Saturday, October 31, 2020

These 12 Graphs Show Mask Mandates Do Nothing To Stop COVID

 The complete article is here.  Here are some of the graphs:

Go read the article and see all the graphs.

I don't need to be a "medical professional" to analyze numbers and know that masks are useless against viruses--especially when such is stated on the boxes of the masks so many people buy and wear!  As I've said before:  Science would indicate that you should believe the data, not your intuition.

Oh, and here's more data.

Electric Cars

In the green Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia, if the wind doesn't blow, there's no electricity.  If the wind blows too much, there's no electricity.  If the sun doesn't shine, there's no electricity.  If the sun shines too much, there's no electricity.

But we're going to ban internal combustion engine cars.  

So, about those electric cars:


Where does the electricity for those electric cars come from, anyway?  It's certainly not from nuclear plants.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Appropriate For The Weekend

I am a grading demon.  

Before I left work today I was able to finish grading all the quizzes I gave on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  I come home from work today completely caught up--until next week.

But I'm going to enjoy the feeling while it lasts!  We teachers don't get to feel like this often.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Pasta Feed

 Each year our school's cheerleaders have a fundraising "pasta feed".  If I remember the story correctly, the owner of the Old Spaghetti Factory is either a cheerleading alum, or his/her daughter is, so they donate lots of food and our cheerleaders serve it up.

Doesn't work that way in the era of the 'rona.

Today we ordered from a local restaurant, which kicked part of the receipt over to our cheerleaders.  We had to go to the restaurant to pick up our orders (OSF is too far away from school), where we were met by cheerleaders who welcomed us and ran in to get our orders.

Then we headed back to school.  One teacher went to the store and picked up some tiramisu and some flavored Pelligrinos, and we tailgated in the parking lot at school.

Fun way to spend a late afternoon--a "preevening", as Sheldon once called it on Big Bang Theory.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Latest Quiz

The most recent test isn't due until Friday night, but my instructor has already posted another quiz!

Fortunately I turned in the test a day or so ago, and I finished the quiz tonight.  I'll look it over for errors over the next couple days, and then turn it in early.

I don't know why he's doing this, but test/quiz directions now say to show all work "as shown in class".  He knows that 2 of us in the class are math teachers, and the other teacher currently teaches calculus.  I'm in the course for a review, as it's been 35 years since I've been in a calculus class--but I have to do everything exactly his way, including his formatting?  That's not cool.  He should be able to look at my work, see if it's mathematically valid or not, and grade it accordingly.  But he's the instructor *sigh*

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Reactions To Our Newest Supreme Court Justice

Democrats now want to pack the court because Barrett is a justice.  When will they learn that their short-term victories lead to longer-term losses?

Then there's the issue of press bias.  If you don't see any difference in these two headlines, you are part of the problem:


And if you need any more evidence that the American Left is divorced from reality:

Seen on Facebook: “Black man swears in woman appointed by racist misogynist.”

Sunday, October 25, 2020

This Season's First Bowl Bid

I don't know when the last time Army played a PAC-12 opponent was, but I know when the next time will be:

Army has accepted an invitation to the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, becoming the first team to secure a bowl bid this season, according to a news release Saturday.

It will be the Black Knights' first trip to Shreveport, Louisiana, since 1996. Army will face an opponent from the Pac-12, which begins its truncated season on Nov. 7.

Army is currently 6-1 (against some perennial football powerhouses, don't forget!) and is currently ranked 25th.  The ranked PAC-12 teams are #15 Oregon and #20 USC, neither of which has played yet.

Also, for the first time since WW2, the Army-Navy Game will be held at West Point.  While it has been played in a few other cities, it is most often held in Philadelphia.

When An Unstoppable Force Meets An Immovable Object

 Something's got to give.  It was almost her own psyche.

Joanne has the story of an autistic woman who, upon entering Stanford, swallowed the woke victimhood Kool-aid hook, line, and sinker (to mix some metaphors).  In her own words, she became a zealot.  

In her first year at Stanford, which was “centering the marginalized,” Wallace dedicated herself to fighting systemic ableism, which she believed threatened the lives of disabled people.

Then came a competing zealotry.  Which one would win out?

Black Lives Matter ended her obsessive victimhood, writes Wallace. Instead, she spiraled into “self-loathing,” crippled by racial guilt.

Fortunately she was able to come back from the brink:

A friend sent her a link to James Lindsay’s anti-woke site, New Discourses. She started reading dissident ideas and questioning her beliefs. Wallace moved away from autism advocacy. “I could no longer ignore the fact that my obsession with justice hadn’t made me a good advocate; it had made me unbearable,” she writes.

Good Lord, how many people today need to read and consider the implications of that last sentence?

Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Next Calculus Test

 At about noon yesterday I received an email that my calculus instructor had posted a new test.  This one is "only" 10 pages long, and is due no later than Thursday night.  Sheesh.

Friday, October 23, 2020


Photomath is a very cool app--you hold your phone over a math problem, the app reads the problem, and then it gives you a step-by-step solution as to how to solve the problem.  That's great in some contexts, it's absolutely dismal if you're a teacher trying to determine if a student knows how to solve a math problem.

The last test in one of my classes had such obvious rampant cheating that I sent an email to all the parents.  Of the half-dozen responses I got, all were supportive of my efforts to keep the testing as clean as possible.  I was very pleased to get those responses.

But what about the next test?

I took out the test yesterday and used Photomath on all the applicable problems.  Seeing how Photomath solved a problem told me how to alter the problem so that using Photomath was useless.  And I did this to all but the word problems.

I learned that sometimes Photomath glitches. It writes some things "goofy", or it makes an outright mistake.  I opted not to change those problems--if I see student work that looks "goofy", or makes the same error as Photomath makes, I'll consider that strong evidence of cheating.

For all intents and purposes, I have de-Photomath-ified the test.

I don't believe in trying to trap students in mistakes.  Prior to the test I'll notify their parents about what I've done.  I'll explain what I did above, letting them know that I'm being vigilant in ensuring as much academic integrity as I can.  I'll also ask them to supervise their student's test-taking as much as is practicable.

We'll see how it turns out.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Unicorn Sighting: A University President With A Spine

Every once in awhile you find a university president who shows some fortitude, who speaks about the values that our universities used to promote.  He doesn't pussy-foot around:

Northwestern firmly supports vigorous debate and the free expression of ideas — abiding principles that are fundamental for our University. We encourage members of our community to find meaningful ways to get involved and advocate for causes they believe in — and to do so safely and peacefully. The University protects the right to protest, but we do not condone breaking the law.

What started as peaceful protests have recently grown into expressions that have been anything but peaceful or productive. Crowds blocked the streets of downtown Evanston and nearby residential areas, disrupting businesses and local families, defacing property and violating laws and University standards. Some of the instigators appear not to be Northwestern students at all, but rather outside activists.

While the protesters claim that they are just trying to get our attention, that is simply not true. Several administrators — including our Provost, Deans, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Presidents for Research and Student Affairs — have held numerous discussions with concerned students, faculty and staff, and I am participating in a community dialogue tomorrow evening that was scheduled weeks ago.

Events in recent days seem to indicate an intent by organizers to escalate matters, and to provoke NUPD into retaliation.

I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the overstepping of the protesters. They have no right to menace members of our academic and surrounding communities. When students and other participants are vandalizing property, lighting fires and spray-painting phrases such as “kill the pigs,” we have moved well past legitimate forms of free speech.

I've long disagreed with the "emanations and penumbras" that equate actions to "symbolic" speech. Vandalism isn't speech, and good on Morton Shapiro for saying as much.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Changes To My Teaching

 I've been in this business for over 20 years, but every once in awhile I still come across some technique that I think is valuable enough to add to my teaching repertoire.  Last weekend i came across such a technique on Instagram, of all places.

Often, when covering new material, I'll periodically ask, "Are there any questions?"  Often I'm met with silence, so I move on.  I know in my heart that's not the best course of action, but I do it because I didn't have an alternative.

I switched to, "What questions do you have?"  Almost as often I would still be met with silence.

Now I say, "We'll move on after I answer two questions from you."  For whatever reason, that wording causes students to ask clarifying questions.  I don't know why, but it does.

Yes, someone could ask, "What's your favorite color?"  I'd answer the question but then redirect:  "I still need two questions about this material", implying that I'd implied that the questions must be about what we're learning.  :-)

At the very least, there is much less awkward silence during our online instruction.  At the most, it's driving students to seek a better understanding of what we're learning.  Win-win!  Now I just need to do it enough times to make it part of my teaching habit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

You've Heard of the "Freshman 15"?

Well I've gained the COVID 19.  At least.

Put on a pair of jeans today that I hadn't worn since school closed back in March.  I'd like to believe that not wearing them caused the waistline to shrink, a lot, but I'm guessing that's probably not what happened.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Update on Cheating

Have I written before about the massive cheating that took place on my last pre-calculus test?  It was so bad, and so obvious, that I sent an email to all the parents in the class letting them know what had happened and suggesting that they go over their child's test with the child.  I told them the three problems that I thought had extremely strong evidence of cheating (by large numbers of students in the class, but I didn't call anyone out in particular) and suggested that if they saw comments on those three problems that they might consider discussing the issue with their kids.

I've received more than a handful of replies from parents and students since those emails went out.  Every single response from the parents has been laudatory, thanking me for having high standards, for caring enough to notify them, for caring about integrity, for being diligent enough to catch cheating.  A couple students didn't follow instructions (show all work) but, in a private Zoom meeting, explained their rationale for not showing some work, and their explanations created enough reasonable doubt that I restored the points I took off.  One or two students still insist they didn't cheat but cannot explain how they got the answers they did.

This morning when I got to work, an email was waiting for me.  One student completely owned up to cheating, apologized, said that cheating wasn't "him" and that that wasn't the kind of person he wanted to be.  Etc., etc., etc.  If his email wasn't from the heart, it was still thorough.

There is some graffiti (a graffito) on the door to our long-since-gone auto shop:  You are more than your mistakes.  That really speaks to me.  Cheating once is a mistake, more than that is a pattern and might be indicative of what kind of person you are.  The author of this morning's email seemed sincere in wanting to keep it at the "mistake" level, and I hope he does.

Other teachers may sigh and look away from cheating, I grab my sword and flag and rush up that hill.

Update:  If you're wondering what I'm going to do to make it harder for students to cheat on a math test at home with no supervision, I don't want to give away my plans here--but yes, absolutely, I'm going to modify future tests to make them significantly harder to cheat on.  And no, I don't usually just give "problems" that can be solved with the Photomath app--but I catch those.  And I catch help, too.  Given the material I teach, I'm coming up with ways to nullify the effectiveness of these tools, which will make cheating even easier to catch.

It's a technological arms race!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Some Teachers Are Idiots

 I implied in a post earlier today that I don't believe for a second that most, or even many, of America's teachers are racists.  Many of them are, however, blatantly anti-conservative, and that causes some of them to do really stupid things.  Oh look, here's an example:

Take, for example, a woman who was teaching a seventh-grade class for O'Maley Innovation Middle School in Gloucester, Massachusetts...

"The teacher asked, 'Who supports Donald Trump?'" Jackson recalled to WHDH-TV. "And I was the only one to raise my hand."

He noted to WBZ that "a few kids were going to raise their hands, but then they heard the teacher say to me, 'Oh Mr. Jackson, I thought I liked you.'"

It got worse.

"Then she asked why I support a racist and a pedophile," he noted to WHDH.

Jackson added to the station that "she also said, 'I am ashamed of any woman who voted for Donald Trump,' and I told her my mom and one of my grandmothers voted for Donald Trump."

Other kids in the class smelled blood — and apparently his teacher did, too.

"I was just upset because other kids in the class were ganging up on me, laughing at me, and she was laughing and wouldn't say anything to them," Jackson noted to WHDH.

I'll bet this teacher would claim she strongly opposes bullying, too, but let's continue:

Once Jackson's family found out what went down in his class, they fought back.

They contacted a First Amendment attorney and asked the school for an apology, WBZ said — and got one.

Jackson told WHDH that the teacher later apologized to him in front of the entire class, and he said that helped...

Gloucester Public Schools Superintendent Ben Lummis told WHDH he was disappointed after first hearing about the incident.

When teachers act like this, it makes us all look bad.  


My Duty Is Almost Complete


I need to go to the post office tomorrow, so I'll drop this off then at the dropbox at my local City Hall, which is right next to the post office.  At that time my duty in this election will be complete.

The top right area I cut out in the photo above is my ballot tracking information.  I have signed up at the WheresMyBallot web site so I will know when it is received by our election officials.  Here's part of what that site shows so far:

Update, 10/19/20:  Duty complete for the next two years:


Update #2, 10/21/20:  No change yet at .

Update #3, 10/22/20:  I got an email notification today:  "This is a message from Sacramento County Elections. Your ballot for the 2020 General Election was received and will be counted. Thank you for voting!"

Paternalistic Racism

Happenings like this, while occurring more frequently, are still so shocking that they never fail to surprise me:

“This is part of our honest reckoning as a school district,” says SDUSD Vice President Richard Barrera. “If we’re actually going to be an anti-racist school district, we have to confront practices like this that have gone on for years and years.”

Here's my favorite of the changes:

Academic grades will now focus on mastery of the material, not a yearly average, which board members say penalizes students who get a slow start, or who struggle at points throughout the year.


I've always enjoyed that "slow start" argument.  Can anyone show me any data demonstrating that "slow starts" are the reason students fail?  I thought not.

I didn't do it this year, what with the distance teaching and all, but in other years I've always given my students the option of having the final exam be 100% of their semester grade.  That way, students who "take a little longer" will have the rest of the semester to master the material.  Don't do any homework?  No problem!  Didn't have time to prepare for a chapter test?  No problem!  Just be ready by December if it's first semester or June if it's second semester.  

This would be only about content knowledge, mastering the material.  Maybe you didn't know it in October for the quiz, but you know it now, that's what counts, right?

Never has a single student ever taken me up on this offer.  Do you wonder why that is?  Me either.  The "slow start" argument is a non-starter with me.

My favorite part of the article, though, pertains not to the changes being made but to the reason they're being made:

According to data presented by the district, under the old grading system, teachers fail minority students more than White students – a lot more.  (boldface mine--Darren)

During the first semester of last year, 30% of all D or F grades were given to English learners. One in four, 25%, of failing marks went to students with disabilities.

By ethnicity, 23% went to Native Americans. Another 23% of failing grades went to Hispanics. And 20% of D or F grades went to Black students.

By comparison, just 7% of failing marks went to White students.

Let's skip, for a minute, the racial makeup of this school district.  It doesn't matter to me if those numbers seem out-of-whack or not.  Look at what's boldfaced.

Teachers are failing students.  Teachers, so often referred to as "heroes" in other contexts, are blatantly racist.  These people to whom you entrust your children every day are racists.  They don't care about black- or brown-skinned kids (but for some unexplained reason they're OK with Asians), they fail these students.  Even more unexplained is that the teachers unions support this kind of thinking!  Why any teacher would pay a union that essentially calls them a racist is far beyond me.

We know that racial disparities in academic performance exist all across the country.  So, you can believe that all of America's teachers are ardent racists--teachers, who go into this profession to be "change agents" to "empower" students, who are some of the most soft-hearted people out there--or you can believe it's something besides teachers.  I go with Option B.

I support some of the changes San Diego made, but looking at their reasoning and their justifications, let's just call their reasoning what it truly is:  the soft bigotry of low expectations.  Rather than working to help the district's students to rise to what are probably low expectations anyway, the district has chosen to attack its teachers' morality and decency and to lower standards for students.  And why shouldn't they lower standards, right?  After all, those black and brown kids can't learn as much as white kids, right? 

The arguments used by these so-called anti-racist, so-called educators sound like they came right out of the KKK handbook.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Let It Go

Twice before I've missed 2 points on a test or a quiz, and each time I questioned the instructor about the nature of the mistake I made he just gave me the points back.  I'm not going to do that this time.  The pressure to be perfect is gone now.

Test 3 is the 14-page monster I've written about.  Quiz 10 at the bottom is due tomorrow at midnight.  I think I can work enough to ensure I ace what our instructor is calling a "mini-test".  It's only 2 pages.  It's just too much to expect not to make a single error somewhere in a 14-page tome.

Update:  I just noticed something on that screenshot above.  Looks like he pushed out the due date on Quiz 10.  Maybe he did that in Thursday's class, the video for which I will watch tomorrow.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Test, Redux

 Like a friend of mine, I like doing math problems.  Also like that same friend of mine, who is also taking this calculus class, I no longer liked doing math problems by the time I was done with that test.

I checked my work today, found two errors, corrected them, scanned the test, and submitted it.  It's no longer my problem, it's all over but the crying!

That test is due midnight Saturday night at midnight.  Our next quiz, which the professor has referred to as a "mini-test" because it is worth so many points, is due Sunday night at midnight.

I'm just glad he doesn't require us to submit homework.  I'd never never have time for anything but work for his class if he did.

Guess I'd better get started on this quiz/mini-test.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Worst Of Both Worlds

 Last night my district school board voted to tentatively open schools in a hybrid format starting next semester.  I haven't talked to anyone who thinks hybrid is the way to go.  As I've said for years, either go all ass or no ass at all, but don't go half-ass.  Half-ass is what my district has chosen.  Behold, this is my shocked face.

To quote from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar:  I see bad things arising.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Who Is The Bigger Glutton For Punishment?

Me, for taking a calculus class wherein our latest test is 14 pages long, or my instructor, who has to grade all those tests?

I saw the test in Canvas yesterday.  I've put in a couple hours each of the last 2 nights, and I'm done through page 7.  Yes, I probably spend an inordinate amount of time checking my work, but still, the length seems a bit excessive to me.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Not Sure If This Is Transparent Or If There Are Lines To Read Between

 I received this letter today:

Dear Resident Teachers,

We wanted to make you aware that next week, UC Davis School of Education faculty will be voting on a proposal to suspend admissions to our Teacher Education program in order to
undertake an extensive program update and redesign. Just to be clear, this is not a closure of
our program. Rather, it is an important investment in our program’s future and an affirmation of our mission to eliminate inequities in education. As a school of education, we feel a great responsibility to lean into current times and re-imagine how we can best be responsive to our field and prepare future generations of teachers and educational leaders.

If this proposal moves forward and is approved by the UC Davis Dean of Graduate Studies,
we will suspend admissions to our program beginning Fall 2021 for a period of one or more
years while we engage in the redesign process. This will give our faculty the time needed to
fully examine and reimagine the program.

Our mission of addressing educational inequities will not change. Among our priorities will
be better integrating our innovative research into our curriculum, expanding and deepening
the ways we prepare our graduates to address institutional racism, and increasing the use of
digital tools for teaching and learning. All changes in our curriculum will adhere to California Commission on Teacher Credentialing requirements.

If approved, this suspension of admissions will not affect the progress of our currently
enrolled MA students and teaching credential candidates, who will finish their programs on
schedule in 2021 and 2022, respectively. But it will affect whether we have new teaching
credential candidates placed in your classrooms under the guidance of resident teachers for
the 2021-22 school year and possibly beyond.

You are one of our valued partners, and if our proposal is approved, we will seek your input
during our redesign process and will keep you informed about our timeline.


I can imagine that it would be very helpful to be able to shut an entire program down for a year, to accept no new students, in order to make changes.  To be honest, though, the hinted-at scope of the changes (see 1st paragraph above) gives me pause.

Update, 10/15/20:  It's not just a hinted-at scope:

University of California, Davis, administrators are considering suspending the teacher education master’s degree and credential program beginning in fall 2021, allowing the university to redesign it and prepare it for a stronger social justice lens.

Update, 10/19/20Not so fast:

University of California, Davis administrators on Friday announced that after listening to faculty, staff and community input, they will slow down their process to suspend and redesign their teacher education program.

Earlier in the week, administrators announced they were considering suspending the teacher education master’s degree and credential program beginning in fall 2021, allowing the university to redesign it and prepare it for a stronger social justice lens.

But the teacher education faculty, and the surrounding school districts that benefit from the partnership, responded sharply with a petition and a protest. Those who opposed the suspension said they support the changes to the program, but pausing it will hurt schools and the community.  

“Instead, we will engage in a deliberative and collaborative process for deciding if admissions need to be suspended during the redesign process, or if there are satisfactory alternative approaches,” she said in a statement.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

More Double Standards

From Oklahoma State:

After Ohio State University students protested following the university publishing information regarding two Black hate crime suspects, as it is required to do under federal law, it is now attempting to assuage the anger of protesters, saying that "derogatory terms against Whites do not have the same impact as they may to marginalized groups."

As reported by Campus Reform, the university sent out a public safety notice to students on September 3 and mentioned a "hate crime" was committed by two African-American suspects near Ohio State's campus. The races of the suspects, now identified as Jarylle Walker and Tereishia Finney, were mentioned by the university in its initial communication to students, but it did not at first acknowledge the victims' race. 

A few days after the initial email was sent, the university revealed that the victims of the crime are White, and that one suspect had punched a student in the face and yelled a racial slur. At the time, University Police Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt stated, according to The Lanternthat the university is required to report information regarding hate crimes under the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which “requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disseminate a public annual security report,” as well as specify policies about crime reporting...

After students complained and protested outside of the school's administrative offices, OSU Director of Public Safety Monica Moll released a statement explaining that the department recognizes derogatory terms used against White people "do not have the same impact" they do on marginalized groups.

So it's ok then.  

I thought such "bullying" behavior hurt everyone?  My bad.  *snort*


Thursday, October 08, 2020

Was It Not Leftie Enough?

 Maybe I'm not giving Gruesome Newsom enough credit for vetoing this crap, but I could be forgiven for thinking that the proposed curriculum wasn't leftie enough or didn't include some favored group:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have required students to take an ethnic studies class to graduate high school.

Newsom said that while he supports the concept of ethnic studies, he had concern about requiring a high school course when “there is much uncertainty about the appropriate K-12 model curriculum for ethnic studies"...

“To flat out veto ethnic studies for high school students is unacceptable,” said Kim Gavin Austin, a teacher at La Entrada High School in the San Juan Unified School District. “Public education promotes white supremacy, because of the way the curriculum is taught.”

Austin, who is black, said she is concerned that teachers will not teach ethnic studies if it’s not required. San Juan Unified offers the course as an elective.

Kim Gavin Austin strikes me as none too bright, based on the comments above. 

Nearly 80% of California’s K-12 student population identifies as non-white. In comparison, more than 60% of California teachers are white.

Theresa MontaƱo, an ethnic studies Professor at Cal State University, Northridge, and member of the original Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, said that the majority of California students “were just told that their stories don’t matter.”

That person teaches at a university. 

Jeez, what a mess.

Read more here:

Read more here:


Wednesday, October 07, 2020


Johnny Nash, singer of one of the prettiest, happiest, most optimistic songs of all time, is gone.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Gambling For A Good Cause

I don't encourage my students to gamble, but as the field of probability of was begun as a study of games of chance, it seems silly to ignore gambling.  When I do use casino games for educational purposes, I always make clear how the house always has the advantage.

My statistics students will soon be exploring the field of probability, so I've taken one for the team and signed up for a (free) casino web site: .  When I go to Nevada I often enjoy some time playing Hundred Play Draw Poker, which turns out to be an excellent way to demonstrate the difference between theoretical probability and experimental probability.   Needing some screenshots for explanation, I took another one for the team and came home from work today and played some video poker.

For example, what's the probability of getting a full house if you're dealt 2 pair?  Theoretical probability says there are 4 cards remaining out of 47 that would give you the full house, so the theoretical/mathematical probability of getting a full house would be 4/47, or approximately 8.5%.  I played until I was dealt 2 pair:

To get a full house, I could get either a 7 or a 4.  There are 2 of each remaining in the deck, so those are the 4 cards I could get, out of 47 remaining in the deck, that would give me a full house.  In Hundred Play Draw Poker, you hold the same cards on up to 100 hands (as shown above).  Now when I deal, it's akin to running this "experiment" 100 times.  What was the result?

13 full houses, or 13% experimental probability on this hand.  Versus 8.5% theoretical probability.

Theoretical probability tells you what you can expect in the long run (thousands of hands, not 100), whereas mathematical probability tells you what you actually got.  The Law of Large Numbers states that as you get more and more 2 pair deals, the percentage of full houses that you get should approach 8.5%.

I also screenshot a couple times where I was dealt "4 of a suit", since calculating the probability of being dealt a flush is pretty easy (9/47, or 19%), as well as many screenshots of being dealt 2 of a kind and seeing how often I could turn that into 3 of a kind (experimental was 54/500).

Now I have to sit down and figure out the theoretical probability of that last occurrence, making sure that my 3-of-a-kinds don't include 4-of-a-kinds.

Blood Libel

Lefties' constant questioning of President Trump and his denunciations of racists/white supremacists is akin to asking "have you stopped beating your wife".  He's done so on so many occasions over so many years that you can no longer assume ignorance on the part of lefties, you have to assume harmful intent.

Submission Muzzles

We're getting to the point where you can pretty much take any person under 70 and know how they're going to vote in the upcoming election based solely on how they feel about wearing masks in public.  Does anyone care about evidence anymore?  What does the math say?

Science would indicate that you should believe the data, not your intuition:

So, the question is, do masks prevent the spread of COVID-19? The best way to answer this question is to look at how mask mandates have impacted infection rates. So, let’s do that...

In case it isn’t obvious, these charts fail to show any correlation between mask mandates (which presumably increase the wearing of masks) and reductions in COVID-19 infections. If you look at all of the available charts over at Rational Ground, you’ll see there are some instances of infection rates declining after a mask mandate was imposed, but those mandates were put in place after infection rates were already on the decline.

The graphs are pretty telling.

Monday, October 05, 2020

The Closest Thing To a Secular Religion

 Except in a very few instances, recycling costs more money and uses more energy than it saves.  Science would indicate that you follow the data, not your intuition:

When recycling programs became common three decades ago, they were sold to taxpayers as a win-win, financially and environmentally: Cities expected to reap budget savings through the sale of recyclable materials, and conscientious taxpayers expected to reduce ecological destruction. Instead, the painful reality for enthusiastic, dutiful recyclers is that most recycling programs don’t make much environmental sense. Often, they don’t make economic sense, either.

The chief buyers of American recyclable materials used to be Asian countries, chiefly China, where wages were low enough to justify labor-intensive recycling operations. But as part of Beijing’s “National Sword” policy, China began banning imports of “foreign trash” in 2017. Other Asian countries also began imposing their own restrictions. Meanwhile, reduced demand sent prices tumbling. The market price for mixed paper, for example, dropped from $160 to $3 per ton from March 2017 to March 2018.

As a result, cities that once collected some revenue for bales of recyclables (though typically not enough to cover the extra costs that recycling introduces into a municipal budget) must now pay to get rid of them. In many cases, they simply send them to landfills.

What about water bottles.  Recycling water bottles is good, right? 

Of course, progressive mayors with ambitious climate goals want to signal their commitment to the environment—a laudable goal. But the environmental benefits associated with recycling are largely confined to metal, cardboard, and certain kinds of paper. Recycling other materials makes little if any difference in carbon emissions. For instance, the greenhouse benefits from recycling a plastic bottle are so miniscule that even just rinsing the bottle in water heated by coal-powered electricity yields a net increase in carbon emissions.

Shazbat!  Maybe there would be a net decrease in carbon emissions if our power plants were nuclear-powered, but alas....

And then there's this:

Meanwhile, recycling has its own environmental drawbacks, like the burning of fossil fuels in the trucks and ships carrying recyclables (especially on international trips). Many western recyclables have ended up polluting the seas, because these materials were sent to Asian, Latin American, and African waste-processing facilities that allowed plastics to leak into rivers—a phenomenon that is responsible for virtually all the consumer plastics that wind up in the oceans.

It's one of those ideas that sounds good, but the devil is in the details.  It's time to let it go.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

I'm Glad I've Never Joined

They've done weird things before, but now they've totally jumped the shark:

The Mathematical Association of America released a statement Friday claiming both that mathematicians should engage in “uncomfortable conversations” about race, and that policies of from the Trump administration, like the lack of a mask mandate in the United States, are somehow an affront to mathematics. The group concludes with a call for a “pursuit of justice” within math. 

This is what happens when you let politics cloud your judgement.  You embarrass yourself.

Lockdowns Are Useless Except As Political Theater

The young people I know who are involved in medicine are all pearl-clutchers when it comes to the 'rona.  They think this is a plague of Bibilical proportions; knowing some history might mitigate that somewhat (1968 Hong Kong flu, anyone?) but they're too young to know any history.

I don't need to be doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to read data, and the data says that lockdowns didn't do much to stop the spread of the virus.  They were great exercises in governmental control (read: fascism) but ineffective in their stated purpose.  The virus gave politicians all over the world the grandest stage on which to show they were "doing something", which was the true purpose.

How many lives have been unnecessarily upended by such hubris?

In 1932, Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis famously called the states “laboratories of democracy.” Different states can test out different policies, and they can learn from each other. That proved true in 2020. Governors in different states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic at different times and in different ways. Some states, such as California, ordered sweeping shutdowns. Others, such as Florida, took a more targeted approach. Still others, such as South Dakota, dispensed information but had no lockdowns at all.

As a result, we can now compare outcomes in different states, to test the question no one wants to ask: Did the lockdowns make a difference?

If lockdowns really altered the course of this pandemic, then coronavirus case counts should have clearly dropped whenever and wherever lockdowns took place. The effect should have been obvious, though with a time lag. It takes time for new coronavirus infections to be officially counted, so we would expect the numbers to plummet as soon as the waiting time was over.

How long? New infections should drop on day one and be noticed about ten or eleven days from the beginning of the lockdown. By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet (six days is the average time for symptoms to appear). By day nine or ten, far fewer people would be heading to doctors with worsening symptoms. If COVID-19 tests were performed right away, we would expect the positives to drop clearly on day ten or eleven (assuming quick turnarounds on tests).

To judge from the evidence, the answer is clear: Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. The charts below show the daily case curves for the United States as a whole and for thirteen U.S. states. As in almost every country, we consistently see a steep climb as the virus spreads, followed by a transition (marked by the gray circles) to a flatter curve. At some point, the curves always slope downward, though this wasn’t obvious for all states until the summer.

The lockdowns can’t be the cause of these transitions. In the first place, the transition happened even in places without lockdown orders (see Iowa and Arkansas). And where there were lockdowns, the transitions tended to occur well before the lockdowns could have had any serious effect. The only possible exceptions are California, which on March 19 became the first state to officially lock down, and Connecticut, which followed four days later.

Even in these places, though, the downward transitions probably started before the lockdowns could have altered the curves. The reason is that a one-day turnaround for COVID-19 test results probably wasn’t met in either state. On March 30, the Los Angeles Times reported the turnaround time to be eight days. That would make the delay from infection to confirmation not the 10 we assumed, but more like 17 days (6 for symptoms to appear, 3 for them to develop, and 8 for test processing). In early April, the Hartford Courant reported similar problems with delayed test results in Connecticut.

What’s more, there’s no decisive drop on the dates when lockdowns should have changed the course of the curves. Instead, the curves gradually bend downward for reasons that predate the lockdowns, with no clear changes ten days later.

Lockdown partisans might say that the curves would have been higher after the ten-day mark without the lockdown. While we can’t redo history to prove them wrong, the point is that the sudden and dramatic changes we should see if they were right aren’t there. If we showed people these curves without any markings, they would not be able to discern when or even if lockdowns went into effect.

 Science would indicate that you follow the data, not your intuition.

Update, 10/5/20:  What about Sweden?

MORE EVIDENCE AGAINST LOCKDOWNS: Explaining Sweden’s Covid Cases. The mortality rate in Sweden, while lower than in the U.S. and Britain, has been higher than in neighboring Nordic countries, which critics claimed was proof that it should have emulated their lockdown policies. But a new analysis points to another explanation: Sweden had far more vulnerable elderly people (“dry tinder,” as researchers call it) than its neighbors because its previous two flu seasons had been milder than theirs. “My results,” Jonas Herby concludes, “illustrate that plain coincidences may be important when understanding the COVID-19-death toll in a country compared to national lockdown policies.” His conclusions jibe with a previous analysis of Sweden and its neighbors.

And Rightfully So

I know this seems to be all the rage today, but does anyone really think high school sports is the place for your politics?

Parents Outraged After Ohio High School Football Game Turns into a BLM Rally

Friday, October 02, 2020

Remember When We Used To Eat In Restaurants?

A couple of us went to lunch today, and we ate inside a restaurant--something I hadn't done since going to Nevada in early August.  Granted, most of the tables were blocked off, but we were inside.  Even with the blocked tables, the restaurant was unfortunately not at capacity.

Several of us met after school for 7th period today.  Again, inside a restaurant.

A friend told me about his experience visiting Carmel over the last couple of days.  His wife worked at a restaurant there when she was 17 or so, so whenever they visit Carmel they go and eat at that restaurant.  I guess they're still eating outside in Monterey County, and the owner of the restaurant told them that an inspector from the county health department comes by periodically with his tape measure to ensure that chairs outside are far enough apart.  The space available outside allows him only 8 customers at a time.  How can a restaurant stay open with only 8 customers?  Answer:  it can't.  Pre-'rona, the restaurant was grossing $60K a month, lately it's been grossing $14K.  They're shutting down permanently in 2 weeks, after having been in business over 30 years.

Remember:  it's not Donald Trump who has shut down California's businesses.  It's not even someone with an (R) after his name.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

A 3-Day Weekend

We started school in mid-August.  A couple years ago, someone in our district determined that right about now is when teachers start taking extra days off.  To combat that, they first gave us a random 4-day weekend in each semester, and a couple years later that's changed to a random 3-day weekend each semester.  This weekend is our 3-day weekend.  

The thinking was that if we had an extra day off, we wouldn't need to take off work.  Sounds smart--yet not so.  Too many people take off an extra day and make it a 4-day weekend! 

My niece is getting married Saturday so I can't hitch up the trailer and go anywhere.  Guess I get a wedding plus a regular 2-day weekend.

Which completely screws up lesson planning.

We have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd periods on Monday, and 4th, 5th, and 6th periods on Tuesday.  This coming Monday is no school, and I teach the same course 2nd and 4th periods.  My options are to have my courses at different places in the curriculum (remember, we've already lost a Monday due to Labor Day), or to have a "standalone" lesson for 4th period on Tuesday.  Thankfully we have a Friday off after Veterans Day in November (that's 4th-6th periods) so I can give the same standalone lesson to 2nd period on Thursday of that week.

Heck with it.  I'm going to enjoy my weekend.  I'm working hard enough to have earned it!