups. Yesterday, state officials said nearly half of the students in many grades moved up a full tier in performance.

Nonetheless, the gaps in performance between students from families with different incomes or of different races have clearly persisted and even may have even widened in some cases under PARCC.
PARCC is a test, one of two (the other being Smarter Balanced) designed around the Common Core standards.  It's a test.   How can a test improve scores or improve the achievement gap?  All a test can do is identify the deficiencies, it can't fix them.

The couple minutes I spent reading that article?  I want those minutes of my life back.

Obamacare Death Spiral--And I'm Going To Say It: I TOLD YOU SO

This is about as clear as it gets:
Lies passed ObamaCare legislation, lies supported its implementation. As its death spiral begins, angry and panicked lies by Democratic apologists attempt to deflect accountability for its economic devastation.

ObamaCare’s economic wreckage will insure President Barack Obama’s now classic promises regarding ObamaCare will eventually scar his legacy. History is written usually by the victors. In the case of ObamaCare, the economic losers are so numerous their bitter complaints will write the titles, fill the chapters and pack the footnotes...

Obama has managed to escape accountability for a deception that has damaged many middle class families. When he skated through the 2012 presidential campaign America had yet to feel the full extent of ObamaCare’s policy disaster. Presidential debate moderators didn’t press him on the point. Obama could sell himself as hope.

It’s November 2016. The empirical evidence is in. His “Keep you doctor” and “keep your policy” statements were blatant falsehoods.

Nancy Pelosi has evaded accountability for her infamous ObamaCare comment: “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

Pass it to find out. How blithe and casual, but then she is a liberal Democrat who expects Ultimate Media Privilege.

I say it is reprehensible to gamble with legislation that would affect medical care, medical research and medical manufacturing in the U.S. Amalgamated, medicine amounts to roughly 16 percent of the U.S. economy.

The “fog of controversy” Pelosi disdained included political posturing—her posturing, for example. But in a healthy democracy controversy also includes rational discussion and reasoned analysis. In 2009 the Democrats had the White House. They also had the votes in Pelosi’s House and 60 votes in the Senate. They had what amounted to a “lock” on federal political power in the U.S. A lock is one thing, but in Barack Obama America also had a president who despised his Republican opposition. His personal contempt and disdain for Republicans was palpable. He brooked no discussion and refused to engage in any semblance of give and take politics. Reasoned analysis was something MIT’s Jonathan Gruber provided—not Paul Ryan.

Barack Obama’s words and deeds indicated he believed reasoned analysis in American governance was the province of Democrats. Republicans? Fill in the usual community organizer rhetoric: evil, stupid, heartless, starve the poor, feed’em ketchup, etc.

So Democrats rammed ObamaCare’s health insurance monstrosity down America’s collective throat. Not one single Republican legislator voted for the monstrosity.

Democrats, anticipating raging public ire over the huge ObamaCare premium increases scheduled for 2017, are already trying to blame Republicans for the hapless program. Yes, lies attempt to shift blame as ObamaCare expires.

But here’s the truth. Obama lied. ObamaCare’s about to die.
I don't usually cut/paste so much of someone else's work here at Right On The Left Coast, but I agree with every single word above.  How could I not?  It's all objectively true.  It's also why, when I hear lefties talk about how Republicans need to fix Obamacare, I disagree.  Vehemently.  To the point of mockery.

Republicans didn't create this mess.  Republicans warned against this mess.  Not a single Republican contributed to this mess.  While there have been individuals helped by this law (you'd hope that someone benefited!), the nation as a whole is worse off with this law on the books.  To this day I can't imagine why anyone would think it's a good idea, much less American, to require people to buy something they don't want to buy.  I just don't get it.

If states want to create single-payer systems, that would be OK legally.  It would be stupid to do so, but that's OK in the laboratory of democracy.  But to lie, to wrangle, to bribe this law into existence--with barely enough votes on the Democratic side--and then say it's Republicans' responsibility to fix this federal nightmare?  That takes a lot of chutzpah.

Update, 11/5/16:  It's gotten so bad that even the mainstream press is taking notice:

Is Obamacare really affordable? Not for the middle class Note that that's CNN, lefties.

These Patients Are Covered by Obamacare But Can’t Afford Treatment

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

What Is It With UC Irvine?

As a UC campus, Irvine can be expected to educate some of our top students, but this is the kind of student that gets into Irvine?  There's always something--often something anti-Semitic--going on at Irvine, and here's what we got recently:
UC Irvine students furious over an upcoming “Rally for America” event to be hosted by Milo Yiannopoulos and the UCI College Republicans on Oct. 30 are supporting a petition calling for it to be canceled, saying the event will be “filled with hate and rooted in exploitation of non-white bodies.”
Read on:
More than 1,000 people have signed the “Stop Milo From Coming To UC Irvine” Change.org petition since it was launched two days ago.

The petition, in particular, bristles at the event planners’ call to “wear your most culturally appropriating, offensive, triggering Halloween costume to the event for a fabulous costume contest” and “bring as much privilege as you can.” The event serves as a rally for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and is part of Yiannopoulos’ “Dangerous Faggot Tour,” in which he is visiting colleges across the nation to speak on various issues.
You'd think they'd celebrate having a gay speaker on campus.

I'm reminded of the following quote:
"A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."
--French writer Jean Francois Revel
Our college leftists don't even realize that their calls to stifle speech are dangerous--and that's dangerous.  We have a deep cultural rot, and may already have lost the energy and conviction to reverse it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Best of the Best From Wikileaks

Everyone has their own favorites, I guess, but this list is as good as any:
1. Obama lied: he knew about Hillary’s secret server and wrote to her using a pseudonym, cover-up happened (intent to destroy evidence)
2. Hillary Clinton dreams of completely “open trade and open borders”
3. Hillary Clinton took money from and supported nations that she KNEW funded ISIS and terrorists
4. Hillary has public positions on policy and her private ones
5. Paying people to incite violence and unrest at Trump rallies
6. Hillary’s campaign wants “unaware” and “compliant” citizens
7. Top Hillary aides mock Catholics for their faith
8. Hillary deleted her incriminating emails. State covered it up. Asked about using White House executive privilege to hide from Congress
9. Bribery: King of Morocco gives Clinton Foundation $12 million to have meeting with Hillary, 6 months later Morocco gets weapons
10. State Department tried to bribe FBI to un-classify Clinton emails (FBI docs)
100. Obama picked people in his administration from the suggestion list of CiTi bank advisor/Wall Street shill
The proof that the media have the astonishing power to hide and distort is shown by the polls that say Obama still has a plus-50% approval rate. After Syria, Obamacare, the open southern border and the state of the economy, and that’s just to begin with, you have to wonder what he could have done to make things worse. But elect Hillary and we may yet find out.
At this rate I'll need a "corruption" label.