Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Union Thuggery

In not-very-Republican Oregon:
A mailer sent to Oregon voters by the AFL-CIO warns that their voting history is a matter of public record, reported Wednesday.

"Your voting history is a matter of public record," the mailer declares, implying that the union can determine how people vote...

"It's an updated version of a tool that's served them well in the past: 'Nice little place ya got here. Be a real shame if something was to, you know, happen,'" said a post at Max Redline...

Despite the implied threat, voting records do not say how a person voted, only that they did.
A journalism student at my school, with (I'm told) the active assistance of the newspaper faculty advisor, went to a county office and identified the political party registration of as many of our school's teachers as they could find.  Especially considering the story above, can anyone offer a good reason as to why a person's party affiliation should be public knowledge?

Linear Algebra Progress

Since smoking that last test like a cheap cigar, the only way to go was down.  The next section of material has been somewhat difficult for me.  I understand the material as I read it and look through my notes, but the next day it all seems to escape me.  Apparently I have only a surface understanding, and it's not sticking.

More studying required!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Yes, it's very cool looking, but I've read that it's projected at $20K.  My (used) Honda Elite 250 scooter was just over 10% of that.

Ah, but Darren, you say, your scooter doesn't protect you from the elements like the Lit does!  That's true.  I wonder how much this BMW that I saw in Rome costs:
I don't know, but I can't imagine it costs $20K.

And let's have a moment of silence for the late, great Aptera.

I Don't Feel Sorry For Them

Considering how I as a conservative feel living in California, I'm glad they are experiencing some consternation:
In this most unpredictable of campaigns, an emotional role reversal is happening in California. Republicans, who hold no statewide offices and are only 30 percent of registered voters, are more upbeat and enthusiastic.

Liberals, on the other hand, keep checking the polls.

It's unlikely that even Republican Mitt Romney's immediate family members think he'll win California. But a Public Policy Institute of California survey released last week shows that while Obama holds a 12-point lead among likely California voters, 70 percent of Republican voters in the state were more enthusiastic than usual about voting - a greater proportion than the 61 percent of Democrats who were more enthused.

For liberals, part of the problem is that neither of the presidential campaigns is active in California, conceding the state to Obama. That means liberals have little to do other than reinforce each other's fears about the voting predilections of a voting species seldom seen in the Bay Area - non-Democrats.

"We're seeing these polls and reading about all these ads, and hearing about all of these undecided voters that are in other states, but we feel that we can't do anything about it," said Pat Reilly, a longtime press spokeswoman for national and California organizations and politicians who lives in Berkeley. "You feel like you're part of a fight, but you can't see your opponent."
I see my opponent every single day. That's no picnic, either.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Teachers Union Doesn't Represent You?

If you'd like to learn more about leaving the teachers union but don't want to do all the reading, visit the YouTube page of the California Teachers Empowerment Network!  Current videos include:
Agency Fee Payer Status Explained
Agency Fee Payer Status--Pros and Cons
Becoming a Religious Objector to the Teachers Union
School Choice

More videos are forthcoming.

If You Believe In Social Justice You Must Vote Republican In This Election.

From Salon, hardly a conservative outlet:
For those who don’t know me, here is a brief, relevant background:  I have a long history in Democratic and liberal politics. I have worked for several Democratic candidates and affiliated groups, I have personally raised millions of dollars for Democrats online, I was an early advisor to Actblue (which has processed over $300 million to Democratic candidates). I have worked in Congress (mostly on the Dodd-Frank financial reform package), and I was a producer at MSNBC. Furthermore, I aggressively opposed Nader-style challenges until 2008.

So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he’s a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it’s just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it’s important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered? And the chart below answers the question. This chart reflects the progressive case against Obama.
I'll take any liberal argument against the man I can get :-)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why Do They Hate Us? (asked in whiniest voice possible)

It doesn't matter why--their reasons are their reasons, not ours, and when their reasons don't make any sense at all, it makes no sense to try to respond to them. What some will call dismissive, I call common sense:
Like gawky teenagers, Americans are far too obsessed with what people thousands of miles away think of them. The first reaction of the ordinary man in the street on December 7, 1941, was not to wonder why the Japanese hated him. It was not even his tenth reaction because at that point he was much too busy hating the Japanese to care why they hated him.

That attitude might not be pretty, but it was a practical response to the exigencies of wartime, and that war, like most wars, was not fueled by emotion, but by territorial aggression. FDR was unconcerned with Japanese emotions, let alone their hearts, minds and livers; because he knew that the conflict did not come down to emotions but to a power struggle between a Japanese empire in the Pacific and the only Western country with a view of the Pacific capable of standing up to the land of the rising sun.

The study of Muslim rage, its wellsprings and tides, is as worthless as the study of Japanese rage in the dying days of the 1930s. Despite the showy displays of violence in the last week by inflamed Chinese mobs attacking Japanese properties and Muslim mobs attacking American properties, the conflicts do not revolve around the axis of emotion, but of power and territory.
The following was sent to an email list of which I am a member and I received permission from the author to post it here.  Its logic and truth are, to me, self-evident:
There's a certain world view that assumes all conflict is based on misunderstandings. And that if someone is attacking me it is just as much my fault because I didn't fully understand their grievances or their attack was a reasonable response to something I did.

The end-result of this world view is to first look at our own culpability in any conflict and when there is conflict not do anything that may escalate the violence.

(snip comments specifically related to the Benghazi fiasco)

The problem here isn't the inconsistencies or the existence of a supposed "cover-up". The problem is the misguided notion that there wouldn't be conflict if we just tried harder or were nicer or weren't as belligerent or understood our enemies better. It's a world view shared by most everyone in the administration and a cornerstone of liberal Foreign Policy.

But it tends to get people killed.
I'm not saying that it is impossible for a people or a nation to have a grievance against the United States. I am saying that trying to understand why people will fly airplanes into buildings, or massacre civilians, is a fool's errand. Back to the link posted above:
The appeaser consensus obstinately refuses to understand that Muslim violence is not blowback or the uncontrollable reflex of a knee being jerked in response to our foreign policy. It is not a reaction that can be soothed by applying aloe and appeasement, but an aggressive action intended to expand their power and influence. That refusal to see Muslims as actors rather than reactors is rooted in a colonialist view of Third World peoples as the balls in our pinball foreign policy machine, rather than civilizations looking to step into a power vacuum that we have left open for them...

If Muslims only hated us, then we could live with that. But like Japan on December 1941, they do not just hate us in the abstract fashion that countries and peoples hate one another. We are not just hated. We are in their way.
That is all we need to remember and all we need to focus on, and it should form the basis for how we respond.

What Child Gets Priority?

Reader EllenK pointed me to this story:
A California boy has been ordered to transfer to another middle school because he carries the gene for cystic fibrosis, even though he doesn't actually have the incurable, life-threatening and non-infectious disease. His parents have gone to court to fight the move.

Their son, 11-year-old Colman Chadam, was told last week that he’d have to transfer from Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, Calif., to a school three miles away because he posed a risk to another student at school who does have the disease, according to TODAY.

“I was sad but at the same time I was mad because I understood that I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Colman told TODAY. He added: “It feels like I’m being bullied in a way that is not right.”

An inherited condition, cystic fibrosis causes the body to create a thick mucus that clogs the lungs and can lead to life-threatening lung infections. About 30,000 American adults and children have the disease and patients have an average life expectancy in the late 30s.

While it is not contagious, doctors say people with cystic fibrosis can pose a danger to each other through bacterial cross-contamination if they are in close contact.

“In general, we would prefer that there not be more than one cystic fibrosis patient in a school,” Dr. Thomas Keens, the head of the cystic fibrosis center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told TODAY.

The district’s assistant superintendent, Charles Young, told NBC News that officials relied on medical authorities who said “a literal physical distance must be maintained” between patients and that the "zero risk option" was to transfer Colman.
I'm sorry, I'm dizzy because my head is spinning.

Ok, I'm better now.  So I gots to thinking:  if a child has an IEP that says he/she cannot be near anyone he/she doesn't like (say, because of accompanying anger issues), do you transfer all the other kids out of his/her class?  You know a court case could be made out of that....

Absolutely freakin' ridiculous.

It's Not Easy Being Green

Kermit sang that, and now it appears that the president is singing it, too:
It’s not much of a surprise to see this from Romney, but this is a major shift for Obama. The president’s 2008 campaign was filled with grand statements about how we needed to implement bold new plans to combat climate change, and for the first two years of his administration, it seemed as though he would be likely to follow through. Green jobs programs, subsidies for electric cars, and even pie-in-the-sky carbon-trading schemes were all discussed, and some were eventually passed.

Those days are long gone. The closer we come to the election, the less we hear about green and the more we hear about brown, about oil and gas drilling. Obama wants to win in November, and he’s clearly made the (correct) choice that he can’t do it if he continues to be the green candidate.

This is a testament to the spectacular failures of the environmental movement to articulate any policies that aren’t political suicide for those who support them. When Obama was elected, many Greens felt that their time had come, that one of their own was sitting in the Oval Office. But it only took two years of political defeats and embarrassments to convince the president and many of his party colleagues that the green movement’s polices of choice are political non-starters.
So it this a "pivot" or a "flip-flop"? I can't keep track of the correct terminology in this election cycle.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I'm Not A Liberal

It's because I objectively evaluate evidence and make decisions based on it:
Three states form the base of Democratic political power in the United States: California, New York and Illinois. All three states are locked in an accelerating economic, demographic and social decline; all three hope that they can stave off looming disaster at home by exporting the policies that have ruined them to the rest of the country...

Illinois politicians, including the present President of the United States, have wrecked one of the country’s potentially most prosperous and dynamic states, condemned millions of poor children to substandard education, failed to maintain vital infrastructure, choked business development and growth through unsustainable tax and regulatory policies — and still failed to appease the demands of the public sector unions and fee-seeking Wall Street crony capitalists who make billions off the state’s distress.

Blue politicians speak eloquently and often sincerely about their desire to help the poor. They speak beautifully about the need for better education as a ticket to better lives. They speak intelligently about the contributions a well managed, well organized government can make to the common good.

But these beautiful sentiments have less and less to do with the actual policies they pursue...

Liberals are right to feel that social justice matters, that the poor should have greater opportunity and that government in a democratic society cannot remain indifferent to the existence of great social evils.

But where liberals in America have the freest hand—in states like New York, California and Illinois—we see incontrovertible evidence that the policies they choose don’t have the consequences they predict. California by now should surely be an educational, environmental and social utopia. New York should be a wonder of glorious liberal governance. Illinois should be known far and wide as the state that works.

What’s interesting about the governance failures of these states is how comprehensive they are...

Clinging grimly on to failing policies and dying institutions is the Democratic answer by and large, even as Democratic policies accelerate the rate of decline and aggravate the damage done...

Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives need to think much more clearly and much less sentimentally about policy so that voters can have choices that are both clearer and better than the ones we have now.

In the meantime, it is more than troubling that President Obama seems so unwilling to reflect on the rich experience of liberal failure in his home state.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Evidence I'm Getting Old

My son just got his driving permit today :)

How's That "Smart Diplomacy" Working Out?

This from what used to be our closest ally:
Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law.

The Guardian has been told that US diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from US bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories...

"But I think the US has been surprised that ministers have been reluctant to provide assurances about this kind of upfront assistance," said one source. "They'd expect resistance from senior Liberal Democrats, but it's Tories as well. That has come as a bit of a surprise."
Another obvious success for Barack....

Guess Who Takes The Heat In This Situation

Collin Peterson, the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 7th District since 1991, no doubt expected softball questions and happy glad-handing when he visited Evangelical Lutheran-affiliated Concordia College last week for an event sponsored by the Campus Democrats.

Kate Engstrom, a 20-year-old in the school’s College Republicans, had other ideas. With the help of an unidentified collaborator, Engstrom approached Peterson after the event and recorded as he spoke candidly and controversially about losing the endorsement of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL).

Peterson bashed the group, calling MCCL “a bunch of extremists.”
So what is the uproar about? If you think it's about a congressman's intemperate tone and language, you'd be wrong.  It's about Engstrom's filming the encounter and posting the video on YouTube.
Engstrom’s adviser also told her that Concordia’s president had suggested that she could face disciplinary action from the school for her actions...

Concordia Director of Public Safety William MacDonald later called Engstrom to inform her that she wouldn’t face disciplinary action after all. According to Engstrom, though, MacDonald did say he thinks it’s wrong to upload unedited video on YouTube of a member of Congress speaking.

Engstrom alleges that MacDonald told her “It’s on your conscience.”
It's hard to know what to say when you read stories like this, the sadness is so all-encompassing.

Just Look At Our Deficit

Barbie-like, Obama tells Jay Leno that math is hard:
Leno asked the president a viewer’s question about what subjects he struggles with when he helps his daughters with homework.  ”Well, the math stuff I was fine with up until about seventh grade,” explained Obama. “But Malia is now a freshman in high school and — I’m pretty lost.”
Yes, this is the man the Left would have us believe is the smartest man ever to have been president.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Got Your Flip-Flop Right Here

Ah, the Silly Season, and as the election gets closer, the season gets sillier.

The latest mud the Obama cultists are throwing up on the wall, hoping something will stick, is that Mitt Romney is a "flip-flopper".  This when they support a guy whose position on gay marriage conveniently changed just before control of the House of Representatives did?  I'm not buying it.

Some people euphemistically say that every promise the president makes (every. single. one.) comes with an expiration date.  I calls 'em as I sees 'em; the man lies, telling people whatever they want to hear, and then he does whatever it is that he wants to do anyway.

What are some of these lies, or, to be charitable, these promises with expiration dates?  Here's a list.  It includes such gems as:
-No universal mandate in health care legislation
-Televising the Obamacare negotiations on C-SPAN
-Raising taxes on those making under $250,000/yr
-Recess appointments
-Border security
-Closing Guantanamo Bay
-Trying terrorists in civilian US courts

The list goes on and on....

If you're satisfied with the last four years, if you think the United States is better off now than it was four years ago, if you think we'll be even better off four years from now if we continue the same policies of the past four years, then you should vote (again) for Barack Obama.  If you have more than two operational brain cells, though, you'll cast your vote for Mitt Romney.

Update:  You want to talk flip-flops?  I got a doozy right here:
Since these comments on the sequester represented a complete reversal of the position he took at the debate less than 24 hours earlier, it's easy to understand why the President's campaign initially wanted to keep them off the record.
If you go with the "expiration date" theory, his "will not happen" statement in the debate, referring to the upcoming sequester, lasted less than a day.  Amazing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Agency Fee Rebate

Today I mailed off my letter to CTA requesting my agency fee rebate.

California is a so-called Fair Share state, which means I'm legally required to pay the local, state, and national teachers unions over $1000 a year for the "privilege" of (not) being represented by them.  Since no one is required to be a union member, though, I choose not to be--but I still have to pay them!  I'm entitled to a rebate, though, of that money that they don't spend on collective bargaining, as determined by an arbiter, and that comes out to over $300 each year.  By agreement we "agency fee payers" must request the rebate each year by November 15th; the $300 check is nice to get right before Christmas!

If you'd like to find out how to get such a rebate, please visit the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, specifically this page.

I'm All For Dress Codes In School, But...

Dress codes should serve a reasonable purpose.  What's reasonable about not allowing boys to have ponytail-length hair?
Zachary Aufderheide has run afoul of his Ohio high school's dress code because of his desire to grow his hair long enough to donate it to Locks of Love, an organization that provides wigs to needy children who've lost their hair because of medical problems.

Zachary, 17, of Canton is about an inch away from the 10 inches of hair he needs to donate to the organization. Faced with an ultimatum, the Canton South High School junior decided to accept an in-school suspension rather than cut his ponytail...

According to the dress code in the Canton Local School District's student handbook, "Hair for male students shall be neat and clean and shall not be worn covering the eyes, in a ponytail, or extending beyond the bottom of the regular shirt collar."
If this 1960's rule stands, then girls should be forbidden to wear shorts/pants and be required to wear ankle-length skirts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Do These People Really Want to Educate Children?

I ask in all seriousness--I just don't see how you can advocate for these policies and be serious about education:
1. Washington Post — French President François Hollande has said he will end homework as part of a series of reforms to overhaul the country’s education system. Reason? He doesn’t think it is fair that some kids get help from their parents at home while children who come from disadvantaged families don’t. It’s an issue that goes well beyond France, and has been part of the reason that some Americans oppose homework too.

2. Maryland Community News — “Elementary students’ honor roll status will soon be a thing of the past in Montgomery County (MD). Reason? Students will no longer see A, B, C, D or E, but rather ES for exceptional, P for proficient, I for in-progress, N for not-yet making progress or making minimal progress, or M for missing data. There will be no more traditional honor roll at schools.”
The mathematical term is least common denominator.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Long Day At School Today

I was at school by 7:10 this morning, helping to administer the PSAT to a classroom full of (mostly) juniors.  That mission was accomplished before 11:30.

In a couple hours I "get" to go back to chaperone at our Homecoming Dance.  I'll be dismissed from that some time between 11 and 11:30 tonight.

Heckuva way to spend a Saturday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Not Meeting The Needs of the Student

A friend of mine recently enrolled his 4th grader in his local public school (all identifying characteristics, including names and locations, are intentionally being left out).  The boy had been home-schooled for the last year while participating in a travel adventure that most of us could only dream of having--but my friend and his wife decided "Dustin" needed to socialize more with kids his own age.  They've stopped traveling for a year and enrolled Dustin in school, where he's excelling.

They recently had their first parent conference.  The only "negative" was that "Dustin" always wants to be first.  I had the same response as my friend did, "So?"  But back to the story.

My friend is a certifiable genius, and through his and his wife's tutelage "Dustin" has become quite advanced in math (for a 4th grader).  Their concern is that "Dustin" will not learn anything in math this year!  I told him to ask the teacher what options existed for "Dustin"--could she at least have him go to a different class (say, a 5th grade class?) for math so that he can continue to progress?

Her answer was that she could not.

Huh?  Are you freakin' kidding me?  What kind of school is that?

I'm not suggesting the teacher should prepare separate lessons just for "Dustin" (although I've seen that requested before!); but is it so much to ask that he be taught at his own level?  It's not like he needs to be in 5th grade, but he probably needs to be in 5th grade math.  How could that be impossible???

My friends will continue to work with "Dustin" so that his math improves.  What will happen in 5th grade?  Will the school refuse to put him in 6th grade math?

We in education don't do ourselves any favors when we do absolutely stupid things like this.

The Old Me Is Back!

I got the results of my most recent test in the master's course I'm taking in linear algebra.

When I got an 85% on the first test, and struggled to finish it in time, I feared that perhaps I'd have to fight both the material and the decades--that perhaps it had been so long since I'd been a math student that I would be unable to reprise the success of my undergraduate years.

The 106% on this most recent test makes me feel like I'm back in the game!  There is nothing I can't accomplish today!  Bring on that Middle East--I'm gonna kick ass and take names :-)

Update:  In my euphoria earlier I knew I was missing something but couldn't put my finger on exactly what, but now I've got it.  I can look my students in the eye again, knowing that I'm setting the example which they should follow.  I like feeling that way.  I used to feel that way when I was in the Army.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I don't mind advertising something like this, because it's so far into Wackadoo-land that anyone who falls for it isn't worth saving, anyway.  I watch it purely for the comedy.

What prompts people to think this way?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tonight's Presidential Debate

At least Obama showed up tonight.  Of course, he had to, given his prior performance.

Romney didn't do as well this time as he did last time, but then again when you blow someone away it's nigh impossible to do as well the next time.  Obama was much more in his element than he was last time.

Romney whiffed on the Benghazi issue.  Crowley, of course, took a bullet for the president in that exchange, but Romney still didn't do as well as he should have.

By and large, the questions were pathetic. 

On style it was fairly even, I might even give the president a slight edge.  On substance I thought both of them were pretty bad, perhaps giving a slight edge to Romney.  Obama kept talking about what he'd do if he wins the election, as if he hadn't already been president for almost 4 years.

A wash.  I'm sure the commentariat will give it to the president, but it certainly wasn't anywhere close to the lopsided event from two weeks ago. 

Bringing Everyone to the Lowest Level Is Not Progress

What sickness is it that causes people to think this way?
François Hollande has a bold new plan to tackle social injustice and inequality in France: ban homework. Introducing his proposals for education reform last week at the Sorbonne, the French president declared that work "must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and re-establish equality."
Coming soon to a high school near you.

Funny Email From the University

Regular readers of this blog know that I've recently started an online master's degree program at the University of Idaho (still no results from last Friday's test!). Today I got an email from the university, an email I must admit I never imagined I'd receive and one that made me snicker in an "aw, shucks" sorta way:

(Moscow Campus) A moose has been spotted near Taylor Avenue. Be cautious and give the animal proper space.

Moose Courtesy
* Never feed moose.
* Give moose at least 50 feet. If it doesn't yield as you  approach, give it the right of way. (Either retreat or walk way around.)
* If its ears lay back or its hackles (the hairs on its hump) rise, it's angry or afraid and may charge; back off pronto.
* Moose kick with their front as well as hind feet.
* Don't corner moose into fences or houses.
* If a moose charges, get behind a tree. You can run around the trunk faster than the gangly creature.
* Never get between a cow and her calf.

We have mountain lions near my school here along the American River in Sacramento but never get emails about them.  The only emails we ever get here at school concern rattlesnakes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

If You're Surprised, Raise Your Hand

From Joanne:
To prove a union contract is no barrier to school success, the United Federation of Teachers opened its own UFT Charter School in Brooklyn in 2005, notes Gotham Schools. After seven years of turmoil, the union-run K-9 school may be closed for low performance.
See, they foolishly thought that the problem is administration and that the answer is union.  What some might now have figured out is that a union environment can only be maintained as long as there's an us vs. them situation.  When "us" (the union) becomes "them" (management/administration) the whole idea breaks apart because of the fundamental requirement of unions, which is conflict.

Perhaps they are now sadder, but wiser, knowing this.

On a tangential note, this can't bode well for the anti-voucher movement, can it?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Where Was Caesar Stabbed?

When in Rome this past July, I was curious about where Caesar was stabbed.  Most know he was stabbed in "the Senate", but most visitors probably think that's the Curia in the Roman Forum.  Those who've delved a little more deeply into the subject know that, at the time, the Senate had been meeting in the Theater of Pompey, perhaps a 20 minute walk from the Forum.  How do I know it was 20 minutes away?  Because my hotel was right around the corner from the Largo Argentina, the only area of remains left in the vicinity of the Theater of Pompey.  It took us 20 minutes or so to walk to the Forum from there :-)

I took pictures of the signs that were there; note the mention of Caesar in the first one:
 We determined, based on this picture, that Caesar was probably murdered on the spot under the building behind the buses in this picture:
 Other pictures of Largo Argentina:

Turns out that my travel companion and I weren't the only ones interested in this, as some archeologists now think they've identified the spot.  I wonder how close I was!

Domestic Policy

Much like yesterday's post on our so-called smart diplomacy--which turns out to be about as smart as the president is--I had planned on doing a post on Obama's domestic policy failures, which are legion.  Rather than spending my time fisking, though, a couple of sentences I read here pretty much sum up the domestic policy reasons that clarify why the man shouldn't be reelected:
Obama didn’t inherit a bad economy, he applied for the job of fixing it. He literally begged to get his hands on it so he could fix it. He ran a competitive campaign to get the job of fixing it and shouted about how bad of a condition it was in. Now he twists it so that it sounds like it was something dumped on him he didn’t really want. He has gone from bragging that only he could fix it, to whining that it was worse than he expected. Why is it that no one calls him out on this? I haven’t heard even the most conservative of pundits call him on this.
Maybe they're not calling him on on this because they're too busy standing on the side of the road, sipping Slurpees, and laughing at the village idiot.

And allow me to be blunt--he is an idiot.  I have seen not a single shred of evidence to the contrary.

Opposing Stories

The fact that this won't make the Church of Global Warming adherents happy makes me--well, not ecstatic, but pretty giggly:
The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.
Mother Gaia doesn't give a crap if you dance around her trees or not.

Sadly, though, we in California are still in the fast lane to Crazytown:
Such audits will be crucial as California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off.

Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced, which should force a reduction in emissions....
Should force a reduction in businesses and jobs, too.
The outsize goals of California’s new law, known as A.B. 32, are to lower California’s emissions to what they were in 1990 by 2020 — a reduction of roughly 30 percent — and, more broadly, to show that the system works and can be replicated.

The risks for California are enormous. Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass factories and other businesses. Some are concerned that companies will find a way to outmaneuver the system, causing the state to fall short of its emission reduction targets.

“The worst possible thing to happen is if it fails,” said Robert N. Stavins, a Harvard economist.
How could that possibly happen? We've sprinkled enough pixie dust and unicorn crap, everything will be fine. Just fine.

Liberals are killing this state.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Photo Book

Turn your favorite photos into a photo book at

Smart Diplomacy

Is there anywhere in the realm of foreign policy--and I remind you, Smilin' Joe Biden was added to the presidential ticket in 2008 to give the ticket some foreign policy bona fides--is there anywhere in which the Obama Administration can be said to have done a good job?

How about that Russia reset?
The so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which had been renewed twice by the U.S. and Russia, was a major post-Cold War success.

It led to the deactivation of more than 7,650 strategic warheads from the old Soviet Union, and seemed to put the former USSR onto a far more peaceful path. It helped seal President Reagan's hard-won U.S. victory in the Cold War against its former foe.

But after four years of Obama's weak stewardship of our nation's national security, the Russians are saying "nyet" to renewing the deal in 2013. It's easy to see why.

Everywhere they look, they see U.S. weakness and a failure to respond to overt provocations by others.

They see world affairs as the U.S. retreats from previous strong alliances, such as those with Britain and Israel, and ignores or downplays others, including our ties with Japan.

Why continue to disarm after losing a cold war if your enemy is already busy disarming itself?
Nope, not there. How about the Libya debacle?
Coming to the defense of the nation's intelligence community after Vice President Joe Biden blamed bad intel for the administration's false explanation of what led to the killings of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, the former CIA director and second-ever Homeland Security Department secretary said the White House is to blame.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said the White House didn't listen to the intelligence community leading up to the September 11 attack on the U.S. facility in Libya and inaction led to the deaths of U.S. officials in Benghazi.
Not there, either. How about Turkey?
Nonetheless, the administration’s blandishments and encouragements, and later its reproaches and betrayals, have pushed Turkey out on a ledge, apparently alone. If some are gloating that a boastful Erdogan is finally getting his comeuppance with his troubles on the Syrian border, the fact is that the administration has let an ally, albeit a troublesome one, expose its weaknesses, a posture dangerous both to itself and American interests.
Nope, nothing there on the Syrian border.  How's Afghanistan, the "good war" that Obama supposedly supported, doing these days?
In his first year in office, Mr. Obama’s thinking about what he once called “a war of necessity” began to radically change. He concluded that the Bush-era dream of remaking Afghanistan was a fantasy, and that the far greater threat to the United States was an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan. So he narrowed the goals in Afghanistan, and narrowed them again, until he could make the case that America had achieved limited objectives in a war that was, in any traditional sense, unwinnable.

In June 2011, a month after United States special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, Mr. Obama declared that America had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of troops by 2014. In a major milestone, on Feb. 1, 2012, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops were scheduled to come home.

A milestone was reached in August 2012, when the United States military reached 2,000 dead in Afghanistan, based on an analysis by The New York Times of Department of Defense records.

Another milestone was reached in September, when the American military completed the withdrawal of the 33,000 troops deployed in the “surge’' ordered by Mr. Obama in late 2009. Another 86,000 troops remain.

Some Afghan officials hailed the move as proof that they were ready to take over their country’s security, but more worried voices were raised in the heartland of the surge, in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces in the south and southwest where the 2010 influx of Marines and Army soldiers largely subdued the Taliban on their home turf. Post-surge, the capital cities of those provinces are more peaceful than they have been in many years, and the Taliban operate only clandestinely in the rural areas. But operate, they still do.

As the surge ended, American officials acknowledged that they have all but written off what was once one of the cornerstones of their strategy to end the war here: battering the Taliban into a peace deal.

The once ambitious American plans for ending the war were replaced by the far more modest goal of setting the stage for the Afghans to work out a deal among themselves in the years after most Western forces depart, and to ensure Pakistan is on board with any eventual settlement. Military and diplomatic officials said that despite attempts to engage directly with Taliban leaders, they now expect that any significant progress will come only after 2014, once the bulk of NATO troops have left.
"Vietnamization" is failing again.

Do our enemies fear us?  Do our allies trust us?  Do the undecideds of the world "like" us more than they did four years ago?

I'm still looking for a success.  In almost four years I'm sure there's got to be one, if for no other reason than the Stopped Clock Principle.

There's a "foreign policy" presidential debate coming up, maybe I'll learn of some successes then.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Master's Degree Update

Today I took my 2nd of 3 tests.  The "review this" list contained a lot of information that wasn't tested, but I spent the whole week learning it anyway!  I have a pretty good feeling about this one; of course, I had a pretty good feeling about the first one, too, and look how that turned out.  Still, I'm optimistic as to my performance on this test.

Two more homework packets, one more test, and then the final exam.

And then I'm 10% of the way done with my master's degree.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tonight's Vice Presidential Debate

Joe Biden didn't do near as poorly as Barack Obama did, but he didn't do nearly as well as Paul Ryan did.

Update, 10/12/12:  Peggy Noonan was succinct as well as fair, saying,  “National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn’t work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.”

Milton Friedman on Libertarianism

The more I learn about him, the more I wish I'd paid attention to this kind of material when he was alive.  I'd love to have heard him speak in person.

Anyway, his explanation (early in the interview) about Central Park and how it would be better kept if it were in private hands is pure genius. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

State Universities Playing Politics

I have to believe this is illegal--and if it isn't illegal it should be, and either way it's unethical:
Hundreds of thousands of applicants to California State University campuses this year will be receiving a warning instead of the typical warm note thanking them for their interest.

The spots they are hoping to fill next year, the prospective students will be cautioned, could evaporate if the governor's push to raise taxes in November fails. The letter also will say no admissions decisions will be made until a few weeks after the election, a departure from the usual policy of notifying applicants beginning in October.

The likely take-away: Vote Yes on Proposition 30 to help boost your prospects.

Why Do Some Adults Want to Sexualize Children?

Is there to be no boundary between what is for adults and what is for children?
Hundreds of Houston-area parents are outraged over a new sex education program that teaches 12-year-old children about oral, anal and vaginal sex – and uses graphic curriculum to instruct students on how to use condoms.
I don't get why some people think it's so important to teach children about graphic sex.  12 year old children.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tragedy of the Commons

I'm sure that readers of this blog are familiar with the concept of the tragedy of the commons--which, like most of reality, is a good primer on why socialism does not and cannot work.  With that background, go enjoy Professor Reynolds' anecdote regarding shiny bikes and "free bikes" at the beach...

Monday, October 08, 2012

If Mints Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Mints

Why do some people insist on doubling down on stupid?
A group of high school students in Pekin, Ill., were suspended last week after school officials suspected the mints they were eating were actually illegal drugs.

Jason McMichael, the father of one of the students, told the Journal Star that his 17-year-old son Eric was suspended for two days from Pekin Community High School and not allowed to attend the school's homecoming festivities after staffers found four students eating energy mint tablets that are marketed like caffeine energy drinks...

McMichael's father said school officials later admitted they did not know if the chewable, unmarked mints were, in fact, illegal drugs but upheld the suspensions anyway, saying the teens displayed "gross misconduct for taking an unknown product."

"Now they know nothing illegal happened," McMichael said on Friday, "but they're still pursuing the suspension."

Superintendent Paula Davis told the paper that while she was not able to discuss the incident, school officials would have been within their rights to discipline the students if they were seen "ingesting things that look like unmarked pills."
Superintendent Davis needs to find alternate employment.  As my favorite Warner Brothers cartoon character used to say, "What a maroon!"

Your Online Presence Is Forever

There have been 8-zillion stories and warnings about this in the past but still the point doesn't seem to get across:
Results from Kaplan Test Prep’s 2012 survey of college admissions officers* show that schools are increasingly discovering information on Facebook and Google that negatively impact applicants’ acceptance chances. While the percentage of admissions officers who took to Google (27%) and checked Facebook (26%) as part of the applicant review process increased slightly (20% for Google and 26% for Facebook in 2011) from last year, the percentage that said they discovered something that negatively impacted an applicant’s chances of getting into the school nearly tripled – from 12% last year to 35% this year. Offenses cited included essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs, alcohol consumption in photos, things that made them “wonder,” and “illegal activities.” In 2008, when Kaplan began tracking this trend, only one in 10 admissions officers reported checking applicants’ social networking pages.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Do You Ever Really Stop Being A Teacher?

Not too many minutes ago I heard that fateful ding from my computer--someone has sent me a message on the Facebook.  I went in to check, and turns out it's a former student who had a question about statistics.  A brief explanation about a "sampling distribution" was all that was needed to jog his memory about what I taught him almost two years ago--and now he can cruise through stats in college.

I like knowing that he knows he can still count on my help.

Equality of Outcomes

I'm one who believes in equality of opportunity while others believe in equality of outcomes.  Usually, equality of outcomes means bringing everyone down to the lowest common level:
A talented head cook at a school in central Sweden has been told to stop baking fresh bread and to cut back on her wide-ranging veggie buffets because it was unfair that students at other schools didn't have access to the unusually tasty offerings...

"A menu has been developed... It is about making a collective effort on quality, to improve school meals overall and to try and ensure everyone does the same," Katarina Lindberg, head of the unit responsible for the school diet scheme, told the local Falukuriren newspaper.
You remember the old joke about a Puritan's being someone who's afraid that someone, somewhere, might be having fun? Well, you know what we call a person who's afraid that someone, somewhere, might have it better than someone else....

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Californians Shooting Themselves In The Foot

You can have wackos running your government or you can have a reasonable cost of living.  You can't have both:
Liberal Californians, you've done this.

I Wonder How Many Teachers Get Away With Relationships With Students

Seriously, I do wonder that, because kids are notoriously blabby, and it only takes one person to report the misconduct and bring hellfire down upon the shoulders of the miscreant.  Even if the teacher and student are incredibly discreet, the Sword of Damocles that hangs over the relationship, that fear of getting caught, just can't be worth it, can it?  I would think the chances of getting caught are way too high, knowing what I do about teenagers.

It must have been worth it for these guys, though, if anything in this report is true:
RUNNEMEDE, N.J. -- A sex scandal erupted Thursday at a high school here, and a top law enforcement official said a culture of permissiveness allowed male teachers to pursue sexual relationships with female students.

Three faculty members at Triton Regional High School -- math teachers Jeff Logandro, 32, and Daniel Michielli, 27, both of Blackwood, N.J.; and health instructor Nick Martinelli, 28, of Cherry Hill, N.J. -- allegedly engaged in sexual activity and other misconduct with separate members of last year's senior class.

And when the school's top administrators were told of the alleged activities, Principal Catherine DePaul and Vice Principal Jernee Kollock worked to protect the teachers rather than turn them in, authorities allege...

"It is alleged that throughout the past school year, the defendants took a trip to the beach with the victims and exchanged sexually explicit text messages"...

According to the prosecutor, DePaul learned of the allegations in April from a substitute teacher who had been told by a pupil that teachers were engaging in sexual contact with students.

DePaul did not alert authorities as the law required but instead "conducted a halfhearted and inadequate inquiry aimed primarily at protecting the teachers and covering up their relationships with the students," (Prosecutor) Faulk said.
Definitely makes you wonder.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Discipline By Race

In a school district that's 6% white, the feds are going to "monitor" 38 schools which suspend "too many" black boys.

Who, again, was that smart man who said something about the "soft bigotry of low expectations"?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"This Is A Democratic School"

Wow.  Just wow.
A Philadelphia high school teacher is under investigation after she reportedly ordered a student to take off a t-shirt supporting Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and compared the shirt to a Ku Klux Klan sheet.

The incident occurred at Charles Carroll High School in Port Richmond. When the student refused the order, she tried to throw the girl out of class.

The teacher reportedly told the 16-year-old student that the high school was a “Democratic school” and then threatened to use a marker to cross out Romney’s name...

(District spokesman) Gallard said the student was well within her rights to wear the t-shirt and was not in violation of any school dress codes.

In the meantime, the teacher was switched out of the class “to allow the student to feel comfortable to come to the class.”

Gallard said the student was within her rights.

“She was expressing her freedom of speech, and was not in violation of any school or district policy,” he told the newspaper.

What A Great Debate

There's no way around it, Obama had his clock cleaned.  Romney mopped the floor with him, then hit the ball out of the park.

If you have any other metaphors, let's hear them.

Hugh Hewitt is comparing this performance to Agincourt.  Wow.

Garbage Cam

I heard this on the radio this morning, and it's true--the utopians have no problem shoving their views down your throat.  Literally.

Take school cafeteria food, for example.  The utopians thought, "Kids should eat better."  So the first thing they did was change the law so that schools could only sell certain items, and had to make certain others available.  "Kids aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables", they say, so they require schools to provide more fruits and vegetables in school lunches.  "The kids aren't eating the fruits and vegetables we make available", they say, so then they require the food to be served to children.

What happens when the children don't want to eat the food that's served to them?
A Florida school district is considering a plan to install surveillance cameras on cafeteria trash cans to monitor what kids are throwing away – after they discovered that students were tossing out their federally-mandated fruit and vegetables.

The Lake County School Board said more than $75,000 worth of vegetables have been thrown in the garbage. The veggies and fresh fruit are party of the Obama administration’s policy to force schools to provide healthy produce in lunch rooms.
Is this really how we want our schools to be?

See, with conservatism, the worst thing that happens is that government leaves you alone as long as you aren't messing with anyone else.  The liberal alternative to that is that you are a toy of the government and must do whatever you're told.

Which style of government do you think is more fitting to humans?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Not Even Trying To Hide It

Ann Althouse's post on Instapundit:
THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN REQUIRES STUDENTS TO GIVE THEIR PHONE NUMBERS TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN in order to get access to the central campus zone where Obama will be giving a speech this Thursday. Here‘s the University’s website — attempting to frame the event as a historical presidential visit — which links to a page on the Obama campaign website. You need tickets to go to the event, and the ticket-application form demands information of obvious use to the campaign. So not only is the University contributing a fabulous photo op to the campaign, it is connecting students to the campaign website and almost tricking them into giving the campaign their personal contact information.

UPDATE: The University now openly calls the event a “campaign rally”!

Monday, October 01, 2012


On Mars?
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is enjoying some nice, warm weather on the Red Planet — and spring hasn't even come to its landing site yet.

Curiosity's onboard weather station, which is called the Remote Environment Monitoring Station (REMS), has measured air temperatures as high as 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon. And temperatures have climbed above freezing during more than half of the Martian days, or sols, since REMS was turned on, scientists said.

These measurements are a bit unexpected, since it's still late winter at Gale Crater, the spot 4.5 degrees south of the Martian equator where Curiosity touched down on Aug. 5.

"That we are seeing temperatures this warm already during the day is a surprise and very interesting," Felipe Gómez, of the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, said in a statement.
Are its ice caps still receding?  Do the Martians have too many SUV's?

The Longest Three Minutes

For the past several years at my school, we've had two hours of classes in the morning followed by a 13-minute break, followed by two more hours of classes, and then lunch.

Four years ago I wrote about Tea Club, which started with just a few of us and grew into a grand event each Wednesday.  We eventually had an entire shelf with different  flavors of tea on it, and we would rush to the lounge at break time on Wednesday to dig into whatever snackie the designated person brought.  It was a major social event, and I was proud to have started it and kept it running.

This year, for a few reasons, we've had to cut that break down to only 10 minutes.  This had a huge effect on tea club.  It may not seem like much--after all, it's only 3 minutes--but that decrease from 13 to 10 minutes made it all but impossible to have a cup of tea, a snack, and some conversation.  We had just enough time to get to the lounge, get our tea and treat, and head back to our rooms.

My first attempt at a remedy was to suggest moving tea club to lunchtime.  The problem there, though, is that lots of people use the lounge at lunch, it's a different "atmosphere" at lunch.  Additionally, plenty of people are in the lounge at lunch who wouldn't participate, and it seemed, uh, odd to have our group in there doing our thing when we usually do something entirely different with different people at lunch--and those same people were just a few feet away from us at the other end of the table.

So I suggested ditching tea club and having Dessert Club--someone would volunteer to bring a snackie for all of us for lunchtime on Friday.  It would be a nice way to end the week.

Only a couple of us brought things.  Last week there was nothing.  No one wanted to sign up (or "commit").  Today I took down the almost-empty sign-up sheet.

It wasn't really about the treats.  It never was.  The treats were just the magnet for the socializing and the camaraderie.

I'm sorry it's gone.  I hope something else "special" takes its place.

Professor Loses It

Sometimes it happens:
An "eccentric" Michigan State University math professor had what appears to be a nervous breakdown during class this afternoon, removing all his clothes and screaming obscenities at students.
There are several comments at the end of the article and these two are my favorites:
Am I the only one who thinks its distasteful to post a naked picture of a man who is obviously having a mental health issue?
Ugh...freshman engineering students. I'm sure he was already nuts, but dealing with those asshats everyday would push anyone over the edge.


I marvel to think that I as a California taxpayer help fund the education of these clueless, entitled little twits:
The University of California Student Association (UCSA) secretly passed a resolution last month which condemned the nation of Israel of “racism.”

The resolution, passed through the student organization with unanimous support, claims there is a “wealth of scholarship and legal opinion” that exists affirming “racism” on behalf of Israel.

The University of California Student Association, the “official voice of UC students” passed a resolution accusing the nation of Israel of “racism.”

The resolution was in response to HR 35, a California Assembly resolution condemning anti-Semitism in higher education.
I am not getting my money's worth.