Beginning their 2017 pieces praising the glories of capital-C Communism on the anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union, the “1619 Project” last year, and more recently, meltdowns over Tom Cotton and Bari Weiss, endorsement of statue toppling, attempted doxxing of the Slate Star Codex blogger and now the glorification of Andy Warhol’s would-be assassin, the New York Times has descended into something resembling the student newspaper at Oberlin. (Or as one wag quipped on Facebook at the start of the month, “We are coming ever closer to the singularity where the New York Times and Teen Vogue are indistinguishable.”) I’m worried that their young staffers are reading Rob Long’s “New York Times Autonomous Zone” article as a how-to guide, rather than satire.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
In a move that would have been unheard of even a year ago, Cirque du Soleil, the Las Vegas Strip’s preeminent production company for more than two decades, has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Alas, so far there has been no specified strategy from the company for when, how or even if all of its shows will reopen on the Strip. Prior to its bankruptcy, Cirque's multiple permanent Las Vegas shows alone played to more than 9,000 people a night, 5% of the city's visitors, adding to the over 100 million people who have seen Cirque du Soleil productions worldwide.
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.Update, 6/30/20: Gruesome Newsom closes down bars in several counties in California. Have there been any confirmed cases at all of 'rona transmission in bars? Any? If not, or even if the number is small, then this action is not based on science. It's entirely political. Especially when Dems were cheering on non-socially-distanced rioters just a couple weeks ago.
On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.
I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30.
But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.
Here are some facts few people know:
Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction”
The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s
Adapting to life below sea level made the Netherlands rich not poor
We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture
I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism...
I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence.
And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.
It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.
Some highlights from the book:
Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress
The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land
The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium
100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50%
We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities
Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4%
Greenpeace didn’t save the whales, switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did
“Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300% more emissions
Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon
The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants
Clackamas United Church of Christ, a very progressive church in Milwaukie, Oregon, posted this sign on their marquee: “Jesus was a person of color murdered by state sanctioned violence.” A fellow Facebook group member asked what we thought of it. My answer: It’s a sobering illustration of how little progressive “Christianity” knows of Jesus Christ. It’s spiritually dangerous and politically alarming.
It could have been so good. It’s so close to it, I could weep. There’s some real truth in it; a great message they could have sent, if only they’d tried. I know, because I’ve been in a place to learn it...
First, Jesus was not a “person of color” in any relevant sense; that is, he wasn’t a minority race member. He was a member of the local dominant race and religion, whose leaders had him executed. His killing had nothing to do with race, everything to do with authority conflicts (from an earthly perspective) and God’s purposes (from the wider point of view).
Second, police shootings are not “state-sanctioned violence.” Many are justified actions, the police defending themselves or innocent civilians from imminent danger of being killed. In the small number of exceptional cases the state sanctions nothing; the officers are charged and tried for murder.
So it’s a lie. It’s a pompous one; a lie delivered almost with a smirk of condescending superiority. It’s politicizing lie, too. They’re patently out to grab Jesus and make him their movement’s mascot. Jesus doesn’t go for that. He never let anyone set his agenda, never let anyone claim him for their own. In Luke 4 he refused to let Nazareth own him as their hometown boy. Elsewhere some of the Jews tried to make him their king, and he resisted, saying in effect, “Not that way, not at this time. I will be king, yes, but King over all, in due time.”
Jesus refused to let anyone call him their own. It’s dangerous to try. He’s on his mission for his purposes, never for ours.
And by the way — if you really want to follow Jesus as your forerunner in being an unjust victim, you need to consider just how he acted in his trial and execution. Not much like what we’re seeing in the protests, is it?
...We should never let our politics control or even influence our view of Jesus. But we can certainly let our view of Jesus influence our politics. We cannot try to get him on our side, for our purposes; but we can certainly try to set ourselves on his side, for his purposes, as long as we remember he’s completely in charge.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
There are two basic definitions of racism in the United States, one roughly associated with progressives and one roughly associated with conservatives. The former describes racism as the failure to acknowledge and seek to redress systemic discrimination against select disadvantaged minority groups. It is very broad and captures everything from unconscious bias to white supremacy. The latter views racism as making assumptions about, or taking action towards, an individual or group on the sole basis of their race. It is narrow and generally requires belief, intent, and animosity.
These definitions don’t simply differ; to a great extent they actually contradict each other. Much of the contradiction stems from the fact that the progressive definition of racism requires that an advantaged individual or group must be attacking the less privileged. The more conservative and narrow definition of racism requires no appeal to power structures, only to bias, and can be committed by anyone towards anyone...
[T]hose on the left are often shocked when polls show that majorities of white people believe that they are discriminated against in the United States. They will point to economic data, political power, and cultural representation and say, “You people are crazy.” But under the narrower definition of racism, it makes perfect sense. These white people are reacting to the fact that they can be attacked on the basis of their race in ways others can’t. In addition, whites — and increasingly Asians — look at programs like affirmative action as inherently racist...
Our society as a whole is not going to accept things like unconscious bias and cultural appropriation as disqualifying outside of places like college campuses. Unfortunately, too many conservatives have used these diluted definitions of racism to excuse even examples that violate their own more narrow one.
You might guess that I agree with the definition associated above with conservatives, and you'd be correct. We should not exalt race; in fact, doing so is exactly what Dr. King and the rest of the civil rights movement marched against:
The mob also wants to redefine what racism is. They want you to think you can sin without knowing it. They want you to think America is bad even when you know it is good. Here, the mob goes too far.
So what should civil rights mean in America in 2020?
Civil rights should mean what they always have. All liberties, all civil rights, flow from the unchangeable fact that every individual has dignity, and deserves to be treated with respect by the state, by others, and by the police. This is the premise on which America was founded, even if the mob doesn’t like it. This is the premise that solves the strife.
In the middle of the dark age of Nazi racism, Pope Pius XI issued Mit brennender Sorge, a Papal Encyclical about racism.
Whoever exalts race … whoever raises these notions above their standard value and divinizes them to an idolatrous level, distorts and perverts an order of the world planned and created by God.
Confronting South African Apartheid in 1989, Pope John Paul II defined the active choice of racism saying, “harboring racist thoughts and entertaining racist attitudes is a sin.”
Racism is active. It isn’t hidden in dormant corners of your consciousness. Racism doesn’t slumber in the architecture. It is animus, and animus is an active choice.
At the center of all of these problems – the problem of slavery, the problem of Nazism, the problem of racism, is the exaltation of race. Exalting race means elevating race beyond standard value. Defining people by race, whether a suspect stopped by the police or the wife of an NFL quarterback, is wrong.
The mob doesn’t want to hear this. They are demanding racially soaked vengeance dressed up as corporate introspection and listening sessions. They want to exalt race.
No, today's mobs certainly don't want to hear this. And somehow knocking over statues is supposed to make some difference.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
The latest series of Covid-19 blunders is a timely reminder that the entire premise of the lockdown was hubris. The bureaucrats went from flattening the curve to believing that they could eliminate the virus and quarantine a population of 5 million people indefinitely from the 7 billion other people on the planet.
They can't. The inevitability of this program's failure, however, does not mean we will abandon it easily. But we will abandon it.
Governments don't walk away from a policy merely because it isn't working. They simply re-double their efforts, imposing more costs and stripping away more freedoms while the populace cheers them on to ever-greater acts of idiocy until we all exhaust ourselves and move on to the next crisis.
For the moment, however, we are at war with a virus and believe that our public officials can keep out a microscopic bug when they can't prevent cocaine from being smuggled in...
With modern techniques we can sometimes isolate particularly virulent outbreaks, such as SARS and Ebola, but once the genie is out of the bottle eradication is almost impossible. AIDS, a difficult condition to catch, still claims over 700,000 people annually.
If we cannot stamp out a virus that requires intimate contact to be transmitted, humanity isn't going to prevent one that can live on the keypad of an eftpos machine for up to 12 hours.
I looked it up. AIDS still kills over 13,000 people in the US each year.
We are also a trading nation. Ultimately, if we want to sell stuff, we need to visit the people who do the buying, and they need to come here. Locking every visiting businessperson in the Novotel for two weeks is a more effective tariff barrier than anything Muldoon could have dreamed up.
Eventually, isolation means penury. If we cannot trade and travel our economy will become increasingly detached from the rest of the world. Commercial relationships will atrophy. Domestic tourist sites will become abandoned and new facilities will not be constructed. As the rest of the world moves on from Covid-hysteria, we will be left behind.
This will not stop us cowering behind our seawalls nor prevent us from hunting down CCTV footage of wayward tourists to see if they visited the toilets at the BP in Taihape. We have invested so heavily and paid such an incredible cost to maintain our purity we will hold on to it at almost any cost. We don't want to admit that it has been a mistake...
We have seen how quickly the global focus has moved already, from curve flattening to statue toppling.
Like our protracted effort to control cannabis, pornography and NZ First, we will persist for far longer than we should, even after it has becomes obvious that the effort has failed.
Because that's what politicians do when they live in fear of being blamed for something.
Update, 6/23/20: This Brit sees things pretty clearly, too, and much of what he says about the British government applies to many of our state governors:
The root of the problem is the uncomfortable relationship between the Government and its scientific advisers. The Government has repeatedly claimed to be ‘guided by the science’. This has in practice been a shameless attempt to evade responsibility by passing the buck to scientists for what are ultimately political, and not scientific, decisions. Scientists can advise what measures are likely to reduce infections and deaths. Only politicians can decide whether those measures make sense in economic and social terms too...
Ministers press them for the kind of unequivocal answers that will protect them from criticism. Scientists cover themselves by giving equivocal answers, which reflect the uncertainty of the science. The Government responds by avoiding any decision for which it would have to take political responsibility, until the pressure of events becomes irresistible, when it lurches off in a new direction...
Indiscriminate lockdown was a panic response to the now-notorious statistical model produced on March 16 by Professor Neil Ferguson’s team at Imperial College. Panic responses leave little room for reflection. No serious consideration appears to have been given to the potentially catastrophic side effects. In fact, the Imperial team did identify the main problem about a lockdown. In an earlier report to Sage, they had pointed out that once a disease had taken hold in a population, ‘measures which are too effective merely push all transmission to the period after they are lifted, giving a delay but no substantial reduction in either peak incidence or overall attack rate’...
Experiments by the Department of Health (reviewed by Sage) indicate that the risk of airborne transmission is low outside a healthcare setting. It is being maintained because the Government wants scientific cover and Sage cannot rule out some risk that prolonged face-to-face contact at less than two metres might cause some infection. No one in government was grown-up enough to confront the real issue: does a low risk justify a huge economic cost?
Politicians live in fear of losing popularity, and too many of them have shown they're not bright enough to be given authority.
Friday marked the first full day of California’s statewide mask mandate...
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office announced it will not be enforcing the mask mandate. In a statement, the sheriff's office said in part:
“Due to the minor nature of the offense, the potential for negative outcomes during enforcement encounters, and anticipating the various ways in which the order may be violated, it would be inappropriate for deputies to criminally enforce the Governor's mandate. Accordingly, the Sheriff's Office will not be doing so. Rather, we will continue to operate in an educational capacity in partnership with the County Health Office.”
Other local law enforcement seem to agree with the sheriff:
The Citrus Heights Police Department is taking a similar stance of education instead of enforcement. Police Chief Ronald Lawrence said in a statement:
“The Citrus Heights Police Department will not be criminally enforcing the Governor’s Health Order requiring the use of face coverings or masks. We continue to encourage our community to comply with the Public Health Orders and guidelines, and believe education has served as an effective means to slow the spread of the pandemic in our region. Voluntary compliance has worked well for our Citrus Heights community members and we thank them for all of their hard work and cooperation during these challenging times.”
Sacramento County Health Services Director Dr. Peter Beilenson said the statewide mandate helps provide a common denominator.
“The mandate will not force everybody to wear a mask because, again, it won’t really be terribly well enforced, but it will set the cultural norm that people should be wearing masks,” Beilenson said.
Being hard of hearing, I can claim this exemption from the so-called requirement:
Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Thursday, June 18, 2020
- a thorough review of Calculus,
- applications to bio and medicine, so I can show our medical CTE students its uses, and
- experience of how I might better conduct an online math class, as Fall 2020 courses will all be online.
Update, 6/27/20: I got home from a trip today and hadn't received word that the math department had approved my having met the prerequisite course--which I teach at high school! But I was able to register and pay for my class today anyway. The book hasn't been identified yet, I wonder how much it will cost.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Was confining much of the working-age population the right decision?
According to Public Health Agency of Canada data, there had been 7,773 Covid-19 deaths in Canada as of June 7. Federal Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam has confirmed that 81 percent of them were linked to long-term care facilities. Of the remaining 1,482 deaths, most were people over the age of 70. Only 229 of the total deaths were aged under 60 and almost all of those had pre-existing health conditions. Clearly, for a healthy working-age person, the risk of dying from Covid-19 is significantly lower than dying by accident or from other diseases.
If Canada’s working-age people hadn’t been removed from the workforce plus been subjected to such severe general restrictions – everything from being barred from medical and personal care appointments, to cancelling travel and being unable to go about their daily lives, nearly all of which involves economic activity of one sort or another – Canada’s economy would have continued to function without the job losses, bankruptcies and tragic social impacts including mental health deterioration, suicides and family violence. And without the need for the crippling increases in our national debt. In hindsight, keeping healthy working-age people away from their jobs – the first such quarantine ever undertaken – may be the most damaging decision in Canadian history.
Did the shutdown of surgical wards to prepare for Covid-19 victims cost more lives than were saved?
These shutdowns came as Canadians in need of health care were already suffering on long waiting lists. A December 2019 Fraser Institute report found that waiting lists averaged 20 weeks and totalled more than 1 million people. Cancer, cardiac and other patients who had finally been given a surgical date were sent notices of indefinite postponement. The mental anguish of knowing that a tumour continues to grow or a blocked artery might cause a heart attack adds even further medical risk. Now, three months later, no one knows how much longer their wait will be. B.C., for example, has announced that it will take as long as two years to work through its 30,000 cancelled surgeries. Ironically, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has now turned for help to the same private clinics he’s been trying to shut down.Preparing for the possibility that hospitals could become overwhelmed by Covid-19 victims was a prudent decision. The problem is that our medical system went into the crisis with essentially zero unused capacity and the longest waiting lists in the OECD.
Open the secondary schools. There have been zero deaths of children under age 16 in Canada. And there’s a growing consensus that their light viral load makes children unlikely spreaders of the virus. Rather than being the most vulnerable, as they were to the Spanish Flu a century ago, they appear to be the least vulnerable to Covid-19. Reopening schools therefore poses low risks. When summer ends, many parents need to get back to work, rather being kept home supervising their children.
Don’t leave pandemic response measures solely in the hands of Chief Medical Officers. They did their job of “flattening the curve” well. But the measures taken should have also considered the impact of hospital bed closures on treatment of other diseases, small business owners who face losing everything, stress-induced mental health deterioration, suicides, family violence, long-term unemployment and massive public debt.
The strategy to cope with any new outbreak should include our best financial, business, education and mental health experts working as a team. These teams should be assembled immediately as we navigate the unknown course of the corona virus. There’s little point to sweeping measures that over-protect the entire population against a single virus if the resulting damage is so severe that the nation in its weakened state can’t cope with future crises, whether those are health-related or otherwise. For such crises will surely occur.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
But very surprising to some at UC was this: The regents' decision flouted a unanimous faculty senate vote a few weeks earlier to retain the SAT for now -- after a year-long study by a task force commissioned by Napolitano herself found the test neither “racist” nor discriminatory nor an obstacle to minorities in any way.
The 228-page report, loaded with hundreds of displays of data from the UC's various admissions departments, found that the SAT and a commonly used alternative test, ACT -- also eliminated – actually helped increase black, Hispanic, and Native American enrollment at the system's 10 campuses, and recommended that their use be continued.
“To sum up,” the task force report determined, “the SAT allows many disadvantaged students to gain guaranteed admission to UC.”
The contradictory, lopsided votes raised the question: How could the liberal governing board of a major university system reject the imprimatur of its own liberal faculty researchers and kill a diversity accelerator in the name of the very diversity desired?
The answer, according to numerous interviews with people concerned, is that the urgency of political momentum against the tests -- reflecting a wider national mood of racial grievance -- proved irresistible and swept away the research and data.
Much like the Roman Empire--why have a senate if you just ignore it?
Monday, June 15, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Mounting evidence suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than it first appeared.
The evidence comes from tests that detect antibodies to the coronavirus in a person's blood rather than the virus itself.
The tests are finding large numbers of people in the U.S. who were infected but never became seriously ill. And when these mild infections are included in coronavirus statistics, the virus appears less dangerous.
"The current best estimates for the infection fatality risk are between 0.5% and 1%," says Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
That's in contrast with death rates of 5% or more based on calculations that included only people who got sick enough to be diagnosed with tests that detect the presence of virus in a person's body. NPR
Fatality rates would have been even lower if politicians hadn't ordered sick people be put in with non-sick older people in nursing homes.
So put your virtue-signaling masks away and act like human beings. Enjoy your lives.
Implicit bias purports to answer the question: Why do racial disparities persist in household income, job status, and incarceration rates, when explicit racism has, by all measures, greatly diminished over the last half-century? The reason, according to implicit-bias researchers, lies deep in our brains, outside the reach of conscious thought. We may consciously embrace racial equality, but almost all of us harbor unconscious biases favoring whites over blacks, the proponents claim. And those unconscious biases, which the implicit-bias project purports to measure scientifically, drive the discriminatory behavior that, in turn, results in racial inequality.
The need to plumb the unconscious to explain ongoing racial gaps arises for one reason: it is taboo in universities and mainstream society to acknowledge intergroup differences in interests, abilities, cultural values, or family structure that might produce socioeconomic disparities...
But the fiercest disputes concern the IAT’s validity. A psychological instrument is deemed “valid” if it actually measures what it claims to be measuring—in this case, implicit bias and, by extension, discriminatory behavior. If the IAT were valid, a high implicit-bias score would predict discriminatory behavior, as Greenwald and Banaji asserted from the start. It turns out, however, that IAT scores have almost no connection to what ludicrously counts as “discriminatory behavior” in IAT research—trivial nuances of body language during a mock interview in a college psychology laboratory, say, or a hypothetical choice to donate to children in Colombian, rather than South African, slums. Oceans of ink have been spilled debating the statistical strength of the correlation between IAT scores and lab-induced “discriminatory behavior” on the part of college students paid to take the test. The actual content of those “discriminatory behaviors” gets mentioned only in passing, if at all, and no one notes how remote those behaviors are from the discrimination that we should be worried about.
Even if we accept at face value that the placement of one’s chair in a mock lab interview or decisions in a prisoner’s-dilemma game are significant “discriminatory behaviors,” the statistical connection between IAT scores and those actions is negligible. A 2009 meta-analysis of 122 IAT studies by Greenwald, Banaji, and two management professors found that IAT scores accounted for only 5.5 percent of the variation in laboratory-induced “discrimination.” Even that low score was arrived at by questionable methods, as Jesse Singal discussed in a masterful review of the IAT literature in New York. A team of IAT skeptics—Fred Oswald of Rice University, Gregory Mitchell of the University of Virginia law school, Hart Blanton of the University of Connecticut, James Jaccard of New York University, and Philip Tetlock—noticed that Greenwald and his coauthors had counted opposite behaviors as validating the IAT. If test subjects scored high on implicit bias via the IAT but demonstrated better behavior toward out-group members (such as blacks) than toward in-group members, that was a validation of the IAT on the theory that the subjects were overcompensating for their implicit bias. But studies that found a correlation between a high implicit-bias score and discriminatory behavior toward out-group members also validated the IAT. In other words: heads, I win; tails, I win.
Greenwald and Banaji now admit that the IAT does not predict biased behavior. The psychometric problems associated with the race IAT “render [it] problematic to use to classify persons as likely to engage in discrimination,” they wrote in 2015, just two years after their sweeping claims in Blind Spot. The IAT should not be used, for example, to select a bias-free jury, maintains Greenwald. “We do not regard the IAT as diagnosing something that inevitably results in racist or prejudicial behavior,” he told The Chronicle of Higher Education in January. Their fallback position: though the IAT does not predict individual biased behavior, it predicts discrimination and disadvantage in the aggregate. “Statistically small effects” can have “societally large effects,” they have argued. If a society has higher levels of implicit bias against blacks as measured on the IAT, it will allegedly have higher levels of discriminatory behavior. Hart Blanton, one of the skeptics, dismisses this argument. If you don’t know what an instrument means on an individual level, you don’t know what it means in the aggregate, he told New York’s Singal. In fairness to Greenwald and Banaji, it is true that a cholesterol score, say, is more accurate at predicting heart attacks the larger the sample of subjects. But too much debate exists about what the IAT actually measures for much confidence about large-scale effects...
The most recent meta-analysis deals another blow to the conventional IAT narrative. This study, not yet formally published, looked at whether changes in implicit bias allegedly measured by the IAT led to changes in “discriminatory behavior”—defined as the usual artificial lab conduct. While small changes in IAT scores can be induced in a lab setting through various psychological priming techniques, they do not produce changes in behavior, the study found.
Don't think I won't challenge anyone who tries to push this phrenology on us.
Friday, June 12, 2020
A Baltimore County, Md., fifth-grader got a visit from the police after his teacher called to report that she had seen a BB gun on the wall behind the student during a class video call.
The boy’s mother, Courtney Lancaster Sperry, a Navy veteran, is warning other parents about a lack of privacy during virtual classes after her son was targeted by a teacher who saw what she thought was a scary-looking gun hanging on the wall of the boy’s bedroom.
“While my son was on a Zoom call, a ‘concerned parent’ and subsequently two teachers saw his properly stowed and mounted Red Ryder BB gun and one other BB gun in the background,” Sperry wrote on Facebook. “He was not holding them and never intentionally showed them on video. In fact, he was oblivious that they could even be seen in the background.”
After the teacher reported the gun, the principal, Jason Feiler, decided to call the police to report the guns and ask that the home be searched.
The principal and the teacher cited a rule stating that students may not bring guns to school and claimed it extended to virtual classes as well, Sperry said, adding that the school handbook does not address rules for virtual learning at all. Besides, “he did not BRING anything to this meeting and he is in his own home,” she said. “They were simply in the background in our home, safely stowed in a room behind a closed door, with no ammunition (if you can even call it that)"...
The 11-year-old in question is a Boy Scout, pursuing the rank of Eagle Scout and is an “outdoors / all-boy kind of kid,” his mom said. “And as his parents and by way of legal rights, he is allowed to own said guns.” In addition to the BB gun, she said her son is training in archery and enjoys shooting his Airsoft gun...
“The officers that responded were appalled at the call and even commended the set-up that my son has for his toys and commended him also on his respect and understanding of the BB guns,” Sperry wrote on Facebook.
Sperry asked the principal why the issue couldn’t have been handled privately by phone rather than sending the police. “He said that was not their policy,” she said...
“I felt violated as a parent, for my child, who’s standing there with police officers in his room, just to see the fear on his face,” she added...
“I have explained to my son that he did nothing wrong,” Sperry said. “He said, ‘I’m just sad because I thought the teachers were my friends.' "...
“My child and my home will no longer be subjected to video to allow room for any other violation of my rights and how I legally manage my home,” she declared.
The teacher, the vice principal, and the principal involved are disgraces to our profession.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Yet even here, in the time it takes to upload a black square to your Instagram profile, those of us who move in progressive circles now find ourselves under significant moral pressure to understand that social distancing is an issue of merely secondary importance.
This feels like gaslighting. Less than two weeks ago, the enlightened position in both Europe and America was to exercise nothing less than extreme caution. Many of us went much further, taking to social media to castigate others for insufficient social distancing or neglecting to wear masks or daring to believe they could maintain some semblance of a normal life during coronavirus. At the end of April, when the state of Georgia moved to end its lockdown, the Atlantic ran an article with the headline “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice”. Two weeks ago we shamed people for being in the street; today we shame them for not being in the street...The climate-change-denying right is often ridiculed, correctly, for politicizing science. Yet the way the public health narrative around coronavirus has reversed itself overnight seems an awful lot like … politicizing science.What are we to make of such whiplash-inducing messaging? Merely pointing out the inconsistency in such a polarized landscape feels like an act of heresy. But “‘Your gatherings are a threat, mine aren’t,’ is fundamentally illogical, no matter who says it or for what reason,” as the author of The Death of Expertise, Tom Nichols, put it. “We’ve been told for months to stay as isolated as humanely possible,” Suzy Khimm, an NBC reporter covering Covid-19, noted, but “some of the same public officials and epidemiologists are [now] saying it’s OK to go to mass gatherings – but only certain ones.” link
But after George Floyd’s death, the left (and that includes the media) stood in sheer awe at the number and size of the protests that occurred. It was like all of a sudden all those concerns about social distancing because of the coronavirus were erased. Wanting a haircut was a crime, but looting stores in the name of George Floyd and shouting “I can’t breathe” and “black lives matter” suddenly made it okay to gather in large groups, often without masks. The coronavirus pandemic was basically over. At least as far as the media was concerned.Yep.
That was until President Trump decided he wanted to hold rallies again. “President Trump will hit the campaign trail this month — despite the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which continues to impact the lives and livelihoods of households across the country,” tweeted NPR.
Two days earlier, NPR was literally gushing at massive Washington, D.C protest. “Thousands of voices at a protest in D.C. came together to sing the Bill Withers classic ‘Lean on Me,’ led by local musician Kenny Sway. ‘It sounded like unity and togetherness,’ he says. ‘It sounded like love and pureness of the people' "...
The media doesn’t want Trump holding rallies because they show the country how popular he really is, and expose the enthusiasm gap between him and Joe Biden, who could only dream of holding rallies of the same size and energy. But, by cheerleading protests despite the pandemic, they gave Trump the opportunity he was looking for to get back on the campaign trail. The campaign would do good to offer MAGA-themed face masks at the rally for attendees. It would be quite a sight to see.
And the people who are involved in science! are just as political as the rest of us:
Three months ago, America was told to trust the public health experts. Never again. Most are left-wing ideologues cloaked in the mantle of science. On their advice, states slammed their economies shut, put 40 million people out of work, sent school kids home and pushed businesses into bankruptcy.It's enough to make you wonder who to trust.
These experts hardly blinked at the economic losses. They and their media allies raged at anyone who questioned them for putting dollars ahead of lives. Now these same experts are doing a 180-degree turn, saying the threat of the virus is less important than big marches against racial injustice. This, even though they admit the marches will lead to more infections. Hypocrites.
Public-health academics from the University of Washington, which created the virus-forecasting model widely used by governors and the president’s task force, are circulating a public letter declaring the marches a higher priority than containing the virus.
“This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders,” the UW health experts add. Translation: No funerals for your loved ones, no congregating for causes of your own choosing. Only theirs.
This isn’t science. This is political advocacy. Similarly, Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, now claims the dangers of “systemic racism” exceed “the harms of the virus.” Sorry, professor, but that makes you a pundit, not someone to call the shots on ending a pandemic...
Sadly, science is losing its luster as the profession puts politics ahead of the truth. Last week, two prestigious medical journals, The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine, which until recently set the gold standard for scientific publications, had to retract articles they had published on hydroxychloroquine.
Both had dispensed with rigorous peer review to rush out articles purporting to show that President Trump’s favored COVID-19 drug endangers patients. They were so eager to ridicule Trump they ended up discrediting themselves. Turns out the data in the articles were shaky.
Update: This is probably true:
The lockdowns were politically weaponized during this election year. Blue states thought the sinking economy would hurt President Trump’s reelection bid. Red states wanted to open up as quickly as possible to get the economy back and running before November.
Yet the mass progressive protests and violence forced an unplanned end to mass quarantining — and thereby inadvertently helped jumpstart the country back to business. Those who despise Trump may have done the most to help him.
Tuesday, June 09, 2020
In North Carolina, 26 percent of UNC system students earned a “D,” “F,” or “W” (a withdrawal) in mathematics and statistics courses between fall 2015 and spring 2018.
But instead of investigating ways to improve math education, North Carolina university leaders have decided to create alternate “pathways” for students who are less math-minded. According to UNC administrators, gateway and entry-level math courses—like college algebra—are “stumbling blocks” for too many students.
To get more students through entry-level math classes, in early 2018, the UNC system established the UNC System Math Pathways Task Force, a system-wide initiative to change general education math requirements to make them more “applicable and equitable.”
I'd rather have no standard at all. At least that would be honest.
But, like so many of the initiatives the academic staff in the system office push forward, the Math Pathways task force’s recommendations are a de facto lowering of standards.
Of course, UNC’s academic staff don’t see the proposed changes as a lowering of standards. They argue that classes like college algebra simply don’t “align” with many students’ career goals. Why, for example, should drama or history students have to grapple with something as “irrelevant” as algebra?...
But taking a close look at the task force’s source of inspiration raises a serious question: Will academic rigor be sacrificed for the sake of implementing a more “responsive curriculum?"...
Policymakers at UT-Austin determined that “contemporary math” is more relevant to liberal arts students than college algebra. A cursory glance between the two courses’ assigned textbooks and course descriptions, however, suggests that they are not equal in rigor.
Unlike the college algebra course, the “quantitative” reasoning course has fewer clearly defined learning objectives and the content is largely determined by the instructor. Below is a side by side comparison of the courses, as described in UT-Austin’s Undergraduate Course Catalog.
Math 1314: College Algebra
Textbook: “College Algebra” by John Durbin
Covered subjects include:
- Brief review of elementary algebra
- Linear, quadratic, exponential, and logarithmic functions
- Systems of linear equations
Math 1332: Introduction to Mathematics (for liberal arts students)
Covered subjects include:
- Number theory and probability
- Additional topics are chosen by the instructor
With chapter names such as “Fun and Games,” “Geometric Gems,” and “Taming Uncertainty,” most students likely would be thrilled to opt for a course based on the “Heart of Mathematics” instead of a tedious and confounding college algebra class.
In short, UT’s math course for liberal arts students seems geared toward giving students a taste of engaging—but superficial—pop-math concepts without making them endure unimaginative formulas and equations.
And given the fact that much of the course content is determined by individual instructors, there is likely a widespread lack of uniformity in what students learn. Nevertheless, the UNC system is following in UT’s footsteps...
It shouldn’t be hard, however, to see why leaving the content and learning objectives of a math course up to the “needs” of a given student population or on the “values” of each institution is extremely imprudent. What if a given student population, on average, “needs” easier math classes in order to not dropout? What if an institution “values” churning out degrees more than it values rigorously forming students’ minds?
It seems that's what is happening already.
Here's the real problem:
As a result, instead of looking at poor grades and high fail rates as evidence that a student might not be ready for college-level work, administrators conclude that the fault lies in the classes themselves, not in students’ academic ability. But such a premise is absurd. The administrators are clearly refusing to admit that students are likely failing college algebra because they are unable to do university-level math, not because it doesn’t “fit” with their career goals.
And here's why it's a problem:
While it’s natural for students to succumb to utilitarian impulses and want to study material that is directly related to their career interests, a liberal arts education is not just about skills training. Liberal arts students don’t just study things because they are “useful,” they study because it is intrinsically good to pursue the truth and to gain knowledge.
If students are not interested in this kind of education and seek only to gain skills for the job market, perhaps they would be better suited to attend a community college or a trade school.
Getting rid of standardized testing in the admissions process creates exactly the same problem.
Sunday, June 07, 2020
Most police killings occur for reasons unrelated to race. Most people killed by police in America are white — not African-Americans. For example, Daniel Shaver was white. He was shot and killed while sobbing and pleading for his life, and trying to comply with confusing orders from the police. The cop who killed him was terminated, but later reinstated just long enough to qualify for a taxpayer-provided pension.Don't know or trust the sources above? Here's a column from Michigan State University published a year ago, so completely unaffected by recent events:
Most people killed by the police have a weapon and pose a threat to the police or innocent third parties. The number of unarmed people killed by the police is much smaller. In 2019, 9 unarmed black people were shot and killed by on-duty police officers, compared with 19 whites. Victims remain mostly white if you expand the tally to include off-duty police officers and deaths from causes other than gun shots. Mapping Police Violence recently counted 28 unarmed blacks and 51 unarmed whites who died at the hands of police in 2019.
Reports of racially motivated, fatal shootings by police officers have garnered extensive public attention and sparked activism across the nation. New research from Michigan State University and University of Maryland reveals findings that flip many of these reports on their heads – white police officers are not more likely to have shot minority citizens than non-white officers...This doesn't fit the Left's narrative, that's for sure. (BTW, the report mentioned above can be found here.)
“We found that the race of the officer doesn’t matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot," Cesario said. "If anything, black citizens are more likely to have been shot by black officers, but this is because black officers are drawn from the same population that they police. So, the more black citizens there are in a community, the more black police officers there are.”
The data show that it’s not racial bias on behalf of white officers relative to black officers when it comes to fatal shootings, and that’s good news. The bad news, Cesario said, is that internal policy changes, such as diversifying police forces, may not reduce shootings of minority citizens.
Beyond officer race, the team drew other conclusions about details related to racial disparities in fatal officer shootings.
“Many people ask whether black or white citizens are more likely to be shot and why. We found that violent crime rates are the driving force behind fatal shootings,” Cesario said. “Our data show that the rate of crime by each racial group correlates with the likelihood of citizens from that racial group being shot. If you live in a county that has a lot of white people committing crimes, white people are more likely to be shot. If you live in a county that has a lot of black people committing crimes, black people are more likely to be shot. It is the best predictor we have of fatal police shootings.”
By connecting the findings of police officer race, victim race and crime rates, the research suggests that the best way to understand police shootings isn’t racial bias of the police officer; rather, by the exposure to police officers through crime.
Saturday, June 06, 2020
Here’s the juice: urban police unions who block accountability for bad cops contribute to Dimocratic (sic) politicians running cities who haven’t elected Republicans in 50 years … yet somehow the cause of the problem is thrown at the feet of a President who’s only been in office 3-1/2 years?!?
"It's more class than it is race ... and now race is being used to deflect attention away from the failures of people running those institutions," he added. "The question is why are black kids failing in school systems run by their own people?"
"When Eric Holder was a U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., a lot of young people were shot by the police, but they were black police shooting black kids and not one was prosecuted. But there was no public outcry because as long as illegality or evil wears a black face, then it escapes detection and that's what's wrong with looking life through the prism of race."
Woodson also suggested that much of black suffering was the result of Democratic leadership.
No, I'm not really interested in Democrats' so-called solutions to race issues in America.
Update, 6/7/20: Orange Man Bad:
But, oh, the transmuting magic of partisanship! Minneapolis is a Democratic city, with a Democratic mayor and a Democratic city council (0.0 Republicans on that body), in a state with a Democratic governor and a Democratic state house; these are the people who hire police chiefs and organize police departments, who specify their procedures and priorities, who write the laws that the police are tasked with enforcing — Democrats and progressives practically to a man. (Not every member of the Minneapolis city council is a Democrat — there’s a Green, too.) That’s a lot of lefty power, hardly anything except lefty power — but, somehow, the bad guy in this story must be Donald Trump.