Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Branch Davidians. The compound was known as the Mount Carmel Center, under the leadership of David Koresh.

Today's question is:
By what other name is the ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster, founder of Zoroastrianism, known?

The Exact Opposite of a Homophobic Commercial

A few minutes ago I was driving home and on the radio I heard a Carl's Jr. commercial with George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek series. The commercial was for Carl's Jr.'s Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger, which has a teriyaki flavor and a slice of pineapple, among other things.

I wish I could link to audio, but since I can't you'll just have to trust me on the contents of the commercial.

Takei introduces himself, tells about the burger, and then says (I'll paraphrase here), "I don't know why Carl's Jr. would want me to advertise this burger. Yes, it's Asian, meaty, fruity (pauses as if he now understands why)--oh my."

Takei is gay.

The commercial didn't make me laugh. It shocked me; I actually said out loud, "Oh my gawd!" Much like other commercials that seek to score points on sexuality, this one made me a little uncomfortable. Its meaning is very risque. While I'm the world's biggest fan of double entendres and innuendo, they're just not appropriate for a family audience.

Press Freedoms

Press freedoms belong to all Americans, not merely those who work for established news organizations, whatever the heck that means. Thomas Paine wasn't a newsman, he was a man with an idea who published a pamphlet. Under rules being presented by the Federal Trade Commission, Paine wouldn't have "freedom of the press":

Release of the Federal Trade Commission's working paper on "reinventing journalism" makes it clear that there is no more time for diplomacy about this issue: President Obama is determined to federalize the news industry just as he has banking, autos, and health care.
Where's the ACLU going to come down on this?

Gotta Enjoy Spam Like This, Huh?

Now it's coming directly from the feds, not from the Widow Abacha.

Welcome To Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Photograph of John S. Pistole



Attn: -

We, the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) recently had a meeting with the Co-founder of Ellen Charity Home in the person of Mr.JEFFREY DAVENPORT and his publicist Mrs. Miriam Benson along side some officials from the organization regarding the death of Mr. Davis Ruben, the husband to Mrs. Ellen Doris Ruben who is resting in the bosom of the lord due to a contracted illness (cancer of the lungs). Until his death Mrs. Ellen Doris Ruben and her husband had set up another Charity Organization in Cairo, Egypt which was commissioned May, 2002.

In addendum, also be informed that after a random deep pick, you have been certified by our global authorities to become a beneficiary to receive the sum of 10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Dollars) allocated to you from Ellen Charity Home, Egypt. We were made to understand that your file has been held in a base depending on when you personally come for the claim, we have also been informed about some con artist trying to use every possible measure to claim your inheritance without your notice as you already should be aware of the situation. We were also made to understand that a lady by name Mrs. Lisa McGregor from Chicago already contacted Natwest Bank Egypt and also presented all necessary documents evidencing your claim purported to have been signed personally by you prior to the release of your benefit valued at about us$10,000,000.00 (ten million dollars) but Natwest Bank Egypt did the wise thing by insisting on hearing from you personally before they go ahead on wiring your fund to the bank information which was forwarded to them by the above named lady. For this reason we were contacted as to assist the bank in making their investigations.

We the federal bureau of investigation had a meeting with the western union regarding mrs ellen inheritance and they write to inform you that nat west international bank egypt have already sent you $5000.00 usd dollars through Western union as they have been given the mandate to transfer your full compensation payment total sum of $10Million USD,via western union by this government.

They have decided to email you the MTCN and sender name so that you will pick up the $5000.00 usd to enable us send another $5000.00 usd today as you know they will be sending you only $5000.00 usd per day.and it was agreed that you will pay the sum of $1,800 before they will release the payment to you.

Please pick up this information and run to western union to pick up the $5000.00 usd and call Director of Operation Sir. JEFFREY DAVENPORT in charges of the western union because he is the person in charge for your payment so that he can send you another payment today,phone line +20144594042,Email:
( email Him once you picked up the $5000.00 USD today.Here is the western union information to pick up the $5000.00; which you will be receiving your payment $5000.00 Us Dollars immediately you sent them their transfer charge of $1,800 and it will serve as re-confirmation of your file payment from the office in charge.
So you are to re-confirm to them the below information,
Your. Receiver----------
Your. Country-------
Your. City-----------
Your. Tel----------
Your. Passport-----------

Here Is The Senders Information.
Senders First Name: JEFFREY
Senders Second Name: DAVENPORT
MTCN: 462 465 4201 .

If you are dealing with any person or office claiming to be from us, you must desist from further communications. You are further advised to stop further contact with them in your best interest and contact immediately the real office of Ellen Charity Home Egypt only with the below information's accordingly:

Name: Mr.JEFFREY DAVENPORT (Co-founder)
Office Address: 11 El Shams Bldgs., 8th District Nasr City, Cairo

Tel: (+2) 0144594042
Fax: (+2) 0141145001.

In your best interest, any message that doesn't come from the above official email address and phone numbers should not be replied to and should be disregarded accordingly for your safety. Meanwhile, we will advise that you contact Ellen Charity Home Egypt office immediately with the above email address. Ensure that you follow all procedures as required by them; it will further help hasten the procedures as regards to the release of your fund to you as designated. Have in mind that Ellen Charity Home Egypt has their own protocol of operation as stipulated on their terms, so delay could be very dangerous. Once again, we will advise that you contact them with the above email address and make sure you forward to them all the necessary information's which they may require from you prior to the release of your fund to you accordingly.

All modalities have already been worked out even before you were contacted. Also note that we will be monitoring all your transaction with them as you proceed. All we require from you henceforth is an update so as to enable us be in track with you and Ellen Charity Home Egypt. They will also refer you to the paying bank after they have crossed checked with their records evidencing you to be the true beneficiary to this inheritance. If you are in need of any more information's as regards to this notification, feel free to get back to us so that we brief you more as we are here to guide you during and after this project has been completely perfected and you have received your inheritance as stated.

Thank you very much for anticipated Co-operation.

John P.Pistole
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20535

Sidebox  FBI AgentFBI BADGE

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán, Zacatecas. (Distrito Federal is not a state.)

Today's question, the first in Religions Week, is:
What was the name of the religious group that died after a siege by federal law enforcement officials outside of Waco, Texas, in 1993?

A Tale Of Two Schools

In middle school, Ivan Cantera ran with a Latino gang; Laura Corro was a spunky teen. At age 13, they shared their first kiss. Both made it a habit to skip class. In high school, they went their separate ways...

The divergent paths taken by Laura and Ivan were shaped by many forces, but their schools played a striking role. Capitol Hill and Santa Fe South both serve the same poor, Hispanic population. Both comply with federal guidelines and meet state requirements for standardized exams and curriculum. Santa Fe South enrolls about 490 high school students, while Capitol Hill has nearly 900.

At Santa Fe South, the school day is 45 minutes longer; graduation requirements are more rigorous (four years of math, science and social studies compared with three at public schools); and there is a tough attendance policy.

This year, the majority of Santa Fe South's graduates will attend a vocational, two- or four-year college. About one-third of the graduates from Capitol Hill plan to get a higher education.

Find out more at the Wall Street Journal Online.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Trade goods valued at 60 guilders. The $24 figure was based on an exchange rate calculation performed 220 years later by a New York historian.

Today's question is:
Identify any 5 of the 31 states that make up Mexico.

This President Is A Disaster

Peggy Noonan, in the Wall Street Journal:

This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don't see how you politically survive this.

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another...

This is what happened with Katrina, and Katrina did at least two big things politically. The first was draw together everything people didn't like about the Bush administration, everything it didn't like about two wars and high spending and illegal immigration, and brought those strands into a heavy knot that just sat there, soggily, and came to symbolize Bushism. The second was illustrate that even though the federal government in our time has continually taken on new missions and responsibilities, the more it took on, the less it seemed capable of performing even its most essential jobs. Conservatives got this point—they know it without being told—but liberals and progressives did not. They thought Katrina was the result only of George W. Bush's incompetence and conservatives' failure to "believe in government." But Mr. Obama was supposed to be competent.

Jules Crittenden piles on:

In 2004, for example, the Dems offered John Kerry. Didn’t work. In 2006 and 2008, they offered Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, respectively. Did work, though the problems inherent in both were obvious from the outset. Divisive incompetence, and divisive inexperience, respectively.

The big surprise with the current president is not so much that he is incompetent, inexperienced and divisive, but the extent to which he is all of those things, and the extent to which anyone is surprised. It’s not like there weren’t enough warning signs on the way in, all of which were summarily dismissed.

As for those George Bush "Miss me yet?" billboards and t-shirts, the answer is "yes".

Update, 5/31/10: Don Surber says:
Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense. Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when ‘our planet began to heal’ and ‘the rise of the oceans began to slow.’ Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn’t be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides”...

The president’s mettle has been tested four times now. I cannot give him a Gentleman’s D on any of them.

Update #2, 5/31/10: Roger Kimball adds a little more fuel to the fire, as if any is needed:

I believe that Obama is unique in the annals of American history. It’s not any individual quality — if “quality” is the right word: perhaps “attribute” would be better — that sets him apart. It’s the combination of attributes. What are those attributes?

Peggy Noonan touched on one: enormous, all-encompassing, stupefying incompetence. The man can pose. He can preen. He cannot, judging by his performance these last eighteen months, govern...

The other two attributes are 1) arrogance and 2) ideological animus.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Now It's Teachers Who Are Thrown Under The Bus

OK, my fellow teachers. So many of you drooled at the mere mention of Hopenchange, and now you, too, are just axle grease:

WASHINGTON — Congress bailed out Wall Street and the auto industry, but it appears to have drawn the line — at least for now — at rescuing teachers.

A Democratic plan to send $23 billion to the states to save the jobs of 100,000 to 300,000 public school teachers, librarians, counselors and other employees slated for layoffs looks dead for the time being.

Blame it on election-year politics. The anti-Washington, anti-spending mood has become so potent that even Democrats are antsy about helping teachers, one of their most long-standing and generous allies.

Who'd'a thunk that the power and influence of the teachers unions would be so minimal during a Democratic administration and with a Democrat-controlled congress? So, union members, I ask this in all seriousness--if the state and national unions are powerless to do anything for you, why do you give them your money? It's not like they do anything to help you negotiate your contract....

Should I Be Worried?

From my stat counter I see that someone in the local Office of Homeland Security is checking out my blog. Has being a Tea Party supporter and political opponent of the president tagged me as a potential terrorist?
click to enlarge

I'm certainly attracting someone's attention:

Ah, the life of a dissident! :-)

Rich Enough To Be Stupid

Mark Steyn provides a great opener for this post:

Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”

Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.

How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid.
San Francisco isn't so rich anymore--what city in California is?--but look how stupid they still are there:

Every child who enters kindergarten at one of San Francisco's public schools will get his or her own city-funded college savings account under a groundbreaking program officials plan to begin rolling out this fall, despite the current budget woes that will force layoffs and service cuts in other areas.

The deposits would be small - $50 to start, $100 for lower-income children - but the hope is that they will pay huge dividends, teaching students about saving and budgeting while forging the conviction that a college education is within reach.

Any commentary from me would be superfluous.

Update: Ties in nicely with this post.

It's Now Easier To Get Into One Of Oxford's Colleges

A quaint "tradition" has gone the way of the buggy whip:

OXFORD, England — The exam was simple yet devilish, consisting of a single noun (“water,” for instance, or “bias”) that applicants had three hours somehow to spin into a coherent essay. An admissions requirement for All Souls College here, it was meant to test intellectual agility, but sometimes seemed to test only the ability to sound brilliant while saying not much of anything.

“An exercise in showmanship to avoid answering the question,” is the way the historian Robin Briggs describes his essay on “innocence” in 1964, a tour de force effort that began with the opening chords of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” and then brought in, among other things, the flawed heroes of Stendhal and the horrors of the prisoner-of-war camp in the William Golding novel “Free Fall.”

No longer will other allusion-deploying Oxford youths have the chance to demonstrate the acrobatic flexibility of their intellect in quite the same way. All Souls, part of Oxford University, recently decided, with some regret, to scrap the one-word exam.

It has been offered annually since 1932 (and sporadically before that) as part of a grueling, multiday affair that, in one form or another, has been administered since 1878 and has been called the hardest exam in the world. The unveiling of the word was once an event of such excitement that even non-applicants reportedly gathered outside the college each year, waiting for news to waft out. Applicants themselves discovered the word by flipping over a single sheet of paper and seeing it printed there, all alone, like a tiny incendiary device.

But that was then. “For a number of years, the one-word essay question had not proved to be a very valuable way of providing insight into the merits of the candidates,” said Sir John Vickers, the warden, or head, of the college.
If it wasn't useful any longer except as a haze, they're right to be rid of it.

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The saguaro cactus blossom.

Today's question is:
What did Peter Minuit pay to local natives in exchange for Manhattan Island?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Web Site

Teachers: Anonymously review a school's working conditions, principal,
and superintendent, or list questions you were asked at a teaching job interview.

I'm not sure what I think of this site yet, so I'd really be interested in your comments. Does it serve an unmet need? Does it cross any lines?


I've always believed in getting a good night's sleep, and I applaud this author for saying what needs to be said on the subject:

A few things need to be said before we go any further. First, sleep deprivation isn't a badge of honor. It's a very American/Protestant Work Ethic attitude to act like being so busy and stretched thin that you must go without sleep just to get it all done is something to be proud of. If you're going to insist that abusing your body with sleep deprivation is something to be proud of and a necessary part of being a working adult, then you're not in the right frame of mind to really take this advice to heart. Going with little sleep is sometimes an unfortunate necessity, but it shouldn't be adopted as a way of life and a point of pride. (You certainly wouldn't brag to your friends how awesome you are malnourishing yourself.)

I Grow Weary Hearing About How This Generation Is So Different From Every Generation That Preceded It

It's been said about every generation that's ever come before--this one is different, they need to be dealt with differently. They won't fit in the same mold as their parents, they're new and exciting.

And to a certain point that's true, and we should hope for it to be true. But let's not make a fetish out of this.

I don't give a darn if the current college-age generation is used to being wired 24/7. Perhaps, just perhaps, learning requires the same thing it's always required--focused contemplative attention on the one topic at hand. And that doesn't require teaching students differently just because they'd prefer to be taught differently:

Community colleges are facing the iGeneration, writes Community College Week. Wired students expect to learn online just as they do everything else online.

Community colleges must respond to the new learners, said Pamela K. Quinn, provost of the LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, the online arm of the Dallas County Community College District.

We should teach in the manner that's most appropriate for the subject matter we're teaching, not in the manner most desirable or pleasant for students--and certainly not in the manner that's become the latest educational fad.

In other words, close the laptop, put away the smartphone, and listen to what your teacher/professor is telling you. Someone, including taxpayers, is paying a lot of money for you to get an education, so do us all a favor and pay attention to the person paid to share their knowledge with you.

Making Lemonade

The current recession is bad, and California's business environment is even worse--making jobs for recent college graduates harder to come by than they should be. Rather than whining that life is handing them lemons, some are making lemonade:

College graduates discouraged by the tight job market are finding creative ways to pad their résumés until the economy improves: Many are leaving the country to find adventure – and work...

Many new graduates are making similar moves, flying off to teach English, work on U.S. military bases or serve in the Peace Corps, said Marcie Kirk-Holland, a manager in the UC Davis Internship and Career Center.

Ah, to be so free and unencumbered as to be able to zip around to the other side of the planet for a year....

School Is Not The Place For This Kind Of Crap

People need to get out of their heads that schools are the places for children to show off their individuality (by participating in every fad--yes, I see the irony). The taxpayers shell out beaucoup dinero with the expectation that children will go to school to learn something. That which detracts from the learning environment should be removed--and that includes stupid little elastic bands:

The Bandz are now contraband. Schools in several states, including New York, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts, have blacklisted Silly Bandz, those stretchy, colorful bracelets that are creeping up the forearms of school kids across the U.S. And starting this week, all 800-some kids at my son's elementary school in Raleigh, N.C., were commanded to leave at home their collections of rubber band–like bracelets, which retail for about $5 per pack of 24. What could possibly be so insidious about a cheap silicone bracelet?

"It's a distraction," says Jill Wolborsky, a fourth-grade teacher at my son's school, who banned them from her classroom before the principal implemented a schoolwide ban. One student stole some confiscated Bandz from her desk, choosing them over the cash in her drawer.

Students fiddle with them during class and arrange swaps - trading, say, a bracelet with a mermaid for one with a dragon - when they should be concentrating on schoolwork, teachers say. Sometimes a trade goes bad - kids get buyer's remorse too - and hard feelings, maybe even scuffles, ensue.

A Dash Of Ginger

Ginger gets a little spicy after getting a call from the California Teachers Association:

Then, without giving me a chance to respond, she immediately launched into her scripted spiel - essentially a long denunciation of the California Legislature in general and Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, specifically, for cutting support to California schools.

Memo to CTA on effective communication: Tell your paid callers to read their scripts more slowly, and with better articulation. Try pausing at the end of sentences or where the commas go. It helps the listener to understand what the hell they're talking about.

When the CTA's breathless paid caller finished her script, she asked me if I would like her to transfer me to Sen. Darrell Steinberg's office so I could tell him myself how outraged I was. I told her that I'd rather be transferred to CTA union bosses. I wanted to tell them how outraged I was that the union was throwing younger teachers under the bus so that senior teachers wouldn't have to raise their co-pay for a doctors office visit from measly $1 to $15, which is more in line with what most of the rest of the world pays.

Note to Ginger: you're my kinda lady!

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Squad 51.

Today's question is:
What is Arizona's state flower?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Agree Or Disagree With Him, You've Got To Admire His Candor

I'd actually prefer it if politicians spoke their mind instead of spouting platitudes. I'd prefer it if they were honest instead of telling people what they think the people want to hear. The new governor of New Jersey seems to be such a man:

A largely friendly crowd of about 150 people turned out in a church gymnasium to hear Christie deliver a half-hour talk that trashed greedy public employee unions and state laws that handcuff local officials trying to control spending.

He then opened the floor to questions. A few were softballs, including the declaration by Clara Nebot of Bergenfield that Christie is "a god" to her relatives in Florida.

But borough teacher Rita Wilson, a Kearny resident, argued that if she were paid $3 an hour for the 30 children in her class, she’d be earning $83,000, and she makes nothing near that.

"You’re getting more than that if you include the cost of your benefits," Christie interrupted.

When Wilson, who has a master’s degree, said she was not being compensated for her education and experience, Christie said:

"Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it." Some in the audience applauded.

Christie said he would not have had to impose cuts to education if the teachers union had agreed to his call for a one-year salary freeze and a 1.5 percent increase in employee benefit contributions.

"Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state," Christie said. "That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that."

Surrounded by reporters after she spoke, Wilson said she was shaking from the encounter, and worried she might get in trouble for speaking out.

Christie has outlined a "toolkit" to address New Jersey’s property taxes, which on average are among the highest in the country. The centerpiece is a proposed constitutional amendment that would impose a 2.5 percent cap on the annual increase in the local property tax levy, which is the total amount of taxes collected each year from towns, school boards and county government.

"What it’s going to do is impose discipline on every level of government," Christie said, adding that 30 years of previous efforts by Trenton to control property taxes failed.

Sounds like New Jersey is looking towards its own Prop 13, and has a governor who isn't beholden to the guardians of the status quo. Perhaps there's hope out there.

Unionized Government Workers

This has got to be one of the best comments ever, appended to a post that had more to do with a double standard than with unionized government workers:

Yes, there's something deeply incongruous about workers needing protection from the very government they think should be running so much of our lives, from health care to the financial industry to the environment. If those workers can't even trust government managers' decisions with respect to the very narrow and limited scope of their relationship, how can they possibly expect the rest of us to trust those same government managers' decisions with respect to the vastly greater scope of all they try to control in our lives?
Any libs want to field that question?

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Edward I (Longshanks).

Today's question is:
On the 1970s drama Emergency, what was the vehicle designation for Gage and DeSoto?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Does This Merit Firing, Or Punishment Of Any Kind?

From the Boston Globe:

A North Georgia teacher is on administrative leave and could lose her job after she allowed four students to don mock Ku Klux Klan outfits for a final project in a high school class Thursday, administrators said.

The sight of people in Klan-like outfits upset some black students at the school and led at least one parent to complain.

Catherine Ariemma, who teaches the advanced placement course combining U.S. history with film education, could face punishment ranging from suspension to termination, Lumpkin County School Superintendent Dewey Moye said Monday. Ariemma has spent nearly six years teaching in the rural county about 75 miles north of Atlanta...

The incident happened at Lumpkin County High School. Ariemma said her students spend the year viewing films and later create their own films to watch in class. She said the students brainstorm and pick topics to cover. This particular class decided to trace the history of racism in America.

She said the class has 15 students of multiple races, but no blacks.

A group of five students took on the subject, which included covering the history of the notorious white supremacist group which had large chapters in Stone Mountain, Ga. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. One student filmed and did not wear sheets, she said.

"The kids brought the sheets in, they had SpongeBob party hats underneath to make it shaped like a cone," Ariemma said. "They cut out the eyes so they could see."

Ariemma said she led the students through a cafeteria to another location where they shot the scene. Later, she said another teacher approached her.

"That's when I heard there were a couple of students who were upset," she said.

Good Lord, are we really raising such a generation of pansies that the mere sight of someone in a sheet--for a school film project, escorted by a teacher--generates fear and fits of apoplexy?

I think I have a solution to this. Don't teach the kids anything controversial. Don't hold class discussions, because someone might say something that "hurts" another student. Don't have projects. Don't try to teach kids anything about the real world.

Give them worksheets. Let them write essays--no one else can see these unless the student him/herself shows someone else. Cover only facts. No instruction but lecturing. Screw critical thinking.

I get tired of stories like this.

The Future Of ObamaCare, On Display Today

How's Massachusetts' health care program working out? Very well--if you want the insurance companies to just go out of business to make way for a total government take-over of the industry:

The future of US medicine under ObamaCare is already on display in Massachusetts. The top four health insurers there just posted first-quarter losses of more than $150 million. Most of them blamed the state's decision to keep premiums at last year's levels for individual and small-business policies, when they'd proposed double-digit hikes to match the soaring costs they've seen under the state's universal-coverage law.

The companies have gone to court to challenge the state's action -- it apparently had no basis for its ruling beyond the political needs of Gov. Deval Patrick. If they win, Bay State health premiums will continue their rapid rise; if they lose, they'll eventually have to stop doing business in Massachusetts -- and the state will be that much closer to a "single payer" system of socialized medicine.

And even if/when government takes over, does anyone truly believe that prices will be controlled and that health care nirvana will be achieved?

Extremism In The Defense Of Liberty

I was asked recently about Rand Paul's comments regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the political hay currently being made out of the principles involved in its passage. This article does a great service to us all by being honest about the subject. Some excerpts:

This meant that even if the Civil Rights Act gave new freedom to African-Americans to eat in restaurants of their choice, which it obviously did, it was only able to obtain this worthy goal by stripping from business owners the liberty that they had traditionally enjoyed. The liberty of some was being sacrificed for the liberty of others—and the federal government enforced this sacrifice.

Today the vast majority of Americans, including me, believe the sacrifice was worth it. Understandably enough, there is little sympathy nowadays for those racist Southern business owners who were compelled, very much against their will, to serve black customers along with white. Even Paul, in explaining his own position, made it clear that he loathed the practice of racism by business owners, and correctly pointed out that it is economically irrational to turn away paying customers simply because you don’t like the color of their skin. What got Paul in hot water, however, was the perception that he favors giving back to business owners the liberty to engage in racial discrimination. This perception has fueled the liberal attacks on him. It has been used to revile Paul as a racist and to condemn the entire Tea Party movement as a coalition of white supremacist bigots. Regrettably, this highly partisan brouhaha has obscured a point of immense importance for all of us, both liberals and conservatives—sometimes you need extremists to defend liberty, because otherwise no one else would do it...

Someone must always be ready to point out the cost in terms of human liberty that is often the unavoidable consequence of even the noblest political objectives...

Not all of us need to be extremists in the defense of liberty. But some must be, and a healthy democratic society should be grateful for those who are willing and determined to play this role. By simply forcing us to think twice before we curtail our traditional liberties, they may well save us from the tyranny of our own political agendas—a tyranny that seeks to deny to others those rights we have no interest in exercising for ourselves.

I recommend reading the whole thing.

Turnabout Is Fair Play

Lefties used to enjoy making fun of President Bush's verbal gaffes, but the gnarled syntax and such indicated a lack of polished speaking ability as opposed to a lack of knowledge, which is what the current vice president displays.

Really, the capital of the free world is Brussels? When something bad happens, does the world really look to Brussels for leadership?

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, redesignated from a National Monument in 2004.

Today's question is:
Which English king built a series of castles to assist in the subjugation of the Welsh?

How Much Is That Health Plan In The Window?

The one with the "little-noticed" provisions....

Our lawmakers are buffoons, yet the public continues to elect them--thus getting the government we deserve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Double Down

My aunt used to have a small plaque hanging on the wall in her house:

Grant that I may not criticize my neighbor until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.
--American Indian Prayer
Last night a friend and I walked well over a mile--to KFC. That wasn't our intended destination, but we had to divert when he pointed out the sign in the window:
I had to go in to try this chicken, cheese, and bacon delight. It looks perfect, doesn't it?

The first indication that it's somewhat less than perfect is the appearance of the actual sandwich. Compare the picture below to the savory delicacy above:

Still, one must not judge a book by its over, however ragged and saggy that cover may be. So let's start reading the story:

So how did it taste, you ask? See if you can tell from this picture:

To mix metaphors, my neighbor's moccasins didn't rip, but they weren't soft, either. To be blunt, I was a bit disappointed in the sandwich. It was a 6 out of 10.

For starters, the sauce overwhelmed all the other flavors. I don't mean overwhelmed just a little, I mean Governor Blanco during Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed. That sauce was so strong and spicy that the chicken itself seemed flavorless, and I couldn't even taste the bacon or the cheese. What's the point of having bacon and cheese if you can't taste them? All you can taste is the excessively strong sauce, and that sauce isn't Chez Matisse caliber.

They call the sandwich the Double Down. The problem is that if you're playing blackjack, this sandwich is a soft 17. If this is poker, you've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run--and at best, with this hand you take your chances and hold 'em.

The Double Down has so much potential, but it's wasted. What a tragedy.

Are there any fast foods worth eating? What's your favorite?

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
What is the newest US National Park?

Teachers In Texas Have A Right I Wish I Had

Larry Sand, the president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, penned the following piece on a victory for Texas teachers:

On May 14, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott delivered an opinion that could have national educational and political ramifications for years to come. In short, the decision stated that school districts may not fund political action committees of teacher unions via payroll deductions.

When unionized teachers are paid, their dues are deducted from their salary by the local school district, just like withholding tax. Part of each month’s union dues goes toward union political spending. What this decision means is that the while the local district can still collect the part of dues that goes for collective bargaining, they can no longer withhold the part that goes for the union’s political agenda. The union will have to collect that money on a voluntary basis and many teachers are not going to volunteer to do that. Thus, the Texas State Teachers Association will now have far less money to spend on its various candidates and causes, most of which run considerably to the left of center and frequently are very child unfriendly.
Can you imagine how much less money the NEA/CTA would have if teachers had to write a check each month for donations to the unions' political activities?

Duke University's Group (Gang) of 88

During the Duke lacrosse players travesty, 88 members of the Duke faculty signed an open, published letter essentially convicting the players and siding with their known liar of an accuser. What has happened to those faculty members? KC Johnson tells us.

Beneath The Liberal Veneer

Ann Althouse:

A love of autocracy often lurks beneath the liberal veneer. There's this idea that the right answers are known and the people are just too deluded and distorted to see what they are and to vote for them. And Friedman openly deplores the internet, which decimates moderation because there are people like me who who persecute elite truthbearers like him. Ooh! It's a lynch mob. Ha. Sorry. I don't want the rope. I just want to laugh at you.

Update, 5/25/10: The Anchoress:

Every murderous totalitarian government of the 20th century began with some insulated group of faux-intellectuals congratulating each other on how smart they are, and fantasizing about how, if they could just install a dictatorship-for-a-day, they could right all the wrongs in the world. It is the ultimate fantasy of the narcissist. And we’ve got whole generations of them, in control of our media and our government, all intent on ‘remaking America.’

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
In a limestone quarry in the Neander Tal (valley), near Duesseldorf, Germany.

Today's question is:
What is the capital city of the Falklands Islands?

Latest Education Fad, Or The Wave Of The Future?

A landmark Colorado law that ties teacher evaluations to the progress of their students on achievement tests could help build momentum for a national movement that seeks to overhaul how instructors' tenure and pay is earned, education leaders say.

So says the LA Times.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


From the Washington Post comes a statement from one Thomas Jefferson:

"A wise and frugal government," Thomas Jefferson declared in his first inaugural address in 1801, "which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." He later warned: "To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it."
The complete article is worth your time.

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Where were Neanderthal skeletons were first discovered (in 1856)?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Message To The Vice Principals At My School: Please Don't Do This

What else can I say but, "ew"?

An assistant principal at a Florida middle school sent a topless photo of herself to a 14-year-old boy, police say.

Lauren Shreve Tilo, a 30-year-old assistant principal at Middleton High School in Tampa, allegedly sent a cell phone picture of her breasts to the teenager on May 7 after meeting him while playing the popular online game World of Warcraft, reports.
Perhaps we should be thankful that it was just boobies.

Suing For More Education Money

California already spends about half of its state budget on education, yet there's a lawsuit demanding more:

California's system for funding public schools is irrational, unstable and in need of overhaul, a lawsuit filed Thursday asserts, and prevents 6 million students from receiving the education they are entitled to under the state Constitution.

The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of students, parents and education groups against the governor and the state, puts California on a growing list of states slapped with what lawyers call "adequacy" suits.

This Is Disappointing.

He makes arguments for capitalism, but the Dalai Lama is a Marxist.

TIBETAN spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says he's a Marxist, yet credits capitalism for bringing new freedoms to China, the communist country that exiled him.

"Still I am a Marxist," the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived today with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.

"(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits," the Dalai Lama, 74, said.

However, he credited China's embrace of market economics for breaking communism's grip over the world's most populous country and forcing the ruling Communist Party to "represent all sorts of classes".

"(Capitalism) brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people's living standards improved," he said.
I have to ask:

Where has Marxism done any good for the people?

Marxism has done what, exactly, for people and their standard of living?

Capitalism, by his own admission, has done what, exactly, for people and their standard of living?

As for so-called moral ethics, I can name lots of communist countries that had a secret police and barbed wire borders to keep people in.

Capitalist countries, at least those not run by dictators, generally don't have a secret police, and border security is generally to keep people out.

Where are people free enough to worship how they like?

Generally I like the Dalai Lama and at least understand what he says, but here he's completely indecipherable.

YouTube Problem

Just a couple days ago I started no longer to be able to view embedded YouTube videos. I can click on the video, which opens a separate YouTube page in which I can view the video just fine, but cannot view the video if it's embedded anywhere else.

I use Firefox and even tried turning off my popup blocker, but that didn't resolve it. This just started a couple days ago, and I don't know that I myself did anything to make this happen.

Does anyone have any ideas?

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Michael Stipe, Kurt Cobain, and Eddie Vedder.

Today's question is:
For how many seasons did the original Star Trek series run?

Socialism Means Never Having To Admit You're Wrong

Longtime reader Allen sent me the following email and since I liked it so much, I asked for and received permission to post it here in its entirety:

Turns out that as part of the IMF bail-out Greece is suppose to "consider" a privatization of its socialized health care system. Investor's Business Daily has an editorial - - and the New York Times mentions in passing the "suggestion" -

So the question is, who's the big hypocrite? The IMF isn't particularly independent so is it the EU, France, Germany or Obama that's pushing the IMF to strongly suggest some privatization of the Greek socialized health care system?
Who, indeed?

And then today I read the following about another socialist program going the way of the Great Auk:

As predicted was inevitable, today the Spanish newspaper La Gaceta runs with a full-page article fessing up to the truth about Spain’s “green jobs” boondoggle, which happens to be the one naively cited by President Obama no less than eight times as his model for the United States. It is now out there as a bust, a costly disaster that has come undone in Spain to the point that even the Socialists admit it, with the media now in full pursuit.

When capitalists do something wrong (e.g., Enron), government is available to punish the wrongdoers. When socialist governments throw your money down a rathole, who besides the taxpayer is punished?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

70's Music

Here are two songs from the 1970's. Enjoy.

(The Eagles, Take It Easy)

(Jackson Browne, Running On Empty)

There sure was some good music back then.

Play That Funky Music, White Boy

Today at school we received an email: because of our recent e-waste fundraising drive, we received some external speakers for computers. I assumed it was first come, first served, so I responded right away.

I had only the PC speaker, so if I had something the students needed to hear, the room had to be silent--and even then it's difficult. But not anymore. I got more than just some powered speakers today. I got powered speakers and a subwoofer. Yes, they look ancient, but they work quite nicely.

I was a little late to lunch today because I was listening to and Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode came on. There was a mini-concert going on in my classroom.

Thursday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Winslow, Arizona.

Today's question is:
Who were the (most frequently associated) lead singers for 90's bands REM, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making The Calls, Sending The Emails

It doesn't matter that our grades are online and can be accessed at any time. It doesn't matter that we've sent out progress reports three times so far just this semester. This week we have to notify parents of seniors who might not pass that their baby might not pass. For two of my five classes, not passing can mean not graduating.

What a crappy thing to have to tell people.

Math And The Housing Bust

What could be the difference between keeping and losing your house?

IN HINDSIGHT one of the worst things about America’s subprime housing bust is how predictable it was. Subprime borrowers were by definition people of limited means with poor credit histories. Yet economists who have looked at the pattern of payments on subprime mortgages point out that even when house prices topped out and then began to fall, not all subprime borrowers defaulted. Only a minority of borrowers abruptly ceased to make payments, as someone choosing to default would.

More typically, payments went from being regular to being erratic: borrowers fell behind, then became current again, only to fall behind once more. Those patterns are indicative of people trying, but struggling, to keep up with their payments. A trio of economists set out to find out what differentiated those borrowers who did not keep up with their payments from the rest. Their answer, according to a new working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, is simple: numeracy.

That's right--math knowledge.

Stupid Choices

"Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices." link

Wednesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Pat McCarran, former US Senator from Nevada and a staunch anti-communist.

Today's (somewhat easier) question is:
If you're standing on a corner and a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford is slowing down to take a look at you, in what city might you be standing?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teachers Are Just Different

From the New York Times:

MICHAEL MULGREW is an affable former Brooklyn vocational-high-school teacher who took over last year as head of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers when his predecessor, Randi Weingarten, moved to Washington to run the national American Federation of Teachers. Over breakfast in March, we talked about a movement spreading across the country to hold public-school teachers accountable by compensating, promoting or even removing them according to the results they produce in class, as measured in part by student test scores. Mulgrew’s 165-page union contract takes the opposite approach. It not only specifies everything that teachers will do and will not do during a six-hour-57 ½-minute workday but also requires that teachers be paid based on how long they have been on the job. Once they’ve been teaching for three years and judged satisfactory in a process that invariably judges all but a few of them satisfactory, they are ensured lifetime tenure.

Next to Mulgrew was his press aide, Richard Riley. “Suppose you decide that Riley is lazy or incompetent,” I asked Mulgrew. “Should you be able to fire him?”

“He’s not a teacher,” Mulgrew responded. “And I need to be able to pick my own person for a job like that.” Then he grinned, adding: “I know where you’re going, but you don’t understand. Teachers are just different.”

Not only are we different, we're special. And don't you forget it.

How Much Does Free Health Insurance Cost?

From The Atlantic:

When MassCare passed, it was supposed to lower the average cost of health care by getting relatively cheap young people into the system, and ending the inefficiencies of caring for the uninsured. Unfortunately, it hasn't quite worked out that way. The bill for the uninsured only dropped by about 40%; the young, cheap people turned out to almost all need subsidies, and worse, some of them figured out how to game the system by buying insurance, getting a bunch of expensive procedures, and then dropping the insurance again. There was a brief improvement in insurance prices for the individual market, because Massachusetts, with its community rating and guaranteed issue, had had a pretty sizable problem with adverse selection. But after a few years, insurance costs were still marching briskly upward, rates were among the highest in the country, and the system was putting heavy pressure on a budget that was already strained to the limit by the recession...

It's hard to simultaneously expand demand, while lowering the incentives for supply (i.e. Medicare reimbursements), without having some pretty dramatic mismatches between the two. There's an old adage common in restaurants and engineering that goes "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick Two." Change that middle word to "Universal" and you've got a pretty good summation of the problem that Massachusetts now faces--and that the rest of us soon will.

Spending Taxpayer Money To Brainwash Taxpayers

When I read this post over at Instapundit, my first thought was, "I'll bet Radley Balko wrote this." Glenn is away and has guest writers this week, Radley being one of them, and the tone just sounded like his. Then I checked the byline--can I call 'em or what?

So, what's the topic?

The EPA is holding a video contest in which you, taxpayer, are invited to produce a piece of propaganda touting the glory of regulation. The winner gets $2,500 taxpayer dollars. It takes a peculiarly bureaucratic sort of mendacity to dream up the idea of using taxpayer money to promote a contest in which taxpayers are asked to make videos celebrating the way their tax dollars are being used to make their lives more expensive.

Teachers Union Caves--For All The Good It Will Do The Students

You might remember the story of the Rhode Island school district that threatened to fire all its teachers at one school because they wouldn't agree to some reforms--catch up here if you don't. Well, everyone's huggy-kissy now, as the firings are rescinded and the teachers union caved to some of the reforms. Frederick Hess at National Review Online offers his assessment:

Some observers might regard Gallo’s move as a disappointing reversion to powder-puff school management, especially given her weak-kneed press release stuffed with assurances that all the union ever wanted was “what is best for our students.” But such concerns are misplaced. Gallo’s play shows how stiff-spined management is supposed to work — by forcing unions and other claimants to come to their senses...

The Rhode Island story is a truly encouraging development. As with Michelle Rhee’s new contract in D.C. or Commissioner David Steiner’s ability to win new language on teacher tenure in New York, this story shows how leaders with backbone can eventually force union leadership to accept a new reality.

Mr. Hess' celebration is off-base.

My regular readers might think that I'm anti-union, but this isn't correct. As I've said many times before, I believe that (with few exceptions) Americans are rightly entitled to join unions, but that no American should be forced to join a union or to support one financially. In general, I believe in the idea of unions; in practice, however, I'm more likely to support a local union but be against a state-level or national union, for reasons that don't need to be repeated in this post.

So in the story above, the teachers union essentially caved. If it were caving to a "force of good", I'd be dancing, figuratively, as is Mr. Hess. But what, exactly, did they cave in to?

Gallo had asked Central Falls High’s teachers to agree to a series of school-improvement measures: you know, such nutso stuff as lengthening the school day, adding 90 minutes per week of common planning time, asking teachers to do a week of paid professional development at $30 per hour during the summer (the union wanted $90 per hour), and asking teachers to eat lunch with students once a week. The teachers rejected the proposals out of hand, triggering Gallo’s escalation...

The Central Falls Teachers’ Union agreed to accept all of Gallo’s initial requests, including two weeks (rather than one) of summer professional development at her preferred rate.

Crucially, the agreement also stipulates that Gallo and the school’s new principal will have the authority to select an outside evaluator next fall. The evaluator will provide support and intervention where needed, and will identify teachers who need to be removed.
What's lacking here is any indication or evidence that the proposed changes will elicit the desired results. Let's look at the proposals.

Lengthen the school day. Let's say they add 5 minutes per period, or an additional half hour per school day. How will that really improve student performance? What evidence is there of this?

90 minutes per week of common planning time. While I wouldn't like having to work extra for no extra pay, I see this as a good proposal.

A week of paid professional development in the summer. Any teacher will tell you that 99% of professional development is busywork that is complete and total crap--especially if it's a one-time-only presentation with no follow-up. Waste of time and money.

Eating lunch with students once a week. That 5 hours a week the teachers currently spend with students doesn't seem to be working, but 30 minutes a week in the cafeteria is going to make an academic difference? Someone's got meatloaf between the ears.

External evaluator to assist teachers who need assistance and identify those who need to seek alternate employment. Depending on the evaluator and how this is handled, this could be an excellent idea.

So as I look over the ideas, two seem (to me) to be possibly useful and three seem to be a waste of teacher time and district money.

No, I can't celebrate this victory over a teachers union. The victor represents nothing more than another side of what's wrong in public education, not some sort of savior.

California Law Regarding Illegal Immigration

With the idiots in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento trying to make some hay about Arizona's new immigration law, it might be fun to look at California's law on the subject. Why didn't I think to do this before hearing about it on the radio this morning? I have (The Official California Legislative Information Page) bookmarked and often refer to it for education code. Today, though, we look at Penal Code Section 834b:

834b. (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.
(b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following:
(1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status.
(2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or leave the United States.
(3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal status and provide any additional information that may be requested by any other public entity.
(c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly

Does this last clause make our so-called sanctuary cities illegal? If so, why do we tolerate them? It seems absurd that a city would expect citizens to obey every little law and ordinance while that same city flouts state law.

So what's the difference between Arizona's law and California's law? Arizona probably intends to enforce its law.

Update, 5/31/10: A majority in California support the Arizona law, making all those city councils that support a boycott of Arizona outside of the mainstream.

Tuesday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The B-17.

Today's question is:
After whom is the international airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, named?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Grade Inflation In High School Math Courses?

Take a look at GPAs vs. NAEP results over the past two decades and then decide.

Why Alfonzo Rachel Is A Conservative

I agree with what Zo says in this video. If you don't, maybe you're a racist :-)

More On "Ethnic Studies" Courses and the Arizona Law

Last week I mentioned Arizona's new K-12 law which forbids elementary or secondary schools to teach classes that are "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" and advocate "the overthrow of the United States government" or "resentment toward a race or class of people." Today, Michael Lopez, guest blogging over at Joanne's site, shares his impressions of the law. His conclusion should give you a feel for what to expect:

And as much as I might sympathize with the sentiment behind it….. my verdict is this: sloppy, sophomoric, and not long for this world.

Monday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Candlestick Park, San Francisco (on August 29, 1966).

Today's question is:
Which World War II bomber was known as the “Flying Fortress”?

The Best Description I've Yet Heard For The Obama Administration

Of course it comes from National Review:

Do you ever get the idea that our government is a bunch of left-wing undergraduates come to power?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


The answer to yesterday's question, the last in "From One To The Next" Week, is:
Denver, Colorado.

Today's question is:
Where did The Beatles perform their last concert? (Bonus point for the year.)

You Shoot Your Mouth Off, Sometimes You Get Slapped

No, I'm not talking about the kid who got slapped around by his teacher. I'm talking about the City of San Diego:

San Diego tourism leaders and hoteliers fear they could lose a sizable chunk of business this summer from valued “Zonies” who are so angered by elected leaders’ recent censure of Arizona for its illegal-immigration law that they’re mounting an informal boycott of their own.

The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau and several hotels report receiving e-mails and letters from Arizona visitors saying they intend to change their plans to travel here in light of local outcry over their home state’s anti-illegal-immigration stance.

Really? People might get offended when you call them a bunch of immoral, racist hicks? Who'd'a thunk?

Although the summer months typically are an economic bonanza for the San Diego visitor industry, the recession and continued high unemployment have eaten away at lodging revenue as hotels have steeply discounted rates to fill their rooms. The Convention & Visitors Bureau spent $9 million last year promoting the region for the spring and summer months and is dedicating $7 million toward that effort this year.

“I’ve been approached by a number of hotels who are very concerned because they’ve received cancellations from Arizona guests,” said Namara Mercer, executive director of the county Hotel-Motel Association. “It’s a huge piece of business for not just the hotels but for all of San Diego. Everybody’s excited because they think occupancies will be stronger this summer, and now this.”

I hope it hurts, San Diego. I really do. Especially when people this stupid get elected:

School board President Shelia Jackson said that while she was disappointed to hear of people opting to stay away from San Diego, she doesn’t regret her vote.

“It’s sad that people would cancel their plans to come here in reaction to that, but I still think we did the right thing,” Jackson said. “Certainly, we know how important tourism is to San Diego, and it wasn’t my intent to impact the tourism trade.”

So, she wants to attack them and call them names, but still wants them to come spend money in San Diego? Really?

A couple years ago California passed Proposition 8, which states that California will recognize only heterosexual marriage (domestic partnership laws were not affected). Perhaps the liberal elite in other states should boycott the backwards, fundamentalist hick state of California? What do you think of that, San Francisco and Los Angeles? Both of those cities have gone further than San Diego in attacking Arizona.

Cities should manage their own affairs. But with "nuclear free zones" and "sanctuary cities" and prohibiting official travel to other cities/states, we see examples of people using the official power of government to further their own liberal ideals. And it has to stop.

I hope it hurts, San Diego--because that seems to be the only thing that liberals understand.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Saturday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
The Tudor dynasty.

Today's question, the last in "From One To The Next" Week, is:
In which US city was the 80s nighttime soap opera Dynasty set?

ATM Fees

Currently, banks and other ATM operators are free to charge consumers whatever they want for using their machine. And backers of the amendment maintain that those who tend feel the brunt of those fees are lower- and middle-income Americans, precisely those who can't afford it.

Indeed, ATM fees aren't cheap these days. Last year, consumers were assessed $3.54, on average, every time they used an ATM that isn't controlled by their own bank, according to

Why is it the Congress' business how much banks charge in ATM fees? Is there now some "right" to cheap access to money whenever you need it? If people often feel the need to get money from an ATM that isn't controlled by their own bank, wouldn't a simple solution be to switch banks? Or perhaps to plan ahead?

Congress should spend less time on issues like this and more time on keeping our government solvent.

Illegal Alien Arrested At University

Colotl's legal problems started in late March when her car was stopped on the Kennesaw State campus. Born in Mexico but living in the United States since she was 11, she could not produce a driver's license, so she handed over as identification an expired passport from Mexico.

She was arrested the next day and turned over to immigration officials. She spent more than a month in the Etowah Detention Center in Alabama.

Friends came out in force and marched on campus in her defense. Earlier this month, she was released, and her deportation was deferred for a year, which will allow her to finish her studies. She hasn't returned to classes yet, but looks forward to earning her degree. link

A sympathetic figure, yes. What is a good legal reason not to deport her?

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Is Still The Law

Let's remember that DADT was passed by the civilian Congress and signed by a Democratic Commander-in-Chief; until Congress and the president change that law, it is the law of the land and must be obeyed.

And this woman may pay a high price, quite literally, for "telling":

A student who received a full-ride ROTC scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may now owe the Army nearly $80,000 for the money it put toward her tuition and books after coming out as a lesbian.

Sara Isaacson was notified in March that she was being discharged for violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” after informing the head of the university’s ROTC program of her sexual orientation in a formal memo, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Along with the notice was a recommendation that she repay the $79,265.14 the government spent on her education, the paper reported.
President Obama makes noises about changing the law but has yet done nothing of substance.

No Reparations For Slavery

For me, the best argument against reparations--besides the most obvious argument against reparations--is that this country already paid in the form of the Civil War. Henry Gates (of "black professor vs. Cambridge cop, resulting in beer summit" fame) has a new book out which addresses the issue in a reasoned way.

It's That Time Of Year Again

What time of year? The time for senior pranks:

Twenty students in Ohio are accused of ransacking their high school in what police describe as an end-of-the-year prank that got out of hand.

Many of the students arrested Thursday night at Lockland High School near Cincinnati face felony charges of breaking and entering.

A senior at my school told me yesterday that our principal gave seniors some fairly good guidance about senior pranks--no property is to be damaged. Other than that, it's pretty much wide open.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Trivia

The answer to yesterday's question is:
Queen Elizabeth II.

Today's question is:
Queen Elizabeth I was the last monarch in which dynasty?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shameless Plug For A Friend

Interested in seeing a tres cool video plugging a new healthy drink and, at the same time, helping a friend of mine, the creator of the video, win a car? Click here! She who gets the most video views wins, so go help out--I myself really enjoyed it.

If This Is "Post-Partisan", I'll Take What We Had Before

The polarization The (Washington) Post editorial board decries is a reaction to the radical agenda Obama is pursuing in our nation’s capital. Obama has eschewed the bipartisanship pursued by his predecessors, President Bush (No Child Left Behind) and President Clinton (NAFTA, welfare reform), in their first years in office. Instead, he has pursued a maximalist liberal agenda and refused any real compromise. When you pass a radical overhaul of health care along strict party lines, using clever parliamentary tactics to avoid compromise with the other party, it’s going to have a ripple effect across the electorate. link

The Washington Post is not known for its conservative leanings.

Ethnic Studies Classes

In addition to signing the popular (except with news people and political elites) border enforcement law, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer also recently signed another novel law:

The new law forbids elementary or secondary schools to teach classes that are "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group" and advocate "the overthrow of the United States government" or "resentment toward a race or class of people."

I dare say that it would be hard for a reasonable person to oppose such a law, but there are certain groups which oppose it.

I initially planned not to post on this topic but changed my mind today when I read this article about such programs at the university level:

Entitled "Working with Large-Scale Climate Surveys: Reducing Data Complexity to Gain New Insights," Chatman pulls data from the 2008 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey that distinguish "interpersonal and diversity skills, campus climate, overall satisfaction and inclusion, and individual characteristics [religion, income, race, etc.]." The data also include the respondents' programs of study, allowing Chatman to break down student perceptions by major.

Here is what he found:

Upper-division area and ethnic studies students rated Climate of Respect for Personal Beliefs at 4.16. Humanities and social science students gave it a substantially higher 4.80, and science, engineering, math, and business students rated it even higher at 5.05. Obviously, field of study affected scores.

Chatman attributes the low climate scores in area and ethnic studies precisely to the instruction students receive in those classes. "Students in area and ethnic studies should have learned to recognize prejudicial communication and should be more sensitive to communication that might be prejudicial," he writes. Whereas a math student might hear a remark and think nothing of it, an African American Studies student might discern prejudice and stereotyping. Does this mean that students in area and ethnic studies are more perceptive and accurate in their assessment of campus climate, or have they acquired in their classes a "warped lens" (Chatman's term) that sees social life in overdone racial categories? Chatman even draws a logical possibility that might appall area and ethnic studies instruction, that is, that the climate in those fields is a lot worse than it is in engineering classes and labs. One wonders how area and ethnic studies professors would feel if they were ordered to undergo diversity sensitivity sessions themselves to try to straighten out their problems.
When you teach people to see themselves as apart from others, you shouldn't be surprised when you encounter divisiveness.

Update, 5/15/10: Here's what's going on in Tucson's ethnic studies programs.

Teacher Fired For Beating A Student

I'm anticipating some arrows' coming my way for this post, as some will misunderstand my point and others will intentionally misunderstand my point.

OK, let's get some "of course" statements about this story and video out of the way.

Of course no child should be beaten like that at school.
Of course the teacher is out of control.
Of course she was rightly fired for this.
Of course her actions are indefensible.

Let's assume there's no indication of mental illness on the part of the teacher, and now change course.

We're talking about a 13-year-old boy here. Is it so out of bounds to think that the kid shot off his mouth one time too many? Come on, that's what 13-year-old boys do. I'm not condoning the teacher's actions, but am I the only one who thinks the kid might now think twice before mouthing off at school?

Thursday Trivia

My Bloody Valentine isn't a famous enough movie, huh? The answer to yesterday's question is:

Today's question is:
Who is the current Head of State of Canada?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Putting Responsibility Where It Belongs

One of the concerns/complaints I've heard voiced from staff members at my school is that teachers are being held responsible for--to cut to the chase--other people's responsibilities.

It's not enough to send a child to the office for misbehavior anymore. In all but the most extreme circumstances we have to document that we've previously contacted the child's parents before we can send a child to the office.

We cannot just assign detention anymore, and expect that the child will show his/her parent the detention slip and have the parent sign it. Now, parents must be notified before detention can be served.

We are doing more interim progress reports now than in the past, because some parents claim that they didn't have enough warning of baby's impending failure.

Parents claim that they can't ensure their child does homework unless they, the parents, know what that homework is. We teachers now maintain web sites listing homework assignments.

Too many tardies or cuts will earn a student Saturday School. So that students can get close to the line but not go over, we used to hand out attendance records to each student once a week.

And so it goes.

There was a near riot when we teachers were told that we had to notify parents about each detention. Why, the detention form actually states on it that it's the student's responsibility to inform the parents about detention (which is served the day after it is assigned). Detentions, especially for "school" offenses (like tardies) as opposed to "teacher" offenses (like chewing gum in class), dropped off. And then someone figured out that we could make technology work for us. We've long had the capability to "robo-call", and that functionality is used to remind parents about Back To School Night, notify them about a lockdown at school, etc.; now we notify a secretary, and she adds that student's name to the "your kid has detention tomorrow" robo-call each evening. Problem resolved. It's still not putting the responsibility where it belongs, which is on the student, but at least it's not on the teacher as much as it was.

Another situation wherein the teacher has always had the responsibility is notifying students about grades. I always posted grades (by student number, not name) every week or two so students would know exactly where they stood in class. It's their grade, I reasoned, and they should know what it is.

But I'm not going to accept the responsibility of posting grades anymore. Our district uses Zangle, an online comprehensive student data system. Teachers, counselors, and administrators all have their own little corners of Zangle; teachers use it for grading and attendance.

Now, if students want to know what their grade is, they can look it up online themselves, as our students have been given their own Zangle access similar to what their parents have. No computer or internet access at home? We have plenty in the school library--or even the public library. Want to know what tardies and cuts you have? Look it up yourself.

I like this. Our school has approximately 1600 students, so we're saving 1600 sheets of paper a week by no longer handing out the attendance records. I'm saving 5 pieces of paper a week, plus a lot of printing, by no longer having to post grades.

And the students and their parents are reassuming some of the responsibility for monitoring student performance.