Thursday, January 17, 2019

One Of The Most Amazing Presidential Letters I've Ever Seen

Nancy Pelosi wants to prevent from addressing a joint session of Congress to deliver the State Of The Union address?  He saw her bet, and raised bigly:
Bet's to you, Nancy.

Chris Cillizza isn't too happy about the above letter, and doesn't see the irony in his own words:


I'm gonna go make some more popcorn, this is entertaining.


A Tiny Win For Free Speech

When I was growing up, I was taught that free speech was a big deal.  It's what separated our American society from other, more tyrannical, societies.

Today, rather than lose it, too many Americans are willing to give that right away--especially on university campuses.  Not so at George Mason University:
George Mason University eliminated its speech codes nearly four years ago, but didn’t adopt a formal statement defending freedom of expression until late last year.

What is more notable: The public university has flipped the script on bias reporting.

On its new “Free Speech at Mason” page, the northern Virginia school features a “Submit a Report” button at the top left. Here’s what it says: “If you believe your right to free speech has been infringed at Mason, you may submit an incident report by clicking on the button below.”
It would be nice if other schools would follow suit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How Striking Los Angeles Teachers Can Save $1000

A couple of organizations have joined forces to put up billboards in Los Angeles telling teachers they can save $1000/yr by leaving the union:


Thank you, Mark Janus! And remember, I was there at the Supreme Court the day history was made!

I'm Having A Hard Time Feeling Sorry For Them

In my readings this afternoon I've encountered two groups of people that I just can't gin up a lot of sympathy for.

The first is federal workers during the government shutdown.  Yes, those who are working should get paid.  If we need them to work then they're essential, and thus should get paid.  I have sympathy for that group.  But the others, the ones who perform government tasks that don't directly affect us peons outside the beltway, they're getting time off work.  I understand they need their paychecks in order to make ends meet, but their jobs don't exist just so the workers can pay their bills.  Rather, they get paid to do a certain job, and right now (through no fault of their own) they're not doing that job.  I sympathize with their plight, but I'm not going to let poster-size pictures of temporarily-out-of-work federal workers tug at my heartstrings as if they had just been gunned down in a random drive-by.  If we're going to have candlelight vigils for federal workers who, if history is any guide, will eventually get paid for work they didn't even do, you can count me out.

As Instapundit said today, in a veiled reference to the previous US president:
Coal miners lose their jobs for good and it’s “you’re obsolete, learn to code!” Federal workers have a few paychecks delayed and the press is in heartstring-tugging mode.
There's a second group of people for whom I just can't bring myself to feel sorry for is tech workers in San Francisco:
The dream of working for one of Silicon Valley's many tech behemoths, along with the luxuries such a six-figure salary would afford, has resulted in droves of engineering degree-toting techies coming to the Bay Area.

Though, in reality, earning a tech salary is not all it's cracked up to be.

In the nation's most competitive real-estate market, it can be next to impossible to find affordable living accommodations. The housing crisis has left thousands struggling and has done nothing to help the city's homelessness epidemic...

Like the people behind the Negev, a communal-living organization that houses tech workers in San Francisco.

It's one of many communal spaces in the city designed to help techies circumvent the housing shortage and high rent. The home offers 50 rooms across three floors.

Many Negev residents sleep in bunk beds and shell out $1,900 a month to live here.
While that sucks, no one required them to take those jobs. And are they going to vote for the same socialist politicians and policies that created the housing problem in the first place?  I guess we'll never know, but...

If quality of life matters to you, and you're not filthy rich, then you don't move (your family) to San Francisco.  You just don't.

And if you're a 20-something recent college grad and you hope to strike it big some day?  Well, you pays your dues and you sees what happens.  Someday you can look back on these early years and laugh at the crappy conditions in which you lived.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

LA Unified Strike

CTEN President Larry Sand, writing for the California Policy Center, says that collective bargaining hurts teachers and students:
Using a model from the Industrial Era, teachers in Los Angeles are striking.

I have written about the subject many times, but it is worth revisiting as Los Angeles teachers are striking over a one-size-fits-all collective bargaining contract that is harmful to all concerned.

Collective bargaining, a term first introduced into the lexicon by socialist Beatrice Webb in 1891, is a process of negotiations between employers and employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions. The term refers to the sort of collective negotiations and agreements that had existed since the rise of trade unions during the 18th century, where workers were commonly represented by a union, and the agreements reached by this arrangement set wage scales, work rules, etc.

But does this 18th Century industrial model serve teachers and students in the 21st?

No, says researcher and education policy expert Greg Forster. He writes that collective bargaining is not a good fit for k-12 teachers. “Teachers are like doctors and lawyers. Standardizing the work they do into a one-size-fits-all mold creates major headaches for them.” Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) demand standardization, “so processes and outputs can be specified in labor-management negotiations.” He maintains that unhindered by collective bargaining, private school teachers nationally are more likely to have control over selection of textbooks and other instructional materials by 53 to 32 percent; content, topics and skills to be taught (60 to 36 percent); performance standards for students (40 to 18) curriculum (47 to 22) and discipline policy (25 to 13).
The strike has been in effect for only 2 days now.  What's happened with the students?
How many students went to school on Day One of the strike?

Of the district’s half a million students, only a third showed up...

What’s the lesson plan for students while teachers are away?

There isn’t one set plan. And what counts for a lesson varies, too.

At one school Monday, with minimal staff on hand, the principal had students watch “Black Panther” while she came up with a plan.
This didn't come out of nowhere. You'd think there'd have been better planning than that.
How many people are affected by the strike?

Nearly half a million students and their families are affected.

An estimated 400 substitutes and 2,000 staffers from central and regional offices are filling in for 31,000 teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors.
The 1989 strike lasted 9 days.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Denigrating a Dead Police Officer

The nearby city of Davis, home of our local University of California campus (which I often derisively refer to as Berkeley-lite), recently suffered its first murder of a police officer since years before I was born.  The officer was assisting at the scene of an accident when a passer-by approached and shot her several times.  The murderer was later found dead, along with his suicide note.  He was obviously mentally ill, having believed that the Davis Police Department was directing sonic waves at his dogs, or something crazy like that.

So a 22-year-old police officer is dead.  Just like that.

Officer Corona, of Hispanic descent (yes, that's important to the story), is shown here in a couple pictures:

She was a beautiful young woman with her entire life ahead of her, all snuffed out because of what she was wearing, her uniform. Her loss is senseless and tragic.

Her father, Merced Corona, served 26 years as a deputy with the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department. Only five months ago, he proudly pinned her badge on her when she was sworn in. Now, sadly, for no reason, in a week or so, he will be burying her.

No parent should ever have to bury their kid, especially one murdered for no other reason than the profession she chose.  link
And there's this one from 2 years ago:
And that's where the controversy begins at UC Davis:
However, a group of students at the University of California, Davis contend the photograph is racist and they are demanding that people cease and desist circulating the image.

“The flag is blatantly anti-Black and disrespectful,” the Associated Students, UC-Davis Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission wrote on its now-deleted Facebook page.

“We see it necessary to call-out all community members who continue to post and disseminate images of the Blue Lives Matter flag online,” they wrote. “We would like to directly address that this flag represents an attempt by law enforcement to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission also offered to provide help for students “triggered by this event and the circulating images of a flag that has been popularized by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ crowd.”

“Flashing lights, sirens and increased police presence can be triggering to many Black and Brown people,” they wrote.
At least they were shamed into removing the post.  Remember, this officer's father was also a law enforcement officer, and both of them would be considered "Brown people" by these particular students in any other context.

As I said, at least they were shamed into removing the post.  And I'm quite impressed with Davis' president of the Associated Students, which I assume is akin to a student body president:
“I wholeheartedly condemn the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs commission for this disgusting post,” wrote Michael Gofman, the president of the Associated Students, UC-Davis. “It’s easy to sit on the third floor of the Memorial Union where there are at least 100 brave men and women in blue between you and the shooter. It is easy to argue hypotheticals, politics, and ideology when you’re in safety.”

“I am ashamed that some of these same people, protected by the very officers that they are condemning, have the audacity to politicize the loss of a young officer. Her only crime was being a police officer,” Gofman wrote on his Facebook page.
I am ashamed, and disgusted, that my tax money pays for the education of idiots like those in the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Update, 1/15/19:  Today, the front page of the major Sacramento newspaper had the Blue Lives Matter picture at the top of its web page, along with a story about the controversy:
The ECAC’s web page describes it as a branch that recommends policies and programs for minority groups at UC Davis. It was named UC Davis’ commission of the year in 2018. The ECAC previously boycotted Gofman’s annual State of the Association address, calling him “racist,” “divisive” and “not trustworthy,” UC Davis student newspaper The California Aggie reported.

UC Davis responded to a torrent of angry commenters on Twitter Sunday morning, saying that student groups do not speak for the university and urging unity among Davis residents.

Teacher Reaches Rock Bottom, Keeps Digging

About 11 months ago I wrote about a middle school teacher whom I referred to as an idiot because of her so-called lesson about the conditions aboard slave ships.  Seriously, click on that link and I think you'll agree with me.

To borrow a phrase from General Honoré, the teacher in question is back in the news and "stuck on stupid":
A white New York City teacher plans to sue the city for $1 billion over her firing in October following claims that she abused and humiliated black students during a lesson about slavery, according to multiple reports.

Patricia Cummings, who teaches in the Bronx, initially filed a $120 million lawsuit in Suffolk County, where she lives.

The incident involved Cummings having black junior high school students lie down on the floor of the classroom. She allegedly put her knee on a student's back in an effort to show how African-Americans were subjected to terrible treatment during slavery.

The school investigated and found she had used poor judgment but did not recommend corporal punishment charges. She was reassigned and later fired.

The 37-year-old teacher said Thursday she has "no career at this point" because of the publicity surrounding the incident and plans to launch a $1 billion class-action suit with other teachers who say they were discriminated against by the city.
You will not often find me supporting the government of New York City, and neither will I say that the City has never discriminated against any teachers.  However, her particular complaint is akin to something you step on in the pasture.

Most Stressed Cities In America

From Inc.:
Working from census data measuring objective factors that impact livability and stress in 306 U.S. cities, the jobs site Zippia ranked the most and least stressed urban areas. We have the whole list of the top 100 below, and the criteria included:
  • Average commute times
  • Unemployment rate
  • Average hours worked
  • Population density
  • Home price to income ratio
  • Percent of population without health insurance
California has about 1/8 of the US population, but regarding this list of "most stressed cities" it has
2 of the top 5,
3 of the top 10,
8 of the top 20, and
50 of the top 100.  Even little Sacramento makes the list at #95.
How can this be in Liberal Utopia?  Well, actually, it's exactly what you'd expect to find in a liberal utopia, but plenty of people apparently prefer this to, you know, actually being happy.

A Tale of Two Cities

I find it extremely interesting that liberal news outlets like CNN report one way on the government shutdown in Washington, and a completely different way on the government shutdown in the country's 2nd largest school district.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

When The President Lies

The media care about presidential lies only when the president has an (R) after his name:
MSM Never Questioned Airing An Obama Speech Despite These 1063 Examples Of His Lies, Mendacity, Etc.
Sometimes they even create so-called lies.  Go figure.

If Only This Could Happen To Public Schools, Too

I'm a supporter of charter schools and vouchers.  I'm also a supporter of fiscal responsibility.  Any organization that isn't a good steward of public funds should be shut down.  Why is this belief celebrated in the press only when applied to charter schools, though?
More than 100 of the 544 charter schools in Arizona are in danger of closing because of excessive debt and other financial troubles, according to a recent report.

Self-described centrist think tank Grand Canyon Institute found that 105 charter schools in the state were losing more than $400 per student, per year.

"You will see a bunch of charters folding suddenly," said Curt Cardine, the study's main author. Cardine is a former charter executive for EdKey Inc., a large Arizona charter chain that had a $7.74 million net deficit as of June 30, 2018.

Arizona State Board for Charter Schools Chairwoman Kathy Senseman disputes that so many charters will close, saying Grand Canyon Institute's estimates are "a little inflated."

More Equal Than Others

This principal is a petty little tyrant, no?
A school resource officer at an Ohio grade school was escorted off school property after he gave a parking ticket to the school principal.

Police officials in the town of Warren are peeved at the treatment of Officer Adam Chinchic, who reportedly had warned Jefferson School Principal Carrie Boyer numerous times about parking in spaces reserved for the handicapped.
Carrie should be thankful the fine was only $100.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Global Warming Apostate

Climate scientist retires, then declares ‘I am a skeptic’ – Offers to debate – Rejects ‘denier’ label: ‘We don’t live in medieval times’

“Climate is too complicated to attribute its variability to one cause. We first need to understand the natural climate variability (which we clearly don’t) Only then we can assess the magnitude and reasons of climate change.”
Who is this guy?
For the next three years I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Atmospheric Environmental Service, Cloud Physics Division, at Downsview, Ontario, an area in the north end of Toronto.

In 1985, I joined the Department of Geosciences at the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee (UWM) as an Assistant Professor. 28 years later I am still at UWM, now as Distinguished Professor in the department of Mathematical Sciences. I currently oversee the Atmospheric Sciences program, a subdivision of the Mathematical Sciences which includes 6 other internationally recognized faculty members, and has become one of the most successful research groups at UWM.

My work has focused on the study of Atmospheric Sciences, specifically in the areas of climate dynamics and global change.

Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword

Instead of calling them social justice warriors, we would be more accurate if we called them social justice bullies:
I drive food delivery for an online app to make rent and support myself and my young family. This is my new life. I once had a well paid job in what might be described as the social justice industry. Then I upset the wrong person, and within a short window of time, I was considered too toxic for my employer’s taste. I was publicly shamed, mobbed, and reduced to a symbol of male privilege. I was cast out of my career and my professional community. Writing anything under my own byline now would invite a renewal of this mobbing—which is why, with my editor’s permission, I am writing this under a pseudonym. He knows who I am.

In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good...

Then one day, suddenly, I was accused of some of the very transgressions I’d called out in others. I was guilty, of course: There’s no such thing as due process in this world. And once judgment has been rendered against you, the mob starts combing through your past, looking for similar transgressions that might have been missed at the time. I was now told that I’d been creating a toxic environment for years at my workplace; that I’d been making the space around me unsafe through microaggressions and macroaggressions alike.

Social justice is a surveillance culture, a snitch culture. The constant vigilance on the part of my colleagues and friends did me in. That’s why I’m delivering sushi and pizza. Not that I’m complaining. It’s honest work, and it’s led me to rediscover how to interact with people in the real world. I am a kinder and more respectful person now that I’m not regularly on social media attacking people for not being “kind” and “respectful.”
A "surveillance culture, a snitch culture."
Aggressive online virtue signaling is a fundamentally two-dimensional act. It has no human depth. It’s only when we snap out of it, see the world as it really is, and people as they really are, that we appreciate the destruction and human suffering we caused when we were trapped inside.
There's an old saying that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.  The author is still no conservative, but he's certainly learned a lesson about today's leftists, their ideology, and their hatred.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Some of My Favorite Music

Motown.

Paved With Good Intentions

I can't imagine that there's anyone who thinks that the motives behind the Americans With Disabilities Act are bad, that the intent wasn't a good one.  We must always remember, though, that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and good intentions aren't sufficient to make good law:
Is it Beyoncé’s fault that some of her fans are blind? Is the performer a “public accommodation,” like a hotel, restaurant, or department store? Is it society’s obligation to rectify all misfortunes in life’s lottery? These questions may seem silly, but they lie at the heart of a cottage industry of abusive class-action litigation against websites pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a well-intentioned but poorly conceived—and horribly drafted—law that continues to generate unintended consequences decades following its passage in 1990. Computer users afflicted with various disabilities—blind consumers seem especially litigious—regularly sue companies hosting websites that allegedly aren’t sufficiently “accommodating” of their condition. Beyoncé and her website (beyonce.com), through her management company, became their latest target.

The federal court complaint naming Beyoncé, as is typical of this predatory genre, is a cookie-cutter document. Both the plaintiff and her lawyer are serial ADA litigants, sometimes referred to as “ADA trolls.” Given the lack of any fixed legal standard for “web accessibility,” almost any grievance involving the technical features of a website is litigable, and there is no shortage of contingent-fee lawyers eager to file suit. The principal requirement: a defendant with deep pockets. With 22 Grammy awards to her credit, the phenomenally successful Beyoncé qualifies. She and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, reportedly have a net worth over $1 billion.

Such lawsuits plague merchants engaged in e-commerce, even though the ADA was enacted before the advent of the Internet.

One-Party State

A long-time friend of mine is from New Orleans, where, he used to say, they had the best politicians money could buy.

There's also the adage, "Vote early, vote often."

How much of this is sheer incompetence, and how much is malice?  Neither should make any fair-minded Californian feel good:
Judicial Watch announced today that it signed a settlement agreement with the State of California and County of Los Angeles under which they will begin the process of removing from their voter registration rolls as many as 1.5 million inactive registered names that may be invalid. These removals are required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

The NVRA is a federal law requiring the removal of inactive registrations from the voter rolls after two general federal elections (encompassing from 2 to 4 years). Inactive voter registrations belong, for the most part, to voters who have moved to another county or state or have passed away...

In its lawsuit, Judicial Watch alleged:
Los Angeles County has more voter registrations on its voter rolls than it has citizens who are old enough to register. Specifically, according to data provided to and published by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Los Angeles County has a registration rate of 112 percent of its adult citizen population.
The entire State of California has a registration rate of about 101 percent of its age-eligible citizenry.
Eleven of California’s 58 counties have registration rates exceeding 100 percent of the age-eligible citizenry.
The lawsuit confirmed that Los Angeles County has on its rolls more than 1.5 million potentially ineligible voters. This means that more than one out of every five LA County registrations likely belongs to a voter who has moved or is deceased. Judicial Watch notes that “Los Angeles County has the highest number of inactive registrations of any single county in the country.”

The Judicial Watch lawsuit also uncovered that neither the State of California nor Los Angeles County had been removing inactive voters from the voter registration rolls for the past 20 years. The Supreme Court affirmed last year in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Inst., 138 S. Ct. 1833 (2018) that the NVRA “makes this removal mandatory.”
The dead always vote Democratic. Always.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Arming Teachers

I used to be against the idea of arming teachers but now support it under what I consider to be eminently reasonable conditions.  Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks armed teachers aren't a bad idea:
The question is no longer "should we arm teachers?" Now, it's "how many armed teachers are already out there?" We flew down to Ohio to embed with the men and women behind FASTER Saves Lives, a group that has trained thousands of teachers from all across the country how to shoot to kill.

Ew, Who Would Want This?

If I had to list the top 5 things I'd enjoy doing naked, dining wouldn't be on that list.  Even further down that list would be dining with a bunch of other naked people.  Perhaps that's why this restaurant is closing:
A little over a year after it opened, Paris’ first nudist restaurant is set to close its doors in February due to a lack of business.

O’Naturel opened in November 2017 in the city of lights’ 12 arrondissement, a testament to the rising popularity of naturism in France.

But unfortunately it didn’t prove as popular as expected, as the owners just announced the final date to dine coming up next month.
They will be open on Valentine's Day, if that's your idea of romance.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

That's A Lot Of Inflation

Remember the first Presidential $1 coins that had edge lettering?  Remember the brouhaha after a few were found without the edge lettering?  Mistakes sometimes happen in our US mint facilities, and sometimes those errors are released to the public.  A big error happened during WW2:
A penny that a Massachusetts teenager found in his change from lunch money could be worth as much as $1.65 million (£1.3 million) when it is auctioned off.

The 1943 Lincoln penny is made up of copper and has been described as the "most famous" coin made in error, according to Heritage Auctions, which is auctioning off the coin. Only 20 were ever made and for years the U.S. government denied its existence, but one coin was found by Don Lutes Jr. in his school cafeteria in March 1947...

In the 1940s, copper was considered a strategic metal, largely because of World War II, as it was used to make shell casings, telephone wire and other wartime necessities. To preserve the metal, 1943 Lincoln pennies were made of zinc-coated steel, but a tiny fraction of the pennies put into circulation wound up using copper.
The 1943 pennies are gray-colored "steel cents".  This kid's cent is made of copper.

Who Runs Our Hypermasculine War Machine?

According to MSNBC:
The CEOs of four of the five biggest defense contractors are women. Watch Ali Velshi break down who is running Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing’s defense wing, and weapons negotiations for the U.S.
Video at the link.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Back To Work Today

For the first time in two weeks I went back to work.  There were things I had to get done as well as things I wanted to get done.  It was a teacher work day--students return tomorrow--so I had time.

I got my last two classes of final exams graded today.  Got the grades entered into the computer, determined semester grades, and sent them to the registrar.  Those were what I was required to do.

I administered a final exam to a student who missed taking it in December.  I worked with my student teacher on some teaching skills and classroom management techniques.

What I didn't do was start my essays.  I'm applying to be a Fulbright Specialist and, as part of the application process, must write not one but two essays.  Granted, they're relatively short (no more than 10,000 characters/1500 words each), but I must submit them by next Monday.  And I didn't get to them at all today.

After taking a nap when I got home--I'm not used to getting up so early in the morning!--I started each of them tonight.  Sure, I wrote only about 100-150 words on each of them, but now I have ideas swirling around in my mind. As coherent thoughts occur to me I'll make a note of them, add them to the appropriate essay, and supplement with supporting commentary.  Using this method I'll have them done by next Monday.

That was my day.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Is Porn Like Abortion?

Lefties always say that if you don't like abortion, don't have one.  Does that go for porn, too?
A movement to ban porn is gaining steam on some college campuses—and it's mostly led by male students. Jim Martinson, a senior at Notre Dame, penned a letter to the campus newspaper in October asking the administration to install a porn filter so that students wouldn't be able to access websites like Pornhub and Redtube on the university's wifi.

Immoral and Racist By Their Own Definition

So Nancy Pelosi, she of the walled-off house, thinks a border wall would be immoral?  How to explain this then?

The only difference between then and now is the letter in the parentheses after the president's name.

Portland NAACP Wants Blacks To Die In Earthquake

What other conclusion can you draw from this?
A new city policy requiring public signs on brick buildings warning they might collapse in an earthquake is part of a long history of white supremacy aimed at forcing black people to move out of neighborhoods, the NAACP of Portland, Oregon, says.

The group on Thursday decried the policy affecting some 1,600 unreinforced masonry buildings that are on average 90 years old, many in areas with a predominantly black population, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports .

The policy “exacerbates a long history of systemic and structural betrayals of trust and policies of displacement, demolition, and dispossession predicated on classism, racism, and white supremacy,” the group said.

The NAACP said the policy will make it tougher for owners of brick buildings to get loans and will discourage investment. It says that means buildings will have to be sold, and that developers will demolish and redevelop, increasing the cost to live there and forcing current residents out.

“It speaks to our houses of worship and everything about the black presence in the North-Northeast area,” said the Rev. E.D. Mondaine, a pastor at Celebration Tabernacle Church in north Portland and president of the Portland NAACP chapter.

City officials say the ordinance approved in October is part of an effort ultimately aimed at upgrading old buildings to withstand an earthquake, though seismic upgrades likely wouldn’t be required for at least 20 years. Such upgrades could cost brick-building owners millions of dollars.

Experts say Portland is at risk because there’s close to a 50 percent chance of a giant earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Oregon coast in the next 50 years.

The warning signs and a requirement that building owners must file a record of compliance is “really just a disclosure,” said Alex Cousins, a spokesman for the city Bureau of Development Services. “That’s the purpose behind it.”

The warning signs are to go up on public buildings this month, and on most other buildings by March 1. The warning on them says: “This is an unreinforced masonry building. Unreinforced masonry buildings may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake.”
Sounds like California Prop 65 warnings to me--which are so ubiquitous that no one pays attention to any of them.  But they're not racist.

Do People Really Believe This?

I've said before that the American left probably doesn't believe half the things is posits.  Rather, there's a competition to see who can say the stupidest thing and have everyone else pretend to believe it.

Do people really believe such idiocy, or do they just like the attention?
American University is hosting a seminar next month to teach faculty how to assess writing without judging its quality. In the seminar’s own words: “grading ain’t just grading.”

It’s led by Asao Inoue, a University of Washington-Tacoma professor, and the purpose is to pursue “antiracist ends” through writing assessments...

Inoue’s publications on writing assessments suggest that he sees subconscious racism in standards, due to white students consistently outperforming black and Latino students.

“We must rethink how we assess writing, if we want to address the racism,” Inoue wrote in his 2015 book “Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future.”

In another paper, “A Grade-less Writing Course that Focuses on Labor and Assessing,” Inoue argues that writing teachers should “calculate course grades by labor completed and dispense almost completely with judgements [sic] of quality when producing course grades.”
So the way to achieve whatever racial ends are sought is to keep minority students uneducated? If this becomes more than one idiot's "look at me" seminar, then higher education is lost.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

A Stupid Policy

I can agree with ID badges.  I can agree with ID badges that are color-coded, especially if that color-coding grants access to certain areas on or, in the case of the school mentioned below, off campus.  But I can't agree with badges that identify how well a student is doing in school.  May as well just have students carry around a copy of their transcript:
A high school that requires some students to wear ID badges announcing their failing grades is causing bullying and public ridicule, especially for students with learning disabilities, and has caused the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to step in.

Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Ariz., issues ID badges for all students to hang around their necks — freshmen and sophomores wear red-colored cards and juniors and seniors wear gray, both of which are school colors. “These are standard badges worn by students at schools across the nation issued in large part as identification in the case of a school shooting,” attorney Susan Segal, who is representing the school, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “At Mingus, older kids are allowed to leave campus for lunch, and their colored badges indicate their grade level to security guards.”

But according to the Arizona chapter of the ACLU, upperclassmen who struggle in classes must also wear red badges (aka “scarlet badges” of shame) with numbers that indicate their repeated grade level if their marks don’t improve. “Not surprisingly, students forced to wear the bright-red badges have experienced increased bullying, public ridicule, and shaming by other students and teachers,” reads a Dec. 28 letter from the ACLU to superintendent Genie Gee.

Using Notes on the Final Exam

In some of the courses I teach, I allow students to use a note card on the final exam.  I don't expect every student to memorize every formula that we encounter, and while I could give them a formula sheet as part of the final, I've always believed that the act of creating the note sheet contributes to both the studying and the learning.  I require these note sheets to be hand written, no typing or scanning or photocopying allowed.  And then today I read this in a post on cursive handwriting over at Joanne's site:
“Separate research studies at Indiana University and UCLA have shown that writing by hand engages parts of the brain that typing and texting don’t, improving the way people process and remember information,” writes Marcus. “That’s because writing by hand is slower, the UCLA researchers hypothesize, requiring the writer to listen more carefully and discern the most important points.”
I've long noticed that I can carry on a conversation while typing something completely unrelated, but have to think when writing by hand.  Oddly, though, one of the things I learned while taking shorthand class in high school was that I could hear the words but still be writing the previous sentence; it was like what I was writing was on a few second "tape delay" from what I was hearing.  Note, though, that that had to be taught.

Turtling

Having recently finished Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, I was reintroduced to the term "turtling".  Haidt's book was published in 2013, and doing an internet search for "turtling" brought up articles that were several years old.

Here's a broad explanation:
IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

"The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist...

Putnam claims the US has experienced a pronounced decline in "social capital," a term he helped popularize. Social capital refers to the social networks -- whether friendships or religious congregations or neighborhood associations -- that he says are key indicators of civic well-being. When social capital is high, says Putnam, communities are better places to live. Neighborhoods are safer; people are healthier; and more citizens vote...

Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television."

"People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes...

In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group.

"Diversity, at least in the short run," he writes, "seems to bring out the turtle in all of us."
Another article goes further:
There are lots of theories about diversity and trust, but little agreement. Some believe that ethnically diverse communities foster trust, while others argue the opposite, that diversity breeds conflict. Still others say that living side by side, majority with minority, diminishes not only out-group trust but also trust of one’s longtime friends and neighbors—and overall solidarity. Political scientist Robert Putnam, of Bowling Alone fame, has most notably staked out this position: Despite its many positive consequences, Putnam maintains, increased cultural diversity makes people hunker down and isolate themselves in general.

Putnam calls this “turtling.” The idea is well known and controversial in both academic and public policy arenas. But none of these theories, Putnam’s included, has been systematically tested or proven. So psychological scientist Katharina Schmid of the University of Oxford, UK, decided to puts these different theories to the test. She and her colleagues wanted to see not only if neighborhood diversity affects the level of trust in the community, but also how. Specifically, they wanted to see if simple everyday contact—being at the same social gathering, or exchanging a few polite words at the newsstand—might play a previously unrecognized role in enhancing trust...

They found an interesting pattern of results, which they describe in an article to appear in the journal Psychological Science. Perceived and actual diversity were associated with diminished out-group trust and diminished overall trust, but only among White British respondents. But here’s the most important part: That effect vanished when the scientists factored in actual day-to-day personal contact. That is, when majority and minority members had the opportunity to exchange pleasantries and chat a bit about their kids or sports, this deflated their sense that they were threatened, which boosted feelings of trust—trust of all kinds. So overall, diversity did lead to more trust, just indirectly.

So if these findings are correct, it does not appear that neighborhood diversity inevitably fosters a hunkering-down mentality. Diversity can also enable people—both established majority and newcomers—to open up to others. But it’s not enough just to live side-by-side in the same community. Only meaningful face-to-face interactions can trump the potentially destructive effects of diversity on trust and solidarity.
It's harder to dislike someone when you have to look them in the eye.  The internet and Antifa show this:  it's easier to be a troll or a barbarian when you can hide behind a mask of anonymity.  It's easier to dislike people in the abstract.

I won't say that I've not fallen victim to this; I have several posts (going back almost 14 years now!) wherein I savage liberals.  Still, though, while I despise their views, I'm on quite sociable terms with many liberals at work.  You don't have to agree with people to be friendly with them.

Years ago I had a gay friend who said that rather than marching and protesting and such, his idea was to change anti-gay sentiment one person at a time.  He would cause others to see a fellow human, and by doing this he felt their anti-gay feelings would be mitigated.  He would be friendly to people, and would discuss but not argue with them.  His idea seems straight out of the 2nd link above, "meaningful face-to-face interactions".

The topic of diversity, though, is one where the liberals make a crucial error.  Any leader will tell you that if you want to build a team, want to build trust, want to build cooperation, you play up similarities instead of differences.  Humans are tribal, they work well together in teams.  That can mean racial or ethnic teams, but it can also be sports teams or my group vs your group.  People need a way of identifying together.  We don't build a community, however that's defined, by emphasizing differences.  Sure, there are plenty of differences in people, and in many circumstances that's good, but if you want them to function in harmony, you don't emphasize the differences.  The differences can be recognized but should not be the priority, and that is one of the several mistakes liberals make regarding diversity--if, in fact, they want a harmonious American society.

One of the most efficient and effective "teams" in the history of the planet?  The US Army.  Hundreds of thousands of men and women of different races and different ethnicities and different regional origins and different socioeconomic statuses and different religions--and while all of those differences are recognized, they all wear the same uniform and get their hair cut the same way and play by the same rules.  The differences are there but are not emphasized, the team is emphasized.

The Army doesn't want any turtling.

Friday, January 04, 2019

The Shrine

I don't remember why that student asked me for a signed picture.  Maybe he didn't, maybe a friend of his asked me for it as some kind of joke.  I generally don't remember such small things.

The student in question graduated last May, I think.  What happened to the picture?

That student was in our student government.  Shortly before Christmas break our student government teacher was going through the collection of the labyrinthine storage rooms over which he has nominal responsibility, and he found what we can only hope is some kind of joke.  Or not.  Maybe it's serious.
More powerful than the cult of Mithras.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Privilege

If you want to know who truly has privilege as lefties define it, I'd suggest that one way is to identify whom you're not allowed to criticize.  Jonathan Haidt discussed those groups in a lecture.  At about 21:30 he posits 6 groups privileged in this way, and then 3 more groups that have recently been added to the "can't touch this" list.

Did She Cheat?

Did she cheat, or is this a modern version of Stand and Deliver?
Kamilah Campbell wants to go to Florida State University and major in dance. She has a 3.1 grade point average and a lifetime of dance experience.

But after getting her score from the SAT after her first try -- a 900 -- Campbell decided she needed to do better. Her mom got her a tutor, she took online classes and she got a copy of a The Princeton Review prep book.

Seven months later, in October, the high school senior from Miami Gardens, Florida, took the test again.

Later, when she got an envelope in the mail from the testing company, she was shocked when she opened it.

It was a letter. Not results.

"We are writing to you because based on a preliminary review, there appears to be substantial evidence that your scores ... are invalid," it said. "Our preliminary concerns are based on substantial agreement between your answers on one or more scored sections of the test and those of other test takers. The anomalies noted above raise concerns about the validity of your scores."
Which explanation seems the least likely?
1)  A statistical analysis of her answers showed anomalies that were flagged.
2)  She cheated on the test.
3)  The College Board has it in for this one black student.

Wait, what?  How did this become an issue of race, you might ask?  Here's how:
Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, a Florida State graduate, got involved when other FSU alums asked him to help. He is steering Campbell and her mother through the process of demanding The College Board validate her score in time for her to be accepted into the Florida State dance program.  (boldface mine--Darren)
So, back to my three explanations.  Which one seems the least likely?

This story is a little more militant right out of the gate. It describes Kamilah as an "honors student".  An honors student who scored 900 on the SAT, and on her second try scored 1230.  Still seems a bit low for an "honors student".

And an attorney should know better than to make remarks as stupid as these:
Crump said ETS violated Kamilah’s constitutional right to be considered innocent until proved guilty and denied Kamilah due process. In order to take the SAT, Kamilah had no choice but to agree to arbitration in the event of a dispute and forgo her right to a court hearing, according to a press release. ETS gave Campbell two options: abandon the higher score or retake the test and score within six points of it.

Campbell, her family and Crump are demanding the score be released within two weeks. If ETS does not release the score, Crump said the family will explore every possible legal remedy.
When I read that, it seems clear that Kamilah and her attorney are just playing the race card.  The College Board may be right, or it may be wrong, but it's not acting unconstitutionally.  Sheesh.

Ballot Harvesting

Perhaps this explains how my preferred candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction, with 100% of precincts reporting, had "won" the election on the morning after, but within a few days had lost the election:
The Times describes how California's famed ballot-harvesters, who flipped places such as Orange County blue by "helping" fill out, turn in, and continue to turn in ballots from otherwise uncommitted voters until they got the result they wanted, aren't actually U.S. citizens.
It wasn't just illegals, and yes, ballot harvesting is a thing here in the Democratik People's Republic of Kalifornia.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

What Is The Cause Of Her Predicament?

You have to believe that a highly-educated woman in what is just about the best economic conditions on record could get a job better than this, don't you? 
When the temp agency called to tell me that there was a full-time custodial position open over at a 24-hour facility in San Marcos, Texas, I was both relieved and, to be honest, a little bit indignant. I was going to be able to eat this week, but after having spent the past 14 years of my life getting a bachelor’s degree in English, getting a master’s degree in creative writing, and starting my own entertainment company, I was going to be a janitor. 
That last sentence tells me she's leaving something out.  What she left out of that sentence was not at all what I was thinking, and she put it in the next sentence:
I must have missed the memo: A 2014 study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research revealed that an incredible 55.9 percent of black recent college graduates were “underemployed” and working in a position that didn’t require a four-year college degree. 
Of course, it's racism!  Can't have anything to do with any choices she's made, it's raaaaaaacism.
Today, black women are among the most-educated groups in the country. We’re the only demographic of women who own more businesses than our male peers. But of course that does not always mean we are more successful. A 2016 survey from Consumer Finances shows that degrees for black women are not translating into wealth within our communities. Too many factors outside of higher education are leaving black women jobless and in debt. Upward mobility, a common desire among millennials, is still often thwarted by discrimination in the labor market. 
I want evidence of discrimination.  I mean, she had her own business.  That she didn't make enough money at it can't be laid at the feed of "discrimination in the labor market".  As the owner, she's not "labor".
I threw myself into a business plan, applied to art grants and startup-accelerator programs, and even joined an innovative female-owned co-working space, Splash Coworking. I created an artist-in-residence program, facilitating the artist-development initiative through a monthly event series I curated. Those first three months were a crash course in organization, self-care, branding, paperwork filing, and functioning on minimal sleep. I took all the knowledge I had gained throughout my college career and threw it into my business. But while the U.S. Census Bureau states that black-owned businesses like mine are on the rise—an estimated 34.5 percent increase from 2007–12—the rate of success overall for black-owned small businesses in their first two years is still debilitatingly low. It felt like I was losing before I even got started. 
Again, I don't see that as "discrimination in the labor market".  Do you know who owns the businesses you frequent?  Do you refuse to shop at businesses that are owned by people with a different skin color than you have?  Yeah, me either.  What would a more logical explanation be?  That perhaps some of these businesses don't fill enough of a need in the marketplace to be viable?  That's what Occam's Razor tells me.  But it's easier to lay the blame for your own failures on an external locus.

I hope she does better in life.  I hope she's able to move up the economic ladder as time goes on--just as I have.  But she's going to have a hard time doing that unless she starts accepting some responsibility for her own decisions and her own life.

Foulness In The Oval Office

You don't have to like President Trump, but even the Canadians (via the National Post) view Lyndon Johnson as "the most vulgar American president ever":
So, exactly how repulsive was Johnson? He was horrid enough that the way he said things was almost as bad as what he said. Anyone who came into contact with him was at risk of encountering a spectacle of burping, farting, nose-picking and crotch-scratching. Congressman Richard Bolling, who witnessed some of this, told Merle Miller: “I wouldn’t say Johnson was vulgar — he was barnyard.” Worse, Johnson had no sense of personal space and treated conversation as a creepy hands-on affair. Miller learned from Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee that, “You really felt as if a St. Bernard had licked your face for an hour, had pawed you all over.”

For women, the ordeal was even worse, and Bradlee claimed that Johnson groped Katharine Graham and was “bumping” up against the breasts of Washington Post writer Meg Greenfield. (In her memoir, Graham says nothing of this and is suspiciously quiet about almost all of Johnson’s peculiarities. She does admit he kissed her on the cheek at least once.)

A truly unlucky few even got to see Johnson relieve himself. Reporter Sam Schaffer toured Johnson’s Texan ranch and was stunned when Johnson urinated right in front of him, in the open. Arthur Goldschmidt, a friend and United Nations official, was in the Oval Office with Johnson when the latter suddenly headed for the washroom, “took a crap, then shaved and showered, all the while continuing his conversation as though what he was doing was the most normal thing in the world.”

As for what Johnson was actually saying during all the above, he was known for folksy aphorisms that were crude, sometimes racist, and often weird, including “it was raining as hard as a cat pissing on a flat rock,” “as straight as an Indian shits,” and the importance of fighting an opponent “till he’s shitty as a bear.” These became more disturbing in his retirement years, when UPI reporter Bill Theis was told by him that subsequent White House economic policies were “the worst thing that’s happened to this country since pantyhose ruined finger-f(***)g.” (That quote apparently was passed around as insider gossip until it got to Miller via Richard Bolling.)...

And then there was the N-word. Although Johnson styled himself as a civil rights crusader and did make progress on race relations, he still presided over a United States torn by racial violence. His public and private statements showed that he never realized he himself may have been part of the problem. For example, Robert A. Caro says he referred to the manual labour of his youth as “n—-r work.”
At least he didn't tweet, though, right?

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

If You're Not Shocked, Join The Club

At this rate they may as well use nuclear power to fuel their ships, and feast on seal:
Greenpeace quietly admitted in November one of its “Rainbow Warrior” boats was “scrapped on a beaching yard in Bangladesh” — a method it spent years campaigning against.

“We have made a mistake, one that we have tried to correct,” Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam, admitted in mid-November, adding it allowed Rainbow Warrior II “to be scrapped on a beaching yard in Bangladesh, in a way that does not live up to the standards we set ourselves and campaigned with our allies to have adopted across the world"...

Ironically, Greenpeace’s Rainbow vessels were powered by two large diesel engines as well as a sail. Critics relentlessly pointed out the group’s hypocrisy for using oil while simultaneously campaigning against its extraction.

Righteous Among The Nations

Israel has a designation for those who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from the Nazis: Righteous Among the Nations.  We've all (hopefully and probably) heard of Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler, but how is it that I've heard of so few of the others?

Today would have been the 119th birthday of one of them, Chiune Sugihara of Japan:
Chiune Sugihara (杉原 千畝 Sugihara Chiune, 1 January 1900 – 31 July 1986) was a Japanese government official who served as vice consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. During the Second World War, Sugihara helped some six thousand Jews flee Europe by issuing transit visas to them so that they could travel through Japanese territory, risking his job and his family's lives. The fleeing Jews were refugees from German-occupied Western Poland and Soviet-occupied Eastern Poland, as well as residents of Lithuania. A few decades after the war, in 1985, the State of Israel honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew: חסידי אומות העולם‬) for his actions. He is the only Japanese national to have been so honored...

As the Soviet Union occupied sovereign Lithuania in 1940, many Jewish refugees from Poland (Polish Jews) as well as Lithuanian Jews tried to acquire exit visas. Without the visas, it was dangerous to travel, yet it was impossible to find countries willing to issue them. Hundreds of refugees came to the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, trying to get a visa to Japan...

From 18 July to 28 August 1940, aware that applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara decided to ignore his orders and issued ten-day visas to Jews for transit through Japan. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an unusual act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway at five times the standard ticket price.

Sugihara continued to hand-write visas, reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month's worth of visas each day, until 4 September, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. Before he left, he handed the official consulate stamp to a refugee so that more visas could be forged. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train's window even as the train pulled out.

In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train. As he prepared to depart, he said, "Please forgive me. I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best." When he bowed deeply to the people before him, someone exclaimed, "Sugihara. We'll never forget you. I'll surely see you again!"

Sugihara himself wondered about official reaction to the thousands of visas he issued. Many years later, he recalled, "No one ever said anything about it. I remember thinking that they probably didn't realize how many I actually issued."

The total number of Jews saved by Sugihara is in dispute, estimating about 6,000; family visas—which allowed several people to travel on one visa—were also issued, which would account for the much higher figure. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has estimated that Chiune Sugihara issued transit visas for about 6,000 Jews and that around 40,000 descendants of the Jewish refugees are alive today because of his actions...

In 1985, 45 years after the Soviet invasion of Lithuania, he was asked his reasons for issuing visas to the Jews. Sugihara explained that the refugees were human beings, and that they simply needed help...

Sugihara died the following year at a hospital in Kamakura, on 31 July 1986. In spite of the publicity given him in Israel and other nations, he remained virtually unknown in his home country. Only when a large Jewish delegation from around the world, including the Israeli ambassador to Japan, showed up at his funeral, did his neighbors find out what he had done. He may have lost his diplomatic career but he received much posthumous acclaim.
I had never heard of him until today, and I'm glad that I have now.