Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's For All The Marbles

This post is scheduled to appear at the time I'm scheduled to start my cumulative final exam for my master's program.  I still have 11 more days to finish the class I'm currently taking, but today's final exam will cover 6 of the 8 math classes I've taken over the past 5 years (the 2 education courses are also not included).

If I don't pass this test, I don't get the degree.  The pressure is on.  Talk about high stakes!

Update:  I hope they grade generously.

Update, 5/2/17:  They graded generously.  Now there's only one more test standing between me and my master's degree, and I take that test next Thursday.  Here's hoping!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Crazy Idea From California

Another reverse-Robin Hood:
A bill that recently won state Senate committee approval would make California the first state to require utilities to dole out rebates to customers who install energy storage systems.

The Energy Storage Initiative (SB700) was approved last week by the state's Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and is awaiting a full senate vote.

The bill, authored by State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat, would require the electric utilities to provide rebates to their customers by Dec. 1, 2018 for the installation of energy storage systems meeting certain requirements.

SB700 would require utilities to collect up to $166 million annually from ratepayers from 2018 through 2027 to fund the Energy Storage Initiative, which would then use the funds to provide rebates to customers who install energy storage systems.
Let's put this in terms anyone can understand. California is going to mandate higher utility rates for everyone and give some of that excess money to people who can afford to install these no-doubt-expensive battery systems. 

Additionally, there are areas of the state--the coast (especially the North Coast), the Bay Area, the western Sierra--where people don't need (and might not even have) air conditioning, which is the biggest driver of electrical usage in the summer.  Those areas don't need storage, but people who live in those areas--especially the high-cost regions like the Bay Area--will be incentivized to install these systems they don't need, while people in the Central and Sacramento Valleys, which are not the richest areas of California, will foot the bill.  The people who need a/c the most will be the least likely to be able to afford these systems.

On a similar front, I've looked into solar for years.  The roof of my house gets unshaded sun, yet every calculator I've ever used--and I've had solar companies come out, too, and check my electric bill--tells me that it's a losing deal for me.  I just don't use enough electricity to justify a solar system.  Even with rebates--that my neighbors would be paying, if you think about it--the cost of solar system would just be pre-paying for my electricity for 20 years.  I don't see how that's a good deal for me.

This is why government should stay out such things.  What say, Sacramento, you just fix the roads right the first time, and maintain our dam spillways, eh?  When you can do that well, then come talk to me about saving the world. 

Conservatism makes a lot of sense in the real world, not just in the world of ideas.

How I Have Felt About Donald (now President) Trump

From Instapundit:
So, as someone who was not #NeverTrump, but certainly #NotFondOfTrump, what do I think now?

I have to say, on the whole, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Cool Coin

I don't recognize the language so I cannot determine where this coin comes from, but I assume from the animals that it's somewhere in Africa.
click images to enlarge

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Happy Birthday To Me

Taking the day off to study is paying dividends.  The three remaining algorithms I have to re-learn as part of my review of my discrete optimization course--they're coming along nicely.  In fact, they're not taking as long as I thought, which will leave more time to study some other material.

So I decided to take a "check email" break--and I received an email from the Royal Canadian Mint.  I took one look at this and placed my order.  As my birthday was two days ago, this will be my present to myself!

Well Rested, Well Tested

Got a good night's sleep, now it's time to hit the books!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Crunch Time

I'm taking tomorrow and Friday off work to do some final studying before my cumulative final exam, which I'll take Saturday morning.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I'm Tired of Paying For The UC System

The campus environments are anti-American.  The students are anti-intellectual.  And the people who run the system are ripping off the taxpayers:
The University of California’s headquarters hid $175 million from the public in a secret fund while the Office of the President was demanding more state funds, according to a report released Tuesday by state Auditor Elaine Howle.

The office of UC President Janet Napolitano amassed millions in the secret reserve fund by overestimating the funding needed to run the 10-campus university system — and then spending less than budgeted. It would continue asking for increased funding based on the overestimates, according to Howle.

Napolitano’s office also created a secret budget over the course of four years to spend the hidden money, the audit found. Included in the undisclosed funds were $32 million collected from campuses that could have been spent on students.
Perhaps in this day and age, publicly-funded universities are an anachronism. So what's California considering?  Double down, with free college for all, of course!  But there are only 7 of us in the whole state who, in true Cassandra fashion, say what cannot be said:
But there’s one big problem: California can’t afford this plan.

The state is predicting a slight budget deficit for this fiscal year, and the state treasury receipts are already running nearly a quarter of a billion dollars behind January’s forecast.

It’s irresponsible to imagine that we can add an entirely new — and, at a cost of $1.6 billion, very expensive — program...

There are ways for state legislators to assist California’s struggling students, even without a huge new program.

One way to make a degree less expensive is to help students graduate on time.
Another is for students not to major in interpretive dance or Aggrieved Victims Studies.  But that's just one of my ideas.

Yes, The Pun Is Intentional

I am glad to see that two of the most prominent politicians on the left, Sanders and Warren, are on the “right” side of this debate--a debate that shouldn’t even exist:
This is less robust a defense of Coulter’s rights than Bernie Sanders gave the other day, with Warren declining to directly answer Tapper’s question about whether hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. Still, having the two most prominent leftists in Washington warning students to chill out the next time a thought-criminal comes to campus can only help soothe the savage “anti-fascist” beast. More like this, please.
The left will eventually realize, like the Japanese did in WWII, that you don't want to wake the sleeping giant:
But if you really want to make these a fashion accessory on the right, lefties, you’re going about it the right way. I don’t think that will turn out well, though. This country worked hard to build a culture of peaceful, respectful political disagreement, and you’re flushing it without thinking about the consequences, just because of feelz. And because people are being paid to organize it.
You're flushing it without thinking about the consequences.  Yeah.  That.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Data Point In The Argument For Limited Government

Because I understand human nature, and I understand that absolute power corrupts absolutely, I'm hesitant to give more power to government than is absolutely necessary.  I believe that government's power should be limited, and that government should do only certain enumerated things--it should do those things well, and it should not do anything outside of its specified tasks.

Government in the United States is way out of control.  In California specifically, it's even worse.  I'm waiting for some state official to contact Professor Seabright and ask him, Who is responsible to ensure San Francisco has bread?

I believe that freeway maintenance is certainly a responsibility of state government.  Think Sacramento can get even that right?
A multimillion-dollar resurfacing job on the Highway 50 bridge over the Sacramento River has failed – mysteriously, officials say – and will have to be scrapped and replaced this summer at three times the original cost.

The resurfacing, conducted in late 2014 on the Pioneer Memorial Bridge between West Sacramento and Sacramento, began failing immediately, state Department of Transportation records show. Cars and trucks shudder when they pass over ruts that are now more than 50 feet long and 7 feet wide at numerous spots on the bridge.

Caltrans officials say the repair could run $15 million to $18 million. The original resurfacing in 2014 cost $5 million.
Maybe it's a plot by Crazy Ole Uncle Jerry to provide justification to build his bullet train.

NYT Published Anti-Free Speech Column

Remember the old saying, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it"? I'm old enough to remember when that was taught to children as a show of how important the concept of freedom of speech is to the American civic body. If the author of this NYT column has his way, not only will your speech not be valued, it might need to be suppressed or even punished.  National Review says to be afraid, be very afraid:
These are dangerous times for free speech in the increasingly less free Western world. In Europe and Canada, one can be fined or jailed for expressing views that those in power find odious or “oppressive.”

Here in the USA, we see such authoritarian speech suppression increasingly embraced on college campuses. But in the New York Times?

Alas, yes. The paper that rarely publishes positions that materially diverge from its own editorial positions, has published a vigorous defense of speech suppression. The idea is that speech deemed antithetical to the “public good” can be squelched...

I have been thinking for some time that on issues of speech, we are watching a contest between the American Revolution–that guarantees the right to express unpopular social and political views–and the French Revolution that unleashes Jacobins to suppress heterodoxy.

But after reading Uhlrich, I think we face something even more dangerous to liberty: A full-blown Mao-style Cultural Revolution is gestating on college campuses. If we don’t restore American ideals of speech freedom to those “snowflake” enclaves, we could well see a violent avalanche materialize that threatens the peaceability of our broader social discourse.
I'll admit that I'm amazed at how quickly it's happened.  I never thought I'd see it in my lifetime, and I'm surprised to see such an anti-First Amendment piece in a newspaper.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Can You Imagine Having A Professor As Unhinged As This One?

To lefties, she is the victim in this story:
A feminist professor said she was so triggered by a male student’s paper that “I began to have trouble distinguishing him from the man that [raped me].”

Writing anonymously in Inside Higher Ed, the professor described a lesson on rape culture she included in her gender class, saying she was frustrated with male students skeptical that it exists.

But one male student’s paper left her “thrown back into a pit of traumatic, fragmented memories,” she wrote.

The student cited a men’s rights advocacy group, referenced a case where a woman raped a man, questioned whether feminism was relevant, and said that concerns about gender inequality were overblown...

“As I went over his paper,” she wrote, “I realized that I was reading a paper that sounded word for word like something the man who raped me would say. And not only did this sound like something my rapist would say, this student fit the same demographic profile as him: white, college male, between the ages of 18 and 22.”

She said she was so upset that she could no longer grade papers or read...

She recounts screaming “Zero! You get a f*cking zero!” at the computer screen as she graded the student’s two-page paper, saying that she also felt that simply by writing the paper, he had undermined her authority as an instructor.
Does the (male) student have any recourse against such a teacher and such an obviously unjust grade?  Likely not.

Another Reason Not To Support "Free" College

Does anyone really trust our state universities enough to believe that we taxpayers should fund "free" college?
In other words, administrators have been hiring more administrators for make-work positions and giving each other raises without sufficient accountability in a self-perpetuating cycle of bureaucratic decay that is sadly endemic to academia at large.

These findings should give pause to those who think that larger and larger state subsidies are the answer to higher education’s woes. Much of the public money spent on “free college” schemes championed by left-wing populists would end up being pocketed by the ever-expanding bureaucratic class of student services directors, Title IX coordinators,and HR managers, raising costs while steadily diluting quality.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Maybe We're Not All Racists After All

It was probably 2 years ago now that I was supposed to attend 3 3-hr professional development presentations on "unconscious bias".  Presented by one of the most biased people I've ever encountered--one of the first things she said was that people opposed President Obama's policies because of his skin color--this CTA employee (are you surprised?) used this "Harvard University" tool to show that we're all racists.  I bailed on the remaining two sessions on the training, opting instead to review statistics with several of my math department colleagues who also chose not to attend and thought their time could be better spent reviewing material they'd soon be teaching under the Common Core standards that our district and state adopted.  It's not like my colleagues couldn't teach basic "normal curve" material, but since I teach statistics, we all thought it would be nice to "go deeper" so that they'd understand more than what they needed to teach.  We all agreed that our time was better spent.

So anyway, Ms. CTA enjoyed convincing everyone else that they're all racists.  Maybe the tool she loved so much isn't all it's cracked up to be, and maybe it found what it did because its creators wanted it to:
Since the IAT (implicit association test) was first introduced almost 20 years ago, its architects, as well as the countless researchers and commentators who have enthusiastically embraced it, have offered it as a way to reveal to test-takers what amounts to a deep, dark secret about who they are: They may not feel racist, but in fact, the test shows that in a variety of intergroup settings, they will act racist. This notion, and the data surrounding it, have fed into a very neat narrative explaining bias and racial justice in modern America. Sure, explicit measures of racism have been in decline for a while in the United States. It’s less socially acceptable than ever to say that black people and white people shouldn’t get married, or that black people are less intelligent than white people (though, to be sure, a solid minority of Americans still endorses such views). And yet, more than a half-century after the end of Jim Crow, all sorts of racial discrepancies persist: On average, darker-skinned people have less access to solid education, housing, and health care than lighter-skinned ones, and face various other forms of discrimination. The IAT suggests that, having addressed many of the most outrageous and explicit forms of public discrimination, our progress toward genuine racial equality may be continually stalled or undone by implicit bias.

That is, many IAT proponents argue that if people who don’t feel like they discriminate do, in fact, discriminate, that could explain those disparate outcomes. Maybe some white cops who claim racial empathy are still, deep down, more likely to pull the trigger in an ambiguous situation involving a black suspect than a white one. Maybe white real-estate agents who are proud Obama voters conjure up thin excuses — excuses that feel legitimate to them — to avoid renting nice units to black families. And the data produced by the IAT suggests that a solid majority of Americans hold implicit biases against marginalized groups — which means they are likely to commit acts of implicit bias against these groups...

Those co-creators are Mahzarin Banaji, currently the chair of Harvard University’s psychology department, and Anthony Greenwald, a highly regarded social psychology researcher at the University of Washington. The duo introduced the test to the world at a 1998 press conference in Seattle — the accompanying press release noted that they had collected data suggesting that 90–95 percent of Americans harbored the “roots of unconscious prejudice.” The public immediately took notice: Since then, the IAT has been mostly treated as a revolutionary, revelatory piece of technology, garnering overwhelmingly positive media coverage...

Given all this excitement, it might feel safe to assume that the IAT really does measure people’s propensity to commit real-world acts of implicit bias against marginalized groups, and that it does so in a dependable, clearly understood way. After all, the test is hosted by Harvard, endorsed and frequently written about by some of the top social psychologists and science journalists in the country, and is currently seen by many as the most sophisticated way to talk about the complicated, fraught subject of race in America.

Unfortunately, none of that is true. A pile of scholarly work, some of it published in top psychology journals and most of it ignored by the media, suggests that the IAT falls far short of the quality-control standards normally expected of psychological instruments. The IAT, this research suggests, is a noisy, unreliable measure that correlates far too weakly with any real-world outcomes to be used to predict individuals’ behavior — even the test’s creators have now admitted as such. The history of the test suggests it was released to the public and excitedly publicized long before it had been fully validated in the rigorous, careful way normally demanded by the field of psychology. In fact, there’s a case to be made that Harvard shouldn’t be administering the test in its current form, in light of its shortcomings and its potential to mislead people about their own biases. There’s also a case to be made that the IAT went viral not for solid scientific reasons, but simply because it tells us such a simple, pat story about how racism works and can be fixed: that deep down, we’re all a little — or a lot — racist, and that if we measure and study this individual-level racism enough, progress toward equality will ensue...

The IAT, it turns out, has serious issues on both the reliability and validity fronts, which is surprising given its popularity and the very exciting claims that have been made about its potential to address racism. That’s what the research says, at least, and it raises serious questions about how the IAT became such a social-science darling in the first place.
I've already identified why it became the darling--because it told leftists exactly what they wanted to hear.

Anyway, I really liked the closing paragraph:
Unless and until new research is published that can effectively address the countless issues with the implicit association test, it might be time for social psychologists interested in redressing racial inequality to reexamine their decision to devote so much time and energy to this one instrument. In the meantime, the field will continue to be hampered in its ability to provide meaningful answers to basic questions about how implicit bias impacts society, because answering those questions requires accurate tools. So, contra Banaji, scrutinizing the IAT and holding it to the same standards as any other psychological instrument isn’t a sign that someone doesn’t take racism seriously: It’s exactly the opposite.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Stupid Should Hurt

The first time I read the phrase "stupid should hurt" I thought that it made a lot of sense.  In a sort of "even a flatworm moves away from pain" way, survival dictates that we not do things that cause us harm.  It's a very non-emotional, sounds-scientifically-reasonable phrase.

"Stupid should hurt" is what came to my mind when I read this story:
Massey considers Harris her "son" and has been his advocate since early 2014 when he was struggling to finish his senior year at Columbus High.

Massey also began looking for a way to get Harris into college. She discovered a $70,000 Georgia National Guard scholarship to the University of North Georgia that paid for everything,

All that could end this week because of a photo Harris took on Nov. 3, 2016 of one of his instructors, Maj. Richard Neikirk, in an on-campus bathroom, according to a recent report on Neikirk was at a urinal but had his shorts pulled below his buttocks, reported.

Harris then sent the photo to three friends, who shared it with hundreds of people on the messaging platform GroupMe, according to

A university investigation has recommended that Harris be suspended for two years and lose his scholarship, Massey said. He also faces criminal charges. He was arrested and charged with unlawful eavesdropping or surveillance, a felony, and transmission of photography depicting nudity, a misdemeanor. He faces up to six years in prison and a fine of more than $50,000 if convicted in Lumpkin County Superior Court.
Make excuses for the man all you want--who could possibly think it's ok to surreptitiously take pictures of someone in the restroom?

Now, reasonable people could disagree on whether or not this particular offense merits the maximum penalty, but I lean for more penalty rather than less.  The younger generation may have grown up with phones in their hands, but they need to learn when it's appropriate to record (audio, video, picture) someone and when it's not.  Is it our job to teach them?  Maybe--and perhaps this is how we teach them.  Again, I just can't imagine what kind of person would think, "I'm going to take a picture of this guy taking a leak, it'll be so cool to show this to people, haha."  Maybe that kind of person isn't smart enough to be in college.

Stupid should hurt.  I get the impression this guy's gonna hurt a bit.  Hopefully he won't be so stupid in the future.

Discussion Today

I have one student in particular whom, before today, I'd have guessed would have had no interest in knowing whether or not I'm alive.  I'd have thought that I didn't register in his world at all.

Yet, today, as soon as the bell rang for lunch, he came to talk to me.  Usually I'd have ended the conversation quickly and rushed off for my "30 minute duty-free lunch", but as I haven't been hanging out in the staff lounge the last couple days, I decided to engage in the conversation.  This student--who, again, I'd've thought wouldn't have given me the time of day--started talking about majors, how to choose them, how to know what you want to study, how you know what kind of job you want to have, all that.

I guess my existence has registered in his universe.

We had a very nice conversation that took the entire lunch period.  I don't think I gave him any answers, just some things to consider.  I always tell students that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, so I understand their lack of a laser-like focus on their futures and consider it entirely reasonable and understandable.  I don't know if it helps, but at least they know someone understands.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Obama Spying -- On Journalists and Others, Not Just Trump Associates

That this is so believable is bad enough. I cannot come up with a strong enough word to describe the situation if it turns out to be as bad as has been reported here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The 80s Are Calling And They Want Their Foreign Policy Back

Yeah, that one from Barack Obama was a real thigh-slapper, that one was:
Russian bombers fly near Alaska; Air Force scrambles jets

What A Waste

I spent days studying for the test I took this afternoon.  It was a waste of time to do so.  If I'd have had the answers in front of me, I don't think I could have copied them all within the allotted time of 1 hour.  Of course this leaves no time for thinking about a problem or formulating an answer.  By the time I got done with the definitions and proofs (which I had pretty much memorized) there was next to no time left for the problems, for which I'd have had to think a little.

I didn't even have a chance to succeed.

Update, 4/24/17:  Got my test results back today.  The good news is that of the problems I was able to complete I pretty much got them all right.  But as I said, there were a couple of letter grades' worth of problems I didn't even get to...

Lowest test score I've gotten in almost 5 years of this program.  I'll need at least a low B on the last homework packet and unit test in this course (only one of each left!) in order to keep a B in the course--which will score me a pay raise next semester because of the 30 semester units I'll have completed.  If I do that and pass the program cumulative final exam this weekend, I'll get the degree and the pay raise.

Feeling the pressure....

Monday, April 17, 2017

Earth Is Doomed

If you believe "the science", we're past the point of no return:
Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.
Were they wrong just 8 years ago?   If no, then what's the point of trying to save the earth if we're already doomed?  And if they were wrong, why would you believe them now?  What additional evidence do we have today that would justify their being wrong 8 years ago but right today?

Disaster is always just around the corner--and that's how the alarmists like it, so they can keep people ginned up and on a war footing.

The "Battle of Berkeley"

I've long read that the left will regret resorting to violence when the right decides to fight back, and this past week the right started fighting back.  Literally.

The cowardly, cover-their-face Antifa goons thought they'd disrupt another conservative rally.  They were mistaken:
The leftist mob has sown the wind. Now, the whirlwind looms.

If the media accurately and comprehensively reported on leftist mob violence, it would see that a pattern has emerged: On campus and in the streets, a violent or menacing core seizes the ground it wants, blocks access to buildings, and shuts down the speech or events it seeks to suppress. This violent core is often surrounded and protected by a larger group of ostensibly “peaceful” protesters who sometimes cheer aggression wildly and then provide cover for the rioters, who melt back into the crowd. After the riot, the polite progressives condemn the violence, urge that it not distract from the alleged rightness of the underlying cause, and then do virtually nothing to enforce the law and punish the offenders...

At Berkeley, a mob blocked Milo Yiannopolous from speaking, before going on a violent rampage that included arson, smashed windows, and assault on innocent bystanders. Americans were pepper-sprayed and beaten for the “crime” of supporting Donald Trump while the police stood idly by, letting the riot play out before arresting a grand total of one person. Urban and academic progressive leaders can respond to violence with all the scolding tweets, sternly worded statements, and calls for calm they want. But until those who break the law and violate university policies are aggressively brought to justice, it won’t matter...

Saturday, we saw more clashes in what now threatens to become an increasingly vicious, violent war for control of America’s streets. Leftist “antifa” or “black bloc” rioters met pro-Trump “Oath Keepers,” bikers, and alt-right goons in a barely contained battle royale, with assaults and beatings streamed live and posted to YouTube. Police struggled to control the violence and often appeared completely absent as brawls broke out across entire city blocks. By the end of the fighting, Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer said, “Militias, alt-right, nazis etc. won today in Berkeley. They outnumbered the opposition, pushed it back, and held downtown.”
Yes, Mother Jones will resort to name-calling--but the right held. I've even seen pictures of some of the rightists giving wedgies to the Antifa types. You have to love that sort of humiliation.

See?  Even I start to lean towards violence when it seems to be the only currency accepted in the land.
We are now teetering on the edge of a truly terrifying incident, one trigger-pull away from a slaughter. Campus and urban progressives have a choice to make. Is this a nation of laws? If it is, then it’s time to grow a backbone, protect free speech, punish rioters, and expel those who disrupt the educational environment regardless of ideology. There should be no more sympathy or leniency for the lawless social-justice warrior than there is for the lawless neo-Nazi.
Governor Reagan addressed just this issue in Berkeley back in 1969:
If you don't want to watch the entire 1:53, just scroll over to 1:31 and hear these logical words:
"All of it began the first time some of you who know better, and are old enough to know better, let young people think that they have the right to choose the laws they would obey as long as they were doing it in the name of social protest."
Reagan saw things so clearly, without the muddling mush of liberalism.  You follow the law, or you pay the consequences.  It isn't so hard to understand, except for snowflakes who think they're special and don't have to follow the law.

Today's snowflakes want to wear the mantle of the 60's protesters, but pay attention to the linked video--buckshot and teargas.  One dead student, and over 100 sent to local hospitals.  If that were to happen today, there'd be a lot fewer of the type of violent "protest" and lawlessness that we're currently seeing.

Update, 4/18/17Something is wrong in Berkeley, all right:
Something is wrong in Berkeley, and it’s making peaceful protesters (and the nearly 117,000 people who live in the city) look bad, as they’re forced to watch their town covered in the press due to the riots. Once the beacon of free speech back in the 1960s, Berkeley is now full of free speech advocates battling it out with those wanting to censorship.

The irony of the censorship crowd, as I and others pointed out after the Yiannopolous fiasco, is that the violence gets media coverage that the rally itself wouldn’t have received. The violent actions make Antifa look bad (though perhaps they don’t care)...

This weekend also made the rally attendees (from the right) seem violent when previously their propensity for violence was only suggested by the Left. At the same time, suggesting the attendees simply allow themselves to be attacked doesn’t see like an appropriate response, either...

What’s happening in Berkeley is unlikely to remain confined to Berkeley, and any right-leaning speaker is likely to become a reason for riots. If one wants to see where the breakdown of political discourse is coming from, they can’t blame it all on Trump.
Update #2, 4/19/17:  Outside of Berkeley, police officers know how to handle the antifa fascists.  Watch the video here :)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Intellectual Forebears of Today's Leftists

Does any of this sound familiar to today's ears?
In a previous post on Suicidalism, I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons. Here is that list again:
  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia...

Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people — at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life.

Friday, April 14, 2017

All Sorts of Bad

While I see some advantages to living in a surveillance state, there are too many disadvantages; I'd rather pay the price of not living in one that the price of living in one.

Similarly, I can see the advantage of having unfettered access to student cell phones, but what lessons would we be teaching students if we did?  No lessons that would be good for the republic, that's for sure, and I'm glad this bill was defeated:
In January, a California lawmaker introduced legislation, backed by school administrators, that would give K-12 school administrators broad powers to search the phones and electronic devices of their students without a warrant.

On Wednesday, AB165 met its death, at least for now, after intense lobbying by more than 60 groups (PDF), including everyone from the American Civil Liberties Union to the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
As are most such measures that diminish personal freedoms and privacy, this one, too, was couched in terms of "safety" and, since it's related to schools, "anti-bullying".

It's not surprising that this bill was proposed in the one-party state of California:
California may be considered the land of the liberals, but sometimes its legislators float not-so-liberal laws akin to this warrantless search bill. Two weeks ago, opposition killed a proposed law outlawing "fake news" for instance.
People can be pretty illiberal when they think there's no one to tell them "no".

Cool Coin

10 kronur from Iceland, worth less than 10 US cents.

click image to enlarge

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Are Berkeleyites Mature Enough To Handle This?

Fascists kept Milo from speaking at Berkeley, will they also stop Ann Coulter?  And will they be considered misogynists if they do?  (Of course not--she's a conservative woman, so that doesn't count.)
Now the Republicans are hosting another columnist and provocateur: Ann Coulter, who labels herself a “mean-spirited, bigoted conservative” (but “a Christian first”). 
“It’s only when we invite more provocative speakers that it generates a campus-wide dialogue,” said Naweed Tahmas, 20, of the Berkeley College Republicans, noting that his group also invites mainstream conservatives to their weekly meetings: Republican National Committee leaders Harmeet Dhillon and Shawn Steel, for example...

Republican students say they hope to avoid rioting and retaliation this time by co-hosting Coulter with a new moderate student group, BridgeCal, born from the riot’s ashes and the election year’s ideological war zone.

“BridgeCal seeks to fix the political divide,” said freshman Pranav Jandhyala, 19, who founded the UC Berkeley chapter of the national BridgeUSA after rioters beat him and gave him a concussion as he videoed the Yiannopoulos violence for the Tab, a campus news site. “BridgeCal is a place where political adversaries can discuss issues in an environment that is respectful and solutions-based.”

The concept will soon be tested. Coulter is scheduled to speak about immigration on April 27.
They beat him and gave him a concussion--and he's willing to engage them civilly.  He's a stronger man than I am.

And for those of you for whom skin color and ethnicity is important, Naweed Tahmas and Pranav Jandhyala don't sound like names of people whose ancestry is from Yorkshire.

How Much Rain Has California Had So Far This Season?

I post this with a few dark clouds still hanging in the sky:
We did it!

With one more soaking-wet storm front dumping its stuff special-delivery over Wednesday night, California woke up on Thursday to a new all-time record for rainfall, as measured in the all-important “Northern Sierra eight-station index,” a catchment area that pretty much defines the Golden State’s water-level health.

“We didn’t just beat the record,” said meteorologist Craig Shoemaker with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “We shattered it"...

“And we’re expecting more rain in the coming days,” said Shoemaker, “with a storm on Easter Sunday and another one in the middle of next week.”
The American River near downtown was pretty full when I crossed it on Monday, even with Discovery Park's not being entirely inundated.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

If They Fear This, They're Too Skittish To Be Out In Public

Universities should make strong people.  After all, they're supposed to challenge you, sharpen your brain, expose you to new ideas and experiences.  All of these things should make you stronger.

Unless you're a snowflake, someone who needs "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces" and "bias incident teams" who hunt down people who use an undesired pronoun.  What about these gentle little petals?
Some students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University live in “fear” of the arrival of a Chick-fil-A fast-food restaurant to their college’s food fair, Campus Reform reports.

Now student senators at the university say they can’t abide a Chick-fil-A location at their school and are trying to cancel plans for the restaurant to open in the fall.
One wonders if such people will ever find gainful employment--or even be able merely to function in the real world.

On a related note:
VIOLENT MASS HOMOPHOBIA IS ALWAYS DESCENDING IN THE UNITED STATES, AND YET LANDS ONLY IN MUSLIM-DOMINATED REGIONS: More than 100 gay men reportedly sent to “prison camps” in Russia’s republic of Chechnya.
Communists, Nazis, and Fascists were all pretty anti-gay, too.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

When Truth Becomes Hate Speech

I've not previously heard of psychology professor Jordan Peterson, but I like what he says here:
Peterson also sharply criticized ‘safe spaces’ on college campuses, women and gender studies, and activism.

Discussing his public refusal to use pronouns other than “he” and “she,” Peterson said, “One thing I won’t do is use the made-up words of postmodern neo-Marxists, who are playing a particular game to gender identity, as an extension of their particular reprehensible philosophy"...

“I think disciplines like women’s studies should be defunded,” he said. “We’re causing full time, destructive employment for people who are causing nothing but trouble. What they promote has zero intellectual credibility.”  
The response is, of course, predictable:
Some students criticized the group for inviting these speakers, arguing that it gave a platform to hate speech.
Hate speech is obviously defined as "speech I don't like".

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Doesn't Happen Often, But...

I try never to bring work home with me--I have enough of my own master's degree homework to do here at home.  But it's break, I didn't feel like grading tests this past week after administering them on Tuesday, so...

I'm going to go grade 10 tests now.   No more, no fewer, just 10.  Put a dent in that stack.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

CNN Anchor Didn't Vet This Refugee Before Putting Him On The Air

Oh, she tried to bait him into saying something against President Trump.  Instead, he called her out on her own hypocrisy (that's the word he used) and praised President Trump's recent cruise missile attack in Syria:

I'm not one who believes lobbing a few cruise missiles is going to solve any problems in Syria unless you happen to take out Assad himself--and who knows what that will lead to.  The refugee above, though, shares a different opinion.

The CNN anchor made an ass out of herself.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Why I Don't Believe In Anthropogenic Global Warming

It doesn't get any clearer than this:
When the discussion of climate change comes up, the left has been preaching doom and gloom for decades. However, no matter what they claim, reality keeps proving them wrong. For myself, that's kinda a sticking point.

How can we take their predictions for the future seriously when none of their predictions for the present panned out? We can't and shouldn't, of course...

Show us some real success, and I'll consider changing my tune, as will many others, I suspect. Until then, understand that you're advocating the destruction of modern civilization based on pseudoscience.

This Does Not Surprise Me

I'm sure we'll skyrocket from last in the country to first in maintained infrastructure:
With no votes to spare, the California Legislature Thursday night narrowly mustered the support it needed to pass a $52 billion transportation package with a two-thirds vote.
You know, just the other day I was lamenting that taxes are too low here in California.  Finally I can pay 12 cents a gallon more for gas.

I Really Didn't Think He'd Do It

I thought he'd keep us in crisis mode in order to push the sheeple around, but I was mistaken:

A deluge of wet weather this winter and unprecedented water conservation prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to end California’s drought emergency on Friday.

But Brown said he would maintain water reporting requirements and bans on wasteful practices like watering during or immediately after rains…

Brown’s Friday order also cancels emergency proclamations from 2014 and other drought-related executive orders issued that year, and the next.
Guess I can water my lawn when it needs it this summer.

Cool Coin

A simple yet effective design from Swaziland:

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Because We Don't Have A Screwed-up State Already

'You want to have a screwed up state?' If not, then vote to raise taxes, Brown says

Everything Is Rosy Here In Sunny California

From the major Sacramento newspaper:
The pension fund for California teachers is about $97 billion short of the assets it would need to pay all of the benefits it owes to its members today, according to a new valuation from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

CalSTRS released the new accounting ahead of its monthly meeting, which is scheduled for next week.

The $202 billion fund has about 63.7 percent of the assets it needs to pay the benefits it owes. That reflects a 4.8 percent decrease in CalSTRS’ funded ratio from its most recent assessment.
This is after teachers, districts, and the state have begun to "contribute" more, just to pay for the retirement benefits that have already been promised.

Shut Down A Charter School?

This school clearly isn't fulfilling a need (so few students) and can't run on a budget. Close it down? I support this. Imagine if we could shut down public schools that did the same things!
Sacramento New Technology High School has amassed a $650,000 deficit, triggering a recommendation to district trustees to deny charter renewal at the governing board’s Thursday night meeting.

The staff of the Sacramento City Unified School District cited the charter school’s fiscal insolvency and its inability to achieve sufficient gains in academic performance as the basis for recommending denial. The school this year has just 187 students, the smallest enrollment in its 14-year history.

The school opened in fall 2003 as one of several new charters funded in part by Carnegie and Gates Foundation grants. Its mission was to provide personal attention and innovative education approaches to a student body that could number 500.


With all the recent revelations about the Obama Administration’s misuse of surveillance technology, I’m forced to think back to Chief Justice Roberts’ surprise vote in favor of Obamacare in the summer of 2012 and wonder if this misuse was occurring long before the 2016 election.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Diploma Mill Degree

I can't believe that in this day and age, people still lie about their credentials:
A group of reporters and editors from the student newspaper, the Booster Redux at Pittsburg High School in southeastern Kansas, had gathered to talk about Amy Robertson, who was hired as the high school’s head principal on March 6.

The student journalists had begun researching Robertson, and quickly found some discrepancies in her education credentials. For one, when they researched Corllins University, the private university where Robertson said she got her master’s and doctorate degrees years ago, the website didn’t work. They found no evidence that it was an accredited university.

“There were some things that just didn’t quite add up,” Balthazor told The Washington Post.

The students began digging into a weeks-long investigation that would result in an article published Friday questioning the legitimacy of the principal’s degrees and of her work as an education consultant.

On Tuesday night, Robertson resigned...

In a conference call with the student journalists, Robertson “presented incomplete answers, conflicting dates and inconsistencies in her responses,” the students reported. She said she attended Corllins before it lost accreditation, the Booster Redux reported.

When contacted by the Kansas City Star after the publication of the students’ article, Robertson said all three of her degrees “have been authenticated by the U.S. government.” She declined to comment directly on students’ questions about her credentials, “because their concerns are not based on facts,” she said.

In an emergency faculty meeting Tuesday, the superintendent said Robertson was unable to produce a transcript confirming her undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa, Smith said.
Which is worse, that she lied about her education, or that the students did more work than the board that hired her did?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

What's Good For The Goose

I've long said that this brand of injustice will stop once it starts ensnaring women:
Coastal Carolina University has suspended its cheerleading program amid allegations that the cheerleaders were involved in a prostitution ring. There have been no prosecutions, and there don't appear to be any on the horizon, so controversy surrounds the school's actions…

Everyone is up in arms about the cheerleaders being suspended on the mere allegation of misconduct -- yet this action by the school is perfectly in line with how male students have been treated lately over mere allegations.

At the University of Minnesota, a number of football players are under suspension themselves over allegations they either took part in a sexual assault or failed to intervene. As with the cheerleaders at CCU, the Minnesota players have not been prosecuted for anything, yet a number are now facing expulsion pending any appeals of an earlier ruling by the school.

Remember, Not a "Hint of Scandal"

No one believes that line anyway, but the Dems sure use it a lot.

Who’s surprised by yet another?
The media’s biased coverage of Obamagate continues to shift. First, reporters feigned outrage that Trump would dare to say that the saintly Barack Obama had spied on him. Never mind that Trump’s assertion sparked off their own reporting — reports clearly based on criminal leaks from Obama aides spying on Trump. But now reporters are pursuing a new line of attack against Trump, which can be translated as: Yes, Obama spied on you — and good for him. Take a look at this headline from a column at Slate magazine hastily run after the revelation that top Obama aide Susan Rice had snooped on Trump and his associates: “I Hope Susan Rice Was Keeping Tabs on Trump’s Russia Ties.”

Look how far the progressive champions of “civil liberties” have fallen. These are the same liberals who call Nixon a monster for having justified political espionage on specious national security grounds. Could anyone imagine Slate running a column lauding Richard Nixon for spying on Daniel Ellsberg?
As someone said recently: If Richard Nixon had a son, he'd look like Barack Obama.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Role of a Judge

I've heard several Democrats say they won't vote for Judge Gorsuch because he sides too often with "big interests" over "the little guy".  I say, that's your fault, Democrats, not the judge's.

A judge's responsibility--nay, a judge's sacred trust--is to enforce the law as written.  If the law is constitutional, and the law favors "big interests", then more often than not the judge should rule in favor of the "big interests--because that's the law.  If the law is constitutional, and the law favors "the little guy", then more often than not the judge should rule in favor of "the little guy"--because that's the law.  Judges should not legislate from the bench, nor should they allow their personal whims to influence their decisions.  They themselves are not the law, they are instruments of the government and serve that government by making judgements on the law.

I understand there are different "legal theories" out there.  I don't accept most of them.  In general, I accept "what the law says" or, if the law is considered old or vague, what it was generally accepted to have meant when it was passed.  It's not a judge's role to invent meanings or to substitute personal wishes for the meaning of the law.  If the legislature, the representatives of the people, have passed a law, that law is to be followed unless it is found unconstitutional.  Anything else makes a mockery of our system of laws.

Legislatures should strive to pass good laws.  Executives should strive to see that the laws are properly enforced.  Judges should strive to interpret the law as it was written.

This doesn't seem like rocket science to me.  In fact, it seems no more than what 8th graders learn in US History class about the foundations of our government.  That so many people have different views is indicative of how far we've strayed from the ideals we all learned as children.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

California's Teachers Can Now Be Communists

I was reading a post over at Joanne's about "diversity oaths" required of professors at several universities, and California's prohibition against Communist K-12 teachers sprang to mind.  I went immediately to the California Legislative Information Page to look up the section but couldn't find it by searching for "communist" or "communism".  So I went to the Table of Contents for Education Code and found the section about dismissing teachers--specifically Section 44932.

The prohibition against Communism isn't there.

OK, I know it used to be there, or at least somewhere.  Turns out, I blogged about Section 44932 back in 2006--and sure enough, the prohibition was there in 2006:
 I found a few sections of California Education Code that address this topic:

Section 44932. (a) No permanent employee shall be dismissed except for one or more of the following causes:
(10) Knowing membership by the employee in the Communist Party.

Section 44939. Upon the filing of written charges, duly signed and verified by the person filing them with the governing board of a school district, or upon a written statement of charges formulated by the governing board, charging a permanent employee of the district with ...knowing membership in the Communist Party...the governing board may, if it deems such action necessary, immediately suspend the employee from his duties....
These sections have now been amended in such a way that a teacher can be a communist but cannot violate Section 51530, which states that teachers cannot "advocate or teach communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism."  These changes appear to be over a year old:

 (Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 303, Sec. 86. Effective January 1, 2016.)
I wrote back in 2008 that the change may be coming; apparently, it came.  Is the law inconsistent, in that Section 1028 of the Government Code still states:
ARTICLE 2. Disqualifications for Office or Employment [1020 - 1043]
  ( Article 2 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )

It shall be sufficient cause for the dismissal of any public employee when such public employee advocates or is knowingly a member of the Communist Party or of an organization which during the time of his membership he knows advocates overthrow of the Government of the United States or of any state by force or violence.

Oddly enough, Ed Code still prohibits classified employees, both in K-12 and community colleges, from being members of the Communist Party. Section 38136 still forbids schools from allowing the Communist Party from using their facilities.