Thursday, October 30, 2014

Note From The Past

I just saw a note on my (computer) calendar, a note I put there a year ago to prevent a waste of money.  The note?  "I have plenty of Christmas stamps, no need to buy more this year!"

Lying About Rape

Is there anyone anymore who still believes the idiocy that women don't lie about rape?  Or do people just claim it because it advances their political agenda?

These two links were juxtaposed at Instapundit today:
Insight into how campus sexual assault panels are being 'trained'  (for those for whom this is important, note the author is a woman), and
New Mexico officer cleared of sexual assault by body camera.

From the first link:
K.C. Johnson — co-author of a book about the Duke Lacrosse rape case — recently discovered a guide for training college administrators in how to handle complaints of sexual assault. The guide was developed in 2012 by women at the University of Pennsylvania — the university’s general counsel, the director of the Office of Student Conduct and a consultant. The document also specifically thanks the input of the university’s Women’s Center.

The guide is meant to be copied and pasted for other schools to use when “training” members of student discipline panels. It flat out says to just replace certain portions of text with information relevant to the school.

The guide includes 17 “tips” for adjudicators. As Johnson notes, ten of these are neutral, but six seem to pressure panelists to vote guilty. The remaining “tip” could be read either way.

Of course, the very first tip is a restatement of the myth that one in five women will experience sexual assault during college.

The most harmful tip, though, is the one claiming that “False allegations of rape are not common.”
From the second link:
“Arrested for drunk driving, an Albuquerque woman tried to flip the script on an Albuquerque Police officer, accusing him of sexual assault. Cops say when 23-year-old Deanna Griego was placed under arrest for DWI she tried to hatch a false sexual assault accusation against the cop who arrested her. The officer was wearing a lapel cam and the video contradicted her claims.”
People will lie if it serves their interests enough.

Instapundit added the following:
Plus: “Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Tanner Tixier told TheBlaze on Monday evening that police were not pursuing additional charges against Griego because, despite the apparent falsehood of her sexual assault claim, police did not want to set a precedent that could discourage other potential victims of sexual assault from coming forward.”

Don’t we want to discourage liars from lying?
One would think.

Shutting Down Speakers

It's getting all too common these days for conservative speakers to be "uninvited" to speak, or to be subject to a heckler's veto by student protesters exercising their First Amendment rights (while simultaneously preventing others from exercising theirs).  It's interesting that a liberal speaker would be protested--and at UC Berkeley, no less!--but look at why this person was being protested, and note that he's still going to speak:
The University of California, Berkeley, has decided to allow TV personality Bill Maher to speak at a December commencement despite protests from people who accuse him of having bigoted, anti-Muslim views.

In a statement Wednesday, the school administration said it doesn't necessarily endorse Maher's views but he has the right to express them and the invitation stands.
Bill Maher, one of the most far left people out there, doesn't celebrate diversity enough on one issue and hence doesn't pass the Berkeley Purity Test!

For equal time, maybe for the Spring graduation they can have an ISIS representative speak.  Non-white and fighting "the Man", I'm sure that speaker will be a big hit on campus.  Would the women, would the homosexuals, would the non-Muslims, would the anti-sex-trade-trafficking people protest?  I'd guess not, not at Berkeley.

It must be tough to be a liberal sometimes--at least it would be for anyone who values consistency and logic in thought.

Read more here:

Donna Brazile Absolutely Gets It Wrong

Being a liberal that's not surprising, but she shouldn't be this wrong:
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," and coupled with the blurb, "It's nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. Some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that."

The cover is a slap in the face to every teacher who has dedicated his or her life to bettering the lives of children.
Absolutely, violently wrong, Donna.  Taking years to fire a bad teacher is the slap in the face to the rest of us.

Of course I'm not against due process.  I'm against what I call undue process, wherein it really does take years to fire a bad teacher.  And if unions were any more than parasites they'd want to get rid of the bad teachers, but instead teachers unions defend them and help them try to keep their jobs.  That, too, is a slap in the face to the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cautiously Optimistic

I took my third Discrete Optimization test this afternoon and am cautiously optimistic that I scored an A on it.  I did not, however, get a single point on the extra credit problem.  I'm no expert on algorithms anyway, and have never had a class on them, and have no freakin' idea how to modify the given algorithm to accomplish something I couldn't understand anyway!

Moving on.

It's Officially Getting Colder

Yes, it was 80 degrees outside at 6pm this evening--talk about a beautiful day!  But the mornings are getting darn cold, cold enough that I tonight I made the switchover.  Off went the regular cotton sheets, on went the fleece sheets and extra blanket!

(Recent) Experience Counts

Despite the fact that I'm working on a master's degree in math, it's still been decades since I've had to use calculus in more than a simple way.  The bottom line is, my calculus is rusty.  Oh, I can still help students in 1st semester Calculus AB, but after that I usually have to study a little bit before I can help.

Before school this morning I saw one of my former students working on some calculus problems.  We talked for a few minutes; I shared what I'm learning in Discrete Optimization, which he found quite interesting, and he showed me what he was working on.

One of his problems was "find the shortest distance from this function to this point".  I told him that I'd find the slope of the tangent line to the function (basic calculus), calculate the negative reciprocal to get a perpendicular, and then use the point and that slope--in other words, I'd take an algebraic approach with a little bit of calculus.  I asked how he'd do it.  His approach was to use the distance formula from a generic point on the function, and find the minima.

My approach was very BFI (brute force and ignorance), his was more "elegant" (to use a word math people like to use).  Recent experience counts!

And now, I have to study for this afternoon's test!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm Done Studying Tonight

As you can see, this is my 3rd post in the last few minutes.  That indicates that, even though I'd planned to go until 9:00, I'm already done.  An hour early.  It won't do any more good to try to stuff into my head the 7 definitions, 3 proofs, and 4 algorithms that will be on tomorrow's test.  Smoke is pouring out of my ears almost like it it poured out of the microwave last Thursday at lunch.

I'll study some more during my prep period tomorrow.  Some students told me about, at which site I created flash cards to help me with the definitions and the key points of the algorithms.  I'll use that, and practice the proofs, during my prep period and bank on "natural ability/talent" to get me through any calculations, actually carrying out the steps of the algorithms, etc.  So far that's worked for me, but I fear that one of these days that won't be enough.  Until that day, though....

How Math And Science See Each Other

There's more than a kernel of truth in this:
We’re always lumping them together, scientists and mathematicians. They’re “STEM” professionals: bespectacled, smart, pleasantly soft-spoken until you conflate Star Trek and Star Wars, after which their wrath is visited upon you.

But the fact is that, aside from being the butt of cheap jokes, mathematicians and scientists don’t share all that much in common.

And you can tell that from the way they look at each other’s fields.
You've got to love the "bad drawings".

Smart People Said This Would Happen, And It Did

You liberals can claim all day that the laws of economics don't apply in your version of reality, but much like gravity, the laws of economics are real:
Since the launch of Obamacare, at least 122 colleges and universities across the nation have cut student and faculty work hours to skirt the federal law’s mandate requiring employers to provide healthcare for people who work 30 hours or more per week.

Those who have seen their paychecks shrink as a result of the Affordable Care Act include students who work on campus at restaurants, bookstores or gyms, teaching assistants, Residence Advisers, officer workers, student journalists, and a variety of other workers, such as part-time maintenance crews and groundskeepers. Educators’ work hours have also been cut due to the mandate, including part-time instructors and adjunct professors.

A long and growing list of 450 companies, school districts, colleges and institutions that have slashed and capped work hours to comply with the employer mandate – which goes into effect next year – has been compiled by Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily, whose tally chronicles employers both public and private.
Liberal:  "The only way to fix this is to forbid what people and businesses will do naturally!"

Conservative:  "This law is an affront to personal freedom and a disaster in its own right.  Eliminate it and start from scratch--and try some market principles this time."

Which outlook sounds more realistic to you?

When You Live In A Fishbowl...

Having attended West Point, and now being a teacher, I know what it's like to live in a fishbowl--where someone's always watching you, just waiting for you to screw up.  When you operate under such conditions you should maintain the highest standards at all times, and when you don't live up to the highest standards you should make sure you don't live down to the lowest:
Another argument for default phone encryption: to keep criminals from accessing your personal photos and sharing them with others.
CHP Officer Sean Harrington, 35, of Martinez… confessed to stealing explicit photos from the cellphone of a second Contra Costa County DUI suspect in August and forwarding those images to at least two CHP colleagues. The five-year CHP veteran called it a "game" among officers, according to an Oct. 14 search warrant affidavit.
That this criminal (and his criminal cohorts) happened to wear a uniform makes him no less of a criminal. The difference here is that the phone containing the photos wasn't stolen by a criminal but rather seized during a DUI arrest and accessed during booking...

Not an isolated incident. Officer Shawn Harrington called it a "game."
Not your finest hour, officers.  At all.

That's A Lot Of Zeroes

How much money do they have, that they can keep losing this much money?  Or is cash flow alone the only thing that's keeping them going?  Because I love Amazon and don't want to see it go away!
Amazon’s financial results for the third financial quarter of 2014 didn’t do the company any favors when they were announced late last week; the retail giant posted a quarterly net loss of $437 million, up dramatically from last year’s 3Q loss of $41 million. The biggest single contributor to the bad news? Amazon’s Fire Phone...

Things aren’t looking financially rosy for Amazon investors for the next quarter, either. In spite of the holiday buying season’s rapid approach and the huge role Amazon will play in many folks’ gift-giving plans, the company expects an operating loss of between $430 million and $570 million in the final quarter of 2014.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Press Bias?

What else explains this?
This is a tale of two women politicians.

One is a Republican running in “blue” New York. Her name is Elise Stefanik, a Harvard alum who served in the Bush White House and now works for her family’s upstate plywood business.

If elected — and the latest poll has her 8 points up — the 30-year-old will make history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

The other is Democrat Wendy Davis.

Davis too boasts a Harvard degree, from the law school. Back in June 2013, she was heralded as the voice of American women when she tried — and failed — to stop her fellow Texas legislators from passing a law restricting abortion after 20 weeks. Now she’s running for governor, where the latest poll has her down 13 points.

Guess who’s the national sensation?

20 of the Most American Things To Ever Happen
I enjoyed those :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

No Electronics In Class

This seems eminently reasonable to me:
So this year, I moved from recommending setting aside laptops and phones to requiring it, adding this to the class rules: “Stay focused. (No devices in class, unless the assignment requires it.)” Here’s why I finally switched from ‘allowed unless by request’ to ‘banned unless required’.
We’ve known for some time that multi-tasking is bad for the quality of cognitive work, and is especially punishing of the kind of cognitive work we ask of college students. ...
Jonathan Haidt’s metaphor of the elephant and the rider is useful here. In Haidt’s telling, the mind is like an elephant (the emotions) with a rider (the intellect) on top. The rider can see and plan ahead, but the elephant is far more powerful. Sometimes the rider and the elephant work together (the ideal in classroom settings), but if they conflict, the elephant usually wins.
After reading Haidt, I’ve stopped thinking of students as people who simply make choices about whether to pay attention, and started thinking of them as people trying to pay attention but having to compete with various influences, the largest of which is their own propensity towards involuntary and emotional reaction. (This is even harder for young people, the elephant so strong, the rider still a novice.) ...
I assign Saturday School if I see a student accessing his/her phone in class.  The only exception I make is for students whose parents are deployed, for obvious reasons.

Common Core Will Doom AP Calculus

It's a sad day when people in the education field plan for AP Calculus to go away:
The College Board is responding to the brewing changes of today's Common Core era by revising the Advanced Placement program so that the focus is on fewer concepts and more depth.

In an AASA conference session, Advanced Placement in the Common Core Era: Changes and New Developments in the AP Program, on Saturday morning, Trevor Packer, senior vice president of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, told superintendents that his organization would integrate Common Core standards in AP course standards and AP exams administered each May...

Despite these measures, there are still difficulties in reconciling many AP courses with the Common Core. In particular, AP Calculus is in conflict with the Common Core, Packer said, and it lies outside the sequence of the Common Core because of the fear that it may unnecessarily rush students into advanced math classes for which they are not prepared.

The College Board suggests a solution to the problem. of AP Calculus “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science,” he told conference attendees.

Moreover, the College Board may offer an AP Algebra course (although no plans are definite), which may supplant AP Calculus, particularly in schools rigidly adhering to the Common Core standards.
Replacing AP Calculus with AP Algebra is a step backwards--and that's putting it nicely.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Night Snack--von drei Laender

Those Arkansas Black apples are quite tasty!  They're different, somehow, from a Red Delicious, which is my usual choice, but my experience isn't enough to be able to define exactly how it is that they're different.  Still, very good.

I thought it might be nice to have something to dip the apples in so I broke out what's left of the homemade honey I bought on the Big Island over the summer.  The dragonfruit/ginger honey is amazing on an apple slice!

But wait, there's more.  I was going to make myself some tea, but as I was getting out the honey I saw this:
I don't know about nutmeg or a bay leaf--or even straining it, for that matter!--but the cocoa tea I picked up on St. Lucia in June is quite good.  It's tea so it's not "rich" like hot chocolate, but it definitely tastes like bitter, unsweetened chocolate (which in itself isn't that bad).  A little honey and cinnamon, though, and it's quite good.

An evening snack--from three lands.  One way to relive my travels....

This Morning

Got up bright and early this morning--early enough that it wasn't bright at all, or even light out--to go up to Apple Hill with a friend.

We needn't have left so early.  It's harvest season and I wanted to leave before the traffic lines back up several miles onto the freeway, but the reports of rain turned out to be true--not so much here in the Valley, but up in the foothills.  It was coming down pretty hard, hard enough to scare the crowds away so that the traffic jams didn't materialize.

It's fun watching the apple coring and peeling machine work at Boa Vista Orchards, and also watch the men press apple "puddling" (apples that have been sliced and diced into a "slop") into cider and juice.  We saw the leftovers, the "pudding" after it had all the juice squeezed out of it, and it looked something like sawdust, so much of the juice having been pressed out of it.  I'm sure it's used as feed somewhere.

Bought Arkansas Black apples, cider, cooking sauces, pastries, soup mixes--you name it.  Much of the non-perishables will go for Christmas presents, shopping for which I'm doing quite well this year.

Not a bad way to spend a morning.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Crescendo et Coda

If you've been reading my blog for the past week you know it's been a wild week.  A student protest, news vans, a threat of a school shooting--and the fire alarm going off during lunch on the day of the supposed shooting threat.  Nerves are a little frazzled.

Have you been watching the news out of Sacramento today?  Cops shot, etc.?  Well, it happened right down the road from my school, close enough that we were in a lightened version of a lockdown for awhile, one that continued about 20 minutes into lunch.  Nerves are a little frazzled.

And have I told you that I teach in an upscale area?  Waiting at a stoplight near school the other morning I counted 4 Mercedes sedans and 1 Mercedes SUV pass me going the other direction.

Yes, I had a double during 7th period (Happy Hour) today.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Voter Fraud Is Not A Myth

James O'Keefe shows how easy it is to commit voter fraud in Colorado, with the active help of liberal activists:
Many liberals are adamant there is no threat of voter fraud that justifies efforts to improve the integrity of elections. “There is no real concrete evidence of voter fraud,” tweeted Donna Brazile, former acting chair of the Democratic National Committee, this week. “It’s a big ass lie.”

James O’Keefe, the guerilla filmmaker who brought down the ACORN voter-registration fraudsters in 2010 and forced the resignation of NPR executives, politely disagrees. Today, he is releasing some new undercover footage that raises disturbing questions about ballot integrity in Colorado, the site of fiercely contested races for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, and the governorship. When he raised the issue of filling out some of the unused ballots that are mailed to every household in the state this month, he was told by Meredith Hicks, the director of Work for Progress, a liberal group funded by Democratic Super PACS.: “That is not even like lying or something, if someone throws out a ballot, like if you want to fill it out you should do it.” She then brazenly offered O’Keefe, disguised as a middle-aged college instructor, a job with her group.

The video of O’Keefe’s encounters with other operatives is equally disturbing.  He has a conversation with Greenpeace employee Christina Topping, and suggests he might have access to unused ballots from people who have recently moved out of college fraternity houses. “I mean it is putting the votes to good use,” she responds. “So really, truly, like yeah, that is awesome.”
Did you catch that? You don't have to believe me, but you can't deny the video.

What does it say about your beliefs, and your contempt for your fellow citizens, if you don't think you and your ideas can win legitimately so you actually cheat (*cough*, IRS, *cough*) in order to win elections?

Liberals are often despicable.  They can be nice enough individuals, but when it comes to their actions related to their politics, they're often despicable.

Update:  Probability says that this wouldn't happen absent outside forces:
For whatever reason, when statewide races are decided by less than 1 point, Democrats win almost three-quarters of the time. When the margin opens to 1-2 points, that advantage dissipates, and the Democrats win only half the races.
Works that way with recounts, too. They always seem to find a box of ballots in the trunk of a car somewhere....

Think Plastic Grocery Bags Are Bad For The Environment? Look At The Alternative

California's law was passed on emotion and wanting to "do something", another common impulse of lefties:
Make no mistake: This measure wasn’t about preserving our environment—the alternatives to plastic bags have heavier environmental footprints than the now-illegal variety deemed outmoded—or protecting cute marine life. This was an exercise in punishing an industry, and the thousands of hard-working Californians it employs, that Big Green finds politically distasteful.

In both environmental and fiscal measures, bag bans are unqualified failures. This ban will engender no positive outcomes for our environment and in turn only toughen the job climate. And yet it gets even worse when one examines the process through which this particular deal was brokered.

Here, greedy special interests and desperate legislators struck an agreement to allow grocers to retain all the paper bag fees in return for their support of the legislation. Projected to earn as much as $1 billion in new revenue, the grocers gladly obliged. With the help of the grocers’ lobbyists, legislators in Sacramento had the necessary air cover to ignore the environmental science and potential for dramatic job loss. So do what they refused and consult the data.

Plastic bags generate fully 80 percent less solid waste than paper bags. They require 70 percent less energy to manufacture and 91 percent less energy to recycle. They occupy 85 percent less landfill space than bulky paper alternatives.

Now size up in-vogue reusable bags.

According to a lifecycle analysis by the United Kingdom’s environmental authority, shoppers would need to reuse their reusable totes 131 times before it became more environmentally advantageous than a plastic bag that was used just once. The Brits determined that it would take 7.5 years, assuming one trip to the market a week, for a reusable bag to have a lesser carbon footprint than a plastic bag used only three times.

But the problems with reusable bags aren’t simply limited to its gross environmental failings. They also pose a growing public health risk....
Crony capitalism plus false claims of environmental superiority.  That's California!

At CNN, Violence Against Women Is OK If It's Directed At The "Right" Women

These people are not only hypocrites, they're just foul human beings:

How do you get liberals to approve of violence against women? Just tell them the women are Republicans named "Palin."

Wednesday afternoon, CNN anchor Carol Costello hyped newly released audio of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol tearfully recounting her being physically assaulted during a fight the family was involved in last month by saying it was “quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across.” She grinned during the entire setup.

The anchor went on to say “sit back and enjoy,” before playing the audio, in which Bristol says she confronted a man who had allegedly pushed her little sister, only to have him shove her to the ground, then drag her by her feet while calling her an obscene name I cannot republish here that refers to the female anatomy.
Costello commented, still grinning, after the audio that “the long bleep” was her favorite part. She ended the segment by saying “you can thank me later.”

Costello is the same anchor who was enraged by the NFL’s apparent lack of concern for the wife of former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice, who was punched by the football player in an Atlantic City elevator in February.

Other liberals piled on, seemingly delighted that the daughter of someone they disagree with politically was physically attacked.
Liberals like violence.  They like to threaten it, they like to see it used--it's why they believe in coercion so much, why they support totalitarianism.  Ever see a mob of conservatives riot in the streets?  Me, either.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I tried to do something nice for people.

Some teachers are really having a difficult time dealing with the pressure of what we've been going through at school the last few days.  I thought I'd do something nice for the folks I eat lunch with, so I brought in some kettlecorn and popped it in the microwave at lunch.

Can you see where this is going?

I tried to get the smoking bag out of the room before the smoke alarm went off, but alas, I failed.  Some interpreted the fire alarm as a lockdown, given all the events of the last few days, and the office even made an announcement that we were not in lockdown but were to follow the fire evacuation procedures.  Kids are everywhere, lunches are everywhere, the fire department showed up even though all of us, including the office, knew the issue was only a smoking bag of popcorn.

Last time I try to do something nice for people!

This Is What We're Dealing With Today

I'm sure this is a weekly occurrence at some schools but it is damned annoying.  I can't stand having the newsvulture vans parked in front of school each day, fanning the flames and needlessly putting some people on edge:
Local law enforcement, Homeland Security, and the FBI are all on alert this week after Rio Americano High School employees discovered threats of a school shooting. The threats warned the violence could happen as early as Tuesday...

Rio Americano Principal Brian Ginter sent parents messages reassuring them about the investigation, stating in one web post: "Safe Schools has done a threat assessment on this situation and feels there is no evidence that it is a credible threat. With that being said, we are still taking it seriously."

It's still unclear who made the threat and why, but the warnings were discovered the same day students mounted a peaceful protest over an incident involving student (name removed on 11/26/2017--see comments). She said a vice principal grabbed her, slammed her against a desk, and took her to the ground. The sheriff's department said the student started the confrontation, and the administrator was just trying to restrain her. Students at the protest objected to (name removed 11/26/2017)'s suspension, but investigators can't say if the threats of a shooting were related.
Teachers are reporting large numbers of absences in their first classes of the day so the bad guys have succeeded in disrupting school for days.  I told kids that instruction, quizzes, and tests will go on as planned in my classes and their absence from instruction will not get them out of any assessment.

A former student of mine is subbing today.  A few months ago he was in West Africa in the Peace Corps but had to come home because of the ebola breakout.  Of course all the local news outlets wanted to interview him, and this morning (as I was commenting on the newsvulture trucks out front) he told me how he got so frustrated with how they reported his story--they would cut/paste from the interview to give the spin that they wanted, whether or not it was what he was saying--that he eventually told them he'd do no more such interviews; the only format to which he'd agree was to sit down in a studio live and tell and tell his story.  Of course none of them took him up on his offer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Have Nothing Interesting To Post Today

Based on last Friday's post you might imagine that things have been "interesting" at school the last couple days, and they're expected to be just as "interesting" tomorrow.  It's dying down, but not soon enough for my taste--and the newsvultures with their vans parked out in front of school aren't helping any.  I didn't take their pictures today, as the vans weren't rather plain-looking (white, rather than colorful, even though the same station was represented in today's parade-of-fools of news vans).

I did a little interior redecorating here at Casa del Darren after I got home, and now it's time to try to understand my homework again. 

I think I'll sleep deeply tonight!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

They're shameless, they really are:
In Connecticut, Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has returned a curious and controversial draft recommendation: the state should increase its oversight of homeschooled children with emotional or behavioral challenges. The proposal has outraged the state’s homeschoolers, who, like homeschoolers everywhere, are keenly aware of their sometimes conditional freedoms. In Connecticut, as elsewhere, the law allows parents to homeschool if they choose. But the practice has always been viewed as threatening by left-wing academics, social architects, and teachers’ unions—all well represented on Malloy’s 16-member panel. Sadly, this is only the most recent assault on the rights of Connecticut homeschoolers.
Lanza didn't shoot people because he was homeschooled, he shot them because he was crazy.  To single out homeschoolers like this, and to use that shooting as the reason for doing so, is only slightly less crazy than Lanza was.  It's also blatant manipulation of a tragedy for political gain, something that decent people everywhere should decry.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Impossible! Obamacare Is Working Perfectly

Anyone who thought this wouldn't happen was a fool:
Over 22,000 Coloradoans have had their health insurance canceled by Obamacare in the past month — and 200,000 are slated to be shut down in 2015, the state insurance department announced Friday.

The Colorado Division of Insurance wrote to state Senate Republicans Friday, notifying them that five more insurance carriers have ended plans for 18,783 more Coloradoans in just the last month. By far, the most canceled plans will come from Humana Insurance Company and Humana Health Plan.

That brings the state’s Obamacare total to almost 340,000 canceled plans, according to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s in a tight race for Senate with incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Udall.
Remember, Colorado is currently run by Democrats so you conspiracy theorists can't complain that this is some sort of Republican plot to make Dear Leader look bad.

Additionally, after taxpayers start bailing out insurance companies which will lose money because not enough of the "right" people signed up for Obamacare, I don't ever again want to hear a leftie complain about "corporate tax breaks" or "crony capitalism" or any other argument.  You are the worst purveyors of that disgusting brand of rent-seeking.

No Halloween At School

It's not a new argument; even when I was a kid there were parents who complained about the "pagan" or "satanic" nature of Halloween.  Then, as now, such people need to take a chill pill.  And while I'm at it, those who hyperventilate and convulse at the thought of a Christmas tree or a snowman at school need to do the same thing.

In the former case we have primarily protestant Christians and in the latter case primarily atheists (joined by Jews in some places), but in both cases the casus belli is the same:  I don't believe what you do, so I don't want you to enjoy what you do--and I certainly don't want to see you enjoy it.  Throw in a religious component and every killjoy in the country thinks they can cloak themselves in the mantle of the First Amendment.

This is why they're wrong:  while Christmas, and Easter, and Halloween, and Thanksgiving, all have a religious component, they also have a secular component.  Secular society has co-opted those holidays and created new components of them completely divorced from the religious side.  There's nothing at all religious about a fat man living at the North Pole or snowflakes or bunnies' delivering chocolate eggs or wearing costumes whilst begging for candy or watching football after eating Turkey.  There just isn't, and to complain about these things year after year is a silly waste of time that shows just how soft--and how soft-headed--our society has become.  There's no legitimate argument against having a Christmas tree in a classroom, or for that matter any other decoration that excludes overtly religious symbolism.

What started me down this particular road on this beautiful Sunday morning?  This post about Halloween from Joanne's site.  I like her conclusion, though:
Parents who think Halloween is the work of the devil must be frustrated by how much fun the holiday is for its celebrants. It’s tough to compete.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Would This Have Been Handled By The University's Sexual Kangaroo Court?

I would never say that law enforcement gets it right all the time, but they have a much greater opportunity to arrive at a just conclusion than a university does:
On Friday, a rape charge against UC Berkeley student {name removed by request, see update below} was dismissed after prosecutors concluded that {name removed by request, see update below} was innocent of committing the crime.

{name removed by request, see update below}, 20, was charged with rape by use of drugs last week after an alleged sexual assault Sept. 27 was reported. The woman whom {name removed by request, see update below} was charged with assaulting, identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe,” was “prevented from resisting by an intoxicating, anesthetic, and controlled substance,” according to the court documents.

But after reviewing the evidence provided by Berkeley Police Department and interviewing Jane Doe, district attorney spokesperson Teresa Drenick said, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office determined that {name removed by request, see update below} didn’t commit any sexual assault Sept. 27 and motioned to dismiss the charges.  (boldface mine--Darren)
Let's not forget that while the accuser's name has been kept private, Mr. {name removed by request, see update below} was already tried and convicted in the court of public opinion at Berkeley.  The comments on the linked article are evidence enough that these types of proceedings rightly fall under law enforcement and not in universities.

Update, 10/24/18:  This morning I woke up to an email from the wrongly-accused individual above, asking me to remove this post.  He's trying to get all references to his name and this particular instance removed from the internet.  Good luck with that, but I'll do my part to help out by removing his name from this post.  He replied with thanks.

Lack of Leadership

I've pointed out before that President Obama is not a leader.  He fails every test of leadership, every time.  The ebola issue is just the latest in a long string:
Here we go again, as the NY Times puts out their obligatory "Obama is as shocked and dismayed by this latest Big Government fail as the rest of you poor suckers" story...

I have lost track of the number of times we have read that Obama is shocked to learn that big bureaucracies can be clumsy and plagued by poor communication, but I welcome some reminders in the comments; offhand, the Secret Service, the rollout and the VA spring to mind, but I also recall he learned about the IRS and Fast and Furious by careful reading of his daily newspapers. (Don't forget the existence of ISIS!--Darren)

My advice to Team Obama - encourage the Big Guy to take a look around. If he sees a playing field and thousands of screaming fans then he is probably in a luxury skybox somewhere and yes, he is free to cheer and boo like any other spectator. But if he sees a famous desk and slightly curved walls, then he is probably in the Oval Office and might want to remember that he is Chief Executive of the United States and is notionally responsible for the many bureaucracies he purportedly leads.
If this is how someone who loves government and thinks government is the solution to all problems--if this is how such a person runs a government, why on earth would you want to give government more power and authority? 

I do not understand the statist mindset.  I just don't.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Women Make 77 Cents For Every Dollar A Man Makes?

That's Myth #5 on Christina Hoff Sommers' 5 feminist myths that will not die.

Anyone conversant in economics could tell you that if it were true, no men would get jobs because employers would be crazy to hire them at 1/3 more than the cost of a woman.

I'm Getting Old

This was a view on my campus early on today:
As I said, I'm getting old.  I have next to no patience for teenage drama and angst, so you can imagine how, uh, resigned I feel on days like today.

Obviously it wouldn't be wise for me to share the information to which I am privy, but should you be interested in what's out in the public sphere, our local news organizations love to fan the flames of these kinds of stories with stories of their own that are not what I would call 100% accurate:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

She Has Big Boots To Fill

Lynda Carter is among the most attractive women who has ever lived.  That's partly why she was cast as Wonder Woman in the 1970s tv show.  Anyone who portrays Wonder Woman has to live up to Carter's portrayal of the Amazon princess as a tough, intelligent, and caring person without a hint of any character flaws.

In today's movie environment there's a trend of "going dark"--the good guys (and gals!) have an evil edge, or a dark secret, or they give in to human foibles or other weaknesses.  I'm not a fan of that trend, I want to see my good guys (and gals!) be good guys (and gals!).  I want them to be better than the rest of us, not just stronger--and that's how Carter played Wonder Woman.

In 2017 Warner Bros. is going to release a Wonder Woman movie.  Just a look at the released picture leads me to fear that Wonder Woman is going to be less Wonder and more Woman:
Dark.  That's not what Wonder Woman is supposed to be.  This is:
If they take away the feminine side of Wonder Woman and just make her a warrior who happens to be a woman, Warner Bros. will be taking away one of the important attributes of Wonder Woman. 

Anyone with special abilities can kick butt and take names.  There's more to Wonder Woman than just that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Only Good Communist Is A Dead Communist

Growing up during the Cold War I believed that, and I see no reason to change my belief today.  Some people just need killin', and communists are among them.  If any need to be kept alive it's only as showpieces, as examples to future generations of why we should not revere communists.  There is nothing in communist ideology that is of value except perhaps as an identifier of sociopathy or totalitarian intent, neither of which should be tolerated in polite society.

Think my words are harsh?  Perhaps you want to sugarcoat your history but I prefer to see it as it was and to learn from it.  You may be mamby-pampy and "tolerant" and think it's not nice to make others uncomfortable, I say you're what the communists themselves called "useful idiots".

No, on this topic I don't mince words.  I grew up with visions of global nuclear war with those people, and such a war would have been preferable to living with their boot on my neck.  "Live free or die."  "I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery." To me those are not just words.

So imagine my shock when I read who's being celebrated at UCLA:
Look whose photo graces the campus of UCLA, meant to be an inspiration to incoming students. The woman in the photo is standing above the slogan: “We Question.” On the right-hand side, in small letters, students are informed that they are “the optimists.”

This banner adds to the shadow that today is cast over so many of our major universities.

For those who can’t identify her, the photo depicts Angela Davis, the notorious former Communist Party USA leader who, beginning in the ’60s, molded together black nationalism with Marxism-Leninism. She created a heady brew for recruiting new cadre into the CP and the original Black Panther Party of Huey Newton.

Some optimist! Davis believed in the triumph of Communism.

For her loyalty to the Soviet Union and its foreign policies, in 1972 she was awarded a Lenin Centenary Medal in the Soviet Union, after which she spoke to thousands at an outdoor rally in Moscow. Next, speaking at a factory in Kirov, Davis praised the workers for not using “products of labor [to fuel] the irrational drive for capitalist profits as it is used in our country.”

As she left Moscow and went up the stairs to enter her plane, she yelled out with a clenched fist: “Long live the science of Marxism-Leninism.” There is not an iota of evidence that she questioned anything about the dreary reality in the Soviet Union and their Eastern European client states...

One might ask: Why is Davis so important? The answer is that today’s cultural elites, like whoever at UCLA decided to adorn the campus with her photo, treat any rebel — even a dogmatic ideologue like Angela Davis — as a leader from which students can learn valuable lessons. It is these academics who treat her as both a saint and a leader, and who constantly invite her to give major speeches on our campuses which they urge their students to attend.

To herald Angela Davis as a person who questions anything reveals the mindset of our university administrators, and is itself more evidence of the decline of standards at our major colleges and universities. Expect Ms. Davis to be a graduation speaker sometime in UCLA’s future. That is the logical next step in helping Angela Davis lead her march to a communist future via “the long march through the existing institutions.”
Some people hate Illinois Nazis.  As the Instapundit says, communists are just Nazis with better PR.  That UCLA is holding such a person up as an exemplar is sickening.  It's unjustifiable.  It's foul.  It's gross.

If you went to UCLA, you should contact your alumni association.  The rest of us can start here.

Even Harvard Law Professors Think The New Sexual Kangaroo Courts Are Out of Control

From Harvard and the Boston Globe, neither of which is known for its he-man-woman-haters-club credentials:
As members of the faculty of Harvard Law School, we write to voice our strong objections to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures imposed by the central university administration and the Corporation on all parts of the university, including the law school.

We strongly endorse the importance of protecting our students from sexual misconduct and providing an educational environment free from the sexual and other harassment that can diminish educational opportunity. But we believe that this particular sexual harassment policy adopted by Harvard will do more harm than good.

As teachers responsible for educating our students about due process of law, the substantive law governing discrimination and violence, appropriate administrative decision-making, and the rule of law generally, we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach. We also find the process by which this policy was decided and imposed on all parts of the university inconsistent with the finest traditions of Harvard University, of faculty governance, and of academic freedom.

Among our many concerns are the following...
You'll want to read the whole thing.  Due process is built into our national Constitution for a very good reason, and cynical political manipulations are not a good reason to ignore it.

Like so many other stupid things, this, too, shall pass when a couple of women get caught up in the dragnet.

Suspending An Honor Student

Yes, honor students sometimes do stupid things, too, but it's not the student who's acting stupidly in this story:
The 17-year-old Michigan honor student who was initially expelled after a 3 ¼-inch pocketknife was found in her purse during a football game in September will be suspended for the year instead and be able to take online classes and graduate with her class next year, reported.

Though the Dearborn Heights District 7 Board of Education softened the punishment, Atiya Haynes said the board, which met on Monday, made up its mind before it handed down the ruling.

Haynes, who reportedly has a 3.0 GPA and hopes to attend Howard University, does not deny having the pocketknife...(but) said she forgot about it.

The school board said its hands were tied in the case because it is required to uphold state laws. The state has a zero-tolerance rule.
When you don't have to think, you won't. They're not thinking.

Stupid laws, like laws that aren't enforced, breed contempt for all laws--and for the people who create and enforce them.  Good job, idiots.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Kid You Not, This Really Happened

A teacher at school sent the following email today.  He says this really happened and gave me permission to post the story here.  Identifying information has, of course, been redacted:
This just happened in my class:

Five minutes into the essay test--after I had explained that it was open book, open notes, and that they could use any resource available to them—a cellphone speaker erupts:

"Hello, this Michael Pollan."

"Mr. Pollan, my name is XXXXX and I am a student at XXXXX High School and I was wondering if you could help me with my essay about your book?"


He let the answering service pu the next few tries…
I'm not sure what I should think about this.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Can't Challenge It. It's Science.

You know you want to go read the whole thing:
Few traits better characterize contemporary liberals than their false sense of intellectual superiority. 

We're all familiar with the clich├ęs.  Conservatives and libertarians who deviate from liberal articles of faith, from global warming alarmism to Keynesian economics to bureaucratized social engineering, are "deniers," unmoored from rationality and "settled science."  Leftist author Thomas Frank captured that mindset with the title of his book "What's the Matter with Kansas?," asserting that Republican voters aren't even capable of aligning their votes with their supposedly self-evident best interests. 

There's only one problem. 

The actual, objective sociological evidence continues to demonstrate that the opposite is true.  Republicans routinely prove themselves more knowledgeable than Democrats. 

The left-leaning Pew Research Center provides the latest example. 

Each year, Pew conducts its "What Do Americans Know" survey, which tests respondents on a series of questions.  This year, the topics included the federal minimum wage, the territory occupied by ISIS, the Ukraine, Common Core educational proposals, fracking, where the Ebola virus is centered, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. poverty rate, where Shiite Muslims outnumber Sunnis, who chairs the Federal Reserve, where the federal government spends most and the U.S. unemployment rate.  

Unsurprisingly, older adults demonstrated greater knowledge than their younger counterparts, as did better-educated respondents. 

But buried at the bottom of the survey report lies the subject heading "Partisan Differences in Knowledge," which itemizes each question and the percentage of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who answered each one correctly. 

So how stark were the partisan knowledge differentials? 

Out of 12 questions asked, Republicans outperformed both Democrats and Independents on 10.
I'm shocked--SHOCKED, I tell you!


Does anyone truly believe this will do anything to combat so-called childhood obesity?
Students celebrating a birthday at a northern Kentucky elementary school will have to do without birthday cake -- or any kind of food for that matter.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Burlington Elementary School recently revised its wellness policy to address the growing childhood obesity rate nationwide.

It's among a few schools that have a no-food-for-birthdays rule.
When I was young I thought my generation would do a better job than the baby boomers when we finally got to be in charge. I was mistaken.  They're pikers compared to our ability to demonstrate idiocy.

Scientists Have Biases? Say It Isn't So!

How reliable is academic research? Not very, it seems, after noting that the Journal of Vibration and Control, a reputable academic publication, had to retract 60 different papers over the summer.

The editors concluded that Chen-Yuan Chen, a researcher in Taiwan, had created a “peer-review and citation ring.”

OK, it’s not exactly a “Sopranos” plot. But it’s pretty shady for the world of higher education. Chen went to great lengths to make up fake email addresses and even assume the names of other scientists to write approvingly of his own research.

In a sense, though, he was just exploiting the deep flaws of the peer review system. The academy has become a kind of club where friends give friends flattering assessments of research, which essentially guarantees promotions and tenure.
Sounds a lot like getting "consensus".  Sounds a lot like "global warming" or "climate change" or whatever they're calling it this week.

Political persuasion rears its ugly head, too:
The article, whose lead author is New York University’s Jonathan Haidt, finds that academic psychology has lost nearly all of its political diversity in the last 50 years and that the validity of the discipline has been “undermined” as a result.

And while the authors note that greater political diversity would improve things, nonliberals face a “hostile climate and discrimination.”
To liberals, it's OK to discriminate against conservatives.  It just is.

Teacher Fired in New York!

As reader MikeAT said when he emailed this to me:  Pigs have flown! Hell Has Frozen Over! The Saints are in the Superbowl! And New York fired a teacher!
In New York City – as with so many other places around the country – it’s generally a sadly accepted assumption that once a teacher in the public school system achieves tenure, they are in place for life. It doesn’t matter if you turn out to be a pedophile, a sexual predator or violent madman, thanks to the power of the teachers unions, your taxpayer funded paycheck is pretty much safe for life. At most, you might be sent to sit in a rubber room. Heck, in the current case of Sean Shaynak, you can collect your pay while sitting in jail on charges of kidnapping and trading good grades in exchange for sex with children.

But if the reports are true, Public School 78 in the Bronx has broken the mold after a series of drawn out court proceedings and actually succeeded in firing Jason Roberts.
Go read what it took for him to get fired, which includes claims that he
spat on a student; hung up on the principal; told students they could attack another student and break his glasses; passed gas in students’ faces; threw a block of wood at a student, and shouted things like “bitch,” “white devil” and “suck a goat’s ass” when talking to students, parents and colleagues, according to court papers.
Still, it took three years.  And of course, his union defended him.  I'm not saying they shouldn't ensure his due process rights weren't observed, but they actually tried to allow him to keep his job.  Holy crap.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Race No One Cares About--Is Heating Up!

Why would anyone care who California's Superintendent of Public Instruction is?  Is the job any more important, any more glamorous, any more influential than the state's Insurance Commissioner?  Some people think so, at least this time around:
Independent expenditure committees have set aside almost $5.5 million in the past week for the final stage of California’s hotly contested superintendent of public instruction race, an ideologically charged battle that has pitted incumbent Tom Torlakson against former schools executive Marshall Tuck over teacher job protections.
The CTA supports Torlakson, which would be reason enough for me to support Tuck had I not already formed an opinion of Torlakson a couple years ago when he spoke at a gathering featuring Diane Ravitch.  That night, and CTA's support, are two strikes against Torlakson in my book.

Read more here:

Geniuses at the TSA

Remember, after the 9/11 attacks these are the people we're counting on to keep us safe in the skies:
Among the many changes the Nobel Prize brought to Schmidt’s life: travel hassles. Here’s what he said it’s like to carry a Nobel medal aboard an airplane:

“There are a couple of bizarre things that happen. One of the things you get when you win a Nobel Prize is, well, a Nobel Prize. It’s about that big, that thick [he mimes a disk roughly the size of an Olympic medal], weighs a half a pound, and it’s made of gold.

“When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it. I was coming around so I decided I’d bring my Nobel Prize. You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It’s made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it’s completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

“They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’
I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’
They said, ‘What’s in the box?’
I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.
So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’
I said, ‘gold.’
And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’
‘The King of Sweden.’
‘Why did he give this to you?’
‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’
At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”
If the probability of a hijacking weren't so low I'd be concerned every time I got on a plane.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Turning Feminism On Its Head

That's what the new campus sex law in California does:
It is impossible to overstate the growing weirdness of the college sex scene. Campus feminists are reimporting selective portions of a traditional sexual code that they have long scorned, in the name of ending what they preposterously call an epidemic of campus rape. They are once again making males the guardians of female safety and are portraying females as fainting, helpless victims of the untrammeled male libido. (boldface mine--Darren)  They are demanding that college administrators write highly technical rules for sex and aggressively enforce them, 50 years after the proponents of sexual liberation insisted that college adults stop policing student sexual behavior. While the campus feminists are not yet calling for an assistant dean to be present at their drunken couplings, they have created the next best thing: the opportunity to replay every grope and caress before a tribunal of voyeuristic administrators.
Crazed feminists and their liberal go-alongs: the neo-Victorians.

The President Is A Failure

I've said it so many times, in so many different ways, but Stephen Hayes shines here:
The scandals and policy failures have had a devastating effect. With two years left in his presidency, Obama has no agenda. The major new investments and initiatives that he spoke of after his election never happened. Gun control measures he pushed went nowhere. Immigration reform​—​at least the comprehensive variety that Obama demanded​—​is dead. As the investigations of old scandals continue, new ones have taken their place on newspaper front pages across the country: the chronic failures of the VA and, most recently, a serious cover-up involving the Secret Service.

When he’s not on the golf course, the president seems to spend most of his time fundraising for vulnerable Democrats, threatening executive action on those things he can’t accomplish by leading, and working to minimize crises of his own making.

This is a failed presidency...

The top concern of Americans today, more than six years after Barack Obama vowed to “make government cool again,” is that they don’t trust their government. When Obama took office, 43 percent of Americans told Gallup that they were satisfied with the way the country was being governed, while 56 percent said they were dissatisfied. Today, just 27 percent say they’re satisfied and 72 percent say they’re dissatisfied.

A CNN poll taken in July found that trust in government is at an all-time low, with just 13 percent saying they trust government all or most of the time. Keating Holland, the director of polling at CNN, framed the results this way: “The number who trust government all or most of the time has sunk so low that it is hard to remember that there was ever a time when Americans routinely trusted government"...

Here, then, is the great irony of the Obama presidency: Barack Obama will be a transformative president, but not in the way he imagined when he spoke to the Reno Gazette-Journal a year before he took the oath of office. Rather than restore faith in government, the Obama presidency has all but destroyed it. 

Despite himself, Obama has made the case for limited government more powerfully than his opponents.
Is there anything he can accomplish besides fundraising?

Those same people who decry money in politics--and that's you, friends on the left--are the biggest crony capitalists around.  If you want to get corporate money out of politics, the only way to do that is to take away that which the money can purchase--and that's the ability for government to do someone's bidding.  Take power away from Washington, restore the federal government to one of limited, enumerated powers, and there will be no reason for corporations to buy influence--because there will be no influence to buy.  Keep consolidating power in Washington, and look what happens.  Are you proud of the way your government is operating today?  No?  Then why would you want more of it?

Barack Obama's presidency is the poster child for conservatism.

College Readiness

Joanne, freshly back from Spain, gives statistics that back up what so many of us have long believed:
Forty-three percent of SAT takers in the class of 2014 are prepared for college, reports College Board. The average SAT score was 1497 out of 2400, down a point from the year before. A combined score of 1550 predicts success in college classes.

Only students aspiring to selective colleges take the SAT.  College readiness rates are even lower — 26 percent — on the ACT, which includes some students required by their states to take the exam.
This causes one to wonder:  why do college costs keep going up?  Why are schools so crowded such that students have a hard time getting the classes they need in order to graduate in 4 years?  Why do we have so many remedial math and English students at universities?

If I were in charge, I wouldn't let unprepared students into public universities (private universities can do whatever the market will bear).  Take your remedial courses at community college and come to a university when you're ready to do university-level work.

It's an idea that's so wacky it just might work.  (BTW, complaining that there's not enough room at CC's is not a reason to warehouse students at higher-cost universities.  Just sayin'.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Results of Today's Test

I'm fairly confident of at least a B.  I'd be elated to have earned an A.

I also learned that I'm not near as good as "pulling it out" as I thought I was.  Natural ability can only get you so far, then you just have to know the stuff.  I put in several hours over several days studying for this test, but when it came down to it there were still a couple things that I didn't know I didn't know.  And those were on the test :-)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Stuff Just Got Real

I had planned to take my 2nd test in Discrete Optimization next Monday, but after a discussion with my proctor today I'll take it tomorrow after school.

Intense studying starts now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Where Is This Horrible Problem?

Regular readers may have noticed that I've been on a mission lately about California's stupid new law that attempts to regulate sex between college students (and only between college students).  A week ago I pointed to some statistics that indicate that there's no real sexual violence problem at local UC Davis, and in today's major Sacramento paper we learn there's no real sexual violence problem at CSU Sacramento, either:
Crime on the Sacramento State University campus declined last year, according to information reported under the federal Clery Act.

The campus reported one sex offense, compared to three in 2012 and two in 2011. The assault took place at a residential facility on campus, according to the report.
CSUS has an undergraduate enrollment of over 25,000 students in addition to graduate and post-graduate students.  Where is this so-called problem that's to be solved by the silly new law?

Read more here:

Only 53% ?

Only 53% of Americans think the Obama presidency is a failure?
A clear majority of Americans describe President Obama's tenure as a "failure" according to a new poll released Monday.

The survey from IBD/TIPP indicates that 53 percent of adults in the United States now characterize Obama's presidency as a "failure," while 41 percent chalk it up as a success. Half of the people who live in states won by Obama see his tenure negatively, as do 59 percent of those aged 25-44 years old.
Those who see his administration as “successful” are clearly nothing more than partisan hacks. On what basis could any of his presidency be considered successful?

What (good) has he accomplished? What has he done (well)?  It certainly isn't Obamacare:
Although more provisions of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect over the past year, more Americans still say the law has hurt rather than helped them. Compared with early 2014, fewer Americans say it has had no effect, although this group is still in the majority, at 54%.

This is what happens when you vote for someone based on their skin color (or their sex, or any other non-applicable attribute) instead of on their proven record of accomplishment.


This is a topic that periodically rears its head at my school because some teachers allow students a “2nd chance” with a retest and some don’t. You can count me in the 2nd category.

What is the point of a retest? Some will say it gives students a chance to show what they’ve learned; why does it matter if they didn’t know the material last Friday if they know the material now? Others say that students are assessed at reasonable intervals and that a grade reflects their progress through a course of study.

If the former is true, why give any grade at all except that of a final exam? After all, if student mastery is all that matters, why not assess it once at the end of a course? Of course, a teacher could (and should) offer periodic interim assessments so that students would “know what they know and what they don’t know”, but if mastery is what matters, then only the final exam should count.

Offer students and their parents that option and none will take it. At least, none of mine ever has. No one wants to risk that “high stakes test” that so many decry in other situations.

I’m of the belief that teachers who allow retakes are essentially allowing students to conduct reconnaissance. Who really believes that a student can spend 4 weeks on a chapter in math, bomb a chapter test, but less than a week later know enough of the material to get an A? Sure, a teacher could change test questions and topics and the like, but that sounds suspiciously like intentionally trying to sabotage a student’s grade. Some say that a retest can only raise a student’s grade by such-and-such a percentage or by no more than a fixed number of points, but if mastery is what matters, why tinker with the points in such an arbitrary way? And if students are, in fact, merely conducting reconnaissance during the first administration of a test, why reward them with a higher score?

I just want to test the material I deem most important in a chapter, and to test it on a specific date that’s announced well in advance after we’ve covered all of that material. Students should master the material by that date, not 4 days (or however long) later. Frequent quizzes are a must to ensure that students are aware of what they know and what they need to continue work on. As far as I’m concerned, after quizzes the chapter test is the “2nd chance” that a retest is sometimes claimed to be.

Cross-posted from

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

California's New "Affirmative Consent" Law

This lady makes some interesting points:

Women Risk Losing Discretion In Push For Affirmative Consent
A new sexual consent law in California has Progressives pushing for a return to the kind of sexual arrangements they decry as regressive.

Instead there are efforts like California’s new affirmative consent laws to govern sexual relations on college campuses. These are prone to more unintended consequences for everyone. While much of the law appears to simply grandstanding that “Yes does, in fact, mean yes,” the problematic parts start to appear the new law’s attempts to define how people execute affirmative consent. The California law says: “Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. "

I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine how people let out constant affirmative feedback during sex and move on to the next problem. This law does nothing to eliminate a possible “he said, she said” situation where one party can claim affirmative consent while the other denies there was “complete” affirmative consent. So we are back to the same troubling reality, but now there is a new legal expectation that may be theoretically impossible to meet during consensual sex.
The next step to alleviate this new state-imposed burden would be requiring of some sort of documentation to ensure both parties consented in order to avoid any post-coital prosecution. Not to worry, there’s an app for that...

Increasing regulations on intimate relationships will invariably lead to a need for publicly documenting a private act. California is blazing the sexual audit trail and placing government right in the middle of our most intimate relationships.
The first time a girl has her “affirmative consent” used to shame her in public, expect backlash from the same people who pushed this in the first place while mocking anyone questioning the unintended consequences of regulating what used to be a private act...
It would be hard for me to imagine a more stupid law.  The unintended consequences will be huge--and not positive.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Why I Post On Liberty, On Freedom, On Constitutional Government

Sometimes I feel like I'm spitting into the wind, and then I read a piece like this and my revolutionary fervor is rekindled.  It's akin to reading the Constitution every year, something I used to do and now may have to start doing again:
I sometimes fear I am coming of age in a dying republic. Everywhere I turn the foundational values of America — open discourse, constitutional integrity, restricted government — seem to be eroding...

What's a young constitutionalist to do? I study ancient history, so I know nothing lasts forever: Republics have fallen before. But when they do, republicans like me have to fight back. That fight matters even if it's destined to fail. I know that too, because when the ancient Roman Republic was dying, one man's doomed defense of it transformed history. His name was Marcus Cicero, and he helped build America...

Alone and defeated, Cicero retreated from politics “to literary pursuits.” He wrote his treatise “On the Republic” to defend his ideal of an elected government in three branches. He tried to fight for that government again, but in 43 BC, Antony and Octavian had Cicero beheaded for defying their new regime. With that, the lights went out on the Roman Republic.

As everyone knows, the lights came up on a new republic centuries later, in Philadelphia. What's less well known is that decades before that, a Massachusetts schoolboy picked up a book that, according to David McCullough's biography, “became one of his earliest, proudest possessions.” The book was Cicero's “Orations.” The boy was John Adams...

In July 1776, Adams rose to what may have been the occasion he was born for. After prolonged deliberation, the 13 colonies had to decide whether to declare independence. With British forces descending on New York, Adams delivered a two-hour tour de force proclamation declaring that Britain's encroachment on God-given freedoms could not stand...

The story of freedom is long; it's written by an author who plans millenniums in advance. Even if my worst fears are true and our chapter is over, republicans like me have a responsibility to the unborn generations that will open the next one. We owe it to them to leave a record of thinkers and statesmen who beat back against the tide of history to keep the idea of liberty alive. We have to be the Ciceros because someday, there's going to be another Adams. And he's going to need us.
I hope I haven't done harm to this column with my cut/paste job; you should go read the whole thing.

Are Esports Truly Sports?

The president of ESPN says "no", but his network broadcasts poker games.  We'll probably be seeing esports broadcasts very soon:
As a teenager, holed up in his bedroom, illuminated by the glow of his laptop, Youngbin Chung became addicted to video games. Ten-hours-a-day addicted.

His grades tanked. His parents fretted.

A few years later, the 20-year-old from the San Francisco area leads a team of headset-wearing players into virtual battle in a darkened room at a small private university in Chicago. He's studying computer networking there on a nearly $15,000 a year athletic scholarship — for playing League of Legends, the video game that once jeopardized his high school diploma.

"I never thought in my life I'm going to get a scholarship playing a game," said Chung, one of 35 students attending Robert Morris University on the school's first-in-the-nation video game scholarship...

Robert Morris, a not-for-profit university with about 3,000 students, believes those are not so different from the skills one uses on a football field or a basketball court and that spending money to recruit these students, too, will enrich campus life and add to its ranks of high-achieving graduates.

"It's coming; it's coming big time," Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher said of the esports trend and what he's sure is its looming recognition by a bigger chunk of the collegiate sports world.

Hundreds of other colleges and universities have esports clubs, but Robert Morris is the first to recognize it as a varsity sport under its athletic department.   link
I sometimes question whether golf is a sport or not, so for me there's no question whether video games are, or are not, a sport.  A college can have any sort of team it wants, but to call such games "sports" truly stretches the meaning of the word--which makes me wonder why someone would choose that particular word for such games, and what they expect to gain by doing so.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

School Sex Sans Sizzle

This author is right; George Carlin would know how to ridicule this new law and those who supported and passed it:
Do the sex code writers really expect an already consummated couple, so to speak, who met a month before in English lit class, Jamie and Sam say, to calmly discuss beforehand the nuance of whether they are going to make love, have sex, or rut like beasts of the field? Oh, how I long to know what the late George Carlin would have done with such material, unseemly by nature as it may be and as he often was (though usually for some redeeming purpose).

But the PC crowd that thinks up this stuff does not find anything about it the least bit funny. As best I can tell from a safe distance, campus Big Sister is totally humorless, thus managing the improbable feat of being unseemly, inane and tedious all at the same time.
Again I ask, why are college students the only individuals whose sexual activities are being scrutinized and legislated?

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Interesting Juxtaposition

Links to these two posts were recently juxtaposed at the NewsAlert site:

The new New Math: Byzantine subtraction in Common Core
How algorithms shape our world (a TED talk)

Is the standard subtraction algorithm genuinely so hard for so many children?  Are these other methods truly easier?  I convinced the answers are, respectively, “no” and “yes”.

Cross-posted from

How Safe Is My Pension?

Just a couple weeks ago I wrote about how teachers, districts, and the state will all be kicking in more to the state teachers' retirement system, CalSTRS, in an effort to keep the system afloat.  Every year I get a letter from STRS telling me that my pension is doing fine, and even if it's not, I shouldn't worry, because it's protected in the state constitution and the taxpayers will ensure I get the pension I've been promised.

First, Detroit showed that that wasn't necessarily true.  Nothing to see here, move right along, I was told.  But now the proof of the lie has hit much closer to home--about 45 minutes away, to be precise:
A judge’s potentially groundbreaking ruling in the Stockton bankruptcy case should send messages loud and clear.

To the Legislature – that it can’t rewrite federal bankruptcy law. To the city of Stockton, Franklin Templeton Investments and CalPERS – that they need to make a deal. And to local officials across California – that they need to get more serious about pension reform.

In his verbal ruling, Judge Christopher Klein declared Wednesday that public employee pensions are not off-limits in bankruptcies. He suggested that insolvent California cities could choose to reduce already-promised pension payments and even walk away from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System...

And the biggest losers are the working people of Stockton, who will be paying for these mistakes for years to come. About 2,400 retirees have lost their city-paid health insurance, while residents are getting slammed by $90 million in budget cuts and by higher sales taxes to shore up public safety.
Think it couldn't happen to the State of California?  States and municipalities cannot override federal bankruptcy laws.  The state constitution is no guarantee I'll get my pension if California goes broke.  I hope the recent changes to STRS contributions (first link in this post) are enough to sustain the system.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Undocumented Student Center

UC Davis now has an Undocumented Student Center.  I'd like to think it's an "Undocumented" Student Center, but sadly it's an "Undocumented Student" Center.

Yes, our universities are now, on the taxpayer dime, devoting offices to known and admitted criminals. 


Wealthy Spend Plenty On Their Kids' Education

Is it a bad thing when the wealthy spend money on their kids’ education?  To some it is, at least when doing so widens the nation’s “wealth gap”:
Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they’re widening the nation’s wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids’ futures.

Their average education spending per child jumped 35 percent to $5,210 a year during the recession compared with the two preceding years — and they sustained that faster pace through the recovery. For the remaining 90 percent of households, such spending averaged around a flat $1,000, according to research by Emory University sociologist Sabino Kornrich…

The patterns suggest that the wealth gap could widen in coming years, analysts say.

“If you’re at the bottom and the top keeps pulling away, you’re just further behind,” said Melissa Kearney, a senior economics fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Why should people compare their situations to that of the wealthy?  Isn’t it enough that people’s own lots improve?  Or should we “level the playing field” by making sure no one improves?

The class-warfare fighters must be pretty grim people if they’d denigrate giving a child an educational opportunity for no other reason than that some other child somewhere else wouldn’t have that same opportunity.


Cross posted from

Crony Capitalism

You want a textbook example of crony capitalism?  I've got your example right here:
“The approval of SB 270 by the California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown could serve as a case study for what happens when greedy special interests and bad government collide in the policymaking process,” Lee Califf, the group’s executive director said Tuesday. The “bill was never legislation about the environment. It was a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”
Crony capitalism explains why Californians soon will have to pay for grocery bags at the store.