Friday, September 20, 2019

Candace Owens at Hearing on Confronting White Supremacy

This is why conservatives love Candace Owens.  She doesn't cower before liberals, she calls them out on their BS.

Watch the whole thing, it's only 5 minutes long.

In Honor of Today's Climate So-called Strike

From Sarah Hoyt over at Instapundit:
CLIMATE IS NOT MY GOD.  IT’S NOT SENTIENT. I CAN’T SIN AGAINST IT. I HOIST MY MIDDLE FINGERS UP AT ANYONE WHO DEMANDS THIS KIND OF INSANITY. VERY NO. MUCH F*CK THEM. THEY’RE THE ONES COMMITTING CLIMATE SINS. SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD A PLANT IS LABORING MIGHTILY TO PRODUCE OXYGEN FOR THESE LACK-BRAINS. THEY SHOULD FIND IT AND APOLOGIZE TO IT:  Confess Your Climate Change Bad Self!
Her link to Victory Girls Blog is hilarious.

This author would like to give some homework to the kids who ditched today:
While it is tempting to think of today’s climate ‘strike’ by schoolchildren around the world as a case of truants finding an ethical excuse to skip lessons, I think many are acting for genuine reasons: they are traumatized. They are the reflection of the hyperbolic coverage of climate change by Al Gore, Hollywood and even, latterly, David Attenborough – films where footage of fires, hurricanes and calving glaciers is stitched together to give the impression of impending doom. How many of these kids know that hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones are a natural part of the tropical climate and were going on many millennia before significant man-made carbon emissions? I rather wonder...

Any principal who values his or her students’ education will not turn a blind eye to today’s absences, still less join the kids for a march, as some are reported to be doing.

They will keep them behind after school and set them two papers to research and write. The first should answer the question: ‘Does scientific evidence support the notion that “the Earth is dying”?’...

Paper number two should be on the question: ‘What would it mean for the global economy if governments really did eliminate all carbon emissions by 2025?’ Given that this is the central demand of many of the climate strikers, this is a rather pertinent question.
If you want a preview, his answers are "no" and "disaster".

And then we learn that those bird-killing wind turbines aren't so eco-friendly after all:
While most of a turbine can be recycled or find a second life on another wind farm, researchers estimate the U.S. will have more than 720,000 tons of blade material to dispose of over the next 20 years, a figure that doesn’t include newer, taller, higher-capacity versions...

Van Vleet said 90 percent of a turbine’s parts can be recycled or sold. But the blades, made of a tough but pliable mix of resin and fiberglass—similar to what spaceship parts are made from—are a different story.

“The blades are kind of a dud because they have no value,” he said.

Decommissioned blades are also notoriously difficult and expensive to transport. They can be anywhere from 100 to 300 feet long, and need to be cut up onsite before getting trucked away on specialized equipment—which costs money—to the landfill.

Once there, Van Vleet said, the size of the blades can put landfills in a tough spot.

 “If you’re small utility or municipality and all of a sudden hundreds of blades start coming to your landfill, you don’t want to use up your capacity for your local municipal trash for wind turbine blades,” he said, adding that permits for more landfill space adds another layer of expenses.
Here's the kicker:   “We lose money on every blade we haul.”

It's no wonder so many kids these days have so much anxiety and are suicidal.  They've been fed this diet of hysteria and fear their entire lives--by people who should know better.

The adults who actually believe this stuff, or pretend to believe it despite their actions?  They're Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Climate "Strike"

So some schools and districts are loudly announcing that they will allow students to miss classes tomorrow because an odd teenager from Sweden says we have some climate-related emergency.  Where are the adults?

(By the way, would those same schools trumpet such excused absences for students to attend the March For Life?)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

50 Years of Failed Ecological Predictions

Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true.

What follows is a collection of notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.

More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science.

While such predictions have been and continue to be enthusiastically reported by a media eager for sensational headlines, the failures are typically not revisited.
Click here to read about the hyperbolic predictions that haven't come to pass.   My favorites are the ones from the 80s and 90s, predicting catastrophes that are already supposed to have happened by now but of course haven't.  1988 and 89 were good years for ecological hysteria.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

So Much For Local Control of Schools

From the major Sacramento newspaper:
Don’t hit the snooze button yet, kids.

A proposal to roll back school start times still needs Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to become law.

The California Legislature approved – while working into the early hours of Saturday morning – a measure that would prohibit high schools and middle schools from starting before 8:30 and 8:00 a.m., respectively.
Is this really something that should be dictated across the entire state

Every time this issue of start time comes up, I always ask the same questions.  Do they have these problems in Korea, in China, in Finland, in India, in Russia, in Mexico--that kids aren't awake for school?  How is it that farm kids and some athletes (swimming comes to mind as an "early" sport) are able to get up?  If this is so, why do my students, year after year after year, say they would rather come to school earlier and get out earlier if they just can't get up?  How do soldiers, who in many cases are just shortly out of high school, able to get up so early?

And what about after-school athletics?  They're not going to start later, so now athletes will miss more instruction.

Honestly, this start time business seems made up to me.  It's a discipline issue.  Put your damn phones away and get to bed at a reasonable hour.  There, that solves 99% of the problem.  The other 1%, those that really do have some sort of sleeping issue?  We shouldn't compel everyone else in the state to accommodate that 1%.

Update:  For the record, I wouldn't mind working 8:30-3:30 at all.  I just don't think this is a state-level issue, or an issue that needs any correction other than parents' enforcement of just the slightest discipline.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Do They Read Their Own Paperwork?

You've got to love silliness like this:
An upcoming science and technology symposium slated to take place at Williams College promises a unique feature: it will showcase “new” voices in the field, and those voices will only come from scholars of color.

“New Voices in Science and Technology Studies: A C3 Symposium,” set for early November at the private Massachusetts-based liberal arts university, invited scholars to submit papers if they represent a “historically underrepresented group.”

The call for papers specifies that means either “African Americans, Alaska Natives, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.”

Part of the application process asked applicants to write a couple sentences proving themselves as a member of a “historically underrepresented group.”
Sounds typically leftie, correct?
Yet the application also provides an equal employment opportunity statement that people from all backgrounds are welcome.
"Equal opportunity"?  Clearly that phrase does not mean what it obviously means.

Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.  At least on this one topic, lefties are consistent.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Strange Realization

It hit me today.  Some disparate facts in my head came together to create one data point (more than just an anecdote) supporting the "kids aren't doing as well academically today as they did in the past" argument.

Each year our school's counseling office puts out a sign congratulating the students who have been named as National Merit Semifinalists and those who are Commended.  This year our school, which has had a reputation for academic excellence going back decades, has one National Merit Semifinalist.

I went to high school at an average school about 10 miles from where I work.  I've long stated that we weren't really expected to go to college; if we went to college, it would be at the nearby community college.  Those who were great would go to Sac State, and those up in the stratosphere might go to UC Davis.  It wasn't in a rich area at all--still isn't--and while we didn't think of such things at the time, it was certainly "racially diverse".  That it was the highest scoring school in the district on standardized tests wasn't saying much, considering the academic caliber of the other schools in that district.  (Note:  it's no longer the highest scoring school in its district.)  It was a good school, we loved going there.

In my class we had 3 (I'm not exactly sure if there was a 4th or not) National Merit Semifinalists.  And recall, this was from the early 80s tests, before the "recentering" of the tests in 1995 that effectively raised SAT scores because students weren't doing as well as they used to.

So, an at-best-midling school from the early 80s turned out 3 National Merit Semifinalists, and a nationally-ranked upper middle class school from the late 20-teens, with more than 100 more seniors and an easier test, only puts out one?

Yes, I wonder about this.  And I've been doing this long enough now that I, too, see changes leading down very bad paths in education.  And it starts with parents and, in some cases, with their attorneys.  You know there's something wrong when teachers send their kids to private schools in higher percentages than in the public at large.  Our public schools have severe problems, and no one with any muscle is addressing them.  In Sacramento, our state government actually makes things worse.  I hope I can make it another 9 years.

Social Anxiety

I sometimes feel uncomfortable in public.  I'm lousy at small talk, and even with people I know I don't always know how to continue a conversation.  I really dislike crowds.  Oddly, being a teacher in front of a class of teenagers doesn't daunt me at all.

I just read an article by a man who, at 35, was diagnosed with social anxiety and ADHD and was also determined to be on the autism spectrum.  I have no reason to think I have ADHD or measurable autism, but still.... Some of the questions the diagnosing physician asked sort of struck home with me, so I found a couple of online organizations and took their social anxiety quizzes.

One gave me a numerical score:  19/90.  The other just said I have low levels of social anxiety.

So, no social anxiety disorder.  I'm just awkward, I guess.

Why School Buses Are Yellow

Smithsonian Magazine tells us that it's not mandatory, but is by design:
In a 1939 issue of American Childhood, the lyrics to the song, “The Wheels on the Bus,” made their first public appearance. Songwriter Verna Hills composed verses that celebrated the routine of traveling on a bus, closing each with the phrase, “over the city streets.” Likely unbeknownst to her, at that same time 80 years ago, school transportation officials from each and every state gathered in New York to decide what that bus, with its wheels going “’round and ’round” and its horn going “beep beep beep,” would look like.

The brainchild of education expert Frank Cyr, the meeting at Columbia University carried the goal of establishing national construction standards for the American school bus. Two years earlier, Cyr had conducted a ten-state study where he found that children were riding to school in trucks and buses of all different colors, and even horse-drawn wagons, in the case of one Kansas school district he visited. Standardization would solve two problems and simultaneously revolutionize school buses themselves: one, being uniformly one color would make bus travel safer; two, costs to districts would be lower as construction specifications would make it possible for manufacturers to mass-produce buses...

During those seven days of deliberation in the Grace Dodge Room at Columbia Teachers College, Cyr said he hung strips of different paint colors from the wall, in “50 shades ranging from lemon yellow to deep orange-red.” The conference attendees, which included representatives of the bus manufacturing industry, selected a small group to make the final color selection, and the orangish-yellow color they chose has been the industry standard ever since. Initially christened National School Bus Chrome (a reference to the lead-chromate yellow in the original paint), the United States General Services Administration (GSA) now calls the color National School Bus Glossy Yellow, or Color 13432 in the Federal Standard 595a color collection that GSA uses for government procurement. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency that regulates bus safety, states on its website that federal law does not require school buses to be yellow, as “State and local governments establish policy for student transportation, including how buses should be identified.” Instead, NHTSA encourages states to adopt its voluntary guidelines on operational safety, like Guideline 17, which “recommends that school buses be painted ‘National School Bus Glossy Yellow.’”
Who knew?!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

This Shows You What They Really Are

The (certainly unconstitutional) so-called Red Flag Laws that are popping up around the country--why would the gun-grabbers not want to take firearms away from criminal gangs rather than from otherwise law abiding citizens?
House Democrats this week advanced a new measure to encourage states to pass “red flag” laws, known as extreme risk protection orders, that authorize removing guns and ammunition from dangerous individuals.
California will soon allow teachers, neighbors, and co-workers to identify "dangerous individuals", who will then have their 2nd Amendment right removed without due process.  But let's continue.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee amended the measure during a Wednesday mark-up to authorize the federal government to issue extreme risk protection orders in some instances, but they rejected an amendment that would have red-flagged anyone who law enforcement lists as a gang member.

“The majority of violent crime, including gun violence, in the United States is linked to gangs,” Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican who sponsored the amendment, said Wednesday. “My amendment is quite simple. It would allow the issuance of a red flag order against anyone whose name appears in a gang database if there was probable cause to include that individual in the database.”

Democrats objected with reasons that sounded very familiar to Republicans...

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California offered to support the amendment if Buck agreed to include those listed “individuals affiliated with white nationalism.”

Buck agreed, but he said the language should include “any type of supremacy.”

“Let’s add Cosa Nostra to this,” Buck added.

The amendment ultimately failed 11-21, but not before the top Republican on the panel, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, called out Democrats for their hypocrisy.  link
Democrats?  Hypocrites?  Say it isn't so.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

AB5

California is very close to eliminating the "gig economy":
AB5 puts into law a California Supreme Court decision making it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. The bill would make those companies classify their workers as employees instead.

Last month, Uber and other app-based businesses that rely on gig workers said they would spend $90 million on a ballot initiative that would exempt them from AB5, if it becomes law.

While the bill's impact on gig economy companies has drawn most of the attention, it would affect a wide array of industries.
Here are some of the issues with this bill:
But on Tuesday, California's State Senate passed a bill that threatens to destroy all that. Assembly Bill 5 (A.B.5) would require companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and more to treat contractors like employees. This would involve offering benefits like sick and vacation days, health insurance, and other "protections" under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Civil Rights Act. Minimum wage, overtime pay, and unemployment insurance would also be involved.

All this can add 30 percent to labor costs, hitting gig employers hard. Yet all this also undermines the basic idea of the gig economy, by trying to pigeonhole flexible gig workers into the traditional employee mold — with set hours, company equipment, and a company workspace...

In the health care sector, doctors, dentists, psychologists, and podiatrists are exempt from A.B. 5, but many other medical professionals — like behavioral therapists and optometrists — are not. Hospitals rely on independent contractors to fill gaps when employees are on leave. These contractors, like gig economy workers, value their independence and autonomy.

Newspapers and other media outlets also use independent contractors to deliver papers to homes and businesses. New language was added to the bill exempting freelance writers and photojournalists from the rules, but only if they send in 35 or fewer submissions to a single publication in a single year. Requiring papers to hire delivery workers as employees could add 30 percent to labor costs, further weakening the viability of local newspapers.

Many of California's 70,000 truck drivers own their own rigs in order to work independently...

Ironically, the bill may also hit franchisers who operate as small business owners. California has 76,000 franchise businesses, and an expert warned that A.B. 5 "would essentially convert these business owners into employees overnight." Anyone who owns a McDonald's or other franchise would become an employee of McDonald's, and so would all their workers. This would require enormous restructuring across various sectors of the economy.

Language translators, youth sports coaches, and some nonprofits have sought exemptions or registered objections to A.B. 5. Said's article also noted that independent musicians, who hire engineers, dancers, background vocalists, and other contract workers, may have to formally employ them under the bill when it becomes law.

Liberals have hailed the bill as an opportunity to give many workers "basic labor rights for the first time," but people do not join Uber or Lyft as contract drivers in pursuit of a 9-5 day job. Organized labor and government-mandated benefits are Kryptonite to the gig economy — and many more contractors.
Another view:
Janitors cleaning downtown office buildings, truckers loading goods at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, construction workers building new homes, manicurists, medical technicians, nightclub strippers and even software coders would be among scores of occupations offered protection against long-documented workplace abuses...

Some 400,000 Californians are estimated to work either part-time or full-time for fast-growing platform-based technology companies, offering an array of services such as rides, food deliveries, household repairs and dog-walking.

App-based companies argue they offer a different employment model — innovative and flexible — and should thus be exempted from AB 5. They say that as contractors, their workers can set their own schedules and work for multiple companies. AB 5 could cost the firms millions of dollars, hindering future profitability...

State officials estimate California loses some $7 billion a year in payroll taxes due to misclassification. Nor do companies pay Social Security or Medicare taxes for contractors.
It's not "misclassification" just because you disagree with it, LA Times.

What does economics tell us is going to happen, both to gig economy jobs and to prices?  Does anyone else think this is driven in large part as a payoff by Democrats to unions?

Update, 9/16/19:  I'm not the only one who thinks it's for unions:
California’s new law aims to force the likes of Uber, Lyft and Postmates to classify workers as employees, not independent contractors. But the main force pushing for the law is organized labor, because these arrangements make unionizing difficult.

Sure, advocates claim the idea is to make companies offer benefits like health insurance and end exemptions from minimum-wage and overtime laws. Yet everyone working as an independent contractor knows the deal before they sign up. They take it because they see other benefits, from the ability to work for many different “bosses” to the power to control their own work schedules.

And the California law already has lots of happy workers worried....


Going the Other Direction

Last night I posted about running into a high school classmate of mine whose son I now teach.  That prompted me to call someone I haven't talked to in several months, my old high school counselor.

He and my former high school principal were both former math teachers, and started teaching in 1957.  My class graduated in 1983--and he can still tell stories about my things that happened with my class.  His memory is exceptional for someone who describes his age as "a few years older than three to the fourth power".

Tonight I learned that he was born in Canada to American parents--and that his first language was German!  As he was going to school during WW2, he learned English pretty quickly.

He's such a good and humble person.  He's mobbed like a rock star when he shows up at our class reunions--and let there be no doubt that he's been invited to every one of them.

If I have only a fraction of the impact on my students that he had on his in 60+ years of working with teenagers, I'll be able to consider myself a success.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Next Generation

We got off work early today.  I came home and got a 2 hour nap before going back to school for--you guessed it--Back To School Night.  I spent the evening reassuring parents that their kids are in good hands.

I didn't pay close attention to one of the parents of a 6th period student, as I had already started chatting with a couple others.  When there was a pause he said, "Darren."  I looked, knew I knew that face, and after about a second it hit me--we went to high school together.  And we have a mutual friend.

We went to high school about 10 miles from where I teach, and there are more than a few high schools between the two schools, so I'm just going to say "It's a small world." 

We took a selfie and sent it to our mutual friend, who lives in Denver.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Today Is World Suicide Prevention Day

When I learned that September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day my first thoughts went to a handwritten sign I once saw in London, secured to a light post on the Westminster Bridge:
It read, "If you are looking for a sign, this is it.  You matter.  You are enough."  We would all do well to remember the wisdom expressed there.