Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pay Day!

Today I received my first paycheck since June 30th. This is good, since I've gotten tired of going to the ATM for a withdrawal and having it spit dust out at me.

Berkeley Keeps Getting Crazier

Hard to believe, I know, but Berkeley just keeps getting more nuts. We don't call it Berzerkly for nothing.

Berkeley would become the first city in the United States to independently try to comply with U.N. treaties on torture, civil rights and racial discrimination, if the City Council passes a measure on the issue tonight...

"It's critical that cities and counties, not just nations, make these reports to the U.N.," said Ann Fagan Ginger, head of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute in Berkeley. "To relate directly to the U.N. is the closest way we have of supporting the rights spelled out in these treaties."

It's critical? Really?


Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Experimental Prototype Community (sometimes City) Of Tomorrow.

Today's question is:
Who sang the theme song for the Brat Pack movie Pretty In Pink?

Good For Jewel

Singer Jewel tweets that she doesn't quite understand why some people are flocking to the defense of an admitted rapist, namely Roman Polanski. And for that I say, good for her!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mandatory Reporter

Here in California, and I'm sure many/most other states, teachers are "mandatory reporters"--that is, if we have knowledge of physical or sexual abuse of minors, we're required by law to report this knowledge, or even our suspicions, to authorities. It can be a difficult burden. I can recall at least one occasion in which a student genuinely wanted to tell me "something", but when I informed the student about my mandatory reporter status the student chose not to tell me. I cannot be a confessor--you can't tell me something like that and ask me to keep it just between us, for any reason.

So imagine my surprise when I learn that the President's "safe schools czar" failed to report statutory rape:

A teacher was told by a 15-year-old high school sophomore that he was having homosexual sex with an "older man." At the very least, statutory rape occurred. Fox News reported that the teacher violated a state law requiring that he report the abuse. That former teacher, Kevin Jennings, is President Obama's "safe school czar"...

In this one case in which Mr. Jennings had a real chance to protect a young boy from a sexual predator, he not only failed to do what the law required but actually encouraged the relationship...

His job in the Obama administration is to ensure student safety, and this scandal directly calls into question his ability to perform that job. Mr. Jennings and Obama administration officials refuse to answer any questions about this newly discovered evidence. A lot of Americans want answers about this guy and how he was approved for a job in the White House.

I would like for the above facts to be proven false, but I fear they will not be.

I'd like to say I'm mortified, but I'm getting used to people with shady dealings being appointed to positions in this administration.

Common Decency Regarding Sex in the Dorms

Really? Having sex in your dorm room while your roommate (who presumably isn't the sex partner) is there? Eww! That doesn't show any respect for your sex partner or for your roommate.

College roommates have been known to use neckties and socks, among other items that can be wrapped around a dorm-room door knob, to warn off a roommate from inadvertently walking in on a sexual encounter.

Not so, apparently, at Tufts University, where the office of residential life reports “a significant number of complaints” last year from roommates who said that another roommate engaged in sexual activity while they were still in the room — sometimes when the roommates who complained had been sleeping or trying to sleep, or attempting to study, according to an article in The Tufts Daily...

And so the office has “added a new stipulation to its guest policy,” according to the paper, “that prohibits any sex act in a dorm room while one’s roommate is present.”

I placed a phone call this morning to Kim Thurler, a Tufts spokeswoman, who confirmed the policy, and that it was new. “The intent is nothing new,” she added. “It’s really a matter of respecting roommates’ need for sleep, study time and privacy.”

I was all set to go off on today's young people, rail about their animalistic behavior, etc., but then a long-forgotten memory came to mind.... No details other than that I thought my friend was asleep. And it wasn't in a dorm or barracks room.

But going at it while your roommate's trying to study? So not cool.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What does EPCOT stand for, as in the Disney theme park?

Interesting View From The NYT

There was a time when the NYT was considered the "paper of record". Then came the time when conservatives coalesced and started challenging the Times' political slant. Now, everyone except the most rabid leftie takes for granted that the Times is, and has been, an exceedingly leftist paper, as evidenced yet again by this little snippet from page A1:

Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures.

I guess the Times hasn't figured out that socialists have been the ones running Europe for the past few decades (Merkel and Sarkozy are "conservative" only in relation to their opponents), and that the Europeans do not lack for "regulatory systems".

It's no wonder people can't take the Times seriously anymore.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shaking Your "Groove Thang" A Bit Too Much At School

I agree completely with the author of this high school newspaper piece:

First of all, many students find rallies boring and phony, and the Song Team focuses the attention of at least one gender on the basketball court rather than on causing disturbances.

However, this performance went overboard.

Moves like we saw at the Aloha Rally are not allowed at normal school dances or even in most socially acceptable settings.

This is a high school rally, not the latest music video, and when the Song Team spends most of the routine bent over, while it may illicit (sic--and perhaps a Freudian slip) catcalls from the audience, it is simply not appropriate.

I should just keep on quoting, but then you wouldn't go read the original column. The three closing paragraphs reach a thunderous crescendo.

From The "You Don't Know How Good You Have It" Department

It's been said that if you wanted to see the ruins of Zimbabwe, you went to Rhodesia, and if you want to see the ruins of Rhodesia, you go to Zimbabwe. Mugabe has screwed everything up there, including education.

Zimbabwe's education system is beginning to battle back from years of neglect and an exodus of teachers...

Many parents today are too poor to send their children to school. Rural schools -- where pencils, desks and books are luxuries -- are hardest hit...

The families of some children are so poor they cannot afford the reduced fees of U.S. $2 a year -- only a quarter of the children have the funds.

Some parents have even resorted to paying fees in chickens and other life stock.

Ndlovu said: "When the parents bring a chicken to sell or to offer as school levy, teachers sometimes buy it, so if they agree on the price, the teacher would get the item, pay the fees, and then if there is any change, he would give the parent the change"...

Zimbabwe's unity government has managed to get some striking teachers back into classrooms by offering them an improved wage of $150 a month, but that is hardly a living wage.

It's hard to have a future, when that is your present.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The Cruising Vessel.

Today's question is:
What is the 4th song on side 4 of Fleetwood Mac's double album Tusk?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Maryland and Virginia. The Virginia land, south of the Potomac River, was ceded back to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1846.

And that is the end of Capitals Week!

Today's question is:
In the classic teen movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High, what was the nickname of Judge Reinhold's character's car?

Obama Wants Longer School Day, Longer School Year

According to an al-AP report which I will not link to, President Obama, President Obama is on a "longer school day, longer school year" kick.

Why--seriously, why?--would someone supposedly versed in constitutional law think a President or the federal government has any business telling schools how long they have to be in session?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Monaco is the name not only of the principality itself, but also its only, and hence capital, city.

Today's question, the last in Capitals Week, is:
Which US state(s) ceded land for the federal district, now known as the District of Columbia?

The Iron Pyrite State

Today I've come upon two articles about California's self-inflicted woes, and both are so troubling because they ring so true. In the first we get a link to this report, by two CSU Sacramento (state-run school!) professors, which states that California's onerous taxes and regulations cost the state economy about $500 billion dollars per year--a third of the state's GDP and five times the state's general fund budget.

California currently has 12.2% unemployment, and its economy has almost fallen off a cliff over the last two years. A reduction of even half of the regulatory burden on businesses in California could create almost 2 million jobs and kick-start their economy. Instead, California — like the rest of the US — is focused on increasing taxes and regulation, the opposite of what the Golden State needs.

The second article gives several (political) reasons for California's decline, and offers a warning for the rest of the country:

And through a series of social, political, and economic experiments, California has acted as America's foremost laboratory of innovation, trying out ideas the country as a whole would go on to adopt. In the 1960s under Governor Pat Brown, the state offered a model of modernization, building the most advanced education and transportation infrastructures in the nation. Under Brown's successor, Ronald Reagan, it offered a model of conservative governance that would go on to transform American politics. Hollywood has made California a crucial part of America's cultural identity, and Silicon Valley has put it at the heart of our vision of the future. For many decades now, Americans have seen California as a harbinger of promising things to come.

Today, however, California has become a warning sign. Beset by economic disaster and political paralysis, the state is in the midst of a systemic crisis. And while the meltdown has certainly been accelerated by the recession of the past two years, its causes involve two decades of poor judgment, reckless mismanagement, and irresponsibility. How California got into this mess has a lot to teach the rest of the country; how it gets out will say a great deal about America's prospects...

There is little in President Obama's legislative agenda that hasn't already been tried in California. Need a model of runaway spending with no regard for growing debt? Look to California, whose bonds currently hover just above junk status. Want to insist on restrictive carbon-emission controls? Note the example of California's 2006 greenhouse-gas law, which is expected to reduce the state's economic output by 10% and destroy 1.1 million jobs. Want to put the government in charge of health care? Look at California's repeated legislative pushes for a single-payer system of health-insurance coverage, each of which ended in failure.

We will learn over the next decade whether California can manage to avoid disaster one more time. But even if the state's years of living large finally catch up with it, there is still an escape hatch: Sensible Californians can continue to flee to places like Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, and Texas, where the respite from hostile government more than compensates for the social opprobrium that tends to meet California expatriates. But if the nation as a whole repeats California's mistakes, the consequences will be much more severe; an America beset by rigid bureaucracies, economic decline, and enervated spirit will not be able to preserve liberty at home or protect it abroad. Before we head down that path, we should look west to see how these ideas have fared — and absorb the lessons of how the Golden State lost its luster.

I hope the rest of the country is smart enough to learn from our mistakes, but I fear that enough in power are not.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I've Been So Long Without My California Educator Magazine!

I just received the birdcage liner today, and while it has the usual tripe in it, the entire magazine isn't entirely without merit. One of my favorites is a quote from old Si Se Puede himself, the President of the California Teachers Association:

This plan (President Obama's Race To The Top plan) is completely misguided and is not the change that was promised by the new administration. Instead, it is just more of the unfair mandates and one-size-fits-all approach we found with No Child Left Behind.

I'm going to enjoy this fight between the CTA on one side, and the governor, President, and Secretary of Education on the other. I make no predictions as to the outcome.

I was impressed with the article which took up half of page 23. Why the CTA would spend a half a page telling about a major court case a local union lost I don't quite understand, but the article was about as unbiased as one can find in a union rag, and the message was clear: school districts do not have to allow unions to use school mailboxes to distribute political endorsements, but if they allow a union access to the mailboxes, they must allow other groups access to the mailboxes.

And let's close this post by pointing out one of my favorite recurring pieces in California Educator, the CTA-sponsored and co-sponsored legislation for 2009-10 found on p. 36. I like to look at the 7 (why is it always 7?) bills they highlight, and see how many pertain to teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions. By my count, none relates to my pay, benefits, and working conditions; three relate to children (2nd grade testing, immigration investigations, and consequences of dropping out), three relate to community college and their staff, and one relates to socialism (single-payer health insurance in California). Why, exactly, should K-12 teachers fund this organization that, seemingly by own admission of what bills are important, doesn't do a darn thing for such teachers? Because we're together in solidarity, that's why! Gag.

The bird will like this issue.

Taking Care of Veterans

They had a month to fix this, but now they're actually screwing veterans:

The U.S. government failed to send promised college tuition checks to tens of thousands of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before they returned to school this fall, even after being warned that it was inadequately staffed for the job.

The Veterans Affairs Department blamed a backlog of claims filed for GI Bill education benefits that has left veterans who counted on the money for tuition and books scrambling to make ends meet.

They knew about this a month ago and still couldn't shuffle papers in time? Pathetic.

Budget Cuts and the Teachers Union

A local school district seems to be having some serious financial difficulties in these days of budget cuts. One commenter at the linked article, though, scored gold with his insight:

The California Teachers Assn has been constantly preaching in recent year how vital class size reduction was to the education of our children. Now, when the rubber meets the road, Natomas Teachers would rather take their automatic raises than avoid class size increases. The teachers union even stood by while their own members got layoff notices this summer instead of agreeing to concessions that would have saved their jobs.

They're "for the kids". They're for "solidarity". They're for "raises, rights, respect."


Today, teachers across our district got an email from our district Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum Coordinator, who used to teach at my school. Here's how he began his email:

To All Open Minded Teachers -
This coming Wednesday is the first of a three-part series featuring Arts in your classroom (see attached flier). The workshops cover Puppetry, folkdance, and the mini-musical. You are invited to learn more about how to infuse these creative thinking lesson plans into your curriculum.

Count me as among those close-minded teachers who will not be using puppetry, folkdance, and the mini-musical to teach algebra.

I asked a fellow teacher if he was open-minded, and his reply was typically insightful: You will never be asked to keep an open mind by someone who actually has one.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What is the capital of Monaco?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yet Another Example Of Class

Read this story, and see if you don't get a lump in your throat.

Thamail Morgan took the kickoff and headed up the field...When he reached the 2, he stopped. He took a few steps back and took a knee at the 5-yard line.

Read the story to find out why he did it.

Pittsburgh = Lake Wobegon?

This morning on the radio I heard that the G20 leaders are meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, because President Obama wants to show off a Rust Belt city that has diversified its economy so well that it has an unemployment rate 2 percentage points below the national average. The implication was that if all cities diversified in such a way--what, they'd all have an employment rate 2 percentage points below the national average?

How stupid can you get?

If every city did what Pittsburgh has done, then some of those jobs wouldn't be in Pittsburgh, they'd be elsewhere--perhaps in Wichita, or Fresno, or Bismarck, or Detroit. If every city did what Pittsburgh has done, then the job distribution would spread and every city would have pretty much the same unemployment rate. Every city would be right at the national average.

It's a zero-sum game right now. More jobs in Pittsburgh means fewer jobs elsewhere, because the economy can't absorb or create any more jobs.

I don't fault the Pittsburghians for doing what they've done, certainly not. But to hold their policies as some exemplar--well, it couldn't be that way everywhere.

Except Lake Wobegon.

(P.S. How are we enjoying all those peaceful leftist G20 protesters? They're so much more law-abiding than the Tea Partiers, aren't they?)

Cool Names of Football Rivalries

The Sacramento area has 3 football rivalries with interesting names. I was reminded of one after reading this article today.

1. The football game between Catholic high schools Jesuit and Christian Brothers is known colloquially as the Holy Bowl.
2. The football game between CSU Sacramento and UC Davis is known as the Causeway Classic--named for the causeway across the Yolo Bypass that links the cities of West Sacramento and Davis.
3. The annual charity game between the combined team of the city police and county sheriff vs. the firefighters is called Guns And Hoses. It used to pit the city police against the sheriffs, and that was called the Pig Bowl.

Does your area have any cool football rivalry names?


Emails to a parent kept getting rejected today by that parent's mail server, so I called our district techies to ask why. What I learned was somewhat disturbing.

Our district gets either 40,000 spam hits per second or per minute; either way, it's a huge number. A few do sneak through the filters*, and when unsuspecting staff actually respond or otherwise do something stupid, the spammers are in and start using our district email accounts to send spam. Because of this, a popular web-based mail site has blacklisted us--and I cannot email this parent until our techies clear up the situation with the mail site, which might take up to a week.


*The ones that sneak through usually offer sexual dysfunction-related medications, want to introduce me to hot Russian women for love and romance, or are communications from my good friends in Ghana, Nigeria, or Kenya.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Two: Sucre is home to the judicial branch of the government (making it the constitutional capital), while the president and congress are stationed in La Paz (the administrative capital).

Today's question is:
What is the capital of Fiji?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Does This Seem Right To You?

I thought his middle name was off limits:

Cult of personality? I've expressed fears of such before, most recently near the end of this post. Bill Whittle has an exceptional video about how President Obama is using his personal logo in place of the Presidential Seal, even when dealing with governmental programs.

This is creepy.

Hat tip to Newsalert.

Update, 9/24/09: Some of the parents of the children involved are less than happy. Let's see how the bureaucrats handle the situation:
Superintendent Christopher Manno said in a written statement Thursday that the taping itself was out of order, but failed to address whether the lesson was approved. "The recording and distribution of the class activity were unauthorized," he wrote in a note to parents and the media...

"It's something that there should be serious repercussions for ... the administration here, and I think the school board needs to be answerable to the parents of the community," said Bowen. School board members did not respond to requests for comment.

Our word for the day: struthious.

Update #2, 9/25/09: The Pyongyang Remix :-)

If It's Such A Good Deal, Why The Compulsion?

I believe that Americans should be allowed to join labor unions if they want to. I also believe that Americans should be allowed to quit labor unions if they want to. I believe in free association.

Not all Americans agree with me:

A group of Louisville educators has sued three teachers unions, saying the groups force members to stay on union rolls and pay dues despite attempts to leave the labor organizations...

Teachers employed in Jefferson County are automatically enrolled as union members and pay union dues unless they register an objection to Jefferson County union officials. Teachers are permitted to resign from formal union membership during a ten day period after an individual teacher's contract is signed or after the union agrees to a new contract with the local school board.

The suit alleges if a teacher does not register an objection to union membership within either period, he or she is required to remain a union member until the expiration of the union's five-year contract with the local school board.
I can hardly wait to see the defense of such a rule.

A Teacher's View of the Job of Administrators

A fellow teacher told me this today, and it makes a lot of sense:

Administrators only have to do two things--make it so I can do my job, and make sure I do my job.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
St. George's.

Today's question is:
How many capitals does Bolivia have, and what are they?

Why The World Likes Obama

It's not a very good reason:

It is not hard to see why a standing ovation awaits the president at Turtle Bay. Obama’s popularity at the UN boils down essentially to his willingness to downplay American global power. He is the first American president who has made an art form out of apologizing for the United States, which he has done on numerous occasions on foreign soil, from Strasbourg to Cairo. The Obama mantra appears to be – ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do to atone for your country. This is a message that goes down very well in a world that is still seething with anti-Americanism.

It is natural that much of the UN will embrace an American president who declines to offer strong American leadership...

The president scores highly at the UN for refusing to project American values and military might on the world stage, with rare exceptions like the war against the Taliban. His appeasement of Iran, his bullying of Israel, his surrender to Moscow, his call for a nuclear free world, his siding with Marxists in Honduras, his talk of a climate change deal, have all won him plaudits in the large number of UN member states where US foreign policy has traditionally been viewed with contempt.

Simply put, Barack Obama is loved at the UN because he largely fails to advance real American leadership.

He's weak, and the wolves will wait for the best time to pounce.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Facebook Faces World Realities

If someone lives in the Golan Heights, do they live in Israel or Syria? If someone lives in Lhasa, do they live in Tibet or China?

There are some hotspots around the world, and this is an interesting article about how something as simple as a social networking site has reacted to the realities of some of these hotspots.

Academic Apartheid

I'll paraphrase a line from the movie Stand and Deliver: "There are two types of racism, Mr. Escalante--singling people out because of their race, and not singling people out because of their race."

Back in the "civil rights era" of the 50's and 60's, the goal was a colorblind society--a society whose laws did not treat people differently because of their race. Laws--ignored today but still on the books--state that people will be treated without regard to their race, or without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

So imagine my surprise when I received this link via email today:

The board is calling for a two-tiered form of student discipline. One for Black and Hispanic students; one for everyone else.

With the goal of creating a "restorative school culture and climate" that conveys a "sense of belonging to all students," the board is insisting that its schools reduce its suspensions and/or expulsions of minority students to the point that the data reflect "no ethnic/racial disparities"...

Offenses by students will be judged, and penalties meted out, depending on the student's hue.

I've written about this kind of thing before (here's just one example), and I always come to the same conclusion: Promoting Thurgood Marshall's and Dr. King's dreams of a truly colorblind society--not one that ignores race, but one that doesn't allow race to separate people before the law--would alleviate both kinds of racism (identified in the first paragraph above). Here's a post I wrote about race and education, quoting Marshall as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964--do you agree with Marshall, or with the race-baiters of today?

I believe that the civil rights pioneers would be appalled at what's going on in the Tucson schools, as should anyone who thinks of people as individuals and not just as members of racial groups.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
South Africa has three capital cities: Cape Town, the largest of the three, is the legislative capital; Pretoria is the administrative capital; and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital. I'll be honest, I didn't expect anyone to get Bloemfontein!

Today's question is:
What is the capital and largest city on the island nation of Grenada, invaded by the US in 1983?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scenes Like This Should Get Someone Fired

I thought my class sizes were big, and I have a couple classes (my lowest level ones, of course) with 36 students. But this is ridiculous:

Some L.A. Unified classes are crammed with about 50 students, leaving some pupils to sit on desks or the floor and their teachers to grade hundreds of papers while still focusing on improvement.

It's not just a money problem, as other school districts have taken other actions to avoid this kind of disaster. No, this is just crappy planning, and a lack of concern for students. "Yes, dear, your education is important. Now go sit on that file cabinet. You'll be fine."


The Teacher Salary Project

I recently received a message informing me about this project:

THE TEACHER SALARY PROJECT is a feature-length documentary film, interactive online resource, and national outreach campaign that delves into the core of our educational crisis as seen through the eyes and experiences of our nation's teachers...

In this spirit, THE TEACHER SALARY PROJECT will become the story by and about those closest to the issues in our educational system-the 3.2 million teachers who spend every day in the classroom in every corner of the country. Through an interactive and evolving website informed by personal testimonies by and about America's best teachers-which will become the only digital archive of teachers' stories about teaching-and a feature-length documentary that brings together the richest of those online submissions, archival material, educational experts, student interviews, and a year of documenting the day-to-day lives and sacrifices of public school teachers, THE TEACHER SALARY PROJECT will bring an awareness to the real and imminent crisis in our educational system-how little we value our strongest, most committed, and most effective teachers, and the ripple effect this has on how our children learn and their potential for future success.
On the surface it looks like it can be interesting.

I've Always Wondered This

In the US, blocs that reliably vote for Democrats include Catholics, Jews, gays, and blacks. I've often wondered about the first two, and Norman Podhoretz, author of Why Are Jews Liberals, offers an explanation about the second group.

Conservatives, and Liberal Intimidation

I'm guessing here that Brigham Young University is a fairly conservative school. Do you think that liberals get harassed and threatened there the way conservatives do at, say, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill?

Update, 9/22/09: More here. Looks like UNC-CH is giving a violent group a heckler's veto--and that's a generous assessment.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What are South Africa's capitals?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Teachers Unions Give Big $$ To ACORN

By now anyone not living under a rock--or getting their news solely from the NYT or MSNBC--has heard about the ACORN scandals in DC, Baltimore, New York, and Southern California. Those of us on the right aren't surprised, and there were plenty who were trying to shine some disinfecting sunlight on this organization during last year's presidential campaign. The truth finally wins out. (Click here to read posts I've written that mention this organization.)

Let's not forget what those undercover reporters found--an organization whose employees tried to help people they believed were going to import girls from Central America for a child prostitution ring.

Who, besides the US government, gives money to ACORN? Why, teachers unions, of course. From the Washington Examiner:

Teachers unions have contributed over $1.3 million to ACORN and its affiliates, since 2005, according to U.S. Labor Department financial disclosure forms.

But there is no guarantee that the $1,333,112 million in donations from the National Education Association (NEA) and Teachers AFL-CIO unions are actually being used for their stated purposes, according to present and former Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) officials...

Now that ACORN staffers have been caught on video helping a man and woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute acquire illegal home loans to set up a brothel it is imperative that these organizations reconsider their support, said Ron Sykes, treasurer for ACORN’s Washington D.C. branch.

Both the NEA and Teachers AFL-CIO advertise as strong advocates for children.

The hypocrisy shouldn't surprise anyone--the NEA also advertises as a strong advocate for public schools, yet gives a pass to (Democrat) politicians who send their children to private schools.

Update, 9/24/09: Here's the best information available specifically about the NEA and ACORN.

Sign In A Classroom Window

"No peanuts or mangoes"

Interesting allergies out there....

Sunday Trivia

The answer to Friday's question is:
Cal-Berkeley: Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, Vinnie Ferragamo.
The other two schools with three Super Bowl starting quarterbacks are Notre Dame (Joe Montana, Joe Theissman, and Daryle Lamonica) and Alabama (Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Bart Starr).

And now it's time for another Theme Week. This time--it's Capitals Week!

Today's question is:
What is the capital of Australia?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
About 20%: China has about 1.3 billion people out of a total of about 6.7 billion on the planet.

Today's (scheduled) question is:
Which California university is tied with two other schools for the record of producing the most Super Bowl starting quarterbacks?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Trivia

Supervising a freshman football game right now, so I've scheduled this post.

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Milton's Paradise Lost, in a line attributed to Lucifer.

Today's question is:
What percentage of the world's population lives in China?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Carnival of Education!

It's been a long time since I've gotten to post this, but there's a new Carnival of Education in town, and this week's big top is here.

Government-controlled Health Care Not Working As Advertised In Massachusetts

That, according to the Boston Globe (as linked at NewsAlert).
The higher insurance costs undermine a key tenet of the state’s landmark health care law passed two years ago, as well as President Obama’s effort to overhaul health care. In addition to mandating insurance for most residents, the Massachusetts bill sought to rein in health care costs. With Washington looking to the Massachusetts experience, fears about higher costs have become a stumbling block to passing a national health care bill.

It didn't work in Tennessee or Hawaii, either.

Since it hasn't worked in any state in which it's been tried, why, oh why, would anyone think it would work nationally?

Who Needs A Master's Degree, Anyway?

Teachers from some states might be surprised to learn this, but in California, teachers do not need a master's degree. I don't have one, and I'm frozen on our pay scale until I get a master's degree (or 28 more units), but I could conceivably retire without ever having to get an advanced degree. I have a bachelor's degree and a teaching credential, and that's enough for California.

What I learned last week, though, is that school administrators in California don't need a master's degree, either. All they need is an administrative credential.

I don't know why, I just assumed that all school administrators had advanced degrees.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Central Perk.

Today's question is:
Which literary work gives us the statement, “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heav'n”?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waiting For The Hammer To Fall

At the end of last school year, just a few short months ago, I could have heard news that my school had been wholly consumed by the fires of Hell and my first reaction would have been one of glee--that's how unhappy I was there.

We're now in the 4th week of school and I continue to be cautiously optimistic about this year. Memories of the previous two years, though, torment me with thoughts that I might be in the calm before the storm. It's a hard feeling to shake.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Cougars, and then the Falcons. But it should have been the Bears, oh my! :-)

Today's question is:
What was the name of the coffee shop on the sitcom Friends? (I'm thinking I should have a Friends Theme Week!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

We Had To Use More Paper In Order To Save It

I'm still liking our integrated "data management" system. I prefer taking roll online, not having to do it in both a roll book and a "bubble sheet". And I used to have to sign/date the bubble sheets on Fridays, often forgetting to do so until 2nd or 3rd period. Now there are no bubble sheets to sign...

Each Monday, though, a printout of what I entered the previous week is placed in my box. I'm supposed to sign it and return it to our attendance office. If a class has more than 32 students or so--and I have a few like this--they don't all fit on one piece of paper. So for my 5 classes I have (I think) 8 pieces of paper, instead of the previous 5 bubble sheets.

Why do we get these printouts? We have to sign them and return them to the attendance office, because "the auditor" wants them. I wonder whom this mysterious "auditor" is, and why he/she needs my signature on these papers.

Each month I spend thousands of dollars online. I pay my mortgage via online bill pay--I set it up forever ago, and haven't had to do anything to it since. It happens until I tell it to stop. I pay my credit card bill and my utility bills online, all with no signature. Heck, I even file my income taxes online.

Student attendance recording? For that I need a signature.

A Passing Grade?

What should a bureaucracy do if it wants more students to pass mandated statewide testing? Why, lower the passing threshold, of course!

Three years ago, the threshold for passing was 60 percent. In fact, students in every grade this year could slide by with fewer correct answers on the math test than in 2006.

In math this year, 86 percent of students statewide passed the test, scoring at least a Level 3 (of 4), and 82 percent passed in English, the highest percentages in many years. But the lower passing scores, especially for math, have provided fodder for skeptics who believe the state has made it easier for struggling students to pass...

At a time when the tests are assuming an unprecedented role in classrooms across the state — used for everything from analyzing student deficiencies to determining which educators deserve cash bonuses — the debate underscores a central question: How accurate are the exams in measuring student learning and progress, and what skills should a passing grade reflect?

Sometimes, we in education are our own worst enemies.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Wellington, NZ.

Today's question is:
Before the Pistons came along, Detroit had a football team (Lions), a baseball team (Tigers), and a hockey team. What was the hockey team called before it became the Red Wings?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is, now that we're done with Military Week, is:
Which (national) capital city is closest to the South Pole?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Choosing A Mate--Using Math!

How to choose a compatible mate? Read this to find out.

While the article begins by discussing the mathematical ways in which you can improve your chances in Vegas (or, if your taste and eyes have deserted you, Atlantic City), it goes on to discuss the marriage problem. Apparently, mathematicians have tortured themselves over marriage for some years. I did not know this. I figured that perhaps mathematicians only ever had one girlfriend, whom they married very soon after sex.

May I go down on one knee and admit how wrong I was?

Mathematicians have racked their brains and abacuses, for the good of society, in order to help us all choose wisely the person who shares our king-size. According to New Scientist, the law of diminishing returns has long been thought to be a marvelous indicator of when to stick, rather than turn another card.
There's a simple rule, and it involves the number e....

How Not To Get Good Grades

This kid isn't so smart, which is probably why he wanted his grades changed:

Authorities say a New Jersey teenager threatened to rape and kill his teacher if she did not give his entire class an "A++" for the last school year.

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question, which is the last for Military Week, is:
Hannibul was a general famous for crossing the Alps with elephants to fight the Romans. For which enemy of Rome did Hannibul fight?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rising Higher Than Inflation

So sayeth the major Sacramento newspaper:

UC officials on Thursday released a plan that calls for a 15 percent increase in basic student fees starting in the winter 2010 term, followed by another 15 percent hike next fall.

If approved, in-state undergraduate fees would rise by 32 percent to $10,302.

Graduate student fees also would rise under the proposal.

Anti-Military? Anti-Conservative? Idiot? All Three?

Here in the Capital City it's Air Force Week, culminating this weekend in the air show to be held at the former Mather Air Force Base. Sometimes this week it's been exceedingly hard to conduct lessons at school, as the Thunderbirds have been flying low, fast, and loud directly overhead during their practices. Then again, practice makes perfect.

While we essentially got a free air show, some schools got more:

The Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team, known for its precision marching and complex weapons choreography, will perform at two Sacramento schools this week...

The team is the traveling component of the Air Force honor guard. At McClatchy on Friday, the drill team will be joined by Max Impact, the Air Force Band's rock 'n' roll combo, which also will perform for students.

In a comment on this article, one fine, upstanding (not!) citizen had this to say:

I wonder if any parents have opted to not let their children to be forced to participate in this government sponsored "program"? The government and its propoganda (sic) should be kept out of our schools.

I'm sure this commenter has some point--besides the one on top of his head.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
In which US state was the Battle of Gettysburg fought?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Jodies (named after Jody, as in “Ain't no sense in going home, Jody's got your girl and gone”).

Today's question is:
In what state is the US Coast Guard Academy located?

"You Lie!"

A Republican congressman shouted that at the President during the President's speech to a joint session of Congress last night. The left wants to complain about how inappropriate that was, and the right says the congressman was correct and that the President was lying.

Both sides are correct, but which is worse: lying, or being rude?

Instapundit nails it with this comment:

I’m finding it hard to get excited about this. It was a breach of decorum and civility. But someone who says “get in their face” and “punch back twice as hard” has little standing to bring that up. If you want to benefit from traditions of civility, you should respect them, and that has hardly been a hallmark of this administration, which has gone out of its way to try to demonize and shout down opponents.

He also links to video of Democrats' booing President Bush during a State of the Union speech, and during the Obama inauguration.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Perhaps the left's chickens are coming home to roost. I don't like it, but I'm not going to surrender the field to them, either.

Update, 9/12/09: Oxblog has interesting thoughts, as well as some facts, on the "you lie", "no, you lie" debate.

Update #2, 9/14/09: The Las Vegas Review-Journal has an opinion piece with which I agree--the President is violating every tenet of leadership there is, and the results show.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

When I Was A Kid...

When I was a kid, today was a holiday. September 9th, California Admission Day, commemorating that day in 1850 when California joined the union.

Not only is it not a holiday anymore, but it seems like I'm the only one who remembers that it used to be a holiday, and what the holiday was for.


Today at School, Story #2

Today at lunch at teacher came in with invitations to our PALS (don't remember what the acronym stands for) luncheon--for $8 teachers can invite a student to this lunch and, for lack of a better term, bond. Some use a PALS invitation to reach out, others as a reward. I have never participated in this program, but only because I like some "adult time" during the day.

Anyway, he mentioned that instead of cafeteria food, this year the lunches would feature food from Chipotle. Those interested really liked this idea, as you can imagine that cafeteria food isn't always the best. Then the teacher said that the district decided it was losing money on this proposition, and that's why they'll be having Chipotle this year at the PALS lunch.

How could I resist? "A government entity can't make money at this, so the market is stepping in and providing a superior product, at the same price, while turning a profit?" I smiled when I said it (and the teacher who made the announcement teaches economics).

Yet another reason I don't support socialism :-)

Today at School, Story #1

I was mooching candy in our counseling office today when a bubbly girl came up to me and said, in a most cheerful manner, "Are you Mr. RightOnTheLeftCoast?" I replied that I was, and she said, "Tom wants you to write him." She pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket and gave it to me; on it was written Private Tom P's address in basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

I think he was a freshman when I had him for math. Later he was taken out of our school and attended the Marine Military Academy, returning to finish high school with us. He made sure to let me know last year when he enlisted, and wore his Army t-shirts to school with pride after that. He graduated in June.

It was a treat to watch him grow up, and it's nice to know that he'd like a letter. Readers here know that I'll send him a chest-puffing, motivational letter telling him how proud I am of his achievements, decisions, and maturity.

Guess I'll get working on that, right after I tell Today at School, Story #2.

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
USS George H. W. Bush, which has been delivered and is scheduled for deployment in 2010. The USS Ronald Reagan is the newest in active service.

Today's question is:
In the US military, what is a common nickname for cadences called when marching, named after the fictitious guy “back on the block” who's stealing your girlfriend while you're serving?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Why I Don't Support A "Public Option" In Health Care

I discuss this subject much with a very bright friend of mine. He sometimes makes the claim that "We're so advanced now, and life is so complicated, that we need government to do some of these things. If government took care of it, that would free me up from worrying about it so I could do things I want to do" (he most recently made that last remark in relation to pensions). I reply that such is the very definition of a nanny state, where government does everything for you--all you have to do is pay for it.

If someone so smart and so well-versed in the writings of our Founders can say such a thing, it's no surprise how far our country has already come down the road to socialism. I have a couple of stories to relate that show that this impulse hasn't always been so strong.

The first involves Congressman Davy Crockett of Kentucky. It seems that there was once a fire in the Georgetown section of DC, and Crockett actually helped fight the fire and rescue people--he was a genuine hero. He voted for a bill in the House that granted $20,000 for fire relief. Read about the discussion Crockett had when he encountered a constituent back home who asked where in the Constitution Congress was given the authority to give public money to charity. Oh, Crockett tried it all: it's for a good cause, a rich country like ours can afford such a small sum for women and children, it was the right thing to do. But the constituent was having none of it; I won't spoil the story for you, but it's a good one.

Next, let's fast forward to 1887, when Democrat President Grover Cleveland was presented with a bill to provide drought and famine relief to the state of Texas. Cleveland vetoed the bill, saying the following:

I am willing to believe that notwithstanding the aid already furnished a donation of seed grain to the farmers located in this region to enable them to put in new crops would serve to avert a continuance or return of an unfortunate blight. And yet I feel obliged to withhold my approval of the plan as proposed by this bill to indulge a benevolent and charitable sentiment through the appropriation of public funds for that purpose.

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.

The federal government should do those things that it's designed to do, and not conduct "mission creep" and continue to take on new, expensive propositions.

Quite simply, I don't trust government to do most things well, and it's right and proper to be suspicious of government. That's not anti-government, that's healthy skepticism. My friend and I discuss the piecemeal method of lawmaking--our tax code wasn't created in a day, but has been piecemealed together over decades to become the bloated monstrosity it is today. When social security was created in the 30's, there were 17 workers for every recipient; after over 70 years of piecemeal additions, with more types of people eligible for social security than ever before, there are fewer than 3 workers for every recipient, and the entire system will be operating at a loss in just a couple decades. Each of these changes creates new problems, which are fixed by new piecemeal updates, each of which creates new problems....

No "managed economy" has ever worked. The Soviets tried it, the Chinese tried it, the Eastern Europeans tried it, the Cubans tried it. All except Cuba gave up the managed economy, and the results speak for themselves. Managed economies, or even managing only 1/6 of the world's largest economy, cannot function, because no one person has all the information needed to make all the necessary decisions. A market economy, though, with millions of inputs and millions of people making decisions, somehow gets the job done; it may not be perfect, but like democracy, it's the best system we've found so far. I'm reminded of this quote, from an economic article in the Telegraph:

The paper, which recommends that the US return to a more laissez-faire economic system rather than intervening further in activity, has been endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan, who said: "We have learned some things from comparable experiences of the 1930s' Great Depression, perhaps enough to reduce the severity of the current contraction. But we have made no progress toward putting limits on political leaders, who act out their natural proclivities without any basic understanding of what makes capitalism work."

Most politicians are lawyers. They aren't economists, industrialists, businessmen, or laymen. Quite clearly, I don't have confidence that many of them truly know what makes capitalism work--and they want to take over car manufacturing, banking, and health care. If that gives you no cause for concern at all, then you're not being objective.

Remember a couple weeks ago, when the President was defending the public option in health care, and said that private insurance companies shouldn't fear a government plan because UPS and FedEx are doing fine but the US Postal Service is losing money? (Great way to stump for another federal program, by the way!) Let's look at another federal program, Amtrak:

Even though the American freight-train business has enjoyed a renaissance in the last twenty years — companies like the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and CSX are admirable for their competitive spirit and financial results — I am skeptical that Amtrak is the company that can lead the way to the re-birth of U.S. passenger service. Freight, let's remember, only flourished when Conrail was privatized and the industry deregulated...

Perhaps equally important, where is Amtrak’s passion for railroading? Why hasn’t the route map changed in forty years? Where are the car-carrying trains, the elegant stations, the sleepers that cater to business people with showers and wi-fi, or even the special tourist trains that would take travelers across America to Civil War battlefields, major league baseball games, rock concerts, or national parks...

Here’s another irony of the railroad stimulus package: Freight companies are prospering with deregulation and private capital, but Amtrak is running late while on the dole.
Government needs to smooth the bumps in the road and get out of the way. Social security: going broke. Medicare: going broke. Let's not add another government program that will bankrupt us even quicker.

What can government do to help ease health care costs? We might start with some suggestions offered by the CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods.

I don't support a public option for health care. As President Bush 41 might say, "Wouldn't be prudent at this juncture"--or any other juncture, for that matter.

And if you haven't done so already, go read the Davy Crockett/Horatio Bunce link above. Fantastic story.

The President Gave A Speech To Schoolchildren

The President gave a speech to schoolchildren, and what was his reward? Hearings and an investigation by the House of Representatives!

What? How could this happen, when the President's political soulmate is Speaker of the House? Well, it didn't happen today. It happened in 1991, to President Bush 41.

So if you think the rancor and partisanship we're seeing today all started on January 20th of this year, you need what we call a "wider view".

I didn't watch the speech today, but I understand that there wasn't too much objectionable in it. Joanne has a very well-thought-out post on the speech and its aftermath here.

Gotta love this from the first link above, though:

That didn't stop Democratic allies from taking their own shots at Bush. The National Education Association denounced the speech, saying it "cannot endorse a president who spends $26,000 of taxpayers' money on a staged media event at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C. -- while cutting school lunch funds for our neediest youngsters."

I wonder if the NEA will say the same thing about a President who cut off vouchers to the neediest children in what is among the worst school districts (DC Public Schools) in the country. I eagerly await their press release on the subject.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
New York. As for the county, we used to joke that there are 3 Mickey Mouse institutions in Orange County: Disneyland in Orange County, California; Disney World, in Orange County, Florida; and the US Military Academy, in Orange County, New York.

Today's question is:
What is the name of the United States' newest aircraft carrier?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane.

Today's question is:
In what state is the US Military Academy (West Point) located? (Bonus: what county is it in?)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's trivia question is:
Wang Chung.

This week will have a theme: Military Week!
Today's question is:
Identify one of the two fighter aircraft critical to British victory in the Battle of Britain.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
John Muir, in 1892.

Today's question is:
According to the 1986 song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, what else (besides having fun) should everybody do tonight?

Friday, September 04, 2009

If Only More Senators Thought This Way

I've written about Senator (Dr.) Tom Coburn of Oklahoma before, and I recommend this 4+ minute video of him talking about a single-payer health care system.

Keep in mind--he's not a lawyer, he's a doctor.

Walking On Eggshells

Well, I've made it two weeks without a visit from the vice principal. I believe this is a new record for me.

Each year at the beginning of school, I say something that offends someone. This year is no exception, except that this year the offended person took their complaint to a counselor, who brought it to me.

I have a "persona" at school; it's not all that different from who I am in real life, but it's a little larger than life, and a little more cavalier. For instance, if a boy disagrees with me or questions me on something, I might feign surprise, raise my eyebrows, and say, "Do you think you could take me?" The bigger the boy I say it to, the more laughter it gets in class. Honestly, I think it's fun, harmless, and disarming, and the vast majority of students seem to think so as well. Algebra is stressful enough already.

So in the middle of doing a problem I stopped, as if a very important thought had come to mind, and I asked the class (I don't even know which class), "Do you know how beautiful I am? I'm so beautiful, you can't even count that high." Then I went back to doing the problem, while the students laughed and relaxed a little more.

The complaint from one student? "Mr. RotLC thinks we're stupid because he says we can't count high."

That's the caliber of what I've gotten to deal with each year, and without an administrative filter to say something like, "I'm not going to take this type of complaint seriously." Maybe I should be thankful that such a complaint went only to a counselor instead of a VP this year.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
1970. Think of all the fantastic WWII movies from that time period, and feel free to add others: The Dirty Dozen. Bridge Over The River Kwai. A Bridge Too Far. The Eagle Has Landed. Battle of Britain. Where Eagles Dare. Such movies used to be made....

Today's question is:
Who founded the Sierra Club?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The President's Upcoming Speech To Schoolchildren

A friend and I have been going round and round about this.

He says to listen to what the President says and then decide.

I say that context is everything, and that when you get your union acolytes to compel kids to listen to you, and then give the students assignments like "write a letter explaining how you'll help Barack Obama", when you see how a cult of personality (see below) is built around this President, and you recognize his style of politics--it's not unreasonable to be suspicious of his motives. I'm sure his talk will be fairly benign, but maybe it'll be more benign now that he realizes that people will scrutinize what he says. Heck, the White House has already removed the "help Barack Obama" part from the lesson plans due to outrage, so someone there is listening.

Want to see what worries me about this type of activity from this particular man? Watch this video, especially near the end--even though you'll want that 4+ minutes of your life back--and this one, which shows how easy it is to indoctrinate students. In both videos, people are pledging allegiance to President Obama himself, not to the nation or its ideals.

It's a bit too Dear Leader-ish for my taste.

My suggestion: give the speech during prime time, advertise the heck out of it, and in those advertisements, ask parents to watch it with their children. If you're going to talk about the importance of hard work and staying in school, that should be the target audience. If he did that, heck, I'd probably watch it with my son.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Jon Cryer plays Alan Harper on ABC's Two And A Half Men.

Today's question is:
In what year did the movie Patton win the Best Picture Oscar?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Banjul is the capital of The Gambia, in western Africa.

Today's question is:
“Isn't she...Pretty In Pink.” The actor who played Duckie in the 1986 movie Pretty In Pink currently stars on a popular primetime sitcom. What is his name, and what character does he play on the sitcom?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Free Market and Rationing

Here's an exceptional essay about rationing, socialism, the free market, and individual rights.

As the writer Ayn Rand noted:

“Rationing” has a specific meaning of its own. It means: to distribute in a certain particular manner — by the decision of an absolute authority, with the recipients having no choice whatever about what they receive; it also means that all the recipients involved have an equal claim to that which is being rationed, and are entitled to an equal share.

Examples include sugar rationing during World War II and gasoline rationing during the 1973 oil crisis, when the government dictated the terms and conditions of sugar or gasoline sales.

But in a free society, the government should not be regulating such sales at all...

Hence, if Bill makes more money than Joe and can purchase a $500 MRI scan that Joe can’t, then Bill deserves it. That’s not rationing, that’s justice — just as it’s not rationing if Bill can afford a house while Joe must live in an apartment, or if Bill can afford steak whereas Joe eats hamburgers.

In contrast, government programs that attempt to guarantee “universal health care” are unjust. There is no automatic “right” to goods or services that must be produced by another — that would be state-sanctioned theft or slavery.

Individuals are entitled to health care that they purchase themselves, is owed to them by contract (e.g., insurance), or is given to them as voluntary charity.

Whenever government attempts to guarantee an alleged “right” to health care, it must also control it. Bureaucrats and politicians must ultimately decide who gets what health care and when, not doctors and patients — if only to control costs. This is true rationing, and it necessarily violates the actual rights of the practitioners forced to provide care on the government’s terms (rather than their own) and the taxpayers forced to pay for it.

The free market is therefore the antithesis of rationing. It respects individual rights, whereas rationing unjustly violates individual rights — a crucial moral distinction.

Socialism degrades human rights. Free markets respect them.

Teachers In Bikinis

I'm not sure how good I'd look in a bikini, but this teacher doesn't look so bad--and she was fired because of the pictures.

I've said it too many times to remember--teachers should not have to be saints. What I do in my off-campus time is no one's business but mine, except in very limited situations.

Firing a teacher for bikini pictures? A governmental agency that could do that could also fire you for showing up at the "wrong" side of a political rally.

Anyway, the woman in the story linked above has turned to porn to support herself. You've got to love this closing statement:

"So I told her, use ‘em before they fall to the ground. But God, does she need to work on her acting!"

"But There Are No Numbers."

I was all set to do some commentary about this column when something funny happened in one of my Algebra 2 classes today.

Students were working on their assignment, which included solving the inequality |ax+b|is less than c. One girl came up to my desk for assistance, not sure where to begin. We went over what we'd do if a, b, and c were given, and she knew the correct steps. I told her to perform the same steps in the general case. She looked at me quizzically and said...wait for it...

"But there are no numbers."

You know? Just reading it here, it's not as funny as it was at the time. You just had to hear the tone of voice and see the look on her face. I got a kick out of it.

Algebra--the intensive study of the last three letters of the alphabet.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
$20, a gold coin known as a Double Eagle. A $100 gold coin, known as a Union, was proposed but never minted.

Today's question is:
NASA has designated “abort locations” around the world in case a shuttle needs to land immediately, even if it doesn't make it into orbit. One location used to be in Banjul. In which country is Banjul located?