Sunday, September 30, 2012

Linear Algebra Update

Grades in my masters course are based on homework and tests, and I haven't had a test since the 1st one.  I just emailed a homework packet, and spent the entire 49er game today on the couch working on part of the next one.  Within 2 weeks I should probably take the next test, on which I hope to do better than I did on the first one.

Tests are to be done within one hour--and both my proctor and I are diligent and honest people.  I could have used another 10 minutes on that last test but I put my pencil down at the one hour mark.  I wonder if my brain operates more slowly than it did in my undergraduate days, as math tests didn't used to take me the entire time allotted to finish.

Raiders are still trailing Denver, I think I'll go to the gym....

This, Boys and Girls, Is What's Called a "Wackadoo"

Is this guy just off his meds or something, or is he just a freakin' loon?
A Florida high school teacher who is accused of masterminding a murder for hire plot against another teacher has a history of disciplinary problems...

Pepe, a social studies teacher at Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County who liked students to call him "Doctor Professor Pepe," was arrested at school on Thursday.

In a Sept. 13 phone call, Pepe, allegedly told an undercover officer that he was willing to pay $2,000 for "an issue that he might need taken care of," according to WFTS-TV.

He is accused of trying to put out a hit on Robert Meredith, a former co-worker. The two men had apparently worked together at Strawberry Crest High School...

Meredith told WFTS-TV he knew of Pepe, but did not socialize with him and has no idea why he would be targeted.

"When you are at school you have limited time to talk to co-workers, period. So, as far as going out and having a drink, never," Meredith said. "This came as a complete shock."

Pepe reportedly told police he and Meredith were best friends and had a falling out. He also claimed Meredith was spreading rumors that he was a child molester.

Meredith, who is still a teacher, said he never had any harsh words or a confrontation with Pepe.

"I don't feel that I'm in any way culpable for this," he said. "If there is a problem, it is 100 percent on the other side."
Very strange.  It will be interesting to learn more about this and see which one of them is lying.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Workers Paradise of California

In just the last week and a half the Sacramento area has been hit with devastating job news:

Campbell Soup shutting down its plant in Sacramento
“We employ about 700 people at the Sacramento plant and unfortunately those jobs will be eliminated,” said Campbell Soup Company spokesperson Anthony Sanzio. “This is a tough day for the company, for the employees. No one likes to do this.”

The company says the Sacramento plant, built in 1947, is the oldest in its network and has the highest production costs on a per-case basis...

Most of Sacramento’s production of soup, sauces and beverages will be shifted to Campbell’s three remaining thermal plants in North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

The company is also closing a spice plant in South Plainfield, New Jersey...

Campbell does have several other facilities in California that will remain open. There are about 450 full-time and seasonal employees at its tomato processing plants in Dixon and Stockton. They also own Bolthouse Farms in Bakersfield.

Comcast closing call centers
The Comcast call center in Natomas will be closing Nov. 30, along with two other northern California call centers.

Three hundred employees in Natomas are affected by the closure. Two other centers, in Livermore and Morgan Hill, are also closing. One thousand jobs in total are leaving the state.

Comcast will be opening new centers in Seattle, Portland and Denver.

VSP (the provider of my school district's optical insurance) threatens to leave:
California's rollout of the federal health care overhaul, still in its infancy, has prompted one of Sacramento's most important companies to threaten to leave the state.

Vision Service Plan of Rancho Cordova is protesting a decision last month by the agency that is building California's online insurance market, a key piece of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The decision by the California Health Benefit Exchange would keep VSP from competing for a big chunk of consumers.

The exchange said it would not allow stand-alone vision plans, like those sold by VSP, to be offered through the exchange to individual customers. Such a provision would greatly limit vision services available through the exchange, since most are offered through stand-alone plans.

VSP, which employs 2,100 Sacramentans, has suggested that the exclusion could prompt the company to move its headquarters to another state.
These follow other big news from last December:
Waste Connections, Inc., is moving their headquarters out of California.

The company announced Monday morning they are relocating their corporate headquarters to The Woodlands, Texas because the Houston suburb “offers our employees an attractive, lower cost, and more centrally located community…” said Waste Connections’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ronald J. Mittelstaedt.

In an interview with FOX40, Mittelstaedt also cited a bad business climate in California, depressed housing market and a lack of good schools for employees’ kids as reason for the move.
I don't know where the liberals expect the jobs to come from if we keep  pushing jobs out of this state.  Instapundit always quotes the song, and it seems true: They’ll turn us all into beggars ’cause they’re easier to please.

It’s probably too late to save California. Laer tries to inject some optimism at the end of each chapter and in the conclusion to his book he notes that voter patterns might finally be changing (although recent polling data makes me less optimistic). As cities go bankrupt, gas and food prices rise, businesses bail, and the California middle class becomes poor, some of the voters might finally be growing up. Whether they can reverse California’s downward trend remains questionable. Laer has some excellent suggestions for getting the political pendulum unstuck from its far Left position, but it will be ugly, and it will have to be carried out by people who have been subjected to one hundred years of California’s Progressive propaganda.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The President

Lefties will try to change the subject because these facts are darned inconvenient:
+8 percent unemployment.
<1 .5=".5" br="br" gdp="gdp" growth="growth" percent="percent">-$4,000 in median income.
+15 million in new food stamp recipients.
$4/gallon gasoline.
+$5 Trillion in new debt.
U.S. Ambassador murdered.
Al Qaeda flag flying over U.S embassy.
Aimless in Afghanistan.
And he . . . goes on the View? This is not a serious man. In love with being President but utterly clueless when it comes to actually governing, leading the country. A failure in the job by ANY measure. 40 days to decide. What are you gonna do?
From a comment here.

I Wonder If This Is True

I received this in an email today but have no idea if it's true:

Teddy Roosevelt 3

Between Teddy to FDR NONE

FDR 11 in 16 years

Truman 5 in 7 years

Ike 2 in 8 years

Kennedy 4 in 3 years

LBJ 4 in 5 years

Nixon 1 in 6 years

Ford 3 in 2 years

Carter 3 in 4 years

Reagan 5 in 8 years

Bush 3 in 4 years

Clinton 15 in 8 years

George W. Bush 62 in 8 years

Obama 923 in 3 1/2 years!
Even if not true it's probably, as lefties said eight years ago, "fake but accurate" :-)

People said President Bush practiced an Imperial Presidency. If the above information is true, what does that say about the incumbent?

Bush Administration Quadrupled Warrantless Wiretaps

Psych, it was really the Obama Administration, according to the ACLU.  Where's the outcry from the left?

If you're serious about civil liberties you must vote Republican.  Only Republican presidents get the press scrutiny that ensures that tyranny stays at bay.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

They Must Really Want To Get Buzzed

(bumped to the top 10 days after initial posting, and updated)

I'm reading the article Parents Beware: 11 Dangerous Teenage Trends All Parents Should Know About, and ohmigawd, I can't imagine my students' doing this:
Tampon Drunkenness

A tampon is soaked in alcohol and then inserted in a girl’s vagina or a boy’s rectum. The alcohol is soaked up by the vaginal walls, creating the feeling of being intoxicated without sipping alcohol directly. Besides the obvious risks to those private body parts, the tampon can soak up about a shot of alcohol, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning.
My first thought is that if someone wants to get high that bad, maybe we should just let them.  On the other hand, if someone is going to do something so bizarre, maybe there are some mental health questions that need to be addressed.  Keep in mind, the above is in addition to other nifty ways of chemically altering perception, several of which are dutifully cataloged at the link above.


Update, 9/26/12:  Snopes may say the above actions don't really take place, but this CNN story discusses some that are darned similar:
The University of Tennessee says it has suspended a fraternity chapter indefinitely and may refocus its alcohol education programs after police said a student was hospitalized following a weekend incident involving alcohol enemas.

Twelve Tennessee students were cited with underage drinking and one with disorderly conduct following the incident early Saturday at a Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity chapter house, according to a university spokeswoman...

"Upon extensive questioning, it is believed that members of the fraternity were using rubber tubing inserted into their rectums as a conduit for alcohol as the abundance of capillaries and blood vessels present greatly heightens the level and speed of the alcohol entering the bloodstream as it bypasses the filtering by the liver," Knoxville Police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said Monday in a statement.
In my mind this kinda settles the "is it true or is it false" debate.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Timing Is Everything

Yesterday, just as school began, we got an announcement over the PA system--our district network was down.  We had no internet and no intranet.

It's amazing how much of our world stopped.  Attendance?  Discipline?  Schedule changes?  What kid's in what class?  All done by computer in our all-encompassing school management system, Zangle.  If teachers didn't have some sort of roster pre-printed, I guess they just had to ask the rest of the students who sits in that empty seat....

Last week I vented to my principal about what our tech services people do to every computer I've purchased for my stats lab.  Among other things it turns out that if they're not connected to the district network, they're very good paperweights.  Oh, you can run Excel on them, but you can't save your work, not even to a flash drive.  What's the point?  Essentially, they cannot be used as stand-alone workstations, they must be connected to the district network.  This is time-consuming on boot-up and fairly worthless, as the only networked function I need from them is to print to a printer that's located in the same room as the computers.

It's a good thing I didn't need that lab yesterday, or I'd have been completely dunken verstunken.  I needed them today; it was a close call.

Yesterday during 5th period we got the announcement that network operations had been restored.  Upon logging in I noted that our tech services people had sent us two emails that day--the first notified us that the network was down, and the second notified us that the network was back up.  Honestly.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reynolds' Law

Named after Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit:
Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them. 
About what is he speaking?
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.
This is part of where socialism and other redistributionist policies go wrong.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Money For School Facilities Improvements

Shouldn't a district budget for such things, rather than going hat in hand to the voters every few years?
San Juan Unified needs money to fix leaky windows, replace aging portables and make schools more energy efficient, according to school district officials.

They are asking voters to approve Measure N – a $350 million bond – on the Nov. 6 ballot...

San Juan Unified was successful in 2002 with Measure J, a bond of the same amount to upgrade school facilities.

District property owners are still paying on that bond, as well as on Measure S – a $157 million bond passed in 1998.
The district's budget is about $360 million a year--so they're asking for a full year's budget. Wow.

Kinda makes you wonder.

The Definition of Socialism

In 2011, payments to individuals were 65 percent of federal spending, up from 26 percent in 1960. America has created a welfare state, whether Americans admit it or not. link

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's B-a-a-a-a-a-ck

Just over a year ago I wrote about a bill working its way through the state legislature, a bill that would allow (not yet require, just allow for now) specially trained teachers to administer Diastat to students during a seizure.  I forgot that the bill passed.  I am not a fan.

Why would I be against this?  Because Diastat is a goo that must be administered with a syringe.  Anally.  While a person is undergoing a seizure.

This is a job for a medical professional, it is not a job for someone with a couple hours of training from a doctor.  This is also not a job for someone who is forbidden to give a pain reliever to a teenager with a headache.

As I said last year:
I'm sorry your kid gets seizures, but I'm a teacher and not a medical professional, and neither do I desire a career related to medicine. If I desired one, I'd already be in that field. "Duh" just isn't strong enough...

You know what my fear is? Eventually they'll make it required that I do this.
That's still my fear.

Our union rep told us about this today, giving us the union's suggestion for what to do if we're asked to volunteer:  Just Say No.  Their reasons are different from mine, no doubt, but the end result is the correct one.

This is not a job for a teacher.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Heard Anything About Global Warming Lately?

Antarctic sea ice set another record this past week, with the most amount of ice ever recorded on day 256 of the calendar year (September 12 of this leap year).  link
I'm convinced that we don't know enough about how climate really works to make definitive statements about global warming.  I'm beginning to think that the best we can do is make observations and comparisons, but drawing too much in the way of conclusions is beyond our capabilities at present.  The science just isn't mature enough yet, and we have a long way to go.

Got My Test Results Back

I thought that since I aced the review problems that I'd be OK on the test.  That was not correct.  I was definitely more confident going into the test than coming out of it, and I was right to be.


I've got some more work to do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Requesting Substitutes

A month ago I posted about our district policy that required that teacher absences be filled from the "laid off teacher list", whether or not that teacher knew anything about the subject matter of the class they're supposed to teach that day.  Being blunt like I usually am, I noted that if I were absent a laid-off third grade teacher could cover my class but I couldn't call a retired teacher who I know would actually teach.

Today we got the following information from our school secretary:
As of today HR has removed the restriction of not being able to request and confirm subs of your choice. Hurray!
Guess that means there are no more laid off teachers in my district?

Guess What I Just Did

I wanted to check one of my answers in my Linear Algebra course, so I broke out the HP-15C that was issued to me at West Point in 1983, broke out the user's manual (which I probably hadn't read since 1984 or 85), and did a little matrix reading.  Checked one of my answers--turned out to be correct--now I have one short blog post to go and then I'm off to bed.

I also have the HP-15C app installed on my iPhone (which I don't use as a phone, but that's another story).  It's a great calculator.  Who has two thumbs and loves RPN?  This guy!

P.S.  Still haven't received word on how I did on the test I took last Friday.  I'll admit to being a lot more confident going into it than I was coming out of it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Man Who Understands Freedom

For those who try to blame some filmmaker for the riots in the Middle East (what was their excuse before this film?), heed the words of Salman Rushdie, who knows a thing or two about threats to freedom:
"A book which was critical of Islam would be difficult to be published now," he (Rushdie) told the BBC's Will Gompertz.

He said the only way to solve the issue was for publishers to "be braver".

"The only way of living in a free society is to feel that you have the right to say and do stuff," he said...

"If you look at the way in which free expression is being attacked by religious extremism, the things of which these people are accused is always the same - it's blasphemy, heresy, insult, offence - it's this medieval vocabulary.

"We're in a difficult place because there's a lot of fear and nervousness around."  (boldface mine--Darren)
I'm reminded of a quote:
"The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality."
--attributed to George Orwell

Talking the Talk vs. Walking the Walk

California's Governor Brown sounds eminently reasonable in this SF Chronicle article; the problem is that he either can't or won't do what he says he will.  Each time push has come to shove, he backs down and does whatever the liberals want:
Gov. Jerry Brown is willing to remake California in his own austere image, but he doesn't think the 37 million people living in the Golden State will like it.

Californians face a "day of reckoning" this November, when they will have to make the hard choice about how much government they are willing to pay for, the governor said Saturday in an interview with The Chronicle.

"There is a lot of magical thinking in Washington and in Sacramento and, maybe, I might even say, Western civilization," he said. "We had it easy and now the moment of truth is upon us. ... We've got to pay for what we want.

"And if we don't want to pay, then we have to deprive ourselves of that which we would like, and it's very hard to get people to make that choice."

Brown said the result of his Proposition 30 initiative on the November ballot will be a "compact between the people and the government" that he will implement.

But voters need to realize that without the new revenue, the cuts needed to get the budget into balance will leave California a very different state.
I guess we'll see in a few months, but I'm certainly not holding my breath that he'll do what's right here.  Remember, because of a law passed only a couple years ago, the legislature needs only 50% (not the previous 2/3) to pass a budget.  The Democrats own this state's economic problems.

I've Been Saying Forever That This Is What Your Hardcore Lefties Think

What's sad is that these hardcore lefties aren't so far from the center left anymore; imagine, if you can, Truman or Kennedy or Johnson supporting the Occupy types as Obama has. I fear that this kind of idiocy will become mainstream before too long:
A renowned University of California-Riverside professor recently advised students to save Mother Earth, eat vegetarian, only have 1.5 kids - two at the most – take up social justice causes, and “lower your standard of living.”

Biology Professor Richard Cardullo – recently tapped by several federal agencies to assist with redeveloping how college students across the nation study life science – offered the advice to a room full of middle school students as part of the university’s online science lecture series, recorded on the campus earlier this year. A video of his talk is posted on YouTube.
I'm reminded of the following quote:
"A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."
--French writer Jean Francois Revel

Yet Another Reason Why I'm Against Further Government Intrusion

The Road to Serfdom

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Is The Crap You Can Get Away With When People Don't Understand Math

I wrote earlier today about the city I live in and its claim that a measure on the November ballot will raise taxes only 1.75%--but the increase from 2.5% to 4.25% is a 70% tax increase.

Let's also not forget about a lack of raw number sense; how else could California, with fewer than 40 million people, pass bond measures such as $6 billion for stem cell research and $10 billion for a bullet train from nowhere to nowhere that is now projected to cost at least $90 billion?  The math issue is totally separate from the issue of whether or not the purposes of the bond are "good" or if they are legitimate functions of government.

The latest math issue I'm seeing is in school bonds:
A 38-year loan with no payments for 26 years that will eventually cost $12 for every $1 borrowed.

This isn't a subprime mortgage sold during the housing boom – it's a bond issued last year by a Sacramento-area community college district...

Because property values have fallen, those spending limits mean districts can't get as much from a general obligation bond as they would have during the boom years. Capital appreciation bonds allow districts to delay payment until a time in the future when, presumably, property values would be higher. The risk is in the higher costs, incorrect projections and the possibility of default.

In short, some districts can't take any more from today's taxpayers, but future taxpayers are fair game.

This practice received national scrutiny after Poway Unified School District near San Diego sold about $100 million in bonds at a cost of almost $1 billion over 40 years.
Something that cannot continue, won't.  The question is not how or even if these bonds will be repaid, the question is how bad the consequences will be when they aren't.

Californians, it seems, will vote for anything that sounds "progressive", cost and consequences be damned.

Lack of Math Knowledge, or Outright Lying?

The city in which I live has put a tax increase on the November ballot.  I received a flier stating the following:
On November 6, voters...will be asked to vote on Measure K, a local revenue measure that would temporarily increase the City's existing utility user tax by 1.75% (from 2.5% to 4.25%) for ten years.
An increase from 2.5% to 4.25% would be a 70% increase in taxes, not a 1.75% increase.  Is this flier an example of ignorance, or is it an example of manipulation and perhaps even lying?

How To Get The Press To Do Its Job Diligently

If you genuinely honestly truly want and expect the press to play a watchdog role over government, then you must vote Republican.  Only when the president is a Republican can you be confident that the press is watching, taking note, and reporting what it sees.

If a Republican were president, we'd be hearing non-stop about how gas prices are at record highs.

If a Republican were president, we'd have non-stop coverage of drone strikes into sovereign countries, especially when those drone strikes target American citizens.

If a Republican were president, the talking heads would be chattering away about the government's trying to intimidate an American citizen who exercised his First Amendment rights.

If a Republican were president, we'd hear nothing but contempt over a failed Mid-east foreign policy.

If a Republican were president, body counts in Afghanistan and Iraq would be leading stories, and each time the ones-digit was another zero it would be called a "grim milestone".

If a Republican were president, a tanking economy would suggest poor stewardship.

If a Republican were president, the press would attack the Republican instead of--oh wait, they are attacking the Republican candidate instead of pressing the White House.  And they're collaborating amongst each other to ensure their version of the story is what is reported.

If a Republican were president, we'd be hearing about FISA and warrantless wiretaps.

If a Republican were president, we'd be hearing about presidential vacations.

If a Republican were president, this statement would be on every news report for a week instead of going down the rabbit hole, especially in light of the events of the last few days.

If a Republican were president, it would be a scandal if he didn't attend his daily intelligence briefings.

If a Republican were president, we'd be hearing about how bad it is that the Muslim world hates us, and how such hatred is evidence of poor foreign policy.

Only when a Republican is president does the press seem concerned with constitutional freedoms, with the economy's impact on the average American, with civil rights, with the actual performance of the president in all matters foreign and domestic.  If these topics are important to you, you must vote Republican.  If you vote Democratic, it's clear that the only thing that matters to you is party affiliation.

Updaterelated picture linked at Instapundit.

Update #2, 9/17/12Here's more, all of it recent.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Tidbit About Chicago Teachers

I'd say the cognitive dissonance must keep them awake at night, but that assumes there's something "cognitive" in their heads:
But ...(the)... statistic that's not getting much coverage is the percentage who sent their children to private schools, a figure which both underscore the excellent pay package as well as the teachers' lack of faith in their own public system, as John Stossel of Fox Business noted on September 11:

Union teachers know that many of their colleagues aren't great teachers. Only 12% of American students attend private schools, but, 39% of Chicago public school teachers send their children to private schools. Anti school-choice politicians are no less hypocritical: President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore (to name just a few) all send or sent their children to private schools.
"Public education is good enough for thee, but not for me."

The only "choice" liberals believe in (for the masses, anyway) is the choice to kill an unborn child.

So-called Smart Diplomacy

From the Cairo Apology Speech, to the Administration’s support of the Arab Spring, to the intervention in Libya without competent follow-through, it doesn’t look good.  link
This president is incompetent.

Back To School Night

Last night was Back To School Night, where the parents go to each of their children's classes and hear a 10-minute spiel from the teacher about what can be expected this coming year.

In the past I've spoken for 8 or so minutes and left time for questions.  Unfortunately, each year I always got one of those questions, the kind that make you cock your head at the questioner as if to say, "Really?  Are you freakin' kidding me?"  I know some people believe that the only stupid question is the one that isn't asked, but I'm here to tell you that that's not correct.  There are people out there who ask some really stupid questions, and it taxes me to answer their question whilst being as diplomatic and smiley as possible.

I don't want to be taxed that way.  I'm not a politician.

So last night I tweaked my talk so that it took the entire 10 minutes.  I just talked right up to the bell, and then they went on to the next class.  I know it's not an ideal solution, but it made spending my evening back at work slightly more tolerable.

I'm a terrible person.  So sue me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Taken Awhile, But It's Happening

ROTC is back at some of the Ivies:
After an absence that dates back to the Vietnam War era, and 11 years to the day after 9/11, ROTC is finally returning to Harvard, Columbia, and Yale. At a time when everybody is talking about how polarized America has become, it’s worth noting this sign of reconciliation between elite academic institutions and the U.S. military...

Much of the credit must go to the military leadership.
I'm reminded of the quote attributed to Thucydides:
“A nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its laws made by cowards and its wars fought by fools.”
This is why our military academies go to great pains to ensure their graduates have a well-rounded education.  It's why ROTC belongs at all schools that can support the program.

Co-Founder of Greenpeace: Greenpeace Guilty of Crimes Against Humanity

Just hit the search box on this blog for Patrick Moore's name and you'll see I've long been a fan of his.  Here he goes again, impressing me with his logic:
“If you plan to destroy test fields to prevent responsible testing and development of Golden Rice for humanitarian purposes, you will be accused of contributing to a crime against humanity. Your actions will be carefully registered and you will, hopefully, have the opportunity to defend your illegal and immoral actions in front of an international court.” -- Dr. Ingo Potrykus to Greenpeace, February 2001

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines “crimes against humanity” as acts that are “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack - intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

According to the World Health Organization between 250,000 to 500,000 children become blind every year due to vitamin A deficiency, half of whom die within a year of becoming blind. Millions of other people suffer from various debilitating conditions due to the lack of this essential nutrient.

Golden Rice is a genetically modified form of rice that, unlike conventional rice, contains beta-Carotene in the rice kernel. Beta-Carotene is converted to vitamin A in humans and is important for eyesight, the immune system, and general good health. Swiss scientist and humanitarian Dr. Ingo Potrykus and his colleagues developed Golden Rice in 1998. It has been demonstrated in numerous studies that golden rice can eliminate vitamin A deficiency.

Greenpeace and its allies have successfully blocked the introduction of golden rice for over a decade, claiming it may have “environmental and health risks” without ever elaborating on what those risks might be. After years of effort the Golden Rice Humanitarian Project, led by Dr. Potrykus, The Rockefeller Foundation and others were unable to break through the political opposition to golden rice that was generated directly by Greenpeace and its followers...

It is clear by the facts that Greenpeace is guilty of crimes against humanity as defined by the International Criminal Court.
Why do they hate their fellow man so much?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Notice That None of Them Is In California

10 Public Colleges with Insanely Luxurious Dorms

I Thought This Wasn't Supposed to Happen

According to CNBC:
U.S. health insurance premiums have climbed faster than wages and inflation this year, and look poised to accelerate in 2013, adding to voter concerns about soaring health-care costs ahead of November elections.

A study released on Tuesday showed premiums for employer-sponsored health plans, which cover about 149 million Americans, grew a modest 4 percent to $15,745 in 2012. It was a substantially slower rate of growth than in past years, including 2011, when premiums jumped 9 percent.

But the study's authors at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, said higher costs still took a bigger bite from the income of middle-class employees, whose wages advanced only 1.7 percent, as employers shifted more health-care costs to their workers.
It's important to remember that employer-provided health insurance is an artifact, and a perverse result, of wage and price laws enacted during World War II.  We're still living with the unintended consequences of that government intervention in the market.

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Test is Nigh

I'm done with Chapter 1 in my linear algebra class and have scheduled my first test for this Friday. I generally understand the homework and can answer the instructor's questions (when he asks them in the video), but still I'm somewhat daunted. Even though I feel ready--and I haven't even checked out the review questions yet--the stress curve goes up a little because there's always a possibility of failure.

Some shrink from the fear; I intend to use that fear, that possibility, to motivate me. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

How I Spent My Day Yesterday

The California Capital Airshow
F-4U Corsair





A-10 and P-51


V-22 Osprey

It doesn't carry many troops at all


law enforcement helicopters






If you have extra cash lying around

What the heck is this?
Update:  according to an emailer this is an RC-3 Seabee, a four place

Spitfire Mk. XIV

Friday, September 07, 2012

Which Is Classier?

The delegate who said she would like to kill Mitt Romney, or the people wearing the "Once you vote black you never go back" pins?

Video and pic here.

My Personal Email From Michelle Obama

I received one today, and here's how it started:
Darren, thank you for an amazing week.

Barack and I felt your energy up there.
If they truly felt my energy, well, let's just say I doubt she'd be thanking me.

Funny Leftie

At lunch today one of our leftie teachers acted mortified--mortified!--to learn that our California State Teachers Retirement System has invested money in Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's old company.  What, does she want CalSTRS to divest for political reasons, whether or not the investment is any good for us?

Tomorrow the Thunderbirds will be performing at the California Capital Airshow.  Yesterday and today they practiced overhead, making giving quizzes more difficult than it should be (if you don't know it, F-16's are loud).  Right after school they did a loop overhead, and this same teacher was outside marveling and enjoying the show.  Just to have some fun, I put my hands on my hips and said with as much faux indignation as I could muster, "How can they be up there wasting all that money when there are people here on the ground going hungry?!"  Her response?  "But they look so cool!"

I just can't figure lefties out :-)

What Does Proposition 32 Do?

CTA won't tell you.  They spend plenty on radio ads telling us how bad it is, they have this lengthy article in the recent mouthpiece rag, but in their ads and in this article they never get around to telling us what Prop 32 does or why it's bad.

Trust them.  They know what's best for you. 

Besides, you're probably too stupid to think for yourself, right?  You can't handle the truth.

This is how the union that many of you pay hundreds of dollars a year to thinks of you.

(In fairness, there is some information about the proposition in the sidebar, but it's highly slanted information.)

Thursday, September 06, 2012


A couple nights ago, while working on my linear algebra, I just couldn't get my head around a fairly basic concept.  I read through my notes, read the formal presentation in the book, but I couldn't make sense of it.  It kept swirling around in my head, and in the maelstrom I couldn't get a grip on a simple fact that I needed in order to make sense of a huge part of what we were learning.  It was very frustrating.

So I called a retired colleague, who I know taught linear algebra at the Air Force Academy 28 years ago.  He was able to nudge me past the sticking point, and then it all made sense.

Tonight I saw a missed call on my phone, from a number I didn't recognize.  I'd have ignored it (assuming it was a political call) had there not been a voice mail, and it turned out to be one of our chemistry teachers at school--who's also pursuing (yet another) advanced degree.  Turns out that in his biomolecularchemicalthermodynamics course, or whatever the heck he's taking, he was given several non-trivial probability problems on an assignment.  Since I'm the only teacher at our school who teaches probability and statistics, and hence am the teacher with the most recent knowledge of the material, he called me.

We worked out some problems over the phone as I was walking the aisles of Walmart, but others I needed to hold off on till I got home.   Between the two calls we were on the phone for quite some time, and we got most of this problems solved.  There were a couple that presented difficulties, either from wording or just not being sure which way to proceed, but overall we did pretty good.

Karma.  What goes around, comes around.  Pay it forward.  However you look at it, it's teamwork.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

How To Handle It When Your Political Party Makes An Ass (pardon the pun) Of Itself In Front of the Entire World

From Politico, hardly a right-leaning organization:
Democratic National Committee chiefs Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Patrick Gaspard cancelled interviews with local media outlets tonight, amid controversy surrounding the party's decision to reintroduce "God" and "Jerusalem" to the platform.

Jon Ralston, host of the Las Vegas-based "Face To Face" news program, told POLITICO that he was sitting in the chair waiting for a 2:45 p.m. PT (5:45 p.m. ET) interview with Gaspard when he was told that his guest had cancelled, without explanation.

Blair Miller of WSOC TV, ABC's Charlotte, N.C., affiliate, also tweeted that Wasserman Schultz cancelled her interview with him, without explanation. "After my Romney intv today, we were planning to interview @DWSTweets live," he wrote. "However, she did not show up. Her staff not answering calls."

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse did not respond to a request for comment regarding the cancellations, which came after reports that the party had put "God" back on the platform and affirmed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Wasserman Schultz went on CNN tonight and denied reports of “discord” with the White House over the party’s decision to include the terms, claiming the party had "a two-thirds vote" on the issue.

”Did you really think that it was two-thirds? It seemed like a lot of people felt like it wasn’t quite there,” CNN's Brianna Keilar asked.

“It was absolutely a two-thirds,” Wasserman Schultz said.
I heard it on the radio today.  Hugh Hewitt played the entire vote several times.  Villaraigosa held three separate voice votes because he couldn't tell if the "ayes" or the "nays" carried the day; they sounded pretty equal to me, perhaps with the "nays" slightly louder, and there's absolutely no way it was 2:1, which is what winning 2/3 of the vote would be.  But he declared that the amendments passed anyway.

Wasserman Schultz has been, and continues to be, a liar.  And that's not a term I use lightly.  But she's a liar.  And if you're someone who doesn't believe me, maybe you'll believe Anderson Cooper:
After the interview, CNN host Anderson Cooper said Wasserman Schultz's version of events was "an alternate reality."
Here are two comments from the linked article:
The sheeple sat there and watched voter fraud take place on the floor of the DNC and they still will vote for these liars...blind fools.

Good point! And they say voter fraud is a myth. There it was, right in their own house.
Here, watch and listen for yourself, with video from C-SPAN.

It's only 3:21, you can spare the time....

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Linear Algebra

Even though my courses consist of watching videos that were made in classes a couple years ago, I'm still an active participant.  We start each class with some practice true/false questions, and I'm calling out answers!   What's wild is that I'm getting most of the answers correct, while the students in the class (whom I cannot see) are, according to the instructor's comments, getting the answers incorrect.  I don't feel so dumb!

And from the "great minds think alike" book, on one of the problems I needed to create a concrete example to help me understand.  I paused the video to determine my answer.  When I restarted it, the instructor suggested coming up with a concrete example, and he used exactly the one I'd come up with!  I mean, if you have to come up with a set that has fewer vectors than there are entries in the vectors, what size matrix would you come up with for a concrete example?  I came up with 5x3, and so did he.

I'm learning so much, but I'm really enjoying my "participation" in class.

Oh Gawd, So Do I

Headline:  Chris Matthews Wishes The Obama Campaign Would Unleash Joe Biden

Yes, please unleash him.  Choosing Slow Joe  was Obama's first president-level decision, and that alone should have been enough to demonstrate his lack of fitness for the office.

So yes, please, unleash Joe.

Attention Florida Voters

If you vote against Congressman Allen West, you are a RACIST.

Just sayin' :-)

"Protesters Block Buses"

That was the headline I saw on Yahoo News. I was disappointed, because I assumed it was conservative protesters blocking DNC buses and we conservatives aren't supposed to act that way.

And it wouldn't surprise me if my assumption was what the Yahoo headline folks wanted me to think. Fortunately I clicked on the link, and look what I learned:
On Tuesday, a group of more than 100 protesters shouting "Obama is a traitor" temporarily shut down official bus service that ferries around delegates at the Democratic National Convention. The protesters, some of whom were lying down in the street, were surrounded by Charlotte police, who used their bicycles to build a barrier around the group.
Who are these people?  The headline at the link tells us:
Occupy protesters block DNC buses
Popcorn, root beer, and a lawn chair :-)

Random Trip Pic

This is obviously Venice, Italy, and not Venice, California.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Californians Aren't Distinguishing Themselves In Charlotte

First you had drunken delegates mouthing off to hotel staff and (falsely) claiming to be a congressman, and now the chairman of the delegation compares Paul Ryan to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels--a claim so out of line that both the Obama campaign and the Republican Jewish Coalition criticized him.

The convention hasn't even started yet.  What kind of stupidity can we expect once it does?

Myths That Conceal Reality

Milton Friedman was a master economist as well as a master lecturer, and in the 1980 video here he discusses 5 myths that conceal reality:
1)  the 19th Century was a time of merciless, unbridled capitalists who "exploited the poor unmercifully and ground them beneath their heals"--the robber-baron myth
2)  the Great Depression was caused by a failure of private enterprise--the Great Depression myth
3)  government has had to step in because of a failure of the private market and a great widespread demand for government services--the "demand for government services" myth
4)  there is such a thing as a free lunch--the free lunch myth, and
5)  the myth that government operates by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, that government has helped the poor at the expense of the rich--the Robin Hood myth

Race and the House of Representatives

I found these numbers quite interesting:
41 voting members of the House of Representatives are black.

39 of them are Democrats. (Those numbers would be 42 and 40 save for the death of a Rep in March.)

Given that Democrats famously spurn color blindness to embrace affirmative action, how many of those 39 do you suppose come from majority-white districts?

Did you guess four?

Meanwhile, there are two black Republicans in the House. They were elected from districts that are 82% and 75% white, whiter than any district that sent a black Democrat to the 112th Congress. Apparently an overwhelmingly white electorate is no bar to a black candidate - so long as the overwhelmingly white electorate is also majority Republican.
The source is here.

Remember "One Laptop Per Child"?

Also known as the "$100 laptop" program, I wrote about it several times (here are a couple) in the past.  And then it disappeared, as I knew it would.  It was one of those nice, touchy-feely ideas that was doomed to failure in part because it wasn't completely thought out, but it made people feel good for awhile to believe in it.

Six years ago I wrote about how blowing tons of money on laptops wasn't going to improve education.  Six years ago.  But even today some will be surprised at the abject failure of the One Laptop Per Child program:
Five years ago Peru partnered with One Laptop Per Child to give low-cost laptops to 800,000 public school students, writes Innosight’s Michael Horn. Digital technology was supposed to improve learning and fight poverty. The $200 million initiative “has largely been a flop.”

In an eSchool News story, one person “wonders if it may have even widened the gaps between rich and poor students in the country,” Horn notes...

The U.S. spent well over $60 billion to equip classrooms with computers with little to show for it, Horn writes. A potentially disruptive technology has been used to sustain the existing education model, not to transform it.
As I said in some of the linked posts above, technology on its own is just a tool; how it is used will determine if good comes from it or not. For all the money we've thrown at schools in this country with no real results, you'd think people would get the idea.  But the zealots out there think we haven't spent enough yet....

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I Don't Think A Teacher Should Be Fired For This

Some people claim that speech or action outside the workplace can impact the workplace, and if that happens, the employee (in this case a teacher) can be fired for that outside speech or action.  I worry that giving a heckler's veto over someone's employment is a very bad standard to set:
A high school girls basketball coach in suburban Chicago has been placed on administrative leave after writing a self-published book that includes graphic sexual content and an acknowledgement from the author that he has a "weakness for cleavage."

Bryan Craig, who is also a counselor at Rich Central High School, resigned Friday as the varsity coach. The district's superintendent, Donna Simpson Leak, said Craig has been placed on leave pending a district review.

In the forward to the book, titled "It's Her Fault," Craig says his intention is to give women a guide to gaining the "upper hand in a relationship" because he is tired of hearing them complain. The book contains graphic details on his observations of the female anatomy, including what he describes as physical differences between ethnicities that lead him to conclude that "Latin women have more children."
It's clear that his cad-like beliefs never intruded into his work, as no one apparently as much as knew about them until the book was published.  So now people know about them.  He's an ineffective teacher?  He's a potential rapist?  He's just a yucky person?  What's the standard for firing him, having unpopular beliefs?

I can see the slippery slope coming--what if he's a (gasp!) racist?!  Well, if you listen to the Democrats, all Republicans and anyone who opposes the president is a racist, so that's too much.  Fire a racist when they commit an act, not for what they think.

And this guy?  He's not what I'd consider the most stand-up kind of guy, but firing him is ridiculous.

(Hey, this is my 8000th post!!!)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Random Trip Pic

Gold Rush Days in Old Town

 2nd Street in Old Sacramento covered with dirt for Gold Rush Days

 K Street looking west, towards the river

 Front Street's cobblestones remained dirt-free

 California Volunteer Cavalry

 Different ages of Sacramento

 The California State Teachers Retirement System headquarters, across the river from J Street

The California State Railroad Museum and the History Museum

The GI Bill vs. Other Government Programs

Liberals like the GI Bill, in part, I think, because they think its military application is a cudgel with which to beat conservatives--"if you like this entitlement program, then why don't you like this other one, racist?"  Whenever you hear such tortured "logic", though, remember the following:
What this complaint of hypocrisy ignores, however, is a crucial distinction between government programs to which beneficiaries have contributed, such as the GI Bill, and open-ended entitlement programs that require no such contribution. Assume for a moment that after the Civll War all freed slaves received "40 acres and a mule." Would anyone, even President Obama or Paul Begala, seriously claim that former slaves who had become successful later in life owed their success to the government program and not to their own sacrifice and hard work? Well, maybe, but would anyone listen to them if they did?

The GI Bill, like the hypothetical 40 acres and a mule, was not an entitlement or an example of beneficent government generosity. It was partial compensation for sacrifices made for and services rendered to the nation. Finding an "irony" in Republican proposals to scale back massive federal borrowing and debt, including funds for higher education, even though the fathers of many current party leaders benefitted from the GI Bill requires assuming that if one limited government program compensating one defined group of people for a limited time is good, all government benefits are good; that if some spending at one time was good, more spending all the time is better.

That "narrative" is more mythical than anything coming out of the Republican convention.