Sunday, July 23, 2017

Memorization and Creativity

I'm tired of hearing that memorizing certain things (multiplication facts, the quadratic formula, the Pythagorean Theorem) impedes "creativity" in students.  If this were true, back in the 90s--when "rote memorization" was expunged from California's math standards--we'd have had the most creative students on the planet!

I'm on an email list populated by people who seem to share a more traditional view of math education.  One of the members of that list is Wayne Bishop of CSU Los Angeles, who gave me permission to repost his words here:

A persuasive indictment of US education, especially STEM preparedness.  It is particularly ironic in that our professional mathematics education community continues to insist that its aversion to memorization of anything stimulates creativity in mathematics as opposed to bringing along far too many children - especially children from low socioeconomic, low education communities - being DOA by algebra if not long before.
Believing that melanin in the skin presents a genetic predisposition to do poorly in math is not doing anyone any favors, either.

Unprepared For Advanced Placement

I don't think unprepared students should take AP classes.

I've said that many times before on this blog, and I'm not changing my mind today.  It just doesn't make sense to.  I guess I've been called worse than "elitist", but whatever.  My position is the logical one, emotional wailing notwithstanding.

The "A" in AP means "advanced".  Why put non-advanced students in such a class?  To "expose" them to material?  We in education aren't supposed to be in the business of "exposing" students to material, we're in the business of teaching students the material.  Putting unprepared students into any class will create the following issues to varying degrees:  the student will struggle unnecessarily and not learn as much as they could in a course more suited to their level, and/or the course content will be watered down (for the student's GPA benefit as well as the teacher's sanity).

This isn't to say that no unprepared student can never succeed in an AP class, let's not make up silly arguments here.  It shouldn't be difficult to understand, though, that a student that is "unprepared" will not, in general, do as well as a student who is "prepared".  That's kind of built into the definitions of the two words.

Yet, the "AP for all" push continues unabated, with expected results:
High school students are flocking to Advanced Placement classes in an attempt to earn credits for college, boost their grade-point average and look good on university applications.

But are all students ready for the college-level coursework?

Students at the eight schools in the Sacramento region that fared worst on AP tests failed to score high enough to earn college credit on at least 75 percent of exams in 2015-16. That includes 3,375 tests taken at Florin, Valley, Highlands, Foothill, Natomas, Rosemont, Inderkum and Grant high schools.

Almost half of the scores at those schools were 1s – the lowest score possible.

Officials speaking for the lowest-performing schools said test results shouldn’t be the only measure of AP success. They said the classes expose students to college-level material and show them what is expected after they graduate.

“You want kids taking advanced classes,” said Jim Sanders, spokesman for Natomas Unified School District, which includes Natomas and Inderkum high schools. “It helps better prepare them for college and career.”

Even if passage rates are low at some campuses, AP courses still allow a handful of high-achievers to obtain college credit, said Lori Grace, an assistant superintendent at Twin Rivers Unified, where three of its four high schools – Highlands, Foothill and Grant – had passage rates of 25 percent or lower. Grace said that schools are enrolling more students in AP courses each year.
The high school I attended is on that list of 8 schools.  When I went there, there were no AP classes.  We had three levels of English for each grade (the top was called "college prep"), and math classes up to trigonometry.  My senior year, six of us were ready to take Calculus.  We had to go to the local community college to take it.

Too many students take AP classes just for the GPA bump.  I don't understand the reasoning, though, as many colleges ask for "unweighted" GPA's.  In fact, our district's transcripts list more than a couple different GPA's, so what's the point?  Colleges and universities aren't fooled by your 4.3 weighted GPA.  They know exactly how many A's and B's you received, and in what courses.

I've kind of rambled away from my thesis, which is this:  the students at the schools listed above weren't done any favors by taking AP courses.  The schools could have used those AP class periods to shore up obvious student math weaknesses instead of offering AP courses for which students clearly weren't prepared.

And we all know why the schools offer such courses, and why there's a push to allow anyone to take AP classes even in schools with a viable AP-capable population--because AP enrollment is seen as a feather in a school or district's cap.  Much like a diploma, though, the value of that feather is degraded by low standards and poor performance.

Read more here:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

She's Got A Lot of Nerve

If I had sex with a 16-year-old student, it's a certainty I'd get more than 180 days in jail:
A former teacher of the year who cheated on her firefighter husband with a 16-year-old student is now suing the teen for defamation -- from behind bars.

Tara Stumph, 36, who taught at Arroyo Grande High School in California is serving 180 days in San Luis Obispo County Jail for having sex with a 16-year-old student, according to The Tribune of San Luis Obispo.

But Stumph is now suing the student, claiming he damaged her reputation. Stumph’s counterclaim said the young man defamed the former teacher “to various classmates, family and other members of the community.”
She doesn't even have to register as a sex offender.  She should be counting her blessings rather than filing a lawsuit.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Being a Union "Free Rider"

The 7th Circuit has an interesting view of this particular union canard:
The US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Wisconsin’s right-to-work law is constitutional. The court referenced its own 2014 Sweeney decision, which was an unsuccessful challenge to Indiana’s right-to-work law.

There is a paragraph in the Sweeney ruling that deserves your attention, since it addresses union complaints about non-members being “free riders” – that is, receiving benefits from union representation for which they do not pay.
[W]e believe the union is justly compensated by federal law’s grant to the Union the right to bargain exclusively with the employer. The reason the Union must represent all employees is that the Union alone gets a seat at the negotiation table…. It seems disingenuous not to recognize that the Union’s position as a sole representative comes with a set of powers and benefits as well as responsibilities and duties. And no information before us persuades us that the Union is not fully and adequately compensated by its rights as the sole and exclusive member at the negotiating table.
Unions will grudgingly accept free riders if they can maintain exclusivity.

The Right Way To Deal With Protesters Who Disrupt Speakers

Your right to "peaceably assemble" and to protest is not permission to deny speakers their rights to speak, or listeners their rights to hear the speakers.  At least one school not only recognizes this fundamental fact, but is acting on it:
Claremont McKenna College this week announced disciplinary measures, including lengthy suspensions, against seven students who were part of a mob that blocked an audience from hearing a pro-police speech by Heather Mac Donald last April.

The crowd, spurred on by Black Lives Matter, forced Mac Donald to give her speech via livestream, even as protesters tried to drown her out. It was an outrageous infringement of Mac Donald’s right to free speech — and the right of other students to hear her. It was also another despicable example of what passes for acceptable political protest on far too many campuses.

Claremont McKenna hit three students with full-year suspensions, two with one-semester suspensions and two with conduct probation. It gave deans at other Claremont campuses evidence of violations by their students and urged them to act. Four non-students were suspended from on-campus privileges.
Wouldn't it be great if our public universities--I'm talking to you, UC Berkeley--would do the same?

The prominent leader of a militant left-wing group was arrested earlier this week on charges stemming from a violent brawl last year between white nationalist groups and counter-protesters.

Yvette Felarca, 47, was taken into custody in Los Angeles on Tuesday on charges of inciting and participating in a riot, and assault likely to cause great bodily injury, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday. The charges come after an eight-month investigation.

Felarca, whose name in public records appears as Yvonne Capistrano Felarca, has been identified as the leader and spokesperson for the anti-fascist group By Any Means Necessary.

She is among several people arrested this week in connection to the wild skirmish that broke out at the state Capitol in June 2016 when more than 300 counter-protesters confronted about 30 members of the Traditionalist Worker Party, which has been called a white nationalist group.

Felarca, who is a middle school teacher in Berkeley, attended the Capitol protest and gave television interviews after the melee. She was captured on video hitting a member of the TWP and calling a man a Nazi before punching him in the stomach repeatedly while shouting for him to “get the f*** off our streets.”  (Boldface mine--Darren)

25 19th Century Moments That Changed America

Yes, it's from Time, but don't let that distract you from what is otherwise a very interesting article.

A Poster Child For Getting Rid of Remedial Courses at Universities

Remediation belongs at our community colleges.  Allowing unprepared students into universities overburdens the system, places more debt on those most likely to be unable to repay that debt, and helps hide the importance of K-12 education (or the lack thereof):
After graduating from high school in Brooklyn with a 2.6 grade point average, Reynold Essor enrolled at SUNY Adirondack, a public two-year community college in upstate New York with “a comfortable residence hall, leafy grounds, a restaurant run by students, and even a zipline,” writes Pratt.

Failing the placement exam landed Essor in the remedial track. “He spent two semesters taking, and then retaking, three required remedial courses,” writes Pratt. “He used financial aid, including a federal Pell Grant, to cover the costs.” He’s earned no college credit.

Essor blames his high school education. “I passed without learning,” he said.

“Students spend an estimated $7 billion annually on remedial college classes,” writes Pratt. “Yet only half of enrolled students complete remedial courses, and about one in seven completes a credential within six years.”
He blames his high school education?  Nice way to shuffle the blame. Come on, you had a 2.6 GPA, and you thought that made you ready for college?  When you were told you needed three remedial courses, you still didn't realize that you're not ready?

Young Reynold needs to accept the lion's share of the responsibility here.  He didn't work hard, was allowed to cruise (that is the fault of his school, but he didn't have to cruise), and he didn't heed the warning signs.  Reynold is having difficulty passing remediation courses at a community college which, as I've stated, is the correct place for remediation.  He's got two choices: 
  1. buckle down and get to work, or
  2. do something else for awhile and come back to college when he's ready.
Now, having said all this, can anyone explain to me why we should have remedial courses at universities?

Musk's Musky Math Ideas

Elon Musk doesn't think math teachers are teaching correctly:
Speaking at the ISSR&D Conference in Washington D.C. Wednesday, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla (TSLA) was asked about the education system. Musk explained that he believes schools aren't doing enough to help children grasp why they're learning each subject. 

"You just sort of get dumped into math. Why are you learning that? It seems like, 'Why am I being asked to do these strange problems?'" Musk said. "Our brain has evolved to discard information that it thinks has irrelevance." 

Musk suggested learning be focused around solving a specific problem, such as building a satellite or taking apart an engine. Then students will encounter and master subjects such as math and physics on the path to solving their problem. Understanding how to use a wrench or screwdriver will have a clear purpose. 
It would be easy to trash Musk's argument--by, for example, pointing out that there isn't a lot of K-12 math in building (or launching, or tracking, or maneuvering) a satellite--but instead I'll be a little more respectful.

Musk's idea isn't new.  What he's suggesting is called "problem-based learning", an old (Dewey promoted it a hundred years ago) pedagogical style which I describe as "inefficient at best".  Barry Garelick of the Traditional Math blog wrote a brief post about Musk's PBL suggestion, and then wrote a follow-up post highlighting some of the comments from that post.  One of those comments hit the nail on the head--in problem-based learning, so much of the time is spent on the "problem" that the kernel of math that's supposed to be gleaned from the "problem" is lost in the shuffle.  Very little math gets learning in a class period, and that which does get learned is mostly a by-product.  "Exactly!" scream the proponents of problem-based learning.  But no.

Remember when manipulatives were the big thing in math?  Many (many!) moons ago I found one that I really liked--Hands-On Equations.  Used to teach students how to solve algebraic equations, it involved dice, pawns, and the idea of "legal moves" (e.g., it's "legal" to add a pawn to both sides) to provide a physical representation of algebraic operations.  Gradually, through 26 lessons, the program transitions students from solving problems with the manipulatives to solving them using standard algebra.  Sounds great!  My students loved it, I loved it, everyone had fun, the kids were engaged--anyone walking in to my class would think that this, this was a place where learning was taking place.  You could have checked every box on an evaluator's clipboard.

Cut to the end of those 26 lessons, though, and students did no better on a test than had previous classes who did not use Hands-on Equations.  No better at all.  Despite the program's built-in transition from manipulative to algebra.  Students saw that transition as just part of the program, part of the game.  They didn't make the leap from the "game" to the math.  They learned the game well, they didn't learn the math.  They spent a lot of time learning a little math.

And that is what's wrong with Musk's idea.  He made the classic rookie mistake; I won't be hard on him because it's such a common mistake.  But people who are really smart, or very talented in a certain area, can see "connections" between the many things they know.  That excites them, it's so cool!  If they can share those connections, everyone else will be excited about the topic, too, and will learn!  In the post-Sputnik days of "new math", the smart people got together and decided that if everyone learned basic set theory and different bases, our country's "math deficit" would be instantly erased!  Today the silver bullet is matrices.

What they get wrong, though, is the confusion between cause and effect.  Being excited and understanding the material and seeing connections doesn't cause learning, it's the result of learning.  There is no way set theory and bases are going to help someone who doesn't already understand math, and the same goes for matrices.  You have to teach fundamentals.  No one starts playing piano with a Bach concerto; they start with notes, and chords, and Chopsticks.  So it is with math.

Now I hope that some won't (intentionally) misunderstand what I'm saying.  I'm not saying that math should be taught as an abstraction; on the contrary, it's the language of science and the universe, and that's part of the reason we learn it at all.  There's no way I would advocate divorcing math from the sciences, from engineering, from games.  Math is learned best when it is taught with applications and examples.  But the examples are there to highlight the math, not to subsume it.

Additionally, high school math takes us up to what was learned and developed in the 1600's (calculus).  That's why "Train A" and "Train B" problems exist; there's no real-world need to solve such problems, they just subtract a little abstraction to make the problem easier to understand.  Seriously, outside of some statistics (i.e., social science problems), what real-world problems are ordinary K-12 students going to solve using the math we teach them?  Darned few!  But we can help them understand real-world things, often with the help of physics, especially where driving, a real-world activity if ever there was one, is involved--doubling speed quadruples energy, speed going around a curve, how long it takes to stop if you lock up the brakes, how police determine your speed from the skid mark your car left on the road, etc.

So to close, I give Musk credit for having his heart in the right place.  He's just a little off in the time scale--problem-based learning can only occur after the elementary learning has already taken place.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Candle In The Wind

Whatever happened to Black Lives Matter?  or "Occupy" protesters?  Oh, you hear about them once in awhile, or you read a paragraph on p. A13 of the local paper, but that's about it.

I guess they outlived their usefulness to the Left, so the Left has moved on.  Use 'em up, spit 'em out.

Due Process Is A Foundation of Western Law

Do you believe that even accused murderers should have due process?  Do you believe in the legal presumption of "innocent until proven guilty"?  I certainly do.  And even in those instances where our legal system lets the guilty go free, I've always been of the mind that I'd rather a hundred guilty people go free than to deprive one innocent person of his/her freedom.

That isn't a belief that comes naturally, I was taught that belief.  In school.  Because that's what Americans used to believe, and school was one place where societal values were transmitted to the next generation.

It's not that way anymore.  Perhaps too many people think that our system of laws is natural, that they can (be cool and) rebel against it knowing that it will always be there to protect them.  This is not the case.  The rest of the world is evidence enough that our legal system is not the natural order of things.  Force is the natural order of things.

That introduction brings me to lefties and their current view of rapists--in their eyes, every man is a potential rapist, and any man accused of rape is a priori guilty.  Not only is he guilty, but because he's guilty he's not allowed to prove his innocence.  If you think I'm exaggerating, you're not very familiar with the Star Chambers instituted on American campuses in part because of the Obama Administration Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" letter.

Hopefully the current administration will restore some sanity to what is clearly an un-American nightmare:
A good way to tell if the Left currently believes one of their beloved policies will disappear is how viciously they write about the potential change. In this case, they’re trying to smear people who believe those accused of heinous crimes should be able to defend themselves as somehow supporting the heinous crime. That is where we are in society.

On college campuses, students (mostly male, but sometimes female) can be accused of sexual assault and receive no effective due process, no promise of a fair trial in which they are allowed to defend themselves and present evidence to exonerate themselves. This is a basic tenet of a just society. Yet activists who support these policies insist America’s college campuses are more dangerous than war-torn countries in Africa regarding rape and sexual assault. They say this issue is so pervasive, we need to cut down on constitutional protections for those accused of these terrible crimes when the accusation happens on a college campus, because they’re most definitely guilty.
Due process is a foundation of our legal system.  No one will like the results if we toss it aside, especially for partisan political purposes.

No, lefties, I'm not "pro-rape" just because I support due process.  I'm not "pro-rape" just because I don't believe in your characterization of "rape culture".  I'm not "pro-rape" just because I don't believe your fatuous "20% of women will be raped in college" claim.  In fact, I'm so not pro-rape that I want rape accusations dealt with by laws and courts, not by university administrators.  Rapists should be locked up, not expelled--as should those who falsely accuse others of rape.  And I want those who falsely accuse others of rape to have due process as well.

The views I hold used to be such universal beliefs that no American would twice about them.  That they're under such assault, and by other Americans, shows how far we as a society have fallen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lefties, You're Not Going To Like The New Rules You're Instituting

You want more Donald Trump?  This is how you get more Donald Trump:
Professor Eric Canin will be returning to California State University, Fullerton to teach classes despite allegedly assaulting a College Republican on campus.

The incident took place in February, when members of the College Republicans were peacefully counter-protesting an anti-Trump rally on campus. Canin approached members of the club, calling them “uneducated” based on their political stance before allegedly shoving at least one student in anger.
If conservatives responded in kind there would be less such violence.  The left is making the rules, and when conservatives ditch the high road and start playing by these new rules, the lefties will be most unhappy.

Of course, the faculty union supported the professor, saying he's been "unfairly vilified" by the College Republicans for, what, having the temerity to be assaulted by him???

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In What Other Industry Would We Tolerate This?

Back in the days before radio, the captain of a ship, while not God, what pretty much His representative here on Earth.  Someone had to make the decisions.  And while the captain is still the boss, and certainly is responsible for safety on a ship, I can't see that his word should be law in every instance.  This is just as true for airline captains.

In emergency situations, you should follow crew instructions--they're best trained to handle such emergencies.  But in every single instance?  We have to follow every instruction someone gives because they work for a business?  In what other industry would we tolerate that?

And in what other industry would we allow employees to treat customers this way, and with complete and total impunity?
Ann Coulter vs. Delta Air Lines is the latest battle over airline customer service to play out on social media.

The conservative pundit began to fire off angry tweets about the carrier this past weekend after she was asked to move from a pre-selected seat with extra leg room on a Delta flight from New York to West Palm Beach, Florida. Delta (DAL) said Sunday it would refund Coulter $30 for the preferred seat she purchased, but criticized her "derogatory and slanderous comments" as "unnecessary and unacceptable."

So, can an airline really just move you out of a seat that you booked and paid for?

Long story short: They sure can.
Contracts of carriage are so biased towards airlines; if they made more use of the power they're granted, people might just rebel enough to get the rules changed.  Maybe.  But why are they given such overarching power anyway?  They're given this power by government--why do we allow it?

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Wrong Starting Point For Discussion

I doubt there's a person involved in education who hasn't heard that "students (or parents) are our customers", and thus we have to satisfy or accommodate their whims.  I'm glad not everyone feels that way!
HARVARD LAW STUDENTS COMPLAIN THAT HARVARD LAW FACULTY HAVE TOO MUCH INFLUENCE ON HARVARD LAW SCHOOL. As one of my lawprofs at Yale said, students aren’t the consumers of legal education, they’re its product — and nobody asks a Buick on the assembly line whether it wants to have AC installed.  link
This is true in K-12 education as well.

Lack of Discipline

This morning's weight:  198.4

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Reward

For years, whenever my son and I would go into a Brookstone store, we'd try out the massage chairs.  I mean, who wouldn't?  And they always felt so good.  And for the last couple years I promised myself one when I finished my graduate degree.

Today, after driving for Uber for a couple hours, I decided to pop into Costco.  And what did I see there?  A display of massage chairs!

They had three different models; I slid into the least expensive one.  After about 5 minutes in it I decided that I didn't want to spend that much money on that particular chair.  It wasn't...awesome.

So I tried out the mid-priced model.  I really liked this one.  The salesman trickled information to me, but that cost.... I asked, "what about the floor model?"  When he said he didn't have one I replied that I was in one!  He couldn't sell me that one, about a brown one (the one I was in was black) that had previously been a model?  Well, brown works better for me, and the price was reasonable.

So I bought it.  It'll be delivered in a couple weeks.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Asserting the Superiority of Western Values

Lefties squealed in mock horror when President Trump asserted the superiority of Western values in Poland.  Here's a(n awesome) defense of such values from 2007:

Friday, July 14, 2017

I Know You Are But What Am I

They are so busy calling everyone else a racist that they don't see that they themselves are the racists:
The Board of Trustees of Evergreen State College met on campus Wednesday and held a listening session for anyone who wanted to come before them and offer their perspective. Speakers were clearly divided between those who supported President George Bridges and those who felt the campus was out of control. Speaking from the latter perspective was a current Evergreen student named MacKenzie.

“If you offer any sort of alternative viewpoint, which I do have, and you’re kind of the enemy,” MacKenzie said. She continued, “I don’t agree with the behavior that has been shown on the campus and unlike what Anne Fischel [a previous speaker] has said, I think it’s important to focus on the way this was handled.”

“This behavior has actually been encouraged and because of this I feel like people are becoming more violent and the campus is becoming more of an unsafe place,” she said. “I have been to several meetings to speak. I’ve been told several times that I’m not allowed to speak because I’m white,” she said.

“This school seems to focus so much on race that it is actually becoming more racist in a different sort of way. And because I say that—because I choose not to focus on race I have actually been labeled a racist and a white supremacist. If anyone took the time to actually know me, it’s not true at all.”
Just in case you missed it above:
This school seems to focus so much on race that it is actually becoming more racist....
I'm reminded of Chief Justice Roberts' words from a Supreme Court case involving assigning students to schools based on race:
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

It's A Drip Now, May It Turn Into A Flood

More and more lawsuits are being filed, and schools are losing.  The absolutely un-American star chambers that some men have had to endure in college simply because they're men, encouraged by the Obama Education Department and their "Dear Colleague" letter, must burn:
Columbia and Paul Nungesser, CC ’15, have agreed to settle a lawsuit that he filed against the University in 2015.

Nungesser was at the center of a gender-based misconduct investigation after Emma Sulkowicz, CC ’15, accused him of assault in 2012. He was later found not guilty by a University investigation.

Sulkowicz protested that finding in her senior art thesis, “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),” in which she carried a mattress with her at all times in a critique of the University’s decision not to discipline Nungesser. The thesis made national headlines, and Sulkowicz spearheaded a national student-led push for a reformed gender-based misconduct process.

Nungesser’s suit charged that the University failed to protect him from—and even encouraged—sustained protest by Sulkowicz, which Nungesser initially argued was a violation of Title IX.

The University announced that it had settled the suit—for which Nungesser submitted a new complaint after his initial one was dismissed last year—in a conciliatory statement sent to Spectator Thursday.

The statement reaffirmed that Columbia’s investigation had found Nungesser not responsible and expressed regret that his time after the investigation was “very difficult for him and not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience.”
I hope he got a mattress full of money.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Planning For A New Course

After adopting the California version of the Common Core standards, my district foisted integrated math on us.  Instead of Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Trig/Pre-calc, we have Integrated Math 1, Integrated Math 2, Integrated Math 3, and Trig/Pre-calc.  (And it's not really integrated, it's hodge-podge, but that's a different complaint.  And it makes as much sense as teaching "integrated science" or "integrated foreign language".)  And since we don't want students to accelerate much--the argument is to ensure they take their time and master the material, as if we don't have students smart and capable enough to master and accelerate--you can see that AP Calculus isn't in the cards.

So what do we do?  We let kids accelerate, but only a little.  We've created IM 2+ and IM 3+ (now Honors Integrated Math 3), and those lead directly to calculus by bypassing Pre-calculus/trig.  And freshmen can start as advanced as IM 2+, so there remains a (narrow) road to AP Calculus BC.

This coming school year is the first at which my school will offer IM 3 and HIM 3, and my department co-chair and I will be teaching HIM3 for this inaugural year.  He's attended at least one district-level planning meeting for the course and had mapped out a pacing guide for the first semester; we met at his house today to do the same for the 2nd semester, as it's been awhile since he's taught that specific material and needed my input on planning.

We looked at the standards.  One thing I despise about the Common Core Math Standards is that they're not clear.  California's 1997 standards were crystal clear, there was no doubt what was expected.  These new standards seems to need other documents to explain what is meant by the standards.  I'll say it for the zillionth time, if you have to "interpret" what the standards mean, then they aren't clear enough to be standard.

So we worked together for a legitimate four hours today, mapping out the second semester.  What I don't like is that we have to not teach some very interesting things in order to cover only what is needed to prepare students for AP Calculus.  That bothers me, as there are many important topics that don't necessarily lead directly to calculus.  Searching for an analogy, I come up with a military one:  we're building a tank, but with very thin armor.  Sure, it has uses, but is it the best tank you can have?

And all of this is caused by our district's refusal to let students accelerate even if they're ready to.  And on top of that, our district is going to add a third year of math to our graduation requirements.

Math education in my district is fast becoming what is known as a disaster.

Update, 7/14/17:  Mine isn't the only school district that doesn't want students to learn too much:
When she completed sixth-grade math in a few months, she went ahead and did seventh-grade math, too. She asked to do the same in science. The school resisted at first, but eventually she was taking ninth-grade science as a sixth grader. She is now five years ahead of her grade in math and three years ahead in science. Her school also let her take an entrepreneurship course full of 11th- and 12th-graders at the district’s Career Institute.

Now, in seventh grade, she has been made to pay for the crime of getting too far ahead of her classmates. Almost everyone in her middle school takes six courses. This school year she was only allowed to take five.

“They refused to allow my daughter to take her second-year Spanish foreign-language class — a subject she adored and a fun break in her day, while we had a joy of speaking this at home — and instead make her sit in the library for one hour doing homework,” Gupta said.
Why don't we want students to learn?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Silver Lining's Dark Cloud

When it comes to smoking, liberals believe in economics--tax it more, you get less of it:
In the fall, California voters approved the biggest increase in cigarette taxes since the state first began levying tobacco in the 1950s. Advocates for Proposition 56, which passed with a fairly overwhelming 64 percent of the vote, argued that a $2 per-pack tax hike would hurt pocketbooks enough to nudge millions of California smokers to quit, or at least to light up less frequently.

When the tax went into effect in April, smokers saw the average cost of a pack of cigarettes soar from under $6 to up to $9, making California one of the most expensive states in which to buy cigarettes. But the question then: Was that enough to force smokers to kick an increasingly expensive habit?

The early data suggests that yes, California cigarette sales have declined significantly since prices went up. In fact, the drop is even sharper than the state anticipated...
For those of us who can't stand smoking, this must be a good thing, right? 

Well, liberals don't really study economics, and they don't think through the policies they propose.  Where do you think all that tax money from cigarettes goes?  Why, it's sold to the public to fund programs that people like!  So what happens to those programs when the tax money dries up? 
But what’s beneficial for public health isn’t necessarily good for the state budget, at least in the near term.

Proposition 56 was supposed to generate an additional $1.3 billion in revenue for the state to shore up Medi-Cal, the state health insurance program for low-income Californians. In the two months since the tax has been in place, the state has raised a total of $182 million, below what Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration was expecting.

“Sales are still more sluggish than had been originally anticipated,” H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance, said via email. ”Given that we only have two months of data, it is too early to predict a trend. If the current trend holds, we would likely make a revision to our expected decline in consumption.”

How the new cigarette tax revenue would be spent became a hot-button issue in state budget negotiations last month. Ultimately, legislators and Brown agreed to divide the new revenue between increased payments to physicians and general Medi-Cal expenses.

Palmer said that if cigarette tax revenues continue to come in lower than anticipated, the administration would need to identify an alternative revenue source or propose cutbacks to Medi-Cal. 
Translation:  we'll just tax someone else to pay for Medi-Cal (socialism).

In earlier days this was called "killing the goose that laid the golden eggs."

After Milo and Ann, How Will UC Berkeley Respond?

From the SF Chronicle:
Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro — whose pro-Israel musings have pleased the right and angered the left has accepted an invitation to speak at UC Berkeley on Sept. 14, student groups announced Tuesday.
The key part of the article:
The Berkeley College Republicans and the conservative Young America’s Foundation — whose efforts to promote conservative speakers on campuses have accelerated since last year’s election of President Trump — have sued the University of California in federal court over Coulter’s canceled speech...

Shapiro and the Young America’s Foundation sued Cal State Los Angeles in 2016 when campus officials barred Shapiro from speaking on that campus. Shapiro and the group dropped the suit this year after California State University changed its policies to welcome a broader range of speakers.
It's pretty bad when you have to sue public universities in order to be allowed to speak at them.

Update, 7/20/17:  I say this for them, at least they're consistent:
On Wednesday, Young America’s Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans were told by the University of California, Berkeley administration that Berkeley would not facilitate an event by Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro on September 14 on campus. Instead, administrators have informed YAF and BCR that they are “unable to identify an available campus venue.” They have not provided a list of other events taking place on campus on that time and date that would prevent Shapiro from speaking.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Is There Any Room On That Coffin For One More Nail?

‘This is shameful’! The ACLU just destroyed ALL its remaining ‘civil liberties’ cred

As far as I'm concerned they lost credibility years ago, but in case there was some shred of resurrection....

When They Tell You By Not Telling You Because They Don't Want To Tell You What You Probably Don't Need To Be Told

I received permission to screenshot this and post it here:

 click to enlarge

I'm reminded of a great line (which I'll paraphrase) from every math teacher's favorite movie, Stand and Deliver: "There are two kinds of racism, Mr. Escalante--singling people out because of their race, and not singling people out because of their race."  The line was spoken by Pearson, played by Rif Hutton.

Politically-driven Suppression of News

Just a reminder from 2014:
In unprecedented criticism of the White House, 38 journalism groups have assailed the president's team for censoring media coverage, limiting access to top officials and overall “politically-driven suppression of the news.”

In a letter to President Obama, the 38, led by the Society of Professional Journalists, said efforts by government officials to stifle or block coverage has grown for years and reached a high-point under his administration despite Obama's 2008 campaign promise to provide transparency.

Worse, they said: As access for reporters has been cut off, the administration has opened the door to lobbyists, special interests and “people with money.”
This was also an administration that spied on journalists (e.g., James Rosen, Sharyl Attkisson, and 20 reporters from the Associated Press).  Just sayin'.

Watering Down

International baccalaureate programs are supposed to be a gold standard:
One of the most unusual courses in high school these days is TOK, the initialism for Theory of Knowledge, part of the International Baccalaureate program. Most Americans have never heard of it.

It is a course on critical thinking and how we know what we claim to know. It demands a lot of writing and thus, by the standard teenager definition, is not easy. But most of the IB teachers I have encountered, and many of their students, call it special and deep, a distinctive element of a program now offered in nearly 900 U.S. high schools.

Jeremy Noonan felt that way when he was a science teacher in Douglas County, Ga. He taught Theory of Knowledge for four years, with increasingly good results.

But his is a story of TOK going wrong, something I had not encountered before. When many students began to complain that it was too difficult, Noonan said his principal asked him to make it easier.

Noonan said he learned later this was so that enrollment in IB — a major selling point for the school — would not decline...

Even a sophisticated course such as TOK can be damaged if a school does not guard against softening demands. Noonan said he did not expect TOK to take much time outside of class compared with the main IB courses, but to “get an A in the course, students had to be making progress and perform at an excellent level"...

When he resisted diluting the course, Noonan said, he was reassigned in 2015 to non-IB science courses. His replacement in Theory of Knowledge, according to Noonan, had no IB teaching experience. Noonan said some students told him that TOK had become “the course where you go to catch up on work from your other classes.”

Noonan had assigned several graded essays each year. He said the new teacher assigned none. Noonan said his principal told him that at a regional meeting of IB principals, it was agreed that TOK should be easy and not treated as a serious course.
I have my own stories about watered down courses.  Perhaps I'll share them some time.

SF Drowning in Debt

As Margaret Thatcher said, the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money:

San Francisco has a staggering $5.8 billion pension liability, and a series of retroactive benefit increases approved by voters over a dozen years is largely to blame, according to a recently released civil grand jury report.

That generosity is contributing to an eye-popping increase in the public payroll. The grand jury found that the cost of city salaries and benefits, which include pensions, has grown by 33 percent over the past decade — and it’s expected to keep up that pace for at least five more years. That will add another $698 million to the public tab.

And while these estimates come right out of the city’s budget forecasts, said grand jury member Christopher Bacon, “it’s a bigger problem than I think the city has wanted to face.”

According to veteran City Hall watcher and Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jim Lazarus, the mounting retirement expenses “for the foreseeable future (will) require a substantial general fund payment into the pension system.”

That, in turn, could force the city to cut services, and it may “affect the number of employees ... and the wage and benefit packages (the city) can afford,” Lazarus said.
Nonsense.  They can pay for it all with unicorn farts.

When Congresspeople Contribute To A Lack of The Diversity They Supposedly Champion

News from my alma mater:
West Point’s commitment to strengthening the diversity and character of the student body was demonstrated throughout Monday’s Board of Visitor’s session held at the US Military Academy.

Director of Admissions Col. Deborah McDonald pointed out that the academy’s Class of 2021 had the highest percentage and number of female cadets as well as African American/black cadets in history.

“It has been a phenomenal year,” she said of the surge of diversity in the student body.

Still, problems exist with the recruitment process. With high schools across the U.S. producing 81,000 fewer graduates in 2016 than in the previous year, it has been “a close knife fight” for the USMA when it comes to attracting high school students, according to McDonald.

A map presented to the board indicated that Members of Congress are nominating fewer students as candidates for the academy, and the lowest concentration of nominees lies around districts in major U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18), a member of the Board of Visitors, made note of this, and also pointed out that districts led by Hispanic members have almost no nominees. Womack stated that he intends to speak to Representative Jose Serrano (NY-15) about this issue.

Yesterday's Weight


Monday, July 10, 2017

Tech Help

I've been a reader of Joanne Jacobs' education-related blog for years now, but all of a sudden I get the following error when visiting her site:

You don't have permission to access / on this server.

Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
I get this error whether using Firefox or Internet Explorer.

I contacted Joanne to ask if there's some problem on her end.  She did some checking and doesn't think so.

I've cleared my browser cache and deleted all cookies in the folder in my browser listing of cookies, but to no avail.

Does anyone have any other ideas?

American Exceptionalism

This is true:
Let me throw down this marker: The West is superior to the rest of the world in every significant way, we should aggressively back our allies over our enemies, and the guiding principle of our foreign policy should always be America’s interests. No apologies. No equivocation. No doubt.

What are your questions?

Well, if you're a normal American, you won't have any questions - these truths are self-evident. But if you're a progressive, you're gonna have a little sissy snit fit like so many libs did in the wake of the President’s triumphant Warsaw speech. There’s one thing that always sets them off - uttering the truth/heresy that not only is Western civilization the best and most advanced culture in the history of humanity, but the United States of America is its greatest manifestation.

The immigrants and refugees get it. Which way are they always headed? North, to the comparative paradise of the Western world, or south, to the hellscape of the Third World? That's a gimme. They are never headed south, and everyone knows it. Yet the left still insists that we stop believing our lying eyes and start believing the liberal Fifth Column of multicultural liars infesting America’s alleged elite.

Except our eyes aren’t lying, and now we have a President who won’t lie either. It makes them nuts.
American exceptionalism is not a given, though.  It must be worked for and nurtured.  It's taken a hit because of liberals, especially the anti-free speech crowd in our universities and greater culture.  It's taken a hit by the socialists, who want to replace the so-called Protestant work ethic with sloth, envy, and greed.
Do not take our freedoms or our prosperity for granted.  They are not a given. I'm glad to have a President who values the ideals that have made America exceptional.

As The Democrats Continue To Make Stuff Up About Trump/Russia...

Remember Secretary of State Clinton's "reset button" of 2009?
Russian media have been poking fun at the US secretary of state over a translation error on a gift she presented to her Russian counterpart.
Hillary Clinton gave Sergei Lavrov a mock "reset" button, symbolising US hopes to mend frayed ties with Moscow.

But he said the word the Americans chose, "peregruzka", meant "overloaded" or "overcharged", rather than "reset".

Daily newspaper Kommersant declared on its front page: "Sergei Lavrov and Hillary Clinton push the wrong button."

Relations between Washington and Moscow have cooled in recent years over Russia's role in the war in Georgia, US support for the entry of Georgia and Ukraine to Nato, and the planned US missile shield based in central Europe. 
During the 2012 election, President Obama essentially gave central Europe to the Russians in true Munich 1938 style.  Peace in our time-ski.

During that same election, Obama's trademark arrogant attitude was on display again, on the side of the Russians:

I'm tired of hearing the Democrats talk about Russia.  They need to shut up and go drink their Slurpees while the adults clean up their messes and pull their car out of the ditch.

Sunday, July 09, 2017


This seems so obvious to me that I'm surprised it came from the BBC:
In a paper published in April in the journal Nature Human Behaviour called ‘Why people prefer unequal societies’, a team of researchers from Yale University argue that humans – even as young children and babies – actually prefer living in a world in which inequality exists. It sounds counter-intuitive, so why would that be? Because if people find themselves in a situation where everyone is equal, studies suggest that many become angry or bitter if people who work hard aren’t rewarded, or if slackers are over-rewarded...

“We argue that the public perception of wealth inequality itself being aversive to most people is incorrect, and that instead, what people are truly concerned about is unfairness,” says Christina Starmans, a psychology post-doc at Yale who worked on the paper.

“In the present-day US, and much of the world, these two issues are confounded, because there is so much inequality that the assumption is that it must be unfair. But this has led to an incorrect focus on wealth inequality itself as the problem that needs addressing, rather than the more central issue of fairness.”

Starman’s co-author Mark Sheskin, a cognitive science post-doc at Yale, puts the findings of this research succinctly: “People typically prefer fair inequality to unfair equality”.  (Boldface mine--Darren)
This comports entirely with common sense, and also explains why socialism/communism doesn't work.
The reason this matters is that trying to create a world with no wealth disparity is at odds with people’s perception of fairness, and that could potentially lead to instability. A society where no poverty exists sounds rather utopian, but if that society is equal-but-unfair then it risks collapsing, argues Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University.
You socialists--you don't want to deny science, do you?

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Clamping Down On Student Press You Don't Like

It's one thing for President Trump to attack the press that is so unfairly aligned against him, it's another thing altogether to try to stop the ideas in the press from being distributed--especially if the press in question is a student newspaper, and especially if that student newspaper is in California, which has very strong student press freedoms:
Employees from Chico State’s Student Health Center may have violated state law last semester when they removed all copies of the student newspaper after it published an article they deemed offensive, according to internal email correspondence reviewed exclusively by Heat Street.

The op-ed, written by student reporter Roberto Fonseca and published by The Orion in May, criticized Chico State’s Gender and Sexuality Equity Center. Fonseco also challenged the existence of rape culture, systemic racism, and non-binary gender identities.

California law prohibits “the unauthorized taking of multiple copies of free newspapers,” especially “done… to deprive others of the opportunity to read them.” Such behavior “injures the rights of readers, writers, publishers, and advertisers, and impoverishes the marketplace of ideas in California,” state statute says.

But the day after Fonseca’s article ran, the Student Health Center’s nursing supervisor, Jill Cannaday, informed the Student Health Center staff that she and Dr. Deborah Stewart, the medical chief of staff, had removed all copies of the Orion from their lobby “for fear their articles may trigger a patient waiting in our reception area.”

Cannaday specifically referenced “the awful op-ed piece” about the Gender and Sexual Equity Center, which she said “involved negative stereotypes about gender and culture.”
I wonder how long it will be before taxpayers get tired of funding such tyrants, and paying off such lawsuits.
At least two other Chico State employees applauded this possible illegal removal of newspapers.

“Thank you for this. I appreciate it,” wrote Melissa Hormann, a nurse in the Student Health Center.

“OMG. This is amazing. I love you. You’re the best. THANK YOU!!!” wrote Lindsay Briggs, an assistant professor in the Health and Community Services Department. As Heat Street reported last month, Briggs also publicly denounced the student reporter on Facebook, calling him “a repugnant student” and a “sh*tty student,” also writing, “F*ck you Roberto Fonseca.”
Kinda hard to defend that, no?
Email correspondence from Chico State’s Journalism and Public Relations Department also showed concerns that the university would not protect free speech.

“Various faculty are labeling Roberto’s column as hate speech,” Wiesenger wrote. “Two faculty members I spoke with—both of whom claim close ties to the president—said they do not support the First Amendment, don’t support unfettered free speech on campus and are questioning the need for an independent, student-run newspaper on campus. … The university’s Public Affairs Office, led by one of our news alumni, is (and has been) openly criticizing The Orion and has the ear of the administration.”
I can't see that Chico State has a leg to stand on.

Free Speech on Campus

Jonathan Haidt talks about political correctness and the snowflakes of our time, how it came to be, what it has brought and what it may bring.

Haidt's comments from 8:19-9:30 are so important and so correct.  And for those of you for whom this is important, Haidt is a self-identified leftie!  In his book The Righteous Mind he talks about that, talks about his being a speechwriter for John Kerry, etc.

"That's a slur, not an argument."  Brilliant.

Friday, July 07, 2017


As I've been driving for Uber for just over a week, I didn't know things were bad enough such that changes needed to be made:
Ridesharing service Uber introduced a new wait time fee and a shortened cancellation window in an email sent by the service Wednesday evening.

The wait time fee will compensate drivers for time spent waiting for their passengers once they have arrived at a pickup location. Two minutes after a driver arrives, the charge will begin. A note will appear in the rider's Uber app.

The new wait time fee will be per-minute based and will vary based on your vehicle option and city, according to Uber.

"Many drivers have told us that some of our support policies feel stacked against them and seem to put riders’ interests above theirs," an Uber news release reads.
I've been kept waiting--the only ride I've canceled was for a passenger who not only didn't show up, but didn't respond to my text messages, either.  That passenger was charged $5 by Uber, of which I got $3.75.

Are you considering using Uber?  (I probably won't drive myself to the airport and park in the economy lot ever again!  Uber is so convenient to/from the airport.)  Let me share some tips that will make things easier for both you and your driver:
  • If you're at a house, please ensure the address can be easily seen, especially at night.  If not, then when you see on the app that your driver is about 1 minute away, please step outside.  Looking for addresses on dark houses at night--no muy bueno!
  • If you're at a business, please identify the business by name--every business in that shopping center is at 123 Main Street, and it's a big shopping center!  If you're not able to do that, then as soon as you're told your driver is on the way, please send a text like "I'm at the Trader Joe's".
  • If you're at a mall, please identify which mall entrance you're waiting at!  "The main one" isn't much of a help, as many malls have many entrances, none of which is a "main one".
  • Similarly, if you're in an apartment or similar complex, be very clear where you'd like me to meet you.
  • If you know a better way to get where you're going than what my GPS is telling me, please share it with me!  I want to get you to your destination as efficiently as possible.
So those are a few suggestions I have. Here are a few of my pet peeves.
  • Please don't smoke just before you get in my car.  Ew.  Just ew.  I Febreze the seats each day before I leave home, but still, my next passenger...
  • Yes, we're adults, but I don't want to hear f***ing this or a-hole that, whether you're talking to me, your fellow passenger, or someone on your phone.
  • Please don't think you're going to eat in my car.
  • I'll ask if you'd like the a/c on or the windows open, or if the radio is too loud (it's barely audible, but you might not like my music).  Please don't ask me to turn the radio to your favorite station.  Some Uber drivers might be OK with that, I think it's a bit presumptuous and rude.  Hey Macy's, please turn off that elevator music and crank up some headbanging heavy metal or misogynistic rap--no, not gonna happen. 
Some observations I've made in my week-plus of driving:
  • Most people are genuinely nice and friendly.
  • I can't believe how many people commute via Uber to fast food jobs.
  • I enjoy driving around much more than I thought I would.
  • I'm learning about parts of the greater Sacramento area that I've never even been to before.
  • You meet all kinds of people when you drive for Uber, most of them kind and decent.
  • I can charge your Android phone while we drive, but I need to get a USB-to-Lightning cord for all the iPhone users.
Update, 7/9/16: Picked up a lightning charging cable yesterday.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

"Republicans Buy Shoes, Too"

While Michael Jordan's titular quote may or may not be real, it's still a smart quote.  It gets to the heart of business--don't tick off your customers or they'll go somewhere else.  Perhaps the administrators at our nation's universities are now learning that lesson, albeit a bit too late and to the detriment of their schools:
The reality, the counselor said, is that while the dislike of Yale surprised her, there are other colleges that parents are vetoing. "Many won't consider Oberlin or Wesleyan, and Brown is completely off the table," she said.

At some level, such antipathy toward those and other colleges isn't surprising. Their students are liberal, and conservative publications love to write articles with headlines like "Oberlin Is an Insane Asylum." And those articles attract more attention than articles in conservative publications in which, for example, a conservative student at Brown urges people not to stereotype his institution and praises the way the administration handled a disruption of a speaker by liberal students.

Another counselor said that she had several students and parents -- liberals -- who said that they didn't want to consider colleges that have been in the news for incidents in which some groups were seen as taking positions against free speech.

Yet another counselor, this one based in New York City and serving families who are generally liberal, said she too is hearing more parents ask about colleges' political reputations, only sometimes based on real information.
This article, which slanted left, didn't even mention the University of Missouri, which experienced dramatic drops in applications after their 2016 drama:
Fewer freshmen are applying to the University of Missouri for fall enrollment than a year earlier, and race protests that put the Columbia campus under a national spotlight contributed to the drop, according to an internal email from MU’s director of enrollment.
Don't badmouth people if you want them to buy your shoes.

Update, 7/11/17:  They chose...poorly:
After it was reported at the end of June that the University of Missouri, crippled by a plunge in enrollment after its debacle over charges of racism in 2015, was attempting to recoup its losses by  renting dorm rooms to football weekend visitors, there is now this: The New York Times reports that the university is temporarily closing seven dormitories and cutting over 400 positions, including those of some non-tenured faculty members.

You might expect that the decline in enrollment occurred primarily among whites, after the flimsily-supported racism charges of 2015 resulted in the resignation of the university’s president; The Daily Wire reported, “Many parents and alumni responded by refusing to contribute money to the public university. For example, donations to its athletics department dropped 72% last year.”

But here’s the big surprise: as the Times notes: “Students of all races have shunned Missouri, but the drop in freshman enrollment last fall was strikingly higher among blacks, at 42%, than among whites, at 21%.”

So-called Rote Memorization In Math

It used to be fashionable in some math circles to believe that students don't need to memorize anything.  They can look it up!  Anyone with more than two operational brain cells can tell you that that's a ridiculous idea, but some people still cling to it.  Here's one less reason to cling:
Between 1995 and 2010, most U.S. states adopted K–12 math standards which discouraged memorization of math facts and procedures.  Since 2010, most states have revised standards to align with the K–12 Common Core Mathematics Standards (CCMS).  The CCMS do not ask students to memorize facts and procedures for some key topics and delay work with memorized fundamentals in others. 
Recent research in cognitive science has found that the brain has only minimal ability to reason with knowledge that has not previously been well-memorized.  This science predicts that students taught under math standards that discouraged initial memorization for math topics will have significant difficulty solving numeric problems in mathematics, science, and engineering.  As one test of this prediction, in a recent OECD assessment of numeracy skills among 22 developed-world nations, U.S. 16–24 year olds ranked dead last.  Discussion will include steps that can be taken to align K–12 state standards with practices supported by cognitive research.

How Army Football Is Different From Other Football Programs

When Army's (that is, West Point's) football team is on the field, they're different from the players on the other side of the ball in at least one important respect:
Last Friday, word came that an Army football player from the West Point class of 2010, 1st Lt. Stephen “Chase” Prasnicki, age 24, had died two days earlier, serving in Afghanistan.   

I first read the news on Facebook, in Army QB Trent Steelman's post about his former teammate from the 2009 season: "Thank you for paying the ultimate sacrifice brother. RIP Pras.” 

Along with the respectful words of condolence was a collage of photos: #17 in a Black Knight football uniform, the soldier in camouflage uniform, a bride and her husband in dress blues. 

Army Times reported, “Two soldiers who were killed in an improvised explosive device blast earlier this week in Afghanistan were identified”, adding, “they died Wednesday in Maidan Shahr, Wardak province, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device.”
Rest in peace, indeed.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

How I Spent My Day

A friend and I took a day trip to San Francisco today.  She has the selfies on her phone, here are a few pictures I took:

click to enlarge pictures
An adult with baby turkeys in my neighborhood as I was heading out this morning

Looking from Fort Point, directly under the Golden Gate Bridge, towards the City before the fog burned off

A container ship coming into the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge


The Transamerica building

A very steep street

Levi's Plaza

 Pier 39

View from Pier 39

As you can see, it was a beautiful day once the fog wore off.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The Things We Do For Our Dogs

I'd love to be outside setting off fireworks, but "safe and sane" fireworks are bad enough for my dog, and it seems everyone and his brother has illegal-in-California fireworks and is setting them off. The explosions send my dog into fits.

So as I've done for the past many years, he and I are inside, with the air conditioner on, watching tv with the volume turned up. At around midnight I should be able to safely let him outside.

The Problem Has Been Correctly Identified, But The Cause Has Not

The City University of New York is offering a math course targeting SJWs.
“Quantitative Reasoning (QR)/Quantitative Literacy (QL) skills are essential for social justice,” Professor Esther Isabelle Wilder writes in the description for an online “Numeracy Infusion Course for Higher Education” (NICHE)...

According to Wilder, disparities in mathematical literacy are “linked to inequalities in our educational system,” and serve to “perpetuate socioeconomic disadvantages among minority and vulnerable populations,” something she said she has observed among her own students.
While I applaud the study of mathematics, I lament its targeted use in such a way.  As I wrote several years ago:
I assert here that a math class is not the place for social science. Math is a "hard science"--that is, it's replicable and predictive. I know that every time I add 3 + 4 the answer is going to be 7, no matter what. Social science is a "soft science"--different people, in different conditions, will act in different ways. Three plus four will always be seven. This attempt to politicize the math classroom, and to politicize with an unambiguous leftward bias, is another in a long string of attempts to water down the math curriculum so that "every student can succeed." What it really does is ensure that no student succeeds because no one learns any real math! The left doesn't believe in absolutes, it doesn't believe in standards, it doesn't believe in individuality. No one is better than anyone else, no one is more capable, we're all one big mass. This is why the left preaches about "group" identities (racial, ethnic, sexual orientation) while the right preaches about individuals. The left thinks we're all equal--hence the union mentality--the right says we all have an equal opportunity to pursue our potential. This is yet another big difference.

Social science should not be injected into a math curriculum. Rather, math (as a hard science) should be injected into the social science curriculum (a soft science)--that would truly be teaching "across the curriculum". Don't bring your politics into math; rather, use math to justify (or disprove) your politics.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The problem has been correctly identified, but the cause and solutions promoted by lefties could not be more incorrect.

Monday, July 03, 2017

A Valuable Use For Math

The perfect behind? It's all in the figures: Scientists find mathematical formula for a flawless bottom

  • Scientists say they have a mathematical formula for the best female bottoms
  • They say it all hinges on a number, the ratio between the waist and the hips
  • Perfect behind expressed scientifically has a ratio of 0.7-the same as many stars
  • Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor all obtained a perfect scored
As I said, a valuable use for math.  Now let's not be sexist, the other half of the population needs their butt-numbers calculated!


200.6 lbs.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

This Isn't Very Common Core-icle

When does a "black box" number/algorithm get the nod over deeper understanding?  Almost never, but sometimes:
I’m still wary of equipping students with black boxes, but these days I’m willing to do it, so long as three conditions are met. I hesitate to share this crude checklist, knowing my colleagues out there in the profession will have wiser ways to frame the tradeoffs. (After all, aren’t checklists too binary, too black-and-white, for an idea as elusive and shaded as “understanding”?)

Nevertheless, my checklist goes something like this....

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Star Chambers

It amazes me that anyone could think that hounding men out of college without real due process was ever a good idea, but the last Administration made it policy:
For years, college campuses across the country have been conducting witch hunts to expel or punish men accused of sexual assault. Those may soon be coming to an end, thanks to the Trump administration.

Colleges and universities have conducted these witch hunts at the order of the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which during the Obama administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter and additional guidance that all but assured students accused of sexual assault would not get a fair hearing.

These campus star chambers, conducted behind closed doors and hidden by federal privacy laws, have resulted in an unknown number of expulsions. More than 100 of these punished students have sued or are now suing their universities for violating their due process rights and discriminating against them because of their sex.
I hope every one of those lawsuits succeeds.

As a taxpayer who supports 3 different state university/college systems, I would like our institutions of higher education to focus on teaching and not on adjudicating crimes.  Leave crimes to law enforcement and the courts.