Friday, October 07, 2022

Some Say Data and Evidence Are Tools of White Supremacy, I Say Such People Are Idiots

When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts:

Since Texas enacted its law, four other states have done the same, bringing the total of constitutional carry states to 25.

While there are some differences in how these states have implemented constitutional carry (e.g., a couple of them require you to be a resident of the State to carry, while others set an age minimum, etc.) it’s fair to say that overall, half of all states now allow citizens who can legally possess a firearm to carry at least a handgun without a permit. This national wave has been a tremendous victory for gun rights and continues the trend of expanding the right to carry...

Every time a state adopts constitutional carry, anti-gun groups, as well as much of the media (but I repeat myself), warn that every minor dispute will turn into a bloody shootout and the state’s homicide rate will therefore skyrocket. They also claim that the “research is clear” in favor of their arguments.

But is it really?

With so many states now having enacted some form of constitutional carry, this is no longer a hypothetical question. While some states have only recently enacted these laws, most others have had them for several years.

As of 2020, the most recent year for which detailed CDC data is available, 16 states had already embraced constitutional carry. By looking at the homicide rates in those states as well as their gun homicide rates in particular, we can get an idea of whether constitutional carry states actually are more dangerous than the nation as a whole.

If the anti-gun argument is correct, constitutional carry states should be far more violent, especially in the crime-surge year of 2020.

Fortunately, the CDC provides very detailed statistics on public health, including data on underlying causes of death, so we can check. The statistics are reported online through the CDC’s WONDER tool, an acronym which stands for “Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research.” All of the data I am about to discuss can be found through that tool.

Read the original for the data data data, I'll jump to the conclusion:

Regardless, the data does not support the anti-gunners’ argument that constitutional carry states are especially violent and that violence is caused by permitless carry. Even when it comes to gun-related homicide, constitutional carry states are at least as safe as the nation as a whole, and perhaps slightly safer.

The only question I have about the author's analysis would strengthen his thesis.  When he says "the average overall homicide rate among the sixteen constitutional carry states in 2020 was 6.9 per 100,000, beating the national average of 7.5 per 100,000", I think his comparison is wrong.  He shouldn't compare the rates in the carry states to the national average, which includes those carry states, but to the average of the non-carry states.  Thus, the 6.9/100,000 would be compared to a number even larger than 7.5/100,000.  Then a simple comparison of those two ratios could reveal whether or not the difference is statistically significant, which it no doubt would be.

No wonder lefties don't like evidence.  The real world is conservative and disappoints them again and again.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Who You Gonna Call?

Termites or roaches are bad enough, what happens if you think you have ghosts?  Read here to find out:

For a few years, I was a ghost hunter...Ever since I began working that unique gig, I constantly get asked for advice from people who want to investigate their own homes for ghosts but aren’t sure how to go about it. So to help them — and all of you — here’s a guide on what you should do.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Time And Effort Aren't What Counts.

In football, practice isn't what counts, performance counts.  It should be the same in education:

Maitland Jones Jr., a chemistry professor at New York University who also taught for four decades at Princeton, was fired in August after undergraduate students circulated a petition complaining that his course was too difficult. 

Dozens of the college students, many of them aspiring doctors, signed on to the petition in the spring. 

"We are very concerned about our scores, and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class," the petition read, according to the New York Times.

These are the kinds of snowflakes you get when everyone gets a participation trophy growing up.

In Favor of the ACT

The author of this article took all the archived ACT tests, taught at an ACT prep program, and analyzed ACT scores.  Keeping in mind the cardinal rule of statistics--without data, all you have is an opinion--this man backs up his assertions with data:

Exams like the American College Test (ACT) are supposed to assess how much information students learned in high school and, by implication, their preparedness for college. However, they’ve been criticized as being biased against female, minority, and low-income students.

data data data

Clearly, the ACT does not discriminate against females.

He's very familiar with the test:

As a biological psychologist, I’ve taught mostly in the fields of neuroscience, brain function, learning theory, cognition, and the like. But I also spent 12 years teaching high-school science, math, and ACT prep courses for a large, nonprofit tutoring center that drew students from about a dozen varied high schools.

To stay abreast of changes to the ACT, and to understand it from my students’ perspectives, I took all of the ACTs archived at the center and new versions as they were released. I know the test pretty well.

data data data

What does he conclude? 

Taking a more rigorous high-school curriculum helped everyone.

These overall scores are often used to claim that the ACT is racially biased. However, if the scores are considered in terms of race and self-reported postsecondary aspirations, a more complex picture emerges...

One criticism of standardized tests is that only the well-to-do can afford “expensive” prep courses. Critics stress “expensive” to emphasize their claim that prep courses advantage wealthier students. This is wrongheaded for two reasons.

First, prep courses are not that helpful. I analyzed the pre- and post-test scores of 205 students who took the ACT prep course offered by the tutoring center where I taught...

These modest improvements are typical for test prep courses and cannot, alone, change the trajectory of anyone’s academic career. Further, the data do not support the contention that the inability to take a prep course, per se, is preventing deserving students from going to college.

The second, more important point is that test prep materials are available for free either through high-school programs or online. While there may be social or circumstantial barriers to accessing the online materials, wealth is not one of them. I’ve never met a high-school student without a smartphone.

Finally, it’s important to reiterate that an ACT prep course simply cannot substitute for four years of high school. Accessibility to a prep course is not what’s standing between an unprepared student and college admission. It’s unfair to students to claim otherwise...

Does the ACT discriminate? After 12 years of teaching this and similar standardized tests, I’ve learned that the only way to do well on the ACT is to take it after having learned the basic material that it covers. That takes several years of high school. There are no shortcuts, tricks, or special strategies (much to the dismay of many students and their parents).

I'll speak for myself here, not for the author of the article above.  Students and parents see these standardized test scores the same way they see grades, as commodities to be hoarded and maximized.  Rather, scores and grades are and should be merely proxies for learning.  If you don't do well, it's because you didn't learn the material that was being tested.

Is there a racial bias?  Perhaps, but it's not in the test itself, but rather in an educational system that focuses on pop psychology and feeeeeelings instead of the hard work of teaching and learning.  When they can't give you good government, they give you "woke" government; when they can't give you good education, they give you "woke" education.

There is no royal road to geometry.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Is This What Systemic Racism Looks Like?

It looks like the pro-abortion movement:

Dozens of states passed forced sterilization laws inspired by the eugenics movement and designed to, in Sanger’s words, encourage “the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extinction, of defective stocks-those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”

Given these historical realities, it’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood officials in recent days have sought to separate themselves from their founder’s genocidal views, but the reality that eugenics remains embedded in the abortion group’s very physical structure to this very day as seen in data cited by the Liberty Counsel brief:

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s most recent data, Black women accounted for 33.6 percent of all reported abortions in 2018, even though they make up 13 percent of women in the United States. Black women also had the highest abortion rate (21.2 abortions per 1,000 women) and ratio (335 abortions per 1,000 live births).

Further, abortion-induced deaths of the unborn in the Black community are 69 times higher than HIV deaths, 31 times higher than homicides, 3.6 times higher than cancer-related deaths, and 3.5 times higher than deaths caused by heart disease.”

You want to talk about structural racism in the United States? A map of Planned Parenthood’s clinic locations looks like Exhibit A:

The racial disparity in abortions is largely intentional: A study based on 2010 Census data shows that nearly eight out of ten Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are within walking distance of predominantly Black or Hispanic neighborhoods.

More specifically, Planned Parenthood intentionally located 86 percent of its abortion facilities in or near minority neighborhoods in the 25 U.S. counties with the most abortions.

These 25 counties contain 19 percent of the U.S. population, including 28 percent of the Black population and 37 percent of the Hispanic/Latino population. In 12 of these counties, Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos are more than 50 percent of the population.

Given such data, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that what Sanger wrote privately in a 1939 letter to a friend remains true today of Planned Parenthood...

The conclusion is the extermination of the Negro (sic) population.  

Don't go ballistic at me--Sanger said it, I just posted it.

This Weekend's Camping Trip

We had a random 3-day weekend in my school district, so I went with some friends to the Eastern Sierra.  My trailer's front window has not been replaced after the August break-in, but since the window has been ordered and I can see light at the end of the tunnel, I decided to I'd take my trailer out for the first time since Baja.

We saw the tufa formations at Mono Lake:




and then went to Bodie State Historic Park, a ghost town kept in a state of "arrested decay":




We also sat around a lot and ate a lot.  It was a great way to spend a weekend!

Monday, October 03, 2022

The 25th Amendment

Remember when the left breathlessly mentioned the 25th Amendment in reference to President Trump?  President Trump was obviously in possession of all his faculties, the lefties just didn't like that he didn't roll over for them like some other Republicans have.  Notice that they, who always screech about "our Democracy" (and they really do mean their democracy), are always willing to abuse the powers granted by the Constitution whenever they think they can get away with it.  Fortunately, they couldn't then.

Now, which president is more in need of being replaced due to 25th Amendment incapacitation--Donald Trump, respected (if not liked) by leaders all over the world whilst trying to drain the swamp here at home, or Slow Joe Biden, who mumbles his way through speeches and then starts to wander in any direction but the one in which his handlers want him to go?

You know why they're not talking about the 25th Amendment?  Because they like having President John Gill to push all their stupid anti-American ideas, even if he consistently says the wrong thing and those pulling the levers behind the curtain have to walk it back.

Perhaps the even bigger reason that no one is talking about the 25th Amendment is because dumping John Gill would leave Kamala Harris as president.  Let's be serious:  she's so unlikable that she dropped out of the presidential race before earning a single Democratic convention delegate, and she's as dumb as a box of hair. 

“It is time for us to do what we have been doing. And that time is every day. Every day it is time for us to agree...”

Genius, this one.  And if you think that quote is a little unfair, take your pick from amongst these.  Or these.  Or these.

So if we get rid of John Gill, we're stuck with Kamala Harris.  It's hard to say which is worse.

We'll have to wait until a Republican is in the White House before we talk seriously about the 25th Amendment again.

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Camping

Been camping this weekend, with blog posts scheduled.  Don't know what kind of internet connection I'll have so I don't know if I'll even be able to post comments this weekend--but I'll be home soon and everything will return to normal.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

A Strong Dollar

A strong dollar makes life difficult for American exporters, because foreigners will have to spend more of their own currency for each dollar of product they want to buy.  American travelers, however, can have a field day on a strong dollar.

A decade ago I went to Europe when a euro was worth $1.33.  Now it's essentially equal to a dollar, thus having lost 1/4 of its value in that time.

In 1975 I went to Britain with the sterling worth $2.05.  When I went in 2018 it was worth $1.33.  Today it's worth about $1.11, having lost over 16% of its value in those 4 years.

I'm considering returning to Iceland in February, so let's talk about the krona.  When I went 10 years ago there were about 130 kronur to the dollar.  In February 2017 there were 110, and in February 2018 there were 100.  Today there are 144 kronur to the dollar, meaning that the krona has lost 30% of its value in less than 5 years.

Oddly enough, the Mexican peso has held steady for about 2 years now.

Of course, all this could change tomorrow, but for right now I'm enjoying the thoughts of extravagant vacations.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Tentative Agreement Vote Update

I'm not allowed to vote on our contract because I'm not a union member, but I was included in an email announcing the results of said contract vote:

Hey Folks,

Some communication from the union-

Colleagues, 

The Tentative Agreement Ratification voting results are as follows:

Ballots Submitted:  868 

Yes, I accept the Tentative Agreement:                 851     (98.0%)

No, I do not accept the Tentative Agreement:       17   (1.9%)  

The membership has ratified the Agreement.

Thank you to the Bargaining Team for their outstanding work in negotiating this historic deal. 

In unity...

There are over 2000 members in our bargaining unit, fewer than half of them voted.  And less than 2% of them voted against it?  Hmmmm.  I'd bet we could get over 10% to vote against a statement that the sky is blue.

Less than 2%.  I'm friends with our school's union rep and knew he'd get my joke, so I replied with the following:

A percentage very much like the Russian annexation votes in occupied Ukraine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

College Free Speech Rankings

You can quarrel with their methodology if you want, but FIRE ranks the University of Chicago as #1 and Columbia in last place at #203.  

Is your school on the list?  Mine isn't, but as a military academy it wouldn't be expected to have strong free speech protections for cadets.  Local university Sac State isn't on the list, but UC Davis (aka Berkeley-lite) is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

California's Best Schools?

According to this article (your mileage may vary), the top public school in California is in the SF Bay Area, near Stanford.  The next nine are all in Southern California.

As for the top private schools, five of the top ten are in the SF Bay Area, with an additional one being online.  The remaining four are in Southern California.

Not one school in the Sacramento area.  Not one school anywhere in Northern California north of Oakland.  Oakland.

Perfect AP Score

It's hard not to be impressed with a student who earned the only perfect score in the world on the AP Calculus test:

An Indiana high school student received a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam this spring, the only student in the world to achieve such a feat.

Felix Zhang, currently a junior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, aced the test with 108 points out of the 108 points possible. 

Impressive.

On the other hand, if only 1 person in the world can achieve this, what does that say about the reasonableness of the College Board's standards? Did more students used to achieve this, but now no longer do for some reason?  Enquiring minds want to know.

Monday, September 26, 2022

California Is Withholding Test Results

They wouldn't withhold them if they made Dems look good. On the other hand, this is a one party state, and the Dems would will be reelected even if, in LBJ's terms, every one of them was found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl.  So why the shenanigans?

The state of California is delaying the release of test scores to the public, potentially pushing the release until after Election Day. Coincidentally, those test scores may not reflect well on Democratic leaders across the state.

According to EdSource, the California Department of Education is withholding the scores from its Smarter Balanced tests so that they can be released at the same time as other data on the California School Dashboard. There is no good reason for this, and in fact, it is a break in precedent. EdSource notes that since the department began releasing those results in 2015, it has been consistently released before other dashboard data, ranging from releases in the last week of August to the first week of October...

It isn’t hard to see why Democrats would want to stall the release of test scores until after Election Day. The school closures and restrictions handed down by Democrats at the state and local levels dramatically set students back, and all the data show this. The 2020-21 test results found that scores “declined significantly” after “five straight years of gradual improvement,” according to EdSource. The achievement gap between white and Asian students on the one hand and black and Hispanic students on the other also widened thanks to closures, which affected students in poorer communities the most.