Friday, July 31, 2020

So Close!

Trader Joe's can be a fun little store, but then some 17-yr-old trying to make a name for him/herself decided they'd be an easy target.  Trader Joe's responded:

A few weeks ago, an online petition was launched calling on us to “remove racist packaging from [our] products.” Following were inaccurate reports that the petition prompted us to take action. We want to be clear: we disagree that any of these labels are racist. We do not make decisions based on petitions. 

We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and Crew Members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.

So far, so good.

Decades ago, our Buying Team started using product names, like Trader Giotto’s, Trader José’s, Trader Ming’s, etc. We thought then—and still do—that this naming of products could be fun and show appreciation for other cultures. For example, we named our Mexican beer “Trader José Premium” and a couple guacamole products are called “Avocado’s Number” in a kitschy reference to a mathematical theory.  These products have been really popular with our customers, including some budding mathematicians. 

Avogadro's Number is a "mathematical theory"?  It's a number used in chemistry class but nowhere else in the world:

The Avogadro constant (NA[1] or L[2]) is the proportionality factor that relates the number of constituent particles (usually molecules, atoms or ions) in a sample with the amount of substance in that sample. Its SI unit is the reciprocal mole, and it is defined as NA = 6.02214076×1023 mol−1.[3][1][4][5][6] It is named after the Italian scientist Amedeo Avogadro.[7]

A "mathematical theory"?  That it's a number doesn't mean it has anything to do with mathematics.  And a number isn't a "theory".  Stick with what you know, Joe.

They were so close to doing the right thing....

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Give Them Masks

If masks are so good at protecting people from coronacooties, what explains this?
New Jersey lawmakers seemed close to supporting legislation on Thursday that could free more than 3,000 prisoners — about 20 percent of the state’s prison population — months before their release dates in response to the extraordinary threat posed by the coronavirus in tightly packed correctional facilities.
Just give them masks and keep them on lockdown.

Update:  Here's another case.  Just give them masks!

Jane Faalataina’s son is among the 47 teens and young adults who have tested positive for COVID-19 inside the walls of California’s youth prisons. So far, his symptoms are minor, but he’s locked in an isolation unit inside a Stockton facility, and his studies are suffering, she said.

The state adult prison system has seen thousands of inmates released early as the coronavirus has surged through those institutions. Faalataina said she wonders why California isn’t willing to do the same for incarcerated youth offenders like her 20-year-old son.

There are around 775 teens and young adults in the facilities. Forty-seven inmates infected with COVID-19 represent 6% of the population.

Read more here:

Too Emotionally Unstable To Be A Teacher

I've been a teacher for over 20 years.  Yes, it can be a difficult job--so was being a manufacturing manager, so was being a sales coordinator, so was being an army officer.  You know what?  It's called work for a reason.

Yes, we teachers work in a petri dish.  If you're afraid of getting any of the cooties that are out in the world, perhaps you should wear an N95 mask when you go to work--no one will hold it against you.  But this emotional diarrhea is a bit much to take:

We are about to encounter a teacher mental health crisis of massive proportions. In the crucial conversation about how we make things right for our students — and we must — we cannot disregard the well-being of educators.

In this moment, our school leaders should be asking: What is being done to support the emotional needs of the teachers? Do they sleep well at night? Are they equipped with the psychological tools to return to an unfamiliar-looking building where they, in turn, are expected to be the emotional and academic cheerleaders for their students? What happens when, instead of getting the virus, we see educators experience anxiety, panic attacks, or stress-induced ailments? Do schools have the necessary supports in place to care for the mental health of its educators?

I would love to see our schools provide teachers with a mental health day, debriefings with counselors, dedicated meditation spaces, and “break cards” that teachers could use to call an administrator or a member of the support staff into their classroom — no questions asked — should they need time to recenter...

The most traumatic part for me is not whether or not we are in the physical school building; it is that students won’t be able to act like children and teachers won’t be able to act like educators — at least not in the traditional sense...

Teachers need your friendship, your love, and your encouragement now more than ever. They need to know that they are heard and that their fears are valid...

They also need to know that you will support them in whatever decisions they make. For some, returning to the classroom is going to be too much, and that is OK. Don’t crucify them for honoring their mental health...
Pray for teachers. Please pray for me. There’s a long road ahead, and we teachers need all the help we can get.
She needs more than a mental health day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Modern Struggle Sessions

I've made no secret of the fact that I despise communism and communists.  There are no redeeming qualities in the ideology or in those who hold it.

In 1984 we learned that freedom is "the freedom to say that two plus two makes four.  If that is granted, all else follows."  In the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Chain Of Command, Captain Picard is captured by a militaristic race, humiliated, tortured, and told to state that he saw five lights when he knew there were only four.

Compelling people to say what they know to be untrue is one method totalitarian organizations use to humiliate people into compliance.  In China under Mao this was done in what were called struggle sessions.  Today it's done under the guise of being "anti-racist", a doctrine that is actually pure racism and hatred.  Those of us who work for large organizations, including government, may soon be subjected to this if we haven't been already, and this author suggests a way to thwart the intent:

Of course, if you find yourself in one of these “training sessions,” you will quickly realize that the whole point is to humiliate you and force you to express loyalty to the approved orthodoxy. Suppose you think — as I do — that the progressive programs that are lately put forth as the solution to “systemic racism” are actually counterproductive and make the situation far worse for African Americans. Can you speak up against the insanity you are going through? Or will word immediately get back to your boss, and to your boss’s boss, that you are a “racist,” whereupon you will promptly be fired?

If you find yourself in one of these things, one strategy is of course to do your best to remain silent, or at least to say as little as possible. I can’t tell you not to follow this strategy. But if it were me, it would not be in my nature to just sit back and accept humiliating accusations of “racism” from people who are idiots and who are also themselves racists as I see it. What’s more, if everybody with a brain just remains silent and allows the totalitarians to proceed without pushback, we gradually — maybe rapidly — lose all of our freedom.

But then, anything you say may be quoted back against you. It’s a tricky situation.

Fortunately, the Manhattan Contrarian has a few handy tips should you find yourself required to show up for one or more of these sessions.

My first tip is, it is a mistake ever to make a declaratory statement of any kind, even “yes,” “no,” or “I understand.” So, if asked to assent to something, or to say something, what do you do? The answer is, always respond with a question. Also, there is no need for the question that you pose to have anything to do with the question that has been posed to you. In fact, the less related your question is to the thing you are being asked to concede, the better. You can also try to ask a question even if no question has been posed to you. The point here would be to try to divert the “trainer” off his or her prepared outline or script, and onto something that challenges their assumptions.

Here are a few questions I have come up with if you want to have some fun:

  • Are you a racist? (If no,) How do you know that? What facts do you base that on? (If yes,) So why don’t you stop being a racist?

  • Can you provide us with a complete list of all words and terminology that are now deemed racist and/or disrespectful so that we can stop using those words going forward? If you can’t give a complete list, how about 20 (or 30 or 40) examples?

  • Do all black lives matter? (Note: Don’t make the mistake of using the phrase “all lives matter,” even in a question. That will get you branded as a “racist.” The question of whether all black lives matter will be a new one on them.). Do the lives of approximately 6500 black men murdered by other black men each year matter more or less than the the lives of the far smaller number of blacks killed by police each year (under 300), let alone the number of unarmed black men killed by police each year (which is around 20 or fewer, although you can’t get a precise figure because the Washington Post data base only includes deaths by shooting)?

  • How do you explain the fact that Nigerian-Americans and Ghanaian-Americans have higher household median income than native-born white Americans?

  • Does the NBA — where average salaries are multiple millions per year and active players are about 75% black — have an obligation to make itself “look more like America”? If not, why not?

That should be enough to get you off to a good start.
My school district has issued a notice that indicates, at least to me, that Marxist BLM and other so-called anti-racist training is coming our way.  Anyone who knows me knows that I will not be silent.

Update, 7/30/20:  The struggle sessions are important because they divert attention from uncomfortable facts:
No state wears its multicultural veneer more ostentatiously than California. The Golden State’s leaders believe that they lead a progressive paradise, ushering in what theorists Laura Tyson and Lenny Mendonca call “a new progressive era.” Others see California as deserving of nationhood; it reflects, as a New York Times columnist put it, “the shared values of our increasingly tolerant and pluralistic society"...

Despite these progressive intentions, Hispanics and African-Americans—some 45 percent of California’s total population—fare worse in the state than almost anywhere nationwide. Based on cost-of-living estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, 28 percent of California’s African-Americans live in poverty, compared with 22 percent nationally. Fully one-third of Latinos, now the state’s largest ethnic group, live in poverty, compared with 21 percent outside the state. “For Latinos,” notes longtime political consultant Mike Madrid, “the California Dream is becoming an unattainable fantasy.”
Update #2, 7/30/20:  I will not be silent or neutral.  I myself do not support the Marxist ideals of the racist Black Lives Matter organization:
A group of students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign signed a letter of demands to the Federalist Society chapter at the university after the chapter stated it would remain neutral on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Note the following, which appears later in the article:  "there is only one, right, non-debatable stance: Black Lives Matter".  First, so much for diversity.  Second, the capital letters mean something, and I don't support that organization or its aims.

Remember that it was the Red Guards, students, who helped propel China's so-called Cultural Revolution.  I will fight them here.

Update #3, 7/30/20This article is exceptional and is very clear about the vocabulary so-called anti-racist trainers will use, and how you can use that same vocabulary to challenge their tenets.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Pay Raises? Probably Not.

California teachers will probably be waiting awhile for pay raises.  With education taking up about half the state budget, and with the state shuttering so many of its businesses and thus losing out on tax revenue, money's just not going to be there to fund education like normal.  And more and more of the money teachers and districts do get is going to CalSTRS, the State Teachers Retirement System:

This is the second consecutive year that CalSTRS missed its target, although last year’s performance — a 6.8% return — just barely fell short of the fund’s goal. Officials at the time cited market volatility as the driving force.

CalSTRS is the nation’s largest teacher pension fund, valued at $246.0 billion. It’s about 64% funded, meaning that the state has 64% of the money it needs to fulfill all current and future obligations.

CalSTRS since 2014 has been asking teachers and schools to pay more toward retirement plans in an effort to bring the system to full funding.

Teacher contribution rates have grown from 8.15% in 2014 — about the same rate as in 1972 — to just over 10% last year. In 2013, school districts paid 8.25% of salaries toward teachers’ pensions. Payments were scheduled to increase to around 19% in the upcoming year.

As the coronavirus outbreak introduced new costs and uncertainty about the future of education funding, five superintendents of major school districts in April asked the state to freeze their contributions at 2019 levels. CalSTRS said at the time that delayed contributions could threaten efforts to improve the system’s financial health.

All those anti-capitalist teachers out there should probably reflect on the fact that their retirement pay relies on the stock market.  After all, where do they think that $246 billion is invested?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Moving the Goalposts, Bending the Curve

Why do we need to stay 6 feet away from each other and wear masks?  When did both become a thing?  Because it certainly wasn't a thing during the first few months.

People are getting crazy about the 'rona.

What should I make of this comment?
"By staying home and practicing physical distancing, you’re helping bend the curve," California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Y. Angell tweeted when announcing the latest numbers on Tuesday.
What does "bend the curve" mean?  It used to mean "buy time for hospitals to prepare for an influx of patients", but now it seems to mean "panic about the virus, whether it kills anyone or not, until there's a vaccine." Is Dr. Angell just using a trite phrase without even thinking about what she means?  Because here in California, it doesn't seem that the first "bend the curve" definition has any meaning anymore.

I've been commenting on this topic for months now:
How did we go from “flatten the COVID-19 curve” to “shut up and wear the mask—or else” in just a few short months? Back in March, we were told that lockdowns were necessary to ensure COVID-19 cases would not overwhelm hospitals and, in particular, intensive-care units. In most parts of the country, hospitals were not only not overwhelmed, many were forced to lay off nurses and other employees because elective procedures were put on hold — a move that likely cost lives as people postponed health critical screenings and avoided going to the hospital when they had chest pains for fear of catching COVID-19.
But at the beginning of the pandemic, we were assured that once hospitals had things under control we could go back to our regularly scheduled lives, with the understanding that as things reopened and testing increased there would be a spike in the number of cases. Now it seems the goalposts are moving again and we’re being sent into further lockdown —in some cases more stringent lockdowns than before — by governors and other mini-tyrants who are in panic mode because people are catching a contagious (but not very deadly for most people) disease that is, you know, contagious.
Yep.  They operate out of fear.  But back to the article linked above:
So what is the goal at this point? Are we to wear masks until COVID is completely eradicated in the U.S.? Until we have zero cases? And once COVID is eradicated (it won’t be, but stick with me here), shouldn’t we continue to wear them until the flu is eradicated? And the common cold? Rotavirus? RSV? We’re being told that if we love our neighbors (and, by the way, you’re not a real Christian if you don’t’ want to wear a mask) we should be happy to wear a mask to protect them from COVID-19. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to continue to wear them until all contagions have been purged from the face of the earth—in other words, forever.

A "Person of Color" Challenges the Idea of White Privilege

I accept that there's "wealth privilege", but white privilege?  Nah, not in several decades.  This Sikh immigrant agrees:

The notion of white privilege stems from the idea that white people have benefited in American history relative to “people of color.” And it’s true that the institution of slavery and the following decades of anti-black dehumanization has a continuing impact today. A major 2013 study from Brandeis University found that 32 percent of the wealth gap between whites and blacks can be attributed to inherited wealth and length of homeownership, two factors linked to institutionalized racism. Meanwhile, Harvard economist Roland Fryer’s much-publicized study on racial bias in policing found that cops are 53 percent more likely to use physical force on black civilians compared to whites (his study, however, found no anti-black bias in fatal police shootings).

Because of facts like these, an emerging definition of white privilege is now being widely circulated on social media: “White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means your race isn’t one of the things that make it harder.”

And yet, this definition suffers from several shortcomings. For one, it ignores anti-Semitism — the second leading cause of hate crimes in America, according to the FBI. In addition, the growing demonization of whiteness now means that white people are no longer immune to racism. I can think of several instances where friends and colleagues have been racially targeted for being white and holding contrarian but intellectually defensible positions such as “we need to have generous, but reasonable limits on our immigration system” or even “I don’t think racial minorities are systematically oppressed in Western society today.”

And the concept of white privilege can’t explain why several historically marginalized groups out-perform whites today. Take Japanese Americans, for example: For nearly four decades in the 20th century (1913 – 1952), this group was legally prevented from owning land and property in over a dozen American states. Moreover, 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. But by 1959, the income disparity between Japanese Americans and white Americans nearly vanished. Today, Japanese Americans outperform whites by large margins in income statistics, education outcomes, test scores and incarceration rates...

According to median household income statistics from the US Census Bureau, several minority groups substantially out-earn whites. These groups include Pakistani Americans, Lebanese Americans, South African Americans, Filipino Americans, Sri Lankan Americans and Iranian Americans (in addition to several others). Indians, the group I belong to, are the highest-earning ethnic group the census keeps track of, with almost double the household median income of whites. In Canada, several minority groups also significantly out-earn whites, including South Asian Canadians, Arab Canadians and Japanese Canadians.

Interestingly, several black immigrant groups such as Nigerians, Barbadians, Ghanaians and Trinidadians & Tobagonians have a median household income well above the American average. Ghanian Americans, to take one example, earn more than several specific white groups such as Dutch Americans, French Americans, Polish Americans, British Americans and Russian Americans. Do Ghanaians have some kind of sub-Saharan African privilege?

Nigerian Americans, meanwhile, are one of the most educated groups in America, as one Rice University survey indicates. Though they make up less than 1 percent of the black population in America, nearly 25 percent of the black student body at Harvard Business School in 2013 consisted of Nigerians. In post-bachelor education, 61 percent of Nigerian Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree compared to only 32 percent for the US-born population.

These facts challenge the prevailing progressive notion that America’s institutions are built to universally favor whites and “oppress” minorities or blacks. On the whole, whatever “systemic racism” exists appears to be incredibly ineffectual, or even nonexistent, given the multitude of groups who consistently eclipse whites.

He nailed this part:

Writing this essay, I also have the immense privilege of being a person of color. I receive plentiful backlash for defending the positions I hold, but had I been a white person, I would have easily been demonized as “alt-right” or even a “white supremacist,” despite having average libertarian or classical liberal views on politics.

Go read the whole thing, and wait till you get to the end to see how old the author is.

Trip Videos

Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, ID

A coyote in Yellowstone

Bison in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring

Elk at Mammoth Hot Springs.  You're supposed to stay at least 25 yards from elk and bison--not everyone follows that safety rule.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Making Math Political

The old TV show Numb3rs hardest hit.

I don't believe that there is "systemic racism" in police departments, and the people supposedly helped by reducing police presence (i.e., poor black Americans) are the ones who tell you they want more police on the streets to protect them.  Ideas like this keep police from helping the vulnerable among us:

Several prominent academic mathematicians want to sever ties with police departments across the U.S., according to a letter submitted to Notices of the American Mathematical Society on June 15. The letter arrived weeks after widespread protests against police brutality, and has inspired over 1,500 other researchers to join the boycott.

These mathematicians are urging fellow researchers to stop all work related to predictive policing software, which broadly includes any data analytics tools that use historical data to help forecast future crime, potential offenders, and victims. The technology is supposed to use probability to help police departments tailor their neighborhood coverage so it puts officers in the right place at the right time.

"Given the structural racism and brutality in U.S. policing, we do not believe that mathematicians should be collaborating with police departments in this manner," the authors write in the letter. "It is simply too easy to create a 'scientific' veneer for racism. Please join us in committing to not collaborating with police. It is, at this moment, the very least we can do as a community."

I'm against police brutality in all forms.  In fact, I've had many debates with a cop friend of mine--I don't even want my small Northern California city to have the military surplus vehicle (an MRAP) that it has because of the potential for abuse.  But when using data to deter crime is a called a "'scientific' veneer for racism", you know that politics and not helping others has taken over.

That can include statistical or machine learning algorithms that rely on police records detailing the time, location, and nature of past crimes in a bid to predict if, when, where, and who may commit future infractions. In theory, this should help authorities use resources more wisely and spend more time policing certain neighborhoods that they think will yield higher crime rates.

Predictive policing is not the same thing as facial recognition technology, which is more often used after a crime is committed to attempt to identify a perpetrator. Police may use these technologies together, but they are fundamentally different.

I'm all for algorithms to help prevent crime and catch perpetrators, I'm against facial recognition technology.  The latter's potential for abuse is too high for my liking.

If the accuracy of the predictive policing models is low, then don't rely on it until it gets better.  But if the concern is not accuracy but the rather the racial results, then the problem isn't the mathematics.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

More Trip Pictures

Grand Prismatic Spring

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (River)

Campground setup in Ely, NV

There's not a lot to see in Ely itself, but I love this mural and the Hotel Nevada building:

Along Highway 50 just east of Fallon, NV, is the Grimes Point Archeological Area (and rest area).  I love seeing all the petroglyphs there.

Remarkable Videos

TV was so blurry at the time, and screens were so small, it's amazing anyone could tell what was going on at all while watching video from the surface of the moon.  Here are some "enhanced" videos, and they are remarkable:

A photo and film restoration specialist, who goes by the name of DutchSteamMachine, has worked some AI magic to enhance original Apollo film, creating strikingly clear and vivid video clips and images.

"I really wanted to provide an experience on this old footage that has not been seen before," he told Universe Today...

Motion interpolation or motion-compensated frame interpolation is a form of video processing in which intermediate animation frames are generated between existing ones, in an attempt to make the video more fluid, to compensate for blurriness, etc.

"People have used the same AI programs to bring old film recordings from the 1900s back to life, in high definition and colour," he said. "This technique seemed like a great thing to apply to much newer footage."

But you may not be able to try this at home. It takes a powerful, high-end GPU (with special cooling fans!). DutchSteamMachine said that a video of just 5 minutes can take anywhere from six to 20 hours to complete. But the results speak for themselves.

Travel in the Time of the 'Rona

In my little corner of California, there are plenty of people who are militant about wearing masks.  As I traveled through Nevada, it was just as bad.  The few stops I made in Idaho, no one seemed to care.  But cross into Montana, at least in West Yellowstone, and we were back to "mask nazis".

In Reno last night I walked into my favorite casino--and even with my mask on, the cigarette smoke hit me like a 2x4.  Now, the particulate matter comprising cigarette smoke is no doubt significantly larger than the 'rona virus, and it got through my mask without a problem.  Yes, I know that masks are supposed to protect others, not me, but I'm convinced that cooties can travel through a cloth mask in both directions.  And it amazes me how I can't get the 'rona if I'm eating, drinking, or smoking, but I can by playing a slot machine or walking from the front door of a restaurant to a table.

Of the many frustrating experiences I had, one stands out.  I was in the vicinity of Old Faithful,  it was warm out, and I wanted to refill my water bottle (which I got 4 years ago in Vulcan, AB, Canada).  There was a bottle refilling station in the gift shop, but I'd have to wait in line outside because they were only letting so many people in the gift shop at once--while wearing masks.  The line was long.  There was another filling station just outside the small restroom building across the street; it had a line, too, because it seemed clear the restrooms were being cleaned.

I walked up to the front of the line and said, "I don't need the restroom, I just want to fill my water bottle."  The response:  "We're sanitizing it right now, come back at 2:24 (it was 2:17 at the time)."  What did they do to the water bottle filler to "sanitize" it, run a Handy Wipe over the activation button?  Where did the "time until sanitized" come from?

It reminds me of one of the ideas floating around for opening school.  Half the kids would come to school on Monday and Tuesday, the other half would come to school Thursday and Friday.  Wednesday would be used for "deep cleaning".  What the heck is "deep cleaning"?  I'm trying to imagine the custodians at my school adding this "deep cleaning" to their repertoire.  I'd be surprised if they did anything other than rush through the classrooms with a can of Lysol, spraying all the desks.  Quickly.

Some people choose to freak out about the 'rona.  My position is clearly summed up in the picture here.

But it was nice to get out of the Sacramento Valley for a bit.

English Grammar

Read between the lines, and what you get is the racist belief that American blacks can't be educated to the level of other groups of Americans:
The English Department at Rutgers University recently announced a list of “anti-racist” directives and initiatives for the upcoming fall and spring semesters, including an effort to deemphasize traditional grammar rules...

One of the initiatives is described as “incorporating ‘critical grammar’ into our pedagogy"...

Under a so-called critical grammar pedagogy, “This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage,” the email states.

“Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them w/ regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents.”

Today's Progressives Are Just Like The Racists of the Past

If they knew any history, perhaps they'd see the parallels.

Made It Home!

One of the propane tanks is empty, and two of the trailer's 4 tires look low, but I've made it home!

After leaving Yellowstone I went to Ely, NV.  Why Ely?  Because I've driven through it a few times and wanted to spend some time in the town.  TBH, it doesn't take long to see the "sights" there.  But it was nice to sit outside in the campground, with a nice breeze blowing, and not have a care in the world.

Yesterday I drove to Reno, where I had dinner with an aunt and uncle.  A pilot friend of mine just happened to have a terminating flight into Reno just after noon today, so I spent last night in my trailer in the almost-empty parking lot of a big casino--almost empty, and last night was Saturday night.  My friend and I walked a little and had lunch, then I drove home.

The trailer's parked out front.  I emptied the frig/freezer and brought one or two other things in, the rest can wait till tomorrow.  I'm enjoying some air conditioning!

Monday, July 20, 2020

2 Trips Into Yellowstone So Far

The plan is to go in once more tomorrow, and then to have a "rest and visit the town" day before heading to my next location.  Here are a few pictures I've taken thus far:

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, ID

Now Yellowstone:

In addition to the bison and elk you see here, I've also seen deer, pronghorns, and a coyote.  No bears or wolves yet.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Blogging Will Be Light

The house is cared for, the trailer is connected and loaded, and tonight's planned stopover is here.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Schools Will Open Online

I tried to be positive in outlook, but yesterday the bad news became official:

Public school campuses in Sacramento County will remain closed when instruction resumes in the fall, leaving tens of thousands of families and teachers to begin planning for an extension of distance-learning programs.

The Sacramento County Office of Education, which oversees districts serving more than 250,000 students from kindergarten through high school, announced that its 13 districts will continue distance learning programs they implemented in the spring. The decision to close campuses was made by school officials.

“Conditions are not safe enough for students, staff and families to allow school to open up in person at this time,” said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dave Gordon...

Trustee Harold Fong said he was uncomfortable with the office’s plan to reopen classrooms.

“I am very uncomfortable with your decision to open up our community schools and other ones that we have control over either in a split format and then doing distance learning,” Fong told Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dave Gordon. “I would prefer you look at the recommendations of the California Teachers Association and the National Teachers and some of the medical people that we do distance learning as much as possible.”

Yes, because a teachers union is the best place to look for political advice--and let's be blunt, opening schools or not is a political decision.

I understand that my own district's school board is to meet today or tomorrow.  I wonder what they're going to say, now that the decision has been made for them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Cops and Race

First, some study results:

Looking at the data, the answer might actually be no. According to a 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, white officers are not more likely to shoot black civilians than black or Hispanic officers are. According to the study, there is “no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers. Instead, race-specific crime strongly predicts civilian race. This suggests that increasing diversity among officers by itself is unlikely to reduce racial disparity in police shootings.”

Other studies have reached similar conclusions, including a Harvard study that found no racial bias in police using deadly force, though there is some disparity when it comes to physical force. With regard to lethal force, however, no disparity exists.

That study, published several months before the race riots of this spring, was fine until a conservative quoted it:

Psychologists Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland say they stand behind their work, which concludes there was “no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by the police.” But they objected to its “misuse.” MacDonald cited the study in congressoinal testimony last September and again in an article for City Journal. But it wasn’t until her June 3 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that cited the study when there were “complications” on campus and outraged wokesters demanded that the profs be flogged — or something.

Here are two prominent black Americans discussing race and policing:

A Good Way To Live

A friend sent me this and said that Mother Teresa had it on the wall in Calcutta.  I fall short of it but aspire:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

if you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Talk About A Small Sample Size!

"4 out of 5 dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum."

If you're "of a certain age", you recognize that line as being from a Trident gum commercial.  I'm sure more than a few of us wondered how many dentists they surveyed, if that number was only 5, and if so, why the 5th dentist didn't recommend sugarless gum.  Some of us were critical thinkers before that was even a thing.

Here's another small sample size, agree with the doctors or not:

In an endorsement of the Trump administration’s bid to reopen schools next month, 5 out of 5 pediatricians said they would return their own young children without hesitation.

“Yes. Period. Absolutely,” Dr. William Raszka of Vermont told NBC’s Dr. John Torres in a report late Sunday...

“The five doctors we spoke to agreed: The benefits of being in the classroom far outweigh the risk of disease. But the key is to reopen safely,” said Torres...

When Torres asked the doctors if they would let their kids return, here’s what they said:

  • Dr. Yvonne Mondonado, California: “I would let my kids go back to school.”
  • Dr. Shilpa Patel, New Jersey: “I will, my kids are looking forward to it.”
  • Dr. William Raszka, Vermont: “Yes. Period. Absolutely.”
  • Dr. Jennifer Lighter, New York: “Absolutely, as much as I can. Without hesitation, yes.”
  • Dr. Buddy Creech, Tennessee: "I have no concerns about sending my child to school in the fall.”
Let's talk about confidence intervals.  When we use sample data to estimate a proportion (e.g., what is the true proportion of all pediatricians would would send their kids back to school?), we generate what's called a confidence interval.  When we generate what's called a "95% confidence interval", that means that our sampling is such that if we were to randomly sample our population (in this case, pediatricians) 100 times, 95 of the confidence intervals created would contain the true proportion that we're studying (in this case, the percentage of pediatricians who would send their kids back to school).  Using the data above, though, a 95% confidence interval would not be an interval at all--it would be the number 100%.  Thus, based on this small sample with a sample proportion of 100% (5/5), our confidence interval would be [100%, 100%].  This means that the true proportion of pediatricians who would send their kids back to school is between 100% and 100%--again, not much of an interval.  It's certainly not believable and is not an example of a good use of statistics.

I suggest a larger sample size!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What Is So Hard About Doing A Little Online Schoolwork?

Technology access was not a problem in this case.  It seems the only problem was the student's lack of doing what she was supposed to do:
The 15-year-old wasn't in trouble for fighting with her mother or stealing, the issues that had gotten her placed on probation in the first place.
She was incarcerated in May for violating her probation by not completing her online coursework when her school in Beverly Hills switched to remote learning...
By the time Grace turned 13, the arguments had escalated to the point that Charisse turned to the police for help several times when Grace yelled at or pushed her. She said she didn't know about other social services to call instead. In one incident, they argued over Grace taking her mother's iPhone charger; when police arrived, they discovered she had taken an iPad from her middle school without permission. At her mother's request, Grace entered a court diversion program in 2018 for "incorrigibility" and agreed to participate in counseling and not use electronic devices. She was released from the program early, her mother said...
(Judge) Brennan admonished Grace for the fights with her mother, her thefts at school and behaving in a way that required police to come to their home. "Police," she said. "Most people go through their entire youth without having the cops have to come to their house because they can't get themselves together."
But, citing the pandemic, Brennan decided not to remove Grace from her home and instead sentenced her to "intensive probation." The terms of the probation included a GPS tether, regular check-ins with a court caseworker, counseling, no phone and the use of the school laptop for educational purposes only. Grace also was required to do her schoolwork.
"I hope that she upholds her end of the bargain," Brennan said at the end of the hearing...
Days after the court hearing, on April 24, Grace's new caseworker, Rachel Giroux, made notes in her file that she was doing well: Grace had called to check in at 8:57 a.m.; she reported no issues at home and was getting ready to log in to do her schoolwork.
But by the start of the following week, Grace told Giroux she felt overwhelmed. She had forgotten to plug in her computer and her alarm didn't go off, so she overslept. She felt anxious about the probation requirements. Charisse, feeling overwhelmed as well, confided in the caseworker that Grace had been staying up late to make food and going on the internet, then sleeping in. She said she was setting up a schedule for Grace and putting a desk in the living room where she could watch her work.
"Worker told mother that child is not going to be perfect and that teenagers aren't always easy to work with but you have to give them the opportunity to change," according to the case progress notes. "Child needs time to adjust to this new normal of being on probation and doing work from home."
Five days later, after calling Charisse and learning that Grace had fallen back to sleep after her morning caseworker check-in, Giroux filed a violation of probation against her for not doing her schoolwork.
Giroux told the prosecutor she planned to ask the judge to detain Grace because she "clearly doesn't want to abide by the rules in the community," according to the case notes...
Grace's teacher, Katherine Tarpeh, responded in an email to Giroux that the teenager was "not out of alignment with most of my other students"...
Grace and her mother testified that she was handling her schoolwork more responsibly — and that she had permission to turn in her assignments at her own pace, as long as she finished by the end of the semester. And, Charisse said, Grace was behaving and not causing her any physical harm.  ("[N]ot causing...any physical harm" is a pretty low standard--Darren)
The transition to virtual school had been difficult, Grace testified, but she said she was making progress. "I just needed time to adjust to the schedule that my mom had prepared for me," she said.
Brennan was unconvinced. Grace's probation, she told her, was "zero tolerance, for lack of a better term."
She sent her to detention. Grace was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
After another hearing:
At the hearing, both Grace and her mother pleaded with the judge to return her home. "I will be respectful and obedient to my mom and all other people with authority," Grace said. "I beg for your mercy to return me home to my mom and my responsibilities."
The judge, however, sided with the caseworker. They agreed that Grace should stay at the Children's Village not as punishment, but to get treatment and services. She ordered her to remain there and set a hearing to review the case for Sept. 8. By then, it will be a week into the new school year...
She has since been transferred to a long-term treatment program, where she has a bit more freedom. Still, she tells her mother, it's difficult to think about what she's missing.
"Everyone is moving past me now and I'm just here," she said during the Zoom call.
The caseworker, listening, tried to be encouraging. "You are doing very well right now," she said. "Whatever happens, it looks good. You are respectful, you are following the rules."
Toughlove?  A valuable lesson?  Does the fact that she's in Special Education mitigate her crimes and require kid gloves?  Would it really have been so hard to go to bed at 10pm and get up in time for classes?  Do we accept too many excuses from people who claim it is too hard?  Can the answer to some of these be "yes" and the punishment still be excessive?

I'd have much emptier classes if kids who didn't do their schoolwork got locked up--but my students usually don't have the additional baggage that "Grace" had, either.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Hate Crimes Hoaxes

If you have to fake a so-called hate crime, that tells me that the supply of hate crimes doesn't meet the demand--in other words, we're doing far better than the left wants you to believe.

Reddit has banned a forum dedicated to exposing hate crime hoaxes, while this article describes entirely too many such hoaxes that have been perpetrated just since President Trump was elected. 

If that last link wasn't recent enough for you, here's an article from last week:
While those protests were at their height and media glare focused on the university, a 21-year-old A&M senior reported to campus police that someone had placed racist notes on the windshield of his car.

The university was quick to respond with an investigation and a promise to identify the culprit.

Investigators say they have found the perp and ripped off the mask...

They got him via video from a security camera at a swimming pool in the area...

Martin has defended himself on social media but he has also announced he’s no longer speaking with police.
Are such people any different than those who commit genuine "hate crimes"?

Amazing Engineering

I'm not going to judge practicality, but the video of these "folding buildings" is way cool.

I wonder if they could be used for "cabins" out in the woods--packed up tight when unoccupied, but spread out to all their glory for use?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

How Do You Minimize/Prevent Cheating In Online Classes?

Is this cure worse than the disease?

As schools have moved online due to the coronavirus, they have partnered with proctoring services to monitor online exams and prevent cheating. Those services go by names such as Respondus LockDown, ProctorU, Proctorio, and Examity, among others. What gets overlooked as the contracts are signed, however, is student privacy.

Forbes compared such proctoring measures to “spyware.” Chris Dayley of Utah State University, for example, “described the software with a laugh as ‘sort of like spyware that we just legitimize” in The Washington Post. College administrators, the Post noted, defend the software because “it’s a crisis situation. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

But do desperate times really justify breaching the privacy of millions of college students? Maintaining academic integrity is important in higher education, but the extent that these proctoring services go is beyond typical anti-cheating measures.

The Washington Post detailed the experience of a sick student at the University of Florida. She asked permission to vomit and, with no bathroom breaks permitted, remained in her seat in front of the camera, waiting to clean herself up until after she finished the test and logged off.

The invasive software that uses live proctors to “ensure test-takers abide by a strict set of rules” is the most concerning practice.

I'm sort of at a loss.

Universities are in a better position than K-12 teachers are, because universities can expect a certain level of technology access.  Perhaps a professor could give a test at a specific time, students would log into software that tracks IP address and relative location, and students would have to scan/send all paper work (I'm thinking math tests here) to the instructor within 10 minutes of the end of the test?  That would be something.

In K-12, we're screwed.  Cheating occurs like the sunrise, and we hand out grades like candy.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

If It's Free, Maybe I'll Go. Otherwise, Probably Not.

Seems like a strange idea to me, but it's his money to do with as he pleases:
Reed Hastings, co-founder of Netflix, made headlines a few weeks ago when his most recent purchase came to light. Although the info was spread across regular news sites, those of us in education are perhaps even more interested. According to an article by Vox, Hastings purchased 2,100 acres of land in Colorado that will be used solely as an educator and teacher retreat center, called Retreat Land at Lone Rock...

Details are nil—Amy Dee, a former Netflix real estate executive, stated in an email that she is not ready to share any specific details at the moment and to reach out near the end of the year or early next year. Various articles, however, have stated that the retreat center will be used for teachers, principals, and nonprofit heads and will be available to both public school and charter schools. It will house about 30 teachers at a time and is set to open in the spring of 2021. According to an original permit application for the center, the property will have cabins, meeting rooms, a spa with hot tubs and saunas, a lodge with a wine cellar and yoga deck, as well as trails on the property.

Why Would Government Care Whether Their Employees Are Unionized Or Not?

Freedom Foundation Sues San Bernardino County Over Information Request Denial

Under California’s Public Records Act, public agencies have an obligation to honor every document request unless there is a specific exemption in state law for the information being sought. And the burden of proof is on the agency to justify any refusal to comply.

But a lawsuit filed on Monday accuses San Bernardino County of systematically refusing to hand over contact information about public employees because it knows the group making the request is on a mission to inform the workers about a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognizes their right to opt out of union membership, dues and fees.

“Public records laws exist to ensure government agencies are transparent and accountable,” said Shella Sadovnik, an attorney with the Freedom Foundation, which has been trying to obtain the documents since March 12. “They were not created to protect the monopoly labor unions have traditionally enjoyed in the public workplace.”

The Freedom Foundation, with offices in California, Oregon, Washington, Ohio and Pennsylvania,  has a vigorous outreach program whose goal is to educate government employees about Janus v. AFSCME, a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling affirming that compulsory support of a labor union — whether through member dues or so-called “agency fees” charged to nonmembers — is a violation of the First Amendment.

But in order to inform the workers, the Freedom Foundation must first know who they are and how to reach them.

Basic contact information — such as the worker’s full name, birthdate, work email, etc. — has always been public, since the employees are paid by state taxes. In fact, it was readily provided to the unions, who use it for organizing purposes.

But in the wake of Janus, the unions stand to lose billions in dues revenues if public employees suddenly realize membership and dues are now voluntary. Consequently, they’re exerting considerable pressure on public agencies to deny workers’ contact information to organizations like the Freedom Foundation, which hope to spread a message that unions don’t want their members to hear.

In the San Bernardino lawsuit, county personnel officials responded to the Freedom Foundation information request by insisting they do not maintain records of which employees are represented by a union — even though the state deducts dues from the workers’ paychecks and forwards the money to their respective union.

Further, the county asserts:

  • the records fall under a public-interest exemption;
  • the disclosure of contact details would constitute an unwarranted invasion of the workers’ personal privacy; and,
  • it could expose workers to safety concerns.

“All of their objections are bogus,” Sadovnik said.

“First, the burden is on the public agency to show the public’s need for nondisclosure,” she explained. “The county has provided no such reason. Further, the Freedom Foundation is not seeking personnel, medical or private employee files, so the privacy concerns are inapplicable in this case. Nor are there any safety issues when you’re providing already-public information.”

The lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino Superior Court, lists San Bernardino County as the lone defendant and seeks release of the requested documents plus a declaration from the county admitting it erred in withholding them.

A similar lawsuit was filed May 12 by the Freedom Foundation in Sacramento Superior Court against CalHR, and the state of California to obtain publicly disclosable information — under the California Public Records Act.

“Public records laws assume everything a government does is open to scrutiny unless there’s a good reason it shouldn’t be,” Sadovnik said. “Keeping government employees in the dark about their rights so their union can continue to plunder their paychecks isn’t a good reason.”

Friday, July 10, 2020

Why Education Is So Important

Education is important to the national economy and national security:

While some former US military leaders have had offered witty one-liners when asked which national security threat keeps them up at night, one former commander had an unconventional answer: "K-12 education."

Retired Adm. William McRaven, a former US Navy SEAL commander and head of US Special Operations Command, said he was "the biggest fan" of the younger generation of Americans and that education in grade school played a broader role in national security...

"So we have got to have an education system within the United States that really does teach and educate young men and women to think critically, to look outside their kind of small microcosm because if we don't develop those great folks, then our national security in the long run may be in jeopardy," McRaven added.

McRaven recommended the US develop a "culture of education" within communities, particular those where residents believe they cannot afford an education or where they think their children aren't "smart enough."

Read the whole thing.

The True Believers Don't Like To Hear Things Like This

Author and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson told "The Story" Thursday that he believes "there is very, very little evidence that masks work to slow the community transition" of coronavirus "or any respiratory virus."

"Until this year, if you look at the recommendations that the CDC and other places made about pandemics, they do not encourage the wearing of masks," he told host Trace Gallagher. "I don't know what has changed in the science -- I'm talking about [wearing masks] outside, I'm talking about community wearing by well people, universal masking. I don't know what has changed."

Oh, we all know what has changed.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

School In The Time of the 'Rona

There are some teachers unions that are living by the maxim that you should never let a crisis go to waste:

Ingraham quoted Fairfax Education Association head Kimberly Adams, who said over the weekend that "a vaccination or a widely available treatment for COVID-19 is necessary before a full return to in person instruction can be achieved safely."

"Hey, news flash again," Ingraham responded. "Anthony Fauci has to admit we might not ever have a vaccine. So should kids just be kept out of school forever? This is ludicrous."

The federal government wants schools to open normally--but, given our system of federalism, they can't really enforce it:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Tuesday that her department is "seriously considering" withholding federal funding from school districts that do not make a honest effort to bring students back for in-person classes this fall.

"We are looking at this very seriously, this is a very serious issue across the country," DeVos told host Tucker Carlson. "Kids have got to continue learning and schools have got to open up. There's got to be a concerted effort to address the needs of all kids, and adults who are fearmongering and making excuses simply have to stop doing it and turn their attention to what is right for students and for their families."

The arbitrary rules that some states want to enforce on schools are impractical or worse:

“Mandated masks, as well as rigid and arbitrary rules and requirements regarding the use and location of their bodies, will serve to dehumanize, disconnect, and intimidate students,” Cohen told me in a recent interview.

One of our vice principals today told me that there's talk of making our school hallways one-way, like some grocery stores have done with their aisles.  Can anyone show me even a shred of a study that supports doing that?  Does it prevent the 'rona?  Or is it one of those "we've got to look like we're doing something" actions which politicians are famous for?

This is a land of confusion.

Too Many People Are Comfortable In Their Fear

This rings true to me.  Too many people are comfortable in their fear and in their totalitarian impulses:

Right now, as I try as a science journalist to document the real scope of the COVID-19 epidemic, I am discovering a remarkable phenomenon. No one wants to hear any good news about the virus.

When I reported, at the beginning of this epidemic, that the early data suggested that (at worse) it will have a manageable mortality rate, not much higher than the flu, and like the flu that mortality will mostly be limited to the elderly sick, few people wanted to hear. “It is deadly! We have to extend the lock downs! We have to social distance! We can’t get near each other!”

When I reported, more recently, that this early data has turned out to be mostly right, and that this virus is not the plague that these fear-mongers have claimed, even fewer people wanted to hear. “How dare you minimize the threat!? It is deadly! We need to wear masks! We need to shut down society! We can’t return to normal!”

When I reported that the science of masks is uncertain at best, and quite possibly harmful to the wearer, far too many people continued to have their fingers in their ears. “How dare you disrespect the fears of others?! So you want me to die, do you? How dare you question the authority of those telling you do something!?”

When I reported that the death rate is finally dropping to very reasonable levels even as the number of detected infections skyrocket, which further proves the virus’s low mortality rate while showing its relative harmlessness to almost the entire population, the fingers in the ears seem to get stuffed even tighter. “Quiet! You will make people stop taking this disease seriously! More people will die! Shut up!

...What I think is happening now is that many people have been emotionally captured by their fear of COVID-19. They have been convinced, on a gut visceral level, that it is very dangerous to everyone, and to reject this conclusion means they have to let go of their fear and resume life with the kind of nonchalant courage that was once taken for granted. We didn’t cringe in fear in our homes over the flu, the measles, the Hong Kong flu, pneumonia, or any number of other infectious diseases that are as dangerous, if not more so. We accepted that risk so that we could live our lives freely and boldly, even if that meant taking on a risk we could not control.

I am finding that too many people simply can’t do this anymore. Their emotional fear controls them, and they can’t let go of it to take a breath and process new data that contradicts that fear...

Fear kills the mind. It makes rational thought impossible. And right now too many Americans are paralyzed with fear, of COVID-19, of Black Lives Matter, of Antifa, of all kinds of bigoted fascist thugs. They have let their fear take control of them.

If we wish to remain “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” we need to let go of that fear. We need to be brave again, in order to be free.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

He Loved His Country

All I know about Charlie Daniels is that he played music and loved his country.  He died yesterday.

"This lady may have stumbled, but she ain't never failed.  And if our enemies don't believe that they can all go straight to Hell."

All enemies, foreign and domestic.

Monday, July 06, 2020

The Modern Cultural Revolution

Written by the child of a man who suffered during Mao's Cultural Revolution:

As they say, history rhymes but does not repeat itself. There are a few notable differences between the Cultural Revolution and today’s protest movement. For one thing, the levers of political power in the US and the UK are still in the hands of conservatives, and President Trump hasn’t been shy in using the might of the American state against the protestors.

But no historical analogy is ever perfect, and to seek exactitude over verisimilitude is to miss the point. There are differences, yes, but when it comes to fundamentals, the two moments have much in common.

For instance, the Red Guards of 1968 often came from privileged backgrounds. The first groups emerged from the elite high schools and universities in Beijing and belonged to the generation that had been born immediately after the Communist takeover in 1949. Raised on stories of revolutionary heroism and bitterly disappointed at the fact they had missed their chance to display their Red credentials.

Hence, when Mao Zedong, for reasons of internecine party warfare, decided to claim — absurdly — that the Communist Party was filled with bourgeois counter-revolutionaries, the young students saw their chance to achieve revolutionary greatness. The Red Guards thus went out, seeking to root out imaginary class enemies from within.

Similarly, today’s revolutionary vanguard is also made up of young, well-educated people, a disproportionate number hailing from elite educational institutions and working within elite professions. They grew up at a time of unprecedented progress in race relations, but it meant the main action was already over when they were coming of age.

Thus, the idea that elite Anglo-American institutions are filled with closeted racists, absurd though it is to anyone who has worked in them, became an article of faith overnight. Whether it is in newsrooms, universities or progressive advocacy groups, the hunt for secret racists gives these would-be Selma marchers a sense of purpose.

Then as now, the initial response from the establishment was largely positive. After all, the cause they were asked to endorse was a worthy one, and any excesses could be dismissed as unrepresentative youthful zeal. Were they not simply seeking a better country, a better world? But the initial indulgence would soon backfire, as the movement spiralled outside of their control. Mobs have a logic of their own, and soon the legacy elites found they could no longer exert any control over the crowds they had cheered on.

Eventually, the movement’s slogans make their way downstream to non-elite institutions and popular discourse. In due course, no entity, however remote from the issue at hand, could refuse to make public statements in support of the movement. In China, no book, be it about astronomy or sewing patterns, could fail to contain an introduction with fulsome praise for Chairman Mao, complete with quotations from his collected works. Similarly, today businesses selling anything from teabags to maths degrees feel the need to bend the metaphorical knee to the protesters.

The destruction of the old elite naturally creates opportunities for new ones. Indeed sometimes, the young would-be elites don’t even bother to hide their aims in ousting the old guard. At the Poetry Foundation, which sits on a pot of $250 million, the leadership was overthrown by a group of poets and assorted hangers-on who, in an open letter, called for the redistribution of the endowment to “those whose labor amassed those funds”, namely themselves. In China, meanwhile, Red Guards eventually took over the whole government, kicked out officials from their offices and put themselves in charge.

And there is of course the blatant denial of reality, the constant gaslighting which almost seems designed to ferret out people with any sanity left. In the midst of a global pandemic, thousands of epidemiologists and health scientists signed an open letter claiming that protesting took precedence over disease control. Even there lies a parallel: during the Cultural Revolution, marauding Red Guards created a cerebrospinal meningitis pandemic which killed 160,000 people. Then as now, making revolution trumped public health...

In America, students aren’t beating their teachers to death yet, as they did in 1960s China. But university students have for some time been cancelling professors who refuse to toe the line on BLM. In high schools, students have set up social media accounts dedicated to exposing classmates guilty of wrong-think. In the casual words of Mx Anamika Arya, a 16-year old leading one such effort, “I don’t want people like that to keep getting jobs”.

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.