Thursday, April 19, 2018

California Government Wants All Businesses To Leave The State

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since before I was born. It benefits certain people, though, to repeat the so-called statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. What does that statistic even mean? How was it determined? Can anyone tell me?

No, of course they can't. And they don't want to, because that would shoot their entire narrative. And with lefties, it's all about the narrative.

So, we have a national law that's been on the books for over half a century, but California decides it's going to up the ante a bit:
A bill introduced this week in California (where else?) would force businesses to submit payroll data to the state, so it can police whether or not men and women receive equal pay.

It would be yet another absurd regulatory burden and massive bureaucracy expansion in a state already hampered by both.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced the bill before a Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Jackson said, "Women are in the workforce primarily because they need to be and it’s important that women are paid equally."

She added, "It’s an enormous problem."

It's not. The wage gap is a myth that does not account for differences in job selections, work hours, the danger of the job, or anything else. Women tend to make less money than men because a work/life home balance is more important to women than men. Men are more likely to think it perfectly fine to work 60 hours per week than a woman, especially one with a family. Further, men tend to select higher-paying job fields than women. This alone accounts for much of the gap.
Read the whole thing, and marvel that this state still functions at all with such idiots in charge.

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Too many of today's university student protesters are not brave civil rights warriors, they're pathetic children who aren't even smart enough to think their actions through.  University administrators, rather than giving in to the entitled little brats, need to demonstrate exactly who is in charge of the university (this assumes, of course, that the administration isn't completely happy with the social justice warriors and their tantrums).  New York University shows one such way to out today's Freedom Riders as the Freedom Hiders cowards they truly are:
At NYU, administrators threatened the protesters’ financial aid, and the woke warriors went back to their rooms.

Spare a thought for those knights of social justice, the student protesters. Motivated by the yearning for a better world, they sacrifice their time and energy in service to their ideals. They display courage, stamina, determination, and creativity in coming up with rhymes in their chants.

Except if you tell them they’re jeopardizing their financial aid or their housing. Then they fold immediately...

NYU administrators showed little patience for the activists disrupting the proceedings at the Kimmel Center for University Life. But how to dissolve the protest? It turned out that there was no need to bring in the police. Ringing up the students’ parents was all it took. The phone calls advised parents that students who interfered with campus functions could be suspended, and that suspensions can carry penalties of revoked financial aid or housing. The students “initially planned to stay indefinitely,” notes the Voice’s report. “Instead, the students departed within forty hours.”
The school called mommy and daddy, and the kiddies folded.  Classic.
 NYU shows us that it’s possible to maintain order on campus, even in the face of the strenuously aggrieved, with a tactic as simple as a phone call. If it disabused the protesters of any notion that the world must stop and listen to them any time they’re feeling feverish with injustice, it did them a favor. Undergraduates often joke about how ill-prepared they are for life after graduation, “out there in the real world.” Colleges and universities should seize the opportunity to teach the real-world fact that being woke is not a license to interfere with other people’s business.
Hear hear.

One Of The Benefits Of Living In A Federal Republic

This post will make much more sense if you first read this one from a couple weeks ago.

So, from that post you can see that the government here in The Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia is trying to "protect" me from the ills of mismarked Everclear.  It's bad enough that I couldn't get 190 proof Everclear in the past, only 151 proof--but now I can't get any, all praise to my glorious benefactors downtown.

Not every state in this country is run by batcrap-insane liberals, though.  Some states trust their residents to behave like adults (and penalize them when they don't), and being over half-a-century old, I have friends all over the country.  When I got home from work today I noticed a package on my porch.  What's this, I wondered, as I haven't ordered anything from online recently.  When I saw the return address, I knew what it was.  And sure enough:
It's limoncello season once again :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Rest Of The Country Is Tired Of Subsidizing California's High Taxes

Until recently, California could get away with ridiculously high state and local taxes in part because those taxes could be claimed as a deduction on federal income taxes.  As a result, while Sacramento got to keep the money raised by those taxes, Washington didn't get as much money from California.  There's an argument to be made that the rest of the country was thereby subsidizing California's high taxes.

I'm not saying that the Republican Congress and Republican President intended to shaft California specifically, but honestly, could you blame them if they did?  Regarding the tax reform bill signed into law in December, here's the keening from The People's Republic of Kalifornia, Ignorer Of Federal Law and everyone's favorite Sanctuary State, where illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens do:
President Donald Trump’s tax cuts will be anything but for about 1 million California taxpayers who will owe Uncle Sam more money a year from now.

They’re the Californians who will lose a collective $12 billion because the new law caps a deduction they have been able to take for paying their state and local taxes, according to a new analysis by the Franchise Tax Board.

Very wealthy Californians earning more than $1 million a year will pay the lion’s share of that money, with 43,000 of them paying a combined $9 billion.

But some middle-class Californians will pay more, too.

About 751,000 households with incomes under $250,000 probably will owe more tax. All together, they’ll owe an extra $1.1 billion...

He (Governor Moonbeam) also said in January that he’s worried that the changes will provide an incentive for wealthy Californians to leave the state, potentially starving the state of tax revenue. The state’s wealthiest 1 percent, for instance, pay about 48 percent of the state’s personal income tax.
What was it Margaret Thatcher said about socialism and running out of other people's money?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

System of Professional Growth

For some reason my district prides itself on its System of Professional Growth, which is a fancy term for my evaluation.  It's so complex that you don't just get evaluated; no, you have to attend 1- or 2-day training sessions in order to learn how to participate in your evaluation.

I got the email yesterday saying I have the pleasure of being evaluated next year. They graciously gave me many dates for training, all of which I’ll ignore because they're during the summer--and I don't plan to be home much this summer. Besides, if you need training in how to be evaluated, something is wrong with the evaluation system.

I have an idea. Why don’t they just make one of those stupid training videos for us to watch, like we have to for suicide prevention or web site accessibility or using hand sanitizer? Or, do we have to attend evaluation training in person, rather than online, because evaluations are so much more important than suicide prevention or web site accessibility for the deaf or blind?


Being A Teacher Is Getting Worse

Schools are a microcosm of the communities from which they draw their students.  Sadly, that's why we have this list of "10 things teachers did not have to deal with 10 years ago".  Here are the items:
  • The inability to punish students.  The author is as much a fan of so-called restorative justice as I am.
  • Cell phone addiction.
  • Online bullying.  Honestly, unless something happens at school, this is an area where I think schools should but out or, at the most, notify parents and let them take care of the out-of-school issue.
  • Pep rallies for standardized testing.
  • Constant student anxiety.  I've written before how ADD used to be the "gold standard" for getting special accommodations in school, now anxiety is.  
  • Fear of school shootings and lock-downs.  You're much more likely to get killed when you get in a car than you are at school--but the author seems resigned to the idea that this fear is justified anyway.
  • Heroin and opioid epidemics.
  • Politicized schools.
  • Era of "feelings" where students are never wrong--because they "feel" their grade is unfair, it is.  By definition.
  • Naked utilitarianism in education--schooling exists solely to prepare students for jobs or, in the case of many schools, college.  Anything besides going to college is failure.

California Students Score Among The Worst In The Nation

I guess all our “diversity” and “caring” and “compassion” aren’t translating into much academically.

Yes, someone has to be worst, but Liberal Utopia? Why is it that the most liberal places—I’m talking about you, San Francisco and Berkeley—have some of the worst outcomes?
California’s poor students performed worse on a national exam than needy kids from all but one other state, according to results released last week by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Congratulations, folks. We beat Alaska.

These students’ lackluster scores on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress come despite the state’s $31.2 billion investment in their learning under a new school funding method championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013.

Can Humans Melt the Antarctic Ice Cap?

If math is haaaaaard for you, maybe you don't want to read this:
When discussing climate with people who do not have technical backgrounds, I have learned much of the climate discussion is a foreign language to them.

Phrases like “Dalton minimum” or “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation” make their eyes glaze over. Once, after I explained what causes wind, the reply was, “my head hurts.” So, I no longer try to explain atmospheric science. Besides, I am an engineer, not a meteorologist. I have had better luck by sharing simple examples that let people reach conclusions on their own about human versus natural influence. Telling them I can show them the math if they want to see it adds credibility, because few, if any, alarmist publications intended for the general public include any math to support their claims. Describing the energies that drive weather, and therefore climate, is a good way to do this.

So, I take them through a few examples of how much energy is involved and how miniscule human activity is by comparison. Done properly, this lets a non-STEM person grasp the huge amounts of energy involved...

These types of examples are good for communicating with nontechnical people. They let people relate atmospheric physics to their own life experience and everyday understanding of the world in which they live — even if that understanding might be skewed or incomplete.
Then follows some math and science that most people should be able to follow.  Here's the conclusion:
I know, I know. This is a very simplistic analysis that ignores the complexities of actual heat transfer. But that’s the point; non-STEM people can follow it if they know a little math.

And yes, the alarmists would argue human emissions are indirectly causing heat to transfer to Antarctica, and this type of analysis is therefore irrelevant. So what? They must show how human emissions transfer that heat, and how much heat is being transferred.

My goal here is to show the enormous energy levels involved and how ridiculous it is to blame humans for any significant ice melt. That’s my hypothesis; let the alarmists come up with the null.
And they can start acting like they believe their own doomsday scenarios, too.  If they did that, at least I'd be able to have some respect for them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sacramento Supe Salaries

Want to make some good money?

Sacramento school superintendent salaries have exploded in recent years, growing to challenge the paychecks of university presidents.

Locally, superintendent salaries range from $240,000 for Sarah Koligian in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, which has 20,353 students, to $330,951 for Christopher Hoffman, who leads the region's largest school district, Elk Grove Unified, with 63,297 students, according to 2017-18 state enrollment figures.

Hoffman's pay is more than the salary of President Robert Nelsen of Sacramento State, who is paid $324,029. The California State University campus serves 29,000 students…

Being a Sacramento area superintendent can be lucrative:

Evans, who runs the smallest of the six districts, with 14,895 students, also earned a 6 percent bonus, or $17,580, in 2017, bringing his pay this school year to $311,184. He also is eligible for extra pay if he works more than his contracted 220 days…

Finkelstein said superintendents use comparisons with other districts to get bigger paychecks. "They are watching what their peers are making," he said. "Salaries are reported publicly all the time. They are saying, 'The person down the street is getting a $20,000 raise. I need a $20,000 raise.' "

He said there is no evidence to support the idea that school districts that offer higher pay get better results academically or otherwise…

We teachers are getting pay raises all the time, right? I mean, if that district down the street is getting a 4% pay raise this year, I need one, too, right?

Teachers in the Sacramento region have also seen boosts to their salaries in recent years, although the raises have been significantly less than those of superintendents. Teachers' salaries have grown from 9.5 percent to 16 percent in the last five years, depending on the district, on top of regular step increases.

I don’t think we’ve gotten 9.5% in my district in the past 5 years.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Don't Follow Your Passion

It seems that Mark Cuban and I agree on something, and for the same reason:
"One of the great lies of life is 'follow your passions,'" says Cuban as part of the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series. "Everybody tells you, 'Follow your passion, follow your passion.'"

Cuban says that's bad advice because you may not excel at what you are passionate about. 
This is why students should get as much education as they can, especially in K-12 where there's no out-of-pocket expense.

I wonder how many teachers, who often dish out this bad advice, planned on being teachers when they were in high school.  I certainly didn't.

Intentional Juxtaposition

Joanne has two juxtaposed posts over at her blog:

Gourmet food delivery goes to college


Hungry in college?

Yes, they can both be true, but it seems to me that if the latter is true, then people are making some seriously bad financial decisions--both about college and about food.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Lost In Space

The original series, which started the year I was born, was ultra cheesy.  And I don't just mean the non-existent special effects, either.  The stories were ultra cheesy.  And the Robinson family was right out of the 50s/early-60s, to the point where Mrs. Robinson was doing laundry in one of the early episodes!

The 1998 "reboot" movie?  It wasn't cheesy.  It was just bad.  Matt LeBlanc played Major West.  His acting was so terrible, all I could see was Joey (from Friends) playing Major West.  Until that time I had thought LeBlanc a great actor for playing Joey's goofiness and bad acting so well; turns out, that was just his own bad acting!

But enough about LeBlanc, what was with that Robot?  When the Battlestar Galactica reboot hit the screens in 1998, just about everything had been changed except the Vipers.  The writers knew that if people remembered (and liked) one thing from the original series, it was the Vipers, so they kept those the same.  And it worked.  What's the one thing everyone liked about the original Lost In Space?  Robot!  Even today, more than 50 years after the show premiered, people still joke about "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!"  So what did the writers of the 1998 movie do?  They completely changed Robot.  It wasn't even an endearing character anymore.  There was nothing endearing about that movie, it was a disaster.  Even Mimi Rogers, William Hurt, Gary Oldman, and cameos by June Lockhart, Angela Cartwright, and Mark Goddard couldn't save that pile of steaming poo.

All of which brings us to today.  Premiering on Netflix today is a new reboot of Lost In Space.  Irwin Allen was involved in the 1998 movie, and he's involved in the new series.  Robot is still different.  But I have hopes that this series will be a good one, at least based on the trailers that have been released.  If nothing else, it can only be better than the movie!

I'll review the first episode or two in an update.

Update, 8:47 pm:  I've watched the first episode.  Interesting story, totally unlike the original.  Only at the very end do we see (Parker Posey as) Dr. Smith, and she's clearly a "bad guy".  Robot--nothing like the original; in fact, we don't even know its origins. The Robinsons are a "modern" family, which means instead of nuclear family bliss we have dissension and strife.  We start to learn the backstory through flashbacks, and I'm sure one of these flashbacks will explain why all the Robinsons are white except Judy.  Also, the Jupiter 2 is a total loss, so it appears the Robinsons, rather than roaming the heavens, are marooned on a Cinderella world with earth-like gravity, air, and vegetation.

Bottom line:  this Lost In Space is nothing like what came before--unless you count the cameo by Billy Mumy!  Only the names are the same.  Still, I enjoyed the first episode once I could keep track of what was happening, and I'll keep watching.  If you're expecting a remake of the old Lost In Space, you won't be happy.  If you're willing to accept a new story of humans stranded on another world, this could be a wildly entertaining show.

Update #2, 4/14/18:  I've binge-watched most of the first season.  That should give you an indication of how much I like this show.

Your Feel-Good Story of the Week

Despite some of the idiot commenters, I find no one doing anything but good here:
First-ever homeless shelter Girl Scout troop sells 6,000 boxes of cookies, surpassing goal

Girl Scout Troop 6000 of New York City is celebrating an extra special cookie season this year. The region’s first homeless shelter- based troop has surpassed its goal of selling 6,000 boxes of the beloved treats in their inaugural year of cookie sales.

Troop 6000 is a Girl Scout troop specially designed to serve girls in the New York City shelter system.

“A lot of people ask us, what’s the difference between us and traditional troops, and there really isn’t a difference. They’re exactly the same, just that they don’t have a home,” troop leader Giselle Burgess told Fox 5...

Troop 6000’s cookies are available for purchase through their online page.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Next Stupid Idea Out Of California

Way back when, back when I was in the army--and this was pre-internet--there was a list floating around of statements supposedly made on British officer evaluation reports.  These were brutally honest, hilarious statements that might really have been written about certain officers, or perhaps they would in later days have been called "fake but accurate" or "fake news" or "urban legends".

I've never searched the internet to find out if they were real or not.  It doesn't matter to me one way or the other.

But one that I remember went something like this:  "This officer is so bad that soldiers would only follow him out of a sense of curiosity."

Sometimes I hear that if you want to know what America will be like in 20 years, watch what's happening in California today.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is what's going on in California today:
California needs a Secretary of Youth. The next governor should appoint one.

California’s next governor will have an opportunity to expand the state’s talent marketplace by making bold changes to education and workforce systems. That includes creating a cabinet-level position focused on expanding economic opportunities for youth across the state.
We have an entire Department of Education. We have an Employment Development Department. Let's create a 3rd agency that overlaps both of those!

If the rest of the country follows California, it can only be out of a sense of curiosity.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Finally, Information From Overseas

Every time I've heard about or read one of these studies about teenagers and later start times from schools, I always ask the same question: do other countries/cultures have the same problems American teens seem to, or is this an American issue?  Well, we now have information from one small-scale study done in Singapore, and the results mirror what we've been told about American teens:
A new study published by the Sleep Research Society found support for pushing back school start times, showing that a later start to the day led to more sleep and better mood in teenage girls. The research was conducted at an all-girls school in Singapore and focused on about 150 students in seventh through 10th grade (average age 14). The school delayed its start time by 45 minutes, changing from a 7:30 a.m. to an 8:15 a.m. beginning, and studied the effects on its students.

After one month, students reported about 23 more minutes in bed. In addition, the percentage of students who had at least eight hours in bed each night increased from 6.9 percent to 16.1 percent. The most significant finding, however, was the students’ self-reported improvement in mood. They reported less depression, less sleepiness and overall “feeling more refreshed” during the school day.

The benefits held up after nine months, according to the study, an encouraging finding because it implies that changing school start times can have a lasting effect. 
If school starts later, won't kids just go to bed later? 
Some have worried that delaying school start times could delay bedtimes, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of inadequate sleep. However, at nine months, researchers found that the participants were spending roughly the same amount of time in bed as they were at the one-month follow-up. 

Also at the nine-month follow-up, students had not just an increase in time spent “in bed,” but also an increase in time spent asleep.
I'd like to see this done on a bigger scale, but this is a good start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bird Of Prey

I was talking to a friend in the parking lot after work today, when the most beautiful hawk (?) flew by and landed in a nearby tree.  Black-and-white-striped feathers across its wings and tail, just beautiful.

If would stay in one tree for a few minutes, then fly to the next, wait a bit, then fly to the next.  We watched as the ground squirrels skitted around on the sidewalks, seemingly oblivious to its presence.  Whenever it landed in a nearby tree, it kept a close eye on those ground squirrels.

But never did it swoop in for dinner.  After 20 minutes or so, it flew off to the front of school.  And the squirrels seem never to have noticed.

This was as close as I could get, not wanting to spook it.

Miss America's Outstanding Teen To Attend West Point

This is good news:
Miss America's Outstanding Teen announces that its national titleholder, Jessica Baeder, has accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. "In joining the Long Gray Line, I am honored to continue the military legacy of my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, who all served in the military," says Baeder. "This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl."
Yes, she's attractive.  But check out the "fitness" picture (towards the bottom) in this article. Pretty impressive.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Ignore That Elephant In The Middle Of The Room

I've been concerned about this for years:
Brooklyn-based columnist David Klion has drawn national attention with a recent tweet storm arguing that driving is immoral and automobiles should be banned.

Nanny-state proposals from Acela corridor opinion writers like this are easy to dismiss and, in Klion’s case, mock. Yet the real danger is that too many politicians in state capitals and city halls nationwide spend an inordinate amount of time pondering things to ban and, unlike busybody columnists, their bad ideas can be put into law, with negative consequences for individuals, families, and the economy in general.

The California legislature, more so than any other elected body in the country, is filled with lawmakers who live to manage other people’s lives and dictate seemingly innocuous personal decisions and behavior. That’s why California is one of only two states that has banned plastic shopping bags and imposes a 10-cent tax on paper bags (with the revenue collected going not to state coffers or environmental improvement projects, but to line the pockets of large corporations like Safeway and Ralph’s)...

Aside from the adverse effect that foam bans have on of employers, another reason Golden State politicians, at both the state and local levels, should not be spending their time considering and debating misguided foam prohibitions is because they have bigger fish to fry.

California has racked up approximately $1 trillion in state and municipal unfunded pension liabilities. While California politicians have plenty of ideas for new taxes and regulations, they have no plans to rectify these soul crushing unfunded pension liabilities, which taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for. Rather than spend time and scarce taxpayers resources coming up with new ways to make it harder to do business in the Golden State – like banning foam and making it illegal for restaurants to give out drinking straws – California officials need to spend their time on the real challenges facing the state.
A part-time legislature might help, but that only addresses the problem of too much government and too many idle government hands that just need to regulate or ban something.  The second problem, that of runaway unfunded pension liabilities, will only be dealt with as we head over the fiscal cliff.

And notice I said "dealt with", not "solved".

Drying Your Hands With Poop

I remember when electric hand dryers in bathrooms were bad because they used electricity, whereas paper is a renewable resource.  Now, however, electricity has been rehabilitated in the eyes of the enviro-wackos, cutting down trees is bad, and we have all these fancy electric hand dryers in public restrooms.  They don't work so great when I want to blow my nose, but hey, why let a little reality spoil the good feels of the lefties? 

Why, indeed:
Washing your grubby mitts is one of the all-time best ways to cut your chances of getting sick and spreading harmful germs to others. But using the hot-air dryers common in bathrooms can undo that handy hygienic work.

Hot-air dryers suck in bacteria and hardy bacterial spores loitering in the bathroom—perhaps launched into the air by whooshing toilet flushes—and fire them directly at your freshly cleaned hands, according to a study published in the April issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The authors of the study, led by researchers at the University of Connecticut, found that adding HEPA filters to the dryers can reduce germ-spewing four-fold. However, the data hints that places like infectious disease research facilities and healthcare settings may just want to ditch the dryers and turn to trusty towels...

The research findings largely square with other data showing that hot-air dryers and jet dryers can launch and disperse germs from hands into the air and onto surfaces—essentially setting off a very dirty bathroom bomb. But the new study clearly demonstrates that the less powerful hot-air dryers can also bathe hands with germs already swirling in the wash room.
But we can feeeeeeeeel good about "doing something" for the environment, or something.

Loyalty Oaths

In California it used to be against education code to be a teacher and a communist.  Now it's OK to be a communist.

The can't refuse to hire you if you're a communist but you'd better support diversity, at least at UC San Diego:
As an addition to the "I probably couldn't get a job as an academic these days" file comes this link (via @roddreher) to a University of California San Diego document requiring a written statement from faculty applicants:
The Contributions to Diversity Statement should describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It should also demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s mission to meet the educational needs of our diverse student population...
You can't make such silliness up. Remember when loyalty oaths were a bad thing?

Learning Styles Bogosity

bogus.   adj.   counterfeit, spurious, sham.

bogosity.  noun.  the condition or state of being bogus.

Learning styles.  Bogus theory, proffered by many in academia, which claims that people learn best in their "preferred modality":
The idea that we learn better when taught via our preferred modality or “learning style” – such as visually, orally, or by doing – is not supported by evidence. Nonetheless the concept remains hugely popular, no doubt in part because learning via our preferred style can lead us to feel like we’ve learned more, even though we haven’t.

Some advocates of the learning styles approach argue that the reason for the lack of evidence to date is that students do so much of their learning outside of class. According to this view, psychologists have failed to find evidence for learning styles because they’ve focused too narrowly on whether it is beneficial to have congruence between teaching style and preferred learning style. Instead, they say psychologists should look for the beneficial effects of students studying outside of class in a manner that is consistent with their learning style.

For a new paper in Anatomical Sciences Education, a pair of researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have conducted just such an investigation with hundreds of undergrads. Once again however the findings do not support the learning styles concept, reinforcing its reputation among mainstream psychologists as little more than a myth.
Ranks right up there with "multiple intelligences".

You don't like the link above?  Does it hurt your feeeeeelz?  Take it up with the British Psychological Society, it's their link.

Let's get to the denouement, shall we?
Husmann and O’Loughlin don’t pull any punches in their conclusion. Their findings, they write – especially when considered in the context of past research – “provide strong evidence that instructors and students should not be promoting the concept of learning styles for studying and/or for teaching interventions. Thus, the adage of ‘I can’t learn subject X because I am a visual learner’ should be put to rest once and for all.”
Hear hear.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Foreign Paper Attacks Made-Up US Problem, Real Americans Set Things Straight

Here in the People's Democratic Republic of Kalifornia, we don't get our groceries in plastic bags.  No, plastic bags are reserved for all stores except those that sell groceries.  If plastic bags are so bad, why don't we put our clothing purchases in cloth bags brought from home???

Uh oh.  Perhaps I'd better not post that.  It might give the idiots in the big white building downtown more ideas.

Anyway, the UK's Spectator writes about how many countries ban plastic bags but those horrible Muricans won't.  The first several comments on that post give me hope for this country:

  • I lived 300 feet from the Atlantic Ocean for five years and cannot recall seeing even one plastic bag washed up on the shore during that entire time.
    What on Earth would possess someone to invent a fictional problem (an epidemic of plastic bags on America's beaches) and then lecture the United States on its inaction at addressing this non-existent problem in a foreign publication?


    "Shocking report reveals that 95% of plastic polluting the world's oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger"
    Note that none of them are in the US.


    The streets of the United States don't look like the streets of Kenya, with plastic bags blowing everywhere. It's not an Issue here because we have adequate sanitation. Virtually every major store in the US has a recycle box where you can place old bags. Some people, gasp, reuse them as trash bags in their bathroom trashcans or some other place.
    In short, it's a non-issue of the sort that busy-body do-gooders whip themselves into a frenzy over. The piles of trash you see in the oceans are primarily from third world countries who have no societal taboo against littering.
    I'm looking at you India, China and Africa.


    The US takes care of its waste. We don't throw it in the water like many other countries. Why don't you go lecture those that do.


    I live on the ocean, and plastic is a huge issue. But I never see plastic bags.


    Calling them "single-use" displays the problem in a nutshell: Those who are opposed to them are the people who use them only once. I save them and use them for all sorts of things.
    Free your mind, and the rest will follow. The people wanting to ban these are the ones who've imprisoned themselves.

  • Avatar

    Let me help you here: The bags are really a non-issue environmentally. Their mass is practically nil. Compare the mass of one bag to the mass of, say, a milk bottle cap. The cap is many times the mass. And there are many many items of plastic in any grocery store purchase. As for clogging the ocean w/ these bags, last year it was reported that nearly all the plastic that ends up in the oceans comes from 5 sources--in India, Thailand (I think), China, and perhaps somewhere else. Not the US, not the UK. A non-issue, but people feel good banning them, so they get banned.

Governor Moonbeam wants to ban internal combustion engines, too. I fear there are enough enviro-wacko weenies here in the PDRK to make it a real issue some day.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

It's (Not) Limoncello Season

A lady at work gave me a large bag of lemons this past week, a subtle enough hint that it's time for me to make some more limoncello.  So off I went to BevMo to get some Everclear.

Except you can't get Everclear in California anymore.  Apparently our Alcohol and Beverage Control types here in California have decided that Everclear is mislabeled.  It's bad enough that prior to this spat, the best we could get is 151 proof Everclear, not 190 proof.  Now, the strongest "grain alcohol" they could carry at BevMo is 120 proof.

I may have to take a trip to Reno again next weekend to get some real grain alcohol.

Good job, California.

Update, 4/8/18:  Just how is Everclear mislabeled, you ask?  Well, it's listed as grain alcohol, but it's made with corn, which isn't a grain.  Seriously.  That's what the guy at BevMo told me.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Union Dues

My current union dues are a few quarters short of $1100/year.  Yes, I get an agency fee rebate each fall (but only if I request it), but $1100 is the amount deducted from my paycheck.  Via the Education Intelligence Agency, here are the state dues for NEA affiliates.  Keep in mind that this is just the state dues, not the local or national.
  1. New Jersey -$897
  2. Alaska – $740
  3. California – $677
  4. Michigan – $645
  5. Hawaii – $610
  6. Oregon – $607
  7. Wyoming – $532
  8. Indiana – $531
  9. Pennsylvania – $523
  10. Connecticut – $499
  11. Massachusetts – $494
  12. Illinois – $472
  13. Minnesota – $471
  14. Idaho – $468
  15. Delaware – $463
  16. Rhode Island – $455
  17. Ohio – $454
  18. New Hampshire – $452
  19. Iowa – $451
  20. Washington – $449
  21. Vermont – $445
  22. South Dakota – $427
  23. Maine – $414
  24. Montana – $412
  25. New Mexico – $409
  26. Nebraska – $406
  27. Kentucky – $406
  28. Colorado – $395
  29. Missouri – $392
  30. Kansas – $389
  31. Utah – $382
  32. Nevada – $378
  33. New York – $378
  34. North Dakota – $371
  35. Arizona – $364
  36. Arkansas – $359
  37. Texas – $324
  38. Maryland – $322
  39. West Virginia – $310
  40. Georgia – $300
  41. Alabama – $294
  42. North Carolina – $289
  43. Tennessee – $288
  44. Oklahoma – $287
  45. Louisiana – $284
  46. Virginia – $283
  47. South Carolina – $275
  48. Mississippi – $273
  49. Wisconsin – $238
  50. Florida – $234
That’s an average state dues level of $424.36. Include NEA dues and your average NEA member is paying $613.36 plus local dues.
California is #3.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Top 10 Reasons Liberals Reflexively Blame the NRA for Shootings

This is a great article, well worth your time.  Here are a few of the reasons:
10: They're Rage-Filled and Projecting
9: They're Not Really Fans of History
3: They're Euro Fetishists
2: Liberals Hate the Constitution
Read the rest, as well as the justifications, at the link.

By the way, after yesterday's YouTube shooting, more animal rights activists--and more vegans, and more vegan animal rights activists--have been involved in mass shootings than have NRA members. Yet the lefties always want to attack the NRA.

And no, I'm not an NRA member, but I appreciate organizations that support the Bill of Rights.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Rhodes Scholars

Here's a list of which institutions have produced how many Rhodes Scholars.  The US service academies, listed at the bottom of page 6 of 9 (as of the date I linked to the pdf), make a good showing, especially given the relatively small sizes of their graduating classes compared to many schools on the list.

Should the pdf link change, see if there's a link here.

The list of the most recent (November 2017) winners is here.  The Ivies are well represented, and each service academy adds one to its individual count.

Blame It On Your Classmates...

...and the adults who are using them to promote their own agenda:
SUCKS WHEN INNOCENT PEOPLE LOSE RIGHTS BECAUSE OF ONE BAD ACTOR, RIGHT? They led a national march. Now Parkland students return to a school they say ‘feels like jail.’
Link here.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

If You Think Man-Caused Global Warming Is Real, Then You Should Support This Wholeheartedly

Lockheed Martin Now Has a Patent For Its Potentially World Changing Fusion Reactor
Lockheed Martin has quietly obtained a patent associated with its design for a potentially revolutionary compact fusion reactor, or CFR. If this project has been progressing on schedule, the company could debut a prototype system that size of shipping container, but capable of powering a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier or 80,000 homes, sometime in the next year or so...

In 2014, the company also made a splash by announcing they were working on the device at all and that it was the responsibility of its Skunk Works advanced projects office in Palmdale, California. At the time, Dr. Thomas McGuire, head of the Skunk Works’ Compact Fusion Project, said the goal was to have a working reactor in five years and production worthy design within 10.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Nice Little Break

I took a couple days off and went to Reno.  Lost a little money, ate some good food, enjoyed not having a care in the world.

Back to work on Monday!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Grade Inflation

I'm against grade inflation.  I'm against a full grade point bump for taking Advanced Placement or Honors-designated classes in high school.  Who do you think you're fooling, anyway?  You think that 4+ GPA is going to fool any university?  Dang near every one of them runs your transcript through their GPA-calculating process, and that's how they compare you to other candidates.  Transcripts in my district have so many GPA's on them:  unweighted, weighted, UC-weighted, et al.

Do you work at a high school?  Have you ever heard kids say that they take a particular course just for the "grade bump"?  I have.  It's sad.

It drives me nuts.  You're only fooling yourself.  Here's a prominent example:
TMZ reports:

David has been rejected by the 4 University of California campuses where he submitted applications -- UCLA, UCSD, UCSB and UC Irvine. He says the rejection letters came 2 weeks ago. He has a 4.2 GPA and an SAT score of 1270.
1270 is slightly above the average SAT score for UC Irvine. 
4.2 GPA and a 1270 SAT is a serious mismatch. And we're talking about David Hogg here, he of the Foul Mouth Brigade from the Florida shooting.  Does he come across to you as intelligent in the least?  (Well, perhaps in the least!)  Since we've all been bombarded with this kid, answer honestly:  which number do you believe is more representative of his smarts, the 4.2 or the 1270?  I know which one I'd put my money on.

Some see this kid as the face of the anti-gun left.  I see him as the face of grade inflation.  Neither one looks good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Nice Try, But No

Here we go again, yet another article bemoaning how "boring" math is.
What do these four questions have in common?
1. Can all the children of Lake Wobegon be above average?
2. On average, do your friends on Facebook have more friends than you do?
3. Do credit cards make you gain weight?
4. How do I estimate distances to nearby stars?
They are all math questions for high school students. They differ from typical school math problems in that they are phenomenon-based and stated as real-world problems, not as math exercises. More and more educators these days are pushing for such phenomenon-based problems to engage the students, to get them excited about STEM, to advance their critical thinking skills, and to make math and science more fun.
You know what makes math more fun?  Being able to do it. After you've mastered decimals, fractions, percentages, multiplication tables, and positive and negative numbers, math becomes much more interesting.  A little number sense goes a long way.

I'll grant that the questions above can be interesting to pursue.  They're also time-consuming--and the people who pay the bills, the taxpayers, tell us through their elected representatives that we need to teach a rather wide body of information (just check out the high school common core standards).

Let's quickly go through the questions above.
#1:  It depends on what your population is.  Easily discussed and resolved in a couple minutes.  Next!
#2:  Isn't that rather easy to determine?  And we're talking about averages, certainly not anything high-level.
#3:  Silly.  More a sociology question than a math question.
#4:  K-12 students don't really have the background knowledge necessary even to start that one.

There, that didn't take long.

Certainly math can be put to uses more interesting to students, but a math class isn't the place to do that.  If you want to put math to social science uses, do that in social science class.  If you want to graph the lengths of words in Shakespeare's plays and relate that to either the vernacular of his day or that of ours, do that in English class.  Those might be fun explorations in math class, but they certainly can't drive the curriculum.  Neither can they be the primary form of pedagogy.  In a math class we need to teach math.  That doesn't mean that math must be the memorization of formulas and algorithms; on the contrary, that does as much a disservice to math education as does building a math class around the silly questions asked above.

Do you want to show math's utility?  Then do it outside of a math class!  Sure, good math teachers often show the applicability of what they teach, but the purpose of doing so is to show why we teach what we do.  It does inspire some interest in the topic.  But utility isn't why we teach what we do in high school.  For the vast majority of Americans, utility comes in elementary school math--in decimals, fractions, percentages, multiplication tables, and positive and negative numbers, and in number sense.  High school should be about going beyond that, about a little abstraction, about learning what the future can hold.  Heck, freshman algebra doesn't teach too much that's new; rather, it takes all those elementary school math concepts and combines them all into one problem!  Introductory Algebra is most students' first capstone course.

But I'll be honest, I'm tired of being told how to teach math by people who weren't (or aren't) good at math.  The author of the above post is on the other extreme of the spectrum--he's already mastered math, and he thinks people learn math the same way he understands its applications.  It's people like him who gave us the "new math" of the 60's and 70's, the creators of which seemed to believe that "if students could just learn about calculating in different bases and understand sets, everyone would see and understand the beauty of math and students would flourish".  Why was I calculating in base-7 in 5th grade???  Anyway, today, instead of set theory and different bases, the silver bullet to math education seems to be matrices--boy, if students could just understand those, they'd see and understand the beauty of math and....  Throw in a dash of so-called discovery learning, as the author at the above link did later in his article, and you've reached math education Shangri-La for many people.

The problem isn't that math is boring.  It can be taught in a boring way--so can any other subject.  What makes math problematic is that it's difficult and requires constant effort.  It's easier to look for excuses than to insist on effort.

No one suggests teaching music like this.  No one says that learning scales is too boring, that young musicians should dig into concertos.  No one suggests coaching football like this.  No one says that drills are too boring, that players should go straight to touchdown-making plays.  No one suggests that a student's first time behind the wheel should be during rush hour traffic.  In fact, I'm hard-pressed to come up with examples of areas outside of math where such recommendations are expected to be taken seriously.  Why do you think that is?