Friday, June 30, 2017

Myths and Sacred Cows

With no evidence at all--in fact, with plenty of evidence to the contrary--Democrats are willing to push the "the Russians got President Trump elected" meme--but they refuse to accept that American voter rolls are anything but lily white:
President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission has asked every state to provide personal data on all registered voters going back to 2006— and some states are not happy about it.

California, New York and Virginia have said they will refuse to comply with the request, and Connecticut said it would withhold protected data. In a June 28 letter, Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, asked for names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security information, voting history and military status, among other information.

The letter did not explain what the commission will do with the information, but asked states to deliver the data by July 14 and said everything would be made available to the public.

California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla called the election commission a “waste of taxpayer money.” Trump created the commission after claiming — with no evidence — that millions of people voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election...

“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” (Democratic Virginia Governor Terry) McAuliffe’s statement said.
Is McAuliffe suggesting that people will attempt to illegally keep legally-registered voters from voting?  Only Democrats do that.

It's well-known that Democrats wouldn't win outside of California and a couple other states if they didn't cheat--e.g., illegally register people to vote.  It's why they're so wary of voter ID laws.  This is why I'm in favor of the intent of this commission.  On the other hand, as a federalist, I don't like the federal government's telling states they must do something.  There might be legal ways of compelling states to comply with this commission (I don't know for sure), but just telling states to provide the information is obviously not sufficient to ensure compliance.  So while I think California and Virginia (where, recently, election shenanigans have recently come to light) and the other states are refusing to comply for nefarious reasons, their refusal is entirely legal.

Update:  Rhode Island, which only has 7 inhabitants,  found to have 150,000 erroneous voter registrations.  Ok, Rhode Island has over 7 inhabitants, but this 150K figure is almost 20% of the state's registered voters.

Update #2, 7/1/17:  Now more than half the states are refusing to complyThis is why we should elect only Republican presidents--they engender (especially in liberals) a respect for federalism.

Update #3, 7/8/17:  State governments won't give the information to the federal government, but they'll sell it to candidates and organizations:
In the past week election officials in dozens of states have rejected a request from the newly-formed Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity to provide voter records for a study on the extent (if any) of election fraud. Some of those officials have expressed great indignation that the commission would even ask. Yet many of those same officials would gladly sell those very same records — to campaigns, to candidates, to political consultants, even to you. It's a situation that baffles some political veterans.
The states' refusal to comply doesn't seem to be morally based, but rather ideologically based.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Should This Be A Partisan Issue?

I'd like to think that there are some issues on which everyone in government can agree, but here in California, that's clearly not the case.  Democrats will circle the wagons to protect each other, even in the face of blatant corruption:
Two months after a state audit found mismanagement at the University of California, Democratic state lawmakers on Wednesday blocked a Republican legislator’s proposal to have auditors go back in and look deeper at spending, this time with an eye for possible criminal activity... However, no Democratic lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to authorize a new audit, so the motion failed.
Pitchforks are merited for both the UC President and the legislators protecting her.

Very Real Issues

On which intramural/intercollegiate teams would transgender cadets participate?

How are roommates to be chosen?

Which standards on PT tests are to be applied?

Transgender Cadets Are Still Waiting for Their Chance to Serve in the Military

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Schools Should Focus On The 3 R's

I think part of the reason so many in the education community love the mission creep in our schools is because worrying about all this other stuff, including feeding children 2 meals a day, is a lot easier than actually teaching them:
In The Wall Street Journal recently, New Hampshire physician Dr. Aida Cerundolo blew the whistle on faux mental-health assessment of public-school students in the Granite State. Some K-8 students are being subjected to blanket screening by untrained, unlicensed personnel, with serious questions about use or protection of the resulting records. And parents not only haven’t consented to this process, they haven’t even been told it’s happening.

We have written about the disturbing conversion of public schools from places of learning into therapeutic institutions for diagnosing and treating perceived social-emotional problems. This is all part of so-called social-emotional learning (SEL), which is pushed by the new fed-ed bill (the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA). Not that ESSA has to push very hard — the mammoth and monolithic K-12 education establishment, both federal and state, is partnering with corporate education cronies to get all children on the psychiatric couch. From there, the kids can be more easily shaped to demonstrate the kinds of mindsets and attitudes the government wants.
When you rely so much on government education centers, "government" wins out over "education".

Voter Registration Fraud

This is clearly fake news, as I'm told that election fraud is a conservative myth:
A man paid to register Virginia voters prior to the 2016 Presidential Election will spend at least 100 days in prison for submitting the names of deceased individuals to the Registrar’s Office.

James Madison University student Andrew J. Spieles, 21, of Harrisonburg, pled guilty Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. As part of the plea agreement, Spieles agreed to a prison sentence of 100 to 120 days.

Spieles worked for Harrisonburg Votes when he committed the crime, according to acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle.

Harrisonburg Votes is a political organization affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Arminius, Varus, and Today

I always love a good story about ancient Rome, and even more so if there's a lesson to be learned for today.  I've read about Arminius and Varus, but I'd never seen quite this interpretation of the story:
Whenever I hear someone tell me about how wonderful forced multiculturalism is I am reminded of the story of the Roman soldier Arminius.

Arminius was born in Germany around 18 BC and was the son of the Cheruscan chief Segimerus. At the time it was common for the Romans to abscond with the children of the tribal leaders they met. The purpose being not only to exert control over the tribe but to eventually integrate them into Roman society itself.

It was thought that if the children were taken at a young age and given Roman education, culture, and military training that in time they would become Romans. Eventually, they would be given positions within Roman society in an attempt to bind the competing cultures and people together and to solidify the bonds required to grow the empire geographically and demographically.

But things didn’t always work out quite the way the Romans planned.
The story of Arminius is a prime example. To be brief, the son of the German chieftain was trained, cultured and raised to be a Roman officer. But he never forgot who and what he was.

A lifetime of ‘education’ and ‘integration’ failed to change who Arminius was at his core, a German, and in the end, it cost the Roman empire dearly.

In AD 9 Arminius, serving as an officer under Publius Quinctilius Varus, convinced the Roman general to march three legions of his men and their support through the Teutoburg forest to quell a supposed uprising deep within German territory.

But it was a trap laid by Arminius himself. His native people, along with five other Germanic tribes laid in wait for the legions in the heart of the forest. With his forces stretched out in a thin line for miles bordered by heavy woods on either side of the trail in some places and by marsh in others, Varus’ legions were easy pickings for the German warriors. In a series of attacks lasting approximately three days, the Germans destroyed all three legions, sending over twenty thousand Roman men to their death.

The Roman’s mistake, of course, was not in trusting Arminius, but in believing they could take the sons of their enemy and convert them into their friends and allies simply by immersing them in the Roman culture.

The decision by the Romans to try and integrate an outwardly hostile people into their own ranks was one of the first times in recorded history that we can clearly see what happens when empires become large, metropolitan and lacking in common sense. They lose sight of human nature and begin to believe they can transcend things such as petty tribal differences.

Apparently, no one thought to question the program or to consider possible problems that might arise as a result. Three Roman legions paid the price for that hubris. Today we pay our own.
There's much more at the link.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Just A Couple Word Changes

Quote of the Week. “It’s not about destroying charter schools. Charter schools are here; they’re not going anywhere. So the key is, how do you make them a bitter pill to their management companies? It’s the management companies we have the issues with, not the charter teachers, not the students, not the parents.” – Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. (May 26 Chicago Tribune)

Word Substitution Quote of the Week. “It’s not about destroying charter schools teacher unions. Charter schools Teacher unions are here; they’re not going anywhere. So the key is, how do you make them a bitter pill to their management companies members? It’s the management companies teacher union we have the issues with, not the charter teachers, not the students, not the parents.”
From EIA, which has now been around for 20 years.

Coding In Schools

The NYT puts a sinister spin on their story:
At a White House gathering of tech titans last week, Timothy D. Cook, the chief executive of Apple, delivered a blunt message to President Trump on how public schools could better serve the nation’s needs. To help solve a “huge deficit in the skills that we need today,” Mr. Cook said, the government should do its part to make sure students learn computer programming.

“Coding,” Mr. Cook told the president, “should be a requirement in every public school.”

The Apple chief’s education mandate was just the latest tech company push for coding courses in schools. But even without Mr. Trump’s support, Silicon Valley is already advancing that agenda — thanks largely to the marketing prowess of, an industry-backed nonprofit group.
Go read the whole thing. 

I guess there's nothing wrong with being suspicious of Silicon Valley's motives, but there's nothing wrong with coding in schools, either.  Here are a few things I like about coding/programming:
  • It's unforgiving.  If you don't code it correctly, the program won't do what you want it to do.  The program will not give you "effort" points for trying, it just won't work correctly.
  • It requires sequential, logical thinking.
  • It requires "attention to detail", especially regarding syntax and "punctuation".
  • It teaches efficiency and optimization.
In these areas, coding has much in common with Algebra.

Why Understanding Economics Is So Important

I have a visceral feeling towards anyone named Ed Murray, and the current mayor of Seattle is no exception:

What happens when you pay university researchers to study the results of your untested policy (a massive minimum-wage hike) and they deliver results you weren’t expecting?

You try to destroy their credibility, of course.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who by Seattle standards is considered a “conservative,” asked University of California-Berkeley researchers to denounce and rebut the study the city commissioned from University of Washington researchers before it was even made public.

Berkeley researchers had earlier released another study of Seattle’s minimum wage, which jumped to $11 an hour in 2015 and $13 in 2016, that found “employment in food service … was not affected” by the wage hikes (they studied “food services” as a proxy for minimum-wage jobs at large).

The UW study, by contrast, used cross-industry data on “work hours” that were not available to the Berkeley researchers, a much deeper set of information that is only available in Washington and three other states:
Using a variety of methods to analyze employment in all sectors paying below a specified real hourly rate, we conclude that the second wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent. Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016. Evidence attributes more modest effects to the first wage increase. We estimate an effect of zero when analyzing employment in the restaurant industry at all wage levels, comparable to many prior studies.
The More You Know.


Signed up to drive for Uber yesterday and did my first several runs up until about midnight last night.  I found it an enjoyable way to spend a few hours that I would otherwise spend on the couch watching tv.  Made about $50, used about 2 1/2 gallons of gas, got a few people home from work late at night--but didn't make $15/hr.  There oughta be a law!  :-)

Monday, June 26, 2017


It's Monday, so here we go.

200.8 lbs.  Don't know what the variability of the scale is, though.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Is There a Teacher Shortage, or Even A "Looming" Teacher Shortage, In California?

Probably not:
Should taxpayers underwrite special benefits to attract new teachers, such as affordable housing, expanded maternity leave and tax breaks?

California lawmakers have put forward a raft of proposals offering extra perks for teachers this session, prompted by what supporters say is an urgent need to do more to encourage people to get into the profession or stay there.

“Due to the extreme shortage of teachers in the state, many school districts must seek opportunities to attract qualified teachers,” Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, said of his bill meant to increase the supply of affordable housing for teachers.

Available data, though, doesn’t back up such dire assessments of the state’s overall teacher supply. 
And this is from the major Sacramento newspaper, hardly a conservative or anti-teacher mouthpiece.

Read more here:

So Much Renewable Energy, You'll Get Tired of Renewing

I wish Jacobson were right, I really do.  But he's not:
The National Academy of Science refutes Mark Jacobson’s dream that our economy can run exclusively on ‘green’ energy.

The idea that the U.S. economy can be run solely with renewable energy — a claim that leftist politicians, environmentalists, and climate activists have endlessly promoted — has always been a fool’s errand. And on Monday, the National Academy of Sciences published a blockbuster paper by an all-star group of American scientists that says exactly that.

The paper, by Chris Clack, formerly with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado Boulder, and 20 other top scientists, appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It decimates the work of Mark Jacobson, the Stanford engineering professor whose wildly exaggerated claims about the economic and technical viability of a 100 percent renewable-energy system has made him a celebrity (he appeared on David Letterman’s show in 2013) and the hero of Sierra Clubbers, Bernie Sanders, and Hollywood movie stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio.

If It's Too Good To Be True...

Color me skeptical about the claim, but I'd love to see the curriculum:
Arithmetic to algebra in a semester

Friday, June 23, 2017

After 20 Years, I Guess It Was Bound To Happen

It was my first or second year of teaching when I lost my first student.  He was new to school that week, quiet, didn't turn any work in, and I didn't pester him about it because I figured he was still getting his bearings.  He didn't come back to school after the weekend; I was thankful I didn't know him well.  I know that sounds callous, but that's the way it was.

In the intervening years I've lost a couple of former students, but (fortunately for me) they weren't students with whom I'd developed strong relationships.  They were people whose names I recognized, yes, but not one of those few students with whom you sometimes build that extra strong relationship with.

Until now.

Tonight I'm going to see several members of last year's graduating class.  These aren't the conditions under which I'd hoped I'd see them again.

But when you deal with hundreds of new people year after year after year, eventually it happens.  And it's going to be difficult, especially since she was so young.

Update:  That was difficult.

The First Socialist--As Wrong Then As Socialists Are Today

I recently stumbled across a reference to Robert Owen and his status as "the first socialist".  I recalled that name immediately--in the text for my Educational Theory course, Owen was identified as a "Utopian Theorist and Communitarian Educator".  My written response to the text's chapter on Owen was visceral, but measured:
As someone who spent my formative years preparing for war against communists, I find very little value in Robert Owen as a theorist or as a person. I mean, here was a man whom Marx and Engels disagreed with only because he sought gradual communism instead of a revolution of the proletariat. And like most people of his ilk, he was a hypocrite: he wanted communal ownership of everything but he didn’t give up any of his own worth; he wanted everyone to be equal but he “acted in a top-down paternalistic fashion” (p. 251). He didn’t even admit his theory was wrong when New Harmony failed—and it failed because Owen, like all utopians, refused to believe in the one constant in the universe: human nature.

In proverbial stopped-clock fashion, he got some things right: the equality of women, a “permissive but controlled” environment in schools (p. 258), teachers who related to children (p. 258), a “subject centered” curriculum (p. 259). He and I might agree with some of his beliefs about what and how a classroom of students should be taught.

He believed that “education was inextricably related to society” (p. 261), but was mistaken about that relationship. Who cares if he was “the creator of a comprehensive social and educational theory” (p. 261) if that theory could not have been more wrong? As I said, he wasn’t entirely wrong as far as his “in the classroom” ideas went, but on balance I find him lacking.
So, who was Robert Owen, this person whom next to no one today has ever heard of?  He was an industrialist during Britain's Industrial Revolution.  He identified the ills of the Industrial Revolution, but incorrectly identified the solution as "communitarianism"--communism, essentially.  He believed in Hillary Clinton's "village" much more than he believed in the nuclear family.  While he cleaned up the town, New Lanark, where his mill was, he also viewed his workers as "downtrodden to be helped" instead of as equal humans; he would even "inspect" their apartments to make sure they were living "correctly".  He was the quintessential do-gooder, and insisted that people live his way.  He believed people weren't responsible for their own character, that circumstances dictated character.  Such people always want to tell others how they should live.

In 1824 he moved to New Harmony, Indiana, and tried to establish a "communitarian society" on America's frontier.  He got plenty of people to flock there, despite the town's abolition of private property.  Within two years Owen proclaimed New Harmony a rip-roaring success, but by 1828 a lack of Harmony caused Owen to pack up and return to Britain, his communitarian experiment an abject failure.

So that's what I know about Robert Owen--what did the link I saw say about him?
In 1825, industrialist Robert Owen came from Scotland looking for a place to set up his own version of socialist paradise. (It is one of the lost mysteries of history whether Owen himself or his adherents coined the term.) He was well-known and applauded in his home country for the way workers in his cotton mill were treated and for their onsite living conditions. He wanted to set up a society in America for the whole world to see, where people lived according to his ideals of equality, atheism, and science. 
He'd still fit in with his fellow-travelers on the political left today, that's for sure.
Soon, somewhere between seven and nine hundred Americans — all followers of Owen’s socialist plan — showed up at New Harmony in an attempt to make history. Like almost all of the Utopian collectives of the day, Owen’s settlement at New Harmony failed, and by 1829 the property had been sold off to former residents, among them five of Owen’s adult children.
At least it wasn't a revolution that ended it! But isn't it funny that people didn't want to live under his yoke any longer, so they bought their property from the communitarian who previously wouldn't let them own it!  When they wouldn't live as he wanted them to do, he made money off them.  Some might call that hypocrisy.
Owen himself didn’t live there; he devoted his time to traveling the US and Europe promoting his ideas. When he did arrive for a visit in January of 1826, his response to the disaffection and unhappiness among his citizens was to hold some meetings and reorganize, while pretending the experiment was successful. The settlement had already been bogged down by bureaucracy and regulation; it was only a matter of time before New Harmony was finished as a social experiment. Several more reorganizations failed to achieve the results expected.

Yet in the same way today’s socialists refuse to accept failures of their chosen system, other groups of the time thought they could succeed. Owen sold off some of the New Harmony property to small groups wanting to establish socialist societies of their own. Including others under different leadership and slightly different precepts, at one time there were as many as 50 socialist societies in the United States.

All of them failed; most within a matter of two or three years.

On returning to England, after spending almost all his money on the New Harmony disaster, he blamed the location, the people in the group — everybody and everything else. Sound familiar?
Seems he left off "outside agitators".  It's always "outside agitators" who disrupt social idealism, isn't it? 

But why did New Harmony--indeed, socialism/communism itself--fail?  Here's the answer in a nutshell:
As the first of the socialists, Robert Owen made some obvious mistakes that would continue to be made until the present day. The first of those was his failure to recognize people as individuals. He saw people as a homogeneous mass, with identical needs, without taking into account the differences that abound in character, ability, intelligence and other aspects that make us all uniquely human. He never recognized that his fellow socialists had free will, and most of them wouldn’t hesitate to use it. Neither did he recognize that his solution for economic slavery and oppression was equally oppressive and enslaving, only in a different form.
Socialism/communism don't comport with human nature.  That is why they require compulsion in order to operate, and that is why they eventually fail. 
One hundred years from Lenin’s revolution, the body count stands near 100 million. Yet, socialists still refuse to admit they are wrong.
But they believe in "science".  Perhaps a little study of history would do socialists some good.  I'm reminded that the Jamestown experiment almost failed--until the socialism was dispensed with and the colonists got a dose of capitalism, getting to keep the fruits of their own labor.  That's what works, that's what comports with human nature.

It's why I'm a capitalist.  It's why I'm a conservative.  It's why I'm an American.

It's Official

I received it today, they can't take it back:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Free Speech, Especially On Campuses

If you had asked me 25 years ago where I thought our rights were "headed", I'd have said that the First Amendment would get stronger and the Second Amendment would get weaker.  Here we are 25 years later and I'd have been wrong on both accounts.  As I don't mind that the Second Amendment has more force today than then, I'll just emphasize the First Amendment.

Not only are the idea of "hate speech", and Antifa-type crowds, eroding the First Amendment right before our very eyes, but universities--which I'd have thought would be the First's bastion--have been its weakest link.  This chart of free expression should be covered in green but it's not, and notice especially the horrific ratings of the University of California campuses.

Back in the 1960s, university students fought against in loco parentis.  I guess we've come full circle, as Pink Floyd explains:
Hush now baby, baby don't you cry.
Mama's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Mama won't let anyone dirty get through.
Mama's gonna wait up until you get in.
Mama will always find out where you've been.
Mama's gonna keep baby healthy and clean.
Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby,
You'll always be baby to me.
That's today's universities, right there.

Update, 6/23/17:  As if on cue:
Evergreen State College Student: 'F*** Free Speech'

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High School Me's Head Is Spinning From Indecision

Are you kidding me?  These are on the same night and less than 20 miles apart??

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo | Toto

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Even "modern me" is a little torn.  I've seen both once--Tom Petty was my first concert, in September 1981, and I saw Pat Benatar just a few years ago.  Tom Petty will be held inside, which is certainly a consideration in the Sacramento Valley in August.  But Pat Benatar and Toto?  Come on, you know they'll perform Africa (here's one of my favorite versions of it).

Decisions, decisions.

Healthier Lifestyle Starts Today

I look and feel gross.  I'm afraid to step on the scale, knowing it will tell me I weigh more than I did 7 years ago when I started dieting and exercising and lost almost 25 pounds in about 4 months.

I did it before, I'll do it again.  I won't have hot yoga to help me this time, but perhaps next week I'll zip over to Costco and buy a 24 Hour Gym membership and spend some of my summer days there.

I've got to do something.  Ugh.  And in an attempt to hold myself accountable, I'll post my weight each Monday.  If I fail to do so, remind me!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Be It Ever So Humble

I'm back, about a week early.  And there's a reason for that.

I left last Tuesday, towing my trailer with my pickup and headed for Colorado Springs.  I reached Ely, NV, that evening, and the truck was acting up.  It ran like crap.

On Wednesday I visited 3 different mechanics in Ely, taking up pretty much the entire day.  The last one figured out I was running on 7 cylinders; his solution was to replaced the grossly-fouled #6 spark plug with a new one and to send me on my way.  He said I'd make it to Denver and back and then might need a new engine.

Thursday I somehow made it into Grand Junction, CO.  No power on hills at all, and it shuddered as if not getting any fuel or air.  I called a GMC dealership--but they don't work on 1979's, too old.  (You can't plug a diagnostic computer into them.)  Another shop referred me to a 3rd, and they gave me directions to get there.  I made it about 100 meters before the truck died on the side of the road.  I coaxed and cajoled the poor thing and finally limped into the garage.

They checked and there's plenty of pressure in all 8 cylinders, so not an engine problem.  The #6 spark plug, with only a few hundred miles on it, looked as if it had a few hundred thousand.  A loose grounding strap in the distributor and a bad #6 spark plug wire looked like a a reasonable fix.

It was not.

They drove me to a hotel that night--which was a dump and exceedingly overpriced due to Country Jam 2017 being held less than 10 miles away that weekend.  Friday morning, right before checkout, I got a call that the truck was ready.  They even came and picked me up.

I got about an hour east of Grand Junction, where the climbs really start, and realized that the problem remained.  It died a couple times on the way back to town, but I made it to the shop.  They replaced the fuel filter and fuel pump.  Then they put in a 2nd fuel filter when the first one made it run even worse!  They stayed after quitting time to install these for me--but the shop isn't open on weekends.  It would either work or I'd have to wait till Monday.

It didn't work.  And because of Country Jam there were no rooms or camping spots to be had.  A dozen or more rigs camped out in the Walmart parking lot Friday night.

I was able to get a camping spot on Saturday afternoon, and reserved it for 2 nights.  My mother had offered to tow my Camry out to me and tow the truck home, and at this point in the debacle I took her up on her offer.  She and her friend showed up Sunday afternoon after driving with absolute minimal stops.  We swapped out vehicles and they headed back immediately--they'd put their own trip on hold to help me out.  I got the trailer ready for travel and left a few hours later, of course going much more slowly than they were because I was towing with a Camry.

They put my truck in the garage around Monday noon.  I stopped off in Reno for the night to blow off a little steam--and darn near every room in the city was occupied because of a rodeo in town!  I was lucky to get a (somewhat inflated-price) room via, as calls to reservation lines had lengthy waits.

I stopped for a $6 breakfast today and made it home around 1:30 pm, a week after I'd left.

There's no place like home.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Blog Break

Blogging will be intermittent to nonexistent for the next two weeks.  Should be up and running again at full steam by July 1st.  See you then!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Happy Camper

This camp starts today.  Can you imagine how much fun I'd have there?  I'd stir the mud, they wouldn't want me there spoiling their groupthink.
Northern Illinois University will be hosting a “social justice summer camp” for educators June 11-14.

According to the event description, the three-day camp will aim to “bring together teams of educators to investigate multicultural and social justice education. Campers will have significant opportunities to discuss social justice issues, both general and specific to their schools, with experts and colleagues, as well as time for individual reflection.”

The camp will also focus on presenting a “candid and nonjudgmental exploration of multiculturalism, privilege, identity, oppression and more.”

The Thin Veneer of Civilization

I've long said that civilization is only a quarter inch thick.  Take away the simplest modern conveniences, take us back to the 18th or 19th centuries, and most of us would probably become as brutish as our ancestors were.

Late last week there was a notice on my front door from my electricity utility--for about 9 hours tomorrow, my neighborhood will be without electricity.

My house is mostly electric.  Yes, I have a gas water water heater, but the controller on it is electric.  When the power goes out, I don't think my water heater will continue to heat gas.  Everything in my kitchen is electric--how am I to cook?  How long will the food in my frig and freezer last?

At least I'll still have running water.  And an outdoor barbecue, if I *really* need to cook something.  But internet?!  My DSL comes in over the phone line, but my router requires electricity.  I'll be without internet all day!

Should be a pretty boring day.  Perhaps I'll get some reading done.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman

I finally saw Wonder Woman today.

Given all the hype, I expected to see The Best Movie In The World.  It was good, but it did not transport me to Nirvana.  I give it a solid B.

Should you be interested, look up Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston.  He was a "unique" fellow, to say the least; for those of you who won't believe anything unless it comes from NPR, here's an even juicier version:
The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.
Wonder Woman was written to have an alluring sexuality--and both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot have been capable of playing that up.  In fact, when her hair is pulled back, Gadot bears a striking similarity to Carter.  But while Carter's Wonder Woman was limited by the censors of 1970's television, Gadot most certainly is not.  Carter was hot, Gadot exudes sexuality but with barely a nod to it.

Carter's Wonder Woman used violence only as a last resort, and when she did use it, she used no more than was necessary to accomplish her task.  I don't recall her ever having killed anyone, for example--but again, that's a limitation of 1970's TV.  Gadot's Wonder Woman is a fierce fighter and takes out many people (while looking good doing it).

I know the argument for setting this movie in World War I, when Wonder Woman's story actually took place in World War II--and I don't accept the argument.  Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Superman all have a place in World War II, and the war was big enough for them not to bump into each other.  I grant that the WWI story line was a good one, I just don't accept that it was necessary to deviate from "canon" for this movie.

It dragged in a few places, too.

The movie started and ended in the modern day, so this World War I story line seems to be a one-off.  That also sets the stage for the modern Justice League, which will no doubt be DC's version of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D.  I'm looking forward to such movies.

Overall, I give the movie a B, perhaps because it would be near impossible for it to have lived up to the hype.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Who Do They Think They Are, The TSA?

On what planet would this be considered even remotely acceptable?
A newly filed federal lawsuit claims that police officers groped 900 students at Worth County High School in Georgia during a warrantless drug sweep that yielded no results.

The human rights group, Southern Center for Human Rights, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students against the Worth County sheriff over an April 14 incident when 40 officers came into the school with no advance notice, KTLA-TV reported.

According to the lawsuit, the officers put the school on lockdown for four hours, during which they ordered students out of the classrooms and into the hallways. Students were allegedly then forced to stand spread eagle against the lockers while officers conducted intimate searches of male and female students, including touching the breast and genital areas, KTLA reported.

The lawsuit mentions one girl in particular, using only her initials K.A., who was searched by Deputy Brandi Whiddon. The lawsuit goes into disturbing detail about how in-depth Whiddon’s search of K.A. was...
No warrant?  No immunity.  There should be arrests, all right. Those officers are going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money, and they shouldn't be able to shield themselves from the effects of their own negligence by hiding behind their badges.
Worth County School Board attorney Tommy Coleman told CNN affiliate WALB-TV that authorities had a list of 13 suspects within the school, but only three of those students were in attendance that day, KTLA reported.

“The egregious thing that happened was he didn’t search just those individuals but he searched every single student at the school,” Coleman told CNN. “There was aggressive searches and touching of undergarments and breast and genitalia by deputies.”
Every student in the school?  If that isn't "unreasonable", I don't know what is.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Applied Statistics

Perhaps we all believe in science until the science goes against our personal convictions:
Children brought up on almond and soya milk are shorter than youngsters who drink just cow's milk, a new study has found.

The plant-based products have become increasingly fashionable, with many extolling the health benefits of them, and others turning to them because of an intolerance or dislike of plain milk.

But the new study found that children who drink non-cow's milk - including plant-based milk drinks and milk from other animals, are growing up shorter than those given traditional fare.
This study could be a fun one to analyze. Not only do you get the math, you get cause/effect, correlation/causation issues, as well as “how much proof do you need to cause you to change your opinion” discussions.

Girls Can Wear Whatever They Want?

There's an easy solution to this:
A note left urging female students at a Canadian high school to respect “male education”, and to stop wearing skin-baring clothes at school just because “it’s too hot outside” has sparked a sexism row.
Here’s how you accomplish the desired result without giving certain people an opportunity to complain about the policy: claim that if they’re showing too much of their bodies, they’re creating a “hostile work environment” and are subject to discipline under the school’s/district’s sexual harassment policy. And then enforce the implied threat.

No leftie can speak against sexual harassment.  Problem solved.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Climate Change Hysteria

This article explains why the biggest problem with President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords is not the withdrawal itself, but with President Trump's hamfisted lack of explanation of why it's a reasonable course of action.
Instead of starting with the social case against the substantive provisions of the Paris Accords, Trump justified his decision by invoking his highly nationalistic view of international arrangements. He said the United States was once again getting ripped off by a lousy treaty that, in his words, would force American “taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” He then insisted that his first duty is to the citizens of Pittsburgh, not of Paris—giving the impression that there are only provincial arguments that support his decision.

Yet, ironically, the President has a stronger case on this point than he does with his attacks on free trade, which he justified in similar terms. Free trade has a natural corrective, in that no private firm will enter into any agreement that it believes will work to its disadvantage. That was decidedly not true of the Obama approach to the Paris Accords, which gives a free pass to China until 2030 even though its recent carbon emissions have increased by 1.1 billion tons, while the United States’ total has dropped by 270 million tons, and will continue to do so.
I like a lot of what the president has done so far, but he should do a better job than he's been doing of explaining himself--and no, Twitter isn't sufficient.

Here's someone who does a great job of explaining himself--Roy Spencer: climatologist, author, former NASA scientist:
But first let’s examine the basics of why so many scientists think global warming is manmade. Earth’s atmosphere contains natural greenhouse gases (mostly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) which act to keep the lower layers of the atmosphere warmer than they otherwise would be without those gases. Greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation — the radiant heat energy that the Earth naturally emits to outer space in response to solar heating. Mankind’s burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal, petroleum, and natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this is believed to be enhancing the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. As of 2008, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 40% to 45% higher than it was before the start of the industrial revolution in the 1800’s.

It is interesting to note that, even though carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth to exist, there is precious little of it in Earth’s atmosphere. As of 2008, only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air were CO2, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions 5 more years to increase that number by 1, to 40.

The “Holy Grail”: Climate Sensitivity Figuring out how much past warming is due to mankind, and how much more we can expect in the future, depends upon something called “climate sensitivity”. This is the temperature response of the Earth to a given amount of ‘radiative forcing’, of which there are two kinds: a change in either the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth, or in the infrared energy the Earth emits to outer space.

The ‘consensus’ of opinion is that the Earth’s climate sensitivity is quite high, and so warming of about 0.25 deg. C to 0.5 deg. C (about 0.5 deg. F to 0.9 deg. F) every 10 years can be expected for as long as mankind continues to use fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. NASA’s James Hansen claims that climate sensitivity is very high, and that we have already put too much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Presumably this is why he and Al Gore are campaigning for a moratorium on the construction of any more coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

You would think that we’d know the Earth’s ‘climate sensitivity’ by now, but it has been surprisingly difficult to determine. How atmospheric processes like clouds and precipitation systems respond to warming is critical, as they are either amplifying the warming, or reducing it. This website currently concentrates on the response of clouds to warming, an issue which I am now convinced the scientific community has totally misinterpreted when they have measured natural, year-to-year fluctuations in the climate system. As a result of that confusion, they have the mistaken belief that climate sensitivity is high, when in fact the satellite evidence suggests climate sensitivity is low.
For those of you who want to complain that I quote someone who's not a climatologist--well, here's a climatologist. Yes, I've found people who've spoken against him, and yes, I can find web sites attacking what he says, too.  So you choose to believe your way, Chicken Little, and I'll choose to believe mine.  The fervor with which the Believers attack and respond, though--yes, it's a religion to them.  And I'll enjoy taunting them as much as they enjoy taunting those with more conventional religious beliefs.

I wrote this post 7 1/2 years ago, and I still stand by it.  One of the benefits of getting old is the wisdom that comes with experience; I'm not as easily fooled as some are, if for no other reason than because I've seen this trick before.  The Believers have cried wolf too many times in just my lifetime for me to take their current howls seriously.

Not A Bad Choice

Putting someone from FIRE into a higher education post in Besty De Vos' Education Department?  Inspired!
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Adam Kissel, formerly of the Koch Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs, the department confirmed Monday. Politico first reported the hiring.

As director of the Individual Rights Defense Program and vice president of programs at FIRE, Kissel was a frequent critic of universities the group has accused of violating the free speech rights of students and faculty. He's also criticized broader "intolerance" on campuses. Kissel has also taken issue with the standard of proof used by colleges in the adjudication of recent sexual harassment and assault cases.

The Very Definition of Snowflake

For people to get this worked up over something so innocuous shows the state of our education system:
Two schoolyard supervisors were removed from Carroll Elementary School in Elk Grove after forcing eight students to sing and dance on stage last week as punishment for a recess infraction, district officials said Monday.

After a recess bell sounded Thursday, yard staff made sixth-grade students who were not standing still in line get on a stage to sing and play “Simon Says,” students said Monday after school.

“She made us sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and, like, the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ ” said Ava Mak, one of the sixth-grade students who was punished. “She also made us sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’ ”
Oh, the inhumanity.  Not group singing! (gasp!)

Read more here:
Principal Paul Hauder sent a letter to the school’s parents describing the incident and apologizing for it. He followed up with a letter to the parents of the eight students involved in the incident, which included an offer to provide counseling if needed.
This is how far schools have gone from the paddle of days gone by.  Are you happy with the results?

Read more here:

Monday, June 05, 2017

If This Isn't Racism, I Don't Know What Is

If you have to use someone's race as anything other than a color descriptor, you are a racist:
White Women Drive Me Crazy

White women are so dangerous because they’re allowed to be so soft — innocent until proven innocent...

I don’t know if I liked sleeping with white women because I’m queer or because they all smell so good. Like if I pressed my body against theirs and breathed deeply enough, some of their clean might rub off on me. I just wanted to feel clean. I wanted to smell good. These days I mask my smell with the scent of roses and a Burberry perfume I can’t afford and everyone says I smell good but I don’t fuck (sic) white women anymore.
This person wails and rants against racism, and would probably be one of the first to tell you that she can't be a racist because she's a minority and only people in the majority or in "power" can be racists.  Convenient, that.

The Thayer Award

Sylvanus Thayer is known as the "father of the Military Academy", and thus it is fitting that West Point's Association of Graduates named its greatest honor after Colonel Thayer:
Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”

Thayer Award Criteria

The Award is given to a citizen of the United States, other than a West Point graduate, whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” The individual selected for the Thayer Award must agree to accept the Award at West Point.
I remember in 1983 seeing General Doolittle, of Doolittle's Raid fame, at the dinner in his honor in the Cadet Mess Hall, and marveling at what a tiny person that giant of a man was.  I also remember 1986, when I sat across a table from Doctor Teller, and, being one of only a few people in the office with him, got to speak to him.  I asked him how he answers the criticism sometimes leveled at him that he is partly responsible for the scourge of nuclear weapons and the deaths of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I also remember his answer.

General Doolittle and Doctor Teller were at West Point to receive their Thayer Awards, and today the Association of Graduates has announced the 2017 Thayer Award recipient.  I agree wholeheartedly that this person is one whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature are in keeping with the the motto Duty, Honor, Country.  Receiving the award 23 years after his father did, this year's Thayer Award will go to President George W. Bush.

Recipients of the Thayer Award are listed here; I'm not sure exactly what year the requirement was added that recipients not be West Point graduates, but it was clearly after 1973.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

As Official As Official Can Be

I received the transcripts I ordered.  I'm a master!

Because our seniors have already graduated, I have a few periods without students tomorrow.  I'll probably head down to the district office, paperwork in hand, and sit at someone's desk to ensure all of this is recorded properly so that I can get a pay raise next year!  Took me 5 years to get the degree, should take me 3 years to recoup that cost--so after 8 years I'll have broken even.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Inmates Running The Asylum

His peers want him penalized for doing what he's paid to do.  Must be all that marijuana:
Bret Weinstein was driven off campus to teach because the campus police said they weren’t allowed to protect him.

Now the white biology professor might be driven off campus under Evergreen State College’s own disciplinary process.

More than 50 professors at the public college – nearly a quarter of faculty – have signed a statement as of Friday afternoon calling themselves “angry and frustrated and concerned” by the backlash against students and the university.

They demanded Weinstein be punished for his response to students who cornered him and called him racist after he refused to leave campus on the anti-white “Day of Absence”...
Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Cool Coin

After last week's Italian gettone, here's one from Israel.  Note that it has both Hebrew and Arabic writing on it:

Thursday, June 01, 2017

How We Roll In California

I've written recently about California's proposal for government-run health care--how just health care would cost twice our current state budget. The California Nurses Association, an unbiased group if ever there were one, has figured out how we can pay for it. Guess how.

Go on, guess. I'll give you a hint: it's two words.

Give up yet?  Higher taxes!
The high cost of paying for Canadian-style health care for all Californians has for more than two decades killed proposals by politicians to adopt such a system.

But advocates of the model have some ideas for two Democratic state senators trying to remake California’s health care market into a taxpayer funded model that gets rid of the need for insurance companies and covers everyone regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

A report by economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, released Wednesday, found that overall health care spending in California would fall 18 percent under the proposal from state Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Accounting for savings achieved with their Senate Bill 562, it would cost $331 billion per year to run a universal coverage system in which state government, with taxpayer dollars, pays for medical services and procedures – down from more than $404 billion in spending under today’s system, according to the economic analysis. It was paid for by the California Nurses Association, the bill’s lead sponsor, which also endorsed Lara in his 2018 run for state insurance commissioner...

Under the nurses’ proposal, the state would need to come up with an additional $106.9 billion. Most of that would come from taxes on businesses ($92.6 billion), with $14.3 billion from increasing sales taxes.
Genius! Why hasn't anyone else thought of raising taxes?