Monday, April 30, 2018

Who's Toxic?

Suzanne Venker will tell you:
The phrase "toxic masculinity" is a perfect example. We’ve been hearing this phrase bantered about for several years. Now we have universities with the audacity to treat masculinity as a "mental health" disorder. It’s appalling and outrageous.

And it is women, not men, who are behind this madness. By my calculations, then, it isn’t men who are toxic. It’s women.

There is nothing harmful about masculinity or femininity in their respective natural states. Nothing. There are, however, broken women and men. Broken men tend to lash out in violent ways -- hence, the concept of "toxic masculinity" -- but it isn’t their DNA that’s hurting them. It’s their lack of purpose. And that lack of purpose stems from the lack of a father or father figure. As Dr. Warren Farrell explains here (as well as in his new book, The Boy Crisis): “Boys who hurt, hurt us.”

But broken women are just as destructive. They simply lash out differently: by using words. Look at Michelle Wolf at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Wolf personifies what we could easily refer to as "toxic femininity," but I won’t stoop to the level of the Left. Instead I’ll say this: women can be downright dangerous. Not physically, but emotionally.

The Giving Of Gifts Upon Retirement

At the end of this school year we have 4 retirements occurring at my school.  It's not uncommon for a collection to be taken in order to get retirees some nice gifts.  Assuming I survive this business I've got 10 years to go until retirement, so until then I'm going to enjoy receiving retirement gifts.

The retirees are starting to go through their desks and closets and bestowing upon those of us remaining the bounty of what they find.  Several years ago a fellow math teacher, upon his retirement, bequeathed to me his 8+ feet long, demonstration-model slide rule.  Today one of our science (chemistry and AP Environmental Science) teachers brought me these:
Slide rules are one of the most creative and practical of non-electronic scientific instruments.  A few years ago a former math and physics teacher gave me her K&E, which had been a high school graduation gift from her father for her use at Purdue.  Now I have a Lafayette (made in Japan!) and another book about how to use such ingenious devices.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

My New Favorite Word

From the source of all information and knowledge, Wikipedia:

Baizuo (Chinese: 白左, literally "White left(ies)"[1]) is a derogatory Chinese epithet that came into being in the middle 2010's.[2][3] The word received attention in Germany where it was seen as criticizing the immigration policies of Angela Merkel.[4][5][6]

Context and usage

The word baizuo is, according to political scientist Zhang Chenchen, a Chinese word that ridicules Western "Liberal elites".[7] The term has also been used to refer to perceived double standards of the Western media, such as the alleged bias on reporting about Islamist attacks in Xinjiang.[8][9][10]
Zhang Chenchen further defined the word "baizuo" with the definition "People who only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment" and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.[11]
Baizuo is used as an insult amongst Chinese netizens.

See also

Why The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution Are So Important Today

Hard to say it any better than this:
For various reasons having nothing to do with this post, I keep coming back to the phrase “an antidote to sin.”

Well, I don’t know about sin, but if killing vast numbers of your citizens in batch lots, like Nazis and Communists did, or through privation, economic destruction (or economic distortion) and repression as socialists did and do (poor Venezuela is the most extreme example but any government that considers it their business to determine what’s “death with dignity” and values it over life is doing the same, just slower, with softer gloves and more pretty words) isn’t a sin, then the Almighty and I need to have a word or fifty.

And as I was thinking of the sad state of the people of Europe who don’t even realize they are objects, owned by the government, serving at the will of the government, and destroyed just as easily, or that the hand that mollycoddles them can (and often does) snuff them out, I realized our founding documents are a remedy to that particularly horrendous sin.
It's why I believe in limited government.  It's why I'm a conservative.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Applied Probabilities Made Simple

In this article the author shows why "prepping" (stockpiling food, firearms, and ammunition) makes mathematical sense:
I am not a prepper. But I know a few. Some of the ones I do know are smart. They may not be doing as deep an analysis as I present here, on a mathematical level, but the smart ones are definitely doing it at a subconscious level. If you want to understand the perspectives of others, as everyone in my opinion should strive to do, then you would do well to read to the end of this article. To get where we’re going, we will need to discuss the general framework of disaster mathematics...

We don’t buy houses in the floodplain if we can help it, because we are risk averse, even though the chance of it flooding in any given year is only 1%. Why? We will live in the house longer than one year. Over the 30-year life of the mortgage, the chance the house floods at least once vastly exceeds 1%, because every year is another roll of the dice. It’s not cumulative, though. The mathematics for back-calculating the odds is called a Bernoulli Process. Here’s what the math looks like...

Let’s quickly step through this. The chance of flooding, P(F), is 1%, or 0.01. The chance of not flooding, which we notate P(F’), is 100%-1%, or 99%, or 0.99. To see the chance you don’t flood two years in a row, you would have to “not-flood” the first year, and then “not-flood” the second year, so you multiply the two probabilities together, and get 0.9801. The chance of “not-flooding” 30 years in a row is calculated by multiplying the chance of not flooding with itself, over and over, 30 times, which is a power relationship. P(F’)³⁰. That’s 0.7397 chance of 30 consecutive years of no flood, which means a 26% chance of at least one flood.
And then on to revolution:
While we don’t have any good sources of data on how often zombies take over the world, we definitely have good sources of data on when the group of people on the piece of dirt we currently call the USA attempt to overthrow the ruling government. It’s happened twice since colonization. The first one, the American Revolution, succeeded. The second one, the Civil War, failed. But they are both qualifying events. Now we can do math.

Stepping through this, the average year for colony establishment is 1678, which is 340 years ago. Two qualifying events in 340 years is a 0.5882% annual chance of nationwide violent revolution against the ruling government. Do the same math as we did above with the floodplains, in precisely the same way, and we see a 37% chance that any American of average life expectancy will experience at least one nationwide violent revolution.

This is a bigger chance than your floodplain-bound home getting flooded out during your mortgage...

Two instances in 340 years is not a great data pool to work with, I will grant, but if you take a grab sample of other countries around the world you’ll see this could be much worse. Since our 1678 benchmark, Russia has had a two world wars, a civil war, a revolution, and at least half a dozen uprisings, depending on how you want to count them. Depending on when you start the clock, France had a 30-year war, a 7-year war, a particularly nasty revolution, a counter-revolution, this Napoleon thing, and a couple of World Wars tacked on the end. China, North Korea, Vietnam, and basically most of the Pacific Rim has had some flavor of violent revolution in the last 100 years, sometimes more than one. Africa is … hard to even conceive where to start and end the data points. Most Central and South American countries have had significant qualifying events in the time span. And honestly, if we were to widen our analysis to not only include nationwide violent civil wars, but also instances of slavery, internment, and taking of native lands, our own numbers go way up.
Practical/applied probability.  It's very interesting.  Go read the whole thing.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Lowering The Voting Age

Just like they do with illegal immigrants, Democrats now talk about lowering the voting age to 16--because they know that kids generally tilt liberal.  I've heard high school teachers speaking positively about this proposal, but I can't imagine they'd want the school run by sophomores.  And that's what we're talking about--letting sophomores vote.  In actual elections.

Sigh.  Liberals are shameless.

I read this today on the topic and it struck home:
And read Lord of the Flies, and try to understand why children, who aren’t especially good at governing themselves, shouldn’t — until they grow up — have a say in governing a republic whose founding documents were devised to filter and limit the power of the mob to rule the body politic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Insensitive? Or Too Sensitive?

Is the school district being insensitive, or is the parent being too sensitive?
Some parents say an upcoming Civil War Ball at Ranchos Middle School is culturally insensitive, and are asking Golden Valley Unified School District to reconsider the event.

The dance, slated for this Friday, has been held for the past 17 years as a way for eighth-grade students at the Madera County school to celebrate the end of the Civil War unit in their history classes.

Vicki Snowden-Jackson, the parent of a sixth-grade student, said she was appalled to hear of the dance, and wants the district to reconsider it before her son starts middle school.

Jackson, an African American woman, said it’s a culturally insensitive way to teach the Civil War.

“They're not holding celebrations when they teach World War II, and the Nazis threw parties then,” Jackson said. “Why do it with one of the darkest times in American history"...

The superintendent said the ball has not been a problem before. If issues came up, it has typically been handled at the school with options for teachers to come up with alternative assignments if needed. The district is not opposed to reviewing the project.

But Alvarado said "this aligns with our academic standards and meeting standards with our board. It's a time in history when things definitely occurred that no one is proud of. It's not about glorifying that."  link

Fake But Accurate, Redux

Wasn't it Dan Rather who popularized the phrase "fake but accurate", when caught telling a BS story about President Bush's air national guard service?  Well, here it is again:
The mask slips yet again. When challenged to defend flyers posted around an Oregon campus that warn of a widespread sexual assault problem, a college official said the following: "Believing survivors means let's sit down and understand each other's experience. Let's believe what that person said, he or she has experienced, that we have experienced. It may not be the truth, as has been determined, but it is that person's truth and what they were going through."
You can think whatever you want, but in most places in life there's objective truth.  One person shouldn't be penalized just because someone else is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and chooses to believe (or merely state) something objectively false.

Internet Pricing

Have you heard about that van attack in Toronto?  Well, the perpetrator is a self-described "incel".  Incel is short for "involuntary celibacy"--in other words, a dude who can't get laid.  These guys, instead of investing in a little grooming and some social skills, decide that they need to get women back. 

Lovely little internet subgroup you've got there.

Anyway, I'm obviously not an incel, as I've been getting screwed by my ISP for many years now.

My recent purchase of a Roku TV has convinced me that I need to increase my internet bandwidth.  While talking to my ISP yesterday about some email settings on my new computer, I asked about increased bandwidth.  The support person looked and gasped out loud, "Ohmigawd, you only have 1 Mbs download.  How do you even live on that?"  It's not like I'm on dialup or anything, but dang.

I can easily get 6x my current bandwidth, so I agreed to do that.  Then I waited for the shoe to drop regarding cost.  Then it was my turn to be shocked; the price they quoted me for 6x the bandwidth is 1/2 of what I'm paying now.

They can do that because I'm willing to sign a 1-year contract.  I asked what happens at the end of that contract, expecting the price to skyrocket.  The answer was that I could go month-to-month (which I've apparently been doing for a decade or more), sign another 1-year agreement, or terminate service.  Will anyone tell me these options, I asked?  No, he said, I'd have to ask.  Otherwise they'll just jack up my rate (about to what I'm currently paying) and I'll automatically go month-to-month.  If I ask, they'll (probably) be able to put me on another contract at a reasonable price.

So I've already added a reminder on my calendar next April.  I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars a year more for internet service anymore.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"Basic Income" Flops In Finland

Giving unemployed people a "basic income" hasn't worked in one of the most homogenous countries in the world, Finland.  And yet people want to try it here:
The Finnish government has decided not to expand a limited trial in paying people a basic income, which has drawn much international interest...

When Finland launched the experiment its unemployment rate was 9.2% - higher than among its Nordic neighbours.

That, and the complexity of the Finnish social benefits system, fuelled the calls for ambitious social security reforms, including the basic income pilot.

The pilot's full results will not be released until late 2019...

It also argued that basic income would increase income inequality and raise Finland's poverty rate from 11.4% to 14.1%.
Update:  I guess I should add the part about trying it here in the Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia:
Republicans in Congress certainly talk a good game about helping the poor and middle class, arguing, however unconvincingly, that their rewrite of the tax code will amount to more than just a giveaway to the rich. But all their shameless maneuvering is really doing is making once-crazy, semi-socialistic economic ideas, such as universal basic income, seem sane.

Take the city of Stockton.

For weeks now, Michael Tubbs, the mayor of this rough-and-tumble Central Valley city, has been making headlines for jump-starting a government-run pilot project that will give dozens of families $500 every month, no strings attached and regardless of employment status...

Although universal basic income gets derided as socialism, Tubbs sees it as a tool, like the earned income tax credit, for helping poor people stay afloat and keeping middle-class people from sliding into poverty.
If it can't work in Finland, freakin' Finland, well, we can make it work in the DPRK.  Because...just because.

Monday, April 23, 2018

You Are Not Oppressed

Alonzo Rachel.  Condi Rice.  Thomas Sowell.  Bill Cosby.  Clarence Thomas.  Larry Elder.  Mia Love.  Diamond and Silk.  Black Americans who have been called everything from "Uncle Toms" (by people who obviously never read Stowe's work) or even "race traitors" for daring to suggest that black Americans haven't necessarily been served well by liberal policies, for starters.

Add a new name, Candace Owens, to the list:
Candace Owens is a young African-American woman who works through Turning Point USA, among others, to bring a message of empowerment to the black community...

Owens uses a theme from the movie The Matrix to urge young people to “take the red pill” and become conservatives like her. She has even had the courage to take on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yesterday morning, Kanye West tweeted his approval of Candace:
I love the way Candace Owens thinks

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 21, 2018
That caused the Left to go insane.
I'm not usually a fan of Kanye West, but two more of his tweets made sense to me:


There's more, including video, at the link.  Go here for a video of her telling Black Lives Matter protesters "you are not oppressed".

And if I missed any significant names in my list at the beginning of this post, please add them in the comments.

The Coarsening of Our Culture

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe thinks we're dropping too many F-bombs in public, and I agree:
Maybe the rampant overuse of the F-word and other obscenities is actually benign — as benign as women wearing pants or interracial marriage, to mention a couple of once-inflexible taboos.

Then again, many people used to tell themselves that smoking was benign. That no harm was done by leaving dog droppings where they fell. That racial slurs were nothing to get worked up about. Are we quite sure that the relentless potty-mouthing of American culture doesn't belong in that category? A flood of profanity pollutes our public square. It's time we gave some thought to cleaning it up.
I'm reminded of a quote by General Washington:
The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing (a vice heretofore little known in an American army) is growing into fashion; he hopes that the officers will by example as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope of blessing of heaven on our arms if we continue to insult it by our impiety and folly.  Added to this, it is a vice so mean and low that every man of sense and character detests and despises it.  (Quoted from the 1985-1986 Contrails, a book of knowledge given to freshman cadets at the Air Force Academy)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

New Computer

I finally broke down and bought a new computer for home.

I was an "early adopter" of Windows Vista.  That's what my old computer ran on.  That was a few operating systems ago.

So I bought a system that runs on Windows 10.  Vista is so old that I can't directly connect the two computers and do an automatic transfer of data, settings, software, etc.  Gotta do it all manually.  Fortunately I have a couple of external hard drives.

Tomorrow I'm going to call my ISP and ask them to help me set up my email account.  Should I use the Mail program that comes with Windows 10, or should I stick with Mozilla Thunderbird?  And if I stick with Thunderbird, how do I move all the Thunderbird "stuff" (saved emails and folders, filters, etc) to the new computer?

I'm sure there are some who will tell me that Macs are easier.  Perhaps, but once I get this computer working the way I want it to, it'll be much more versatile than a Mac--lots more software available, and I do some pretty obscure things sometimes.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Vanilla Ice Gets Modern Press

It's kind of sad when law enforcement is a partisan issue, but leave it to some College Republicans to make a funny out of it:
The College Republicans at the University of California, Merced advertised their club last month with signs that read "I.C.E. I.C.E. Baby" and provided the phone number for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now the student government is considering defunding them and similar organizations, in part because College Republicans might use those funds to attend conservative conferences and spread hateful rhetoric on campus.

The initial advertising campaign provoked a response from school administrators several days after the incident. The officials condemned the group's "bigoted and hateful" tactics but reminded students that "as nasty as the club's signs were, they are protected by the First Amendment."
Of course the libs want to go too far in response:
In an April 16 statement, the California College Republicans say they "view any attempt to defund CRUCM as an explicitly biased attack against conservative values and ideas....Any repercussive action by UC Merced student government or campus administration is an assault on First Amendment rights." They don't say whether they plan to take legal action if they lose their fees, but they're hinting that this issue won't be resolved quietly. This is, after all, the same litigious College Republicans chapter that threatened to sue their school when administrators quoted high security fees for bringing the right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro to campus.
A reasonable comment:
Fears of deportation, or of having their Dreamer or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) revoked, are real for many students. A call to I.C.E. from an antagonistic fellow student would be life-altering to some in UC-Merced's student body. But even shitty, loathsome speech is protected by the First Amendment. The more we equate words with violence, the easier it becomes to justify suppressing speech––and who would be in charge of drawing those boundaries for what type of speech is allowed? The best responses to the College Republicans' flier will consist of nonviolent activism and other forms of speech, not measures that chip away at everyone's First Amendment rights.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

California Government Wants All Businesses To Leave The State

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since before I was born. It benefits certain people, though, to repeat the so-called statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. What does that statistic even mean? How was it determined? Can anyone tell me?

No, of course they can't. And they don't want to, because that would shoot their entire narrative. And with lefties, it's all about the narrative.

So, we have a national law that's been on the books for over half a century, but California decides it's going to up the ante a bit:
A bill introduced this week in California (where else?) would force businesses to submit payroll data to the state, so it can police whether or not men and women receive equal pay.

It would be yet another absurd regulatory burden and massive bureaucracy expansion in a state already hampered by both.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced the bill before a Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Jackson said, "Women are in the workforce primarily because they need to be and it’s important that women are paid equally."

She added, "It’s an enormous problem."

It's not. The wage gap is a myth that does not account for differences in job selections, work hours, the danger of the job, or anything else. Women tend to make less money than men because a work/life home balance is more important to women than men. Men are more likely to think it perfectly fine to work 60 hours per week than a woman, especially one with a family. Further, men tend to select higher-paying job fields than women. This alone accounts for much of the gap.
Read the whole thing, and marvel that this state still functions at all with such idiots in charge.

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Too many of today's university student protesters are not brave civil rights warriors, they're pathetic children who aren't even smart enough to think their actions through.  University administrators, rather than giving in to the entitled little brats, need to demonstrate exactly who is in charge of the university (this assumes, of course, that the administration isn't completely happy with the social justice warriors and their tantrums).  New York University shows one such way to out today's Freedom Riders as the Freedom Hiders cowards they truly are:
At NYU, administrators threatened the protesters’ financial aid, and the woke warriors went back to their rooms.

Spare a thought for those knights of social justice, the student protesters. Motivated by the yearning for a better world, they sacrifice their time and energy in service to their ideals. They display courage, stamina, determination, and creativity in coming up with rhymes in their chants.

Except if you tell them they’re jeopardizing their financial aid or their housing. Then they fold immediately...

NYU administrators showed little patience for the activists disrupting the proceedings at the Kimmel Center for University Life. But how to dissolve the protest? It turned out that there was no need to bring in the police. Ringing up the students’ parents was all it took. The phone calls advised parents that students who interfered with campus functions could be suspended, and that suspensions can carry penalties of revoked financial aid or housing. The students “initially planned to stay indefinitely,” notes the Voice’s report. “Instead, the students departed within forty hours.”
The school called mommy and daddy, and the kiddies folded.  Classic.
 NYU shows us that it’s possible to maintain order on campus, even in the face of the strenuously aggrieved, with a tactic as simple as a phone call. If it disabused the protesters of any notion that the world must stop and listen to them any time they’re feeling feverish with injustice, it did them a favor. Undergraduates often joke about how ill-prepared they are for life after graduation, “out there in the real world.” Colleges and universities should seize the opportunity to teach the real-world fact that being woke is not a license to interfere with other people’s business.
Hear hear.

One Of The Benefits Of Living In A Federal Republic

This post will make much more sense if you first read this one from a couple weeks ago.

So, from that post you can see that the government here in The Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia is trying to "protect" me from the ills of mismarked Everclear.  It's bad enough that I couldn't get 190 proof Everclear in the past, only 151 proof--but now I can't get any, all praise to my glorious benefactors downtown.

Not every state in this country is run by batcrap-insane liberals, though.  Some states trust their residents to behave like adults (and penalize them when they don't), and being over half-a-century old, I have friends all over the country.  When I got home from work today I noticed a package on my porch.  What's this, I wondered, as I haven't ordered anything from online recently.  When I saw the return address, I knew what it was.  And sure enough:
It's limoncello season once again :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Rest Of The Country Is Tired Of Subsidizing California's High Taxes

Until recently, California could get away with ridiculously high state and local taxes in part because those taxes could be claimed as a deduction on federal income taxes.  As a result, while Sacramento got to keep the money raised by those taxes, Washington didn't get as much money from California.  There's an argument to be made that the rest of the country was thereby subsidizing California's high taxes.

I'm not saying that the Republican Congress and Republican President intended to shaft California specifically, but honestly, could you blame them if they did?  Regarding the tax reform bill signed into law in December, here's the keening from The People's Republic of Kalifornia, Ignorer Of Federal Law and everyone's favorite Sanctuary State, where illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens do:
President Donald Trump’s tax cuts will be anything but for about 1 million California taxpayers who will owe Uncle Sam more money a year from now.

They’re the Californians who will lose a collective $12 billion because the new law caps a deduction they have been able to take for paying their state and local taxes, according to a new analysis by the Franchise Tax Board.

Very wealthy Californians earning more than $1 million a year will pay the lion’s share of that money, with 43,000 of them paying a combined $9 billion.

But some middle-class Californians will pay more, too.

About 751,000 households with incomes under $250,000 probably will owe more tax. All together, they’ll owe an extra $1.1 billion...

He (Governor Moonbeam) also said in January that he’s worried that the changes will provide an incentive for wealthy Californians to leave the state, potentially starving the state of tax revenue. The state’s wealthiest 1 percent, for instance, pay about 48 percent of the state’s personal income tax.
What was it Margaret Thatcher said about socialism and running out of other people's money?

Update, 4/26/18:  And this from the Wall Street Journal:
About 90% of taxpayers are unaffected by the change. But high earners in places with hefty income taxes—not just California and New York, but also Minnesota and New Jersey—will bear more of the true cost of their state government. Also in big trouble are Connecticut and Illinois, where the overall state and local tax burden (especially property taxes) is so onerous that high-income residents will feel the burn now that they can’t deduct these costs on their federal returns. On the other side are nine states—including Florida, Nevada, Texas and Washington—that impose no tax at all on earned income.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

System of Professional Growth

For some reason my district prides itself on its System of Professional Growth, which is a fancy term for my evaluation.  It's so complex that you don't just get evaluated; no, you have to attend 1- or 2-day training sessions in order to learn how to participate in your evaluation.

I got the email yesterday saying I have the pleasure of being evaluated next year. They graciously gave me many dates for training, all of which I’ll ignore because they're during the summer--and I don't plan to be home much this summer. Besides, if you need training in how to be evaluated, something is wrong with the evaluation system.

I have an idea. Why don’t they just make one of those stupid training videos for us to watch, like we have to for suicide prevention or web site accessibility or using hand sanitizer? Or, do we have to attend evaluation training in person, rather than online, because evaluations are so much more important than suicide prevention or web site accessibility for the deaf or blind?


Being A Teacher Is Getting Worse

Schools are a microcosm of the communities from which they draw their students.  Sadly, that's why we have this list of "10 things teachers did not have to deal with 10 years ago".  Here are the items:
  • The inability to punish students.  The author is as much a fan of so-called restorative justice as I am.
  • Cell phone addiction.
  • Online bullying.  Honestly, unless something happens at school, this is an area where I think schools should but out or, at the most, notify parents and let them take care of the out-of-school issue.
  • Pep rallies for standardized testing.
  • Constant student anxiety.  I've written before how ADD used to be the "gold standard" for getting special accommodations in school, now anxiety is.  
  • Fear of school shootings and lock-downs.  You're much more likely to get killed when you get in a car than you are at school--but the author seems resigned to the idea that this fear is justified anyway.
  • Heroin and opioid epidemics.
  • Politicized schools.
  • Era of "feelings" where students are never wrong--because they "feel" their grade is unfair, it is.  By definition.
  • Naked utilitarianism in education--schooling exists solely to prepare students for jobs or, in the case of many schools, college.  Anything besides going to college is failure.

California Students Score Among The Worst In The Nation

I guess all our “diversity” and “caring” and “compassion” aren’t translating into much academically.

Yes, someone has to be worst, but Liberal Utopia? Why is it that the most liberal places—I’m talking about you, San Francisco and Berkeley—have some of the worst outcomes?
California’s poor students performed worse on a national exam than needy kids from all but one other state, according to results released last week by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Congratulations, folks. We beat Alaska.

These students’ lackluster scores on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress come despite the state’s $31.2 billion investment in their learning under a new school funding method championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013.

Can Humans Melt the Antarctic Ice Cap?

If math is haaaaaard for you, maybe you don't want to read this:
When discussing climate with people who do not have technical backgrounds, I have learned much of the climate discussion is a foreign language to them.

Phrases like “Dalton minimum” or “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation” make their eyes glaze over. Once, after I explained what causes wind, the reply was, “my head hurts.” So, I no longer try to explain atmospheric science. Besides, I am an engineer, not a meteorologist. I have had better luck by sharing simple examples that let people reach conclusions on their own about human versus natural influence. Telling them I can show them the math if they want to see it adds credibility, because few, if any, alarmist publications intended for the general public include any math to support their claims. Describing the energies that drive weather, and therefore climate, is a good way to do this.

So, I take them through a few examples of how much energy is involved and how miniscule human activity is by comparison. Done properly, this lets a non-STEM person grasp the huge amounts of energy involved...

These types of examples are good for communicating with nontechnical people. They let people relate atmospheric physics to their own life experience and everyday understanding of the world in which they live — even if that understanding might be skewed or incomplete.
Then follows some math and science that most people should be able to follow.  Here's the conclusion:
I know, I know. This is a very simplistic analysis that ignores the complexities of actual heat transfer. But that’s the point; non-STEM people can follow it if they know a little math.

And yes, the alarmists would argue human emissions are indirectly causing heat to transfer to Antarctica, and this type of analysis is therefore irrelevant. So what? They must show how human emissions transfer that heat, and how much heat is being transferred.

My goal here is to show the enormous energy levels involved and how ridiculous it is to blame humans for any significant ice melt. That’s my hypothesis; let the alarmists come up with the null.
And they can start acting like they believe their own doomsday scenarios, too.  If they did that, at least I'd be able to have some respect for them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sacramento Supe Salaries

Want to make some good money?

Sacramento school superintendent salaries have exploded in recent years, growing to challenge the paychecks of university presidents.

Locally, superintendent salaries range from $240,000 for Sarah Koligian in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, which has 20,353 students, to $330,951 for Christopher Hoffman, who leads the region's largest school district, Elk Grove Unified, with 63,297 students, according to 2017-18 state enrollment figures.

Hoffman's pay is more than the salary of President Robert Nelsen of Sacramento State, who is paid $324,029. The California State University campus serves 29,000 students…

Being a Sacramento area superintendent can be lucrative:

Evans, who runs the smallest of the six districts, with 14,895 students, also earned a 6 percent bonus, or $17,580, in 2017, bringing his pay this school year to $311,184. He also is eligible for extra pay if he works more than his contracted 220 days…

Finkelstein said superintendents use comparisons with other districts to get bigger paychecks. "They are watching what their peers are making," he said. "Salaries are reported publicly all the time. They are saying, 'The person down the street is getting a $20,000 raise. I need a $20,000 raise.' "

He said there is no evidence to support the idea that school districts that offer higher pay get better results academically or otherwise…

We teachers are getting pay raises all the time, right? I mean, if that district down the street is getting a 4% pay raise this year, I need one, too, right?

Teachers in the Sacramento region have also seen boosts to their salaries in recent years, although the raises have been significantly less than those of superintendents. Teachers' salaries have grown from 9.5 percent to 16 percent in the last five years, depending on the district, on top of regular step increases.

I don’t think we’ve gotten 9.5% in my district in the past 5 years.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Don't Follow Your Passion

It seems that Mark Cuban and I agree on something, and for the same reason:
"One of the great lies of life is 'follow your passions,'" says Cuban as part of the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series. "Everybody tells you, 'Follow your passion, follow your passion.'"

Cuban says that's bad advice because you may not excel at what you are passionate about. 
This is why students should get as much education as they can, especially in K-12 where there's no out-of-pocket expense.

I wonder how many teachers, who often dish out this bad advice, planned on being teachers when they were in high school.  I certainly didn't.

Intentional Juxtaposition

Joanne has two juxtaposed posts over at her blog:

Gourmet food delivery goes to college


Hungry in college?

Yes, they can both be true, but it seems to me that if the latter is true, then people are making some seriously bad financial decisions--both about college and about food.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Lost In Space

The original series, which started the year I was born, was ultra cheesy.  And I don't just mean the non-existent special effects, either.  The stories were ultra cheesy.  And the Robinson family was right out of the 50s/early-60s, to the point where Mrs. Robinson was doing laundry in one of the early episodes!

The 1998 "reboot" movie?  It wasn't cheesy.  It was just bad.  Matt LeBlanc played Major West.  His acting was so terrible, all I could see was Joey (from Friends) playing Major West.  Until that time I had thought LeBlanc a great actor for playing Joey's goofiness and bad acting so well; turns out, that was just his own bad acting!

But enough about LeBlanc, what was with that Robot?  When the Battlestar Galactica reboot hit the screens in 1998, just about everything had been changed except the Vipers.  The writers knew that if people remembered (and liked) one thing from the original series, it was the Vipers, so they kept those the same.  And it worked.  What's the one thing everyone liked about the original Lost In Space?  Robot!  Even today, more than 50 years after the show premiered, people still joke about "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!"  So what did the writers of the 1998 movie do?  They completely changed Robot.  It wasn't even an endearing character anymore.  There was nothing endearing about that movie, it was a disaster.  Even Mimi Rogers, William Hurt, Gary Oldman, and cameos by June Lockhart, Angela Cartwright, and Mark Goddard couldn't save that pile of steaming poo.

All of which brings us to today.  Premiering on Netflix today is a new reboot of Lost In Space.  Irwin Allen was involved in the 1998 movie, and he's involved in the new series.  Robot is still different.  But I have hopes that this series will be a good one, at least based on the trailers that have been released.  If nothing else, it can only be better than the movie!

I'll review the first episode or two in an update.

Update, 8:47 pm:  I've watched the first episode.  Interesting story, totally unlike the original.  Only at the very end do we see (Parker Posey as) Dr. Smith, and she's clearly a "bad guy".  Robot--nothing like the original; in fact, we don't even know its origins. The Robinsons are a "modern" family, which means instead of nuclear family bliss we have dissension and strife.  We start to learn the backstory through flashbacks, and I'm sure one of these flashbacks will explain why all the Robinsons are white except Judy.  Also, the Jupiter 2 is a total loss, so it appears the Robinsons, rather than roaming the heavens, are marooned on a Cinderella world with earth-like gravity, air, and vegetation.

Bottom line:  this Lost In Space is nothing like what came before--unless you count the cameo by Billy Mumy!  Only the names are the same.  Still, I enjoyed the first episode once I could keep track of what was happening, and I'll keep watching.  If you're expecting a remake of the old Lost In Space, you won't be happy.  If you're willing to accept a new story of humans stranded on another world, this could be a wildly entertaining show.

Update #2, 4/14/18:  I've binge-watched most of the first season.  That should give you an indication of how much I like this show.

Your Feel-Good Story of the Week

Despite some of the idiot commenters, I find no one doing anything but good here:
First-ever homeless shelter Girl Scout troop sells 6,000 boxes of cookies, surpassing goal

Girl Scout Troop 6000 of New York City is celebrating an extra special cookie season this year. The region’s first homeless shelter- based troop has surpassed its goal of selling 6,000 boxes of the beloved treats in their inaugural year of cookie sales.

Troop 6000 is a Girl Scout troop specially designed to serve girls in the New York City shelter system.

“A lot of people ask us, what’s the difference between us and traditional troops, and there really isn’t a difference. They’re exactly the same, just that they don’t have a home,” troop leader Giselle Burgess told Fox 5...

Troop 6000’s cookies are available for purchase through their online page.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Next Stupid Idea Out Of California

Way back when, back when I was in the army--and this was pre-internet--there was a list floating around of statements supposedly made on British officer evaluation reports.  These were brutally honest, hilarious statements that might really have been written about certain officers, or perhaps they would in later days have been called "fake but accurate" or "fake news" or "urban legends".

I've never searched the internet to find out if they were real or not.  It doesn't matter to me one way or the other.

But one that I remember went something like this:  "This officer is so bad that soldiers would only follow him out of a sense of curiosity."

Sometimes I hear that if you want to know what America will be like in 20 years, watch what's happening in California today.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is what's going on in California today:
California needs a Secretary of Youth. The next governor should appoint one.

California’s next governor will have an opportunity to expand the state’s talent marketplace by making bold changes to education and workforce systems. That includes creating a cabinet-level position focused on expanding economic opportunities for youth across the state.
We have an entire Department of Education. We have an Employment Development Department. Let's create a 3rd agency that overlaps both of those!

If the rest of the country follows California, it can only be out of a sense of curiosity.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Finally, Information From Overseas

Every time I've heard about or read one of these studies about teenagers and later start times from schools, I always ask the same question: do other countries/cultures have the same problems American teens seem to, or is this an American issue?  Well, we now have information from one small-scale study done in Singapore, and the results mirror what we've been told about American teens:
A new study published by the Sleep Research Society found support for pushing back school start times, showing that a later start to the day led to more sleep and better mood in teenage girls. The research was conducted at an all-girls school in Singapore and focused on about 150 students in seventh through 10th grade (average age 14). The school delayed its start time by 45 minutes, changing from a 7:30 a.m. to an 8:15 a.m. beginning, and studied the effects on its students.

After one month, students reported about 23 more minutes in bed. In addition, the percentage of students who had at least eight hours in bed each night increased from 6.9 percent to 16.1 percent. The most significant finding, however, was the students’ self-reported improvement in mood. They reported less depression, less sleepiness and overall “feeling more refreshed” during the school day.

The benefits held up after nine months, according to the study, an encouraging finding because it implies that changing school start times can have a lasting effect. 
If school starts later, won't kids just go to bed later? 
Some have worried that delaying school start times could delay bedtimes, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of inadequate sleep. However, at nine months, researchers found that the participants were spending roughly the same amount of time in bed as they were at the one-month follow-up. 

Also at the nine-month follow-up, students had not just an increase in time spent “in bed,” but also an increase in time spent asleep.
I'd like to see this done on a bigger scale, but this is a good start.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bird Of Prey

I was talking to a friend in the parking lot after work today, when the most beautiful hawk (?) flew by and landed in a nearby tree.  Black-and-white-striped feathers across its wings and tail, just beautiful.

It would stay in one tree for a few minutes, then fly to the next, wait a bit, then fly to the next.  We watched as the ground squirrels skitted around on the sidewalks, seemingly oblivious to its presence.  Whenever it landed in a nearby tree, it kept a close eye on those ground squirrels.

But never did it swoop in for dinner.  After 20 minutes or so, it flew off to the front of school.  And the squirrels seem never to have noticed.

This was as close as I could get, not wanting to spook it.

Miss America's Outstanding Teen To Attend West Point

This is good news:
Miss America's Outstanding Teen announces that its national titleholder, Jessica Baeder, has accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. "In joining the Long Gray Line, I am honored to continue the military legacy of my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers, who all served in the military," says Baeder. "This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl."
Yes, she's attractive.  But check out the "fitness" picture (towards the bottom) in this article. Pretty impressive.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Ignore That Elephant In The Middle Of The Room

I've been concerned about this for years:
Brooklyn-based columnist David Klion has drawn national attention with a recent tweet storm arguing that driving is immoral and automobiles should be banned.

Nanny-state proposals from Acela corridor opinion writers like this are easy to dismiss and, in Klion’s case, mock. Yet the real danger is that too many politicians in state capitals and city halls nationwide spend an inordinate amount of time pondering things to ban and, unlike busybody columnists, their bad ideas can be put into law, with negative consequences for individuals, families, and the economy in general.

The California legislature, more so than any other elected body in the country, is filled with lawmakers who live to manage other people’s lives and dictate seemingly innocuous personal decisions and behavior. That’s why California is one of only two states that has banned plastic shopping bags and imposes a 10-cent tax on paper bags (with the revenue collected going not to state coffers or environmental improvement projects, but to line the pockets of large corporations like Safeway and Ralph’s)...

Aside from the adverse effect that foam bans have on of employers, another reason Golden State politicians, at both the state and local levels, should not be spending their time considering and debating misguided foam prohibitions is because they have bigger fish to fry.

California has racked up approximately $1 trillion in state and municipal unfunded pension liabilities. While California politicians have plenty of ideas for new taxes and regulations, they have no plans to rectify these soul crushing unfunded pension liabilities, which taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for. Rather than spend time and scarce taxpayers resources coming up with new ways to make it harder to do business in the Golden State – like banning foam and making it illegal for restaurants to give out drinking straws – California officials need to spend their time on the real challenges facing the state.
A part-time legislature might help, but that only addresses the problem of too much government and too many idle government hands that just need to regulate or ban something.  The second problem, that of runaway unfunded pension liabilities, will only be dealt with as we head over the fiscal cliff.

And notice I said "dealt with", not "solved".

Drying Your Hands With Poop

I remember when electric hand dryers in bathrooms were bad because they used electricity, whereas paper is a renewable resource.  Now, however, electricity has been rehabilitated in the eyes of the enviro-wackos, cutting down trees is bad, and we have all these fancy electric hand dryers in public restrooms.  They don't work so great when I want to blow my nose, but hey, why let a little reality spoil the good feels of the lefties? 

Why, indeed:
Washing your grubby mitts is one of the all-time best ways to cut your chances of getting sick and spreading harmful germs to others. But using the hot-air dryers common in bathrooms can undo that handy hygienic work.

Hot-air dryers suck in bacteria and hardy bacterial spores loitering in the bathroom—perhaps launched into the air by whooshing toilet flushes—and fire them directly at your freshly cleaned hands, according to a study published in the April issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The authors of the study, led by researchers at the University of Connecticut, found that adding HEPA filters to the dryers can reduce germ-spewing four-fold. However, the data hints that places like infectious disease research facilities and healthcare settings may just want to ditch the dryers and turn to trusty towels...

The research findings largely square with other data showing that hot-air dryers and jet dryers can launch and disperse germs from hands into the air and onto surfaces—essentially setting off a very dirty bathroom bomb. But the new study clearly demonstrates that the less powerful hot-air dryers can also bathe hands with germs already swirling in the wash room.
But we can feeeeeeeeel good about "doing something" for the environment, or something.

Loyalty Oaths

In California it used to be against education code to be a teacher and a communist.  Now it's OK to be a communist.

The can't refuse to hire you if you're a communist but you'd better support diversity, at least at UC San Diego:
As an addition to the "I probably couldn't get a job as an academic these days" file comes this link (via @roddreher) to a University of California San Diego document requiring a written statement from faculty applicants:
The Contributions to Diversity Statement should describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It should also demonstrate an understanding of the barriers facing women and underrepresented minorities and of UC San Diego’s mission to meet the educational needs of our diverse student population...
You can't make such silliness up. Remember when loyalty oaths were a bad thing?

Learning Styles Bogosity

bogus.   adj.   counterfeit, spurious, sham.

bogosity.  noun.  the condition or state of being bogus.

Learning styles.  Bogus theory, proffered by many in academia, which claims that people learn best in their "preferred modality":
The idea that we learn better when taught via our preferred modality or “learning style” – such as visually, orally, or by doing – is not supported by evidence. Nonetheless the concept remains hugely popular, no doubt in part because learning via our preferred style can lead us to feel like we’ve learned more, even though we haven’t.

Some advocates of the learning styles approach argue that the reason for the lack of evidence to date is that students do so much of their learning outside of class. According to this view, psychologists have failed to find evidence for learning styles because they’ve focused too narrowly on whether it is beneficial to have congruence between teaching style and preferred learning style. Instead, they say psychologists should look for the beneficial effects of students studying outside of class in a manner that is consistent with their learning style.

For a new paper in Anatomical Sciences Education, a pair of researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have conducted just such an investigation with hundreds of undergrads. Once again however the findings do not support the learning styles concept, reinforcing its reputation among mainstream psychologists as little more than a myth.
Ranks right up there with "multiple intelligences".

You don't like the link above?  Does it hurt your feeeeeelz?  Take it up with the British Psychological Society, it's their link.

Let's get to the denouement, shall we?
Husmann and O’Loughlin don’t pull any punches in their conclusion. Their findings, they write – especially when considered in the context of past research – “provide strong evidence that instructors and students should not be promoting the concept of learning styles for studying and/or for teaching interventions. Thus, the adage of ‘I can’t learn subject X because I am a visual learner’ should be put to rest once and for all.”
Hear hear.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Foreign Paper Attacks Made-Up US Problem, Real Americans Set Things Straight

Here in the People's Democratic Republic of Kalifornia, we don't get our groceries in plastic bags.  No, plastic bags are reserved for all stores except those that sell groceries.  If plastic bags are so bad, why don't we put our clothing purchases in cloth bags brought from home???

Uh oh.  Perhaps I'd better not post that.  It might give the idiots in the big white building downtown more ideas.

Anyway, the UK's Spectator writes about how many countries ban plastic bags but those horrible Muricans won't.  The first several comments on that post give me hope for this country:

  • I lived 300 feet from the Atlantic Ocean for five years and cannot recall seeing even one plastic bag washed up on the shore during that entire time.
    What on Earth would possess someone to invent a fictional problem (an epidemic of plastic bags on America's beaches) and then lecture the United States on its inaction at addressing this non-existent problem in a foreign publication?


    "Shocking report reveals that 95% of plastic polluting the world's oceans comes from just TEN rivers including the Ganges and Niger"
    Note that none of them are in the US.


    The streets of the United States don't look like the streets of Kenya, with plastic bags blowing everywhere. It's not an Issue here because we have adequate sanitation. Virtually every major store in the US has a recycle box where you can place old bags. Some people, gasp, reuse them as trash bags in their bathroom trashcans or some other place.
    In short, it's a non-issue of the sort that busy-body do-gooders whip themselves into a frenzy over. The piles of trash you see in the oceans are primarily from third world countries who have no societal taboo against littering.
    I'm looking at you India, China and Africa.


    The US takes care of its waste. We don't throw it in the water like many other countries. Why don't you go lecture those that do.


    I live on the ocean, and plastic is a huge issue. But I never see plastic bags.


    Calling them "single-use" displays the problem in a nutshell: Those who are opposed to them are the people who use them only once. I save them and use them for all sorts of things.
    Free your mind, and the rest will follow. The people wanting to ban these are the ones who've imprisoned themselves.

  • Avatar

    Let me help you here: The bags are really a non-issue environmentally. Their mass is practically nil. Compare the mass of one bag to the mass of, say, a milk bottle cap. The cap is many times the mass. And there are many many items of plastic in any grocery store purchase. As for clogging the ocean w/ these bags, last year it was reported that nearly all the plastic that ends up in the oceans comes from 5 sources--in India, Thailand (I think), China, and perhaps somewhere else. Not the US, not the UK. A non-issue, but people feel good banning them, so they get banned.

Governor Moonbeam wants to ban internal combustion engines, too. I fear there are enough enviro-wacko weenies here in the PDRK to make it a real issue some day.