Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nevada Weekend, In Pictures!

A week and a half ago a childhood friend and I made our annual trek to Reno. As is usual for me, I came back broke and my friend came back money ahead. How he can pick the right slot machines, I'll never know. Buildings like those in the picture below, though, aren't built because people like me keep winning.

click on pictures to zoom in

Anyway, he had some friends performing in The Music Man over in Virginia City, about a half an hour away, so we went to see the show. Virginia City is the site of the Comstock Lode, and in its heyday was a large city complete with an opera house--Piper's Opera House. It was in what is left of Piper's that we saw The Music Man.

You can see from the picture in the link above that the opera house appears built into the side of a hill; as a result, the stage and seating area are upstairs. The pictures are dark, but perhaps they're enough to jumpstart your imagination about what it must have been like in, say, the 1890's.

These first two pictures show alcoves on the left and right sides of the stage. They were used as part of the stage for the show we saw, but I wonder what role they played in the heyday. Might these have been the box seats? Best seats in the house!

These next two pictures show the picture of William Shakespeare that's painted above the stage.

This picture is looking towards the back of the opera house (theater). The balcony area is clearly visible.

Looking towards the front left of the hall, this is an unremarkable picture except for the lamp hanging from the ceiling. Zoom in and look closely enough and you can see that the fittings were clearly for gas. Also note the mirrored cover to reflect the light into the hall.

This wood stove stood in a corner at the rear. Virginia City, despite being in the desert, gets cold--at 6200' above sea level the city sees snow, and this heater would have been a welcome accompaniment to a visit to the opera under such circumstances.

We left Reno the next day, my pockets (and spirit) poorer for the experience but still having had a great time. Two pictures screamed to be taken.

And these are what, exactly? Large birdcages? Perhaps a venue for outdoor go-go dancing? Well, the cages aren't what's funny here. Zoom in and see that the pigeons on the ground to the left of the red cage are fake. Why the heck would anyone want fake pigeon statuary?

This picture needs no commentary.

More pictures of Reno (and Carson City, the capital) can be seen in this post from early last spring.

Cultures Allow For Success--Or Not

From today's Washington Post (all boldface is mine--Darren):

Is it possible to eliminate global poverty? The World Bank estimates that 2.5 billion people still live on $2 a day or less. On one side are economists who argue that societies can nurture economic growth by adopting sound policies. Not so, say other scholars such as Lawrence Harrison of Tufts University. Culture (a.k.a. "nature") predisposes some societies to rapid growth and others to poverty or meager growth.

Comes now Gregory Clark, an economist who interestingly takes the side of culture. In an important new book, " A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Clark suggests that much of the world's remaining poverty is semi-permanent. Modern technology and management are widely available, but many societies can't take advantage because their values and social organization are antagonistic. Prescribing economically sensible policies (open markets, secure property rights, sound money) can't overcome this bedrock resistance...

All this disputes the notion that relentless globalization will inevitably defeat global poverty...

Clark believes that the Industrial Revolution started the ball rolling.

Almost everything that differentiates the modern era from the preceding millennia dates from this point: the virtual end of hunger in advanced societies; the expectation that living standards will constantly rise; the creation of the welfare state to redistribute income; the destructiveness of contemporary warfare; industry's environmental spoilage. But why did the Industrial Revolution start in England?

It's Clark's answer that convinces him of the supremacy of culture in explaining economic growth. Traditional theories have emphasized the importance of the Scientific Revolution and England's favorable climate: political stability, low taxes, open markets. Clark retorts that both China and Japan around 1800 were about as technically advanced as Europe, had stable societies, open markets and low taxes. But their industrial revolutions came later...

Clark's theory is controversial and, at best, needs to be qualified. Scholars do not universally accept his explanation of the Industrial Revolution. More important, China's recent, astonishing expansion (a fact that he barely mentions) demonstrates that economic policies and institutions matter. Bad policies and institutions can suppress growth in a willing population; better policies can release it. All poverty is not preordained. Still, Clark's broader point seems incontestable: Culture counts.

Capitalism in its many variants has been shown, he notes, to be a prodigious generator of wealth. But it will not spring forth magically from a few big industrial projects or cookie-cutter policies imposed by outside experts. It's culture that nourishes productive policies and behavior.

Clark's theory seems intuitively obvious to me. In a more micro version it's remarkably similar to the view that explains why certain groups of people in the US "underperform" when compared to other groups.

Ward Churchill, Will You Please Go Home

Ah, Ward Churchill.

Former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill no longer is a member of the faculty but he is holding classes on campus after his dismissal following a controversial Sept. 11 essay comparing victims to a Nazi leader.

The classes, covering topics including colonialism, genocide and racism, are organized by the students who then invite Churchill to speak.

"We feel Ward has a right to say what he wants to say," Aaron Smith, a political science and ethnic studies senior, told

Smith, one of the discussions' organizers, said about 75 students usually show up but it is hard to get them to commit to assignments since they can't receive grades for them...

The University of Colorado says Churchill is allowed on campus since he is a private citizen but students cannot receive academic credit for attending the discussions...

The university does not recognize the discussions as courses or an official representation of the University of Colorado academic work, (university spokesman) Hilliard said.

He plagiarized. He lied about being a Native American.
He even passed off someone else's painting as one of his own.

Chief Full-0f-crap.

Carnival of Education

This week's Carnival includes my post wondering about the reaction of school administrators if students (or teachers) were to wear a t-shirt of the Columbine killers to school, and why the same reaction doesn't occur when students (and teachers) wear Che Guevara shirts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Abuse At Oprah's School?


South African police are investigating abuse allegations at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, the talk-show host's $40 million school for disadvantaged girls near Johannesburg.

Investigators would not say whether the allegations involve physical or sexual abuse, but said no charges have been filed. The academy's CEO, John Samuel, said in a statement earlier this month that an internal inquiry was launched based on a claim of misconduct involving a dormitory parent.

According to an article in The Cape Argus, a Cape Town newspaper, a student said a dorm parent grabbed her by the throat and threw her against a wall. Girls at the school also said the matron swore and screamed at the girls, assaulted them and fondled at least one of them, the newspaper reported Saturday.

The newspaper said one of the pupils ran away from the school, blaming the alleged abuse.

In an emergency meeting with pupils and parents at the school, Winfrey apologized in connection with the incident. "I've disappointed you. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she said tearfully, according to numerous South African media reports.

Even though she's not directly responsible, it's good that Oprah is stepping up and getting directly involved. While the crying isn't so great, she's providing a good example of the leadership mentioned in the school's name.

Another "Climate Change Denier"

This one happens to be Professor Robert Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University in Australia.

Like everyone associated with the anti-AGW position Bob Carter has brought the wrath of the Climate Machine down upon him due to the stridency of his views.

He's not a climate scientist, they say.

Neither is Tim Flannery. Or Al Gore. Or Leonardo Di Caprio...!

Where's CTA On THIS Issue?

I'm the first to admit it--I don't want CTA worrying about education issues. I don't want them worrying about political issues. I want them focused solely on Darren's pay, benefits, and working conditions.

It's interesting to note, however, into which education issues they interject themselves, and which they do not. Right now, CTA seems to be expending beaucoup energy to defeat the No Child Left Behind reauthorization, certainly a quixotic battle as all indications are that it will be reauthorized. What occurrence, then, does CTA seem to be totally ignoring?

The effective cancellation of summer school.

I admit to not having 100% of the details, but this is what I have gathered from talking to our school counselors and administrators: state funding for summer school is being cut, and, at least in our district (I don't know about others), high school summer school will be only for those students who haven't yet passed the exit exam.

Think about that for a moment. If a student fails English, four years of which are required for graduation, summer school is no longer an option. We have a few exceptional elective programs at our school, enrollment in which essentially require students to attend summer school so they can take basic courses like "health ed" and free up electives during the school year. These magnet-type programs, like AVID, will have to be severely curtailed, altered, or canceled.

This is a big deal. And our Democrat state legislators are bought and paid for by the CTA, but I don't hear one peep out of the CTA on this topic. "It's for the children"--except when it's not.

One of our union reps brought the topic up at a union meeting, and was told that it's being addressed. If that isn't a blow-off answer, I don't know what is.

As I said, I don't really want a union getting involved in education issues, but I find it notable that they aren't involved in this one. I wonder why this one is apparently no big deal for them? After all, this has "it's for the children!" written all over it.

Indoctrination of the Blue Hens

Thanks to links from Instapundit (see blogroll at left), I'm now informed about what can only be called brainwashing at the University of Delaware. FIRE is on the case:

NEWARK, Del., October 30, 2007—The University of Delaware subjects students in its residence halls to a shocking program of ideological reeducation that is referred to in the university’s own materials as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect attitudes and beliefs. The Orwellian program requires the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware’s residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues ranging from politics to race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the total dismantling of the program, which is a flagrant violation of students’ rights to freedom of conscience and freedom from compelled speech...

The university’s views are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations. Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”

There's much more information at FIRE's web site.

John Leo addresses the subject more more softly than I would.

Many universities try to indoctrinate students, but the all-time champion in this category is surely the University of Delaware. With no guile at all the university has laid out a brutally specific program for "treatment" of incorrect attitudes of the 7,000 students in its residence halls. The program is close enough to North Korean brainwashing that students and professors have been making "made in North Korea" jokes about the plan. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called for the program to be dismantled. Residential assistants charged with imposing the "treatments" have undergone intensive training from the university. The training makes clear that white people are to be considered racists - at least those who have not yet undergone training and confessed their racism...

The basic question about the program is how did they think they could ever get away with this? Most campus indoctrination is more subtle, with some wiggle room for fudging and deniability. This program implies a frightening level of righteousness and lack of awareness.

Orwellian. What's even more amazing, though, is that this occurs at a public university. Private universities can have all sorts of strange rules and, as entities independent of the government, don't have to abide by the First Amendment--but the rules should be obvious for public schools.

I don't usually call for someone's job over a mistake, but this is huge. Someone needs to go--and not just some minion, either. Contact them: you can send an email to Public Relations here. The university Vice President for Administration, whose office seems to be responsible for this program, can be emailed here. I'm still searching for the university President's email address.

Islamofascism and the American Left

The week of October 22-26 witnessed the largest, most successful campus demonstrations by students not associated with the anti-American left in the history of campus protests. 114 college and university campuses participated in “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which highlighted the threat from the Islamic jihad, and the oppression of Muslim women. It featured speakers such as former Senator Rick Santorum, Ann Coulter, Robert Spencer, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager and Daniel Pipes, and was organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center with the help of Young America’s Foundation and the Leadership Institute.

At the beginning of the Week there were 6,000 website references to the protest. By its end there were more than 644,000. There was coverage – often multiple news reports and opinion columns -- in all the student papers on campuses where events took place and many more besides. In short, hundreds of thousands of members of the academic community were exposed to the message of the protests and the arguments over the issues they raised...

In response, anti-American leftists and organizations supporting the Islamic jihad organized a national campaign of vitriol and hate that was almost unprecedented. This campaign revealed the lengths to which the anti-American left will go to prevent the public from discussing the nature of the holy war that has been declared on them...

The attacks on Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week exposed the broad scope of the alliance between radical Islam and American leftists who regard it as their political task to run interference for America’s enemies....

So says the founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which helped organize Islamo-fascism Awareness Week. His entire article can be found here.

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.
Who will they go after first? Gays, women, communists?
How can you preach "tolerance" and support terrorists?

These people are idiots.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Debating A Leftie, If You Must

The Futurist has a great post about how to counter the stupid sound-bytes that lefties like to spout. I'll post the intro here--go to the full post for the counterarguments.

If you don't believe that an anti-US fifth column (8-10% of the US population) exists in America, read these voluntarily written articles from some very well-known blogs. Anyone, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, who feels any love for the United States, will be offended by this :

Daily Kos, The Left Coaster, Daily Kos again, the burning of US soldiers in effigy, the comments here, this poll stating that 11% are hoping for America to lose in Iraq, and Rosie O'Donnell defending 9/11 mastermind and Al-Qaeda No. 3 Khalid Sheikh Mohammad on national TV (even though he also confessed to making plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton). Even Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, as genuine of a political moderate as one can ever hope to find, has arrived at a similar conclusion, going even further than me by saying the 'left' sides with America's enemies, as has Captain Ed. I don't think the fifth column represents all of the 'left', however.

There is a significant percentage of the US population that does not want the US to win in Iraq (and will deny the existence of victory when we achieve it by 2008). Some because they have always hated America (fifth-columnists), others simply because they hate President Bush so much, beyond any policy disagreement, that they want to discredit him even if it means harming America (Bush Derangement Syndrome), and yet others because it is a socially fashionable opinion to hold, and they need to conform to the groupthink of their clique (fashion sheep).

This is an article I could have written a long time ago. I refrained in order to wait until the anti-US fifth column overplays their hand, which has happened. Applying true Sun-Tzu tactics, their exhausted state is the perfect time for a counterattack.

You can win debates against all of them easily, by debating them on principle, which they are usually not confronted on, and observing their willingness to offer constructive ideas.

Also, never refer to these people as 'liberals', 'progressives', and 'elites'. This is not only an insult to genuine classical liberals (who have an open mind and can come to agreement with others easily), but these are terms that the actions of anti-Americans are quite the opposite of. Does it make much sense to debate someone if, from the start, they insist that you address them as the smarter person among the two of you, without them having to earn that status through deeds? So don't allow them to stealthily get away with this branding over here.

Here are some examples of common one-liners (in italics) and possible responses you could wield (in bold) :

And he goes on to make the points that, if lefties could be swayed by logic, would shut them up.

Improving No Child Left Behind

From, of all places, the Los Angeles Times:

The No Child Left Behind Act has made an admitted mishmash of public education. Yet, like nothing before, the law also has schools and the public paying serious attention to how little is learned by so many students, and how inferior conditions fester in schools that enroll large numbers of black, Latino and impoverished children. They are left to struggle, barely mastering elementary reading skills, passed from one grade to the next like scholastic hot potatoes.

Still, how can one like a law so badly framed and rigidly constructed that it erects unfair and unreachable standards, encourages schools to ignore the children most in need of help, labels many a fine school as failing, and has the perverse effect of shrinking history, science and arts education and badly cutting into programs for gifted kids?

With the act up for reauthorization, Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) is openly conceding that his original bill was so poorly crafted, the U.S. Education secretary was forced to connive ways around its more awkward provisions. Miller aims to make amends with the new version. Some of the changes are praiseworthy, but others undermine the essential purpose of the law.

One proposed fix is long overdue and widely applauded. Miller would get rid of the arbitrary and useless rule that schools be measured by how many students test as "proficient" each year in reading and math. Proficiency is a meaningless term because each state sets its own standard, and those standards are quite literally all over the map. But the proficiency requirement has had a more insidious effect: Schools tend to ignore students who are truly struggling and concentrate only on those who are just below proficient, who might be boosted over the bar within an academic year. And because they get no credit for pushing students from proficient to advanced, schools are neglecting the top academic performers, and gifted programs have been shrinking or dying nationwide. Miller now wants schools measured by each student's year-to-year progress, which always made a lot more sense.

Miller also has written provisions that encourage states to raise standards and put better teachers in high-poverty schools. The law would no longer hit schools that come close to their growth targets with harsh punitive measures. He includes a modest bonus program that would pay teachers for good performance, including raising test scores. Its reach is limited, but Miller deserves praise for introducing on a formal level the idea that better teachers deserve better pay.

His approach to standardized testing is clumsier. Yes, a single standardized test measuring two subjects -- reading and math -- is an inadequate measure of a school's mettle. Yes, teachers tend to "teach to the test." But at least mastering the subject matter for these tests is more than many students were doing before. Given more wiggle room, schools invariably devise ways to make their students look good while selling them short. That's a major shortcoming of Miller's plan for a pilot program that would allow local districts to come up with their own assessments. Local assessments were what we had before the accountability movement, and they failed. The way the bill is written, a majority of students nationwide could be covered by what's supposed to be an experimental program.

Miller also has written in an extensive list of other objective measures schools could use, in addition to their reading and math tests, to bolster their standing. The list is so broad, though, and can be manipulated in such different ways from school to school that it greatly complicates an already complicated law and could be used to cover up failure. Say a school does great on Advanced Placement tests -- that tells us nothing about its work with low achievers.

There's one other essential flaw in the act that Miller does not address: It still aims to bring all students up to proficiency by 2014. Let's face it. The nation will never make all of its students academically proficient, as long as proficiency is a reasonably high standard. That's like saying all Americans will be above average. Continued growth is realistic; so is narrowing the shameful gap in achievement between white and minority students. Academic stardom for all is not. The public will not trust this law until it at least is honest.

Yes, it definitely has a slant to it, but there are plenty of gems of truth in there. Actually, I think "the public" likes the law--it's the teachers unions (and their adherents) that don't like it.

American Kids--Dumber Than Dirt

Mr. Chanman of Buckhorn Road (see blogroll at left) turned me on to this article from the online version of the SF Chronicle:

American kids, dumber than dirt
Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history

True or not, a headline like that definitely makes the article worth a read.

T-Shirts At School

This post at Classical Values raises a very interesting point: my school doesn't ban t-shirts with Che Guevara on them; heck, we have teachers with posters of this psycho in their classrooms and who wear such t-shirts. How would the school react if students wore t-shirts showing Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold, of Columbine fame?

We've Lost In Iraq

The "we" is al Qaeda--so says Osama bin Laden.

October 27, 2007: On October 22nd, Osama bin Laden admitted that al Qaeda had lost its war in Iraq.

I wonder how the MSM will cover this one. Another story of how grave diggers and taxi drivers (who take weeping families home when they're too emotional to drive) are having it rough because there's much less killing now?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Probably Not A Racist, Probably Not Too Bright

HOUSTON — A school district police officer suspended for creating and distributing a "Ghetto Handbook" has been fired...

The booklet was given to other police officers at a May roll call and tells them learning the definitions in it will allow them to speak as if they "just came out of the hood."

Morris told district investigators he made the booklet to get back at one of his bosses. He also pointed out he is married to a black woman and that they have three children together, according to the report.

Can anyone explain to me how doing something stupid allows you to get back at one of your bosses?

The Things People Will Say To Defeat Vouchers

Jeanetta Williams, a voucher opponent and president of the NAACP's Salt Lake branch, said the videotaped comments shocked her and she believes Byrne meant that minorities who don't graduate should be burned or thrown away.

Did you need the NAACP identifier, or could you just guess it? It used to be on such a high pedestal, now it's fallen so far.

Here's what Mr. Byrne really said, and you can see for yourself if Ms. Williams' interpretation is one a reasonable person would make:

On the YouTube video clip, Byrne says: "Right now, 40 percent of Utah minorities are not graduating from high school. You may as well burn those kids. That's the end of their life. That's the end of their ability to achieve in this society if they do not get a high school education. You might as, just throw the kids away."

Mr. Byrne explains his comments this way:

"I very clearly said the system is throwing away 40 percent of the minority kids because they're not graduating. I'm saying that I'm against throwing kids away.

"People against vouchers are in favor of throwing the kids away," Byrne said.

You make the call.

Update, 10/29/07: Please see the update to this post. Included in the linked article is the fact that Utah is the only state without a "dropout factory", defined as a school where no more than 40% of the students who start as freshmen finish as seniors.


I was a teenager when Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was released in theaters--many refer to it as "the one with the whales". In that movie, the Enterprise crew ends up in 1980's San Francisco. Mr. Chekhov suffers a potentially fatal head injury and is taken to a hospital, where he's not expected to live.

Enter Dr. McCoy.

Coming from the 23rd century, McCoy is disgusted by the so-called medicine he sees. Dialysis? Needles? He speaks to Chekhov's doctor--who wants to drill into Chekhov's skull to relieve pressure on his brain. He's a doctor, not a butcher--or something like that.

When my brother was dying a few years ago, I marveled at how little we know about human biology. In the past I had always marveled at how advanced we were, but there I was, reduced to hoping that someone, somewhere would die so my brother could have a liver. I wondered then how future generations would sneer at us, like we do the leech doctors, for actually taking organs from one person and putting them into another. It sounds so advanced and wonderful, but could just as easily sound ghoulish and barbaric.

So I read with interest this opinion piece wherein the author juxtaposed two interesting topics: the opening of a London exhibit on slavery, and thoughts on abortion.

I found myself wondering how abortion will be viewed by museum curators, teachers, historians and moralists 200 years from now.

As the slavery exhibition shows, something that one generation accepts readily enough is often seen as abhorrent by its descendants – so abhorrent, in fact, that people find it almost impossible to understand how it could have been countenanced in a supposedly civilised society.

It's a well-written article, and the comments at the end run the gamut of expectations; many on both sides are just as well thought out, while others are puerile or in the manner of a sound byte. I recommend taking a read if the topic interests you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Are/Were Your Parents This Bad?

I'm not going to put mine up for any Parent of the Year awards for the time I was a child, but they never did anything sick like this.

NAPLES, Fla. — A woman who had her 13-year-old daughter's genitalia pierced to make it uncomfortable for her to have sex was acquitted of aggravated child abuse on Thursday.

The girl, now 16, had testified that her mother asked a friend in 2004 to shave the girl's head to make her unattractive to boys and later held her down for the piercing.

A jury deliberated for about three hours before deciding the mother's actions didn't involve punishment or malicious intent, or cause permanent damage or disfigurement.

Let's reiterate: a jury didn't convict her.

Be Careful How You Vote In 2008

One of my loyal readers sent me a link to this modern version of the tale of the ant and the grasshopper.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Support Standardized Testing

I've been reading Dr. Paige's book The War Against Hope and came upon a fantastic paragraph regarding testing.

What has been most critical--and most threatening to the phalanx of teachers' unions and self-esteem gurus that defend the status quo--has been the steady increase in testing. Objectors of school reform have fought these measures hard, using every type of argument imaginable to try to scuttle and prevent reform. But, like the old Soviet bloc, a little glasnost will go a long way. The smallest beams of light on the system will be devastating. As parents and the public realize that it is their local school and their kids who are falling behind, the system will change. As the "report cards" on local schools come in, information and insight into the school down the street will provide the tipping point for change.

I support information transparency.

Update, 10/29/07: Commenter Dean and I teach at a relatively high achieving school in a well-to-do neighborhood. If testing went away tomorrow, our students, by virtue of their successful parents and the quality teachers at our school (Dean being one of them), would continue to do well. That isn't the case at many schools; some schools can rightly be called dropout factories.

WASHINGTON - It's a nickname no principal could be proud of: "Dropout Factory," a high school where no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year. That dubious distinction applies to more than one in 10 high schools across America...

There are about 1,700 regular or vocational high schools nationwide that fit that description, according to an analysis of Education Department data conducted by Johns Hopkins for The Associated Press. That's 12 percent of all such schools, no more than a decade ago but no less, either...

The highest concentration of dropout factories is in large cities or high-poverty rural areas in the South and Southwest. Most have high proportions of minority students. These schools are tougher to turn around, because their students face challenges well beyond the academic ones — the need to work as well as go to school, for example, or a need for social services...

Federal lawmakers haven't focused much attention on the problem. The No Child Left Behind education law, for example, pays much more attention to educating younger students. But that appears to be changing.

House and Senate proposals to renew the five-year-old No Child law would give high schools more federal money and put more pressure on them to improve, and the Bush administration supports the idea.

Update #2, 10/29/07: I just came across a wonderful validation of one of my beliefs, in this week's EIA Communique:

The Guy is one of the few people (maybe the only one) in any specified location who can solve problems that aren't in the technical manual, the agency guideline, or the computer instructions. He or she may or may not be the manager. It's unrelated. The Guy quickly corrects your double-billing, replaces a washer instead of tearing out your bathroom sink, prescribes the perfect medication, or immediately gets you a new desk after your principal says it will take three months. You all know The Guy, even though it's getting harder and harder to find him or her.

The gap between The Guy and everyone else is growing. Morford blames it on lots of things. Kids lack intellectual acumen. They're lazy slackers. They're overprotected and wussified. They're overexposed to and overstimulated by television, video games and the Internet. And yes, he even blames standardized tests.

At the same time, he admits, there are many, many brilliant young minds out there. Were they lucky? Private-schooled? Affluent? (I don't think so. Affluent schools aren't immune.)

No. They're self-motivated.

Self-motivation is key.

Update #3, 10/29/07: Wow, I'm on a roll tonight on finding updates for this post--and I'm not even looking for them. I just stumbled upon this one from last week's Carnival of Education. In it, a student in Denver supports state standardized testing because it prepares her for *other* tests--like the ones needed to get into college. Agree or disagree, it's certainly an interesting perspective.

Bill Clinton and the Troofers

See what Bill has to say.

Math And Blogs

Maybe this blog will rank up there next year.

A recent Carnegie Mellon study used higher mathematics to answer the question: if you want to be informed about what the entire blogosphere is talking about, but you can only read 100 blogs (out of the millions available), which blogs should you read?

Now THIS Is A Good Protest

Via Fox News, with a hat tip to Instapundit:

College students across the country have been strapping empty holsters around their waists this week to protest laws that prohibit concealed weapons on campus, citing concerns over campus shootings.

"People who would otherwise be able to defend themselves are left defenseless when on campus," said Ethan Bratt, a graduate student wearing an empty holster this week on the campus of Seattle Pacific University.

No papier mache puppets, no signs equating anyone to Nazis, no foul language, no fake science, no over-emotionalism.

Just a protest.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still Think The Press Is Unbiased?

McClatchy is a newspaper "empire" founded here in Sacramento. One of its reporters is in Baghdad, and--well, read his blog entry yourself, in his own words, and see if you agree with several dozen commenters who agree this reporter is an ass.

It'll be interesting to see how long the link remains active, and how long this pissant reporter remains employed.

The Corps Has...

That's West Point "old graduate" shorthand for "The Corps has gone to hell in a handbasket", and is usually uttered any time an old grad hears how much better today's cadets have it that we did "back when men were men and dinosaurs roamed The Plain." I'm sure it was uttered when cadets first got indoor plumbing, were allowed to have cars, were forbidden to physically haze freshmen--and, of course, when women were admitted.

But those pale--I mean pale--in comparison to the life of luxury and decadence experienced by today's cadets.

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Dave Matthews Band will play for Army football next month — at two free shows.

The U.S. Military Academy beat out Air Force, Navy and more than 100 other colleges that participated in the World's Loudest Pep Rally contest to win a visit from the rock star. Matthews will play for cadets Nov. 14 and 15.

"Congratulations! We'll see you in November," Matthews, 40, said in a videotape that was to be shown to cadets at West Point's mess hall Wednesday.

Cadets at the storied Hudson Valley academy won the contest by submitting invitations by text messages or postings at AT&T sponsored the contest.

Cadets showed off their hip-hop moves in one posted video, while others made direct pleas to Matthews, such as "West Point NEEDS someone to ROCK our stonewalled campus."

Army's Black Knights are 3-5 this season.

Dave Matthews never played when I was there. The Corps has.

Carnival of Education

This week's is here, and includes my post on giving "the pill" to middle school students without parental knowledge.

California's Fires Caused By Global Warming

You knew it was coming, and it came--from "Searchlight Harry" Reid.

What an idiot.

I have to ask: are Democrats genuinely happy with the Majority Leader in either House? I don't think they could have chosen two more ineffective people, or two dumber ones.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Agency Fee Rebate

Anyone who's spent more than 10 minutes on this blog knows I'm not a union member. I have no major quarrels with my local union, but I despise the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association so much that I will not be a member of the troika. Since California is a "fair share" state I'm still required to pay union dues to those two criminal syndicates, but each year get a rebate (about $400) of the dues money that they admit to using for functions other than collective bargaining--such as trying to get Hillary Clinton elected President.

Under the rules I have to have my rebate request submitted by November 15th; clearly I'm doing so in plenty of time. CTA, ever helpful, sent me a 3-1/2 page letter outlining my requirements and responsibilities for requesting this rebate, and included the world's most feeble attempt to get me to change my mind:

You may become a full member of the Association and pay full unified dues to NEA/CTA/Local Association, and take advantage of all rights and benefits that come with membership. Members may vote for Association officers (yay!), are covered under the $1,000,000 Educators Employment Liability coverage (I can get better coverage from AAE), have full access to legal representation (which I could afford myself if I didn't have to pay almost $1000 a year in union dues), and are eligible for CTA-sponsored insurance programs and many other valuable membership benefits (including card-carrying membership in the Democrat Party). A full overview of CTA programs and membership benefits can be found in the CTA Membership Magazine included with these materials.

We strongly urge you to join us in the Association.

Well, now that you put it that way, how can I say no?

Are they so bland because they don't expect to get me anyway? Or do they not know how pathetic they sound? Or do they not care, because they're legally entitled to my money anyway and hence don't have to earn it? Whatever the case, they don't come across as very sincere.

And I certainly don't want to associate with them.

Just give me my rebate money, part of which I will use to join AAE.

If you, too, have had enough of the CTA, visit the website of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. There you can learn about your union-related options and, should you decide to leave the union, you'll have example letters to follow for resigning and requesting your rebate.

It's well worth your time. Even if you choose not to leave the union, CTEN can still provide you with valuable information with which you can make informed choices regarding your education career.

An Interesting Reconquista

Reconquista is the term used to describe the "reconquering" of the Southwest USA by Mexican immigrants. The victimology goes that the US acquired the land by conquering Mexico (how, exactly, did Europeans first acquire that land?), so it's only right and just that Mexicans reconquer the land.

For centuries after William the Conqueror (there's that word again) of Normandy won at Hastings and became king of England, English kings claimed land in France--Normandy, Calais, Brittany, etc. Eventually, the French ran the British off the continent and back to their own island.

But the British are coming back, reconquista-style!

Partly this is a story about French economic decline. Economic decline often happens without you realising it. And then, suddenly, you do realise it. That factory you thought you had a safe job in for life gets abruptly closed, because the government has decided that the subsidies to keep it going are becoming too huge. You suddenly realise that private education for your kids is going to be forever beyond you, that where you live state education is actually getting worse, and that also you can not afford to move to where it is any good. Multiply little dramas like that by a million, and you have an entire country in economic decline. Thus, economic decline often impinges upon an electorate not in the form of rather meaningless statistics moaned about by journalists even as life goes on happily, but rather in the form of dramatic vignettes like this one, of vulgar English people invading the formerly idyllic French countryside.

The Mexicans come to the US because there's work here, and a chance at a better life. The English are snapping up French property because there's not work in France, so the land is cheap!

Hard to blame either group, even though only one of them is acting legally.

Update, 10/24/07: Regular reader Mark Roulo has gently called me to task for my closing statement. He is absolutely correct, and I, in sloppiness, made the mistake that liberals often make intentionally--I conflated illegal immigration (which I do not support) and legal immigration (which I do support). Both forms of immigration contribute to the concept of reconquista in the US Southwest, and I erred in my closing statement in the post by not specifying illegal immigration. Apologies.

Contrast The Free Speech Views of the Left and Right

Contrast this post, wherein Mr. Chanman and I decide to let the moonbats talk without our interference, with this one, which discusses lefties' attempts to shut down speech about Islamofascism.

I'm Screwed.

Both my grandmothers, so I'm in line....

Monday, October 22, 2007

One Big Happy CTA Family

I quote directly from this week's EIA Communique:

CTA Dealing With Some Internal Unrest. The California Teachers Association is devoting itself wholeheartedly to the No Child Left Behind Act reauthorization battle, but it has a couple of fights at home as well.

The bitter and embarrassing feuds within the Teachers Association of Long Beach finally prompted CTA to take drastic action. Last Thursday, the state union established a trusteeship over the local, placing former CTA President Barbara Kerr in charge.

Kerr told the Long Beach Press Telegram it was the first time CTA had taken such an action in 25 years.

Meanwhile, the faculty at Pasadena City College voted by a resounding 2-to-1 margin to disaffiliate from CTA and form an independent union, perhaps as a prelude to affiliating with the California Federation of Teachers.

Agency fee was a big issue in the disaffiliation vote, though there was also general discontent over the use of dues. "It felt like I was throwing money in the Mirror Pools," said one faculty member.

You don't say?

Liberals As They Are

Go watch the video here. This guy calls it like he sees it.

Who Cares About The Real World As Long As There's A Virtual World?

NewsAlert directed me to this article about people who detach from the real world as they get more and more involved in the virtual worlds of cell phones, text messaging, and even Second Life. I probably wouldn't have read much had not NewsAlert quoted one interesting point, and added good commentary.

From the article:

What, after all, is a 15-year-old supposed to do in what John Muir called "the grandest of all special temples of nature" without cell phone service?

"I'd rather be at the mall because you can enjoy yourself walking around looking at stuff as opposed to the woods," Nguyen said from the comfort of the Westfield San Francisco Centre mall.

In Yosemite and other parks, he said, furrowing his brow to emphasize the absurdly lopsided comparison, "the only thing you look at is the trees, grass and sky."

And NewsAlert's commentary:

No word yet from Al Gore on this one.

What are the lyrics to that John Mayer song?
"Some day my generation's
gonna rule the population
so we keep on waiting
waiting for the world to change."

I hear there's no global warming in The Sims or in Second Life :-)

A Bad Merit Pay Plan In NYC?

This author evidently thinks so, and he'll tell you why.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Will You Believe In Media Bias Now?

This is from an online forum from the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education:

I hate conservatives

Posted by Dee on Oct 04, 2007

Conservatives are all of the mentally ill people in society. It's not what they claim to believe that makes them so bad, it's the fact that they believe the same things, like in lock step, that makes them so bad. They love to perseverate about black people, ad nauseum and point fingers, endlessly. While the rest of us are trying to make a living, dealing with real life and putting up with daily hassles, conservatives are narcissist who have answers for everyone, on everything at every level. They really need to get over themselves. I am not a liberal but definitely not mentally ill enough to be a conservative.

When she actually becomes a reporter, I'll bet she'll talk about how unbiased she is. She'll no doubt fit right in at many media outlets.

You Are Not To Stray From The Party Line

How could you? Since there's only The Party and nothing else, there's nowhere to stray to--and we're talking about Princeton here.

Cool Song

I don't know how I came across this song, but it's from a Filipino band called Bamboo. I somehow surfed to it on YouTube, but below is just the audio. I've found the lyrics, presumably in Tagalog, but not speaking that language, I have no idea what they say.

But the music is beautiful--the beginning reminds me of INXS' Afterglow. Take a listen.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

More Leftie Lies

Like Instapundit quoted: But really, what's wrong with using rumors and imaginary facts to serve the noble purpose of ending this terrible war?

Why Are We Fighting In Iraq?

The left says it's either oil, which we haven't taken, or WMD, which wasn't there. Sometimes they say it was to enrich the President's friends, although I doubt anyone likes his friends enough to put up with the crap the President has.

"Saddam didn't attack us." No one said he did. "He had no links to al Qaeda." Not so fast. Besides, he had plenty of links to terror and terrorists before al Qaeda.

I still support this war. I'll be glad when we've won, though.

Friday, October 19, 2007

NIMBYism and Global Warming

As the saying goes: I'll treat it like a crisis when the people who tell me it's a crisis act like it's a crisis.

Update: Link fixed. Apologies!

So-called Fairness Doctrine=Gag Rule

They say it fairly well here.

The market, in which people make decisions without government interference, has chosen. Conservative talkers such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity rule the airwaves because they offer the opinions and analyses most Americans want to hear. At the same time, there is little market for the rantings from the Democrats' worldview. The public has heard both sides and has found the ideas on the left to be wanting.

So Democrats, jealous of the right's success and frustrated over their failures (they can't understand why everyone doesn't think correctly, as they do), aim to fix things with authoritarian regulation. Apparently the legacy of liberty left to us by our founders is an archaic notion. Censorship is the new freedom of speech.

JROTC-based High Schools

Joanne has the story about military-themed high schools in Chicago, with the admission that their students don't perform as well as students in local public schools. I support such schools, if they can provide at least as much bang for the buck as the local public schools. When they don't, they're not working and need to change or be closed--kinda like public schools should.

Carnival of Education

This week's Carnival includes my post about students' applying to far too many universities.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How Low Can She Go?

Poor Britney Spears.

It's bad enough that she has temporarily lost visitation rights to her own children. What's worse is that the person deemed more capable of rearing the children is a former backup dancer and wannabe rapper, her ugly ex-husband.

When you're put up on that tall a pedestal, it's a long way down when you fall.

New York City Teachers Approve Merit Pay

Read about it here, with a top o' the hat to NewsAlert.

Has anyone read how the Denver merit pay program is working?

Update: Here's EIA's take.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ward Churchill Is Coming To The Sacramento Area

He'll be speaking at Berkeley-lite, UC Davis.

The theme of the speech, in keeping with its antisemitic, Islamofascist sponsors, is “Zionists Are Nazis.”

I sent the above link to fellow Sacramento edublogger Mr. Chanman, telling him I'm not strong enough to stomach going to listen to that man talk. Here's his response to me, in which I've changed only one term because this is a family blog:

You see, that's the difference between us and the left: if a conservative speaker as controversial as Ward Churchill spoke at Davis, there would be protesters, disrupters, and pie throwers. We on the other hand, just choose to ignore the whole thing and let them have their moonbat orgy.

That's one of many differences between us and the left.

It's Always A Priest, A Teacher, Or A Cop

An arrest warrant will be issued for a Canadian pedophilia suspect targeted in a global manhunt for allegedly having sex with two teenage boys in Bangkok, a Thai police official said Thursday.

School teacher Christopher Paul Neil, 32, has been accused of sexually abusing at least a dozen Cambodian and Vietnamese boys, some as young as 6 years old. He has taught in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.


I admit that I don't understand this kind of stuff. Is it a sickness, a perversion, both, or something else?

Painting Your Body In School Colors

I can't tell from this report if the two girls were kicked out of school permanently or were suspended temporarily for wearing bikinis and having their bodies painted in school colors for Homecoming.

There's a time and a place for painting your body in school colors and showing off--and school isn't that place. Had they dressed this way at the football game itself, the situation would be a bit murkier.

I didn't inhabit that gray area when I was in high school. A friend and I painted ourselves in school colors from our waists up, went to a football game, and cheered with the cheerleaders--and being shirtless, we showed all of our cleavage! And we thought it was great, too, until the principal chewed us out on Monday morning. I have a picture in my senior yearbook, but I think my yearbooks are in the garage.

But let's be realistic, girls--bikini tops are not appropriate at school. You know that. School spirit is great, but it doesn't override the fact that bikinis aren't appropriate attire at school.

Get "The Pill" At Middle School

It amazes me what some people think children should be allowed to do.

Tell me, all your life, haven't you thought that middle school students are too young to have sex? Haven't you always thought that parents should at least know about, and have some say in, what their children are doing? If you have thought this way, and you probably have if you're not from San Francisco, how could you support something that's the very opposite of your beliefs?

A supporter, Richard Verrier, said it's not enough to depend on parents to protect their children because there may be students who can't discuss things with their parents.

Why would you make a law that's very bad for most people, just to protect a small number of students for whom lack of this law might be a problem? Just who are we helping by allowing 12-year-olds to get birth control pills without their parents' explicit permission?

I just don't understand these laws. I don't understand how this type of law helps us as a society. I don't understand how anyone who's a parent could possibly think that such laws are a good idea. I don't see how a thinking adult could support such a law.

And here's how they're going to trick people into falling for this scam:

Students treated at the centers must first get written parental permission, but under state law such treatment is confidential, and students decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive.

Of course if my child has a headache, I want the school nurse (if they even have one) to give him an aspirin. Then something like this occurs. It's inevitable.

I'm not a big fan of the Republicans' social agenda, but if this is what they're talking about regarding family values, then sign me up.

Unintended Consequences

It's not too hard to understand.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

West Point Grad Is Conscientious Objector

I guess it's possible, but it sounds darned odd.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier who said his Christian beliefs compelled him to love his enemies, not kill them, has been granted conscientious objector status and honorably discharged, a civil liberties group said on Tuesday.

Capt. Peter Brown -- who served in Iraq for more than a year and was a graduate of the elite U.S. military academy West Point -- said in a statement issued by the New York Civil Liberties Union that he was relieved the Army had recognized his beliefs made it impossible for him to serve.

As I learned on Ken Burn's The War a week or two ago, conscientious objectors served during WWII--as medics, and in similar positions. Granted, this man is a captain, so being a medic isn't an appropriate position for him, but it seems there are plenty of things he could do short of leaving the army. Let's not forget, he got a free 4-year education from that same army.

Brown said he had no conflict between his faith and military service until after he graduated from West Point in 2004 and began to study scripture and his belief.

I stand by my previous statement. It's almost as if we're not taking this war seriously.

A Dearth Of Dentists In Durham

What in the (socialist) world is going on in England?

LONDON (AFP) - Falling numbers of state dentists in England has led to some people taking extreme measures, including extracting their own teeth, according to a new study released Monday.

Falling numbers of state dentists in England has led to some people taking extreme measures, including extracting their own teeth, according to a new study released Monday.

Others have used superglue to stick crowns back on, rather than stumping up for private treatment, said the study.

Great moments in socialized medicine.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Update On My Rheumatoid Arthritis

It's neither arthritis nor carpal tunnel syndrome, but more likely a case of tendonitis. The doctor has me gorging ibuprofin, and I've replaced the home keyboard and mouse with ergonomic ones and even got an ergonomic keyboard at school.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I'm back!

(And now I'm going to bed.)

Intellectual Diversity

27-0 at the University of Iowa
Diversity is for Democrats.

It’s not the score of a Hawkeye football game. It’s the number of Democrats versus the number of Republicans in the University of Iowa history department, and it has Iowans in an uproar. So, too, do charges published by Mark Bauerlein that left-wing bias has influenced the department’s hiring process. In response to the revelations, department chair Colin Gordon announced that the department had committed no wrongdoing, and neither he nor the university has expressed any concern about the total absence of intellectual diversity. Rarely have the hypocrisy and mendacity of academia been so thoroughly exposed as in the history department’s damage-control campaign.

Professor Gordon contended that the history department cannot discriminate against Republican or conservative job applicants because it does not know the political ideology of applicants. But the University’s own hiring manual states that search committees must “assess ways the applicants will bring rich experiences, diverse backgrounds, and ideology to the university community.” So they are obligated to understand applicants’ ideology, and to make sure not to overlook people with differing ideologies....

Unfortunately, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity proved unwilling to enforce the university’s policies on either equal opportunity or diversity.

If the lies and hypocrisy weren't so blatant, you could almost feel sorry for the poor sops for feeling like they had to protect themselves in this way. But the arrogance and disregard with which they conduct themselves is beyond belief.

Hat tip to NewAlert (see blogroll at left).

Affirmative Action At Law Schools

Does affirmative action work? An explosive study that suggests it does not is pitting the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights against the State Bar of California in a battle over admissions data that could determine once and for all if racial preferences help or hurt minority students.

"Currently only about one in three African-Americans who goes to an American law school passes the bar on the first attempt and a majority never become lawyers at all," says UCLA law professor Richard Sander.

In an article published in the Stanford Law Review, Sander and his research team concluded several thousand would-be black lawyers either dropped out of law school or failed to pass the bar because of affirmative action.

Known as the ‘mismatch’ effect, Sander claims students who are unprepared and whose academic credentials are below the median are admitted to law schools they are unqualified to attend. If those same students instead were to go to less elite or competitive schools, more would graduate, pass the bar and become lawyers.

You'd think the Bar would want to prove affirmative action's success with statistics. You would think, but you'd be wrong.

Recently, a California bar committee voted 5-3 to turn down Sander’s request to use bar data collected over the last three decades on student test scores, law school admissions, academic performance and bar passage rates....

"There is no answer but to give him the information," says black civil rights attorney Leo Terrell. "What is the state bar afraid of? We need to know."

Interesting. Apparently his previous research was "controversial" because it dared to question the value of affirmative action programs. Apparently, too many black law students drop out of law school, or fail to pass the bar exam, and then have huge law school debts and no lucrative law career with which to repay them. Damn Mr. Sander for pointing that out!

The Board of Governors of the California Bar may reconsider Sander’s request during its November meeting, but for now no one can say whether affirmative action actually does what's intended.

The College Admissions Arms Race

A former student came to me today with a stack of recommendations he'd like me to fill out. He's applying to eight schools.

Eight schools.

Think of the consequences for the system as a whole. If every student applied to eight schools, the paperwork in the admissions office would be overwhelming. Students would be offered admission to multiple campuses, meaning other students get waitlisted at schools where the people who got accepted really have no intention to attend. Unnecessary tears are shed, extra hoops have to be jumped--all because students weren't confident enough to apply to a reasonable number and level of school.

How many "safety net" schools do you need to apply to? And really, who came up with this idea of a "safety net" school?

It's seems mad to me--mad, I tell you.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Admissions Process. Yeah, that sounds like a winner.

Update: If applying to way too many colleges isn't enough to give your kid a warm fuzzy, up the ante a bit and hire a $40,000 admissions coach while your kid's still in junior high!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Is It Paranoid If They're Really Out To Get You?

It used to be that conspiracy theories were considered to be on the lunatic fringe of public discourse. Now they've become mainstream (e.g., the Troofers).

I have to believe that there already exists technology that would allow "the military" or "the government" to "spy" on an anti-war crowd--much more easily than it would do with robotic dragonflies.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Oh No!!!

This blog is now blocked by China. I wonder what I said that ticked off the peace-loving people of the great country of China.

There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the page that says that a site may show up as blocked when there's only a technical reason that the query couldn't reach the server in China. Oddly enough, Instapundit doesn't show as blocked but my school district web site does! Given those data, I'll consider my status as "provisional block".

West Point Admissions Officer Comes To My School

Yesterday I had the distinct honor of meeting the Far West Outreach Officer for West Point. She was most impressive.

She was of average height and good physical shape, but certainly didn't look like she'd play women's rugby--or founded West Point's women's rugby team! A 2003 graduate, she's already served in Korea, in Iraq, and with the Old Guard, the ceremonial unit stationed near DC.

I've observed the Old Guard in training. They're the ones who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington, and who wear colonial uniforms for certain ceremonies and parades. Being in that unit is not something that happens just because your name pops up on a list--you have to be good even to be considered. And this young officer was good.

We chatted for probably 15 minutes. It was so nice to meet someone new from West Point, and to get to talk shop as we did. Among her few rows of ribbons she was sporting a couple that didn't even exist back in my day, so she explained what they were and how she got them. She told me about her experiences going to different schools, how some are--how shall I say it delicately--more organized regarding her visits, and how others are not.

At one point, when discussing how she tells students what West Point has to offer, I said to her, "Allow me to be blunt. Your being a black woman, who's accomplished as much as you have in such a short time, speaks volumes to the opportunities that West Point and the army offer."

She told me she doesn't try to hard-sell kids on West Point. She presents the information, and let's the kids determine if West Point is for them or not. Those who choose West Point will want to go, they don't need to be pressured or tricked into attending.

It was a treat meeting this young officer. I hope all of our representatives are as impressive as she is.

British Court Ruling Regarding Al Gore's Movie: Like Al, It's Full Of Hot Air

A High Court judge today ruled that An Inconvenient Truth can be distributed to every school in the country but only if it comes with a note explaining nine scientific errors in Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film.

From Kerplunk, an entertaining site in Australia.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ron Paul

I became friends with one of the instructors in my teacher credential program. She was a black woman from Jamaica and had a PhD. As far as education goes, and even some politics, she and I agreed on many things. Among other things, she worked as an external evaluator for schools, and I did some subcontract work for her. She was brilliant, and when she said she was going to tell me why American blacks don't succeed in school, I was all ears. And then came the answer: it was the Jews.

I'm not a fan of Ron Paul. He sounds great on many issues, and then, like my friend above, he'll say something that's so far out there that it's impossible to take him seriously any longer.

But what he said here (hat tip to NewsAlert), I cannot argue with at all:

“Liberalism,” which once stood for civil, political, and economic liberties, has become a synonym for omnipotent coercive government.

It's hard to argue with that.

Global Warming and Whale Oil

Interesting thought process--let the market take care of it. Where have we heard this before? Oh yes, here on this very blog!

If oil runs out next year, or in the next decade, that will matter less than the rise of competitive sources of energy in the marketplace. Petroleum will go the way of whale oil, which in 1850 was the world’s fifth largest industry, Lovins said. That powerful industry lasted precisely until coal-based oils provided a cheaper alternative to the common lighting fuel. You don’t hear much about whale oil anymore.

“Whalers were astounded,” Lovins said, “when they ran out of customers before they ran out of whales.”

I also liked this sentence:

Here’s the trick of radical efficiency: Math.

Liberals and Academia

Scroll down to Alan's 11:29 am comment. That pretty much explains today's liberals to me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Apparently, What's Good For The Goose Is NOT Good For The Gander

"Racist" fliers at George Washington University showed up (are Muslims now a race?) and all fingers pointed at a conservative student organization. The Student Association Executive Vice President said he'd support expulsion of the students involved in creating and distributing the fliers.

Oh, but it turns out an exceedingly liberal student group has now admitted turning out the fliers--in an attempt to "draw attention to" racism on the campus.

So what will the university do now? Will the liberals be expelled? Is trying to frame someone no big deal at George Washington University? Or, will the students involved get off with a stern warning because their hearts were in the right place, because they had the right narrative but the wrong actions?

You can probably guess which way I'd bet if I were a betting man.

Update, 10/16/07: So far I'm winning this bet.

Whose Fault Is It?

Perhaps a better question would be, how do we resolve this dilemma?

A fellow teacher participated in an interesting conversation this past week, and she shared it with me while we took a few laps around the track to clear our heads. It's long been a complaint of high school teachers that junior high teachers aren't adequately preparing their students, especially in math. However, when you look at standardized test scores for freshmen arriving at our school, a large number of them are categorized as "proficient". What gives?

Some might say that perhaps our teachers aren't that good, but we have plenty of objective evidence that we are. Our AP teachers consistently get extremely good results--and I do mean extremely good results--from our students on AP tests. At various times I've been able to compare my Algebra 1 and/or 2 students to others in the district, and my students fare favorably. Our geometry scores have risen nicely the past few years. I know our math teachers, and I know how competent they are--honestly, and I say this without any reservation, we don't have a bad one in the bunch at my school. And I can recognize bad ones, as I've worked with some before. And these aren't bad. Not even close.

So what gives? There are several possibilities.

One is that our teachers aren't very good. I was willing to entertain that thought, but after considering it in depth, I don't think that's the issue. Even if we have one teacher who isn't the strongest, all our teachers are at least competent, and mostly more so. Again, I say that honestly. I have no reason to lie here.

Another possibility is that the best students are used to cruising through school without much effort, and unless you're an Einstein, that's not going to continue at our school! So the freshmen take some time adjusting to new standards.

Another possibility is the high school culture. Junior highs are much more "nurturing" and accommodating of mistakes; students get several chances to correct their mistakes. In high school, they're expected to be much more independent, much more responsible for themselves. That doesn't mean we're cold and heartless--at my school, nothing could be further from the truth. But in many cases, flunking a test means flunking a test, without the chance to take it over to get a better grade. In other words, freshmen experience a culture shock when leaving an environment where adults supervise them to the nth degree and arriving in an environment where they're expected operate with significantly less supervision.

Yet another possibility is that students, particularly freshmen, take a significant number of AP/honors/advanced courses, and aren't prepared for the workload.

And there's also the possibility, another one I'm not yet prepared to accept, that standards for lower math courses don't adequately prepare students for upper math courses.

And lastly, there's the anti-testing argument that says that the tests don't tell us what we'd like to think they tell us.

So there are all the reasons I've been able to come up with. Might there be others? I'm sure the actual reason is some combination of the the ones listed above, along with some others not yet listed.

So we don't think our freshmen come to us as prepared as they should. Where does the fault lie?

Voting With Their Feet

Via NewsAlert came this story about middle class Venezuelans' bolting for Panama because of His Socialist Highness, Hugo Chavez:

Mr. Chávez won the presidential vote by an overwhelming majority last year, but when he was sworn in as president in January, his rhetoric shifted.

Now that he's calling for a referendum to reform the Constitution, including eliminating term limits for heads of state, this country is seeing a migration of middle-class residents who say they are fleeing economic and political instability and persistent crime.

"We never thought of living anywhere else. Venezuela is the most beautiful country in the world, and we have everything there. But if he reforms the Constitution, Venezuela is going to be a very dark place, and there is nothing we can do about it," says Lissette, tearing up. (She and Mervin did not want their family's last name published because they haven't left Venezuela for good yet.) "The truth is we need another option." (boldface mine--Darren)

Freedom. It's not just for Americans anymore.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Current Reading Material

I'm currently reading The War Against Hope by Dr. Rod Paige. Those of you who were reading this blog over the summer might remember this post about Dr. Paige--I've finally gotten around to his book!

I emailed his foundation to ask if I could send the book to get it autographed, but didn't get a response. Perhaps I'll send snail mail and see if that works more to my liking.

Update, 10/11/07: I just picked up the copy of Blog that I ordered from Barnes and Noble. I need to put this book on my reading list, and soon.

Carnival of Education

This week's is hosted over at The Tempered Radical, and includes my post about PDA.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Just Kill Him

This thing isn't even human. Just shoot it in the head and be done with it.

Fred Thompson On The So-Called Fairness Doctrine

The man is correct.

Finally, in 1987, the Federal Communications Commission ended the antiquated policy. Today, with more cable, satellite, and local access TV channels than anybody can keep track of — the equal time rule makes even less sense. Throw in the Internet, podcasts, and satellite radio, and it’s absurd.

The real issue here is not what you “can” see or hear — which is what the Fairness Doctrine was about originally. It’s what you’re “choosing” to see or hear.

Insiders say it was the collapse of the radio station “Air America” that led to this attempt to retool the Fairness Doctrine as a form of de facto censorship. I guess the idea is that, if you can’t compete in the world of ideas, you pass a law that forces radio stations to air your views. In effect, it would force a lot of radio stations to drop some talk show hosts — because they would lose money providing equal airtime to people who can’t attract a market or advertisers.

How can this not clearly be a 1st Amendment violation?

A Capitalist Amongst Hollywood Socialists

So many of Hollywood's elites are on the socialist bandwagon, probably because they realize that in any socialist country, the haves get whatever they want and can afford while everyone else gets least-common-denominator services. Socialism doesn't affect those with money.

So this statement coming out of a potential writers' strike made me laugh:

"Our members will not stand for that," the guild said. "The entertainment industry is successful and growing like never before. Writers, whose creativity is at the heart of that success and growth, are committed to sharing in it."

Apparently, not everyone is a Hollywood elite. Some people want to be paid what they're worth!

Could they do that without a union? Maybe, maybe not. But I definitely like this capitalist statement coming from an organization (a union) that usually devotes itself to socialism.

Blogging Will Be Light For Awhile

Because of what I fear is carpal tunnel syndrome (yes, I have a message in to my doctor), blogging will be light for the foreseeable future. I'll try to post links and the like, but lengthy commentary will have to take a back seat for awhile.

Short commentary, on the other hand....

Get it? "On the other hand"? My (alleged) carpal tunnel is causing so much pain in one hand! So if I want to do anything it has to be with the other hand! Hahahaha!

Sometimes I slay myself.

Update: My doctor says it's probably only tendonitis, but I still need to do some things differently--including getting an ergonomic keyboard for my computer and cutting back on the long typing for awhile.