Sunday, February 28, 2021

He Nailed It A Year Ago

And this was before the shutdowns:

The Cognitive Bias That Makes Us Panic About Coronavirus 

Feeling anxious? Blame "probability neglect." 

 

At this stage, no one can specify the magnitude of the threat from the coronavirus. But one thing is clear: A lot of people are more scared than they have any reason to be. They have an exaggerated sense of their own personal risk.

How come?

The best answer goes by an unlovely name: “probability neglect.” Suppose that a potential outcome grips your emotions, maybe because it is absolutely terrifying, maybe because it is amazingly wonderful. If so, there is an excellent chance that you will focus on it -- and pay far less attention than you should to a crucial question, which is how likely it is to occur. 

One of the simplest and most vivid demonstrations comes from Christopher Hsee of the University of Chicago and Yuval Rottenstreich of the University of California at San Diego. They asked a group of people how much they would pay to avoid a 1% chance of a “short, painful, but not dangerous electric shock.” They asked another, similar group of people how much they would pay to avoid a 99% chance of getting such a shock.

There’s a massive difference between a 1% chance and a 99% chance. But people didn’t register that difference. To avoid a 1% chance of an electric shock, the median amount that people were willing to pay was $7. To avoid a 99% chance, the number was $10 – not a whole lot higher. 

Hsee and Rottenstreich contend that when an outcome triggers strong negative emotions, people tend not to think a whole lot about the issue of probability...

Turn to the coronavirus in this light. The situation is very fluid, but as of now, most people in North America and Europe do not need to worry much about the risk of contracting the disease. That’s true even for people who are traveling to nations such as Italy that have seen outbreaks of the disease. 

Still, the disease is new, and it can be fatal. That’s more than enough to trigger probability neglect.

There are two implications. The first is that unless the disease is contained in the near future, it will induce much more fear, and much more in the way of economic and social dislocation, than is warranted by the actual risk. Many people will take precautionary steps (canceling vacations, refusing to fly, avoiding whole nations) even if there is no adequate reason to do that. Those steps can in turn increase economic dislocations, including plummeting stock prices.

The second implication is that the best response to excessive fear is to put the issue of probability on people’s view screens, and to do so directly and explicitly.

The 'rona has a survival rate of well over 99%.  So what, they say, people are dying!  Is our goal now to stop deaths?  If it is, are we going to ban cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, driving, stairs...you get the idea.

Do you remember the 1970s movie with John Travolta, The Boy In The Plastic Bubble?  The boy with the immune deficiency had to live in a plastic bubble, not everyone else.  If you are afraid of the 'rona, or have risk factors that make you more susceptible, then you should take precautions.  Wear your two N95 masks, stay at home, whatever you need to do--but to insist that I do the same?  That's totalitarian.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Science!

Wishing isn’t science.  It’s science!

Assuming your hypothesis must be true isn’t science.  It’s science!

Conventional wisdom and consensus aren't science.  They're science!

Analyzing data is science:

It never was about the virus: After a year of job-destroying lockdowns and the inhuman muzzling of every citizen in a panicked effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, a careful review of the data continues to show what was obvious as early as September 2020: Those authoritarian government edicts did nothing to stop or even slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This Is What It's Like To Live In A One-Party State

Any idiot with a (D) after his/her name can get elected to office in California--and our current governor is an idiot:

There’s no candy-coating Newsom’s horrible record:

  • California is last in getting kids back to school – most are still on lockdown due to the Democrats’ love affair with teachers’ unions instead of following the science and getting kids back in class. Private schools, like the one Newsom’s kids go to, are open.
  • Newsom’s rollout of the COVID vaccine based on political affiliations and “equity” instead of scientific need, has ticked off people of all political stripes.
  • The EDD Newsom administration unflinchingly sent $31 BILLION in COVID unemployment relief funds to scammers. Among the in-state people receiving the money were the California-based prisoners, some of whom received $20,000 each from Newsom.
  • The EDD scandal makes his $1 billion mask scandal look tame.
  • Newsom, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, ordered COVID patients into California nursing homes. 
  • His latest scandal concerns no-bid contracts to people who gave money to his campaign.
  • And don’t discount the corrosive effect on the locked-down public from Newsom’s double-standard dinner at the French Laundry 
  • Newsom is sending more COVID stimulus checks to people who are illegally in the country.

The Dems, however, will close ranks behind this fool, because he may be a fool, but at least he's their fool:

Here’s a list of the ways in which Democrats plan to make rule changes or do what they can to benefit their political party:

  • The Bee reports that Democrats are considering trying to change the date of the recall to the “next regularly scheduled primary election, when Democrats are more likely to vote,” instead of November of 2021. They played the calendar game with the recall of State Senator Josh Newman in 2018.
  • They’re considering sending absentee ballots to every voter whether they’ve asked for one or not to swamp the system.
  • They will attempt to convince people who signed the petition to remove their names in a 30-day period after the signatures are turned in.
  • Their strategy is to “reduce signatures.” As many signatures as possible will be thrown out keep the recall from qualifying for the ballot.
  • Using COVID shutdowns to slow down the signature-gathering such that recall backers went to court to get more time.
  • Believe they’ll use the extended lockdowns to keep people from voting.
  • They’ve begun spinning the recall as a “distraction.”
  • Tried to convince Californians that with all the money being wasted by Democrats (see EDD scandal) spending more on a recall for a new governor is wasteful.
So it goes in California.  The only problem is that we could end up with someone worse.  A couple years ago I would wonder how, but when you look at what Democrats have done in the time of the 'rona (e.g. Newsom, Cuomo, Whitmer, de Blasio, et al.), nothing is off the table.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fried

Probably the first Fry's Electronics I ever went to was probably back in 1991, when I moved to Fremont, CA.  That was still early in the personal computer era, when PC meant "IBM PC clone" and even regular people like me swapped out motherboards, added RAM, and installed ports for individual devices like scanners.  Fry's was an electronics store for electronics geeks, kind of a Costco-sized cross between Radio Shack and some Silicon Valley garage startup, but as I said, even regular people back then knew how to open up their computers to add "chips" and such. 

In fact, once I went to Fry's and bought a new motherboard so I could upgrade my computer.  I got it home, swapped out the old motherboard, and fired up my computer.  A couple minutes later, my computer randomly rebooted itself.  A few minutes after that, it rebooted itself again.  And a few minutes after that.  I took the obviously-faulty motherboard out and took it back to the store, where I was given a new motherboard.  I got out of there quickly, having noticed that this new motherboard had 256k of onboard cache on it--bonus!!!  My computer ran like a champ after that!  Back then, in the X86 days, even novices knew about things like "cache" on a motherboard and could spot such an upgrade.

Fry's stores were big.  I remember once, in the early-to-mid-90's, I saw a couple of tour buses pull up outside of the Sunnyvale Fry's.  Scores, scores, of Japanese tourists, cameras around their necks, flowed out of the buses and into Fry's.  I was told they could buy products here in the US and ship them back to Japan for less than they could buy them in Japan!  Computers, TV's, VCR's (it was the early-to-mid-90's!), stereos, you name it. 

The people who worked at Fry's were computer geeks, not truly sales people.  Customer service wasn't really a thing at Fry's; in fact, it was truly not uncommon to see and hear an employee yelling at a customer!  I kid you not, that was their reputation.

In 1996, Fry's took over my favorite electronics store in the Sacramento area, Incredible Universe; that disappointed me.  Later they expanded to Roseville, not too far from my house.  Each Fry's store had a theme, and the theme of the Roseville store was the railroad, no doubt in honor of the (formerly Southern Pacific but now) Union Pacific railyard in the city--from which my dad retired.

Last year my dad and I noticed the shelves at Fry's getting empty and not being restocked, and just today I learned why:

Fry’s Electronics is going out of business.

KRON4 has confirmed that the iconic Bay Area retailer is permanently closing the doors of all stores nationwide.

The company has changed its website so that it now just shows a goodbye message...

The company aimed to “provide a one-stop-shopping environment for the Hi-Tech Professional,” selling over 50,000 electronic items in each store, which ranged anywhere between 50,000 to 180,000 square feet.

Like Circuit City and Radio Shack before it, Fry's is now just a memory.  

 

(The real Circuit City went bankrupt in 2009, and Radio Shack is now just a shadow of its former self.)

Update, 2/25/21Here's another "personal" story of Fry's.  And add CompUSA to the list of long-gone techie stores.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Back To The Middle Ages

The American Left has a Middle Ages mentality, wherein religion is science.  

I got my ‘rona shot so that there’s even less excuse to force a mask on people.  But now we’re hearing that after getting vaccinated, we should wear masks anyway.  (Well before but certainly) at the point of being vaccinated, wearing a mask isn’t science, it’s a religious belief and action—like a Catholic crossing himself, like a Muslim praying towards Mecca, like a Jew wearing a yarmulke.  Unlike those actions, the Believers Of The Mask want to force their actions on me.  And remember how Trump rallies were "superspreader events" but riots, Biden celebration parties, etc., were not?

That's enough about 'rona.  Another major belief for lefties is man-caused climate change.  One of our nation's dumbest senators has stated explicitly that we should "believe in climate change as though it's a religion, it's not a science".

When you consider that lefties want to burn books and burn conservatives at the stake, my thesis sentence above isn't hyperbole.  Lefties are violent, foul people who, to paraphrase John Stuart Mill, have no chance of a good life except by the exertions of better men than themselves.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Why Do Teachers Leave the Profession?

According to this report, stress:

Key Findings
  • Almost half of the public school teachers who voluntarily stopped teaching in public schools after March 2020 and before their scheduled retirement left because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At least for some teachers, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have exacerbated what were high stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to, among other things, work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment, often with frequent technical problems.
  • Many early leavers could be lured back to public school teaching. Over half of the teachers who voluntarily left the profession early primarily because of the pandemic indicated that they would be somewhat or definitely willing to return to public school teaching once most staff and students are vaccinated. Slightly fewer of those would return if there was only regular testing of staff and students for COVID-19.
  • Stress was the most common reason for leaving public school teaching early—almost twice as common as insufficient pay. This is corroborated by the fact that a majority of early leavers went on to take jobs with either less or around equal pay, and three in ten went on to work at a job with no health insurance or retirement benefits.
  • Of the teacher leavers who are currently employed, about three in ten hold a noneducation-related job, another three in ten have a different type of teaching position, and the rest are in nonteaching education jobs. For those teacher leavers who are still in education, more flexibility was the most common attribute that attracted them to their new job.
Recommendations
  • Involve teachers in developing districts' responses to reducing teacher stress. COVID-19 could open a policy window through which to reconsider the job responsibilities of the typical public school teacher.
  • Districts and state departments of education should consider ways to increase flexibility in teachers' schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the long term. Although only a minority of public school teachers might prefer remote schooling, it could still be attractive to a subset of teachers who wish for more flexibility in their schedule.
  • While waiting for COVID-19 vaccines to roll out, schools should partner with a third party to start regularly testing students and staff as a means to help keep schools open. The federal government should fund COVID-19 testing systems in schools (via qualified third parties) and also mandate that insurers cover the costs of both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. Schools that have been testing students this school year (which have been primarily private, but also some public) consistently say the chief benefits are reducing anxiety, establishing whether rates of positivity in the school population are low, and helping to contain spread via asymptomatic cases.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

There's Got To Be More To This Story, Doesn't There?

I mean, no one would fire a teacher for refusing to give the Wakanda salute, would they?

A Dominican-American Bronx educator, one year away from retirement, says she was fired after refusing to participate in the cross-arm, "Wakanda forever" salute to Black power.

 Rafaela Espinal, who identifies as Afro-Latina, says she was chastised for repeatedly refusing to mimic the gesture popularized in the 2018 Marvel Comic’s "Black Panther," during superintendent meetings, reported the New York Post Saturday.

According to a Manhattan Supreme Court suit against the city’s Department of Education Chancellor Richard Carranza and other top officials earlier this month, Espinal was "admonished and told that it was inappropriate for her not to participate" in the salute by the then-Bronx superintendent Meisha Ross Porter.

I want to believe she was fired for something justifiable, but if she was, no one is saying what it was--so all I have is her story to go on.  And let's be honest, in today's racial climate, it's not impossible to believe that what is reported above is 100% true.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

I Accomplished Two Things Of Note Today

After having been lazy the last few days, today I walked the almost 3 miles to my 'rona vaccination and then about 3 miles home.  Definitely got my 10,000 steps in.

Later I went to the store, where I added my name to the petitions to recall Gruesome Newsom.

All in all, a fairly productive day.

Making It Right

Last Saturday I went to the nearby farmer's market to have a look around.  Deciding that I needed to get some steps in, as I've been slacking on my 10,000 steps per day goal, I walked around the nearby area, and drawn like a magnet, I eventually ended up in Best Buy.

I didn't know this was a thing, but apparently it's a thing.  You know how girls "buy" prom dresses, leave the tags on, and then return the clothes to the store after the prom?  Well, people do the same thing with TV's for the Super Bowl.  There in Best Buy was a row of over a dozen TV's that people returned in the days after the Super Bowl.  It's entirely understandable when you consider that Best Buy doesn't have a restocking charge.  (If I were them, I'd have one for after the Super Bowl, after March Madness, and maybe after the World Series.)  There was even a huge, top-of-the-line Sony that wouldn't even fit in the TV area of my family room, that they were trying to let go for only $3000.  It sold new for significantly more.

One TV, a Vizio, kept attracting my attention.  It was a $1300 TV, sold originally on sale for $1000, and now listed as an open box deal at $800.  I mean, who can turn down a deal like that?!  I resisted, I walked around some more, but I kept coming back for that TV.  No missing accessories/components, it said on the tag.  I bought it.

I got it home and unpackaged it and right away there was a problem.  It was missing components, some rather important ones.  Like a power cord.  Like a remote.  Like parts of the stand.  I could live without the setup guide and user's manual--not my first rodeo--but those others were kind of important.  After being on hold with Best Buy for over 30 minutes I just drove back down to the store.  When I got there I was still on hold.

I spoke to a sales rep (the one who sold it to me had left) and then to the department manager--both of whom said I should just bring the TV back and they'd refund my money.  That wasn't acceptable to me, I wanted the TV they said they sold me--with no missing components.  Best Buy has a house brand, and they make a remote specifically for Vizio TV's; the manager pulled one of those remotes, and a power cord, off the shelf and gave them to me.  He put me in touch with Vizio, and they agreed to ship the stand components to me at no charge.  This seemed like a reasonable settlement to me.

Then I waited.  4 days later Vizio emailed me a tracking number for the shipment, saying it would arrive Friday.  I flew to the door yesterday when I heard the big truck out on my little street, and I met the delivery driver at the door.  He was carrying a box from Vizio.

It took awhile to assemble the TV and then get it to its required location.  I connected all the cables, put batteries in the compatible remote, and hoped for the best.

Everything went off without a hitch.  The picture is beautiful, the streaming apps I need are all there, the setup looks great.  I could not be happier.

My point here:  kudos to Best Buy, for mislabeling the box but making it right with me, and to Vizio, who shipped me the parts I needed even though they themselves were not at fault.  I'm a happy customer.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Vaccine

I got a robo-call from my school district this morning--I can go to a nearby high school on Saturday and get a 'rona vaccine if I sign up for a time.

Sure, I signed up for a shot.  But what's the point?  When school reopens, and they tell us it will probably reopen this spring, I'll still have to wear a mask and have everybody stay 6' apart.  We'll only partially open in a hybrid model that takes the worst of Zoom school and in-person school and combines them; hybrid is actually worse than total Zoom school.  Why get a shot if I still have to pretend that the 'rona boogey-man is gonna get me?

I'm sure the people who made the rules above will say that there is science! behind their decisions.  At this point such a statement is laughable.  On balance, it's probably better for me to get the vaccine than not, but here in the Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia, not by much.  I live in an insane asylum, and the patients are running it.

Is America A Racist Country?


And from Glenn Loury we get Unspeakable Truths About Racial Inequality In America:

My conclusion: “My responsibilities as a black man, as an American, and as an intellectual are not in conflict.” I defend this position as best I can in what follows. I also try to illustrate the threat “cancel culture” poses to a rational discourse about racial inequality in America that our country now so desperately requires. Finally, I will try to model how an intellectual who truly loves “his people” should respond. I will do this by enunciating out loud what have increasingly become some unspeakable truths. So, brace yourselves!

Here are Loury's unspeakable truths: 

  • The first unspeakable truth: Downplaying behavioral disparities by race is actually a “bluff”
  • A second unspeakable truth: “Structural racism” isn’t an explanation, it’s an empty category
  • Another unspeakable truth: We must put the police killings of black Americans into perspective
  • Yet another unspeakable truth: There is a dark side to the “white fragility” blame game
  • On the unspeakable infantilization of “black fragility”

Read the entire article.

This is what happens when you see people as members of racial groups rather than as individuals.  I judge people based on how they act, how they treat me as an individual, and what they believe, not on their skin color.  That used to be considered "good" or "right" or "normal", now it's revolutionary.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Canceling Student Debt

It's such a stupid idea, only lefties could come up with it.  

First off, the debt wouldn't be "canceled".  It would merely be paid by other people--people who couldn't afford college, people who paid off their debt already, people who didn't incur such debt.  Next, every one of those people who took on college debt did so voluntarily; why should they not be required to pay off their debt?  And lastly,  "[t]he fact that households in the upper half of the income distribution and those with graduate degrees hold a disproportionate share of that debt almost never makes it into the narrative."  Having government pay off student debt would be a huge transfer of even more wealth from the lower classes to the upper.

And yet the Democrats keep pushing such a scheme.  The president, however, is backing away from his and his party's bribery scheme:

Joe Biden said Tuesday that he would not eliminate $50,000 in student debt, shooting down a proposal that prominent Democrats introduced this month, but that he is open to some level of loan forgiveness.

"I will not make that happen," Biden said at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, his first event outside Washington since he took office, in response to an audience member who called on him to commit to cancel at least $50,000 in debt...

Biden faces growing pressure from his own party to take bolder action on student debt and to bypass Congress to do so.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other lawmakers introduced a resolution in early February calling on Biden to use executive action to wipe out up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt for all borrowers, arguing that the secretary of education has broad administrative authority to cancel the debt.

I'm so old, I can remember when executive orders were a sign of fascism, or something.  But in not (yet) bowing to Schumer's and Warren's pressure, Slow Joe didn't do something right--he merely avoided doing something wrong.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Why Do We Even Go Through The Charade?

Why have schools, or grades, if this is what schools are becoming?  Why not just be honest, admit that the function of government education centers is to warehouse and indoctrinate children, and then release them into society?  It would be more honest than pretending that this practice has anything to do with teaching math:

A mathematics guide sent out to Oregon schools tells educators that asking students to show their work in math class is a form of white supremacy. 

In an email sent out by the Oregon Department of Education, teachers were encouraged to enroll in a course called “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction.” The course came with an 82-page instructional guide that lists the ways in which white supremacy is perpetuated in math class. 

“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” the guide reads. “Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.”   

The guide offers a year-long framework for “deconstructing racism in mathematics.” It calls for “visibilizing [sic] the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.”  

If you go anywhere in the world, even and especially in places where there are no white people, you'll find math classes with teachers "asking students to show their work, focusing on getting the right answer, tracking student success, and grading students."  They don't think it's white supremacy, why should you?  Or maybe you just have a sinister, ulterior motive.

Monday, February 15, 2021

There Goes Bjorn Lomborg, Making Sense Again

It's been awhile since I've done a post on Bjorn Lomborg (type his name into the search engine on this page to find other such posts), so here goes.

While I don't agree with Lomborg that man is having an appreciable affect on worldwide climate, I cannot help but admire the logic and reason he brings to the issue:

The equivalent cost for the US and the EU would be more than $5 trillion. Each and every year. That is more than the entire US federal budget, or more than the EU governments spend across all budgets for education, recreation, housing, environment, economic affairs, police, courts, defense and health.

Tellingly, the European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans recently admitted that climate policies would be so costly, it would be a “matter of survival for our industry” without huge, protective border taxes.

Climate change is a real, manmade problem. But its impacts are much lower than breathless climate reporting would suggest. The UN Climate Panel finds that if we do nothing, the total impact of climate in the 2070s will be equivalent to reducing incomes by 0.2-2 percent. Given that by then, each person is expected to be 363 percent as rich as today, climate change means we will “only” be 356 percent as rich. Not the end of the world.

He's long written that we should adapt to so-called climate change, not try to stop it (if such is even possible).

Most voters aren’t willing to pay for these extravagant climate policies. While Biden proposes spending the equivalent of $1,500 per American per year, a recent Washington Post survey showed that more than half the population was unwilling to pay even $24.

And for what? If all the rich countries in the world were to cut their carbon emissions to zero tomorrow and for the rest of the century, the effort would make an almost unnoticeable reduction in temperatures by 2100.

This is because more than three-quarters of the global emissions in the rest of this century will come from Asia, Africa and Latin America. These nations are determined to lift their populations out of poverty and ensure broad development using plentiful energy, mostly from cheap fossil fuels.

An example:

Take the terrible air pollution in Los Angeles in the 1950s. It wasn’t fixed by na├»vely asking people to stop driving cars. Instead, it was fixed through innovation — the catalytic converter allowed people to drive further yet pollute little. We need to invest in research to make green energy much cheaper: from better solar, wind and batteries to cheaper fission, fusion and carbon capture.

We should spend tens of billions to innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels. Spending trillions on enormous and premature emissions cuts is an unsustainable and ineffective First World approach.

Lomborg's book The Skeptical Environmentalist is a must-read. And I've just downloaded this audiobook, written in 2019.

Good Book By A Good Math Teacher

Barry Garelick and I have been correspondents for some time.

He recently sent me a copy of his 4th book, Out On Good Behavior: Teaching Math While Looking  Over Your Shoulder.  I'm sure he knew I'd blog about it, and I'm just as sure he know that I'd like and agree with his observations.  

In this book he tells of his experiences going through "induction", a teacher's first 2 years of teaching and earning a "clear" credential.  He talks about his mentor teachers, the advice he was given, and his educational philosophy.  Page 9:

From time to time, however, most, if not all, teachers will answer a student's question by telling them what they need to know in order to solve a problem.  And most, if not all, teachers (myself included) feel guilty doing this, because we are taught that that's giving away the answer and we are handing it to the student, or to put it in more educational terminology: "teaching by telling."

I disagree with this and many other accepted doctrines of education....

I like this book already.  Let's look at page 10:

Ironically, despite teachers' resentment of the plethora of educational advice, many buy into the buzzwords and edu-fads, including "growth mindset,", "grit,", "critical thinking," "21st century skills," "collaboration," "creativity," and "open-ended questions are better than problems with one right answer."

You might wonder, how can someone possibly object to "growth mindset"?  Barry answers that on page 14:

I believe it's the other way around: success causes motivation more than motivation causes success.

Or, as I've worded that sentiment for years: self-esteem is the result of accomplishment, not the cause of itAll other things being equal, I'd rather have a kid who tries, a kid who will struggle with a problem even if the solution doesn't immediately present itself, but believing that merely having that tendency will lead to success is absolute folly.  Kids need to actually succeed, not repeat the mantra "I think I can, I think I can" and count on its repetition to make it so.

In this book Barry talks about evaluations, about professional development, about working with people who are not the friendliest.  He talked about "augmenting" the approved curriculum with material he thought would promote student success, about the "procedures vs understanding" dichotomy, about the (lack of) value of writing the daily objective on the board.  On every page I see someone whose teaching philosophy I agree with.

My favorite line comes from page 52:  

You don't have to like math; you just have to know how to do it.

On page 77 he mentioned something that I haven't consciously thought about but which I deal with often.  Like Barry, I believe in answering students' questions, although I sometimes answer them socratically in the belief that the student will make better sense of the material that way, because the method inherently has an explanation rather than just an answer.  He mentioned a technique he tried:

I've been thinking of giving students a choice when they ask how to do a problem or whether it's correct.  If I answer, it will cost them points deducted from their score.  I need to wean them from this dependence on my help.

His rationale? "[D]o they really need help or just hand-holding?"

If you've drunk the ed-school Kool-Aid, this isn't the book for you--it will frustrate you because the author doesn't mouth the platitudes you've adopted as gospel.  If, however, you want to read about someone who truly cares about his students, who wants to give them the best education possible, and who doesn't need ed-school jargon and novel ideas to make it happen, then Out On Good Behavior is the book for you.

 

Disclosure:  When Barry offered me a copy of this book, he didn't ask me to review it as a condition of getting the copy.  If we'd have disagreed on a large number of topics, I probably would have chosen not to do this post at all--or, I might very well have (respectfully) pointed out where I disagreed.  I assume he knew we'd agree and that I'd be happy to write a rave review, but there was no quid pro quo. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

This Is What You Get When State Law Conflicts With Federal Law

I'm not convinced that marijuana should be illegal.  Is it worse than whiskey?  I don't know.  But I do know many people who partake, and they seem to lead reasonable lives without any problems that I can trace to their particular vice.

If the feds legalized weed tomorrow, I wouldn't care.  If they said they were going to do a massive crackdown on businesses that sell it, I wouldn't care.  What I care about is having state laws that conflict with federal law, with no one enforcing the federal law.  When you have laws that you don't enforce, that breeds contempt for all laws.  Mixed messages is the smallest part of the problem.

So of course, my example comes from here in the DPRK:

What happened to Kelvin was the result of a vast gray area: For years, Californians could legally possess medical marijuana, but stores weren’t allowed to sell it—in fact, the whole supply chain bringing it to them was considered illegal. Now, even though the city and the state are licensing cannabis shops, Los Angeles continues to struggle with its legacy of legal confusion and selective enforcement. Businesses can appear legitimate, and even exist for years, without any legal license to operate. Many of the illegal shops are in Black and Latino neighborhoods, with their employees vulnerable to arrest while owners are shielded behind shell companies. So as police and prosecutors attempt to crack down on unlicensed dispensaries, they appear to be reproducing the very social inequalities that legalization was supposed to fix.

The illicit pot shop where Kelvin worked wasn’t an outlier: In fact, the majority of shops in LA are unlicensed. In the entire city, only 184 pot shops, less than 1 in 5, are licensed. Many Angelenos have no idea that the place they buy their cannabis—or in Kelvin’s case, report to work—might be operating outside the law. This gray-market section of the industry established itself over more than a decade, between about 2005 and 2018, when local politicians were reluctant to regulate an industry that was breaking federal law. Because it was technically OK by state law to provide pot to medical patients and receive a “donation” in return, and because many dispensary owners considered themselves activist entrepreneurs and took in a lot of money doing what they saw as civil disobedience, it was difficult for police to permanently shut down the new marketplace of brick-and-mortar shops. By the time the city managed to impose rules in 2018, creating a clear distinction for the public between legal and illegal businesses had become nearly impossible.

Stupid state laws (gotta love that "donation" idea) don't help. 

The feds should either enforce the law or change it.  The so-called gray area offers too much opportunity for graft, corruption, and selective enforcement.

You Deserve The Government You Vote For

And in San Francisco, they're getting it good and hard:

“...tourism has gone down so substantially in San Francisco that criminal rings that targeted tourists in areas that tourists frequent no longer have tourists there”...

Tourism in the city of San Francisco is down, partly due to the pandemic, but also because of crime. As a result, criminals are now reportedly shifting their focus to city residents.

When you vote for people who don't enforce laws against criminal behavior, you get more criminal behavior.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Cultural Appropriation?

Today's leftie/progressives like to refer to themselves as being "woke".  I wonder where that term came from.  Actually, it comes from anti-slavery Republicans who helped get Abraham Lincoln elected, the Wide Awakes.  You can read about the Wide Awakes here, here, and here, among other places.

I'd never heard of them before watching a documentary last night.  And now I call on the lefties not to appropriate my Republican culture and history.

What's Old Is New Again

I was writing about "ethnomathematics" back in 2005, the first year of this blog.  A couple of those posts are here and here, although you can type "ethnomathematics" in the search engine on this page and find other posts with that reference.

When they can't give you good government, they give you "woke" government.  When they can't give you good education, they give you "woke" education.  Enter "ethnomathematics":

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently encouraged teachers to register for training that encourages "ethnomathematics" and argues, among other things, that White supremacy manifests itself in the focus on finding the right answer.

An ODE newsletter sent last week advertises a Feb. 21 "Pathway to Math Equity Micro-Course," which is designed for middle school teachers to make use of a toolkit for "dismantling racism in mathematics." The event website identifies the event as a partnership between California's San Mateo County Office of Education, The Education Trust-West and others. 

Part of the toolkit includes a list of ways "white supremacy culture" allegedly "infiltrates math classrooms." Those include "the focus is on getting the 'right' answer," students being "required to 'show their work,'" and other alleged manifestations.

"The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so," the document for the "Equitable Math" toolkit reads. "Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity as well as fear of open conflict."

I addressed (and dismantled) these points in the posts I linked to above.  In the second link I quoted the following, which is as applicable today as it was in 2005:

But isn't this a twist on the pseudo-science of old, which claimed that efforts to educate blacks would be fruitless because their capacity to learn was different from that of whites? Why is this argument acceptable today simply because it is being advanced by minority "multiculturalists"? The view that blacks and whites somehow interpret learning differently is -- in part -- a holdover from the silly debates surrounding "ebonics" that raged throughout the 1990s and that continue to handicap discussions of urban education to this very day.

Why yes, yes it is--a version of  the belief that blacks don't learn the same way whites do, that they're inferior.  Sounds kinda racist to me, and I don't accept it.

Leftism

Seen on Instagram:

Leftism is a religion of self-loathing.  It teaches white people to hate their race, boys to hate their sex, women to hate their femininity, Americans to hate their country, westerners to hate their history.  What a contemptible, toxic thing it is.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

My Lungs Must Be Made Of Iron

I've been eating in a "super-spreader location".

Our district is making plans to return kids to school in a hybrid format.  That schedule probably isn't bad for elementary students, but it's freakin' stupid for high school students.  I'll have even less time to teach them than I have now, which is less time to teach them than if they were in normal school.

But I digress.

Several of us teachers work on campus each day, and we eat together in one of our school's staff lounges.  Today I was told that as part of the instructions the school has received for having students back on campus, some of the furniture in our staff lounges has to be removed.  Also, we won't be able to eat lunch together in the staff lounge anymore--we'll have to either eat outside or alone in our classrooms.

Why, you ask?  Because the staff lounge is a "super-spreader location" for the 'rona.

We've been eating together in the lounge since August and no one's gotten the 'rona.  Heck, no one's even gotten the sniffles.  But the lounge is a "super-spreader location".  Must be some science! backing up that assertion, but I haven't seen it.

Why Are So Many American Students Not Proficient in Math?

I consider every word of this excerpt to be 100% true:

One might expect the jump from high school to college mathematics to be a natural progression, or a small step up in difficulty or expectations. But over time it has actually become a chasm, and that chasm continues to grow.

More students are taking advanced coursework – algebra II or higher – in high school. But studying the material doesn’t mean that a student has truly learned it. As a result, a student can pass a course which should be a college preparatory course, such as algebra II, yet fail a standardized placement exam, or not score high enough on SAT/ACT tests to be deemed “college ready.”

Most high school teachers hold their students to a different set of expectations than college faculty do. In many cases, the policies are set by the school district, so high school teachers are simply upholding rules that the community and parents have pushed for. This can include allowing students to submit late work, retest on assessments they performed poorly on and use a calculator for most assignments.

The rationale is well intentioned; high school students are young learners, and may need multiple opportunities to master a concept.

Multiple opportunities to pass means more students pass. But this generous assessment strategy has unintended consequences on student motivation and accountability. The effect is that students can earn a passing grade but not retain or master the material in a meaningful way. This is how a student can receive a B in algebra II, for example, but land in a developmental class when they enter college.

We don't do anyone any favors by lowering standards.

What Is The Benefit Of Saying This?

The last president was excoriated on a daily basis for saying things "the right people" found distasteful.  The current administration says stupid stuff like this with nary a peep.

The Biden administration on Tuesday appeared to support the Dallas Mavericks’ decision to nix the national anthem at games — telling reporters that national pride includes knowing that Americans “haven’t lived up to our highest ideals."

Do executives of other nations badmouth their own countries as much as our current president badmouths the US?  What possible benefit could accrue from saying this?

Lefties sure do hate this country.  That's why they always want to "fundamentally transform" it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

What Does Having Students "Back In School" Mean To You?

Do you want kids back in school?  This is the president's idea of "back in school":

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked Tuesday to clarify President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen K-8 schools within 100 days of his presidency.

At an afternoon press conference, a reporter asked Psaki to "help us understand" the White House’s or the president’s definition of "open school."

"Does it mean teachers in classroom teaching students in classrooms or does it just mean kids in classrooms with a remote screen? Help us understand," he asked.

Psaki said Biden’s goal was to have a "majority of schools" – meaning more than 50% – open by day 100 of his presidency, which would be April 30.

"That means some teaching in classrooms. So at least one day a week, hopefully it’s more. And obviously, it is as much as is safe in each school and local district," Psaki said.

The reporter asked Psaki what she meant by "some teaching," to which Psaki replied: "teaching at least one day a week in the majority of schools by day 100." 

One day a week is "back in school".  Well, problem solved.  Good job, Joe.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Can You Think Of A Good Reason To Do This?

Why would he do this?

President Biden quietly revoked a Trump-era policy that compelled primary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions to disclose their relationships with Chinese Communist Party-funded Confucius Institutes.

The policy – “Establishing Requirement for Student and Exchange Visitor Program Certified Schools to Disclose Agreements with Confucius Institutes and Classrooms” – was proposed on December 31st, 2020.

“The rule would require colleges and K-12 schools that are certified to have foreign exchange programs to disclose any contracts, partnerships, or financial transactions from Confucius Institutes or Classrooms (the Confucius Institute offshoot for primary and secondary schools),” Axios noted.

And the Trump administration’s proposals were well-warranted: the well-funded, controversial operations disguise themselves as language and culture initiative despite being replete with “undisclosed ties to Chinese institutions, and conflicted loyalties,” Chinese state propaganda, and intellectual property theft, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Records from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, however, reveal that Biden nixed the policy on January 26 – less than a week into his White House tenure.

“A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that the policy was rescinded,” Campus Reform noted.

I can't think of a justification--not a pro-American reason, anyway.

Monday, February 08, 2021

I Haven't Signed A Petition Yet

An effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom is nearing the number of signatures needed with over a month to go before the deadline.

"It’s highly possible we could get to 1.5 or 1.6 [million signatures] by the end of this week,” said Anne Dunsmore, the campaign manager and finance director of Rescue California, one of the two groups responsible for the recall effort.

The groups have collected 1.4 million of the 1,495,709 required to force a recall election but will likely have to collect more than the minimum as some signatures will be invalidated upon review.  Link

I've been waiting so I can be the person who puts the number over the top  :-)

Actually, while I think the governor is an incompetent idiot, I'm not convinced he has broken the law.  If he's broken the law, he should be removed.  If he hasn't, then he serves out his term.

California, you deserve the government you vote for.  Good and hard.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Climate Catastrophe?

Here's some information about the author of the report

Indur M. Goklany is an independent scholar and author. He was a member of the US delegation that established the IPCC and helped develop its First Assessment Report. He subsequently served as a US delegate to the IPCC, and as an IPCC reviewer.

Here are the conclusions to his 2021 report: 

While climate may have changed for the warmer: 

• Most extreme weather phenomena have not become more extreme, more deadly, or more destructive. 

• Empirical evidence directly contradicts claims that increased carbon dioxide has reduced human wellbeing. In fact, human wellbeing has never been higher. 

 • Whatever detrimental effects warming and higher carbon dioxide may have had on terrestrial species and ecosystems, they have been swamped by the contribution of fossil fuels to increased biological productivity. This has halted, and turned around, reductions in habitat loss.

Read the whole thing.

Grease Is The Word That You Heard

Grease?  Grease?  Yes, the 1978 pop musical is now being attacked by some British lefties:

The BBC, which once aired the likes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Blackadder, and Yes, Prime Minister — which were all deliberately insane and often offensive on purpose — showed the anodyne Grease over the Christmas period. Grease is the tame-by-today’s-standards musical in which Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta played 1950s teenagers despite both being in their mid to late 20s at the time...

People with quicker fingers than their woke brains commented.

One person said, “The drive-in/botched make-out session between Danny and Sandy hasn’t aged well. Film kinda glides right into song (“Sandy”) before viewers register the date rapey vibe of the scene they just saw #Grease.”

Another said, “Ahhh man. Just watching #Grease one of my favorite films and it’s so of its time. Misogynistic, sexist and a bit rapey.”

The woke moment should have jumped several sharks and nuked a warehouse full of fridges by now. It’s annoying, scoldy, and played out. Newton-John agrees...

Grease is a musical, which by definition is somewhat absurd. But we can’t have entertainment for its own sake anymore. Everything must and will be art of the state now, if you want an Oscar and keep the Twitter wokey scolds off your back.

Not to put too fine a point on things, but people who want their politics affirmed in all entertainment will never be satisfied, as entertainment is not what they really want. They want propaganda from a Hollywood full of little Leni Riefenstahls.

You're the one that I want (you are the one I want), you-ou-ou, honey!  Come on, tell me you don't know the words to several of the songs in that movie.  Tell me you didn't enjoy it the first time you saw it.  

And be honest, the woke scolds mentioned above had to learn not to like it.  How sad.

Why do they want to tear everything down?

Saturday, February 06, 2021

A Disappointing Article From Brookings

Is there hope for math education in the United States?  I was all set to read some good news in this article from Brookings, and then I got to this:

To assess whether teachers’ mathematical knowledge changed over time, we compared results from surveys we fielded with middle school teachers in 2005 and in 2016. Both surveys captured teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT). Although these surveys used two separate samples, both were designed to be nationally representative and thus allowed comparisons in teacher MKT over time.

MKT.  Geez.  Of course, teacher knowledge is a necessary but not sufficient condition of being able to teach, but here's what I've written in the past about MKT:

What attributes make a good math teacher?  That was the title of one of my research papers for one of my master's degree classes.  It was a review of literature, and here's the conclusion:

There are no definitive skills, knowledge, or attributes that have been identified, the possession of which will, ipso facto, make a good math teacher. There is no known way to predict in pre-service who will become a good math teacher, and there is no known protocol (such as the MKT) for determining effective math teachers. Furthermore, popular pedagogical styles do not seem to improve student performance, so the teachers who employ them cannot rightly be deemed effective.

Good teachers are good because they get students to learn, not because they have certain knowledge or skills.  Student performance and gains are what is important in determining if a teacher is good or not.

The Brookings article focused only on teachers and teaching, not on student performance:

To mathematics educators who have been in this business since the 1990s, as I have, these results are cause for both hope and dismay. Hope because modest movement toward standards-aligned instruction did appear. Hope also because this movement appeared where expected: in districts that aligned professional development, curriculum materials, and messages from leadership over long periods of time to create conditions under which their teachers could learn. Dismay because these changes appeared quite modest, both against a baseline of reformers’ expectations and against classroom data collected in 1999. Evidence also suggests only small improvements in teachers’ mathematical knowledge and limited take-up of standards-aligned curriculum materials.

I guess the title of the article, which mentions math instruction, should have clued me in to their focus.  But who cares if teaching is getting any better.  Are students doing any better?  And if they're not, is it because of bad teaching, or some other reason?

Technology, Not Government

I've said many times--I'm a conservationist, not an environmentalist.  We should be good stewards of the environment, should not be wasteful, and should recycle where it's profitable to do so.  Government mandates to recycle--whether we're truly recycling or are just separating our garbage so it can have happy reunions in the landfill--are expensive virtue-signalling that really doesn't go good for citizens or for the environment.

What does good for both?  This:

Using her ingenuity and engineering skills, Nzambi Matee found a way to help the environment by converting plastic waste into building materials.

In 2017, Matee opened a factory in Nairobi called Gjenge Makers, where workers take plastic waste, mix it with sand, and heat it up, with the resulting brick being five to seven times stronger than concrete. The factory accepts waste that other facilities "cannot process anymore, they cannot recycle," Matee told Reuters. "That is what we get."

The bricks are made of plastic that was originally used for milk and shampoo bottles, cereal and sandwich bags, buckets, and ropes. Every day, Gjenge Makers produces about 1,500 bricks, in different sizes and colors. Matee is a materials engineer, and she designed the factory's machines after becoming sick of waiting for government officials to do something about plastic pollution. "I was tired of being on the sidelines," she told Reuters.

Since opening, Gjenge Makers has recycled 20 tons of plastic waste, and Matee plans on adding a larger production line that will allow the factory to triple its output.

Technology and creativity will beat out government silliness every time.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Why Are Schools Still Closed?

This information comes from the CDC, which is no longer under Orangemanbad’s control, so everything they say is now science! and is 100% correct and you have no legitimate reason to doubt it:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reiterated on Wednesday that schools can safely reopen even if teachers are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Last week the CDC weighed into the ongoing debate over whether to reopen schools for in-person instruction, noting that schools that are currently welcoming students into classrooms with certain safety precautions in place have had only “scant transmission” of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“The CDC team reviewed data from studies in the United States and abroad and found the experience in schools different from nursing homes and high-density work sites where rapid spread has occurred,” The Washington Post reported last Tuesday. “The review, which echoes the conclusions of other researchers, comes as many school districts continue to wrestle with whether and how to reopen schools and as President Biden makes a return to in-person learning one of his top pandemic-related priorities.”

“The preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring,” CDC researchers noted in an article for the Journal of the American Medical Association. “There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

“The conclusion here is with proper prevention efforts…we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings quite low,” the study’s lead author noted in the article. “We didn’t know that at the beginning of the year but the data has really accumulated.”

Why are our schools closed?  It's not because of science!

Acronyms

Used well, acronyms are a convenient shorthand amongst those who know what they mean.

We use a lot of acronyms in education; I'm sure their use when in the company of those not-in-the-know (say, parents) isn't malintentioned but more likely is done mostly out of a lack of consideration, i.e., not taking into account that those to whom we speak might not understand the acronyms.  I'm equally sure that sometimes acronyms are used because the educator in question doesn't know a better term to use, and perhaps once in awhile is used to overwhelm or barrel over a parent.

But to state that their use is racist?  That's just asininity:

First the San Francisco School Board decided to rename 44 schools because they are named after people with ties to racism or slavery. Now the Arts Department has taken a bold move by changing its name, "VAPA" because they say, "acronyms are a symptom of white supremacy culture."

Schools have yet to reopen in San Francisco, but their Arts Department has continued to work toward ensuring that all students have access to quality arts education.

The director of that department said, "We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work." So they got rid of the acronym "VAPA," which is short for visual and performing arts.

From now on, they'll simply be called SFUSD Arts Department.

SFUSD Arts Department.  Let that sink in.  And then wonder what's in the water in the City By The Bay.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Sea Levels Will Rise 5 Feet Before Christmas!!!

The science isn't as settled as they want you to believe it is:

These actions and rhetoric are predicated on the perception that climate change is an imminent threat to humanity, a perception that may be based on what one expert, Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado Department of Environmental Studies, calls the “the unstoppable momentum of outdated science.”

In an article published November 30, 2020 in the Honest Broker Newsletter Pielke writes, “Much of climate research is focused on implausible scenarios of the future, but implementing a course correction will be difficult.”

“Ultimately, the issues associated with the misuse of scenarios in climate research and assessment are a matter of scientific integrity,” he concludes.

Pielke cannot be called a climate change denier. Indeed, he has long been an advocate for action, but he is also a vigorous advocate for accurate, dispassionate and politically neutral science as an essential predicate to discussions of climate change policy.

“Responding to climate change is critically important,” writes Pielke. “So too is upholding the integrity of the science which helps to inform those responses"...

Pielke published a graph showing how carbon dioxide emissions scenarios for the future, including the one “most commonly cited” by climate researchers, Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5), diverge significantly from actual emissions to date (dark purple curve).

Click to enlarge

“The misuse of scenarios in climate research and assessment documented in this paper includes the inappropriate identification of an extreme, implausible scenario [RCP8.5] as a reference or ‘business as usual’ baseline and the improper comparison of scenarios generated from different integrated assessment models.”

Pielke writes, ”Evidence is now undeniable that the basis for a significant amount of research has become untethered from the real world.”

He says his literature review shows “almost 17,000 peer-reviewed articles that use the now-outdated highest assessments of the IPCC and the U.S. National Climate Assessment.”

His drive for accurate, truthful science has not come without criticism or derision. Climate alarmists routinely disparage both Pielke and his father, Robert Pielke Sr., a climate scientist who is likewise a critic of shoddy science. The “cancel culture” is particularly strong when it comes to adhering to climate change orthodoxy.

Shocking, I know.

Monday, February 01, 2021

This Woman Gets It

Here's the tweet with the video.

Here are the details:

In exactly 59 seconds, TikTok user Half Black Conservative shows how popular Critical Race Theory has become in the last year and details the dangers of such Marxist groupthink...

Here's the list of books she found featured in the non-fiction book section of Target:

  • "Me and White Supremacy"
  • "How to Fight Racism"
  • "How to be an Anti-Racist"
  • "White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Race"
  • "So You Want to Talk About Race?"
  • "Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness"
  • "All Because You Matter"
  • "Anti-Racist Baby"

She then spelled out what this means:

"So let me make this clear: you are being brainwashed and manipulated. I don't care who you are. People of color, you are being brainwashed into think that you are a victim and you are hated, and being manipulated into using your voice, your vote and your time to support people who do not share your interests and frankly do not care about you.

White people, you are being brainwashed into feeling guilt you should not feel, manipulated into closing your mouths and blamed for an issue that has been exaggerated beyond belief. It is due time that we all wake up."

 Screw the critical race theory hustlers.