Friday, November 30, 2012

Pop Psychology

We teachers are told so often about what "the research" supports, but I'm not surprised to learn that a lot of what passes as "brain-based" is really just neuro-garbage:
Pop neuroscience — silly and scientifically inaccurate — has spurred a backlash, writes Alissa Quart in a New York Times op-ed. Among the critics are Neurocritic, Neurobonkers, Neuroskeptic, Mind Hacks and Dorothy Bishop’s Blog

There’s a lot of neuro-garbage in education, writes Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist...

Teachers who know the most about neuroscience believe the most things that aren’t true, writes Cedar Riener, a psychology professor, in Cedar’s Digest, citing this study.

Inefficiency, Part III--Puerto Penasco International

Puerto PeƱasco is about an hour south of the US border, about 4 1/2 hours from Phoenix.  It's a tiny little town--not long ago I'm sure it was nothing more than a dusty little Mexican fishing village.

But it has an airport.  An international airport.  It's not just Puerto Penasco International--no, it bears a much more impressive name.
Would you like to see the terminal building?  Here you go:
There you go.  That's it.  That building with the glass side is the single terminal building.  At an international airport!  It's about the size of the building that contains my classroom and 5 others.  As for the entire airport, what you see is what you get--that terminal, the tower, a couple of small out-buildings, a parking lot, and a runway capable of supporting a 737.

I saw Gate 1 inside.  There's no Gate 2.  Yet.  It's a dream, it may happen someday, kinda like Studio B at Motown.

International flights are expected to start next March, with Aeromexico flights to and from Las Vegas.  The week we were there, just a couple miles from the airport, I didn't see a single flight land, international or otherwise.  It's possible a Cessna or something landed that week, and it's not like my eyes were riveted on the airport watching for it, but I certainly didn't hear anything that sounded like commercial traffic.

But the airport was fully staffed.  Immigration.  Customs.  Gate agents.  Car rental.  Snack bar.  Tower, with marine guards.  Maintenance.  Security guards.  Who knows what else.

There were a couple dozen people working inside the terminal building, and plenty of others working in the other buildings, all at an airport that probably didn't have a single arriving or departing commercial flight all day.

OK, this isn't really inefficiency in the same vein as the towel card gig or the security guards at the resort, but I still thought it was kind of funny.  Everyone there was so happy to talk to us because we were probably the only other people they'd seen all day!  And we only went there because I was curious to see what a small town's international airport would look like.

Now I know :)

Make Nice

It's hard to imagine that the principal couldn't foresee any problems with this, uh, unique punishment:
An Arizona school district has condemned the in-school discipline at one of its high schools after two boys were forced to hold hands in front of their classmates as a punishment for fighting.

Earlier this week, the two students at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., who have not been named, were faced with the prospect of either suspension from school, or sitting in chairs in the high school's courtyard and holding hands for 15 minutes during a lunch period. They opted for the latter.

"Kids were laughing at them and calling them names, asking, 'Are you gay?'" student Brittney Smyers told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Teens at the high school inevitably posted photos of the two, who spent the time shielding their faces with their heads in their hands, to social media sites...

(District spokesperson) Hollands said that the district is aware that many perceived the discipline as bullying and biased.

"The district is looking at how the actions have been perceived," she said. "That's a very important piece to know."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Looking Good Going Into The Final

Got the results back from my 3rd linear algebra test back more quickly than usual.  I knew I didn't do as well as I did on test #2--there were no bonus points on this test!--but I came out of the test fairly confident.  And with good reason.

97% :-)

59/60 on homework, and scores of 85, 106, and 97 on the tests.  The final exam is worth 140 points.  I'm feeling pretty good.


Usually my son and I set up our tree, and spread Christmas decorations about the house, on the day after Thanksgiving.  This year, however, we spent the day after Thanksgiving snorkeling and kayaking around a small cove at Bird Island, in the Sea of Cortez.

So last night we broke out the decorations, which were augmented by some my mother decided that she didn't need but I did!  (I don't need them either, actually, but what the heck).  A little later last evening I started feeling somewhat yucky so, while most of the decorations are out of the boxes and the tree is up, there's still stuff all over my living room floor.  I'll clean that up this evening.

When I travel I try not to by tchotchkes--who doesn't have too many already?--but one thing I do buy is Christmas tree ornaments.  Each year when we decorate our tree, my son and I get to review the trips we've taken.  The summit of Pikes Peak?  Check.  Carnival cruise?  Check.  Cancun?  Check.  Las Vegas?  Check.  Philadelphia?  Check.  It was such a treat yesterday to put my brand new Venice ball on the tree.

Not that it's so good for my currently-stated goal of losing weight, but Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Usually I'm just about done with Christmas shopping by now, but this year I pretty much haven't even started yet.  I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

War On Science

It's silly that there seems to be a war on everything except militant Islam, but whatever.  I lifted this entire excerpt from Instapundit:
RAND SIMBERG: The Politicians’ War On Science. “Now, in fact, I would prefer politicians who are conversant with science and its methods to those not, but even more I prefer politicians who are conversant with basic math, economics, and human nature, and have an aversion to wrecking the nation’s economy. And if they have to occasionally salute the sensibilities of people who believe that evolution is the work of the devil, I can live with that — particularly since we have a current president who does exactly the same thing, while flooring the accelerator toward the fiscal cliff.”
In addition, I would prefer politicians who are conversant with the Constitution.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Best and Worst Run States

According to this list, the best run states are (in order) North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, and Iowa.  The worst run states are (worst first) California, Rhode Island, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey.

> Debt per capita: $4,008 (18th highest)
> Budget deficit: 20.7% (17th largest)
> Unemployment: 11.7% (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $57,287 (10th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 16.6% (18th highest)

California is 24/7 Wall St.’s “Worst Run State” for the second year in a row. Due to high levels of debt, the state’s S&P credit rating is the worst of all states, while its Moody’s credit rating is the second-worst. Much of California’s fiscal woes involve the economic downturn. Home prices plunged by 33.6% between 2006 and 2011, worse than all states except for three. The state’s foreclosure rate and unemployment rate were the third- and second-highest in the country, respectively. But efforts to get finances on track are moving forward. State voters passed a ballot initiative to raise sales taxes as well as income taxes for people who make at least $250,000 a year. While median income is the 10th-highest in the country, the state also has one of the highest tax burdens on income. According to the Tax Foundation, the state also has the third-worst business tax climate in the country.
Huh, California is listed as the worst run.  Who's surprised?  Not me.

Inefficiency, Part II--Security Guards

In this post I told the story of the inefficiency built into the card-for-pool-towels program at the resort at which we stayed in Mexico last week.  I promised you another installment in The Inefficiency Tales, and here it is:  The Security Guards.

This resort was about a 40 minute drive--seriously!--from town.  It was over 10 minutes from the resort to the highway, over a private road that now has mostly been paved, and then almost another half hour to town, and certainly much more than that if you obey the posted speed limits (which no one did).  Yet, out on the highway, there was a guard house that was manned night and day.  The guard's mission in life was to check if you were a resort guest, and if so, to open the gate for you.

Remember, at this point you're still about a half hour from town, and the resort is still more than a 10-minute drive down a twisty 2-lane road from the tiny guard house.  Who, exactly, is going to travel all this way just to (inappropriately) try to visit this resort?  And what are they supposed to do once they get there?  They'd stand out instantly because they wouldn't have a resort wristband on.  Who is the guard protecting us from?

And that would be fine if it went no further. As the old cliche goes, though:  But wait, there's more!

The resort sits on about 100 square miles of land owned by the resort group.  The vast majority of that land is undeveloped, obviously, but on this corner of it next to the Sea of Cortez, the resort group is building a few different resorts.  They're all off this 2-lane road I mentioned above, and each one of them also has a seguridad shack and a gate to limit entry.  Inappropriate entry to resorts must be a huge problem in Mexico!

OK, so we've got a couple of security guards.  Big deal, right?  Out in the middle of nowhere, they're keeping out the riff-raff.  Except there's still more to the story!

This resort is a timeshare place, and even though the family members I went with are already owners there, they wanted to attend the timeshare tours and "information meeting" to better understand their contract.  So we, along with another family, were squeezed into a minivan and driven over to one of the other "mini-resorts".  Now keep in mind, these "mini-resorts" are also on that 2-lane road that's gated off from the public highway.  Anyway, as we drove up to the security gate, all of us in the van were in an animated discussion about something.  We were chatting away, but the van wasn't moving.  Finally our tourguide (for lack of a better term) got my attention and asked my name.  Why did he need my name?  I'm not one of the owners, it's not my name registered at the front desk when we checked in--to them, I don't even exist.  So why did he need my name?  Because the security guard had to write someone's name down on his clipboard (there's that darned clipboard again!) before he could let us in to go see the (very impressive) model units.

Why did he need someone's name?  I could have given him any name on the planet and it apparently wouldn't have mattered.  Why couldn't our "tourguide" provide his name, along with the number of potential sales he was bringing onto this particular property?  Assuming someone actually reads and/or uses the information on the clipboard, wouldn't that have been more useful information than the possibly fictitious name of one occupant of the minivan?

Inefficient.  Useless.  Unnecessary.

It's been suggested to me elsewhere that perhaps this is "busy work" to provide some employment for the locals, but by definition, busy work is unnecessary and hence a waste of resources.  Is there truly no other work that needs to be done?   If the answer is "no", I would (humbly) suggest that maybe someone could get started on paving the last section of that 2-lane road going from the resorts to the highway.  Maybe they could improve the road a bit--culverts, anyone?--so that the road doesn't get washed out during heavy rains anymore.  I have lots of other suggestions that don't involve roads, if you're looking for "smaller" projects.

But right now they seem to be just wasting money, which runs up the costs for the timeshare owners.  It's inefficient.

Here's the Google Earth shot of the area.  Our resort, and its sister resorts, are on and near that spit of land on the right side of the picture.  The road that sweeps up and to the left from that promontory is the two-lane, now mostly paved, private road that leads from the resorts to the highway.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Linear Algebra

Today I took my third and final test in my linear algebra course; all that's left now, grade-wise, is the final exam. 

I obviously didn't do as well on this test as I did on the last one--there were no bonus points on this one so I couldn't score above 100%!  However, I'm fairly confident that I still got an A on this test.  I should know for sure in about a week.

The Wages of Obamacare Is Unemployment

Who could have seen this coming?
To avoid paying for health insurance, a Pittsburgh community college will cut the work hours of 400 adjunct instructors and support staff. Under Obamacare, employers don’t have to provide insurance for employees working less than 30 hours a week. Community College of Allegheny County will save $6 million.
Anyone with a brain and at least an ounce of logic and common sense, that's who.

This example is not the only one, and we're just getting starting.


There are plenty of conservatives so distraught at the thought of living 4 more years under the administration of a socialist that they spoken openly of secession.  I'm not ready to join them--yet--but let's talk a little about it.  This article points out the obvious, that those same liberals who have their panties in a bunch today over talk of secession were strangely quiet, or saying quite the opposite, after President Bush won in 2000 and 2004:
So does one party or state have a monopoly on secessionist stupidity or two-faced patriotism? Clearly not. As the New York Times reported on blue America the week before this year’s election, “It’s a refrain heard every four years: ‘If [insert Republican name] is elected president, I’m moving to Canada.’” But listening to hacks like Jim Moore and other Democratic mouthpieces, you might think that all this promiscuous talk about secession is something brand new, largely Texan and wholly Republican.

Anyone who talks seriously about taking leave of this great country has likely already taken leave of their senses. The people doing the gabbing deserve all the ridicule and contempt they’re receiving. But some of the people dishing it out would sound a lot more sincere if their self-righteousness about secession wasn’t so politically opportunistic.
I'm curious. Why are liberals so offended about the idea of secession?  They hold the red states, as well as the people who live in them, in utter contempt.  After all, aren't red-staters just a bunch of racist hicks who don't know what's good for them, and who actually cost the federal government more money than they pay in?  Gawd, if I have to hear such a refrain one more time....  So here's my question, libs:  why on earth would you want to be associated with such people?  Why on earth would you want such people in your country if you could be rid of them?  If you're right, it seems to me that secession would be a win-win for you:  your nation would have more money to spend on social programs for your own people (since it wouldn't be sending the money to those evil red states), and you'd be rid of all these animals you can't even dare to think of as human.

So why is secession so offensive to you?  We both know the answer.  One of the defining attributes of liberalism is that liberals think they're better than others, and therefore liberals delight in telling others what to do.  Liberals actually like being able to compel conservatives to do what those conservatives don't like or don't want to do.  In so-called "fair share" states like California, liberals enjoy the ability to require me to pay a union even though I want nothing to do with that union.

In other words, liberals are bullies.  Compulsion is all they know.

Ah, but Darren, you're such a patriot.  How can you even think about breaking up this great country?  And the answer is simple:  the oaths I've taken in my life have always been to the Constitution, not to the real estate.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that I'm enough of a conservative, and enough of an originalist, that I believe we as a nation have strayed too far from the Constitution even as we pay mere lip service to living under its wisdom.  I take to heart these words from the Declaration of Independence (emphasis is mine):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Let's be honest. The only reason secession hasn't ever successfully occurred is because of the old saw "might makes right". The Confederate states were physically subdued and them compelled, by force of arms, to rejoin the union. And it was Republican administrations that compelled the Democratic Confederate states to do so.

So right now I, like so many others, seem more disposed to suffer the sufferable evils that our federal government imposes upon us; and while we tolerate them, let's not forget that we suffer under them and that they truly are evils.   My fervent hope is that this current "train of abuses" does not progress so far as to reduce us to "absolute Despotism", but I state outright that we're certainly on that road.

And if that happens, if the Tree of Liberty has to be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants, well, liberty is worth it.  Since the liberals like Rousseau so much, let them heed his words in addition to Jefferson's:
"I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery." - Rousseau, Social Contract
Update, 12/6/12:  A little more history, and perspective, on the subject.


Toblerones are my favorite!  Sadly, though, I watched a video taken a few days ago of me in a kayak and realized that I really do look like I weigh as much as I do--all that weight I lost over 2 years ago, I've gained back all but about 8 lbs.  The gain stops today.

Anyway, I'll have to watch this video which, even though I won't eat Toblerones for awhile, still sounds quite interesting:
As a Los Angeles teacher, Nigel Nisbet turned Toblerone chocolate bars into geometry problems to motivate math-hating students, he said at a TEDx conference in southern California. He asked students: ”Why make a chocolate bar in the shape of a triangular prism?”

Local Boy Makes Good

This young man was a student of mine last year.  I don't get to claim any credit for the success mentioned in this article, but I'm happy for him anyway :)
This week's Golden Apple goes to Sacramento trombonist Michael Wang, who was awarded Berklee College of Music's coveted Presidential Scholarship.

The four-year scholarship is valued at approximately $225,000 and covers tuition, housing and fees, school officials said. It is awarded each year to seven of the most talented young musicians across the world.
He also performed at the Grammies last year.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I always enjoy going to Mexico.  I like the idea of being a traveler in someone else's land, of being the outsider, of seeing new and different things and wondering how they came into being.

Sometimes this clashes, though, with my "eye for efficiency".  If I have a superhero power it's the ability to look at something and see if it's being run efficiently.  In Mexico, unfortunately, I see so much that's not.

And why is that?  Well, I don't have hard information to go on, so I take what I do know and try to see if I can weave a narrative that will explain what I see.  Here's what I come up with:

There's not much of a middle class in Mexico.  There's the very rich and the very poor, and neither of those groups trusts the other.  That right there is the source of so much of the inefficiency.

What is this inefficiency, you ask?  Well, here are just a couple examples from the resort at which we stayed.  This isn't my first time in Mexico--I've been to several places--and always there's something similar.  I think it's cultural, and I think it comes from that distrust I mentioned before.  But now the anecdote:

Pool towels.  Upon check-in we were each given a "towel card" in addition to our room card.  When going to the pool we exchange our towel card for a towel; when heading back to the room, turn in the wet towel for the towel card.  Lose the towel card and you pay $25 US to replace it.

So far, so good.  I see that they don't want to lose beach towels, so they've implemented a system designed to keep people from losing or even inadvertently taking them.  All it really costs is someone (who no doubt earns less in a day than the replacement cost of one towel card) to exchange towel and card, and if you want to provide a "towel service" at the pool, this person would have to be there anyway.  As I said, so far, so good.

But here's what I don't understand.  You don't just exchange the towel card for a towel.  The attendant also fills out information on a clip board--your room number, your name, and the number of towels you took (one towel per card, but a family could exchange all their cards at once).  Then you sign for the towels.

Why do they have the towel card system if they're also going to record all the information on a clip board?  I tried to come up with a reason, and I came up with this: what's to keep me from stealing others' towels, turning them in for towel cards, and then later exchanging these cards for clean towels and then stealing those?  Clearly, towel theft is a major concern there!  The answer to my query is, of course, the information on the clip board!  If I exchanged only 1 towel card for a towel and try to return 3 towels, the attendant will know something is amiss.  And there it is, a logical reason for doing all the recording of data.

But if they're recording the data on the clip board, and if I'm signing for receipt of the towels, what is the purpose of the towel card?  All the information they need, including my signature if they need to charge me missing towels, is on the clip board.  It appeared to me that they used the towel card system primarily, so I was left to wonder about who, exactly, is reading all the information recorded on the clip boards?  What's up with this dual system?


On a lighter note, here's where you'd use your towel card and associated towel:

Next tale of inefficiency:  security guards.

Must Be An Election Year

I have received my agency rebate check from CTA, and this year it's over $400.  Since my usual rebate is just over $300, the teachers unions must have gone crazy in non-chargeable expenses (i.e., expenses not related to representation and collective bargaining) this year.  The election a few weeks ago explains this handily.

The rebate percentages this year are:
NEA 60% (in other words, they admit to spending 60% of their money on expenses not related to representing teachers or in pursuit of collective bargaining)
CTA 34.6%
Local union 34.6%

I'll use about half of this rebate money to join the Association of American Educators for another year.

If you're a California teacher interested in becoming an agency fee payer and getting a similar rebate each year, visit the appropriate page of the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network at  If you still have questions, let me know here or contact CTEN directly.

I Haven't Done A Wal*Mart Post In Awhile

I've long said that Wal*mart has done more to alleviate the effects of poverty than any government program in history has.  It seems the author of this post would agree with me, and it opens with the transitive property:
Liberals hate Wal-Mart > Wal-Mart helps the poor = Liberals hate the poor

Back Home and Back Online!

It was a great trip to Mexico--and I survived with no internet access for a week!  I've got an idea or two for some blog posts, and of course I'll eventually get to posting a few trip pics.

Before all that, though, comes the unpacking and the studying for tomorrow's linear algebra test!  And then I have to decorate for Christmas....

Friday, November 16, 2012

No, I'm Not Ignoring You Or Deleting Your Comments

We here at Right on the Left Coast are taking a little vacation this coming week.  In fact, we're going where the internet is so sparse (and so expensive) that we'll essentially be without an internet connection until Sunday the 25th!  That is (probably) why your comments aren't being posted, and why you're not seeing any new posts.

The homestead is in the safe hands of a housesitter, the watchbeast is as vicious as ever, and I'll check back in with you in 9 days.

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday :-)

Coming To Their Senses?

I wrote about the seminal event here, and now the follow-up:
The board of the Roseville Joint Union High School District voted Tuesday to revise a controversial policy that sparked a First Amendment debate after its approval last month.

The policy, which gave the superintendent the right to approve advertising in student publications, drew local media attention as well as scrutiny from the Student Press Law Center in Virginia...

The revised policy approved Tuesday still limits commercial advertising on district property, but eliminates restrictions on school newspapers and yearbooks.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Twinkies, Redux

A couple days ago I posted about the striking Hostess workers.  I lampooned the them--what good is striking if your company goes broke in the process?  Yay, you won--we call that a Pyrrhic victory, though.

I still haven't heard the outcome:
Hostess has set a deadline of 2 p.m. today for workers to return to work or the company will file to liquidate the company in bankruptcy court.

The Irving, Texas-based company, which employees nearly 300 workers in Sacramento, will file a motion to liquidate the company on Friday if not enough striking employees return today to allow the food maker to resume normal operations.
We have a Hostess bakery here in Sacramento.  When I was a kid I'd love it when we drove nearby because the smell of baking bread was absolutely delicious.  Someone later decided that such a smell was "pollution", though, and the bakery had to refit in such a way that we couldn't smell the bread anymore.  That memory is just one of those things from my childhood that's never left me.

Are there to be no more Twinkies, no more Ho-hos, no more Ding Dongs, no more Wonder Bread?  I'll let you know when I know.

Update, 11/16/12:  Good job, unions, your 18,500 workers are now unemployed:
Adieu, Twinkies, at least for now. Hostess Brands said Friday it has asked a court's OK to liquidate the company, spelling the possible end for the iconic, yellow, cream-filled delight.

The move shuts down one of the nation's oldest and largest producers of baked goods. Founded in 1930, it produces such well-known brands, aside from Twinkies, as Ding-Dongs, Ho Ho's, Sno Balls and Donettes, not to mention Wonder bread, which the company says is the best-selling white bread in the United States.

In a statement, Hostess said its bakery operations have been suspended at all plants and that it would lay off most of its 18,500 workers to focus on selling its assets. It said it has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers.
Update #2, 11/16/12Democrats screw up Hostess:
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the just announced Hostess liquidation, one that will be largely debated and discussed in the media, or maybe not at all, is the curious cast of characters and the peculiar history of this particular bankruptcy. Some may not be aware that the company's Chapter 11 (or colloquially known as 22) bankruptcy filing this January, which today became a Chapter 7 liquidation, was the second one in the company's recent history, with Hostess, previously Interstate Bakeries, emerging from its previous protracted multi-year bankruptcy in 2009. What is curious is that its emergence had all the drama of a anti-Mitt Romney PAC funded thriller, with a PE firm, in this case Ripplewood holdings, injecting $130 million in order to obtain equity control of Hostess as it was emerging last time. There were also more hedge funds, investment banks, strategic buyers, politicians involved in this particular story than one can shake a deep fried numismatic value Twinkie at. More importantly, however, as America has been habituated following the last season of the reality TV show known as the presidential election, if Private Equity then "bad." Only this time there is a twist: because it wasn't really PE that was the pure evil in the Obama long-term campaign, it was associating PE with Republicans, and thus: with jobs outsourcing. And here comes the Hostess twist: because Tim Collins of Ripplewood, was a prominent Democrat, a position which allowed him to get involved in the first bankruptcy process in the first place, due to his proximity with the Teamsters' long-term heartthrob Dick Gephardt (whose consulting group just happens to also be an equity owner of Hostess). In other words, the traditional republican-cum-PE scapegoating strategy here will be a tough one to pull off since the narrative collapses when considering that it was a Democrat who rescued the firm, only to see it implode in a trainwreck that has resulted in the liquidation of a legendary brand, and 18,500 layoffs.

But it only gets better. Because the full cast of characters involved here is quite stunning....
Why does this matter?  Ask Richard Trumka.

Joke's On You, I Didn't Really Turn Liberal :)

No, I didn't really turn liberal, but I thought it would be fun to pretend to be one for a week.  What I found is that debate can be pretty fun if you're completely unbound by the need to be consistent! 

Anyway, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Should I Feel About This

I haven't yet received my liberal handbook so I'm really confused about how I'm supposed to feel about this and where my faux outrage should be placed:
A suspicious husband used the GPS capability on his wife's cellphone to find the 38-year-old teacher having sex with a 16-year-old boy.

Amie Neely now faces a felony sexual assault charge after being arrested by Port St. Lucie, Fla. police early Sunday morning, according to TC Palm...

The boy told cops he drove Neely to an area near St. Lucie West Centennial High School. He said he got in the back seat with Neely and, as the two were having sex, the teacher's husband walked up to the car and discovered them.

Neely allegedly blamed "midlife crisis" feelings for her behavior when questioned by police, according to TC Palm. She also said the boy kept asking for sex and she hoped he would stop asking if she went along with his requests, according to police. The boy told cops he and Neely had sex on multiple occasions, including inside the teacher's home.
As a womyn she should get to decide what to do with her own body...

but she technically committed a crime by having sex with a student...

who pestered her frequently—sexual harassment!—to have sex with him...

but it's only statutory rape, not rape rape.

I’ll bet she wasn’t a union member, because union members wouldn’t do this.  That's it!  Florida isn't a union state!  I'll make this a union issue!

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

A Reason To Celebrate

In the People's Mecca of San Francisco we look for reasons to love government even more than usual--and here's the latest reason!
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.., and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel, D-N.Y., introduced the newly elected lawmakers this week on Capitol Hill.

“These new members reflect the priorities and diversity and the values of the districts that elected them,” Israel said. “The Republican Caucus, if you look at it, it looks like a re-run of the show ‘Mad Men.’ Our caucus looks like America.”

The DCCC estimates there will be 200 members in the Democratic caucus at the beginning of the 113th Congress, that number includes five Democratic candidates that are leading in races that are yet to be called.

Among those 200 members, Pelosi said there will be 61 women, 43 blacks, 11 Asians/Pacific Islanders and six gay members, marking the first time straight white males will make up a minority of either party’s caucus.

The diversity is highlighted by a Democratic freshman class that is comprised of one-third women and boasts eight Latinos, four blacks, three Asian Americans, one Indian American and the first Hindu ever elected to Congress. It also has the first gay person of color to serve in Congress.
Did you catch that? A gay person of color!  I can hardly contain myself.

Mia Love and Allen West could have added to the "people of color" category, but since they are "people of Republicans", we celebrate the fact that they both lost their elections to straight white males.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

He's Conservative So He's Not "Truly" Black

As a good liberal I would normally be up in arms if a bunch of white people were celebrating the loss of a black man in an election, but when the black man is a race-traitor/Tea-Party-favorite/conservative like Allen West, I guess it's OK.  He deserves it, the Uncle Tom.

 Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Conservatives Strike Back--At Children!

During the election, our sainted and annointed leader, the Great One himself, Barack H. Obama (pbuh), successfully used Big Bird to defeat the evil venture capitalist and potential rapist/polygamist Mitt Romney.  Well, it didn't take long for the conservatives to strike back!  They couldn't get Big Bird, though, so the vast rightwing conspiracy had to settle for Elmo instead:
The puppeteer who voices Elmo - one of the most adored children's characters in the world -  is taking time off from Sesame Street after denying he had an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy...

Kevin Clash has issued a statement saying,"I am a gay man. I have never been ashamed of this or tried to hide it, but felt it was a personal and private matter. I had a relationship with the accuser. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to characterize it as something other than what it was. I am taking a break from Sesame Workshop to deal with this false and defamatory allegation."
Conservatives talk a good game about "family values", but love is supposed to be a family value.  Why don't these evil conservatives want people to love?  Is nothing sacred to these people except for the 1950's?  And what about the children they claim to care about--are these children supposed to do without "one of the most adored children's characters in the world"?

Hypocrites!  Knuckle-draggers!  Mouth-breathers!  And any other name I can think of to call them....

Update:  They failed!
The man who claimed he had underage sex with the puppeteer behind "Sesame Street" character Elmo recanted his claims on Tuesday, U.S. media reported.
Update #2, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Update #3, 11/27/12:  As we'd say in the Army: about, FACE! (regarding the Elmo dude, not about me!)
The puppeteer formerly behind the "Sesame Street" character Elmo faces a new accusation of having sex with an underage boy, a week after a similar allegation prompted him to resign from the iconic public television children's program.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a man identified only as John alleges Kevin Clash engaged in oral sex and other sex acts with him when John was 16 years old.

We Shouldn't Be Eating Twinkies, Anyway

Over at Hot Air, a raging conservative web site, they're incredulous that workers at the Hostess bakeries could be striking.  The shock!  I mean, the proletariat always wants to rise up against the capitalists and assert their dignity!  Raises, rights, respect, and all that.  These conservatives don't care about the little people, they only care about rich people who eat fondue and caviar and who laugh at the travails of the commoner.  Take the first comment on that post, for example:
I wish someone would explain to me the logic in picketing a company in bankruptcy. Seems to me driving them out of business will be a whole lot worse for those employees than any wage or benefit cut.
It's not about the wages, Mr. Capitalist Pig-dog. It's about raises, rights, and respect!  If the company goes bankrupt, well, those fatcat owners will just have to suffer by not making any more money.  The workers can always go on unemployment for 99 weeks, and then "stress/depression" disability forever after that.  They'll be fine--and they'll have stuck it the company good!

With socialized medicine the law of the land right now, we shouldn't be eating Twinkies and Ho-Hos anyway.  They just make us fat, cause diabetes, and will cause health care costs to rise.  Everyone should be eating broccoli anyway.  That is the new definition of patriotic.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Results Don't Matter, Only Intent Matters

One of the benefits of my recent conversion to liberalism is the freedom from having to demonstrate positive results for anything; as long as I have good in my heart--and what liberal doesn't?!--I'm considered a good person.  As an example, just a couple days ago I wrote this post about closing the achievement gap by giving members of certain racial and ethnic groups A's.  Then today I read about this school principal, whose intelligence, righteousness, and caring I can only dream of reaching someday:
It’s not surprising Portland schools need more money. The district sent 93 teachers, principals and administrators to San Antonio for a five-day conference on “Courageous Conversations” about race, reports the Portland Tribune. More teachers were sent for five days of equity training in Oregon. All this is run by the Office of Equity, which has grown from one to seven employees in the past year.

At Harvey Scott K-8 school, 20 current and former teachers and staff members told the Tribune that Principal Verenice Gutierrez’s focus on race has created a “hostile environment” for students, staff and parents. Fearing a Courageous Conversations backlash, they all asked to be anonymous...

Scott’s “kids of whiteness” feel excluded, one teacher said.
This is because they don't accept their white privilege.

One would expect that this principal, who is bringing utopia to earth before our very eyes, would be proud of her achievements.  But why should she be?  She's only doing what she thinks is right and good, she's only doing what should be done--no reason to reward that.

But now that things are as they should be, how is the school doing?  How are the students doing?
Teachers have filed grievances with their union — or just quit. Twenty-six teachers — about half the staff — left after Gutierrez’ first year at Scott. Eight left the following year. The principal vowed to hire only bilingual teachers who are native speakers of Spanish. She wants to turn Scott into a bilingual immersion school...

Enrollment is dropping, which Guitierrez blames on “white flight.” Scott’s enrollment is 52 percent Latino, 20 percent white, 13 percent black (mostly Somali) and 8 percent Asian (mostly Vietnamese). The school scores in the bottom 15 percent statewide...

So far, asking kids about their skin color isn’t working either, according to district data. Scott’s math and reading scores seem to be declining. The school made adequate yearly progress in seven of eight years before Gutierrez took over, but has failed AYP since.
Institutional racism. The Dominant Local Culture (I've learned it's much more effective if you Capitalize Important Words) doesn't want this school to succeed, which just shows why we need even more effort put into the types of programs that Principal Gutierrez promotes.  There's so much more work to be done.

 Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tolerating the Intolerable

There's an old saying attributed to Voltaire:  I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.  Such stupidity is what you get when you listen to the ramblings of dead white men.

How can any womyn, she of the sacred interior plumbing, be a political conservative?  Don't they understand that conservative men only want to control them and their ladyparts?  How can they speak of the individual (pfft!) when there's a community of sisterhood out there?  I hate to paraphrase another dead white man, but don't they know that if they don't hang together they shall certainly hang separately?

We progressives are enlightened and tolerant, but that tolerance can't and won't extend to conservatives.  Oh, it will extend to the peace-loving peoples of the Middle East, whom the evil conservatives tell us will essentially enslave womyn (an oppressed group in the West) and torture gay people (another oppressed group in the West), but it does not and can not extend to the evil conservatives who tell these lies.  Well, maybe they're not actually lies, but are rather reactions to the cowboy diplomacy of our previous president.  It's a good thing that we now have smart diplomacy and that America is a respected and valued member of the world community again.  I like knowing that the rest of the world loves us now.

But I'm getting off track--the track that conservative womyn like Ann Coulter should be tied to just before a train comes.  See, Coulter is intolerant.  No one should listen to her.  What she says is bad, is "unmutual".  Kudos to the president of Fordham University for speaking truth:
…Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.

To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative-more heat than light-and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.
I cannot bring myself to congratulate the College Republicans for rescinding her invitation:
When the College Republicans rescinded their invitation to Coulter, saying they didn’t “vet” her properly, McShane said the university had passed its challenge “with flying colors.”
What, should we give them an award or something for finally doing the right thing--for once?  Our universities should not be places where speech like Coulter's is tolerated.

Only positive, enlightened, intellectual speech should be allowed on our campuses.  F*** those Republicans.

 Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

We Need More Money To Spend On Social Programs

It will be a great day when schools have all the money they need, and the Air Force will have to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber!

Click here and on the spending by type tab to see that the military-industrial complex continues to devour our budget, and on the surplus/deficit tab to see that we definitely need to tax the rich some more in order to pay for the social programs that could finally make us a great nation.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Friday, November 09, 2012

Root Words, Math Facts, and Cursive

I'm ashamed to admit that there was a time (earlier this week) when I would have agreed with the research supporting having students memorize and perform such "old school" activities, but now I see them as nothing more than a way to keep minority students down:
Kids Should Learn Cursive (and Math Facts, and Word Roots), writes Annie Murphy Paul in Time. New research supports the effectiveness of “old school” methods such as “memorizing math facts, reading aloud, practicing handwriting, and teaching argumentation,” she writes.

Suzanne Kail, an English teacher at an Ohio high school was required to teach Latin and Greek word roots, she writes in English Journal, though she abhorred “rote memorization.”
That's not progressive, that's looking backwards.

I cannot support requiring black and brown-skinned students to memorize partial words from old dead white people from Greece and Italy.  This is what is meant by "institutional" racism.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Equality and Social Justice For All

I entirely, completely, wholeheartedly support this:
President Obama intends to close "persistent gaps" between whites and minorities in everything from credit scores and homeownership to test scores and graduation rates.

His remedy — short of new affirmative-action legislation — is to sue financial companies, schools and employers based on "disparate impact" complaints — a stealthy way to achieve racial preferences, opposed 2 to 1 by Americans.

Under this broad interpretation of civil-rights law, virtually any organization can be held liable for race bias if it maintains a policy that negatively impacts one racial group more than another — even if it has no racist motive and applies the policy evenly across all groups.
As a guilty member of an oppressor group, I recognize the role I've played (merely by having white skin and being born American) in keeping approved groups down.  I will immediately start scrutinizing the grades I assign to students, and if any group other than whites (yuck!) or Asians isn't getting enough A's, I will correct the bias caused by institutional racism and grant all students of that racial/ethnic group an A.  I might even lower the grades of whites, and cast a suspicious eye upon Asians.

This is the only way to achieve social JUSTICE.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Conservatism is not only wrong, it's indefensible. It's morally unjust. We're all on this planet together, and we must work together--like it or not, that's just reality. It all came together for me when I read this. You know what? The author's right! F**K the rich! I'm tired of them.
Want to change the direction of the debate? Let’s talk about actually taxing the wealthy. You want to see Dem’s scream and argue about that. Tax people on their assets, not their income. Pelosi’s wealthy on income, nope.

The conversation MUST change. There are dozens of potential revenue sources within the wealthy that would easily triple the income to the US over penalizing hard workers. And then, we’d see the true colors of the Dems, the Streisands, Spielbergs, the Soros.

Hundreds of billions can be generated, by taxing a very small portion of muni bond income. Yes, other items can be looked at, tax breaks, but they are miniscule, to the total WEALTH, (NOT INCOME) that is out there. And it wouldn’t change their desirability since even after a SMALL tax, it beats everything out there. Guess who owns muni’s? Feinstein, Spielberg…

In essence, this is the only way out of the punitive tax brackets we find ourselves in.
The so-called Bush tax cuts must expire.  We need to tax people at higher rates, and we need to start with the rich:
That's right, I'm agreeing with the libertarian Instapundit and now formally calling for the elimination of the Eisenhower tax cuts--the taxes so decried in the video above.  After all, Hollywood studios and their lackey so-called "stars" are rich--and let's be honest, they have more money than they need or could ever possibly spend.  At some point, enough is too much.

I'm also totally on board with Digital Socialism:
If someone invented the ability to copy food, or copy oil, there would be riots in the streets if everyone couldn’t have all the food and oil they wanted...

Property rights, since the Magna Carta, have been the foundation of free market economics, and personal liberty.

We put incredible value on a bar of gold, a dirty old shoe, a new 60” TV, a home PRECISELY because it cannot be duplicated freely and shared.

If we could duplicate and share the atomic we wouldn’t have to worry about property rights… they never would have existed...

A new economics is in order: People have limited means for ATOMIC wants, but they can be fulfilled digitally to their hearts content.
I want free movies.  It costs nothing to reproduce movies for me for free.  Given that, there's absolutely no reason, there can be no objection, to providing me movies for free.  "Intellectual property"?  A concept made up by some capitalist pig-dog in order to keep what rightfully belongs to all of us out of the hands of anyone who won't make him richer.

It doesn't cost you anything to give me free music.  Even you conservative capitalist pigdogs, what reason can you have for denying me what is free?

The same with books.  I want free books, and I am entitled to them.  Who are you to deny me the opportunity to grow and learn? 

WE THE PEOPLE need to band together to fight for what is rightfully ours!  We have been oppressed too long!  There are only a few of THEM, there are MILLIONS of us.  They cannot fight us all.  CAN...YOU...DIG...IT?

Those who do not embrace our new ideals must be reeducated.  It's for their own good, as well as ours.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Departments of Education

United States


I Don't Get Why People Are Celebrating Having Their Taxes Raised

If you're so anxious to part with your money, why not just give a little to me?  I'd do more meaningful things with it than the State of California will.

It didn't get as deep at school as I thought it would today, but one particular email comment struck me as pretty gross.  Yay, Californians voted to raise the state sales tax and to tax rich people more--and the extra money might go to schools and we might not have as many furlough days as was planned.  One triumphant emailer claimed, "This is such good news for the students!"

Seriously?  I'll just toss this comment out there in general:  Does anyone really think this teacher is happy for the students?  I don't.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

The Election Was Today

As I said on Facebook, I didn't foresee Obama getting 300 electoral votes (he still hasn't, as I type this, but it's pretty clear he will).

I don't dislike the guy because of his skin color.  I dislike him because he stands against just about everything I stand forThese words are true:
When governments gain power, individuals lose freedom.  Looking out toward the horizon tonight, I wonder how much more freedom Americans will be willing to surrender.
"What kind of government have you given us, Mr. Franklin?"  "A Republic, if you can keep it."

I'm not sure we can keep it.

Update, Wednesday morning:  my assemblyman and congressman are now both Democrats.   A bond measure for my school district, which throws good money after bad, passed, which increases my property taxes, and the state sales tax is going up.  Not a good night for me....

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Election Is Tomorrow

Now, four years later, I get on board with the hope and change--I'm hoping for a change :)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I'm Not Done Reliving My Europe Trip Yet

I've made another photobook:

Click here to view this photo book larger
Shutterfly allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want.

Today's Biggest College Football Upset!

Air Force, at 5-3 going into the game today, traveled to West Point to play 1-7 Army at Michie ("mikey") Stadium.  Army scored first and never relinquished the lead.  After a wacky 4th quarter--in which Air Force recovered an onside kick and drove for a touchdown, and later fumbled and Army recovered in the end zone for a touchdown--here's how ESPN's Sports Feed ended the game:
3rd and Goal at ARMY 4 | Kale Pearson pass intercepted by Nate Combs at the Army 1, returned for no gain to the Army 16.
Air Force 21, Army 41 | Final
Well done, Army.

Holy Crap, This Is Sick. Get The Man Some Help.

Video included if you don't think someone could really say something so vile:
Bill Maher on HBO's Real Time Friday might have said one of the most disgraceful things uttered during the 2012 campaign season.

"If you're thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, I would like to make this one plea: black people know who you are and they will come after you" (video follows with commentary)...
Yes, it's Bill Maher, the man who publicly called Sarah Palin a cunt, a bimbo, and a twat, but still--"humor" like his is given a pass by the left. 

Friday, November 02, 2012

I Don't Hear Any Of Them Whining About So-called Math Anxiety

This is as impressive as it is intimidating:
And the high point of the championship is the category called "Flash Anzan" – which does not require an abacus at all.

Or rather, it requires contestants to use the mental image of an abacus. Since when you get very good at the abacus it is possible to calculate simply by imagining one.

In Flash Anzan, 15 numbers are flashed consecutively on a giant screen. Each number is between 100 and 999. The challenge is to add them up.

Simple, right? Except the numbers are flashed so fast you can barely read them...

Flash Anzan was invented a few years ago by an abacus teacher, Yoji Miyamoto, who wanted to design a maths game that was only solvable by calculation with an imaginary abacus, a skill known as anzan.

When the contestant sees the first number he or she instantly visualizes the number on the imaginary abacus. When they see the second number they instantly add it to the number already visualized, and so on. At the end of the game the contestants cannot remember any of the numbers, or the intermediate sums. They only retain the final answer on the imaginary abacus.

Performing arithmetic using an imaginary abacus is the fastest way to perform mental calculations. Earlier this year the Japanese Naofumi Ogasawara won the Mental Calculation World Cup using the technique. The previous winner, Priyashi Somani, from India, did too.
There's more, including video, at the link.

Education Juxtaposition

Maine Likes Laptops
Technology Cuts Attention Spans

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Two Education Stories Out of California

Is this reasonable or not?
A decision by the Roseville Joint Union High School District board this month to give the superintendent the right to approve advertising content in school newspapers and yearbooks has sparked a First Amendment civil rights debate within the district.

And given the legal issues being raised, it could have broad implications for school districts in the region and throughout California.

"The district is opening themselves up to a lot more liability than they are protecting themselves from," said Adam Goldstein, an attorney advocate with Student Press Law Center in Virginia.

He said the new policy could result in lawsuits from students who believe their First Amendment rights have been violated, as well as from advertisers who say their right to religious speech has been quashed...

Karl Grubaugh is adviser for the award-winning Granite Bay (High) Gazette, one of five student newspapers in the school district. He said the change violates the state Education Code's protection of students' freedom of speech and their control over the content in school publications.
California does have very strong student press freedoms, but I question whether this topic is included in those freedoms or not.  There are some very interesting points brought up in that story.

The second story isn't near as weighty (after you read the story you'll get my pun!):
Several Pasadena schools are banning Flamin' Hot Cheetos from their campuses saying they are too high in fat and sodium, reports the Los Angeles Times. Schools won't sell the hugely popular treats and kids won't be able to pack them in their school lunches.
No school has the authority to tell me what I can and can't pack in my son's lunch.