Saturday, August 31, 2019

What Happens When The School Is The Bully?

I'll bet this school and district have anti-bullying measures in place:
A Colorado teen has been told he cannot return to school until authorities hold a “threat assessment hearing” after he went target shooting with his mother.  Nate Evans, a junior at Loveland High School in Loveland, Colorado actually got a visit from police after he posted video of his plinking with his mom Justine according to the Colorado 2nd Amendment group Rally For Our Rights...

Unfortunately, even after police determined that there was nothing nefarious about a mom taking her son out for some firearms training, the school district wasn’t convinced.
Because of a pearl-clutching law, the school can legally do what it's doing--even though the child is no threat to the school and never has been.  Legally, the school could just as easily have taken the complaint, determined the boy presented no threat, and that would have been the end of it.  But no, they had to act like moonbats.  Colorado is rapidly approaching California in lunacy.

A few years ago I had a foreign exchange student from Germany.  Shortly before he returned home, he and I went to a range.  He fired a .22 rifle and a .357 Magnum, and I took video so he could show his friends in Germany.  Then we went to Marie Callender's and had some apple pie.  Had the restaurant not been so full we'd have sung God Bless America (yes, I'm serious).  One wonders how I didn't get fired.

Not Quite The "Screw You" That The Headline Implies

You don't like abortion, don't have one.  I don't like Chick-fil-A, you can't eat there.  Isn't that how it works, lefties?
Following years of demands that the taxpayer-funded institution discriminate against a vendor because of its founders’ religious beliefs, the KU administration actually gave its Chick-fil-A restaurant a better place on campus, The Kansas City Star reports.
Sounds good so far, and then we learn that it wasn't a poke in the eye:
KU’s 10-year contract with Chick-fil-A requires upgrades to its location in the basement of Wescoe Hall, where it’s been for 15 years, that would cost about $2.6 million more than simply moving it to the student union building, a higher-traffic area, a spokesperson told the newspaper.
But there is a fun little twist to the story:
The Sexuality and Gender Diversity Faculty and Staff Council, whose office is near the new location for Chick-fil-A, objected to Chick-fil-A developments in a letter this week to Chancellor Doug Girod, the provost’s office and the athletic department.
Walk by that restaurant every day, see the long lines of students, smell that chicken cooking, and then remember that your politics and pride won't let you have any, you whiny little fascists.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Impact of Ethnic Television on Political Participation

This not what I would expect:

Despite the importance of ethnic television within immigrant communities, its effects on political participation are unclear. On the one hand, ethnic media can mobilize and inform voters. On the other hand, it can serve as a source of diversion and reduce the desire to participate. To evaluate these competing possibilities, we implement a geographic regression discontinuity (GRD) approach involving Federal Communication Commission reception boundaries for Spanish‐language television stations in two states. Additionally, we replicate and unpack our GRD analyses using three nationally representative samples of Latinos. Across multiple studies, we find that access to Spanish‐language television is associated with decreases in turnout, ethnic civic participation, and political knowledge. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings on the ethnic politics, political communication, and social capital literatures.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Democrats Are Not In A Good Place

It's hard to argue with fact:
To counter every signature Trump issue, there is almost no rational alternative advanced. That void helps explain the bizarre, three-year litany of dreaming of impeachment, the emoluments clause, the Logan Act, the 25th Amendment, the Mueller special-counsel investigation, Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti, Trump’s tax returns, White Supremacy!, Recession! — and Lord knows what next.

The subtext of all these Wile E. Coyote all-too-clever efforts at trapping road-runner Trump is not just the wish to abort an elected presidency; they’re offering the heat of hatred rather than the light of a viable political alternative.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Thoughts On Race

Classifications and distinctions based on race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society. They are contrary to our constitution and laws.
--Thurgood Marshall on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, 1954

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
--Dr. M. L. King, Jr., at the Lincoln Memorial, 1963

Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
Be colorblind, don't be so shallow.
--En Vogue, Free Your Mind, 1992

Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman. You’re not going to say, “I know this white guy named Mike Wallace.” Hear what I’m saying?
--Morgan Freeman, interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, 2005

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
--Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Court in Parents Involved, 2007

I don't pretend I don't see a person's skin color any more than their height, their build, or their attractiveness.  What I do believe is that justice should be colorblind, that the law should be colorblind, and that we should treat people in accordance with the Golden Rule--as individuals.  Such a belief is anathema to today's left.

New Scale

Now that I'm interested in losing weight, I've been stepping on my scale again.  It's an old digital scale, and it gives me a different number each time I step on it.  If I step on it 3 times in succession, the difference between the largest and smallest readings could be as much as 10 pounds!  How did I know which number is correct?  I just picked the number in the middle, and moved on.  And when I put that number into my weight loss app, I was told I was in the "moderate" category but very close to the next higher category.

Not trusting the digital scale anymore, I bought an old school spring-and-dial scale.  This new scale consistently weighs me in at about 10 pounds higher than the highest value from the old scale.  I put these numbers into the weight loss app--mildly obese.  My heart sinks.

Update, 8/28/19: I wish I could believe this, but I don't:
For the first time this fall, Princeton University will offer a course examining “the fat body” and how it is viewed by society.

Course texts include literature asserting that it is not actually unhealthy to be overweight, and that medical professionals “mislabel” people as overweight.

Monday, August 26, 2019

England Is Different

I used to say that my heart is American but my soul is British.  Both sides of my family come from all over that blessed isle, and even though it's Europe, I feel at home in England (the only part of Britain I've ever visited).  (Let's not forget that the US Constitution represents the pinnacle of English Enlightenment thought!)

While viewing a video on YouTube yesterday, I noticed a video in the righthand column that looked interesting.  And then another, and another.  Well, there went an hour or more!  Here are some of the ones that entertained me most:

Gramsci Would Be So Proud

Millennials don’t value patriotism, family and religion as passionately as previous generations, according to a new survey.

“The values that Americans say define the national character are changing, as younger generations rate patriotism, religion and having children as less important to them than did young people two decades ago,” Wall Street Journal reporter Chad Day wrote about the results.       link
Of course that's the case.  It's what they're taught in public schools.  And don't think that's not by design, either.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

How Much Has Earth's Temperature Warmed Since 2005?

According to NOAA, not much:
When American climate alarmists claim to have witnessed the effects of global warming, they must be referring to a time beyond 14 years ago. That is because there has been no warming in the United States since at least 2005, according to updated data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)...

The USCRN (U.S. Climate Reference Network) has eliminated the need to rely on, and adjust the data from, outdated temperature stations. Strikingly, as shown in the graph below, USCRN temperature stations show no warming since 2005 when the network went online. If anything, U.S. temperatures are now slightly cooler than they were 14 years ago...

There is also good reason to believe U.S. temperatures have not warmed at all since the 1930s. Raw temperature readings at the preexisting stations indicate temperatures are the same now as 80 years ago. All of the asserted U.S. warming since 1930 is the product of the controversial adjustments made to the raw data. Skeptics point out that as the American population has grown, so has the artificial warming signal generated by growing cities, more asphalt, more automobiles, and more machinery. 
If Barack Obama really thought the oceans were going to rise dramatically, would he have bought a house on Martha's Vineyard?  (Hint:  Martha's Vineyard is a low-lying island.)

Law For Me But Not For Thee?

I wonder if I could legally break the windows of the police car to rescue this dog:
Police in Long Beach, California, are mourning a K9 officer that died apparently of heat-related causes in a department vehicle.

The dog, Ozzy, was found by its handler when both were off-duty about 3:40 p.m. on August 14, the Long Beach Police Department said in a statement.

"This unfortunate incident was not intentional," the statement reads. "Preliminarily, we believe this was an accident and we are taking all the necessary steps to avoid this happening in the future."
It's never intentional, and I wonder if any ordinary citizen would be given such a pass.

Did you know it's legal in California to break a car window to rescue a dog or child?
“California’s new law (AB 797) sets out a measured and reasonable way for citizens to respond to animals trapped in hot cars. In requiring citizens to use ‘no more force to enter the vehicle and remove the animal than … necessary,’ the law encourages a calm and effective response to these emergencies, protecting the animals involved,” he said. “Using as much force as necessary to get the animal out of the hot car — and no more — means that the animal is removed from a deadly environment, while being exposed to as little associated trauma as possible.”

The Three R's

Lots of Americans will vote for these people next year, too:
Long ago when I was young, the fundamental building blocks of education were “the three Rs”: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Today, for the less-than-edifying Left, the basic brickbats of their 2020 campaign against President Trump also comprise three “Rs”: Russia, racism, and recession.

Tragically, among those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, the most important “R” is missing. That would be reality. Consequently, the cudgels of their “three Rs” campaign likely won’t prevent another four years of the presidency that has been the bane of their existence. If anything, that campaign is likely to boost his reelection chances next year.
From my computer screen to God's ears.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Next Supreme Court Case To Watch

I'm working on finding the name of this case:
American religious schools have gotten a bad deal for centuries, but they’ll finally get their day in court next year. The Supreme Court recently decided to hear a case challenging Montana’s anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment in its next term. The high court could unravel the antireligious bias written into the constitutions of Montana and dozens of other states—and improve the lives of millions of children trapped in underperforming public schools.
I didn't get beyond the Wall Street Journal's paywall, perhaps the name is on the other side.

Update, 8/25/19:  Commenters have identified the case as Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue.   

If the Court overturns Blaine Amendments, will states be required to fund religious schools?  I'm sure they could require such schools to participate in state-administered standardized testing, for example, as a condition of getting such funds, so what would be the ultimate impact of such a ruling?  This will be an interesting one to watch--and it'll probably be more interesting in the long-term than just the outcome of this particular case.

Should I Die For Your Beliefs?

 The cost of rabid environmentalism:
"Do Americans Need Air-Conditioning?" a New York Times piece asked in July. Air conditioning, it argued, is bad for the environment and makes us less human. It ran quotes suggesting that, "first world discomfort is a learned behavior", and urging "a certain degree of self-imposed suffering".

If environmentalists ruled the world, air conditioning wouldn’t exist. And there’s a place like that.

90% of American households have air conditioning. As do 86% of South Koreans, 82% of Australians, 60% of Chinese, 16% of Brazilians and Mexicans, 9% of Indonesians and less than 5% of Europeans.

A higher percentage of Indian households have air conditioning than their former British colonial rulers.

Temperatures in Paris hit 108.6 degrees. Desperate Frenchmen dived into the fountains of the City of Lights with their clothes on. Parisian authorities announced that they were deploying heat wave management plan orange, level three, which meant setting up foggers in public parks and distributing heat wave kits. The kits consist of leaflets telling people to go to libraries which have air conditioning.

France24, the country’s state-owned television network, advised people suffering from temperatures rising as high as 110 degrees to take cold showers and stick their feet in saucepans of cold water.

A 2003 heat wave killed 15,000 people in France. And, in response, the authorities have deployed Chalex, a database of vulnerable people who will get a call offering them cooling advice.

The advice consists of taking cold showers and sticking their feet in saucepans of cold water.

Desperate Frenchmen trying to get into any body of water they can have led to a 30% rise in drownings. The dozens of people dead are casualties of the environmentalist hatred of air conditioners.

Only 5% of French households have air conditioning. Even in response to the crisis, the authorities are only deploying temporary air conditioning to kindergartens.

The 2003 heat wave killed 7,000 people in Germany. And, today, only 3% of German households have air conditioning. Germany’s Ministry of the Environment refused to back air conditioning as a response to global warming.

Temperatures in Dusseldorf hit 105 degrees. Officials in Dusseldorf had recently rejected proposals to install air conditioning systems because they’re bad for the environment.

The climate action head at Germany’s Institute for Applied Ecology explained that air conditioning wouldn't work because there's not much wind during heat waves, and the country can't end reliance on coal and run air conditioners at the same time. You can have air conditioners or save the planet.

But not both.

The issue isn’t poverty. in Greece, one of the poorest countries in Europe, 99% of households have air conditioning. What it comes down to is a willingness to choose comfort over environmental dogma.

In Europe, people are dying because they’ve been told that their sacrifices will save the planet.

The 2003 heat wave killed 70,000 people in Europe. That’s more than Islamic terrorists have.

When environmentalists claim that global warming is a greater threat than Islamic terrorism, they’re half-right. Global warming isn’t real, but the measures taken to fight it are killing thousands of people. 
I spent about $9000 replacing my furnace and air conditioner about a year ago and not once have I regretted writing that check.   It gets pretty hot here in the Sacramento Valley--hotter than Paris and Dusseldorf--and I enjoy being moderately comfortable in my own little house.

Regarding the last sentence in this post from last year:  I'd have given anything for some a/c in that hotel!

To Intervene, Or Not To Intervene, That Is The Question

We can't send troops to Hong Kong.  That isn't going to happen.

So how do we help people seeking freedom and self-determination?

What do they think we should do?


Recycling Straws


Just A Reminder About Leftie Violence

Lifted in its entirety from Instapundit because the author nails it:
NEW CIVILITY WATCH: Nancy Pelosi tells 2020 Dems, “You have to be ready to take a punch. And therefore you have to be ready to throw a punch—for the children.”
If Sarah Palin or Donald Trump had said this, it would lead the 6:30 PM news broadcasts. Just think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines to understand how Pelosi can say this with impunity.
Sen. Rand Paul had part of his lung removed this weekend because of damage from 2017 attack.
Actor Jeff Daniels to CBS’s Stephen Colbert: ‘We Need Someone That Can Punch Trump in the Face.’
Ilhan Omar Retweet Suggests Rand Paul Deserved to Be Assaulted.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to 2020 Dems: Don’t Run Away from Trump — ‘Punch Him in the Face.’
Parents cheer as kids bash an ICE agent piƱata and throw balls at the painted image of President Trump.
Joe Biden: I Want to ‘Beat the Hell Out of’ President Trump.
Patti LuPone defends violent attack on Rand Paul.
CNN Host Palled Around with, Promoted ICE Firebomber’s Antifa Group.
Leftist Thug Caught on Video Assaulting Conservative Berkeley Student While Fellow Students Laugh.
Journalist Andy Ngo Beaten Up at Portland Antifa Rally.
● John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation and the “political director” for CBS, wrote an article for Slate in 2013 charmingly titled “Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.”
Bernie Bro James T. Hodgkinson, Attempted Assassin Of Steve Scalise, Already Being Erased From History.
Posted at 1:44 pm by Ed Driscoll

A Tale of Two Teachers

First, Florida Teacher:
A Florida high school teacher was placed on administrative leave after he told students he'd "be the best school shooter" with a "1,000 person body count."

The incident took place at Lakeland Senior High School, about 45 minutes from Tampa, on August 16 during a lockdown drill, according to a Polk County risk protection order. 
Police interviewed 16 students about the incident. The teacher told students if he were a school shooter he'd plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs), then "fire a couple rounds and wait for everyone to hide, then press a button and boom -- everyone would die," according to student testimony. 
The teacher also said "he would put a bomb in the corner and put nails in it for shrapnel," another student told police...
When interviewed by an officer, the teacher told police he was a former US Marine and that his statements were a joke.
What's the old quote about yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater...? 

Petryshyn moved to Clifton, New Jersey, from Ukraine in 1997 after his family unexpectedly won a green card lottery. Then a sophomore in high school, he learned English within a year of his arrival and graduated in 2000. 
"We didn't have much money," he said. His parents both cleaned for a living, so it felt natural for him to take a custodial job at his American alma mater, Clifton High School, in 2001. 
The work paid for his bachelor's degree, he said: He'd work the night shift from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. and attend classes in the morning. 
"It sounds like a big thing, but once you're in the routine, it just becomes part of your life," he said. "It was worth it." 
He graduated with an elementary school teaching certification. In 2008, he joined another Clifton public school--this time, as a fifth-grade teacher.
Though he loved teaching, Petryshyn noticed the difference he could make for his students and fellow teachers in a leadership position, he said. So he earned his master's degree in educational leadership in 2014, and after interning last year at School 14, he'll begin his administrative role in September. 
What a great story.  Gawd I love this country!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

I Am Not That Teacher

Said in a calm, soft, emotionless tone:
I know you have teachers who will let you goof around in class and not follow directions.  I assure you, I am not that teacher.

I know you have teachers who don't mark you tardy when you come in late to class.  I assure you, I am not that teacher.

I know you have teachers who will let you listen to music on your phones as a way to keep you from disrupting class.  I assure you, I am not that teacher.

I know you have teachers who do not follow through with the penalties they prescribe for misbehavior.  I assure you, I am not that teacher.

Most of you need this class to graduate next June.  I know you have teachers that would give you a courtesy D-, even if you didn't earn it, just so you can graduate.  I assure you, I am not that teacher.
Even if nothing else did, I could tell that last point struck home.

And to underscore the overall theme, I assigned my first Saturday School today--to a student who thought he/she'd get away with using his/her phone in class, an act which I've stated many times has a penalty of Saturday School.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Plastic Recycling

About a month ago I posted about the religious manner in which we separate plastics for recycling--except they're not necessarily being recycled.  If you didn't like the source of that of the information in that post, maybe you'll believe NPR:
When the council took up the proposed recycling ordinance, the vote was close, but Sanderson won. It was 1980, and Woodbury became a pioneer in recycling. The city claims to be the first in the United States to adopt a mandatory curbside recycling program.

Woodbury even started making money by selling its trash to companies that would recycle it.

That was nearly 40 years ago. More and more, that scenario has flipped: Communities are now having to pay to get rid of their rubbish. It's happening in Woodbury and in places all over the country...

Now plastic has become the biggest thorn in the side of the recycling industry and one for which taxpayers are more often footing the bill...

Materials recovery facilities in the U.S. used to sell a lot of plastic waste to China, which was willing to sort through it. But the nonrecyclables ended up making a huge mess both on land and in the ocean. So last year, China stopped buying most of it, and now materials recovery facilities in the U.S. are left holding the bag, literally...

According to the recycling industry, only about 9% of plastic waste in the U.S. gets recycled every year (and probably less now, since China is no longer importing as much of it).

Meanwhile, it's nearly as cheap for towns like Woodbury just to dump plastic waste into landfills as it is to send plastic waste off for recycling.
But we'll keep paying extra for a second garbage truck to come pick up the so-called recycling bin--because we have to, because someone else has a religious belief that in doing so we're "saving the environment".

Something New Under The Sun

Last week I started my 23rd year of teaching.  Today was the first day in those 22+ years that I can recall a fight occurring in my class.

It's such low-class behavior.

Fortunately the new, mellower me didn't overreact, and after the students were removed from class I was able to return the class to normal rather quickly.  Yes, they really wanted to go nuts and talk about it and do anything but classwork, but I'm not there to run a gossip factory.  Moments later everyone was back at work.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Global Temperature

Just today I taught my statistics students that certain values, if they exist, are fluid--what is the average height of the adult American woman, for example?  Every day women die, others turn 18, others become Americans, etc., so every day that number fluctuates (no doubt somewhere several decimal places beyond the decimal).  It's not a static number.

It never occurred to me to think about a "global temperature", but the authors of this editorial did:
The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is quite certain Earth will be in trouble if the global temperature exceeds pre-industrial levels by 1.5 degrees Celsius or more. But how can anyone know? According to university research, “global temperature” is a meaningless concept.

“Discussions on global warming often refer to ‘global temperature.’ Yet the concept is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility,” says Science Daily, paraphrasing Bjarne Andresen, a professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute, one of three authors of a paper questioning the “validity of a ‘global temperature'"...

But a “temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system,” says Andresen. The climate is not regulated by a single temperature. Instead, “differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate”.

While it’s “possible to treat temperature statistically locally,” says Science Daily, “it is meaningless to talk about a global temperature for Earth. The globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless.”
It's not a long editorial, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing.

Horny Bugs

We have these red and black flying bugs all over our campus.  I understand they're native to the area, but I grew up less than 10 miles from the school at which I now teach and don't recall ever seeing such bugs in my youth.  Maybe it has to do with the school's proximity to the river, I don't know.  They're not a plague of locusts, but they're pretty gross.  They're like skinny red and black flying beetles--and when they land on you, it takes more than a wave of the hand to get them off you.  Someone darn near has to flick them off.

If I haven't been clear, they're pretty gross.

And they're horny as heck.  When you see them on the ground, as often as not there are two of them end to end, fornicating like there's no tomorrow.

There were several wandering about my classroom today, all in one area, so I asked my custodian if he had something we could spray.  He informed me that we're legally not allowed to use any such sprays, as poisons and toxins and children don't mix.  He has a eucalyptus-smelling spray that is supposed to deter bugs, but that's the extent of what we can do.  He did offer, though, to sweep them out of the room for me.

He also told me he won't be around much longer.  He doesn't like doing what he's doing, so he's going to move on to greener pastures.  It's not the darkest of secrets, but he's not going around telling everyone he's leaving.  He also shared that he appreciated the work I do to keep my room clean--no eating in class, no drinks but water--because he's tired of cleaning up soft drink spills and food.  Actually, that's something every custodian who's ever cleaned my classrooms, going back to Miss Ginny in 1997, has told me--they all appreciated cleaning my room because I make it easy for them to do so.

So soon I'll have a new custodian.  And the only reason I know about it is because of those darned horny bugs.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Chicken Little

Liberals are liars.  They just are.

If they weren't, no one would ever listen to one because their ideas are so stupid.

Update, 8/19/19:

Friday, August 16, 2019

2 Days Down

I've made it through the first two days of school.  I've taken on a course (2 periods of it) in which, currently, mostly low-performing students are enrolled, and people keep asking me how those two classes are.  It's still the honeymoon period--ask me next Friday!

For the first time in a very long time I'll have a special education aide working with me in one of those two classes.  We've both eaten lunch in the same staff lounge for years now so we know each other quite well, and based on the conversations we've had the last couple of days I'm quite looking forward to working with her.  I'm sure she'll be a big help to both me and the students!

I'm teaching a new curriculum in those two classes and it's very "presentation-centric".  My computer, 2nd monitor, and tv all talk to each other now that I've replaced an adapter, so I'm hopeful that the technology infrastructure will allow me to teach with few hiccups.  Not having taught this curriculum before, I'm going to go into work for a couple hours on Sunday so that Monday goes smoothly.  I don't want to screw up my first day of actual instruction!

For now, though, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my evening.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Double Standard

Is it wrong to criticize people for their weight?  I remember the left's howls of indignation when certain people (certainly not presidential candidates) suggested Hillary Clinton had fat ankles and thighs.  Here?  Crickets.

The Quality of Schools Has Gone Down Over The Years

This post about one school in particular doesn't surprise me at all, and I won't deny seeing some of what the author describes:

As a semi-retired business writer who taught in Detroit 35 years ago, I returned to the classroom because a local high school was unable to replace a Latin teacher who had resigned. I hold an advanced degree in medieval studies and renewed my certification to teach Latin, history, and social studies. Once in class, I witnessed firsthand the politicized atmosphere of today’s factory-style government-monopoly schools.

My first exposure to school politics came when I renewed my certification. The 1982 certificate only listed the courses I could teach. In contrast, the 2018 version had a 300-word “Code of Ethics” that amounted to a profession of faith in collectivism, egalitarianism, state schools, and diversity (typically limited to superficial things like skin color and gender, not ideas). Nonetheless, I proceeded, thinking that I couldn’t possibly make matters worse. That much was correct.

Grosse Pointe South High School is architecturally interesting, sits in a higher-income community, and is considered a good school by locals.

After an interview and teaching a few “test” classes to first- and second-year students, I was hired. Within a few days, however, it was clear that many students did not understand English grammar, much less Latin fundamentals. In response, I taught remedial grammar and outlined how students could pass my course with a “C” or “D.” There were some excellent students, but test scores were not distributed in a bell-shaped curve. It was an “inverted” bell, or bimodal distribution – with scores clumped at the two extremes.

Poor preparation, however, was only the tip of the iceberg. Students did not bring books to class, relentlessly complained about homework, and expected high grades regardless of proficiency. And when I asked questions, I uncovered some alarming facts:

  • Latin was a dumping ground for students who already had failed another language; “picking up a few phrases” was the goal.
  • Many teachers expected little but awarded high grades.
  • Students were subjected to parental pressure to obtain good grades regardless of performance.
  • A department head had been demoted for teaching at a pre-college level and refusing to lower his standards.
  • Senior teachers were dropping out in disgust; younger teachers had no choice but to accept the situation.
  • Under parental pressure, the principal was establishing a process to prevent students from having to take more than one test on the same day. College prep?

In short, the school embraced grade inflation, propelled by the following dynamic:

  • Parents of high-performing students are “satisfied customers.” Their kids study and bring home good grades, so they think they are getting their money’s worth from high taxes. But they don’t know that there is no correlation between per-pupil spending and student performance. And they never complain.
  • Parents of low-performing students also want good “results.” They hear their children’s tales of woe and complain constantly.
Read the whole thing.

Road of the Future?

Five years ago I included in a post a video about solar roadways.  I thought it looked cool and took a wait-and-see attitude as to practicality.  We now have a data point:
Solar roads were promised to be one of the biggest unprecedented revolutions of our time, not just in the field of renewable energy but in the energy sector generally. 

Covering 2,800 square meters, Normandy's solar road was the first in the world, inaugurated in 2016, in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France. 

Despite the hype surrounding solar roads, two years after this one was introduced as a trial, the project has turned out to be a colossal failure — it's neither efficient nor profitable, according to a report by Le Monde
Are there any such roads living up to the hype?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Too Crazy For California

I wrote about California's proposed Ethnic Studies curriculum a few days ago.  Thankfully it's being pulled (for now).  That the standards were too politically-correct and one-sided for California should tell you a little something about how bad they were.
For Immediate Release                                                       Contact: Janet Weeks
August 12, 2019                                                                     Director of Communications
                                                                                                Phone: 916-319-0313

State Board of Education President Darling-Hammond, Vice President Straus and Member Ortiz-Licon Issue Joint Statement on Draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum
SACRAMENTO -- State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, Vice President Ilene Straus and Board Member Feliza Ortiz-Licon issued the following joint statement today on the draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, now under development:
“Ethnic studies can be an important tool to improve school climate and increase our understanding of one another. A model curriculum should be accurate, free of bias, appropriate for all learners in our diverse state, and align with Governor Newsom’s vision of a California for all. The current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned. 
Following the Instructional Quality Commission’s review and response to all public comments, a new draft will be developed for State Board of Education review and potential approval. The Board will ultimately adopt an ethnic studies model curriculum that aligns to California’s values.”
Linda Darling-Hammond, President
Ilene Straus, Vice President
Feliza Ortiz-Licon, Board Member and Liaison to the Instructional Quality Commission

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Florida Teachers Unions Face Legal Setback

No u-bot will admit to thinking this makes sense, but if your job is to represent people, then the law makes perfect sense:
A Leon County circuit judge has rejected arguments by teacher unions that a controversial 2018 education law violates collective-bargaining rights and improperly singles out teachers among public employees.

Judge Angela Dempsey on Friday issued an eight-page decision siding with the state’s arguments on the constitutionality of the law, which can require teacher unions to be recertified to represent employees. Such recertification is required if fewer than 50 percent of the employees eligible for representation are dues-paying members.
The law shouldn't apply just to teachers unions, it should apply to every union in the state.  It seems eminently reasonable to me.  Rather than fighting the law, the unions should work for their membership so that they never even get close to that 50% threshold.

Punctuation Matters

Punctuation differentiates "Let's eat grandma!" from "Let's eat, grandma!"

"Punctuation" is important in math, too.  It differentiates 6 bags per cent (what the sign below says) from 15 cents per bag (what the store management means):

Monday, August 12, 2019

Last Day

Today is my last day of vacation.  I go back to work tomorrow, and students show up Thursday.

I haven't been happy at work the last couple of years.  This year I'm going to modify my philosophy somewhat and see how that works.  Someone comes to me with a problem and wants/expects me to fix it?  My mantra is going to be "no es mi problema."  And rather than getting upset at every stupid thing that comes down the pike, I'm going to remember the saying, "The problem isn't the problem.  The problem is how you react to the problem."  Water off a duck's back.

It sounds worse than I intend.  I'm just going to disengage a bit and concern myself only with the things over which I have control.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

An Immigrant Departs From The Script

I agree with this person:
Candidates were back at it last week, competing to see who could present the best student loan forgiveness plan. Sure, that might appeal to some of the party's base and America’s cash-strapped millennials. But for roughly 46 million immigrants like me, the idea that the government should forgive student loans is totally unfair. After all, when we came here, our idea of the American Dream was to work hard for a brighter future—not for the government to pick our pockets.

I understand the motivation behind these proposals; alleviating student debt sounds ideal. I came from Russia to attend grad school in the US, so I know just how expensive tuition can be. But when I got my degree from Stony Brook University in New York, I did so without taking out a single loan. And it wasn’t because I was Hawkings-brilliant or Gates-wealthy. I planned meticulously, made sacrifices, and worked hard. This, I believed, was the way Americans did things and got what they wanted.
I'm not an immigrant, but I, too, planned, sacrificed, and worked.  I applied to 4 schools, got accepted to 3, and went to my last choice, West Point, because it was the only one I could afford.  Being an American is pretty much a Golden Ticket on this planet, don't expect me to cover that ticket in platinum as well.

The title of the above piece?
I Immigrated to the US to Pursue the American Dream, Not to Pay for Your College Degree

School Discipline

A few weeks ago I posted about the US Commission on Civil Rights' incorrect conclusions about school discipline.  In fact, type "discipline" into the search engine on this page and you'll find more than a few posts just from this year about school discipline.

To reiterate yet again, the Obama-era "guidance" regarding school discipline was wrong and did harm, and it's not just me saying so:
When President Trump rescinded an Obama-era directive pressuring schools to adopt lenient discipline policies, almost every major education advocacy organization united in outrage.

Despite Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporting showing how similarly lenient disciplinary policies allowed the Parkland school shooter to slip through the cracks, the liberal media insinuated that it was absurd for the Trump administration to recommend rescission of Obama-era lenient policies.

And despite study after study showing that these leniency policies hurt some students, advocates insinuated that the Trump administration was oppressing students of color by ending a policy intended to help them.

Fortunately, a recent Thomas B. Fordham institute teacher survey has given teachers a real voice on this issue. The Obama administration declared flatly that “suspensions don’t work.” The report reveals that teachers overwhelmingly disagree.

Roughly 80% of teachers believe that suspensions are useful to send a signal to students’ parents about serious misbehavior and around 85% believe that temporarily removing disruptive students helps well-behaved students learn. Meanwhile, nearly 80% believe that suspensions help ensure a safe school environment and almost 70% think suspensions encourage other students to follow the rules...

The Obama-era disciplinary policy pressured school districts to decrease suspensions, and suspensions did in fact decrease substantially. But about 70% of teachers believed that the decline was at least somewhat due to a higher tolerance for misbehavior, and almost half believed it was due to under-reporting, suspending students without officially recording it...

Even more notable, though, is that despite this difference in perception of discrimination, African American and white teachers are on the exact same page when it comes to school discipline policy. Among white teachers, 46% believe that suspensions are used too little and 9% percent believe they are used too frequently. Among black teachers, 50% believe that suspensions are used too little and 7% believe they are used too frequently.

Last month, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a report which noted that students with disabilities are disciplined too frequently and lamented that discrimination was at work. Teachers agree that students with disabilities are discriminated against when it comes to school discipline — they just believe that the discrimination goes in the opposite direction as what detached government bureaucrats assumed.

Almost 55% believe that students with disabilities were treated more leniently for the same offense. 
One could be excused for remembering President Bush's warning about "the soft bigotry of low expectations".

Saturday, August 10, 2019

I've Been Saying This For Years

It's that big yellow thing in the sky, it's not my pickup:
A new paper published by researchers form the University of Turku in Finland suggests that even though observed changes in the climate are real, the effects of human activity on these changes are insignificant. The team suggests that the idea of man made climate change is a mere miscalculation or skewing the formulas by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)...

“The IPCC climate sensitivity is about one order of magnitude (i.e. 10 times) too high, because a strong negative feedback of the clouds is missing in climate models. If we pay attention to the fact that only a small part of the increased CO2 concentration is anthropogenic, we have to recognise that the anthropogenic climate change does not exist in practice, write Kauppinen and Malmi. “The major part of the extra CO2 is emitted from oceans, according to Henry‘s law. The low clouds practically control the global average temperature. During the last hundred years the temperature is increased about 0.1℃ because of CO2. The human contribution was about 0.01℃.”

Friday, August 09, 2019

Thinking and Feeling

This paragraph, from a woman who dropped out of college not once but twice, really struck me:
I began to learn the meaning of intellectual insecurity. One day, near the end of her degree, my friend Fiona had me read an essay she had written about Pet Sematary by Stephen King, which was one of my favourite books. As I did so, it began to sink in that I had sidestepped, not only an experience, the way of living that university entails, but also an entire mode of thinking. I could tell that the essay was very good because it was well written and structured (she got a first, if I recall), but I had no idea what it meant or why someone would write it. It spoke in a language I didn’t know – the one I had been frightened of and alienated by, and so had never tried to learn – and about ideas I did not understand in relation to the novel. What had the phallus to do with Pet Sematary? To me the book was worth something because it made me cry and feel afraid. It dawned on me then that all I knew how to do was feel, not how to think, and maybe now I would never learn. This is what it has come down to again and again: that I am all raw nerves, no finesse. As my old nemesis the film studies tutor said so cruelly, I am women’s magazines, not critical theory.
Feel with your heart, think with your brain.  And do both of them.

Even The LA Times Doesn't Support California's Proposed Ethnic Studies Curriculum

From the not-very-right-leaning LA Times editorial board:
In a state as diverse as California, with all the social, historical and economic issues that arise from our rapidly changing demographics, the idea of offering an ethnic studies course in public high schools is more than a nice notion; it’s critical to imbuing students with an understanding of their own history and that of others.

A bill now working its way toward the governor’s desk would do something about that, requiring students to take an ethnic studies course for graduation, most likely replacing a semester of geography. That’s a good thing. History has for too long been told by the winners, who have often left out the unsavory and sometimes tragic aspects of the story.

But ethnic studies courses have little chance of succeeding if they don’t stem from a strong curriculum that challenges students to read, listen, gather facts, analyze those facts and think critically about the controversial issues that will naturally arise.

Unfortunately, this is precisely where the state is in danger of letting its students down. The goal of the new course is to help students learn about and engage with the history and culture of groups that have been overlooked, marginalized or subjected to “invisibility.” But a current draft of the model curriculum, drawn up by a committee of teachers and academics and headed to the State Board of Education, is an impenetrable melange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements. It’s hard to wade through all the references to hxrstory and womxn and misogynoir and cisheteropatriarchy.

We have no objection to a course that broadens students’ thinking about race and gender and sexuality and history and power. But too often the proposed ethnic studies curriculum feels like an exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds. It talks about critical thinking but usually offers one side and one side only.
Read the whole editorial, and marvel that even the LA Times can't support the standards because they're too politically-correct and one-sided.

Growth Mindset

The idea of having a "growth mindset" is the latest rage in education.  The theory states that we should teach students that they can learn and grow, not that their intelligence is fixed.

It's OK as far as it goes--we want children to try and stretch and strive--but of course we in education warp and twist and contort the idea until no shred of reality is left.  We do each have intellectual limits, but my guess is too many people stop before reaching those limits because growing and learning require a lot of effort and time, two quantities that can be spent on more "fun" activities.

I like learning, but that's just me.  That's why I took 5 years of math classes to get my master's degree rather than a 1 year hoop-jump of education classes.

Here's a view about growth mindset that sounds reasonable to me:
In a series of research meta-analyses in 2018, Brooke Macnamara, an associate professor in cognitive psychology at Case Western University, and colleagues found that the average effect size for growth mindset interventions tends to be small and focused mainly on low-performing or low-income students.

While Yeager’s intervention is free to schools, “there are always opportunity costs,” Macnamara said. “What you don’t want is time spent on a growth mindset intervention that doesn’t benefit most students or produces very small effects, and give up the opportunity to, say, learn the new math technique or a new topic in science.”

Yeager and his colleagues found the growth mindset intervention was associated with .10 of a point improvement on a four-point GPA scale. Macnamara suggested that changing a student’s GPA from 2.0 to 2.1 is “not really changing a whole lot. ... Something that actually changes [students’] GPA in a practical way—that college admissions can notice the difference—I think would be important.”

A Good Use of Statistics

Sometimes I feel we're awash in statistics.  What's the point of gathering data if you're not going to use it?  Georgia State University is using data, and to good effect:
Georgia State has boosted its graduation rate and eliminated the graduation gap for blacks, Latinos, first-generation students and low-income students. Among other things, the university uses predictive analytics to keep student on track for graduation, report Jill Barshay and Sasha Aslanian on the Hechinger Report.
Some see a downside:
Analyzing data on who’s at risk and who’s doing fine is catching on at less-selective colleges, they write. But some say it invades students’ privacy, discourages exploration and disproportionately encourages disadvantaged students to choose easier majors.
It might be better to switch to a major wherein a student can succeed rather than continue in a major that might lead to failing or dropping out.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Liberals Are Crazy and/or Violent

Insane Anti-Trump Protester goes BERSERK on Crowder! | Change My Mind

GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin: Staffers' Homes and Cars Targeted With "Death Camps for Trump Supporters" Fliers 

Former CNN Host Calls For "Eradication" Of Kellyanne Conway And All Trump Supporters

Rosanna Arquette: I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me. And I feel so much shame.

Hispanic Trump Supporter Gets Shamed

Booker Campaign Calls For Cancellation Of Trump Rally — ‘A Breeding Ground For Racism.’

Those are just a few headlines from the past day or so at NewsAlert.  You don't like those?  You think the site is biased (although embedded links justify the headlines)?  Here's CNN:

Democrats attack Trump's appeal to white supremacists

Elizabeth Warren: Trump is a white supremacist

Joe Biden says Trump 'has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation' 

These people are Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and are going to reap the whirlwind.

Update, 8/9/19:  Here's another:

MSNBC guest says he wants 'pitchforks and torches' outside pro-Trump Equinox chairman's house

Update #2, 8/9/19:  Kamala Harris, on her own Twitter feed, accuses the president of "creating terror"

Update #3, 8/10/19The voice of sanity is Donna Brazile:
“This conversation about race and racism, domestic terrorism, white supremacy, white nationalism, it is that I am profoundly saddened as an American,” Brazile responded. “The reason why is to point fingers and to play this so-called blame game. President Trump had nothing to do with the maniac, and I’m being gracious here, the maniac who shot up a Wal-Mart store. He had nothing to do with the person who shot up, you know, the bar in Dayton. This is unbecoming of the country. The President of United States, you know, should not be blamed for you know these individual killers.”
Donna Brazile also said that President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina was fine and that criticism of him was unjust.  Brazile is also the former DNC Chair.

Update #4, 8/11/19:  Do lefties really believe this, or do they just not care and will say anything to get a Democrat elected?
Trump's Words Encourage White Supremacist Violence, Says Michael Bloomberg
Update #5, 8/12/19:  I'm not sure it's President Trump who's throwing out all norms of civility:
7 Times MSNBC Hosts Compared Trump to Hitler ... in July
Update, 8/19/19: State senator stages "Trump assassination" photos at a fundraiser.

Went In To Work Yesterday

I am implementing a new curriculum this coming semester and I went into work to get some training on it.  Went in early to set my room up--all the tables were pressed along one wall, and the floors hadn't been cleaned at all.

One of the custodians came in early in the afternoon and asked if I'd be there the rest of the day.  Yes.  He asked if I'd be there tomorrow (today).  No. 

I hope that means my floors are getting cleaned today.  I should've taken a picture, they were quite gross.

Can't Believe How Out Of Shape I Am

When you don't work out at all, it's easy to convince yourself that you could.  This we call lying to yourself.  Just 2 days of short workouts from a phone app and I'm rediscovering muscles I didn't know I wasn't using.  Owie.

The app designer said the exercises are designed to be done at home and to use my own body weight as resistance.  I assure you, my body is resisting!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Trying It Again, Because I Look and Feel Gross

Nine years ago this week I started a diet and exercise regimen that allowed me to drop almost 25 lb in weight and 2-3 inches off my waist over about 4 months.  Tomorrow I start again, weighing about 5 lb more than I did in August 2010 and wearing even bigger pants.

Back then it was elliptical trainer in the morning, eating better, and a 2 mi walk in the evening.  This time it'll be a combination of elliptical trainer, exercise ball, eating better, and an exercise app.

It was these 2 pictures from my trip to Canada this summer that showed me just how far I have to go:

I'm not shooting for the moon here.  My target weight is still 20-25 lb higher than it was when I got out of the army.

Monday, August 05, 2019

CTA Loses 19,000 Members In One Fell Swoop

An avowed socialist at my school and I agreed many years ago that our district's teachers would be better off if our local union disaffiliated from CTA and went solo.  Without all that money going to CTA and NEA, our local could hire the best labor law attorney firm in Sacramento County to represent us at contract negotiations, rather than fellow teachers who received a little bit of training from CTA.  Our teachers would get better representation at a lower cost by cutting out the middle man; teachers could join CTA or NEA as individuals if they wanted to.

That's not going to happen in my district barring some catastrophic event, but it does happen every once in awhile, usually in a small district somewhere.  This announcement, however, is a biggie:
Ending a decades-long connection, the association representing California State University faculty has severed its ties with the California Teachers Association, resulting in a significant loss in membership for the state’s largest teachers union.

In a little noticed move, the board of the California Faculty Association voted in late May to “disaffiliate” from the CTA. The association, whose members include faculty, part-time lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches on the 23 CSU campuses, is an affiliate of the CTA, which means that its members can be CTA members as well...

In a letter addressed “to whom it may concern” at the CTA, Charles Toombs, the CSU faculty association’s president, said the decision to disaffiliate was made following a review of the contract between the two organizations that “has taken place over the last several years” and to “optimize the association’s resources, members and operations.”  The faculty association also ended its ties to the National Education Association, of which the CTA is a state affiliate. Toombs, a professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University, did not provide any further details in his letter to the CTA.
19,000 members off CTA's rolls.

The Janus Decision Is The Law of the Land, and Unions and Districts Drag Their Feet At Their Own Peril

I've written previously about cases in which teachers unions, in direct contravention of the Janus decision, continued to take dues money from teachers who had resigned.  Courts are having none of it, even here in California:
Last August, Ventura County Community College District math professor Michael McCain notified his union, the American Federation of Teachers, that he wanted to drop his membership and stop paying dues. Both the school and the union denied McCain’s request, claiming there was a specific “window” of time by which employees could drop their union membership...

In January of this year, McCain sued both the school and the union in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claiming these mandatory fees are now unconstitutional. The class-action lawsuit was joined by other teachers.

Last week, community college district officials and the teachers union settled with McCain. According to a copy of the settlement obtained by The College Fix, the school and union have been ordered to “fully and unconditionally” refund fees paid by McCain and other faculty members who requested their fees be discontinued after the Janus decision. The fees will be repaid with interest.

The college and union also promised to scrap any rule setting up a time window in which employees may exercise their constitutional rights, according to the settlement.
Neither the Ventura County Community College District nor the American Federation of Teachers Local 1828 responded to requests by The College Fix to comment for this story.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

20 Already

I can't believe that The Sixth Sense was released 20 years ago.  I remember being impressed at the time how people generally kept from revealing the biggest of spoilers about that movie.
The Sixth Sense” was almost a serial killer film inspired by “The Silence of the Lambs.” In the original draft of the thriller by director and writer M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis’ character was a crime photographer (instead of a therapist) with a son who experienced visions of the victims. Ten drafts later, Shyamalan morphed the script into what we know today: a psychological drama with a monumental twist ending that would launch the career of a young director with comparisons to Spielberg and Hitchcock.

The Sixth Sense” opened on Aug. 6, 1999 as an under-the-radar summer release with little fanfare and low expectations. But within only two weeks, the film made back its production budget of $40 million and received largely positive reviews. It ultimately earned a staggering $672 million worldwide, and it became the second-highest grossing movie of 1999 at the domestic box office, beating out blockbuster tentpoles such as “Toy Story 2,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and “The Matrix.” It was only behind “Stars Wars: Episode 1 — the Phantom Menace.”

Goals, Mission Statements, Etc.

Every couple of years we at my school update and rename our "Student Learner Outcomes" (I think that's the current term).  We also have things like a mission statement, maybe a vision statement, and lord knows what else.  I don't often read them and certainly don't use them as any sort of guide for what or how I teach.

Came across this today and thought it made sense:
I have spent the last 20 years when teaching org theory saying that if you can't specify your org's actual goal in 25 words or less, using no more than 2 sentences and a single comma, then you don't really know what your goal is.

I also point out that if you cannot measure whatever constitutes progress towards that known goal then the goal itself is probably worthless.

Finally, I used to ask my students to write down, using my rules, what the actual goal of the university they were attending was. I had to quit that because it was making both them and I too depressed.
That comment comes from an article called What Are Schools For.

Just for smiles and giggles, here are the mission statements from our 3 primary service academies.

West Point:
The mission of the United States Military Academy is “to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”

Naval Academy:
"To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government."

Air Force Academy:
We educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers of character motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.

I like the brevity and clarity of USAFA's mission statement.

As If Flying Isn't Bad Enough Already

This is sure to save the world:
Starting Aug. 20, San Francisco International Airport will ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, including in cafes, restaurants and vending machines. It’s the first such policy in a major U.S. airport.
I'm of two minds about bottled water.  I grew up in a world in which water wasn't sold in bottles.  If you wanted a drink, you went to a drinking fountain.  Buying regular ole water in a plastic bottle has always seemed a little weird to me.  Of course I get the convenience, but it's my opinion that too many people spend too much money buying bottled water (and coffee, and fast food, etc.)--yes, it's their money and they can do what they want with it, but I think a lot of people are making bad financial decisions when doing this.

I'm not ready to force people to live like I think they should, however.  I'm not a leftie.

Let's make a list of what we're supposed to carry around now:
shopping bags
water bottles

What's next?  Tell me in the comments.

(I've long joked that restaurants are going to start copying hotels and airlines and charge us fees for using dishes, having food delivered, etc.  I fear being Cassandra on this one.)

Saturday, August 03, 2019

It's Not Often I Agree With Bill Maher

"All the Democrats have to do to win is to come off less crazy than Trump -- and, of course, they’re blowing it!" Maher said. "Coming across as unserious people who are going to take away all your money so migrants from Honduras can go to college for free and get a major in 'America sucks.'”
--Bill Maher

The Check Was In The Mail And I Didn't Even Know It

Yesterday's mail brought an envelope with a strange return address--what appeared to be a court case and a PO Box number.  I opened it to find a check for $91.94 attached to the following stub:
I looked up the case and here's what I found:
Nearly 2 million Oregonians began receiving checks in the mail last week for $91.94. And they’ll get a similar check this time next year...

The money came from a class-action judgment against BP in a case titled Scharfstein v. BP West Coast Products. That company owns the Arco gas station chain and the affiliated am/pm convenience stores. A Multnomah County jury found more than five years ago that they had overcharged customers who paid with their debit cards and the judge in the case ordered BP to pay $409 million...

The verdict applied to customers who paid with debit cards at Oregon Arco and am/pm locations between January 1, 2011 and August 31, 2013. Oregon’s Department of Justice said 1.7 million customers will get the checks.
A look through my pictures, all catalogued on my computer, reminds me that I drove through Oregon en route to a San Juan Island and Victoria, BC, trip in the summer of 2013.  Must've used the ATM card for gas.

Update, 7/28/20:  When I got home from Yellowstone there was another check waiting for me, this one for $94.42.

Friday, August 02, 2019


You can pretend you don't understand economics and scream that the US women's soccer team's making less money than the men's team is an example of patriarchy, but that's not patriarchy.

This is patriarchy:
I expect to see lefties in this country protesting outside of Thai restaurants in solidarity with the Thai queen, a 1%er.

White Privilege

Absolutely true:

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Trekcetera Museum Is No More

Three years ago I drove my Camry, towing the USS Egg-terprise, to Vulcan, Alberta, Canada, to attend the 50th Anniversary Star Trek Convention there, Vul-Con:

There's a long story explaining why Vulcan is the official Star Trek Capital of Canada, but let's just accept that it is and move on with the story.

One of the storefronts in that small town of less than 2000 was the Trekcetera Museum:
This museum contained (genuine) uniforms and props from many different Star Trek series and movies and was, quite honestly, one of the coolest things around.  They probably don't have such an impressive museum at Paramount itself:

(The two actors in the latter picture both spoke at Vul-con.)

At Vul-con, the owner of the museum spoke and told everyone that he was moving the museum to another small town.  Why, when Vulcan is the Star Trek Capital of Canada?  He had his reasons, but I wondered if the museum would survive anywhere but Vulcan.

It didn't:
Sadly, the Trekcetera Museum closed this year, but now you can own a piece of the museum.  Propworx has been chosen to sell all of the assets of the museum.  And so on Sunday, August 18th, 2019, all the props and costumes and posters from the museum will be up for auction on the Liveauctioneers website, which Propworx has used for almost 10 years.