Friday, November 30, 2018

A Substitute Who Teaches

Maybe it's different where you are, but where I am, if a math teacher is out for a day, the kids lose a day of instruction.  There isn't this pool of people able to teach math who are dying to work for the $135 a day my district pays substitutes, so if a math teacher isn't there, teaching doesn't take place.

I should go out and buy a lottery ticket.  There's a "kid" (he's so young!) who subs in our district and is currently working on a master's degree in math.  Eventually he wants to get a doctorate.

I've missed 3 school days this week, something I haven't done in (literally) years.  I was able to get this math whiz as a substitute all three days.  I gave him my lecture notes and off he went.  My students told me he can teach, and their quiz results yesterday indicate that they learned something Monday and Tuesday.

I can't ask for much more than that, and neither can my students.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Let's Play "Identify The Racist"

Our universities are full of flaming liberals.  Liberals in administration, liberals as professors, liberals as students.  You can't swing a dead cat at a California university and not hit a liberal.  And liberals are the least racist people around--just ask them, they'll tell you.

This professor, though, thinks our students are racists, and his (lack of) logic probably won't surprise you:
A University of California, Berkeley professor suggested scrapping end-of-semester student evaluations for hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions after claiming that the grades and evaluations are biased against female instructors and people of color.

“Over the next few weeks, students will get the chance to evaluate their professors and TAs. They’re going to get it wrong,” UC Berkeley history professor Brian DeLaytweeted on Sunday. “They’ll be harder on women and people of color than on white men. Tenured white male faculty, in particular, should help their students understand this.”
Of all the reasons to get rid of student evaluations, this is one of the least reasonable.
The study, first published in January of 2016, addressed the effectiveness of student evaluations of teaching (SETs). DeLay asserted in his tweet that the study revealed a bias toward gender and grade expectations, such as how quickly an assignment is graded and returned with feedback, rather than a review of the professor’s educational effectiveness.

“Instructor race is also associated with SET…” DeLay said in a follow-up tweet, referencing the study’s finding that minority professors tend to receive, on average, “significantly lower” scores than their white, male counterparts. He goes on to mention the study’s claim that “age, charisma, and physical attractiveness” also factor into evaluations.
Apparently minority teachers are uglier, "slothier", and slower to return graded work--if you're to take this professor's comments at face value.  He asserts there's "implicit bias" at work.  It's interesting how he extrapolated that from the data.

If one of the most liberal groups in the country, that being California university students (Berkeley, anyone?), can't get the racism thing right, I don't know how anyone can expect a poor old white guy like me to get it right.

Wildfires May Affect School Funding

Smoke was so thick in the air in the Sacramento region on Friday, November 16th--the last day of school before Thanksgiving break--that most (if not all) schools in the greater Sacramento area were closed on that day.  In a previous post I wondered if we'd be required to make that day up in June, and and here's some information on that topic:
School closures in the Sacramento region due to unhealthy air quality from the Camp Fire likely will not add days to this year’s school calendar, or take money out of budgets.

Schools across the Sacramento region closed last week as a thick layer of smoke loomed across the valley, pushing air quality levels into hazardous territory. The city of Sacramento handed out filtration masks, and people were warned to stay indoors. Multiple school districts canceled classes, along with the Los Rios Community College District, Sacramento State and University of California, Davis.

School administrators Monday said that most districts plan to apply for state waivers that will protect their funding despite the closures. California schools are funded under a formula that counts attendance as a factor. When students miss days, funding decreases. Closure of an entire school — or district — could be financially devastating without the waiver, reducing funding by millions for larger districts...

The state will likely grant the waivers.
I hope so.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Talking Down To People Is Not How You Show Respect

This shouldn't surprise anyone who pays attention:
Racial bias can put people of color at a disadvantage when interviewing for a job, buying a house, or interacting with the police. New research suggests that bias may also shape daily interactions between racial minorities and white people, even those whites who tend to be less biased.

According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges. The study is scheduled for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

While many previous studies have examined how people who hold racial bias behave in multi-racial settings, few have studied how whites who are more well-intentioned interact with people of other races. “There’s less work that explores how well-intentioned whites try to get along with racial minorities,” Dupree says. “We wanted to know their strategies for increasing connections between members of different social groups—and how effective these strategies are.”
Is there enough bias in those opening paragraphs?  Sheesh. But let's continue:
Warmth, related to intentions towards others, and competence, related to the ability to carry out those intentions, are two fundamental dimensions of how we see others and portray ourselves in social interactions. Stereotypical portrayals of black Americans generally show them as being less competent than their white counterparts, but not necessarily less friendly or warm, Dupree explains.

The team found that Democratic candidates used fewer competence-related words in speeches delivered to mostly minority audiences than they did in speeches delivered to mostly white audiences. The difference wasn’t statistically significant in speeches by Republican candidates, though “it was harder to find speeches from Republicans delivered to minority audiences,” Dupree notes. There was no difference in Democrats’ or Republicans’ usage of words related to warmth. “It was really surprising to see that for nearly three decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been engaging in this predicted behavior.”

With this preliminary evidence in hand, the researchers set out to further test their ideas...

The researchers found that liberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white. No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner. “It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Dupree says. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”
Maybe, just maybe, those Democrats aren't as "well-intentioned" as the study's authors presume.  But yes, it's darned patronizing.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Takeoff From Honolulu Yesterday

By the way, I was in severe danger on that flight.  Many of us went only through a metal detector and not the nudie scanner, and none of us had to remove our shoes.  The horror.

Note:  that was a high def video.  Quality is really degraded on here.

And lastly, Diamond Head.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What Kind Of Vehicles To The Environmentalists Want Us To Drive?

None.  Fortunately, I think they'll have a hard time selling that to the American public, although I admit they're making inroads.

Two consecutive posts on Instapundit today caught my interest, along with their embedded links.  The first, from Bloomberg:
Driving electric cars and scrapping your natural gas-fired boiler won’t make a dent in global carbon emissions, and may even increase pollution levels.

Higher electrification may lead to oil demand peaking by 2030, but any reduction in emissions from the likes of electric vehicles will be offset by the increased use of power plants to charge them, according to the International Energy Agency’s annual World Energy Outlook, which plots different scenarios of future energy use.

In order to significantly reduce harmful pollution by 2040, electrification will have to form part of a comprehensive package of policies to reduce power sector carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency, the Paris-based body that advises nations on energy policy said.
Relatively safe, clean, efficient nuclear power. Solved--if you think it's practical for everyone to drive electric cars.

The next was from The New York Times Magazine:
Most of the plantations around us were new, their rise a direct consequence of policy decisions made half a world away. In the mid-2000s, Western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences.

The tropical rain forests of Indonesia, and in particular the peatland regions of Borneo, have large amounts of carbon trapped within their trees and soil. Slashing and burning the existing forests to make way for oil-palm cultivation had a perverse effect: It released more carbon. A lot more carbon. NASA researchers say the accelerated destruction of Borneo’s forests contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums, an explosion that transformed Indonesia into the world’s fourth-largest source of such emissions. Instead of creating a clever technocratic fix to reduce American’s carbon footprint, lawmakers had lit the fuse on a powerful carbon bomb that, as the forests were cleared and burned, produced more carbon than the entire continent of Europe. The unprecedented palm-oil boom, meanwhile, has enriched and emboldened many of the region’s largest corporations, which have begun using their newfound power and wealth to suppress critics, abuse workers and acquire more land to produce oil.
Lawyers become lawmakers to make laws, and often they don't solve as many problems as they create.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Compulsion--It's All Unions Know

Can you think of any other organization that government allows to act this way?
A state fair police officer is suing his union because it won’t let him quit paying dues, challenging a common provision in California public employee contracts that forbids workers from leaving labor organizations while contracts are in effect...

Cooley’s case, similar to the other lawsuits, contends that the California State Law Enforcement Association is violating the principles of the new Supreme Court decision by rejecting his request to quit the union.
Maybe, just maybe, if unions had something valuable to offer, they wouldn't need to force people to be members.

The Results of One-Party Rule in the People's Democratik Republik of Kalifornia

You don't have to like it, but the numbers don't lie:
Whereas many states might have envied California for its tech growth, they may be less impressed by its absurdly high cost of living, high energy prices and nation-leading poverty rate. A state where one in four people is poor, and as many as one in three households, according to United Way, live on poverty’s doorstep...

(Governor-elect Gavin) Newsom, who identifies himself with the tech oligarchs, will see any IPO or resurgence in tech stock prices as a means to boost spending without pain. Yet he also will find himself asked to pay for programs — housing subsidies, renewable energy and expanded free healthcare — that could un-balance even the healthiest budgets. Under the “frugal” Jerry Brown the state budget since 2011 grew 53 percent while the population expanded by a mere 5 percent. One can only imagine what happens now with an even less “stingy” chief executive.

The wish list of new expensive programs — single-payer healthcare alone would up to double the state budget — means Newsom must likely raise taxes ever higher. This likely will not be tough on tech firms themselves, which are adept at tax avoidance, but on upper-middle class taxpayers who have been drifting for decades to the Democrats...

Overall the top 1 percent pay nearly half of all income taxes, which accounts for two-thirds of the state budget. “We are very dependent on millionaires,” Mike Genest, former budget director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, recently told the Los Angeles Times. “If the millionaires get a cold, we all die of the flu.”

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Would Students Choose Not To Celebrate Racism?

University students are capable of intelligence, but usually not wisdom.  How many of the liberal crazies would live up to their own stupidity, a la Alinsky?
OK, so we've established that Thanksgiving is "racist" to at least some extent. We know that school administrators firmly believe that.

So why acknowlege the holiday at all by giving students several days off? Isn't that supporting "racism"? Besides, wouldn't you like to take a peek inside the homes of the holiday's most vociferous critics and see what they're eating for dinner?

Every year we get the same lefty guilt trip about what Thanksgiving "really" means. And every year, everyone ignores them and goes ahead with their feast. If they really took their criticisms of the holiday to heart, they would force students to attend classes and have anything for dinner but turkey.

That's not going to happen, so expect this hypocrisy to continue every Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Teenagers, Same The World Over?

The trick is to not get caught:
Nothing lasts forever -- and a German teenager has learned that lesson the hard way, by losing his driving license just 49 minutes after passing his test.

The 18-year-old, who was apparently celebrating his achievement by driving four of his friends around, was clocked traveling at almost twice the speed limit less than an hour after his test, police said.

He had his short-lived license revoked for four weeks, and will have to have more training sessions behind the wheel.

The teenager was also hit with a 200 euro ($228) fine, after being caught traveling at 95 kilometers per hour in a 50 kph zone in the Märkischer Kreis region.

Failing The Test of Leadership

There are lots of practical tidbits that real leaders know:
Take more than your fair share of the blame, and less than your fair share of the credit.

Don't ask subordinates to do what you're not willing to do.

Praise in public, rebuke in private.
Rider University (huh?  wha?  who?), though, failed at another of those rules, which is don't give people a choice if you won't accept the outcome:
New Jersey's Rider University sent a survey to students asking them which restaurants they would like to see on campus, but when it became clear Chick-fil-A was the top pick, the school told students the popular fast-food chain would not be brought to campus.

Campus Reform first reported on the survey that was sent to students during the spring semester.

After the results were compiled, the school sent an email to students on November 1, saying Chick-fila-A'(sic) "corporate values have not sufficiently progressed enough to align with those of Rider."
This goes back to the comment of Chick-Fil-A's CEO a few years ago, who shared that his position on gay marriage was the same as Barack Obama's was when he was inaugurated.

Has Chick-Fil-A as a corporation ever done anything against gay people, individually or as a group?  Not that I'm aware of.  But disagreeing with a person's personal view is now considered sufficient reason to keep a business off a university campus, despite the fact that the students want that business there.

It doesn't get clearer than this:
"So you practice inclusiveness by excluding Chick-fil-A? How does that work?" one (social media) user said.
Consistency is not a strong suit of the left.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Yes, They're Still At It

I just went through the security checkpoint at Sac International.  It's not enough that I'm not a terrorist.  It's not enough that I went through the nudie scanner.  It's not enough that I have no idea how to bring down an aircraft.

None of that is enough for the TSA-holes.  No, they need to "pat down" my shoulders.  My shoulders.

I'm wearing a cotton polo-type shirt.  It's obvious there's nothing under that shirt but excess flab (I really do need to lose some weight), certainly nothing at my shoulders.  What, regarding actual security, is gained by having me spread my arms like a capital T and tapping my shoulders 2 or 3 times?

Such stupidity is enough to make you start believing the conspiracy theories that claim the government does this so that we'll get used to more and more intrusion, making us even easier to control.


Rigged Election

Are you a liberal who thinks that Republicans stole elections in Georgia and Florida?

Are you a liberal who went nuts when President Trump suggested the 2016 election was rigged against him?

As I've said 8 zillion times, consistency is not a strong suit for liberals.

Monday, November 19, 2018

TSA-holes Are Still At It

Probably not, buy maybe, just maybe, if there were any evidence that the billions we've spent on the TSA in the past decade and half stopped a single terrorist or two, I'd give TSA the slightest benefit of the doubt.  As long as we allow our government to treat us like subjects, criminal subjects, though, this isn't going away.  It'll only get worse, because there's no incentive for the government to make it better unless we make them make it better:
If you don’t think the terrorists have won, you probably haven’t visited an airport in a while. Not only do these places needlessly gobble up hours of our day and billions of our dollars, but here that we collectively lose all dignity and act like a bunch of automatons just so they’ll let us out of the place. Though sometimes it seems like we might never escape. If we really wanted to slow the caravan from Central American down, we would make them enter through a TSA checkpoint.

It is at those checkpoints that we suspend our disbelief and pretend that (often) disheveled and (very often) rotund government agents who separate us from our water bottles possess the expertise to ferret out terrorist plots. (By the way, is there not a single physical requirement needed to hold this allegedly vital security job? There are many good reasons I’m not a pro-basketball player or a male model. If you’re not in relatively good physical shape, maybe law enforcement isn’t the profession for you. The only way these agents are the “the last line of defense against terrorism” is if the terrorists are unable to squeeze by them to get on the airplanes.)

Then again, it’s one thing to force millions of adults to schlep through these slow-moving lines so their toiletries can be scanned by some disinterested government worker—on occasion, sharing a few moments of rough intimacy with a blue-gloved stranger—and another for kids to be used as props in this production of Security Theater...

In a merit-based environment, this would result in mass termination and a complete overhaul of the system. Instead, the Department of Homeland Security –a cabinet department formed in 2002 to ensure that a number of inept agencies could work together incompletely—is still patting down old ladies and pre-teens. Nothing has changed.
It sickens me.  They are modern-day kapos.

First Time In A Long Time

The last time this happened was 1996, when my son was a baby.  The time before that, I was a cadet!
Army is ranked for the first time since 1996, moving into The Associated Press college football poll at No. 23 as it begins preparations to face rival Navy on Dec. 8.

The Black Knights (9-2) have been edging toward the Top 25 in recent weeks, and they finally broke through on Sunday. The rankings were mostly unchanged after a weekend with few big games or surprising results.
Two more wins (Navy and a bowl game) and we'll probably stay there.

Sunday, November 18, 2018


I've long considered myself a Camille Paglia feminist, and here's yet another reason why:
The headlong rush to judgment by so many well-educated, middle-class women in the #MeToo movement has been startling and dismaying. Their elevation of emotion and group solidarity over fact and logic has resurrected damaging stereotypes of women’s irrationality that were once used to deny us the vote.

The Slide Has Been Long But Noticeable

I've written about the ACLU enough times that I have a label/tag for them.  Here is the oldest ACLU post I can find on this blog.

I've written several times about how the ACLU is tilting too far from its founding principles, too far left.  Some believe that tilting has caused them to tip over:
In the late 1960s, the ACLU was a small but powerful liberal organization devoted to a civil libertarian agenda composed primarily of devotion to freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and the rights of accused criminals. In the early 1970s, the ACLU's membership rose from around 70,000 to almost 300,000. Many new members were attracted by the organization's opposition to the Vietnam War and its high-profile battles with President Nixon, but such members were not committed to the ACLU's broader civil libertarian agenda...

To maintain its large membership base, the ACLU recruited new members by directing mass mailings to mailing lists rented from a broad range of liberal groups. The result of the shift of the ACLU to a mass membership organization was that it gradually transformed itself from a civil libertarian organization into a liberal organization with an interest in civil liberties...

Since the George W. Bush administration, the ACLU's dedication to its traditional civil libertarian mission has waned ever further. With the election of Donald Trump, its membership rolls have grown to almost two million, almost all of them liberal politically, few of whom are devoted to civil liberties as such. Meanwhile, the left in general has become less interested in, and in some cases opposed to, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the rights of the accused.

Future historians will have to reconstruct exactly how and why the tipping point has been reached, but the ACLU's actions over the last couple of months show that the ACLU is no longer a civil libertarian organization in any meaningful sense, but just another left-wing pressure group, albeit one with a civil libertarian history...

The ACLU had a clear choice between the identitarian politics of the feminist hard left, and retaining some semblance of its traditional commitment to fair process. It chose the former. And that along with the Kavanaugh ad signals the final end of the ACLU as we knew it. RIP.
Just another leftie interest group.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Poor Vocabulary

New Zealand high school students have demanded examiners ignore that they don’t know what the word “trivial” means, after it appeared in a final-year exam and left many confused.

Some students who took the year 13 history exam claimed the “unfamiliar word” was too hard, and the exam should now be marked according to each student’s different understanding and interpretation of “trivial”.

The exam asked for students to write an essay on whether they agreed with a quote from Julius Caesar which reads: “Events of importance are the result of trivial causes”.

An online petition claims the word trivial “caused much confusion” in the Wednesday exam and many students “were not particularly familiar with” the word.

More than 2,500 people have signed the petition, calling on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority [NZQA] to “recognise the true potential of the students and mark the essay based on the student’s own content and understanding of the event, many of which were different to what the word actually means.”
These students are roughly the equivalent of American high school seniors.

I find the quality of their vocabulary to be "trivial".  I find their complaint "trivial".  I hope the chances that anyone will act on their complaint to be "trivial".

Thursday, November 15, 2018

First To Fire!

Army Air Defense never had a more motivated officer than young Lieutenant Miller.  If it flies, it dies!  Air Defennnnnnnse!

I was a short range air defense officer.  Back in the 80s our weaponry consisted of Vietnam-era Vulcan cannon mounted on M113 armored personnel carriers, as well as shoulder-fired Stinger missiles.  Divisions had Vulcans and Stingers, corps had the Chaparral for short range air defense.  Gawd did I love the lawnmower-like burrrrrp of a 100-round burst from a Vulcan!  The Navy also used the Vulcan for close-in defense of ships, a weapon system they called the Phalanx.

Vulcan had a firing rate of of 3000 rounds per minute, although we could only carry 1100 rounds at a time.  Usually we used 100 round bursts--11 bursts, then you had to stop and reload.  Here's video of the 20mm Vulcan and the 30mm GAU-8 (the A-10's fearsome gun):

Here's Vulcan on a Prius:

What the blank?  On a Prius?  Well, I hope they sell some coffee!

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

I live and work about a 2 hr drive from the "Camp" Fire, the huge Northern California fire that has featured so prominently in the news recently.  Even at that distance, the air quality in the Sacramento region was far worse than places like Beijing, Mumbai, or Dehli today.  Private schools and universities have been closed, but public schools have stayed open.  Our superintendent sent out a message this afternoon, though, telling us that our schools will be closed tomorrow.

There is so much particulate matter in the air that it looks, at a distance, like fog--but it's in the high 60s here, and there's not a cloud in the sky.  The air is so gross that you can look directly at the sun.

I took this first picture looking towards the sun and the parking lot at school today, shortly after 3 pm:
(click to enlarge to see how hazy it really is)
Again, there's not a cloud in the sky, nor any sort of water vapor.  That's not the setting moon, that's the afternoon sun.  That sky should be bright blue.

Here's the view looking down my street shortly before 4pm:

And here's the back of my car:
Yes, I had it washed fairly recently.  What you're seeing is the smoke that has settled on my car, and then "run" when the morning dew disturbs the even distribution of yuck.

It's probably best to stay indoors, as at least I won't be breathing in all that crap. I won't complain about having another day off--unless the state requires us to make it up in June, as is a possibility (our district has requested an exemption). I guess we'll see.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Schools Are Becoming Asylums

It's not always the kids, oftentimes it's the adults:
A Florida school district allowed a self-described transgender female student regular access to the boys’ locker room, with no advance warning to the boys or their parents. The first time she walked in, she caught “boys (literally) with their pants down, causing them embarrassment and concern by the fact that they had been observed changing by an obvious girl,” says a complaint letter to Pasco County School District from Liberty Counsel, a pro-bono constitutional law firm.

With a “gag order,” school administrators forbade teachers from talking about the change, and ordered a male P.E. teacher to supervise the potentially undressed girl in the Chasco Middle School locker room, the letter says. When he refused to “knowingly place himself in a position to observe a minor female in the nude or otherwise in a state of undress,” administrators told him “he will be transferred to another school as discipline for ‘not doing your job in the locker room.'”

In an email, an administrator initially threatened to put the male coach on administrative leave, telling him that refusing to supervise a potentially naked female student would “not be tolerated,”said Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast. The school’s other P.E. teacher, who is female, also objected and was ignored.
In what kind of Bizarro-world is this male teacher the problem in this story?

The Fates Are Real B*****s Sometimes

Seen on Instapundit:
WELL: Michael Avenatti is arrested for domestic violence after ‘swollen and bruised’ estranged wife filed felony report.

Tiana Lowe tweets, “There’s already more evidence against Michael Avenatti than there is against Brett Kavanaugh.”

The Left projects, always.
Will this affect his chances in 2020?

Are The Oceans Warming?

Maybe, maybe not:
Researchers with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Princeton University recently walked back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change.

In a paper published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature, researchers found that ocean temperatures had warmed 60 percent more than outlined by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after mathematician Nic Lewis, a critic of the scientific consensus around human-induced warming, posted a critique of the paper on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic.

“The findings of the ... paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

Co-author Ralph Keeling, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, took full blame and thanked Lewis for alerting him to the mistake.
At least they didn't double down after being caught, a la East Anglia.

What Are We Supposed To Invest In, Unicorn Farts?

Not in Israel.  Not in firearms.  Not in tobacco.  Not in coal.

And now, not in locking up people who are in the country illegally:
California’s teacher pension fund is pulling its investments out of two private prison companies that have contracts to house immigrants detained at the Mexican border.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement Board last week voted to withdraw about $12 million it had invested in CoreCivic of Nashville, Tennessee and Geo Group of Boca Raton, Florida.

The retirement board’s 6-5 vote Wednesday to divest from the companies followed intense activism from teachers and left-leaning organizations that wanted the $229 billion pension fund to dissociate itself from private prisons.

Their calls for divestment led the pension fund to conduct its own investigation, which it published in a 28-page report that did not include a formal recommendation. CalSTRS staff reported that they visited immigrant detention centers and consulted with the companies before providing their report to the teachers’ retirement board.
Can't invest in anything that makes money. How am I supposed to have a guaranteed retirement benefit if my money can't make money?

Monday, November 12, 2018

How I Spent The Day, and What's Coming Up

I didn't leave the house!

A friend crashed here last night, and when we were both finally up I made bacon and eggs.  Late breakfast.

The utility company sent a tree trimming company to trim the trees along my back fence, above which the power lines run.  They asked if they could remove my privet trees, as they grow so quickly (and which, not knowing what they were, I always called "blueberry trees"), and I agreed; it didn't take them long to make my back fence look pretty bare!

My student teacher from last year, now a colleague at work, has moved into a place quite near me, and she came by to pick up an old toaster/oven I had in the garage.  She had a shot of my limoncello, which was (yet again) pronounced to be spectacular.

I watched yet another episode of 3%, my latest binge, on Netflix.  I only watched one episode because...

I finished grading the 90+ stats labs I brought home.  Four pages each, and after grading a bit each day of the 4-day (for me) weekend I got the entire set done.  Sitting on my desk at work is a set of pre-calculus tests, which I have to grade and get entered this week, because...

Our progress report period ends this Friday, with grades required to be submitted by the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  My son is having surgery over Thanksgiving week, and I'm going to miss work on the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  I have to get it all done this week.

My friend and I took advantage of the Veteran's Day offer at Red Robin yesterday.  There's one at Claim Jumper today, and we might go there.

Update, 11/13/18:  Didn't go to Claim Jumper last night, I just wasn't feeling dinner.  And I was able to knock out most of those pre-calc tests today.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Today's Doings

Hard to believe that war ended 100 years ago today.

As we've done for years, my mother and I are meeting at Applebee's for a Veteran's Day lunch.  Applebee's provides free entrees from a reduced menu to current and former military members, and we like that.  By the time you throw in dessert and drinks, and perhaps meals for non-veterans, I wonder if Applebee's loses any money on the deal.  The wait staff, though, makes out like bandits!  A Naval Academy grad friend is coming in tonight and staying for a couple days, if she gets here early enough perhaps she and I will go find dinner somewhere :)

The smoke from wildfires blanketed the area yesterday, to the point that you could look directly at the sun and not hurt your eyes.  It doesn't look like today's going to be much better.  The fires are a couple hours' drive from where I live, which tells you how much smoke there is.

The switch back to Pacific Standard Time was last weekend, but it was this morning that I made my own official recognition of cold weather.  That's right, the cotton sheets on the bed went up into the closet and the fleece sheets made their first appearance of the season.  Fleece sheets on a heated waterbed--no stacks of blankets, no feather ticks, just toasty goodness in a cold house at night.  And the programmable thermostat heats the place up just before I have to get out of bed in the morning--who wants to wake up to a cold house?!

Those soldiers who lived in lice-infested muddy trenches 100 years ago would not believe such comforts could ever exist, much less that a mere schoolteacher could have them.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Where Is Your University Degree Worth The Most?

From FoxBusiness:
While the worth of a bachelor’s degree may have plateaued since 2010 having one is still more valuable in certain U.S. cities compared to others...

San Jose, Calif., topped the list, offering the biggest earnings-and-opportunities boost for people who graduated from a four-year college...

That city was closely followed by Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Raleigh, N.C. and Austin, Texas...

A college degree matters the least in Riverside, Calif., Las Vegas, Buffalo, N.Y., Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky., according to the study.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Why I'm Not Working Today

Today is a "professional development" day.  The training is optional, but so is the pay.  Since our district is going all in for so-called equity, the training sessions are essentially excuses for why certain students don't learn.  And because I'm tired of being told that my lack of teaching ability is the reason kids of certain racial/ethnic groups don't do as well in school in others, I decided the money just isn't worth it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

How Do I Feel About Yesterday's Election Results?

Bottom line up front:  pretty good.

Yes, my side lost the House.  But we were expected to lose the House.  In the year of the so-called Red Wave, the lefties have a bare majority in the House (with a few more seats still up for grabs) and my side gained seats in the Senate.  Football analogy:  we were expected to lose by 2 touchdowns but lost by a field goal.  Hard to feel bad about that.

Here in the People's Republik of Kalifornia, not much has changed.  My representative is still a Democrat, and all party-affiliated statewide officeholders are still Democrats.  Some of the statewide initiatives had some, uh, interesting results, but whatever.  What I'm most excited about is that there was actually one statewide office candidate that I voted for who won.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I got a victory!  And it's a savory one, too.

As long as I've paid attention, the CTA-backed candidate has won the job for Superintendent of Public Instruction.  This year, though--entirely coincidentally, in the first post-Janus election--the CTA-backed candidate lost!  That's right, school choice-supporting Marshall Tuck is our new SPI!  Not that anything will change, of course, I just love the union's pet candidate going down.   Should any of the local unionistas try to talk smack to me, I'll enjoy rubbing this one in.

Take a look at the map on the CA Secretary of State's web site.  The CTA-backed candidate won only LA County, the SF Bay Area, and a couple of rural counties--and almost won.  I find it very interesting that the two rural, mountainous counties on the Nevada border that went for the CTA's guy were decided by a total of 62 votes!  And Sacramento County, which has gotten significantly more liberal over the course of my lifetime, went against the CTA's guy.

Actually, I feel pretty good :-)

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

How Are Kids Doing Under Common Core

Are all our students Stanford-bound now?
It’s been about nine years since the Obama administration lured states into adopting Common Core sight unseen, with promises it would improve student achievement. Like President Obama’s other big promises — “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” — this one’s been proven a scam.

“If you set and enforce rigorous and challenging standards and assessments; if you put outstanding teachers at the front of the classroom; if you turn around failing schools — your state can win a Race to the Top grant that will not only help students outcompete workers around the world, but let them fulfill their God-given potential,” President Obama said in July 2009.

He went on to state his faith that Common Core — at that point unwritten — would “not only make America’s entire education system the envy of the world, but we will launch a Race to the Top that will prepare every child, everywhere in America, for the challenges of the 21st century.” Race to the Top was a $4 billion money pot inside the 2009 stimulus that helped bribe states into Common Core.

So here we are, nine years later. Common Core has been officially rolled out into U.S. public and even many private schools for at least three to five years now. Are American children increasingly prepared for the “the challenges of the 21st century”? We’re actually seeing the opposite. They’re increasingly less prepared. And there’s mounting evidence that Common Core deserves some of the blame.
I'm glad the author said "some of the blame", as I've previously chronicled too many examples of forces outside of schools having a negative impact on learning.

Still, we teachers own a large part of this blame.  Saint Barack wanted Common Core, so large swaths of teachers and their unions jumped on that bandwagon.  Like so many other mistakes, we continue to try to find ways to make it work rather than admitting failure and trying something more rational.

I won't speak to the English standards, but the California math standards that were replaced by Common Core were more clear, more understandable, and more rigorous than the Common Core math standards, and California students did better under those old standards.  And just so you know, they were imposed by a Democratic governor.

Racism on Campus

Yes, there's racism on display on a local community college campus, but not the type of racism this article wants us to believe is present:
At least two posters proclaiming “It’s okay to be white” were found Thursday at American River College.

Los Rios Community College District spokesman Gabe Ross said maintenance staff spotted some fliers with the slogan at about 1:30 a.m. and reported them to campus police. They were immediately taken down, Ross said, though student paper American River Current reported finding additional signs later in the morning...

The college notified the campus community about the posters Thursday afternoon, informing students and staff of increased custodial checks on campus facilities, and emphasizing that “hate has no home on our campuses,” (district spokesman) Ross said.

“It’s always concerning when anything offensive or hateful messaging is found on one of our campuses,” Ross said. “It’s incumbent upon us to be conscious of the culture in our community and ensure that our campuses are safe and welcoming environments.”
If the signs had said "It's okay to be black", no one would have batted an eyelash.  And that, not these innocuous signs, is the real racism on display.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Today's University Students Have A Strange Idea Of What The First Amendment Means

This liberal idea that "hate speech isn't protected"--well, most of what liberals say is so-called hate speech, so...  Who gets to decide?

And whose fault is it that they think that way?  Liberals (including the media) and high school teachers.  We should be doing a better job about teaching what the 1st Amendment is really about.

What prompted this post?  This:
A coalition of liberal student organizations has condemned California State-Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley and her administration for allowing an event hosted by the school’s Turning Point USA group.

On October 23, TPUSA hosted conservative pundits Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens who were greeted by some 200 demonstrators protesting outside the venue. The activists chanted phrases such as “Go home, fascists” and “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.”

The day before, President Conoley had sent a reminder email to the campus community about what the First Amendment is all about, noting “free speech rights must be respected and protected” … meaning anyone attempting to thwart Kirk and Owens would be dealt with.

This did not sit well with the progressive CSULB groups. According to the Daily 49er, two days after the event the coalition comprised of organizations such as the Black Student Union, La Raza Student Association, Queers and Allies, and the Young Democratic Socialists of America, published a statement condemning Conoley and the administration for failing to protect and support “marginalized groups on campus.”

“The institution has proven its negligence and violence once more to our community by allowing Turning Point USA’s event to take place on campus on October 23rd,” the statement reads. It also claims the very name of the Turning Point event, “Campus Clash,” “implies violence.”
Words=violence is one of the first beliefs that has to go if we're going to keep the rule of law.

You know what ticks me off the most?  That as a California taxpayer, I'm paying for the so-called education of the latest generation of red diaper doper babies.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Another Example of Media Bias

Anyone who claims the mainstream media aren't biased towards Democrats is a liar.  Here's yet another data point:
If you want to see just how skewed news coverage has become, it’s often instructive to compare the media’s treatment of two events which are basically the same, except that the party roles are reversed. This year, with Republicans in control of the White House, House and Senate, journalists are actively electioneering on behalf of Democrats, as a way to diminish the power of President Trump...

But eight years ago, when Democrats held both the House and Senate going into President Obama’s first midterm elections, the media were distressed that liberal power might be diluted, and upset that voters failed to appreciate the tremendous “victories” and “amazing legislative agenda” that Obama and the Democrats had accomplished.

Red Flag Operation?

Sometimes I wonder how many so-called hate crimes there truly would be if Democrats weren't committing them either as red flag operations or to "raise awareness":
The suspect in a synagogue vandalism act that forced the cancellation of a Democratic event is reportedly a former City Hall employee who worked on anti-hate crime issues and is a Democratic activist, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

The New York Times and a Jewish couple helped the impoverished gay black man attend college where he studied African American studies, according to The Times.

He resented New York liberals as patronizing, and railed against Israel and cultural appropriation, according to his Facebook profile.

Before knowing his identity, politicians said the vandalism demonstrated why voting Democratic was needed and highlighted government programs to combat such incidents.

Worst President Ever?

Worst at staying bought--you don't even hear about Russian collusion anymore.  That's either because there was no collusion in the first place, or because President Trump has acted against Russia in a way that, if there had been collusion, he didn't stay bought.

Worst anti-Semitic president?  Besides moving our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which several presidents had talked about but never did; besides having Jewish family members; President Trump addresses anti-Semitism head-on:
Jews have never, but never, been given this kind of whole-hearted backing by an American leader before. Jews are used to facing murderous hate alone. We are not used to words that reflect the moral truth. We’re used to mealy mouthed pieties condemning hate on all sides.

A dear friend who is active fighting anti-Semitism wrote me, “It is the strongest statement in support of Jews ever made by an American president.”
(Side note:  I don't want to hear cries of anti-Semitism from the party that cozies up to Louis Farrakhan and Linda Sarsour, and the party of Jimmy Carter.)

Worst white supremacist president?  Well, Woodrow Wilson probably wins the prize, and President Trump comes in close to 44 places behind Wilson:
In the first such use of his executive powers, President Trump on Friday designated a national monument, establishing a 380-acre site in Kentucky to honor African Americans’ role as soldiers during the Civil War.
So yes, in the areas listed above, President Trump is the worst president ever, and the nation as a whole is all the better for it.  The only people not better are liberals.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

There Is Something Seriously Wrong In Our Culture

That this court case is happening at all, and that the issue is being taken seriously by the reporter of this article, shows that we are truly living in Heinlein's crazy years:
Shy and insecure, the fourth-grade student dropped to the floor of a classroom filled with students, ordered by a Fresno teacher to do pushups and other calisthenics for talking during a lesson.

Nearly three years after the incident, Fresno Unified teachers Michelle Coyne and Joshua Gehris are on trial in Fresno Superior Court, accused in a civil trial of humiliating the fourth-grader, a 9-year-old girl.
I, too, have been known to use not-officially-sanctioned penalties for minor infractions.  As often as not, these penalties (including push-ups) took less time and paperwork on my part than officially-sanctioned penalties, and I opted for the time savings in class.  But as I became more and more aware that some people will use any excuse to sue a school district, I started to give students an option--you're late to class, for example, do a dozen push-ups or I'll assign an hour of after-school detention, which is the officially-sanctioned penalty.  That's worked for me for years.

OK, so the parents in the above-linked article didn't like their daughter's having to do push-ups.  I can see that.  But they've gone so far over the top here, with a lawsuit, that the whole situation has become ludicrous.

Not everyone in Fresno is stupid, though:
The trial in Judge Donald Black’s courtroom is expected to take two weeks. Testimony is expected to be highly charged — because in two days of jury selection potential jurors voiced strong feelings about today’s youth and discipline in schools.

Some of them said children today lack respect for teachers and need to be disciplined.

“A teacher’s job is hard enough,” one potential juror said. Other potential jurors recalled being disciplined in school decades ago — and said the mental scars remains with them today.
Am I supposed to take seriously the implication that one set of push-ups can mentally scar a student? And that's what we're talking about here, a one-time penalty.

I know what let's do, though.  Let's crank the stupidity up to 11:
After the incident, Helsel said, the girl began seeing a therapist who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder and an anxiety disorder. Because of the incident, the girl’s emotions jump from sad and being withdrawn to angry with frequent outbursts, Helsel said.

But Berger said the district hired a doctor to examine the girl. The expert agreed the girl suffers from anxiety, but the disorder is not traced to the Jan. 21, 2016 incident, Berger said. The girl does not suffer from PTSD, Berger said, because she was not involved in a life-threatening episode.
That really angers me.  I know people with PTSD.  I'm related to people with PTSD.  To suggest that having a student do push-ups in 4th grade can cause PTSD is a slap in the face to people with real PTSD.  They may as well be claiming that she felt violated and, in essence, was raped.

I'll grant that, if true, the following could give me some cause for concern:
After the pushups, the girl was ordered to do leg lifts, planks and other exercises, Helsel said.
Might have taken it too far, if that's true.   But there's so much hyperbole in the story, how can you take seriously anything said by the girl's attorney?
“Gehris will say he made her do the exercises for five to seven minutes,” Helsel told the jury. “But to her, it felt like a lifetime.”
A lifetime?  Quit being a drama queen.

The attorney even wants to claim that it wasn't the girl's fault that she was talking in class.  Of course it wasn't, it never is.

If the teacher went too far, then that should have been addressed 3 years ago--and probably was.  A lawsuit?  Over push-ups?  That's just one more sign of a sickness in our culture.