Thursday, December 14, 2017

Just A Reminder That The Test Is Flawed

If you're in education and you haven't encountered this yet, you soon will.  Arm yourself with knowledge:
The concept of “implicit bias,” where individuals experience and act upon unconscious feelings of prejudice, has become a ubiquitous part of popular culture. But the basis for the theory of “implicit bias”—a test that purported to prove to people that they were unknowingly prejudiced toward certain groups—has recently had its validity called into serious question.

At The New Yorker earlier this year, Jesse Singal exposed the serious shortcomings and flaws with the Implicit Association Test, a testing mechanism created from professors from Harvard and the University of Washington. And again at The New Yorker last week, Singal offered up more evidence that the test does not deliver on its promises, citing a report from Olivia Goldhill at Quartz.
Don't let them cow you by telling you the test "was created at Harvard". If it's flawed, it's flawed--no matter where it was made.

I wrote about this last April, too.

Double Standard

If a man said what this woman Democrat said, he’d be accused of blaming the victim:
PERHAPS, GIVEN OUR NEW SENSITIVITY TO “TRIGGERING,” REVEALING ATTIRE IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT, OF MEN: Dem congresswoman says revealing clothing invites sexual harassment. “Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the longest-serving woman in the House, said Wednesday that some congresswomen and staffers dress so inappropriately that their clothing is ‘an invitation’ to sexual harassment. . . . Kaptur also said she thinks the Hill should have a stricter dress code for females.”

If you want a prim, sexless workplace, it probably involves prim, sexless attire.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Crack In the Math/Science/Engineering Wall

Should idiocy like this take hold, higher education will fall apart.  Real, normal people will not agree to fund such nonsense with their tax dollars:
The leader of Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education recently declared that academic “rigor” reinforces “white male heterosexual privilege.”

Donna Riley, who previously taught engineering at Smith College for 13 years, published an article in the most recent issue of the journal Engineering Education, arguing that academic rigor is a “dirty deed” that upholds “white male heterosexual privilege.

Defining rigor as “the aspirational quality academics apply to disciplinary standards of quality,” Riley asserts that “rigor is used to maintain disciplinary boundaries, with exclusionary implications for marginalized groups and marginalized ways of knowing.”
Note that the author previously taught at Smith College. 'Nuf said.

They Can't Be Too Worried About Global Warming

Pay attention not to what they say, but what they do:
This weekend, 25,000 Earth, Sun, and planetary scientists from across the US and abroad flew to New Orleans for the annual American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. These scientists study the impact global warming is having on Earth. Unfortunately, their air travel to and from the meeting will contribute to that warming by emitting around 30,000 tonnes of CO2.

As an Earth scientist and AGU member myself, I know the importance of their work. Still, there’s something wrong with this picture. As scientists, our work informs us – with dreadful clarity and urgency – that burning fossil fuel is destroying the life support systems on our planet. There’s already more than enough science to know we need to stop. Yet most scientists burn more than the average American, simply because they fly more.

Milton Friedman Discusses Hayek's Road To Serfdom




Here's The Road to Serfdom in 5 minutes.

Heard On The Radio On The Way To Work This Morning

An accident was causing a traffic backup, an accident between a car and--a mountain lion.

Yes, boys and girls, we still have mountain lions here in California.

My school abuts a greenbelt along a river.  It's well known that mountain lions--which almost never attack humans--live, breed, and hunt in that greenbelt.  It's wild to think that such animals live in our urban and suburban areas, but they do. 

The accident this morning occurred in a semi-rural area, one of those areas that used to be rural but has been developed in the last decade or so to have neighborhoods of large houses for the well-to-do.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Liveblogging Today's Army-Navy Game

There appears to be a dusting of snow on the ground in Philadelphia.  I don't recall being at an Army-Navy game with snow, but that would just add to the fun, no?  OK, probably not for the people in the stands, but for two option teams, I'm wondering if the ball will be slippery enough not to risk even the few passes both teams might attempt.

Of course I'm rooting for Army to win.  Everything I've read gives Army the slightest advantage.  But anything can happen in this game, and often does.  I want a good game--and I want an Army victory.  I want many opportunities to jump up and yell my two favorite words, TOUCHDOWN ARMY!

I'll periodically update this throughout the game.  I haven't been to a game in many years, and this is as close as I'll get for awhile.  At least I'll get to enjoy it in the temperate environment of Northern California as opposed to the cold of the eastern seaboard.  Bring it on, and BEAT NAVY!

(all times PST)
12:00  What an awesome invocation!

12:03  Good job on the national anthem by the combined glee clubs.  Snow's falling lightly but steadily.  The announcers say it's supposed to get worse as the game progresses.

12:12  I think Navy wins with uniform battle.  Heck, you can't even see the army team on the field, what with the snow and Army's ghost-white 10th Mountain Division uniforms!

12:17  Whew, Army gets a 1st down on their first possession.  And then a long run down the right sideline!

12:21  4th and 1 on the 5, first and goal!!!

12:22  TOUCHDOWN ARMY!!!

12:29  Navy quarterback keeps getting good yardage on his runs from scrimmage.

12:33  Navy converts on 4th and 1.

12:35  4th down again, about 2 yards to go, inside the red zone.  What will Navy do?  Timeout....

12:38  With less than a minute left in the 1st quarter, Army leads 7-3.  There hasn't been a penalty yet on either side.

12:44  I brought up the penalty issue, then the announcers did--and then a Navy defender held, which gave Army a first down.

12:51  Navy defense holds, the punt is short, Navy takes over on about their own 25.

12:56  Damn, Navy quarterback runs 68 yards for a touchdown.

1:04  Navy held again, good punt, Navy's ball.

1:12  Too gimicky a play, Navy punts and downs it at the Army 37-yard line.

1:16  The long overcoats on the cadets in the stands look soaked.  They're going to smell like wet sheep for awhile.

1:18  3rd and 6, the Army quarterback slips and falls for a loss.  Gotta punt again.

1:19  5:22 left in the half, Navy 1st and 10 on the 20.

1:22 Army defense holds, bringing up 4th and 2.  And damn, Army gets its first penalty--giving Navy a 1st down.  As the president would say, YUGE.

1:24  Army defense brings up 4th down again.  Navy tried to draw Army offsides, but that isn't gonna work twice.  Navy takes it's last timeout with just over a dozen seconds left in the half.  Remember, though, that Navy receives the kickoff in the 2nd half.

1:27  Navy punt almost dies at the 1, but it's a touchback.  9 seconds remaining.

1:29  An 8-yard run by Army ends the half.  Navy leads 10-7.

Halftime

1:52  Navy starts off the half with good runs, just like the last half.

1:54  Another long run for Navy, looks like 1st and goal at the 10.

1:57  4th and 6, defense holds, field goal is good from 24.  Navy 13-7.

2:00  Army kickoff returner runs into a brick wall at the 20.  1st and 10.

2:06  Holy crap, Army completes a pass for a 1st down!

2:07  Good long run by the Army quarterback, 1st and 10 on the 35.  FB then runs for 9 more.  Showing some spark for the first time since the 1st quarter.

2:11  Army is just being tough up front.  1st and 10 at the 11.

2:13  Damn.  False start, 3rd and 13.  Really bad time for a penalty.

2:14  Timeout in place of another penalty.  Geez.  Choking here, Army!  Recover during this timeout, come back and score.  It's been too long since I've gotten to yell my two favorite words

2:17  End around loses yards, gonna try for the field goal.

2:17  Third quarter ends with Navy leading 13-7.

2:22  35 or so yard field goal is about a yard to the right.  What a letdown after such a strong drive.

2:26  It's not much, but I'll take a false start on Navy's first possession of the 4th quarter.  Then it was the Navy runner's turn to run into a brick wall!

2:28  Defense does a good job.  4th and long, Navy will punt.

2:29  Army tried to block the punt so there was no return, 1st and 10 Army from about their own 30.

2:33  Army offense is showing toughness up front again.

2:34  4 plays, 3 first downs.  Not bad.

2:36  Army back in the red zone!

2:38  First and goal!

2:39  Darn near the first option play for Army, almost dropped for a loss, down at the 1!!!

2:42  After a lengthy review, the ball is placed at the 1/2 yard line.  3rd and goal.

2:43  Took a long time for the officials to undo the pile, but when they did, TOUCHDOWN ARMY!  And with the PAT, army leads 14-13 with 5:10 left in the game.

2:46  It's still commercials, ugh.  I'm glad I don't have a blood pressure problem, because if I did, this game would cause my heart to explode!

2:48  Bad kick goes out of bounds, 1st and 10 at the 35.

2:52  There hasn't been a turnover yet in this game.  In snow.  That's pretty impressive.  And geez, the announcer just made the same comment about turnovers!

2:53  Almost just had the first one.  Navy center snaps the ball to no one, quick thinking by the quarterback (?) resulted in a loss of only 2 yards.

2:56  In one play, Navy got a 1st down.  Sheesh.

2:57  3rd and 4.  Come on, defense, HOLD!

2:58  Excellent tackle! 4th and a few, this could be for all the marbles.  If Army gets the ball back here, they might could run the clock out.

3:00  Army takes a timeout.  Both teams are now down to 1 timeout apiece.  Still 4th and 3.

3:02  Holy crap.  QB bobbled the ball, the play breaks down--and he still gets a 1st down.  1st and 10 at the 25.

3:04  Two false starts for Navy now has them at 3rd and 16.  Would be a long field goal....

3:06  The clock showed over 20 minutes left in the 4th quarter, now it's fixed at only 20 seconds left.  Army held, Navy will kick a field goal with 3 seconds left.

3:09  NO GOOD!  NO GOOD!  NO GOOD!

3:14  Time for Army's Alma Mater, and then, for the first time in over 20 years, Army will receive the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

3:15  Good lord, different groups of cadets were singing on their own cadence.  The words weren't matching the music.  How embarrassing.

3:17  Are these guys going to get to visit President Trump to receive the trophy?  So much better than seeing his predecessor!!!

3:21  When did this "sing second" become a thing?  While I'm sure the winning team probably sang second back in my day, I don't remember it being "a thing".  We just sang when the band played our Alma Mater.

What a great game.  I'm starting to get my breath back.  So many text messages coming in.  Whew, total nailbiter!  Great game.

How Long Have I Been Warning About This?

From the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board:
Republican plans to slash the state-and-local tax deduction are already reaping benefits in high-tax states. Democrats in the Northeast say they’re having second thoughts about raising taxes. And lo and behold, California Gov. Jerry Brown is arguing that public pensions aren’t ironclad...

Republicans in high-tax states say that abolishing the state-and-local tax deduction is unfair since lawmakers are legally barred from reducing government pensions and thus have no choice but to raise taxes to pay for them. But nearly every state court faced with the issue has upheld modifications.

The real problem is political, not legal. Democrats don’t want to renege on promises to their union friends and financiers. Mr. Brown isn’t running for re-election, so he may feel liberated. But perhaps other Democrats will be more motivated if their wealthy denizens raise a ruckus and leave their states.  (boldface mine--Darren)
If more teachers understood this, perhaps they wouldn't be so reflexively socialist, would celebrate the stock market, and would want businesses to do well--because our retirement is invested in the stock market.  Click here to read many of the posts I've written about California's Teacher Retirement System.

If you don't want to sign in at the WSJ to read the editorial excerpted above, read the whole thing here.

This Will Not Be On My Amazon Wish List

You've got to be kidding me:
According to one U.K. company, your Christmas decorations just aren't complete without an "angel" at the top of your Christmas tree — and why settle for a regular blessed harbinger of the Word of God when you can have....Hillary Clinton?

The company, Women To Look Up To, considers itself a brand that "shines a light on modern female role models,” and to that extent, they've developed a line of "She-Ro" tree toppers, so that you can literally look up to a handful of "badass women" that they think deserve to sit at the top of your Christmas tree more than the Holy chorus that announced the birth of the Christ child.

The line already included tennis pro Serena Williams and pop icon Beyonce, but a contest for the next edition, held earlier this year, produced the Clinton angel, which is available from Women To Look Up To for around fifty bucks.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

They Will Keep Asking The Question Until We Give The Answer They Want Us To Give

A few years ago, after California adopted the Common Core standards, our district suits pondered whether we should keep our traditional algebra-geometry-algebra pathway or change to an integrated math pathway.  Actually, they didn't ponder at all, the decision was made as soon as someone came up with the idea, but I'll come back to that.  Anyway, a meeting was held at the district office, and dozens of math teachers from our middle and high schools came.  Only three teachers voted to change to the integrated pathway--two from our lowest performing school, saying, "Our kids are so low we're willing to try anything", and one who liked the old CPM program and wanted to return to it.  The rest of us were adamant:  NO.

The rationale given for the "potential" change was this:  "If we switch to Common Core but keep the traditional pathway, our teachers won't change the way they teach.  If we make this major switch, they might be more willing to change how they teach."

Right there, that's two slaps in the face for the math teachers in our district.  Everything's the teachers' fault.

Last year there was a "listening circle" in which students in Integrated Math 1 were brought in to discuss what might be done to improve the program.  The students were clear, they wanted a real textbook, as opposed to the paperback fill-in-the-blank monstrosities we issue them.  That comment, the most common comment from students, was conveniently left out of the listening circle's summary report.

Another slap in the face.

This week all the math teachers in my district got an email from a district suit.  We were told that our district is contracting with an organization that will help determine what is wrong with the math program in our district, and we need to click on a link and take a survey from this vendor.  Did they ask the math teachers what would help improve things?  When I was a manufacturing manager, if we had quality problems on a particular line, I'd ask the operator what the problem was.  They could usually tell me, and as often as not would provide a solution. But my district didn't ask the math teachers what can be done, they went straight to a consultant.

That's a fourth slap in the face.

The survey itself was a treat.  The questions included gems like, "What professional development do you need in order to do a better job?" and "Do you feel competent to teach ?"

At the end was the perfunctory "Please put in any additional comments here" box, and boy, did I.  The problem is that no one will read it, and no one will care.  My comments are not wanted or needed, because whatever they're going to do, the decision has already been made.  My district has made me cynical enough to believe that whatever it is they're doing, it's only window dressing so they can say they're "doing something".

Our integrated math program is a shambles, but I don't think it's because our district's math teachers are bad teachers.  Partly it's because integrated math makes about as much sense as integrated science or integrated foreign language, part of is because our textbook adoption process is an abomination, partly it's because the rules imposed on us (e.g., all Integrated 1, 2, and 3 books must come from the same publisher) force us to buy lousy books, and partly it's because the math isn't as "integrated" as it is "hodge-podge".

They've told me to dig a hole, but only gave me a screwdriver with which to do it.  Now they're asking what professional development I need in order to do a better job at digging holes with screwdrivers.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Will A Lawsuit Change Anything?

I don't know enough about California's ELA standards which, if they're like the math standards, are Common Core standards with extra California goodies grafted onto them.  Neither do I know what the problem is, why so many California students can't read:
A group of prominent lawyers representing teachers and students from poor performing schools sued California on Tuesday, arguing that the state has done nothing about a high number of schoolchildren who do not know how to read.

The advocacy law firm, Public Counsel, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court to demand the California Department of Education address its "literacy crisis." The state has not followed suggestions from its own report on the problem five years ago, the lawsuit said.

"When it comes to literacy and the delivery of basic education, California is dragging down the nation," said Public Counsel lawyer Mark Rosenbaum, who sued along with the law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Assessments found less than half of California students from third grade to fifth grade have met statewide literacy standards since 2015. Both traditional and charter schools are failing, Rosenbaum said.

Of the 26 lowest-performing districts in the nation, 11 are in California, according to the lawsuit. Texas, the largest state after California, has only one district among the 26.
Of course, this lack of knowledge won't prevent me from offering up a few ideas!  While the problem clearly starts in elementary school, our high school teachers don't get a pass on it.  I remember learning grammar all the way through high school, but grammar isn't sexy enough today.  No, we need to keep reading and writing, not doing the grunt work of actually teaching the construction of our language. 

Don't forget that California went whole hog into "whole language" in the 1990s; how many of our teachers, school and district administrators, and state level education workers still buy into that discredited philosophy?

Is teaching to the state standards a requirement or is it merely strongly encouraged?

Do too many teachers see themselves as social workers first and teachers second?

How many teachers practice "the soft bigotry of low expectations", especially for minority and/or poor students?

So that's a lot of digs at my own profession.  How about a few ideas regarding tying our hands behind our backs?

I wrote recently about suspending, or rather not suspending, misbehaving students.  How big a role does lack of discipline in schools have in a lack of education?

How big a problem is not having "newcomer" classes for recent immigrants?  Just like you couldn't plop me down in a school in Uzbekistan and expect me to do well--no matter how much "realia" the instructor used, or no matter how much vocabulary the instructor "previewed"--it's not reasonable to put newcomers into classes (especially in high school!) and somehow, magically, expect the student's hard work and the teacher's charisma to somehow generate effective education!  Sorry, but Google Translate isn't a good option here.  Give the kids a fighting chance, teach them some English before you put them in classes (again, especially in high school).

Are we being compelled to use techniques besides direct instruction to teach reading?

It's darned embarrassing that California has several of the lowest performing districts in the nation, far more than our fair share.  Something is wrong, but correcting it would require someone to admit a political mistake, and good luck with that ever happening.  (Gerund rule?  Sounds too stilted.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Leftie Tolerance

No one who's paid attention is surprised by this.  Heck, I'm not even surprised she said it publicly:
Isn't it funny how top Democrats love to talk about "tolerance" and "compassion" when they are, in fact, the least tolerant and least compassionate people out there? Take this tweet from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for instance:
It's always wonderful to see liberals talk about the people as if they were some kind of collective with shared interests. That's nonsense, of course. Some people benefit from this policy, others from that one. The belief that "the people" are somehow one — and united — has caused major suffering worldwide. Just think about North Korea. The Soviet Union. Mao's China. "Modern" Venezuela. And Cuba. In every single one of those countries, leaders talk about "the people" constantly, while expanding their own personal power. One of their favorite tools? Sending opponents off to the gulag/prison/concentration camps.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Pelosi tells California Republicans who dare support President Trump's tax bill to leave the state. Stalin, Mao, Castro, Kim, and Chavez would have agreed. Send them off to the gulag!

On Many Campuses, Anti-racism = Racism

From a "student of color and the gay son of refugee immigrants":
Even though the event was billed as a day of anti-racism, what I witnessed was, quite frankly, racism. Until that day, I’d never seen people overtly dehumanized and treated as racialized objects – amplified through the use of words like “bodies” to refer to people of color. I left the event wondering if the sum of my worth was on an identity I was born into.

Since continuing my education, I’ve come to quickly learn that on campuses today, racism no longer means what I understood it to be all my life. According to critical race theorists, who permeate academe and its administration, racism is not ethnic prejudice and discrimination but rather prejudice and institutional power. Because whites have institutionalized privilege, they say it is impossible for them to be victims of racism. In this worldview, I should be alarmed when prejudicial sentiment is hurled at some, but not all, of my peers.

I demurred...

As I’ve witnessed in 2015 and have seen repeated countless times since then, the lack of any ideological counterpoise has created a vacuum where ideas have no mechanism or incentive for moderation.
No one who's paid attention is surprised by this.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Dual Credit Classes

Sacramento State University has a dual credit program called ACE--Accelerated College Entrance.  If a high school can get a course ACE approved, then enrolled students who pass that course can get units at Sac State.

I'm told that Sac State's math department has never approved a course for ACE.  I'm also told that part of the reason is their belief that if a student gets college credit, he/she should be taught by a college-eligible teacher.  In other words, an ACE approved math class should be taught by a teacher with a master's degree--and not one in education, either.

Last May I finished a Master of Arts in Teaching Math program through the University of Idaho.  It consisted of 8 math classes and 2 education classes (I chose testing/assessment and educational philosophy, both of which were exceptional courses).  I absolutely meet the requirements to teach math in our local community college district, but I'm not sure if my M.A.T. Math degree qualifies me to teach at Sac State.

I submitted my statistics course for ACE approval.  I'm still waiting to hear back, but I'm told that if anyone in my district stands a chance at getting a math class ACE approved, it's me.  Cross your fingers for me!

That was a rather lengthy lead-in to an Education Week article called Four Ways to Build a Good Program for College Credit in High School, lifted here in its entirety:
Programs that offer high school students the chance to earn college credit should be designed with four key principles in mind to ensure high quality, according to a report released Thursday.

The popularity of dual-enrollment courses and other programs that confer college credit has soared in recent years. But as their popularity has grown, so has awareness of their problems. Weak courses that don't measure up to college standards. A patchwork of varying requirements for teachers who teach them. Disappointment when promised credits don't transfer.

These are among the concerns that led the College Board to convene a "College Credit in High School Working Group" to study the field and come up with nuts-and-bolts advice to help program designers avoid potential problems. The group, which includes some powerhouse names in education policy, issued its report today.

Its guidance falls into four categories of questions that can be used to shape programs:
  • Rigor and accountability. Programs should be able to demonstrate that students who earn college credit in high school have indeed mastered college-level work. This means showing that a student who got college credit in English can perform as well as a college student in an equivalent course. Data about those outcomes should be shared with the public. Programs also must ensure that teachers are qualified to teach college-level courses.
  • Value for time and money invested. To ensure a sound investment, policymakers should study outcomes to see whether dual-credit students are progressing through college and participating in the workforce. To fulfill a promise that dual-credit programs can save students money, states should examine course-credit transfer policies.
  • Equity and access. Programs should ensure equal access by all students. Recent studies have found that low-income and racial minority students, and boys, don't take advantage of dual-enrollment programs as often as other students do. Programs must do a better job of informing notifying students and parents of the opportunity, the College Board paper says.
  • Transparency about credit transfer. Students "should be clearly informed ahead of time" about whether their credits will transfer to the college they plan to attend, and whether those credits will be applied to their chosen course of study. High schools, employers, and higher education must collaborate to design dual-enrollment programs, so the "content and skills that high school students learn are aligned with what colleges and employers expect and that credits transfer appropriately."
Those seem like reasonable enough criteria.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Suspending Students

I believe this article is full of crap.  I don't hear teachers at other schools talking about "preventing" student misbehavior, I only hear about students' getting away with (figurative) murder because they know there are no consequences:
Local public schools suspended and expelled far fewer students last year as they continued to shift away from punishment and toward prevention and positive reinforcement, according to the latest figures from the California Department of Education...

Similar stories have played out across the region. Each of the 10 largest districts suspend a lower proportion of students today than five years ago.
There's a simple reason for this.  We're told we can't suspend students; if we do, we run this risk of being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights, having a drumhead trial, being found guilty--and the penalties for district and school administrators can be extreme.

And students, especially students who cause trouble, know this.

The Left's Drive For Power

Is America undergoing a great awakening in light of the deluge of sex scandals that are now coming to light? Are we seeing a revival of that old-time religion of chastity, purity, and self-control? One would think so as liberals, who once laughed at sexual improprieties, clapped as sinners danced in the streets, and pointed fingers at accusers on national television, are now offering mea culpas and purging all ranks with the fervor of medieval inquisitors.

It certainly looks like a change for good. But don’t be fooled. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Whether it's stripping Matt Lauer of his former glory or firing up the torches in the Roy Moore election, the goal of the Left is not purity, but power. This fact does not negate the reality of transgressions or the possibilities of criminality in individual cases, but anyone who values both goodness and freedom in this country needs to be wise as serpents. We’re not seeing a revival of virtue in America. We’re seeing a resistance to it.

For true national repentance, there needs to be recognition of objective standards that allow for any of these judgments to be made in the first place. There’s not. We’re not seeing careful consideration of how we got to this point — the abandonment of God as the source of all moral authority or, at the very least, a common recognition of natural law and traditional social norms.

Instead, we are seeing navel-gazing about how to rethink sex, what to do about the brutality of masculinity, and how to delegitimize conservatives who have been accused of abandoning character for political expediency.

Leftists aren’t embracing morality; they’re looking for a way to reclaim the moral authority they lost after past decades of materialism, creeping totalitarianism, and moral bankruptcy. Like fools drunk from their own power, they slipped out of their self-appointed divine seat as arbiters of morals and truth, and they’re now reclaiming it by whatever means necessary. They’re not humbling themselves before the true Moral Authority. They’re replacing it with their own.
I have nothing to add to that except for "read the whole thing" and "Amen".

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Bad Christmas Songs

I was reading an article about Christmas songs that should be buried forever, and this one was on the list.

I remember New Kids on the Block, but I didn't listen to their music. Was all of it this bad?  Ohmigawd, this is painful!

There is a radio station here in the Sacramento area that, starting Thanksgiving, plays nonstop Christmas music until New Year's.  Since there isn't a lot of new Christmas music coming out, this station plays the same songs over and over and over and over again.  I've pretty much decided which songs I can't stand, here are some of them:

Christmas Shoes.  Seriously, it's a song about a kid's mom dying, and that's somehow supposed to be a Christmas song?

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.  I just don't get redneck humor, I guess.  And if the tune is catchy, it's only catchy like an alligator's mouth.

Feliz Navidad.  Again.  And again. And again.  It's in Spanish, I get it.  And again.

Do you have any non-favorites?  List them in the comments!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Can't Believe It's December Already

We started school the 2nd week of August.  Seriously.

We got a random Friday off in October.  From what I understand, some genius in our district administration determined that October is when teachers start taking 3 day weekends, so the district decided to give us a 3 day weekend so we wouldn't just take a Friday off (substitutes can get very scarce on Fridays); I heard that plenty of teachers across the district just took that Thursday off and made it a 4 day weekend instead!

Our semester ends the Thursday before Christmas, instead of Friday.  Nice.

We get another "please just take this Friday off instead of requiring a substitute" Friday off in April, and school ends early in the week in June instead of the end of the week.  By my reckoning that accounts for the 5 days early we started this year, as we would usually start a week later in August.

There are 4 school weeks (minus that last Friday) between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.  After tomorrow we'll have one week down, three to go.  Two of those weeks will be "regular" weeks, and the last one will be final exams week.

In 2 of the 3 courses I teach, I excuse students from the final exam if they have a 97% course average going into the final.  I'm not known as an easy grader--fair, but not easy--but I have several students each year that don't have to take my final exam.  Reward for them for a job well done, slack for me because that's fewer finals I have to grade.  And no, I don't do Scantron tests.  There are things that can be learned from the results of a Scantron test, but not enough in math for me to justify giving them.  I give bona fide tests, and I grade each one.

We teachers go back to work the Monday after New Year's, but our students don't show up until Tuesday.  That Monday is a work day for us; we grade our finals, enter grades, and take a long, leisurely lunch that day.

And a week or so later is the Dr. King (birthday) Holiday.  And less than a month after that is our February President's (nee, Ski) Week holiday.

I don't mind teaching in the cold months so much.  Lots of time off!  Last week I had a week off, and in 3 more weeks I'll have another 2 weeks off. I can't believe it's December already!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When Taken Together, It's Not A Very Consistent Belief System

This post doesn't need commentary from me:
The problem is that the Left's arguments are often so convoluted, absurd, and self-defeating that I couldn't take them seriously if I tried. And I have tried. But when I follow one of their philosophical threads to its logical conclusion, I discover that the thread has no conclusion. It suddenly splits in another direction, and another, and another, and when I step back all I see is a tangled web of contradictions. What choice do I have but to be dismissive? All that one can do with nonsense, in the end, is dismiss it.

Allow me to illustrate...

Step One. We are told that "all men must be regarded as potential monsters to be feared." It's not that all men are actively dangerous, but that "rape culture" and patriarchy ingrains in all men the latent possibility of "violence and harm"...

Step Two. This does follow logically from the first. We're told we must elect women and hire women and put women in positions of power and whatever we do just focus on elevating women at all costs. Women are better. We may even see the end of war and suffering if women ran things. Go women! Girl power!...

Step Three. We're told that we should let men in the women's bathroom and the women's locker room.

But wait. What about Step One?...

Step Four. We're told that we should let men compete in women's sports. And we should cheer when a man beats a woman half to death in an MMA match.

But wait. What about Step Two?...

Step Five. We're told that all of this is OK because men can actually be women.

But wait. What about Steps One and Two?...

Step Six. We're told that women shouldn't carry guns because guns won't make anyone safer.

But wait. Go back to Step One again...

Step Seven. We're told that we don't need guns because police have them. Only police should have guns.

OK, Six and Seven seem to work together pretty well.

But wait.

-Step Eight. We're told that cops are part of a "culture of racism" which motivates them to target minorities for arrest and execution...

But wait. What about Step Seven?...

A rational person cannot possibly believe all eight of these points simultaneously.  
A rational person doesn't have to accept any of those points simultaneously, or individually.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Nerds Of The World, Unite!

I'm not the only Star Trek fan at school.  One of our other teachers, in his spare time, makes Star Trek models.  He even has a couple in his classroom, and they're way cool.

Today he showed up with one for me:  a 1:350 scale model of a Constitution-class starship.  It's not a Federation, ship, however.  Look at the insignia.


That's right, it's a Mirror Universe starship!  And how appropriate that today, for the first time in forever, I wore a goatee.  Mirror Universe Spock!  For the Empire!

You can't tell from the pictures, but this model is about 30" long.  So many tiny lights that light up!  This is a true work of craftsmanship.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Taking On Student Debt Is A Choice

In this post I wrote yesterday I said that going to a UC school is a choice that some people make, and my implication was that for some people it's a bad choice.  And no, I don't believe that everyone is entitled to a UC education and diploma.  People who are academically and financially capable of earning a diploma should get one, others should go elsewhere.  Yes, I know that our UC's cost a lot of money, but my taxes are helping foot the bill.  Wanting something really bad doesn't entitle you to have it.

Let me take you back to my senior year in high school.

There was no Common Application then, and there was no internet.  Every school had its own application form to be filled out on paper, and many had application fees. Unlike today, we didn't apply to 20 or 30 schools and have "reach" schools and "safety net" schools, we applied to schools we wanted to get into and had a reasonable chance of getting into.

I applied to 4 schools:  the Air Force Academy, UCLA, Purdue, and West Point.  I couldn't afford college, though.  I was living with my grandparents, estranged from my mother (not that she had any money anyway), and with a dad who worked very hard to support the rest of his family.  Everyone had always assumed I'd go to college but there was no thought given, ever, to how it would be financed.  While I qualified for Cal Grants and Pell Grants, I found no scholarships for a bright white kid (from the poor part of town) who just couldn't afford college.  While I had an uncle who had attended college, no one in my family had graduated college.  I had no guidance, no money, no real hope.  I did, however, have a sense of my own awesomeness.

I admit I was arrogant.  It was clear to me that things would work out for me because I needed them to.  I'd always succeeded in academic environments, how could this one, even though it involved finances, be any different?  I didn't fill out the paperwork when I was a National Merit Semifinalist--because I knew I'd get into the Air Force Academy, and someone else would need that National Merit scholarship money that I was sure to win.  Neither did I apply for ROTC scholarships; I was too good for ROTC, I was going to go to the Academy.  And if I didn't, I'd get a great education at Purdue or UCLA anyway.

The arrogance, the arrogance.  Oh, the things I'd say to my younger self if I could....

I wanted to go to UCLA or Purdue.  I really did.  I was accepted to both. But there was no money.  I didn't see how I could work and go to school and earn the grades I knew I was capable of.  I decided that the best plan for me would be to enlist in the army, earn GI Bill benefits, and go to college at some later date.  That was the economic choice I made.  Then, one day in 4th period class, finally, late in my senior year, a note came from the office.  "Call home.  Large envelope from West Point."  I didn't really want to go to West Point, but I didn't get a nomination to the Air Force Academy.  West Point was the only school I was accepted to that I could afford to attend--because, as a military academy, I didn't have to pay any tuition, and what costs there were, I was able to come up with the money.  So that's where I went.

It's clear, looking back, that I made a lot of mistakes.  Things turned out ok in the end, but it was a difficult time.  A very dark, difficult time in my life.  You'll notice, though, that the choices I made all had financial consequences, some good and some bad.  At no time, though, did I decide to take on debt that I didn't think I could reasonably handle.  At least I didn't screw that up.

Not everyone thinks that way, though.  As I wrote yesterday, there are students at our UC campuses who are living on food stamps.  They chose an expensive school, one they clearly can't afford, and thus chose penury.  Perhaps they think their sheepskin will allow them to make enough money to make it all worthwhile; some people can accept that sort of risk, I don't live that way.

Today I came across this story from the Boston Globe, lamenting how college debt is even worse for black students than for whites:
Recent research and data from the US Department of Education indicate that African-American students, like Reyes, are taking a greater financial risk than other groups in going to college, even as a degree has grown increasingly vital for workers hoping to survive in the modern economy. They typically start with a smaller economic cushion, are more likely to borrow, and, on average, earn less upon graduation. 
Reyes, the protagonist in the story, chose to go to a private college in downtown Boston.  She chose to take on debt.  Combine those, and to me you get a bad series of choices.
As a result, instead of bridging the racial equity gap by opening the prospect of well-paying jobs, getting a degree can actually widen the gulf in wealth between black and white adults.

African-American students who started college in 2003-04 typically owed 113 percent of their student loan 12 years later, according to the most recent data from the US Department of Education analyzed by the Center for American Progress.

By contrast, white borrowers had paid down their debt and owed only 65 percent of the original amount, and Hispanic borrowers had knocked down their debt to 83 percent of the initial loan.

College costs have exploded for everyone, and as a result, the amount of student loan debt Americans are carrying has approached $1.4 trillion. Black students, though, are more likely to take out federal loans to earn a degree, with nearly 80 percent going into debt to attend college, compared to 60 percent of students overall. Then they struggle to repay those loans, weighed down by increasing interest and default fees.

Limited family resources, a higher likelihood of dropping out of college, dampened earnings even with a degree, and a greater chance of attending predatory, for-profit institutions all contribute to the more burdensome experience of African-American student loan borrowers, experts say. 
Another person in the story made worse choices than Reyes:
Allison, a single mother of three who lives in the western Boston suburbs and asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy, said that after spending most of her young adulthood working in fast-food restaurants and warehouses, she decided to go to college. She went to MassBay Community College and then to Lesley University to earn her degree. She finished in 2013 with about $10,000 in debt.

But even with her bachelor’s degree, Allison, 46, said she has had to work a full-time job and two part-time gigs on the weekends to earn the $65,000 she needs each year to pay her bills.

“I was spending more time out of home, away from my kids,” she said. “When I was home, I was tired. I was catnapping here and there.”

So she returned to school at Bridgewater State University to get her master’s degree in social work, in the hopes of finding a higher-paying position, with a leadership role. But there are fewer grants and scholarship options for graduate students, and by the time she finishes her program next May, she anticipates owing $70,000 in student loans.

“I am disappointed that there aren’t more options,” she said.
$65,000 in bills?  Holy crap.  Until this school year I didn't even make $65,000, much less have that much in annual expenses!  What is she doing to rack up $65,000 in bills each year?  And am I reading the story right that she's assuming an additional $70,000 in student loan debt to get a degree in social work, a field not known for high pay?  I don't think Allison is making good choices.

The article closes thusly:
“Having less debt opens you to so much more freedom when you get out of college,” she said.
One way of having less debt is not to assume so much in the first place.

When I've written on this topic in the past, the lefties will jump on my and say that I want to keep the poor and the black from getting college educations.  Let me just head that off at the pass right now--no, that's not my intent at all; and in fact, for you to believe that betrays, at an absolute minimum, a lack of reading comprehension, common sense, and understanding of personal responsibility.  I don't believe that people should have things just because they want them, and I do believe that people are entitled to no more than they can pay for.  Making bad decisions does not entitle someone to the exalted (on the left, anyway) status of victim, and wishing things were different doesn't mean that you're entitled to have them that way.

I think we in education do a disservice to kids.  We make it clear, both subtly and overtly, that going to college is the only "right" choice to make out of high school, and that anyone who doesn't go to college has essentially failed the first test of adulthood.  The Boston Globe story was clear that, on average, black families in this country have far fewer financial resources on which to draw than white families do; combine that with the unrealistic expectation that everyone should go to college, and it's no wonder that black students and families make riskier financial decisions in order to fund higher education.

How would I handle this situation, for everyone?  I'd get rid of two views:  first, the idea that everyone can and should attend college, and second, the entitlement mentality that says you should have whatever you want simply because you want it.  I'd have people focus on reasonable, achievable, affordable goals--subsidized community colleges do a great job of meeting general ed requirements at a relatively affordable price.

Then we could start looking at why higher education costs have risen so rapidly in recent years, see if a little sunlight will help.  But the first step is personal responsibility.  People need to make good choices.

The World Hasn't Ended Yet

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are sincere in their belief that global warming is a threat to...someone or something.  I'm forced to wonder, though, why those same people, who claim to believe in science, instead believe their passions when apocalyptic predictions keep turning out to be absolutely, undeniably, factually, disproven:
For at least three decades scientists and environmental activists have been warning that the world is on the verge of a global warming “apocalypse” that will flood coastal cities, tear up roads and bridges with mega-storms and bring widespread famine and misery to much of the world.

The only solution, they say, is to rid the world of fossil fuels — coal, natural gas and oil — that serve as the pillars of modern society. Only quick, decisive global action can avert the worst effects of manmade climate change, warn international bodies like the United Nations, who say we only have decades left — or even less!

Of course, human civilization has not collapsed, despite decades of predictions that we only have years left to avert disaster. Ten years ago, the U.N. predicted we only had “as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more.”

This failed prediction, however, has not stopped the U.N. and others from issuing more apocalyptic statements.

To celebrate nearly three decades of dire predictions, The Daily Caller News Foundation put together this list of some of the most severe doomsday prophecies made by scientists, activists and politicians...
Yes, I know that there actually was a wolf the last time the boy cried wolf in the story--but he hadn't been crying wolf for 30 years.

What A Scam!

The daughter of a friend of mine is having her 1st birthday party next weekend, so I was out looking for suitable presents for a one-year-old.  It's been a long time since I've shopped for one-year-olds.

Not knowing what to buy, I started at Barnes and Noble.  A book never goes out of style, right?  Well, they also have a selection of items other than books, and I moseyed on over to the infant/toddler section.  Holy crap!  Talk about ridiculously inflated prices!  A plastic "bathtub book" with only a couple of "pages" of colorful duckies or something, $15!  Everything seemed like it was 3-5x the price it should have been.  I guess they know people will always spend money on young'ins.  In economics they'd say that the demand for such items is inelastic, and thus stores can charge whatever they want.

When my own son was born, the hospital sent us home with a bag of goodies--including a Baby Mozart CD.  Do you remember that idea, that our children would grow up to be geniuses if we only exposed them to classical music?  It's a relatively harmless fiction, and I enjoyed a couple of the songs, so I played it once in awhile.  I still have it and just checked the label, and it was compiled and published by a baby milk/formula company.

At least I didn't have to pay for that.  Who on God's green earth would pay for these?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

It's Kind Of Like He Supports The First Amendment Or Something

I'm usually not a big fan of Erwin Chemerinsky.  When Hugh Hewitt had an afternoon radio show, I'd listen to it on my drive home from work, and Chemerinsky was a weekly guest on constitutional law issues.  I always found his arguments weak, not well formed, and decidedly leftie.  I couldn't imagine how, with such poor reasoning skills, the man became a law school dean.  Seriously.

But on this issue he is absolutely right:
A law professor from the University of California – Berkeley’s law school recently urged students to “protect all speech,” including speech they find offensive and hateful.

“All ideas and views can be expressed on a college campus. Period,” Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the university’s law school, told students at Cornell University, according to The Cornell Daily Sun. “It’s very important to make the distinction between discussing what the current law is as opposed to discussing what we think the law should be.”

While allowing that there are exceptions to free speech—including ” inciteful language, fighting words and words that present a true threat”—Chermerinsky nevertheless told students that “hateful speech is protected by the First Amendment,” and that universities—public and private alike—“should allow the same level of free speech as their public counterparts.”

The dean suggested that students should “shift away from the common rhetoric of the term ‘hate speech’.”

“It’s important to separate the colloquial use of the term from the legal test that’s going to decide it,” he added.
Had I not listened to him for years on Hewitt's show,  I'd perhaps be a bigger fan after reading this.

College Students and Charity

Almost 7 years ago I wrote about a food pantry for poor students at a local University of California campus.  That post generated 27 comments, a few in favor and several questioning why students in economic straits would choose to attend a University of California campus.  Before reading on, perhaps you'd go read that post, and even the comments, to get a fuller view of what I'm writing here.

Welcome back :-)  As the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. This past Thursday, the conglomeration of San Francisco newspapers published a story about UC Berkeley students' going on welfare and to food pantries:
More than 500 UC Berkeley students have applied for food stamps since January, up from 111 in all of 2016, and just 41 the year before, said Michael Altfest, spokesman for the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which helps students fill out the forms. Last year, food bank representatives showed up once a month to help the students. Now they have to come every week to meet the need.
Not all applicants qualify. This year, the acceptance rate is 73 percent, up from 62 percent in 2015, Altfest said.

Three years ago, state lawmakers passed AB1930 to make it easier for students to prove eligibility for food stamps. But it’s taken a few years for the ripple effect to hit.

A University of California survey of 9,000 students across all 10 campuses shed light on the need in 2015: Nearly 1 in 5 students, 19 percent, said they had too little to eat “due to limited resources.” Another 23 percent routinely ate substandard food with little variation.

Suddenly, the phrase “food insecurity” — from poor nutrition to outright hunger — became a campus buzz word, and not just on UC campuses.

Aware that some low-income students are stuck on campus during school vacations, Stanford University will keep a dining hall open during spring break for the first time next semester. California State University is working to get each of its 23 campuses equipped with the technology to accept food stamps, which have been provided electronically using debit cards since 2004.

Community college students are especially challenged by soaring housing prices — the two-year schools typically offer no student housing — so on Nov. 9, City College of San Francisco trustees voted unanimously to begin developing a program to help students who are chronically homeless and hungry.

At UC, President Janet Napolitano announced in 2016 that she would spend $302,000 over two years at each of the 10 campuses to expand food pantries and register more students for food stamps through CalFresh.
Going hungry isn't a choice.  However, attending a UC or even Stanford is.  We have great, relatively inexpensive community colleges here in California....

While I consider it untoward for some of the most privileged people on the planet--students who attend UC schools, who do so partly on my dime--to cry poverty and go to food pantries, if the food pantries are charitable, I have no actual complaint.  I might question or ridicule, but I won't complain or fight.  When I have to pay for it, however...wait, isn't that what I'm doing with food stamps?  So I'm paying for their "elite" education as well as their food?    Are these people even adults?

If she wanted to ensure that UC students can afford to eat, perhaps Napolitano should find ways to cut the cost of a UC education rather than turning students into beggars.

I have many quotes on the wall of my classroom.  One of them says "A sense of entitlement and one of gratitude cannot occupy the same space."  I think it applies in this situation.

Nope, No Media Bias Here

DEMOCRAT NEWS NETWORK: CNN Fails To Report These 24 Democrat Sex Scandals
To be fair, it is worth noting that CNN has reported on a couple of the big Democrat sex scandals currently receiving major media attention on other news networks, specifically the scandals involving Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

When CNN is not busy giving President Donald Trump 93% negative coverage, covering for Islamic terrorists, botching gun reports, or being sued by over 200 African-Americans for racial discrimination, they are busy covering for Democrats across the United States by not reporting on scandals.

Below are 24 recent Democratic sex scandals that CNN has failed to report on their website (documentation showing CNN did not cover the scandals is provided at the bottom of this report).

Friday, November 24, 2017

Laptops Inhibit Learning

As someone who spent 5 years in an online master's degree program, I can tell you that having access to the internet while you're supposed to be learning is distracting.  And I say that as someone who's reasonably bright, motivated to learn, and more focused and disciplined than the average bear.  Thus, I have no doubt that the following is true:
But a growing body of evidence shows that over all, college students learn less when they use computers or tablets during lectures. They also tend to earn worse grades. The research is unequivocal: Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them. It’s not much of a leap to expect that electronics also undermine learning in high school classrooms or that they hurt productivity in meetings in all kinds of workplaces...

The researchers hypothesized that, because students can type faster than they can write, the lecturer’s words flowed right to the students’ typing fingers without stopping in their brains for substantive processing. Students writing by hand had to process and condense the spoken material simply to enable their pens to keep up with the lecture. Indeed, the notes of the laptop users more closely resembled transcripts than lecture summaries. The handwritten versions were more succinct but included the salient issues discussed in the lecture...

At the United States Military Academy, a team of professors studied laptop use in an introductory economics class. The course was taught in small sections, which the researchers randomly assigned to one of three conditions: electronics allowed, electronics banned and tablets allowed but only if laid flat on desks, where professors could monitor their use. By the end of the semester, students in the classrooms with laptops or tablets had performed substantially worse than those in the sections where electronics were banned.
Can't pass up a shout-out to my alma mater!

Anyway, go read the whole thing.

Guilty Pleasure

I don't buy many "dead tree" books anymore.  Mostly I listen to audiobooks.

But one of my guilty pleasures in life is Clive Cussler novels.  I said so almost a year and a half ago, so there's no need to recreate the post here.  A couple of days ago I was at Sam's Club and guess what I saw on the shelf:
I might have to read this book in conjunction with listening to my latest audiobook.  Perhaps I'll go back to listening to my audiobooks only when I drive, and reading this when I'm at home.

Thanksgiving and Global Warming

Shamelessly lifted from Instapundit:
DO YOUR PART AND FRY MORE FOODS: The Telegraph (UK) is good at finding “scientists” who will say anything. Here, finally, they find some scientists who have useful information:
“In large cities like London, cooking fat is known to be responsible for 10 per cent of small particles in the air, so researchers believe frying food could have a noticeable impact on cloud formation and rainy weather. In fact, the effect is so large it could even have a cooling effect on the planet, and potentially slow down global warming.”
I, for one, am waiting for the government to offer tax incentives on deep fryers, because, you know, global warming. I’m willing to make that sacrifice if it helps Mother Gaia.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My Plan For The Day

I can't believe that Thanksgiving break is already almost half over.  Where the heck has the time gone?!

I'm staying on track with grading quizzes; in fact, I've even upped the numbers.  My plan is now to grade 10 stats quizzes a day and 5 pre-calculus quizzes a day; this will ensure that all quizzes are graded before I get back to work next week.

Last night, after going to dinner with my mother for her birthday, I watched Gods and Generals.  Tonight, after going to dinner with my niece, I'll watch Gettysburg.    Maybe early this afternoon I'll go to the theater and see Justice League.  I've heard that movies are less expensive on Tuesday.  I don't know this for sure, though, as I don't go to the movies much at all.  In fact, I think this will be only the 3rd movie I'll have seen in a theater this year, after Dunkirk and Wonder Woman.

That's pretty much my plan for the day!

A Camille Paglia Feminist

I'm a Camille Paglia feminist in that I believe that women are the intellectual, moral, and legal equals of men.  I believe that women earn respect the same way that any human does--by accomplishing things of value.

They don't earn respect by "demanding" it or by being harpies--or worse.  In this way I agree with the author of this post:
I made a huge mistake today. I pulled up something on Tumblr called “Power Femme Posts.” I wish I could say hilarity ensued, but it was more like vomit. Lots and lots of vomit...

This feed is filled with nothing but third-wave feminist garbage – the kind of trash true feminists like Camille Paglia view like they would something smelly on the bottom of their shoe...

The problem with these third-wave feminist shrews is that they don’t want equality. They don’t want to be acknowledged for their skills, prowess, and accomplishments. They merely want to wield power over men – nothing more.

Surfing through this Femme Power forest of inadequacy, I saw nothing about intellectual pursuits, nothing about actual accomplishments (other than the vagina between their legs), and nothing about hard work or paying your dues.

What I saw was a metaphorical daisy chain of mediocrities, stroking one another’s egos and delusions of grandeur, while putting down their male counterparts and fantasizing about the day they take over.

As a woman, I’m sickened by this...

Here’s what these women just don’t get.

You don’t become strong by hobbling those who are stronger than you. You’re still an inadequate weakling, but now you’re a despicable one as well, because you’ve destroyed another merely to build yourself up – not by your accomplishments, but by brute force.

You don’t become any less of a pathetic mediocrity by crippling those around you who aren’t. It’s an illusion that will eventually blow up in your face, when you realize that you still don’t have the skills necessary to create, build, and improve the world around you, but you have driven away those who do.

You don’t become a provider by subjugating your significant other, nor do you become a protector by forcing that naked, groveling amoeba into submission. (She's referring to a picture from Tumblr, see link above).

And if you’re a man, who is so scared to lose a woman that you would allow it to happen, you don’t deserve your place in the household, other than at the feet of an obese, rainbow-haired, overly-pierced non-entity, whose only “accomplishment” is to shame you into burying your self esteem, hating your own intelligence and skills, and loathing your own masculinity.
These observations apply not just to third-wave feminists, but equally well to any group that wants to elevate its own tribe just for the sake of "being on top".

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Yes, Please Focus On This Instead

Small schools and Common Core?  Thank Bill Gates.

Quit screwing with other people's kids, Bill.

I'm probably doomed to get Alzheimer's.  Both my grandmothers had it, and...  So, I'm doomed.

I don't know if Bill's money would direct research into dead ends or if it would open up new roads, but I know that I'm probably going to get Alzheimer's either way.

So, after screwing up education, would Bill and his money be a benefit in Alzheimer's research, or a hindrance?  I'm willing to give him a shot.  After all, those with a predilection for Alzheimer's are already screwed, unlike the children on whom Common Core was thrust.  They were only screwed after Common Core.

Polar Ice

Oh no!  The polar ice sheets are shrinking!  Glaciers are retreating!

Oh, wait....

How Do People Think This Way?

I was reading this story about income inequality in California and was floored to read the following:
“Every day, people are on the road for an hour, two hours, each way. We’re wasting so much talent and skill and the disparity in income is just ridiculous,” said Clark. “The government’s job is defense, and building roads and schools. But another part of the government’s job is income distribution and too much of it has gone to the super-wealthy.”
No, Mr. Clark, part of the government's job is not income distribution.  But people like you who think that way sure screw things up.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Scoring School Accountability

California ditched its numerical school accountability system a couple years ago and is going to a "dashboard" system:
Another prominent education research and advocacy organization that disapproves of California’s approach to school accountability has ranked California’s new system at the bottom nationwide in a report released Tuesday.

The low score by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reflects a core disagreement over how best to identify and work with schools needing help. California education leaders are unapologetic about the route they’ve chosen, and they say the Fordham analysis contains a key error.

Like Bellwether Education Partners, which harshly criticized the state’s approach in an August analysis, Washington, D.C.- and Ohio-based Fordham gives high grades to states that will rank schools with an A-F letter grade or a similar method that’s understandable at a glance. States will use rankings to select the lowest-performing schools, as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

California’s color-coded school dashboard does not give a summary school ranking. Each measure of performance, whether test scores, graduation rates or student suspension rates, gets a separate color rating. Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board of Education say that this approach focuses attention on specific areas that need work. While this is more complex — and, some critics say, confusing — advocates say it is more helpful in diagnosing problems.
Confusion never helps anyone--except those with something to hide. And if the system is supposed to help diagnose problems, then it's for the schools themselves and not the public. Who should the results of an accountability system be geared towards?

Update:  Joanne has a brief post on the topic.

The Start of Thanksgiving Break

I was so tired yesterday that I came home and took a nap.  When I woke up from the nap over an hour later I realized I was still tired, so I went to bed.  I woke up around 3 am after 8 hours of sleep, checked the blogs and the news, and went back to sleep until after 7 am. 

I'm starting to feel awake :)

I've been procrastinating lately, so I have plenty of bills to pay and other such domestic administrivia to keep me busy.  I also gave quizzes in 4 of my 5 classes yesterday, so I have those to grade.  My plan is to grade 10 quizzes a day over the break; that should take so little time as to allow me to feel that I'm not spending any time at all, but doing so will allow me to have the vast majority of the quizzes graded before I return to school.  I'll probably get them all done, but I'm willing to cut myself a little slack on that.

I've got a couple of family birthdays to celebrate this week, and I'm going to a friend's house for Thanksgiving.

We've had some light rain recently, and a few more drops are forecast for Monday.  Other than that it should be a nice week with highs in the 60s.

Should be a nice week off.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Privilege

First, white male privilege:
Many of my peers of color and their progressive allies said I had no right to offer my opinion because I am a male with white skin, so according to them I don’t know what it’s like to face challenges. I should just shut up and support them.

Yes, I do enjoy privilege — as an American. I live in the greatest country in the world with the most opportunity and fairness.

But my critics incorrectly assumed that my male whiteness gave me some special attributes that made my argument meaningless. I was just another dissenter whose critics racially condemned me without knowing anything about me.

My alleged privilege does not mean money grows on trees in my family. They have no idea that I worked part-time at a sandwich shop during high school to save money for college. This is in addition to taking mostly AP classes — prompting three-plus hours of homework a night. I also managed to squeeze in playing a varsity sport.

My alleged privilege did not allow me to skate through high school. My nights, weekends and nearly all of my spare time was spent either writing essays for AP classes, asking a customer if she’d like her sandwich “Mike’s Way,” or spending another four hours of my day on the golf course (with clubs I paid for myself after using my grandfather’s old hand-me-down set).

My alleged privilege did not make it any easier for me to get into a college after high school. Like my Asian-American peers, if you’re white, it’s well understood that your ACT or SAT scores must be much higher than peers of color. So I spent roughly 10 hours a week for over a month preparing for the ACT in addition to everything else I had going on.

My alleged privilege still wasn’t enough for me to afford to attend Chapman all four years. It simply was not financially feasible for my family and me, despite the fact that I was admitted as a freshman and had been offered a very generous, partial academic scholarship. Unlike my privileged critics at Chapman University, I was not able to attend the same school as them for all four years and live on campus.

So with my alleged privilege, I started at a community college my freshman year to save money...
Go read the whole thing.

I, too, didn't start out with much in life. Growing up I didn't do without as far as food, clothing, or shelter (although, for several years, 5 and then 6 of us lived in a 3BR, 1BA, 925 sf house), but I had some other disadvantages.  I guess they don't count, either, because I lack melanin?

But on to female privilege:
The way the news is these days: In the middle of a storm of disgusting national stories about male sexual predators, we get our own local countercase — a fired Dallas County assistant district attorney, sobbing on camera, offering every conceivable excuse in the book for her terrible behavior with a young Uber driver.

District Attorney Faith Johnson fired Jody Warner, 32, an experienced assistant prosecutor, on Monday after Johnson reviewed an audio recording of Warner drunkenly threatening and abusing 26-year-old Uber driver Shaun Platt over the weekend. In a press conference Tuesday, Warner set some kind of new world record for the least apologetic apology since Donald Trump did Access Hollywood...

And here’s the thing: The guy even gave you a break for being totally sloshed. Platt, the driver, told reporters he was sure you were a nice person when you were not drunk. Well, guess what. He was wrong.

You’re a worse person when you’re sober. Sober, you are mean-spirited and brutally callous, willing to slime a young man’s name by suggesting he’s a predator and doing it just to give yourself some wiggle room that you richly do not deserve...

I listened to the recording. In that state, I don’t know I would trust you to know the difference between a sexual predator and a stop sign. Isn’t that what we’re really talking about? Hey, maybe you saw a stop sign, and you thought it was coming on to you. I can’t know what was in your heart because your heart was pickled in alcohol.

But I do know this: A man in your position would not get away with your behavior at the press conference. He would not be able to stand in front of the cameras, wipe away tears and make all kinds of simpering little-boy-lost sexual suggestions about the woman he had just drunkenly and verbally abused on tape.

You abused your office that night, and it got way worse later when you did your press conference after you got canned. You exploited your status as a woman in a way that I suspect was cynical and calculated.

Hey, how many dozens and dozens of times have you stood up in court and appealed for somebody to get sent up the river while his loved ones sobbed in the pews? I bet you never shed a tear then. But when you were appealing your own plight, you couldn’t turn off the waterworks for five seconds? 
She only tried it because she thought it would work--and it probably would have, were it not for the audio recording.

Racial Pandering

This is one of the worst, most transparent, examples of racial pandering I've ever seen:
The net result would likely be a major penalty for those who choose to go to college, and an even greater one for those who pursue advanced degrees. Asian-Americans would be devastated by this change as the group with the highest rate of college and graduate school attendance in the nation: More than half of Asians in the United States 25 and older have at least a bachelor's degree, compared with about 28% of Americans in general, and 21% have advanced degrees, versus 10% of all Americans.
I'm waiting for someone to point out that since Asians do so much better academically than blacks and Hispanics do in this country, that this tax proposal is actually some form of "equity".

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Not A Fan of Communism

I spent the first several years of my adult life training to go to war against communists.  Communism is a foul philosophy directly responsible for the lives of over 100 million people in the last century; by contrast, the Nazis and their relatively paltry 6 million Jews seem like pikers compared to Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the gang.

Honestly, I think there are a few reasons communism appeals to certain people, and not just the stupid.  Even in theory, communism just can't work, as it doesn't comport with human nature.  In practice, though--in practice, it works even worse than it does in theory.  People who claim to support communism remind me vaguely of a quote attributed to George Orwell, "The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality."  Liking communism in theory is a lot different from having to live under it.  I've never met a person who lived under communism who didn't say it was horrible, who didn't think our system was obviously superior in every way. Here's one:
A recent poll found that fifty percent of millennials say they would rather live in a communist or socialist country than in a capitalist democracy. These numbers can’t be laughed off -- they should frighten you. Maybe they don’t know what communism means.

I do. I lived in Communist Poland.

Perhaps those fifty percent of millennials were not properly taught about communism in school. That’s too bad, and dangerous. So here are some examples for those misguided millennials to ponder, all of which I experienced in communist Poland.
Go read the whole thing.  And add secret police to the story.

Too Stupid To Be In College

This story encapsulates so much of what's wrong with lefties: rabid hatred.  Shameless stupidity.  Total lack of personal responsibility.  And since this is California, there is a non-zero chance that this lawsuit will actually not be thrown out of court.
Exactly one year after a car struck Revelle sophomore Mariana Flores as she entered Interstate-5 during the election night protests, Flores’ attorney filed a personal injury and property damage lawsuit against UC San Diego and several other entities. According to the complaint submitted to the San Diego Superior Court last Wednesday, Flores suffered wage loss, loss of earning capacity, hospital and medical expenses, general damage, property damage, and loss of personal property as a result of the incident.

The protests during which Flores was injured began shortly after Donald Trump was announced the projected winner of the 2016 election. Students living in all six colleges gathered on Library Walk and spread throughout campus, chanting criticisms of the president-elect as they moved. The protest then spilled off-campus near the freeway, where demonstrators walked onto the interstate.

As an emergency vehicle was attempting to shut down Interstate-5 by driving in an “S” formation across the southbound lanes, the driver hit Flores, crushing her pelvis, fracturing her leg, and causing other serious injuries.

Flores’ attorney Gene Sullivan informed the UCSD Guardian that due to the nature of her injuries, Flores’ medical bills over the course of her life will be in the millions of dollars, so he and his client hope that the university will offer assistance in covering the costs.   

The lawsuit, which also names the UC Board of Regents, the City and County of San Diego, the State of California, and the driver of the vehicle as defendants, states that the protest was organized by the university and that UCSD is responsible for failing to end the demonstration. 

“Plaintiff was participating in a citizen protest that had been organized by the University of California, San Diego and/or the University of California Regents,” the complaint reads. “The protest continued all over campus for hours and was never stopped, controlled, or refrained by the County of San Diego, City of San Diego, State of California, University of California Regents or the University of California, San Diego.”   

Sullivan explained that there are a number of people culpable for the accident, including Flores herself, but because the university is partially responsible, it is also partially responsible for the harms and damages...
She wants me, a taxpayer, to give her money because of her own stupidity.  It's someone else's responsibility to keep her from doing something that any 4 year old, not to mention a university student, knows to be unsafe?  To steal from Hall & Oates, "I can't go for that, no can do."

Because I'm such a bright and cheerful guy, one who always looks on the bright side of things, I can of course see a silver lining.  If her suit survives, goes to trial, and she actually wins, perhaps our universities will be less likely in the future to tolerate these kinds of activities.

Stupid should hurt.  I wonder if this is the first time in her life Flores is learning that lesson.