Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Surprise Announcement

Several years ago, I read a book--was it Chris Kyle's "American Sniper"?--and in a chapter about Navy SEAL training was this observation:  you could drop out if you wanted to, but if you decided it was a rash decision, they'd let you change your mind and stay in.  No one who changed their mind ever finished SEAL training; once that thought of quitting entered into your consciousness, it was impossible to shake.

I'm less than 20 blog posts short of 14,000, and I've been posting on this blog continuously since January 23, 2005.  This blog is 18 years and 7 months old today.  

On that first day I had no idea what this blog would turn into, and I never dreamed I'd keep at it as long as I have.  It has been a labor of love; it would be impossible to keep posting so long, averaging over 2 posts a day for over 18 years, if I didn't love doing it.  This blog had reached the age of majority; it can't drink, but it can sign contracts and join the Army!

This blog has been a priority for me, and with only a few exceptions I've tried to post every day.  I respect my readers enough to give them something new to read each day they come here.  And as I said, I've enjoyed doing it.

Over the years I've met several of my readers.  Some have made it a point to meet up with me when their travels brought them to the Sacramento area, and one has even opened her house to me, and taken me out to dinner with her family, when I passed through her area.  I have made friends among the readers of this blog.  Even some I've never met in person, I consider friends and would like to meet in person should the opportunity present itself.

Last week, though, the thought of quitting entered into my consciousness.  I thought no, I'll keep posting, but as in SEAL training, the thought is impossible to shake.

I've started some new activities, I need the time, and after almost 14,000 posts I'm ready to leave this blog in the ether and turn my time to these other pursuits.  I'm sure that, once in awhile, I might be moved to post something, but I probably shouldn't--I should let it go, ending on my own terms, on what I consider a high note.  I have some unfinished draft posts on some rather controversial topics that I'll leave unfinished.

I'm going to try new things.  When people leave they sometimes say "it's been a privilege" or "it's been an honor", and they don't mean it with any depth.  I've initiated a community here, and the regular readers and commenters have formed that community.  It has been a privilege, a great one, to be a part of that, and for that privilege I am truly thankful.

So to my readers--the lurkers, the newbies, and the long-timers--I give you an honest and hearty thank you for giving me the impetus to keep up this work for so long.  As Captain Kirk said just before he died in Star Trek: Generations, "It was fun."

The Beginning of the End of the 1st Amendment?

I have to hope that as people get older and wiser that they'll recognize the importance of the First Amendment:

Why are liberals fixated on criminalizing speech?  Whether it’s progressive politicians or hyper-sensitive college students, they all seem to be regurgitating the dogma of the day: speech that hurts or offends should be a crime.

Their goal is simple, if they can control how people speak, they can eventually control what they think.  Saul Alinsky, the author of Rules for Radicals, knew this well when he observed “Control the language and you control the masses.” 

Examples of the Left’s efforts to bastardized and control language are all around us.  The demand that we recognize and use a near infinite number of personal pronouns, the invention of the euphemism “gender-affirming care” as a cover for permanent, body mutilating surgery, or the replacement of “pregnant women” with the absurd term “pregnant people,” just to name a few.

Refuse to participate in the Left’s grammatical delusion and you may face consequences

Unfortunately, the Left’s efforts to control language is gaining traction, particularly among college students.   

In a recent survey conducted for Newsweek33% of Generation Z Americans believe using the wrong gender pronoun should be illegal...

The Left’s efforts to compel “acceptable” speech, while criminalizing “unacceptable” speech reflects an alarming level of constitutional illiteracy, which poses an unprecedented threat to our rights of free speech and expression, which cannot go unchallenged.

Why stop at pronouns?  My adjectives are hot/sexy/brilliant, and using any other adjectives to describe me is offensive and should be penalized greatly.

Math Instruction In San Francisco Schools

Siyamak sits down with Rex Ridgeway, President of PTA at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. Today he will explain how San Francisco inclusion policies are actually hurting the overall performance of students and why parents are leaving the public school system. 

"Kids in San Francisco can't get to calculus. They moved Algebra1 out from the 8th grade in a city, which mayor London Breed has recently said is the hub of AI. In the heart of Silicon Valley you don't let kids shine." link

Paying Off People With Public Money

Why should the state government take sides in a labor dispute?  

A group of California Democrats are expected to propose handing out unemployment benefits to striking workers.

Language expected to be released in the coming days or weeks to provide striking workers with benefits from California's unemployment insurance program that is $18 billion in debt. The move comes amid historic strikes by both screenwriters and actors, forcing many movies and TV shows to halt production.

"It would allow individuals on strike who are not looking for work and were not let go through no fault of their own to claim unemployment insurance as if they were truly unemployed," California Chamber of Commerce Policy Advocate Rob Moutrie, who opposes the legislation, told Fox News.

It would make just as much sense to compensate businesses for lost income due to strikes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

If This Surprises You, Raise Your Hand


The richest 10 per cent of US households are responsible for 40 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, a new study reveals.

Rather than focusing on consumption - such as transport, food or energy use - the study looked at emissions linked to people’s income.

They found that wealthy US households reap the biggest benefit from emissions while being most responsible for them.

The study's authors argue that an income based carbon tax - particularly on investments - could help reduce climate inequality and fund much needed decarbonisation measures.

They were doing fine until that last sentence.

Using AI To Help Students Learn Math

I'll be very interested to see how this turns out:

Artificial intelligence often induces fear, awe or some panicked combination of both for its impressive ability to generate unique human-like text in seconds. But its implications for cheating in the classroom — and its sometimes comically wrong answers to basic questions — have left some in academia discouraging its use in school or outright banning AI tools like ChatGPT.

That may be the wrong approach.

More than 8,000 teachers and students will test education nonprofit Khan Academy’s artificial intelligence tutor in the classroom this upcoming school year, toying with its interactive features and funneling feedback to Khan Academy if the AI botches an answer.

The chatbot, Khanmigo, offers individualized guidance to students on math, science and humanities problems; a debate tool with suggested topics like student debt cancellation and AI’s impact on the job market; and a writing tutor that helps the student craft a story, among other features...

Khanmigo is most commonly used for math tutoring, according to DiCerbo. Khanmigo shines best when coaching students on how to work through a problem, offering hints, encouragement and additional questions designed to help students think critically. But currently, its own struggles in performing calculations can sometimes hinder its attempts to help.

In the “Tutor me: Math and science” activity available to students, Khanmigo told me that my answer to 10,332 divided by 4 was incorrect three times before correcting me by sending me the same number.

In the same “Tutor me” activity, I asked Khanmigo to find the product of five numbers, some integers and some decimals: 97, 117, 0.564322338, 0.855640047, and 0.557680043.

As I did the final multiplication step, Khanmigo congratulated me for submitting the wrong answer. It wrote: “When you multiply 5479.94173 by 0.557680043, you get approximately 33.0663. Well done!”

The correct answer is about 3,056. 

You might remember when I posted the results of my own playing with AI.  That was several months ago and I was not impressed.  AI looks like it might still have a ways to go, but I remain optimistic that it will improve.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Lowering Standards

When the Army can't enlist enough soldiers, what does it do?  It lowers standards:

The Pentagon is planning a change that will allow applicants to use calculators on the military's entrance exam -- a timed test that gauges academic aptitude and dictates what jobs in the military, if any, they are qualified for, three defense officials told

The change in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, could help relieve an ongoing recruiting slump, which is attributed to many young Americans not scoring high enough to qualify for enlistment. It would also put the ASVAB on par with how test-taking has evolved in the past decade, with calculators being widely used in math classes and on college entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT.

"We are taking a systematic approach, which will assess the impact of calculator use, and we are developing a way forward for calculator inclusion," one Pentagon official told

The shortfalls are due to an amalgamation of issues -- but at the forefront is a shrinking pool of qualified young Americans, 17- to 24-year-olds, who are eligible to enlist. Many of those applicants are being turned away due to poor performance on the military's aptitude exam.

And criminal records.  And obesity. And drug use.  And...

Back in my day, back in the 80s, if the needed more soldiers, it just accepted a a couple more percentage points of "Category 4" enlistees.  Category 4:

Two principal Department of Defense (DOD) quality benchmarks apply to NPS recruits. The first quality benchmark is the percentage of NPS enlistees who are high school diploma graduates (HSDG). The second quality benchmark is the percentage of scores above average on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT Categories I-IIIA).  Since FY1993, the DOD’s quality benchmarks for
recruit quality have stipulated that at least 90% of NPS enlistees must be high school diploma graduates, and at least 60% must score above average on the AFQT...DOD regulations require that no more than 4% of an annual enlistment cohort may be Category IV (10th-30th percentile on the AFQT).

The Army recognized they were Category 4, knowing it might take longer to get and keep them in shape.  It didn't lower the physical standards that categorized them.

But that seems like what the Dept of Defense is doing now, lowering the standard.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Air Force Football Helmets

Some lefties are so foul, you wonder how even their own kind can stomach them:

Leftists have gone on the attack against the U.S. Air Force Academy football team for honoring the WWII Doolittle Raid on Japan that occurred immediately after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

On Tuesday, Air Force Football revealed its new uniforms, which feature a tribute to the Doolittle Raid.

Left-wing trolls blasted the Air Force for celebrating the raid conducted by American heroes who showed Japan that the U.S. was not down for the count after taking such heavy losses at Pearl.

I just posted a comment on another post in which I had to quote John Stuart Mill, and that same quote applies in this case.  Maybe it's true of all lefties.  They are just like those milquetoast so-called men that Mill referred to, "a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Doolittle and his men qualify as better men than those who disparage them.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Changing The Mascot Will Lead To Improved Student Achievement, Of Course

These high schoolers don't know what a Minuteman is?  That's kind of pathetic:

In 2021, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Governing Board updated their mascot policy, requiring schools to choose non-human mascots in the case that the current one is deemed offensive or insensitive. The school board said that a student committee was formed last year at Concord High School and that students chose to replace the school's mascot, which depicts a Revolutionary War militia member holding a musket, with a bear...

Student trustee Susanna Barrios said that many students she talked to did not even know what a minuteman was and given that the school is majority Latino, did not feel represented by the mascot.

"I want to change the mascot to something that they have pride in and trust in," said Barrios.

I recommend the Marshmallow, as that's what between the ears of almost everyone in this story. 

But not everyone:

"It’s disgusting to disrespect those who fought and sacrificed to defeat tyranny and ultimately found our great nation, and to add insult to injury, they’re replacing it with a meaningless and trite mascot that viciously murders small animals," reacted Matt Shupe, the Republican Party chairman of the Contra Costa County where the school is located.

I hope he's just jerking their chain with that last part, but this next part is true:

"These woke schools need to prioritize teaching math, reading, and writing to catch up from the educational losses during the pandemic rather than spitting on the memories of our veterans," he added.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Homelessness in San Francisco

So sayeth Willie Brown:

Still, San Francisco’s homeless advocates believe money is the answer, with organizations coaching new arrivals to say they’re “from San Francisco” while helping them navigate the system. The “nonprofits” themselves complete what has become a billion-dollar industry chasing its own tail, with 59 providers receiving $240.6 million in fiscal year 2019–20, according to the latest audit by the city’s budget and legislative analyst.

When Sidner sat down with former mayor Willie Brown to ask why he believed San Francisco couldn’t make a dent in its catastrophic homeless problem, Brown was succinct: “It is not designed to be solved. It is designed to be perpetuated. It is to treat the problem, not solve it.”

Whether Sidner edited the piece purposefully or not, it was apropos...

Pretty much.

When District Policy Might Violate State Law

What's a teacher to do?

Teachers working in California school districts with conservative school boards are increasingly finding themselves with a difficult decision: violate district policy and risk losing their job, or potentially disobey federal and state laws and policies and take a chance on ending up in court.

Last Monday was the first day of school at Chino Valley Unified campuses since the passage of a controversial board policy that would require teachers, counselors and administrators to notify parents if a child asks to be identified by a different gender or name, or to access a bathroom or take part in a program not aligned with the gender on their official records. 

After the Chino Valley Unified decision, California Attorney General Rob Bonta warned the school district that the parental notification policy could violate the state’s anti-discrimination laws and students’ rights to privacy guaranteed under the U.S. and California constitutions, as well as federal Title IX protections and the state education code. Bonta launched a civil rights investigation into the school district last week...

(Local teachers union president) Walker sent a memo to teachers last week advising them to follow the district’s new policy but to object to it if they think the policy is improper or unlawful. If a teacher feels uncomfortable talking to a parent about a child’s gender identification, they should ask one of their administrators to take on that task, the memo directed.

“Members are expected to comply with directives given by their administrators, and if a member or the association find that there has been a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, then a grievance can be filed,”  Walker said...

Guidance from the California Department of Education recommends that schools ask transgender students who, if anyone, they would like to be informed of their transgender status. The department says that rule should only be broken in rare circumstances when district officials feel there is a compelling need for parents to know the information and the student is given advance notice before parents are informed.

If you're keeping information from all parents because you think some might act in a way that you wouldn't agree with, well... 

It shouldn't be a teacher's place to keep information from parents.  What a horrible position to put teachers in.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Let's Be Honest And Just Say It Out Loud--She's A Cuckoo

We need to quit giving credence to these silly, faddish beliefs about sex and gender:

A California hospital executive and professor claimed children can identify as a mythology-inspired creature and claimed that this category of children love mermaids, according to a presentation reviewed by Fox News Digital...

Ehrensaft made what some may consider fringe claims about gender ideology, including that kids can identify as "gender hybrids" which include a mythology-inspired creature called a "gender Minotaur," and that kids can change their genders by season and can have different identities depending on their location. 

Stop.  Just stop.  We adults need to be adults, quit indulging childish fantasies, and get back to being realistic.  No, you're not a mermaid.  No, you'll never grow up to be a kitty.  No, you're not a freakin minotaur.  And no, your gender doesn't change, not even if the season or your location changes.

That people pretend to believe this stuff from Ehrensaft continues to be a source of wonder for me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

A Weak Attack on Stevie Nicks For Her "Tone-Deaf Post on Twitter"

Stevie Nicks, whom I adored as a teenager and through much of my adult life, penned what is being criticized as a tone-deaf tweet (are they still called that on X?) in reference to the Maui fires.  Her post is here, and here's one of her critics:

In the tweet, she begins by reminding us that she has a house in the most magical place on earth, Lahaina. Her niece and her husband and their son were staying at the house and enjoyed one-and-a-half days of fun. That was before the fire, which would displace hundreds and kill at least 99 with the death toll expected to rise, broke out and ruined the fun. Oh, and lives, too, Ms. Nicks.

The family did escape and made it back to Los Angeles, where they are, and I quote, “totally freaked out.” I am glad that the family is safe, but “freaked out” cannot begin to describe the grief of the people who live there, who are mourning lost loved ones, worried sick over missing friends and family, and whose homes, unlike Ms. Nicks’, have been reduced to smoking debris. And also, unlike Ms. Nicks’ situation, most Hawaiians struggle with an incredibly high cost of living. They did not lose vacation homes. They lost their only homes.

Much of the tweet is an exercise in vapid, self-absorbed twaddle. Nicks seems to wallow in her personal situation while ignoring the desperate conditions on Maui.

Here's where I find fault with the article's author--he slams Stevie for being "vapid", "an old lib" who "manages to labor under the delusion that the world is desperate to hear their opinions and is fascinated with their lives", and then criticizes her for not writing a "thoughts and prayers"-type post about the fires.  What the author seems not to realize is that anyone reading Stevie Nicks' tweets probably is interested in her view and her personal situation, why else would someone read her tweets?  No doubt she probably could have added in more wailing and gnashing of teeth about some of the horrible results from the fire, but that wasn't the purpose of her tweet.  Just watch the news if you want to hear about how horrible the fire damage is.  That isn't what moved Stevie to write, she wrote to give a personal slant to the horror. 

The author seems to want to have it both ways, to insist that she write something deep while simultaneously slamming her as incapable of writing something deep.  I don't think you have to be a Stevie Nicks fan from way back to see the flaw in that logic.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Self-driving Taxis

Now that school's back in session I'm back to listening to "my guys" on the radio on the morning commute, and this morning they were talking about self-driving taxis in San Francisco:

On Thursday, California state regulators voted 3-1 in favor of allowing robotaxi services to begin paid, public 24/7 operations in San Francisco, effective immediately.

Concerns came to my mind instantly, and because great minds think alike, the radio guys made the same points. 

Taking a taxi now might not be horrible, as there's an actual human in the car to curb the passengers' worst excesses.  Without a human, I see such taxis becoming Las Vegas hotel elevators.

Imagine:  it's 2am, the bar's shut down, and two inebriated paramours alight across the street and into the nearest self-driving taxi.  Question:  would you want to be the next passenger in that taxi?  Ew.

Imagine: it's 2am, the bar's shut down, and a lone individual hops in one of those self-driving taxis.  Unlike so many other people in The City he/she chose not to pee on the sidewalk, but during his ride realizes that he/she will not make it home in time.  Question:  would you want to be the next passenger in that taxi?  Ew.

Those are the first two things that came to my mind, and given that we're talking about San Francisco here, are they at all unlikely?  Tell me you can't imagine them happening...

It's not the technology that concerns me, it's the humans.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

University Priorities

West Virginia University is facing a budget shortfall and is forced to make some cuts:

West Virginia University leaders have recommended discontinuing 32 of its majors at its Morgantown campus as the school is feverishly working to make up for a multi-million budget shortfall. 

The preliminary recommendations, released Friday afternoon, said 12 of those programs are undergraduate majors and 20 are graduate-level majors. Other programs were told to reduce their faculty size — 169 faculty jobs are on the line for cuts...

The Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, which includes Spanish, Russian and Chinese studies, was marked to be completely dissolved...

The university is also reviewing plans to eliminate the language requirement for all majors. “Eliminating language instruction will close avenues of opportunity, career advancement, and personal fulfillment for current and future WVU students,” she added.

The cuts, if approved, will affect 147 undergraduate and 287 graduate students, which the university noted was less than 2% of total student enrollment. 

In addition to the World Languages department, the following programs will be eliminated:

  • MA Higher Education Administration
  • MA Multicategorical Special Education 
  • PhD Higher Education
  • EdD Higher Education Administration
  • MM Collaborative Piano
  • MM Composition
  • MM Jazz Pedagogy
  • MFA Acting
  • PhD Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences
  • MLS Legal Studies
  • MPA Public Administration
  • MS Mathematics
  • PhD Mathematics
  • MFA Creative Writing
  • MS Energy Environments
  • PhD Resource Management
  • BSR Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources
  • BS Environmental and Community Planning
  • BSLA Landscape Architecture
  • MSLA Landscape Architecture
  • BA Agribusiness Management — This program will be discontinued and merged with the BS in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics resulting in a single new program and major.
  • BS Environmental and Energy Resource Management This program will be discontinued and merge with the BS in Energy Land Management resulting in a single new program and major. 
  • BS Environmental and Natural Resource Economics — This program will  be discontinued and merge with the BS in Agribusiness Management resulting in a single new program and major.

Additionally, several programs were marked for the development of a cooperative program, including:

  • BS Energy Land Management
  • BSF Forest Resource Management
  • BSF Wood Science and Technology
Not being touched are Women's and Gender Studies and other Aggrieved Victims Studies.  No doubt the high standards and perceived status of such programs make them extremely popular with students.

He Gave Them A Booboo On Their Heart

Sometimes the truth hurts, no matter the feeeeelz:

Three students from David Solomon's alma mater, Hamilton College, have taken aim at the Goldman Sachs CEO after he allegedly referred to the movement to divest in fossil fuel as "stupid"...

Solomon's comments, according to the letter, came during a "Senior Networking with Trustees" event that he took part in at the college in March, when the students challenged him about divestment from fossil fuels.

Solomon, the letter stated at the time, was speaking to "a group of six or so people" who "were all non-male, and at least half were people of color."

Back in the day, the correctness of a comment didn't depend on the sex or skin color of the people being spoken to. 

The executive's comments, according to the students, were in a "patronizing and disrespectful manner" and came from a "position of power."

Gawd, the whining.  It's too much to bear sometimes. 

When it came to fossil fuel divestment, the students claimed Solomon told them that it was a "stupid movement" and suggested that they should live in other regions in the world to see how things "really work."

"He also claimed he did not know what we were talking about in reference to ‘legacy private investments.’ Solomon then indicated that he thought [fossil] fuel divestment was a stupid movement. He called us hypocritical for advocating for divestment when we still use electricity and drive cars — and said that if we traveled to countries like China, India, and Cambodia we would see how the world 'really works,' and then see if we want to live like that," the students claimed.

I agree with him. 

I'm reminded of this quote from Governor Reagan in response to rioting in Berkeley, CA, in the late 60s:

All of it began the first time some of you who know better, and are old enough to know better, let young people think that they had the right to choose the laws they would obey as long as they were doing it in the name of social protest.

Maybe it's time to return to in loco parentis, because too many of these kids are out of control.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Pay Back Your Student Loans

I can forgive the high school students a little bit.  Every teacher they've ever had has been a college graduate, and thus the mantra students hear from the first day of school is that they must go to college.  If they choose to do something else they're met with the consternation of screwing up the first adult decision they have to make.

College students, though?  They're supposed to be smart enough to figure this stuff out, and to be wise enough to look beyond just their nose:

According to Fidelity’s College Savings & Student Debt study, six in 10 high school students say they won’t be able to afford college without the help of student loans, and more than one-third (36%) don’t know how long it will take to pay them back.

Additionally, the study results reveal 65% of college students taking advantage of the current federal payment pause say they have no idea how they’re going to start repaying their loans once the emergency pause is lifted this fall.

"These findings are not as much a surprise as they are a concern," says Jesse Moore, head of student debt at Fidelity Investments. "This October will be the first time in over three years that most federal borrowers make a student loan payment, and a lot has changed in three years. These people have bought homes, started families, changed jobs and all have felt the impacts of inflation."

They bought homes without considering how they'd afford the homes in addition to their previous debts?  Are you serious?  I don't have a lot of sympathy for such people.

I applied to 4 universities back in the '82-'83 school year.  Two were military academies, two were public universities.  I got accepted into one of the military academies and both of the public universities, but couldn't afford UCLA or Purdue.  Before I got the acceptance documents from West Point, and being financially responsible even at that young age, I considered postponing college for a few years; the plan was to join the military, then get a degree using the GI Bill.  

Some might say that the GI Bill route and West Point both required someone else to pay for my schooling, and that would be correct.  It would also be irrelevant.  In both cases I agreed to work for the government in order to get my education.  There was an agreement, not an abdication of my own responsibility.  I worked within the system, I didn't expect the system to accommodate my whims as those mentioned above have done.

As for the high school students, I encounter too many for whom a community college is beneath them.  It costs a lot to be housed and fed--just ask any parent!--so yes, going off to college is going to be an expensive proposition.  I'm forced to ask:  what are you doing to mitigate this cost?  Anything?

Having a sense of personal responsibility can be a heavy burden in today's society, as we look in awe at those who have no such sense and wonder how they can be so shameless in their sense of entitlement.