Friday, November 16, 2018

Poor Vocabulary

New Zealand high school students have demanded examiners ignore that they don’t know what the word “trivial” means, after it appeared in a final-year exam and left many confused.

Some students who took the year 13 history exam claimed the “unfamiliar word” was too hard, and the exam should now be marked according to each student’s different understanding and interpretation of “trivial”.

The exam asked for students to write an essay on whether they agreed with a quote from Julius Caesar which reads: “Events of importance are the result of trivial causes”.

An online petition claims the word trivial “caused much confusion” in the Wednesday exam and many students “were not particularly familiar with” the word.

More than 2,500 people have signed the petition, calling on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA] to “recognise the true potential of the students and mark the essay based on the student’s own content and understanding of the event, many of which were different to what the word actually means.”
These students are roughly the equivalent of American high school seniors.

I find the quality of their vocabulary to be "trivial".  I find their complaint "trivial".  I hope the chances that anyone will act on their complaint to be "trivial".

Thursday, November 15, 2018

First To Fire!

Army Air Defense never had a more motivated officer than young Lieutenant Miller.  If it flies, it dies!  Air Defennnnnnnse!

I was a short range air defense officer.  Back in the 80s our weaponry consisted of Vietnam-era Vulcan cannon mounted on M113 armored personnel carriers, as well as shoulder-fired Stinger missiles.  Divisions had Vulcans and Stingers, corps had the Chaparral for short range air defense.  Gawd did I love the lawnmower-like burrrrrp of a 100-round burst from a Vulcan!  The Navy also used the Vulcan for close-in defense of ships, a weapon system they called the Phalanx.

Vulcan had a firing rate of of 3000 rounds per minute, although we could only carry 1100 rounds at a time.  Usually we used 100 round bursts--11 bursts, then you had to stop and reload.  Here's video of the 20mm Vulcan and the 30mm GAU-8 (the A-10's fearsome gun):

Here's Vulcan on a Prius:

What the blank?  On a Prius?  Well, I hope they sell some coffee!

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

I live and work about a 2 hr drive from the "Camp" Fire, the huge Northern California fire that has featured so prominently in the news recently.  Even at that distance, the air quality in the Sacramento region was far worse than places like Beijing, Mumbai, or Dehli today.  Private schools and universities have been closed, but public schools have stayed open.  Our superintendent sent out a message this afternoon, though, telling us that our schools will be closed tomorrow.

There is so much particulate matter in the air that it looks, at a distance, like fog--but it's in the high 60s here, and there's not a cloud in the sky.  The air is so gross that you can look directly at the sun.

I took this first picture looking towards the sun and the parking lot at school today, shortly after 3 pm:
(click to enlarge to see how hazy it really is)
Again, there's not a cloud in the sky, nor any sort of water vapor.  That's not the setting moon, that's the afternoon sun.  That sky should be bright blue.

Here's the view looking down my street shortly before 4pm:

And here's the back of my car:
Yes, I had it washed fairly recently.  What you're seeing is the smoke that has settled on my car, and then "run" when the morning dew disturbs the even distribution of yuck.

It's probably best to stay indoors, as at least I won't be breathing in all that crap. I won't complain about having another day off--unless the state requires us to make it up in June, as is a possibility (our district has requested an exemption). I guess we'll see.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Schools Are Becoming Asylums

It's not always the kids, oftentimes it's the adults:
A Florida school district allowed a self-described transgender female student regular access to the boys’ locker room, with no advance warning to the boys or their parents. The first time she walked in, she caught “boys (literally) with their pants down, causing them embarrassment and concern by the fact that they had been observed changing by an obvious girl,” says a complaint letter to Pasco County School District from Liberty Counsel, a pro-bono constitutional law firm.

With a “gag order,” school administrators forbade teachers from talking about the change, and ordered a male P.E. teacher to supervise the potentially undressed girl in the Chasco Middle School locker room, the letter says. When he refused to “knowingly place himself in a position to observe a minor female in the nude or otherwise in a state of undress,” administrators told him “he will be transferred to another school as discipline for ‘not doing your job in the locker room.'”

In an email, an administrator initially threatened to put the male coach on administrative leave, telling him that refusing to supervise a potentially naked female student would “not be tolerated,”said Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast. The school’s other P.E. teacher, who is female, also objected and was ignored.
In what kind of Bizarro-world is this male teacher the problem in this story?

The Fates Are Real B*****s Sometimes

Seen on Instapundit:
WELL: Michael Avenatti is arrested for domestic violence after ‘swollen and bruised’ estranged wife filed felony report.

Tiana Lowe tweets, “There’s already more evidence against Michael Avenatti than there is against Brett Kavanaugh.”

The Left projects, always.
Will this affect his chances in 2020?

Are The Oceans Warming?

Maybe, maybe not:
Researchers with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Princeton University recently walked back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change.

In a paper published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature, researchers found that ocean temperatures had warmed 60 percent more than outlined by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after mathematician Nic Lewis, a critic of the scientific consensus around human-induced warming, posted a critique of the paper on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic.

“The findings of the ... paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

Co-author Ralph Keeling, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, took full blame and thanked Lewis for alerting him to the mistake.
At least they didn't double down after being caught, a la East Anglia.

What Are We Supposed To Invest In, Unicorn Farts?

Not in Israel.  Not in firearms.  Not in tobacco.  Not in coal.

And now, not in locking up people who are in the country illegally:
California’s teacher pension fund is pulling its investments out of two private prison companies that have contracts to house immigrants detained at the Mexican border.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement Board last week voted to withdraw about $12 million it had invested in CoreCivic of Nashville, Tennessee and Geo Group of Boca Raton, Florida.

The retirement board’s 6-5 vote Wednesday to divest from the companies followed intense activism from teachers and left-leaning organizations that wanted the $229 billion pension fund to dissociate itself from private prisons.

Their calls for divestment led the pension fund to conduct its own investigation, which it published in a 28-page report that did not include a formal recommendation. CalSTRS staff reported that they visited immigrant detention centers and consulted with the companies before providing their report to the teachers’ retirement board.
Can't invest in anything that makes money. How am I supposed to have a guaranteed retirement benefit if my money can't make money?

Monday, November 12, 2018

How I Spent The Day, and What's Coming Up

I didn't leave the house!

A friend crashed here last night, and when we were both finally up I made bacon and eggs.  Late breakfast.

The utility company sent a tree trimming company to trim the trees along my back fence, above which the power lines run.  They asked if they could remove my privet trees, as they grow so quickly (and which, not knowing what they were, I always called "blueberry trees"), and I agreed; it didn't take them long to make my back fence look pretty bare!

My student teacher from last year, now a colleague at work, has moved into a place quite near me, and she came by to pick up an old toaster/oven I had in the garage.  She had a shot of my limoncello, which was (yet again) pronounced to be spectacular.

I watched yet another episode of 3%, my latest binge, on Netflix.  I only watched one episode because...

I finished grading the 90+ stats labs I brought home.  Four pages each, and after grading a bit each day of the 4-day (for me) weekend I got the entire set done.  Sitting on my desk at work is a set of pre-calculus tests, which I have to grade and get entered this week, because...

Our progress report period ends this Friday, with grades required to be submitted by the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  My son is having surgery over Thanksgiving week, and I'm going to miss work on the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  I have to get it all done this week.

My friend and I took advantage of the Veteran's Day offer at Red Robin yesterday.  There's one at Claim Jumper today, and we might go there.

Update, 11/13/18:  Didn't go to Claim Jumper last night, I just wasn't feeling dinner.  And I was able to knock out most of those pre-calc tests today.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Today's Doings

Hard to believe that war ended 100 years ago today.

As we've done for years, my mother and I are meeting at Applebee's for a Veteran's Day lunch.  Applebee's provides free entrees from a reduced menu to current and former military members, and we like that.  By the time you throw in dessert and drinks, and perhaps meals for non-veterans, I wonder if Applebee's loses any money on the deal.  The wait staff, though, makes out like bandits!  A Naval Academy grad friend is coming in tonight and staying for a couple days, if she gets here early enough perhaps she and I will go find dinner somewhere :)

The smoke from wildfires blanketed the area yesterday, to the point that you could look directly at the sun and not hurt your eyes.  It doesn't look like today's going to be much better.  The fires are a couple hours' drive from where I live, which tells you how much smoke there is.

The switch back to Pacific Standard Time was last weekend, but it was this morning that I made my own official recognition of cold weather.  That's right, the cotton sheets on the bed went up into the closet and the fleece sheets made their first appearance of the season.  Fleece sheets on a heated waterbed--no stacks of blankets, no feather ticks, just toasty goodness in a cold house at night.  And the programmable thermostat heats the place up just before I have to get out of bed in the morning--who wants to wake up to a cold house?!

Those soldiers who lived in lice-infested muddy trenches 100 years ago would not believe such comforts could ever exist, much less that a mere schoolteacher could have them.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Where Is Your University Degree Worth The Most?

From FoxBusiness:
While the worth of a bachelor’s degree may have plateaued since 2010 having one is still more valuable in certain U.S. cities compared to others...

San Jose, Calif., topped the list, offering the biggest earnings-and-opportunities boost for people who graduated from a four-year college...

That city was closely followed by Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Raleigh, N.C. and Austin, Texas...

A college degree matters the least in Riverside, Calif., Las Vegas, Buffalo, N.Y., Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky., according to the study.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Why I'm Not Working Today

Today is a "professional development" day.  The training is optional, but so is the pay.  Since our district is going all in for so-called equity, the training sessions are essentially excuses for why certain students don't learn.  And because I'm tired of being told that my lack of teaching ability is the reason kids of certain racial/ethnic groups don't do as well in school in others, I decided the money just isn't worth it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

How Do I Feel About Yesterday's Election Results?

Bottom line up front:  pretty good.

Yes, my side lost the House.  But we were expected to lose the House.  In the year of the so-called Red Wave, the lefties have a bare majority in the House (with a few more seats still up for grabs) and my side gained seats in the Senate.  Football analogy:  we were expected to lose by 2 touchdowns but lost by a field goal.  Hard to feel bad about that.

Here in the People's Republik of Kalifornia, not much has changed.  My representative is still a Democrat, and all party-affiliated statewide officeholders are still Democrats.  Some of the statewide initiatives had some, uh, interesting results, but whatever.  What I'm most excited about is that there was actually one statewide office candidate that I voted for who won.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I got a victory!  And it's a savory one, too.

As long as I've paid attention, the CTA-backed candidate has won the job for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  This year, though--entirely coincidentally, in the first post-Janus election--the CTA-backed candidate lost!  That's right, school choice-supporting Marshall Tuck is our new SPI!  Not that anything will change, of course, I just love the union's pet candidate going down.   Should any of the local unionistas try to talk smack to me, I'll enjoy rubbing this one in.

Take a look at the map on the CA Secretary of State's web site.  The CTA-backed candidate won only LA County, the SF Bay Area, and a couple of rural counties--and almost won.  I find it very interesting that the two rural, mountainous counties on the Nevada border that went for the CTA's guy were decided by a total of 62 votes!  And Sacramento County, which has gotten significantly more liberal over the course of my lifetime, went against the CTA's guy.

Actually, I feel pretty good :-)

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

How Are Kids Doing Under Common Core

Are all our students Stanford-bound now?
It’s been about nine years since the Obama administration lured states into adopting Common Core sight unseen, with promises it would improve student achievement. Like President Obama’s other big promises — “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” — this one’s been proven a scam.

“If you set and enforce rigorous and challenging standards and assessments; if you put outstanding teachers at the front of the classroom; if you turn around failing schools — your state can win a Race to the Top grant that will not only help students outcompete workers around the world, but let them fulfill their God-given potential,” President Obama said in July 2009.

He went on to state his faith that Common Core — at that point unwritten — would “not only make America’s entire education system the envy of the world, but we will launch a Race to the Top that will prepare every child, everywhere in America, for the challenges of the 21st century.” Race to the Top was a $4 billion money pot inside the 2009 stimulus that helped bribe states into Common Core.

So here we are, nine years later. Common Core has been officially rolled out into U.S. public and even many private schools for at least three to five years now. Are American children increasingly prepared for the “the challenges of the 21st century”? We’re actually seeing the opposite. They’re increasingly less prepared. And there’s mounting evidence that Common Core deserves some of the blame.
I'm glad the author said "some of the blame", as I've previously chronicled too many examples of forces outside of schools having a negative impact on learning.

Still, we teachers own a large part of this blame.  Saint Barack wanted Common Core, so large swaths of teachers and their unions jumped on that bandwagon.  Like so many other mistakes, we continue to try to find ways to make it work rather than admitting failure and trying something more rational.

I won't speak to the English standards, but the California math standards that were replaced by Common Core were more clear, more understandable, and more rigorous than the Common Core math standards, and California students did better under those old standards.  And just so you know, they were imposed by a Democratic governor.

Racism on Campus

Yes, there's racism on display on a local community college campus, but not the type of racism this article wants us to believe is present:
At least two posters proclaiming “It’s okay to be white” were found Thursday at American River College.

Los Rios Community College District spokesman Gabe Ross said maintenance staff spotted some fliers with the slogan at about 1:30 a.m. and reported them to campus police. They were immediately taken down, Ross said, though student paper American River Current reported finding additional signs later in the morning...

The college notified the campus community about the posters Thursday afternoon, informing students and staff of increased custodial checks on campus facilities, and emphasizing that “hate has no home on our campuses,” (district spokesman) Ross said.

“It’s always concerning when anything offensive or hateful messaging is found on one of our campuses,” Ross said. “It’s incumbent upon us to be conscious of the culture in our community and ensure that our campuses are safe and welcoming environments.”
If the signs had said "It's okay to be black", no one would have batted an eyelash.  And that, not these innocuous signs, is the real racism on display.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Today's University Students Have A Strange Idea Of What The First Amendment Means

This liberal idea that "hate speech isn't protected"--well, most of what liberals say is so-called hate speech, so...  Who gets to decide?

And whose fault is it that they think that way?  Liberals (including the media) and high school teachers.  We should be doing a better job about teaching what the 1st Amendment is really about.

What prompted this post?  This:
A coalition of liberal student organizations has condemned California State-Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley and her administration for allowing an event hosted by the school’s Turning Point USA group.

On October 23, TPUSA hosted conservative pundits Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens who were greeted by some 200 demonstrators protesting outside the venue. The activists chanted phrases such as “Go home, fascists” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.”

The day before, President Conoley had sent a reminder email to the campus community about what the First Amendment is all about, noting “free speech rights must be respected and protected” … meaning anyone attempting to thwart Kirk and Owens would be dealt with.

This did not sit well with the progressive CSULB groups. According to the Daily 49er, two days after the event the coalition comprised of organizations such as the Black Student Union, La Raza Student Association, Queers and Allies, and the Young Democratic Socialists of America, published a statement condemning Conoley and the administration for failing to protect and support “marginalized groups on campus.”

“The institution has proven its negligence and violence once more to our community by allowing Turning Point USA’s event to take place on campus on October 23rd,” the statement reads. It also claims the very name of the Turning Point event, “Campus Clash,” “implies violence.”
Words=violence is one of the first beliefs that has to go if we're going to keep the rule of law.

You know what ticks me off the most?  That as a California taxpayer, I'm paying for the so-called education of the latest generation of red diaper doper babies.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Another Example of Media Bias

Anyone who claims the mainstream media aren't biased towards Democrats is a liar.  Here's yet another data point:
If you want to see just how skewed news coverage has become, it’s often instructive to compare the media’s treatment of two events which are basically the same, except that the party roles are reversed. This year, with Republicans in control of the White House, House and Senate, journalists are actively electioneering on behalf of Democrats, as a way to diminish the power of President Trump...

But eight years ago, when Democrats held both the House and Senate going into President Obama’s first midterm elections, the media were distressed that liberal power might be diluted, and upset that voters failed to appreciate the tremendous “victories” and “amazing legislative agenda” that Obama and the Democrats had accomplished.

Red Flag Operation?

Sometimes I wonder how many so-called hate crimes there truly would be if Democrats weren't committing them either as red flag operations or to "raise awareness":
The suspect in a synagogue vandalism act that forced the cancellation of a Democratic event is reportedly a former City Hall employee who worked on anti-hate crime issues and is a Democratic activist, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

The New York Times and a Jewish couple helped the impoverished gay black man attend college where he studied African American studies, according to The Times.

He resented New York liberals as patronizing, and railed against Israel and cultural appropriation, according to his Facebook profile.

Before knowing his identity, politicians said the vandalism demonstrated why voting Democratic was needed and highlighted government programs to combat such incidents.

Worst President Ever?

Worst at staying bought--you don't even hear about Russian collusion anymore.  That's either because there was no collusion in the first place, or because President Trump has acted against Russia in a way that, if there had been collusion, he didn't stay bought.

Worst anti-Semitic president?  Besides moving our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which several presidents had talked about but never did; besides having Jewish family members; President Trump addresses anti-Semitism head-on:
Jews have never, but never, been given this kind of whole-hearted backing by an American leader before. Jews are used to facing murderous hate alone. We are not used to words that reflect the moral truth. We’re used to mealy mouthed pieties condemning hate on all sides.

A dear friend who is active fighting anti-Semitism wrote me, “It is the strongest statement in support of Jews ever made by an American president.”
(Side note:  I don't want to hear cries of anti-Semitism from the party that cozies up to Louis Farrakhan and Linda Sarsour, and the party of Jimmy Carter.)

Worst white supremacist president?  Well, Woodrow Wilson probably wins the prize, and President Trump comes in close to 44 places behind Wilson:
In the first such use of his executive powers, President Trump on Friday designated a national monument, establishing a 380-acre site in Kentucky to honor African Americans’ role as soldiers during the Civil War.
So yes, in the areas listed above, President Trump is the worst president ever, and the nation as a whole is all the better for it.  The only people not better are liberals.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

There Is Something Seriously Wrong In Our Culture

That this court case is happening at all, and that the issue is being taken seriously by the reporter of this article, shows that we are truly living in Heinlein's crazy years:
Shy and insecure, the fourth-grade student dropped to the floor of a classroom filled with students, ordered by a Fresno teacher to do pushups and other calisthenics for talking during a lesson.

Nearly three years after the incident, Fresno Unified teachers Michelle Coyne and Joshua Gehris are on trial in Fresno Superior Court, accused in a civil trial of humiliating the fourth-grader, a 9-year-old girl.
I, too, have been known to use not-officially-sanctioned penalties for minor infractions.  As often as not, these penalties (including push-ups) took less time and paperwork on my part than officially-sanctioned penalties, and I opted for the time savings in class.  But as I became more and more aware that some people will use any excuse to sue a school district, I started to give students an option--you're late to class, for example, do a dozen push-ups or I'll assign an hour of after-school detention, which is the officially-sanctioned penalty.  That's worked for me for years.

OK, so the parents in the above-linked article didn't like their daughter's having to do push-ups.  I can see that.  But they've gone so far over the top here, with a lawsuit, that the whole situation has become ludicrous.

Not everyone in Fresno is stupid, though:
The trial in Judge Donald Black’s courtroom is expected to take two weeks. Testimony is expected to be highly charged — because in two days of jury selection potential jurors voiced strong feelings about today’s youth and discipline in schools.

Some of them said children today lack respect for teachers and need to be disciplined.

“A teacher’s job is hard enough,” one potential juror said. Other potential jurors recalled being disciplined in school decades ago — and said the mental scars remains with them today.
Am I supposed to take seriously the implication that one set of push-ups can mentally scar a student? And that's what we're talking about here, a one-time penalty.

I know what let's do, though.  Let's crank the stupidity up to 11:
After the incident, Helsel said, the girl began seeing a therapist who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder and an anxiety disorder. Because of the incident, the girl’s emotions jump from sad and being withdrawn to angry with frequent outbursts, Helsel said.

But Berger said the district hired a doctor to examine the girl. The expert agreed the girl suffers from anxiety, but the disorder is not traced to the Jan. 21, 2016 incident, Berger said. The girl does not suffer from PTSD, Berger said, because she was not involved in a life-threatening episode.
That really angers me.  I know people with PTSD.  I'm related to people with PTSD.  To suggest that having a student do push-ups in 4th grade can cause PTSD is a slap in the face to people with real PTSD.  They may as well be claiming that she felt violated and, in essence, was raped.

I'll grant that, if true, the following could give me some cause for concern:
After the pushups, the girl was ordered to do leg lifts, planks and other exercises, Helsel said.
Might have taken it too far, if that's true.   But there's so much hyperbole in the story, how can you take seriously anything said by the girl's attorney?
“Gehris will say he made her do the exercises for five to seven minutes,” Helsel told the jury. “But to her, it felt like a lifetime.”
A lifetime?  Quit being a drama queen.

The attorney even wants to claim that it wasn't the girl's fault that she was talking in class.  Of course it wasn't, it never is.

If the teacher went too far, then that should have been addressed 3 years ago--and probably was.  A lawsuit?  Over push-ups?  That's just one more sign of a sickness in our culture.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Want To Do Better In School?

You might consider giving up pot:
Marijuana, it seems, is not a performance-enhancing drug. That is, at least, not among young people, and not when the activity is learning.

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry finds that when adolescents stop using marijuana — even for just one week — their verbal learning and memory improve. The study contributes to growing evidence that marijuana use in adolescents is associated with reduced neurocognitive functioning.

How Many Human Sexes Are There? How Many Human Genders Are There?

Answers:  two, and two:
From a scientific perspective, there was nothing wrong with HHS’s definition. Biological sex refers to whether we are female or male, based on our anatomy and reproductive functions. The concept of sex is, by definition, binary...

Indeed, gender—whether we subjectively feel male or female—is biological, not a social construct. An extremely large and consistent body of scientific research has shown that gender is the result of prenatal hormone exposure, even in the case of intersex individuals, as opposed to adults and society imposing gendered norms on unsuspecting children from the moment they leave the womb...

We can, and should, advocate for the rights of intersex people and those who do not fit typical gender norms, while at the same time acknowledging these scientific truths.
Don't like that science?  Argue with the author:
Debra W. Soh holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience research from York University and writes about the science and politics of sex.

What Explains Most Of The Racial Achievement Gap?

In education today, the student has no responsibility.  Flunk all your classes?  The district will provide you with "credit recovery" hoops to jump through so that you still get a diploma.  Don't want to do your work?  The teacher will give you make-up assignments.  Failing near the end of the semester?  Expect some extra credit "favors" so you can barely pass.

Notice that responsibility for fixing the problem of failing students lies with the adults, specifically school staff, and not with the student.

And if you can't get the adults to take responsibility, cry racism.  And there's an entire industry out there that will help you make such a claim.  Parents in one Missouri school district, though, have had enough:
Recently, however, parents in a Missouri school district — Lee’s Summit — rebelled against paying Singleton and his group to provide cultural and racial equity training. They expressed their displeasure at a school board meeting and on social media. 
What's the bottom line here?
I don’t think critics are denying that racial outcomes are unequal, though. Instead, it appears that they reject, as I do, the idea that responsibility for poor outcomes lies with the school district, rather than the students and/or their parents.
I wish more people say things that clearly.

This Woman Knows What It Means To Be A Conservative

OMG THIS! Conservative woman writes thread shredding each and every Leftist talking point and it’s SPECTACULAR

Know Your Union Participation Rights

If you're a government worker and don't feel like your union deserves the money you've been forced to pay them, the Supreme Court's Janus decision allows you to leave the union and keep your money.  You can Opt Out Today if you want to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Presidential Authority

Instapundit has a great blog post about President Trump's declaration that he is considering ending "birthright citizenship" by executive order:
REPORT: Trump Targeting Birthright Citizenship With Executive Order. My first thought is that he can’t do this because of the 14th Amendment, but my second thought is that lots of constitutional rights that seem to me to be clearly established in the text have been interpreted away over the years. Hey, it’s a living Constitution, right? It must be informed by experience, and the needs of the day!

UPDATE: Am I kidding? Yes, and no. The Supreme Court precedent here doesn’t involve illegal immigrants and you can make a good argument that in adopting this rule the President is acting in a foreign affairs capacity — since he’s trying to discourage people abroad from coming here — and that gets a lot of judicial deference. Here’s some quick discussion of the law. I can certainly imagine a Supreme Court opinion holding that the core purpose of the birthright citizenry provision was to guarantee the citizenship of freed slaves, something not applicable here, and that the destabilizing effect of mass migration (see Europe), along with the foreign affairs component, demonstrates that the issue is best dealt with by the political branches.
Don't just listen to "your side" of the argument. Read the Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, and even read the actual Wong Kim Ark Supreme Court ruling that both sides mention.  Assess the arguments on both sides and see which one is stronger, not just which one you agree with.

After you've done your reading, then you're educated enough to discuss the topic.  Until then, you're just spouting your side's talking points.

By the way:  Lefties, remember when you decreed that President Obama could run the country by executive order because you didn't like that the Republican-led Congress wouldn't craft the laws he wanted?  You liked executive orders then!  There's a lesson for you to learn here, and that's never ask for a political weapon that you wouldn't feel comfortable yielding to the other side--because eventually, the other side will be in power.

Update, 10/31/2018:  If you're a liberal, did you agree with Harry Reid?

Blind To Their Own Faults, Which They See In Others

Today I received the following email from our district (my slight changes/redactions should be very obvious):
From: (district administrator)
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2018 1:45 PM
To: (among many others, an email list called local-teacher-union-members)
Subject: Secondary Certificated Professional Development - 11-9-18.pdf

Dear Secondary (local teachers union) members,

Please join us on Friday, November 9th, at (nearby) High School, as we continue our journey in Culturally Responsive Teaching. The hours are 8:00 am – 3:OO pm, with lunch on your own.

This is an optional Professional Development day. Certificated employees have the option of receiving 6 hours of Continuing Education credit or one day’s pay at the per diem rate for attending the full day. Please review the attached flyer and register in ERO by November 5th. Participants who do not pre-register in ERO will need to check in at the registration table for available sessions on the morning of November 9th.
I sent the following email to someone on my own campus whom I knew would be sympathetic to my point:
If we’re being “culturally responsive”, as well as factually correct, should the email below be addressed to (local teachers union) Members or to Secondary Teachers? I mean, I’m sure there are PD’s that will tell me how important it is to address people as they want to be addressed, and being addressed as (a local teachers union) member is “exclusive” language. It “others” me.

How many times should I be subtle about this terminology before making a bigger deal out of it?
It "others" me.  Sometimes I can really revel in using that leftie language!

Once or twice when I've received emails addressed to teachers union members, I emailed back and asked if non-union-members are invited as well, and I'm always told yes.  Clearly, that was too subtle on my part.  I have no desire to make a big deal out of this, but it just shows how the higher-ups in my district don't much practice what they preach.  I'm supposed to call a person with internal plumbing "he" if that's what that individual wants to be called, I'm supposed to call a person with external plumbing "she" if that's what that individual wants to be called, I'm supposed to call some individuals "they" if that's what that individual wants to be called (even though it's grammatically incorrect)--but the district can't even send out an email that's addressed correctly?  I'm factually not a teachers union member.  The district administrators can't be factually correct, yet I'm expected to pretend that some boys are girls, some girls are boys, and I'm supposed to change 53 years of speech patterns and pronoun usage to accommodate the desires of a couple people--even when that usage is factually wrong.

Is that what it means to "progressive" and "culturally responsive"?  Not only being wrong, but forcing others to be wrong?  That's some serious Gramscian damage, that is.

For you Star Trek: The Next Generation fans out there:  *There* *are* *four* *lights*!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Emails From Parents Requesting Conferences

We've had a couple of "interim" grading periods at school, and some of my students aren't doing as well as perhaps their parents would like.  Since that obviously won't do, I'm starting to get emails from parents who want to meet with me to "see what we can do" about a student's grade.

Our district uses an online student information system, and parents can access details of student grades online at any time.  I update those grades a couple times a week, so information there is never more than a couple days old.  Parents can see each grade on each assignment, test, or quiz; additionally, they can see a summary of how their student is doing overall on assignments, on tests, and on quizzes.

When parents tell me they want to meet, I usually start my reply with, "Thank you for contacting me.  I'd be happy to meet with you.  Specifically, what outcomes would you like from such a meeting?"  Then I share with them the very information they could get online about their student's grade--for example, "As you can see (in our online grading program), your student has turned in x% of homework and earns mediocre scores on tests and quizzes"--and then fill them in on all the opportunities for assistance, both inside and outside of class, that are available to their student.

Usually I don't hear back from them after that.  Why is that?  Is it because my email provided them with all the information they wanted from their proposed meeting?  If they wanted information, why not ask for it instead of asking for a meeting?  Or is there some other reason?

Not all the time, but sometimes I honestly think some parents ask for a meeting to try either to intimidate or to sweet-talk a teacher.  I really do, I've seen both too many times.  Clearly, neither of those will work very well on me!  I've been doing this too long, I have my stock answers down pat--say something silly, and chances are I've got a well thought out, professional, logical, pedagogically sound reply (unless I hear a new one, and it's been awhile since I've heard a new one!).  It's been awhile since I've been threatened with a lawsuit, but the last time it happened, I told the parent that I'd save him a little money and let him know just what his attorney would--the wording of California Education Code Section 49066:
49066. (a) When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil's grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.
I never heard back from that parent or his attorney.

Whether in person or via email, when they plead for higher grades, I tell parents that I don't artificially inflate grades. (The words "artificially inflate" are very powerful.)  Grades exist to reflect achievement towards the state-defined academic standards, etc. etc. etc.  When they ask why I don't give test retakes, why I won't accept homework that was due a month ago, why I don't give extra credit projects, why I don't allow students to use their phones in class for any reason, I have answers to those questions, too.

I've been at this job too long to be doing things haphazardly.  I dot my i's and cross my t's.  I know what I'm doing.  I am not the one who needs to change so that students get higher grades, students need to change what they're doing, or not doing, in order to earn higher grades.  If I need to change, it's because my self-reflection tells me I'm not presenting the material in an optimal way, not because a particular student doesn't have a particular grade.

Some, and not just parents, might try this line of attack:  I'm too old-fashioned, times and kids are different nowadays, etc.  I need to be more flexible.  Why is it incumbent on me to be more flexible, when by definition, my flexibility artificially inflates a student's grade to where it no longer reflects a student's actual achievement towards the standards?  Why shouldn't the student be more flexible, perhaps by devoting more time and effort to the subject, including coming in for extra help before or after school?  I am not responsible for an individual student's grades.  The grade is the student's, not mine.  And calling me old-fashioned?  That's just name-calling; besides, I've been called a lot worse!  Additionally, I have a large folder of letters and emails from former students thanking me for teaching them in such a way that they were able to succeed in follow-on classes.

So I don't have a lot of parent conferences.  I keep grades updated online, and I respond to all parent emails to keep them informed.  Sometimes I even send "form letter" emails to all parents just to fill them in on something important, like an upcoming test.  Maybe some parents ask for conferences because that's just their default action--it doesn't occur to them to ask via email for the information they want.  Or maybe they don't even know what to ask, which is why they initially ask for a conference, but no longer need one after I've provided them with more information.

Whatever the reason, I'm getting more requests for conferences lately.  So far I've had only one conference (not including IEPs and all-teacher conferences, of course).  I'm sure more are in the works.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Filled Out My Ballot Tonight

As my high school is a Vote Center, meaning that even mail-in ballots can be dropped off there, I'll just hang on to my ballot until election day, and take it to work with me to drop off.  As I didn't vote for a single Democrat this time, it's conceivable not a single person I voted for will be elected.  I voted yes on only two of the initiatives.

As I've done since 1984 (how ironic!), I've fulfilled this particular civic duty.

More and More People Are Seeing Through The Left's Lies

From Instapundit, in a short post about the new right-of-center Brazilian president, but summarizing pretty much all of leftihood:
Richard Fernandez comments: “Events like this pose a real intellectual challenge for the Third Way crowd. It can’t just be Trump that’s causing this, can it? There must be some unacknowledged problem with the old global world that is driving this. Whether you are for or against the obvious revolt, perhaps more urgently if you are against it, there is the necessity to understand the causes of the crisis beyond the explanations offered by late night comedians.”

So far there seems little effort to understand. They seem to think that the magic words “racist!” “fascist!” will return things to the status quo ante. But the spell no longer works as it once did. And while they may dimly sense that Trump is a symptom, not a cause, they can’t bring themselves to admit that he’s a symptom of their own failure.

Stupid Should Hurt

It's hard to feel too much sympathy for people with so little self control:
Two tourists facing 10 years in jail for graffiti-tagging an ancient wall in Thailand say they were “ridiculously drunk” when they pulled off the stunt.

Canadian Brittany Schneider, 22, and British man Lee Furlong, 23, were caught on CCTV on Thursday spray-painting a message on the wall of the 13th century Tha Pae Gate in Chiang Mai...

Furlong said his passport has been taken off him.

He and Schneider will face a court hearing in about two weeks.
Too bad this didn't happen in Singapore. Cane 'em.

Jo Boaler Should Not Be Taken Seriously

Her ideas do incredible harm to math education and to students, but a lot of the math higher-ups in my district are enamored with this woman and her siren song:
There is a common misunderstanding that the Algebra 1 course taught under No Child Left Behind was the same course that is currently taught in the city schools. The Common Core State Standards raised the level and rigor of eighth-grade mathematics to include Algebra 1 content as well as geometry and statistical topics previously taught in high school. It is fair to say the content of the district’s eighth-grade math course was college-prep, high-school-level math for most of the current students’ parents. The current Algebra 1 course is more conceptually demanding and requires that students have the foundational background of the math taught in eighth grade.
You can choose to believe that if you want to.  This comment from a CSU LA professor is one I agree with:
This article is ridiculous.  Pretending that avoidance of coherent mathematics development is somehow emphasizing “rigor” completely misrepresents mathematics and its essential rigor.  So does equating Finland’s math performance - that lags behind the US by 8th grade on the most recent TIMSS - with Japan’s outstanding performance on both the meaningful TIMSS as well as the borderline meaningless PISA.  Algebra avoidance (under the name of algebra) is a SFUSD disservice to students with math-based career aspirations. Dr. Boaler may not know any better but certainly Dr. Schoenfeld does.   For shame.
I don't find the Common Core math standards to be coherent at all.  I don't see students who are better prepared for math in 9th grade than they were in the past.

Note that Jo Boaler is a professor of math education.  Her Wikipedia page does not state what her bachelor's degree is in, but both her master's degree and her PhD are in math education.  The following is the world's briefest synopsis of some of the controversy surrounding her work:
In 2006, mathematician R. James Milgram (Stanford University) accused Boaler of scientific misconduct, which prompted Stanford University to investigate claims challenging the validity of her research. However, Stanford University declined to move forward with the investigation, stating that the allegations "do not have substance".[26] Milgram, fellow mathematician Wayne Bishop (California State University) and statistician Paul Clopton posted a 44-page online paper outlining their complaints about one particular study.[36] The story was circulated widely on social media and picked up by the national press.[26] Boaler issued a response in 2012, accusing Milgram, Bishop (and others) of harassment, persecution, and suppression.[37] Bishop and Milgram each issued rebuttals to Boaler's claims.[38][39]
There's more here:
Barbara Oakley is the co-author of the most successful Coursera course, ¨Learning How to Learn¨ completed by more than a million students worldwide. Unlike Boaler, Oakely argues that math without in-depth practice combined with over emphasizing conceptual understanding and loosely tossing in ¨fun¨ to avoid the necessary practice is a disservice to our students. It is fine to help children find and understand the different approaches to a problem and tell them fun facts about math and how they interconnect.

We can agree on that, but Barbara Oakley stresses a significant exception: “Discovery math” doesn’t work without practice. There needs to be a solid foundation, without practice children don’t get the numerical and procedural fluency needed to free cognitive resources to be able to lever on the growth mindset, that Carol S. Dweck clearly explains, to progress into more complex and abstract areas in math. Oakley has research on her side, in fact, one of the professors she relies on is Paul Morgan, who wrote an interesting article on math drilling in Psychology Today.
Boaler is not someone who should be taken seriously.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Europe Is Doomed

Have I written before about why Britain is doomed, or have I just thought about doing it?  But Britain is doomed.

The rest of Western Europe is, too:
An Austrian woman accused of defaming the Prophet Muhammad is not protected by the right to freedom of expression, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled today. Her statements represent "an abusive attack on the Prophet of Islam which could stir up prejudice and threaten religious peace," the court declared.
What did she say about him?
"A 56-year-old and a 6-year-old? What do you call that? Give me an example? What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?" she said...

The ECHR disagrees. In its ruling, a seven-judge panel argues that while Muhammad may have married a 6-year-old, there's a difference between child marriage and pedophilia....
Dhimmitude.  It doesn't work.

If you've ever wondered why the First Amendment is the first amendment, this is why.
Reason's Jacob Sullum has explained on multiple occasions why offending Muslims should not be a crime. As he wrote in 2015, "Sacrilege may upset people, but it does not violate their rights. By abandoning that distinction, avowed defenders of Enlightenment values capitulate to the forces of darkness."

Friday, October 26, 2018

TPUSA's Young Black Leadership Summit

We conservatives aren't racists.  We like all political conservatives, it doesn't matter what your sex or color is:
Trump got a rapturous reception from the Turning Point audience, which sometimes bordered on the rowdy, to the president’s evident delight. He began by acknowledging the arrest of the bombing suspect, whom he did not name. Nor did he comment on the partisan dimension of the bomb story. He praised law enforcement for speedily solving the crime and denounced political violence. He said that the Republican Party is the party of unity for all Americans.
And that just pisses the left off :-)

Heckuva Job, Jerry

One of my trolls periodically asks why I don't leave California, given that I don't have anything positive to say about its government.  My reply is simple:  even if I left, California would still be a rotten place to live unless you're rich:
If liberal policies actually made any sort of progress correcting the various inequities that they’re alleged to do, big government utopias like California would be progressive beacons of hope for the American left. California, many believed, was so progressive and forward thinking that it would experiment with various social policies and the rest of the states would follow suit. Hence, the so-called “Golden Rule” of the nation was once “as California goes, so does the country.” So, how is California doing with the problem of wealth inequality?

Not so good.

Despite having the fifth-largest economy in the world, California is one of the worst states in the nation in terms of wealth inequality...

Despite all the wealth in the state and the Democrat control of state government, California actually ranks as the poorest state in the country after costs of living are factored in. A whopping 19 percent of Californians live below the poverty line. While California represents just 12 percent of the nation’s population, Californians represent a third of all Americans on welfare.
As the saying goes, read the whole thing.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Latest Bomb Scare

I concur with this:
First things first: Bombing people is bad. Sending bombs through the mail is bad. Sending ricin through the mail is bad. Mailing inert, harmless objects that are designed to look like bombs or ricin or something else that can kill people, to sow fear and confusion, is bad. I don't care what your motives are. I don't care how you rationalize it. I don't care how much you hate the policies and opinions of the people you're targeting. It's terrorism, and if you do it, you deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. You'll find people who are willing to defend you, while denying they're defending you -- "Hey, I'm not saying it's right, but wouldn't we all be better off with [fill in the blank] six feet under?" -- but I'm not one of them.
What's interesting, though, is that now that something is happening to lefties, the lefties howl.  Why weren't they howling before?  Because they like it when it happens to conservatives.
Just two weeks ago, the feds nabbed a guy who was planning to blow himself up on the National Mall on Election Day. And the story barely made a blip. Somebody sent ricin to John Kelly and Susan Collins, and nobody cares. A GOP candidate in Minnesota was sucker-punched in a restaurant after a political discussion. Nobody cares. Less than a month ago, a howling mob was literally pounding on the doors of the Supreme Court. The media's reaction: "Meh."
After some videos of leftie politicians' openly calling for violence, the article continues:
Does this mean Waters and Pelosi and Holder and the rest deserve to be targeted by terrorists? Absolutely not. It just means they should be careful what they wish for. A lot of Democrats have openly called for civil unrest. They've excused and condoned violence for political purposes. Well, this is what that looks like. If they advocate this sort of chaos and lunacy, they shouldn't act surprised when they become targets of it. Maybe it's too much to hope that they'll think twice before they say such things again.

"But that was different," mewl the libs. "Our team wasn't speaking literally. Haven't you ever heard of a metaphor, you rednecks?" Yeah, a metaphor is when a Democrat says something that you'd call treason if a Republican said it.
You reap what you sow.

Update, 10/26/18Caught him:
“[A] Filipino-American who pretended to be a Seminole, worked as a male stripper for a fake Chippendales company, used steroids, suffered from mental illness, hated his mother and terrorized the country by sending fake bombs through the mail. We’re living in Heinlein’s ‘Crazy Years’ . . .”

The "Data Industrial Complex"

In his farewell address in 1961, President Eisenhower famously warned against "the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."  Not as famously, in that same speech he warned against "the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."  Now we have one of the scions of the "scientific-technological elite" warning against the "data industrial complex":
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaking to an international privacy conference Wednesday said he supported the European Union's data privacy law, enacted in May, and called for the U.S. to pass similar protections.

The need for consumer protections is important because technological advances have led to the development of "a data industrial complex," Cook said. "Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency"...

The U.S. should have a "comprehensive federal privacy law" with four essential rights, Cook said. "First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to de-identify customer data – or not to collect it in the first place. Second, the right to knowledge. Users should always know what data is being collected and what it is being collected for," he said. "Third, the right to access. Companies should recognize that data belongs to users, and we should all make it easy for users to get a copy of…correct…and delete their personal data. And fourth, the right to security. Security is foundational to trust and all other privacy rights."
You don't have to believe me, but you probably shouldn't ignore Tim Cook on this particular topic.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Yet Another Reason I'm Not A Socialist

There are so many reasons not to be a socialist, but the compulsion necessary for socialism to operate is a big enough reason for me:
As Heilbroner reluctantly acknowledged, socialist planning cannot co-exist with individual rights, an achievement of Western culture he wanted to preserve. Instead, under socialism, culture must produce "some form of commitment to the idea of a morally conscious collectivity." This, however, was antagonistic to "bourgeois" culture, which "encourages and breeds the idea of the primary importance of the individual." And bourgeois culture, devoted to the sovereignty of the individual, he wrote, "naturally asserts the rights of individuals to speak their minds freely, to act as they wish within reasonable grounds, to behave as John Stuart Mill preached in his treatise On Liberty." A socialist culture, Heilbroner feared correctly, couldn't abide this "celebration of individualism" because it is "directly opposed to the basic socialist commitment to a deliberately embraced collective moral goal."

Most of today's democratic socialists, however, don't have the same doubts or circumspection of Heilbroner. The resurgent Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) argue that under democratic socialism "individual civil and political rights…which are routinely violated, would be strengthened, and public resources would be devoted to the development of a genuinely free press and a democratically-administered mass media." Lefty Brooklyn College professor Corey Robin—in a howler of a puff piece for The New York Times on "The New Socialists" such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders—argues that "what the socialist seeks is freedom."

This rhetoric, however, is profoundly ignorant of history and the internal logic of socialist ideology, as Heilbroner diagnosed it, or it's artifice. There is only one kind of democracy that socialists can create, and that is an illiberal one, where the "majority"—I suspect some kind of vanguard in reality—engages, yet once again, in massive experiments in social engineering in an attempt purge people of their nasty habits.

Democratic socialists will no doubt sneer at such an argument, but how could it be otherwise when the self-proclaimed goal of democratic socialists, according to DSA member and Jacobin staff writer Meagan Day, is to "end capitalism." To engage in such a project, however, can lead nowhere else but tyranny.
Capitalism isn't perfect--nothing involving humans ever is--but it's improved humanity more than any other economic system that's ever tried.

It's The Republicans Who Have Moved So Far Right? Uh, No.

Since the mid-90s, the plank of the Republican party has moved towards the center--think gay marriage, for instance--and the Democrats have moved wildly left.  Whenever people think the Republicans have moved to the right, I ask them, "on what issue?"  I can show you an issue where the Democrats have certainly moved to the far left in the past 20 years or so; heck, maybe they've moved crazy left in the past dozen years or so:

President Bill Clinton, 1995

Senator Barack Obama, 2005

I've pointed this out earlier this year, here.  That link includes yet another video, of President Obama, talking about illegal immigration.

What was eminently reasonable just a few years ago, and had been reasonable since the founding of the republic, is now considered wrong/racist/evil/stupid/etc.  It's not Republicans who have changed position here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Opportunity Costs of Socialism

Just published by the President's Council of Economic Advisors:
The Opportunity Costs of Socialism

Janus Wasn't The Apocalypse The Unionistas Feared

How are government worker unions doing in California in this post-Janus world?
California public employee unions can celebrate a little good news in the months since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that stripped them of millions of dollars in revenue and threatened their influence in the state:

So far, workers are not leaving their unions in high numbers. In fact, some labor organizations are gaining members.

Payroll data from the State Controller’s Office show that the unions representing California state employees have collectively gained members since the Supreme Court in June issued a decision that banned public sector unions from collecting fees from workers who don’t choose to join them.

The 5-4 decision in Janus vs. AFSCME ended a 41-year precedent that had permitted labor organizations to charge so-called “fair share” fees to workers who were covered by their contracts but did not sign up for them. Losing those fees dealt an immediate financial hit to unions and raised the possibility that more workers would opt out of labor organizations.

Instead, state worker unions notched a slight uptick in membership since the ruling, gaining about 300 workers among the 185,000 rank-and-file employees in state government. There are 131,410 dues-paying union members in California state government today, up from 131,102 in June. The numbers do not include university, school or local government employees.

“We had a concerted campaign across the labor movement to really show members the value of their union, and I think we’re seeing the value of that campaign now,” said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation. “Members aren’t dropping in big numbers as predicted. In fact, were’ seeing more enthusiasm than ever.”
Well, let's be honest.  The unions and their allies in the legislature passed laws giving unions unfettered access to new employees, and they don't let employees know the other side.  That's not "show(ing) members the value of their union" as much as it is "not letting new employees know they have a choice", but whatever.  At least all those union members are volunteers, and the money isn't extorted from them under threat of being fired.

That's all we non-union people ever wanted.  If you like your union, you can keep your union.  I just don't want to be a part of it.

Loyalty Oaths--To Diversity

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act.
--West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943
That quote was written by Robert Jackson in the Court's majority opinion. Jackson was a self-identified Democrat. Democrats and liberals used to believe such sentiments, but they don't anymore.  Here's one more exhibit:
Mathematicians who want tenure at UCLA have to do more than show a facility with numbers. They also have to pledge in writing a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity.

In fact, all professors applying for a tenure-track position at UCLA must write a statement on their commitment to diversity, showing, for example, their “record of success advising women and minority graduate students,” according to the UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
UCLA is a state university and, if you read the entire linked article, you'll find UCLA isn't the only state university requiring such loyalty oaths.  That's representative of your California government in action.

Monday, October 22, 2018

"Real Socialism" Vs The Fantasy of the Left

Take it from someone who lived it, it ain't all rainbows and unicorn farts:
As a straight, white, Christian, right-wing, middle class male of European extraction I get told to shut up a lot. As you can imagine, this does not at all stop me from speaking out. The white privilege clearly makes me both uncontrollable and insufferable.

But if lived experience is indeed the be-all-end-all that the identarian left considers it to be, there is one area where my lived experience without a doubt shit all over the lived experience of the woke folk. Unlike all those among them who have been born and/or raised in the West and have zero or almost zero experience of living under anything other than a liberal democratic government (which is 99 per cent of them at least), I have lived the first 15 years of my life under the Soviet block-style communism, or “real socialism” as the Party used to call it. I’m not going to pretend that the 1970s and the 80s in Poland were as bloody and traumatic as the Stalinist Russia, Mao’s China or Pol Pot’s Cambodia (as P J O’Rourke who visited Warsaw at that time noted, the communism for most part doesn’t kill you any more, it just bores you to death) but I do know a difference or twenty-two between a totalitarian or authoritarian society and a Western democracy.

So to all the women dressing up in costumes from “Handmaid’s Tale” who think they’re on the brink of living in a misogynist theocracy,

To all those calling themselves “The Resistance”, as if they were the French Maquis or the Polish Home Army shooting collaborators and derailing trains after their country has been brutally occupied by a totalitarian foreign power,

To those who think that America is currently in a grip of fascism and are calling on the military to stage a coup to remove the President (that’s you Rosie O’Donnell, Sarah Silverman, Congressman Steve Cohen and others),

To the celebrities and commentators, from Michael Moore to former security officials like John Brennan, who think the United States is on the brink of dictatorship,

To all those who have compared Trump to Hitler,

(And a special mention of those who really should know better – professional historians of the German and the Russian totalitarianism, like Timothy “Bloodlands” Snyder and Charles “Ordinary Men” Browning, who have been only too happy to – without quite comparing Trump to Hitler – talk about illiberal democracy, authoritarian leadership, and draw parallels between the 1930s Europe and the 2010s America),

you really have no idea, and I mean it with the greatest possible respect. Actually, I don’t. Most of you are supposedly mature, rational adults but you seem to have at best the most superficial knowledge of history and a complete lack of self-awareness, any sense of perspective, and an ability to contextualise. Having spent your lives relatively free of hardship, deprivation and persecution on any remotely comparable scale to people in other, less fortunate corners of the world, you probably get some frisson from believing yourself to be big actors at a critical time in history, the last line of separating civilisation from the descent into new dark ages. You’re free to engage in whatever ideological cosplay you want, but don’t expect others to take you seriously.
"Ideological cosplay".  That's good!

It seems that there are no rainbows or unicorn farts.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

If You Don't Want To Be Called A Mob, Don't Act Like A Mob

A collection of stories of leftist attacks on prominent Republicans
Here’s a reminder that we’ve moved beyond spirited debate within our political culture into rudeness and thuggery. Take a look at the selection of stories about that descent towards anarchy...

Each article involves, directly or indirectly, an elected Republican official, a current or former top member of a GOP administration member, or a candidate for public office.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Invasion Force Heading To The United States

Thousands upon thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, etc., have forced their way into Mexico, intent on forcing their way into the United States.  Video at the link.

Yes, we all know this is an election stunt promoted by the American Left, which is paying some of these people.

Here's a radical thought.  Rather than walking through Mexico, risking whatever privations and physical harm would be inherent in such a venture, why not stand up against your own s***hole governments and make things better in your own countries?  It's clear that you love those countries, given that you're carrying the flags of those countries as you trek towards the United States.

A thought so wacky it just might work.

Do These Ideas Have Traction Today?

Yes, yes they do.  And you can thank the Communists.

Yes, the lefties can laugh at how out-of-date that sounds.  Their ideas are still the children of communism, though:
In a previous post on Suicidalism, I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons. Here is that list again:
  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia...

Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people — at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life...

In this context, Jeff Goldstein has written eloquently about perhaps the most long-term dangerous of these memes — the idea that rights inhere not in sovereign individuals but identity groups, and that every identity group (except the “ruling class”) has the right to suppress criticism of itself through political means up to and including violence.
And the Soviet Communists didn't even come up with mocking people for not believing in 17 genders, and compelling people to use incorrect pronouns.

Communists were (and are) a-holes, yet the modern American Left laps up their ideas and jacks those ideas up on steroids.

"Learning" To Eat New Foods

Besides the problems of feeding people food they might not want to eat, and of not telling them what they're eating, I have to believe the cost of kangaroo meat is a bit high to justify this:
A Nebraska superintendent is apologizing for "anxiety and any harm" caused after a school chef served — without disclosing — kangaroo meat to students.

A head cook in the state's Potter-Dix Public School district served up the meat on Oct. 10 as part of a chili dish mixed with meat, superintendent Mike Williams wrote in a letter to parents and students.

The chef, Kevin Frei, used the meat because of its "nutritional value," Williams said. He noted that while the meat was legal to sell and eat, and not "unhealthy or dangerous" — it "has to meet USDA standards in order for companies to sell it" — students should know what's in the food they're eating.

Doesn't Fit The Media Narrative

Somehow, I doubt this will get as much media attention as now-Justice Kavanaugh's accuser got:
Shall we go by the old rules or the new rules? Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-OH) Senate campaign has highlighted a claim by an anonymous woman that incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) might have sexually harassed or assaulted her in the late 1980s. The Renacci campaign has released a statement from the woman’s attorney, who says the victim has indirect support of her claims....
What is this "indirect support"?
The statement does not provide a date, a location, supporting evidence or identify the woman, but describes her as “a very credible source and a professional woman.”
That's at least as much evidence as Kavanaugh's accuser could make up, so by the Democrats' own rules, Sherrod Brown has to go!
Under the old rules, this would require more than a little skepticism. This woman just so happened to reach out to Renacci’s law partner, huh? To describe a physical assault from 30 years ago just a few weeks before an election, when Brown has been running for statewide and federal offices since 1983, when he first won the Secretary of State position? Stories like these that emerge right before a vote would normally be considered a smear without really solid proof, and for good reason...

Of course, those were the old rules. Under the new rules of the Kavanaughcalypse, the accusation is enough. Who needs substantiation and direct corroboration? Believe the women rather than test the evidence? For Sherrod Brown, those new rules looked pretty tasty just a few days ago....
Will the legacy media have 24 hour wall-to-wall coverage of this?  Uh, no.  No, it will not.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Which Senate Races Are Teachers Unions Focused On

If you want to know what teachers unions are up to, Mike Antonucci is your guy:
Thirty-five Senate seats will be contested this fall, including the addition of special elections in Minnesota and Mississippi, but only a handful of these are really up for grabs. The good news for the teacher unions is that the Democrats need a net gain of only two seats to win a majority. The bad news is — absent an overwhelming Democratic wave — they will have to pick up those seats in very unfriendly territory while keeping all of their own vulnerable seats.

As much as we in the field would like to think that education is a critical issue, it barely makes an appearance in the national consciousness. Only two percent of Americans list it as the nation’s most important problem. “Dissatisfaction with government/Poor leadership” leads the way with 21%, followed by “Immigration/Illegal aliens” with 16% in the latest monthly Gallup poll...

That leaves eight campaigns where NEA will expend much of its resources and deploy political staff. Four are currently held by Democrats and four by Republicans. All eight are listed as toss-ups in the latest Cook Political Report. Democrats will likely need to win six...

The unions have long been a reliable source of campaign contributions to Democratic candidates, but their real value comes from independent expenditures and get-out-the-vote efforts. That spending comes out of dues money and is not limited to voluntary contributions to the union PAC by members. It will likely run into the tens of millions of dollars.
Click on the link to see which races the unions are sinking money and effort into.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Interventions During School Time

Education can be a stupid business sometimes.  Everyone tries the same failed ideas.

My school's accreditation agency, WASC, is pushing us to have "interventions during school hours".  In a reasonable, rational world, school hours would be for school, and time outside of school hours can be used for myriad other tasks, including seeking extra help from a teacher.  The powers that be, though, whose minds are so open that their brains have fallen out, have decided that expecting students to get extra help outside of school hours is asking too much.  Some kids can't come early or stay after school, they say.  It's not fair.  Poor and minority students are hurt by such expectations.

Their solution?  Offer extra help during school hours.  That's right, boys and girls, we'll have less instructional time so that struggling students can get extra help during the school day.

Does anyone think that cutting instructional time will help students?  No, of course not.  But that's irrelevant.  What's relevant is that poor and minority (read: struggling) students will have time available during the school day to get extra help.  I'll have less time in class to give them extra help, but now I'll have this intervention time.  With a full class of students.  Who aren't all at the same academic level, and who don't all need the same type of help.

In other words, it'll be just like regular class.

My solution?  Give struggling a "study hall"-type class wherein they can get some of their homework done.  With a teacher who might be able to answer their questions.  Every kid doesn't need this intervention period or study hall, only students who are failing several of their courses do.  Why change the entire school schedule when the solution could be targeted at the students who, in theory, would be helped by this particular in-school intervention of study hall?

Because that's not progre-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-sive enough.  It doesn't show poor and minority kids how much we care.  It doesn't make high performing (white and Asian) students pay a penalty for their academic success.  It doesn't "level the playing field".

Do I believe what I just wrote?  Yes, yes I do.

Update:  Maybe cutting instructional time for an intervention class will solve this problem:
An increased number of high school students are unprepared for college coursework as math scores drop to a 14-year low, according to an annual ACT study released Wednesday.

The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2018 found 40 percent of the more than 1.9 million 2018 high school graduates who took the test were meeting math benchmarks. This is down from 41 percent in 2017 and 46 percent in 2012, according to the report.

The ACT is a college entrance exam that tests in math, science and English with an optional writing section and is graded on a scale of 1 to 36. The benchmarks are the minimum scores that a student needs to obtain in each section to be considered college-ready.

The benchmark scores for both math and reading was 22, science a 23 and English at 18, Ed Colby, ACT senior director of media and public relations, said in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The average math score fell to 20.5, according to the report. English also saw a drop from 65 percent of students meeting the minimum score in 2017 to 60 percent in 2018.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Asians Are Considered Minorities--Except In Education

As Instapundit often says, "Asians are the new Jews."  He says that in relation to Asians being discriminated against in Harvard (and other Ivy League schools) admissions.  Eighty years ago it was the Jews who, if merit alone were considered, would be "overrepresented" in the Ivies.  I don't know if Jews would still be overrepresented, but we know that Asians would be.  They aren't "interesting" enough to add diversity at today's universities.  Who says so?  University admissions officers.  That's why Asians have to score even higher than white kids to have the same chance of entry into so many of the nation's top universities.

The current lawsuit against Harvard, though, may not yield the hoped-for results, even if successful:
It is uncertain how the current lawsuit regarding Harvard’s alleged discriminate against Asian applicants will eventually turn out, but the smart money predicts little will change. After all, this is just one of many similar previous lawsuits, and racial preferences survived them all. Nor should we ignore administrative ingenuity in circumventing court orders. At most, Harvard and other elite schools will admit a handful more Asian applicants and hold their tongues in describing these youngsters as boring, plain vanilla dullards who add little to the school’s vital diversity.

The Court’s likely reluctance to flat out ban racial discrimination hardly settles the issue.
It's 2018 and we're still judging people by the color of their skin.  Fifty years after his death, Dr. King would be so disappointed.