Friday, April 30, 2021

A Very 80s Storyline

In the summer of 1986, many of my classmates were scattered around the world as exchange cadets to other military academies.  My best friend went to Bolivia, another friend went to Greece.  I was fortunate enough to be one of four to go to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, not far from London.

They didn't work us very hard at Sandhurst.  Of the 14 days we were there, we trained for seven and were sent on travel excursions for seven.  That was how I saw Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Stratfield Saye House, and Beaulieu Abbey, among other places.  They gave some Sandhurst cadets 50 pounds (about $75) each night to "show the Americans a good time", and it wasn't uncommon for us Americans to skip breakfast!

One of the oddities there related to meals.  On our first day there a gentleman in charge of the mess informed us that they weren't budgeted for us to have juice (more like fruit punch) at our meals.  Thus, when we ate in the mess, there were lots of seats with juice in front of them, and interspersed, there would be 4 seats with water.  It merited giggling more than anger or frustration, especially given that we were taken out drinking every night!

One lazy afternoon, all four of us Americans and a few of the Brits were gathered in a small TV room.  We were watching a movie I hadn't heard of before, Who Dares Wins.  The plot is ripped from 80s headlines:

The British receive intelligence that an anti-nuclear militant group is planning to kill the US ambassador at the Iranian embassy.  The British Special Air Services enlists the help of Capt. Peter Skellen, who is charged with going undercover.  But he is quickly found out by the terrorists, and his wife and child are taken hostage.  As Skellen attempts to get word to his superiors, the terrorists begin to execute their plan, which leads to a siege at the embassy.

I don't remember the story--the excerpt above brings back some memories--but I remember enjoying it.  The movie was released in 1982 in Britain, and in 1983 in the US under the name The Final Option.  It's available for free on the Tubi app, which means I know what I'll be doing the next 2 hrs 5 min on this Friday night!  I hope the story holds up after the passage of time.

Update:  The terrorists take over the American embassy during a party, and hostages include the ambassador, the Secretary of State, the head of Strategic Air Command, and the British Foreign Secretary.

It struck me more as a made-for-TV movie than a theatrical release, and it really was dated, but who doesn't like seeing a bunch of Marxist terrorists get shot to pieces?  

Good times.

Should I Be Glad They're So Bad At Cheating?

I caught another one.

Last week a student completed a make-up test at home and submitted it online.  I failed to notice that it was turned in, so the student sent me an email asking me to grade the test.  I did so immediately.

And there it is again.  Obvious cheating.

I make different versions of my tests.  It's no secret that I do so, I even put Version 1 or Version 2  or some identifying mark at the top of the 1st page of the test.  Just about every teacher has different versions of his/her tests.  Do students not know this, or not care?

I discard the "not care" argument, because students obviously care enough to cheat.  So how is it that I'm catching so many students recently using in their calculations numbers that do not appear in the problems, but are the exact numbers for different or previous versions of the test?

And when I call them on this, the initial reaction is to double down.  I don't try to get students to lie to me; I tell them exactly what I think (that they cheated), and I present all my evidence.  It's not often that one backs down at that point; no, they often say they just cannot explain how that happened but they absolutely did not cheat.  Maybe they looked at a similar problem in their notes.  They're never able to produce this "similar problem", and often at this point they'll either admit to a "lesser included offense" or will at least stop digging deeper, but seldom will they admit to outright cheating.  And they never tell me who gave them the answers they used.

There are plenty of times I have a strong suspicion of cheating, but my evidence isn't rock solid.  I have to let those go.  But when the evidence is crystal clear, beyond a reasonable doubt, I don't back down--not even when parents swear they'll go to the school board to get a grade overturned (none ever has, at least, not with me).

Online schooling has magnified the problem exponentially.  Students are so short-sighted, though, especially the underclasses--do they think they'll really be ready for next year's math class after cheating their way through this year's?

It's so disappointing.

Do I Need To Know This Much About Your Personal Life?

I guess it's union election time in my district, and even though I'm not a union member, my mailbox at school gets flooded with their flyers.  One caught my eye.

We're all probably familiar with the LGBT acronym.  If you're a little more advanced, you've heard of LGBTQ.  And when describing a group of people, that acronym is as good as any.  When you start adding letters, though, then it becomes an exercise in silliness.

The flyer was written by two women, one who identified "her pronouns" as she/her and the other who identified hers as they/her/she/them.  At this point you know you're in for a treat.  The latter wrote a few paragraphs in favor of Candidate A, and began her contribution this way:

As someone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQI2S+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Two-Spirit, Plus) community...

Yes, there were more descriptions, including two that were Native American.  Were those part of the "plus"?  And why have the acronym if you're going to tell us what the letters mean anyway?

Why do I need to know this much about this person's sexual orientation or gender identification?  To me it's more important to know what you think than what you are--perhaps this individual spends all her time being hyperfocused about her sexuality, and I guess that tells me something, but I'd like to believe that people have more to offer than their sexual orientation, their skin color, or their bloodlines.

I have to make an aside about this silliness of telling people your "pronouns".  In English, the only pronoun we use when speaking to a person is "you", which is devoid of sex/gender.  The sex/gender pronouns are only used when speaking to one person about another.  You don't get to tell me how I refer to you when I speak to others.  If you can invent pronouns like xe/xer, I can choose the "pronoun" Excellency.  That is how you must refer to me, even when I'm not around.  Excellency.  Silly, isn't it?

OK, back to the flyer.  These two women are not just praising Candidate A, they're running on a slate with Candidate A.  What are these people's qualifications?  What are their goals?  In what direction do they want to take the union?  We're told none of this; all we're told is that Candidate A is a good person, one of the women wants your vote, and the other spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about her sexual identity.  

The future of my pay, benefits, and working conditions do not seem to be in good hands.

Hogan's Heroes

Hogan's Heroes, a comedy that made Nazis in general look like buffoons, began its run in 1965--20 years after the end of World War II and, incidentally, the year I was born.

20 years ago this year was the September 11th terrorist attack.  I can't imagine today making a tv show in which we laugh about al-Qaeda terrorists.  Have we lost something as a society?  Or is it that we haven't completely defeated and humiliated them yet?  But even if we had, do you think such a show, mocking people who aren't White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, would fly in today's culture?

It's wild to think that I was born as close to World War II as we are today to 9/11.  I was born as close to World War II as my current students were to New Coke and the Reagan Era.

America Is Not A Racist Country

Who says so?  

Senator Tim Scott and Kamala Harris.


UpdateJoe Biden doesn't think the American people are racist.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Go Ahead. Walk Out.

I hope this withstands the obvious legal challenge:

Hundreds of parents showed up to the Vail School Board meeting to demand the board make masks optional. The board didn't want to hear it so they walked out of the meeting before it even began. So the parents, under Robert's Rules of Order, voted in a new school board. Then, the new members voted to end the mask requirement in Vail Schools. 

There's video at the link.

Monday, April 26, 2021


Only in America will we stop a football game, drag out measuring chains and look at a play 15 times from 6 different angles to make sure we make the right call, but won't verify the integrity of an election of the highest office in our nation.



Race only matters to racists.  The rest of us care about character.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

10 Years Ago

Easter was late in 2011, and Monday, April 25th was the first day of school after spring break.  I wasn't there.

On Saturday, I had been in a minor skiing accident.  It was nothing, really--I caught an edge on some ice and fell down.  Through the wildest quirks of fate, though, the edge of a ski made a 1" slice through my pants, my skin, my muscle, and through 90% of my kneecap tendon.

I left the hospital on the 24th and came home to a very long, tumultuous recovery.  I missed the last 7 weeks of school that year, was using a cane to walk when school started in August, and didn't complete physical therapy until December.

I still cannot kneel on that knee, but given that I didn't think I'd ever walk again, I'd say the surgeon did a pretty good job.  We he walks next to me, my son tells me he can still hear a difference in my footfalls.

10 years ago this weekend.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

How I've Spent My Saturday Night

I don't even remember what I was watching on TV, but a couple hours ago I picked up the phone to look something up--I don't even remember what--on YouTube.  I clicked on one of the suggestions...

TwinsthenewTrend.  Two brothers listening to my music for the first time, and recording their reactions.  No critiques, but lots of commentary.

Time to put that seat belt on.

The True Believers Won't Believe This

I can't understand why, but some people just have to believe the 'rona-porn that some outlets are putting out.  They have to ignore Florida, Texas, and similar places, as otherwise the cognitive dissonance would be too great.  They want to believe that the sky is falling.

So they won't believe this at all:

  • An MIT study showed that people who maintain 60 feet of distance from others indoors are no more protected than if they socially distanced by just 6 feet.
  • According to the researchers, other calculations of the risk of indoor transmission have omitted too many factors to accurately quantify that risk.
  • “We need scientific information conveyed to the public in a way that is not just fear mongering but is actually based in analysis,” the author of the study said.

MIT professors Martin Z. Bazant, who teaches chemical engineering and applied mathematics, and John W.M. Bush, who teaches applied mathematics, developed a method of calculating exposure risk to Covid-19 in an indoor setting that factors in a variety of issues that could affect transmission, including the amount of time spent inside, air filtration and circulation, immunization, variant strains, mask use, and even respiratory activity such as breathing, eating, speaking or singing.

Six-feet social distancing rules that inadvertently result in closed businesses and schools are “just not reasonable,” according to Bazant...

For example, if someone infected with Covid-19 is wearing a mask and singing loudly in an enclosed room, a person who is sitting at the other side of the room is not more protected than someone who is sitting just six feet away from the infected person. This is why time spent in the enclosed area is more important than how far you are from the infected person...

As for social distancing outdoors, Bazant says it makes almost no sense and that doing so with masks on is “kind of crazy.” 

Only "kind of"?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

All Your Children Are Belong To Us

As I said in a recent post, "You can't be a good person if you knowingly harm children for your own political benefit."  These are not good people:

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is moving to eliminate all accelerated math options prior to 11th grade, effectively keeping higher-achieving students from advancing as they usually would in the school system...

A Loudoun parent who spoke on the condition of anonymity worried that the changes would "lower standards for all students in the name of equity"...

Ian Prior, a Loudoun parent and former Trump administration official, similarly panned the move as a way to "stifle advancement for gifted students and set them back as they prepare for advanced mathematics in college. This is critical race theory in action and parents should be outraged"...

The changes come as the state also considered eliminating advanced high school diplomas in an attempt to improve equity.

To paraphrase Golda Meir, critical race theory in schools will end when elected officials love children more than they hate conservatives.


Being able to mouth the words provided by others isn't, to me, a sign of intelligence.  That's partly why I don't listen to actors' opinions on anything.  Here are more reasons why:

We’re days away from the 93rd Oscars ceremony, and we all know what that means.

  • Progressive lectures
  • A show that, in the best-case scenario, wraps up after three grueling hours
  • A new, new ratings low

There’s something else critical about Sunday’s star-studded event. We can expect certain topics to come up over and again, from former President Donald Trump to Black Lives Matter. The following causes, though, won’t get so much as a mention.


They’re inconvenient to the industry. Some reflect poorly on President Joe Biden. Others make Hollywood denizens look like hypocrites of the highest order. The causes reveal the ideological limitations of an industry that purports to be modern-day truth tellers but acts like a Democratic Super PAC.

It’s why the ratings should sink even lower than ever this time around. No Oscar prognosticators are suggesting anything else.

For now, let’s go over some worthwhile causes that will go unmentioned April 25, and why that shouldn’t be the case.

We Know Who The Racists Are

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Does So-called Diversity Training Work?

If the goal is to harass someone so they don't challenge your leftie beliefs, then perhaps.  Otherwise:

Unfortunately, there’s little evidence-backed consensus about which sorts of diversity programmes work, and why, and there have been long-standing concerns in some quarters that these programmes don’t do much at all, or that they could actually be harmful. In part because of this dearth of evidence, the market for pro-diversity interventions is a bit of a Wild West with regard to quality.

For a new paper in PNAS, a prominent team of researchers, including Katherine Milkman, Angela Duckworth, and Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, partnered with a large global organisation to measure the real-world impact of the researchers’ own anti-bias intervention, designed principally to “promote inclusive attitudes and behaviors toward women, whereas a secondary focus was to promote the inclusion of other underrepresented groups (e.g., racial minorities).” The results were mixed at best – and unfortunately there are good reasons to be sceptical that even the more positive results are as positive as they seem.

I found this comment interesting:

Specifically, results from the gender IAT suggest that women are more implicitly biased against women than men are, that this is the case at every point on the political spectrum, and that within many subgroups, political liberals are more biased against women than conservatives.  

Doesn't surprise me at all.  Too many women I've worked with over the years have told me exactly the same thing.

Virus Porn Has To End

I'm amazed at how many people continue to live in terror of a virus with well over a 99% survival rate--and that's before they were vaccinated against it, lowering their chances of getting it in the first place.  I genuinely believe that for some people, this "big deal" somehow adds meaning to their lives, like they're facing down the Axis Powers in WWII or something.  

Here are some excerpts from three posts I've read recently.  First:

Even as a just published new study has shown once again the utter uselessness of masks to limit the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19, the control freaks of our now largely oppressive society are clamping down with new totalitarian rules requiring masks to be worn at all times, no matter what.

First let ‘s look at the study, which was published by the National Center for Biotechnological Information government website, a branch of the National Institute for Health. From the paper...

Read it all. It shows, based on extensive research, that even when worn properly masks are relatively useless in stopping viral diseases. And since as mandated no one ever uses them properly, they end up becoming likely collectors of pathogens instead, at the very spot where people breath, thus contributing to the spread of infection...

These conclusions by the way match up with more than a hundred years of research into mask use. While their benefit in surgical settings is considered helpful but very limited (merely acting to keep sanitary a patient’s surgical site), research for decades has found masks to have of little or no significant benefit in protecting against most viral respiratory diseases.

The second:

Politicians, government officials, and pundits who are committed to lockdowns and to opposing us anti-lockdowners are angry at AIER’s unrelenting exposure of the countless exaggerations, half-truths, and outright lies about lockdowns, mask mandates, school closures, and Covid’s dangers.

But of course the single most significant of AIER’s efforts is the Great Barrington Declaration.

AIER arranged for the October 2020 meeting that led to this document’s drafting, and the Declaration is hosted on a website maintained by AIER. It’s important to note, however, that no AIER personnel – no board member, columnist, intern, accountant, receptionist, or groundskeeper – played any role in writing this document. The Declaration is co-written by Prof. Jay Bhattacharya of the Stanford medical school, Prof. Sunetra Gupta, a theoretical epidemiologist at Oxford University, and Prof. Martin Kulldorff of the Harvard medical school.

Because this clear and concise anti-lockdown Declaration is not only infused with much good sense, but also proposes, as a response to SARS-CoV-2, what was regarded as mainstream public-health practice until early 2020 – and even well-regarded by SAGE as recently as May of last year – pro-lockdowners and anti-anti-lockdowners cannot easily attack the Declaration’s substance. And so pro-lockdowers and anti-anti-lockdowners resort to ad hominem argumentation.

Rather than consider new information, why do they so desperately want to believe that they're in mortal danger?  Perhaps they don't, perhaps they just like trying to force people to act against their own wishes.  Compulsion is a strong suit of the left.

The third:

A PLAGUE OF CHILD ABUSE: Masking Children Is Unnecessary—and Harmful. The pandemic has turned American adults into selfish neurotics who have been punishing innocent children for over a year, and still can’t restrain themselves. Social distancing and masks hinder learning while harming children emotionally, socially, and physically, all for no purpose other than providing false comfort to adults who ought to know better. In my City Journal article, I present the evidence that these restrictions are both pointless and damaging.

You can't be a good person if you knowingly harm children for your own political benefit.

Update, 4/22/21:  Calling out virus porn:

Yup, That Maskless Texan Apocalypse Still Hasn’t Arrived

You can bet that plenty want it to arrive, though.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

High School Students

I love working with high school students--but I'm going to tell you something about them that I'm not supposed to say out loud.

They're dumb as a box of hair.

Academically, they can be fine.  They can learn amazing amounts of information.  Their brains, however, won't be fully developed for up to 10 years.  They've just started paying attention to the world beyond their own noses.  They have no real world experience whatsoever.  They're clueless about such things.

That's partly why they're so easily swayed by the bad arguments of the left--because they haven't even heard the good arguments of the right.  That, and their emotions can be played on.  Oh, those emotions.

Several years ago we had a student do something exceedingly stupid.  A couple things, actually.  Hundreds of students got all bent out of shape about the consequences of these stupid acts and refused to go to class.  I didn't agree with how my principal handled the situation, but he handled it.  Had the students had access to the information we adults had, they'd have realized they were "protesting" for an idiot.  But they didn't, and we couldn't tell them because of the Privacy Act.  So they acted like fools and didn't even know it.  Probably still don't to this day.  But they were sincere!

All of this came to mind as I read this post from Instapundit:

VIRTUE SIGNALING SHOULD BE EXPENSIVE — INSTEAD OF WALKING OUT OF CLASS, THEY SHOULD HAVE TO WRITE A 3,000 WORD ESSAY: HS students stage walkout to protest racist Instagram threats … which turn out to be a hoax.

If you’re not willing to sacrifice to make a statement, you’re just a poser. And days off from school aren’t a sacrifice. And the school system won’t answer questions about the race of the hoaxer, which is pretty much an answer in itself.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Paying With Someone Else's Money

Not only are those employees not going to get their "hero pay", but they're either losing their jobs or having to change work locations:

Retail chain Kroger closed two California stores Saturday after Long Beach City approved a coronavirus "hero pay" ordinance.

Hero pay ordinances bump pay for workers in retail stores and pharmacies with 300 or more workers due to the hazards of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Long Beach, eligible workers have seen a $4 per hour increase in their wages.

Democratic Mayor Robert Garcia approved the ordinance in January. Other cities in California have taken similar measures, with Los Angeles approving "hero pay" in March at $5 an hour.

Local leaders and union workers applauded the move, but the measure did not pass entirely with fanfare: The California Grocers Association immediately filed for an injunction on the pay hike, but a federal judge denied the effort...

In response, Kroger started to close stores in cities where "hero pay" ordinances exist. The retail chain first announced intentions to close two Long Beach locations in February, stirring protests from workers and union members.

Kroger claimed the stores were "underperforming" and that employees were given the chance to transfer to other locations, FOX Los Angeles reported.

Who could possibly have foreseen this?  Why, it's almost as if people and corporations aren't static, that they respond to stimuli or something.

If Long Beach wanted to provide "hero pay", let the city pay the extra amount and let the taxpayers decide if that's the government they want.  Expecting a third party to pay?  Only Democrats could come up with an idea so stupid and pat themselves on the back for being so gennnnnnerous and carrrrrring.

Does A Later Start Time Really Help Students?

For years I've read that a later school start time would be better for students, especially high school students.  Why do these articles never mention putting the darned phones away at bedtime, or what time schools start in China, or Korea, or Singapore, or Finland, or Germany, all of which are supposed to have better performing students than we do, and neither do such articles mention if those foreign students have the same sleep issues American students seem to.  It's enough to make you wonder:

Starting school later in the morning allows adolescents and teens to get the sleep they need to perform well in the classroom and maintain overall health, a study published Thursday by the journal Sleep found.

By pushing the school day back an hour, high school students obtained an extra four hours or so of sleep per week, the data showed.

More than 10% of students in grades 9 through 12 surveyed as part of the study reported they slept better, and about 20% indicated they experienced less daytime sleepiness, or feeling the need for sleep during the school day, the researchers said...

"Families need to recognize that sacrificing sleep means sacrificing physical and mental health, as well as performance, both academic and athletic."

Before school shut down last year, my school started at 8:05 each morning.  Once we shut down due to the 'rona, classes didn't start until 9 am.  I didn't notice kids any more awake and attentive in class.

I used to survey my students, mostly seniors, about school starting at 8:30.  They would almost unanimously say that if school started at 8:30, they'd take "0 period", with a starting time of about 7:30.  Why?  So they'd have their afternoons free.  They would rather start earlier than later.  I always found that interesting, because every single article you'll ever read about later start times tells you how much better it would be for kids.  

Several years ago a parent group tried to get our school, and only our school, to switch to a later start time.  They tried to convince us that athletes wouldn't miss even more afternoon class time by doing so.  We didn't buy it--and I even can't tell you how many hours of class are missed a week by athletes now.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Showing Responsibility

I've mentioned before our screwy "hybrid schedule"--this morning I taught 4th-6th periods in-person, and this afternoon I taught 4th-6th periods online to the remaining students.  Today was a chapter test, delivered in a format such that in-person students could fill in a bubble sheet and at-home students could take the test online.  I don't usually (read:  I almost never) give multiple choice tests, but this one and its answers were written in such a way that I should be able to get good information from the test results.  Unfortunately, the information I got was that a lot of students cheated, and I have screenshots to back up my assertions, but that isn't the point of this post, so I move on.

Yesterday a couple athletes who would be in my afternoon class emailed me to say that they're scheduled to leave "school" early to participate in a competition.  They asked if they could take the test during "morning 6th period", and I thought it great that they were being proactive.  Right before the afternoon test I found out that a third athlete was scheduled to miss class, so I emailed that student and asked what the plan was, as that student hadn't made any arrangements with me to make up the test.  The response was that that student told the coach that he/she was going to take the test and, when finished, head immediately to the competition, as this student takes his/her education seriously.

I thought it a great show of responsibility for these students to make arrangements in advance, rather than just missing the test and showing up next week asking when/how they could make up the test.  At my school, such conscientiousness is, unfortunately, quite uncommon.

Putting Teachers In The Hot Seat

What are teachers to do when compelled to attend "hate whitey" training--or worse, when their students undergo "hate whitey" training?

I am a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan. Ten years ago, I changed careers when I discovered how rewarding it is to help young people explore the truth and beauty of mathematics. I love my work.

As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.   

“Antiracist” training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising. It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race. Furthermore, in order to maintain a united front for our students, teachers at Grace are directed to confine our doubts about this pedagogical framework to conversations with an in-house “Office of Community Engagement” for whom every significant objection leads to a foregone conclusion. Any doubting students are likewise “challenged” to reframe their views to conform to this orthodoxy. 

I know that by attaching my name to this I’m risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.  

When (not if) it comes to my school, I've decided how I will react--and you know I'll have some fun!

Update, 4/20/21The teacher has been fired--well, "removed of his teaching duties".

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

'Rona in the Great White North

My last post was about 'rona restrictions in Britain, here's an anecdote from Canada:

Michelle Dionne was excited about her new job, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by doing extra cleaning in an elementary school in Darwell, Alta. — about 85 kilometres west of Edmonton.

But last October, after being on the job for about six weeks, her boss at the cleaning company sent out a companywide message — telling employees to download an app on their personal phones that would check their location and ensure they were working their scheduled hours.

Dionne found the request offensive and refused.

"I was at the school working so that I could provide for my son," she told Go Public. "We're not thieves. We don't need an ankle monitor."

Less than two months later, the single mom was fired — her refusal to download the app was mentioned in her letter of termination.

Does it seem right to you that your employer can require you to use your own belongings to help them surveil you???  If you want to track me, use your own darned equipment! 

Other Canadians have been asked to download software that helps employers remotely monitor their productivity — such as phone apps that register an employee's location via GPS, and software that monitors the activity of their computer mouse. Others have tracking devices in their vehicles. 

It's prompting some employment lawyers Go Public consulted to sound the alarm.

Is personal privacy even a thing in Canada? 

The first time I visited Canada was with a friend from my high school days.  As soon as the landing gear touched down in Vancouver, my friend said to me half-joking half-serious, "Darren, we no longer have our constitutional rights."  Consider the implications of that.

'Rona in the Mother Country

Yes, many of our rules and restrictions are insane--but the British are even worse:

Lord Sumption is an author, historian and former Supreme Court judge. He joined spiked editor Brendan O’Neill for the latest episode of The Brendan O’Neill Show. What follows is an edited extract from their conversation. Listen to the full episode here...

Lord Sumption: It’s certainly ironic that the vaccine has encouraged them to restrict freedom for longer, because they can say the end is in sight and we must hold on until we get there. They could never get away with saying the end is not in sight and we must therefore hold on indefinitely. What we have got at the moment is a desire to instil (sic) fear in people, notwithstanding the fact that the vaccine should be one of the greatest antidotes to fear. Sensible people should make their own judgments about the matter rather than listening to government representatives.

It's so bad that Mick Jagger performed a song about it:

Mick Jagger 

80.3K subscribers 

I wanted to share this song that I wrote about eventually coming out of lockdown, with some much needed optimism - thank you to Dave Grohl for jumping on drums, bass and guitar, it was a lot of fun working with you on this - hope you all enjoy Eazy Sleazy !

Monday, April 12, 2021


I saw on Instagram that a former student of mine, with whom I've stayed in periodic contact, has dropped a new single:

He's made many "amateur" videos on YouTube, here are two songs that I recognized--and especially enjoyed his interpretation of them:

Before I got old and lost my voice, I used to be able to carry a tune pretty well--but not like Adam!  I wish you continued good fortune, my friend.


I've long thought that always getting plenty of sleep is what allowed me to be as academically successful as I have been.  Here's an excellent and brief article about what helped, and didn't help, one author get better sleep:

Over a week later, I’m happy to report my sleep schedule is back on track, and I’m logging 7 to 8 hours per night. I think it’s a combination of all of the strategies above, but I believe that following a relaxing bedtime routine and keeping my phone away from my bed delivered the most benefits. Plus, they’re totally doable and don’t require any big purchases. There have been a couple times when I woke up during the night, but overall, I feel way more rested today than I did one week ago—and I only had one cup of coffee. 

Hey students:  well rested, well tested.

Do Students "Earn" Diplomas, Or Do School Districts "Award" Them?

We teachers think students should earn grades and earn their diplomas, too many students and parents think that grades and diplomas are entitlements.

Too many students aren't doing well in online instruction, so the Dallas ISD asked all seniors to return to school for the final 9-weeks of the year, today being the first day.  It didn't go over so well:

Monday was the start of the final nine-week grading period of the school year, a day Dallas ISD asked that all 8,800 seniors return to in-person instruction.

Prior to the request, only 44% of DISD high schoolers were attending class face-to-face, and that was only happening twice a week as classes took place on a hybrid, part-virtual schedule. DISD administrators said last week they are still working to determine how many seniors are on track to graduate on-time districtwide.

Not every student heeded the district’s call. Of Lincoln’s 144-person senior class, 107 students returned. Districtwide, 43% of seniors came to campus on Monday, with the largest turnout at Madison (95%).

43%.  What are the other 57% thinking?

Hat tip to long-time reader Ellen K.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Let There Be Light

Last night the bulb in one of my lamps burned out.  When I removed it, I found it was an old fluorescent bulb.  I didn't have any LED bulbs in the closet but I did find another fluorescent with which to replace it, but my visit to the closet informed me that I needed to get a couple new LED bulbs as spares.

So off to the store I went today, and LED bulbs were on my list.  A package of 4 wasn't ridiculously expensive, so that's what I bought.

I replaced the fluorescent bulb with an LED bulb, and then decided to check all the other lights in the house.  I know most of them already have LED bulbs, but it couldn't hurt to check.  I found a couple fluorescents and even an incandescent (over the stove), and by the time I got done I'd used up all 4 of the new bulbs and put a small fluorescent over the stove.  And now I have a few fluorescent bulbs in the closet in case I ever need one.  I even have a few incandescents in there!

I should retire in, at most, 7 years, and I'll move someplace less insane than California.  I guess I can take all those LED bulbs out of the fixtures when I leave and replace them with the fluorescents and incandescents in the closet.  Otherwise, what good are they?

Why Communism Appeals To The Weak-Minded


Saturday, April 10, 2021


I've stated before that my school district is now operating on a hybrid model:

Monday morning, 1st-3rd periods in person.  Monday afternoon, 1st-3rd periods online.

Tuesday morning, 4th-6th periods in person.  Tuesday afternoon, 4th-6th periods online.

Wednesday, "office hours", or sometimes I'll have students take a quiz online.

Thursday and Friday are repeats of Monday and Tuesday, but with different students in-person.

One thing I've realized with this is just how much harder teaching is when it's online.  Not only is it exhausting (and often demoralizing) for the teacher, it's significantly less effective for all but the most motivated of students, perhaps the top 5% or so.

This is wearing me out.

Combine this with some family stresses, and I got home from work yesterday just sapped of energy.  I decided to lie down around 5:00, but not too much later I got an entirely unexpected drop-in visit from my mother and aunt.  They were here perhaps an hour, and when they left, well...I don't remember getting back into bed.  When I woke up it was 5:00 this morning.  I don't feel entirely rested, but I'm better than I've been in several days, so that's something.

Here's to a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Making Stupid Hurt

We need more legislators to take principles stands like this:

The Idaho House has overwhelmingly rejected the state’s proposed higher education budget because of concerns about the promotion by the state’s colleges and universities of a “social justice” agenda and the teaching of critical race theory. The vote was 13-57.

The appropriations bill rejected by the House had cut $409,000 from Boise State University’s bottom line, shifting that funding to Lewis-Clark State College. The reason for the shift was that Boise State is seen as promoting “social justice ideology” and activities…

Generally speaking, it’s not a good look when politicians hold education budgets hostage to demands about curriculum. However, legislators shouldn’t stand by while schools use public money to teach students that they are racists, that their country is evil, and other noxious tenets of woke identity politics. States shouldn’t subsidize efforts to create self-hating students and to erode belief in America.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Giving Math Tests In A Hybrid Model

Each morning I see anywhere from 1/8 to 1/3 of my students per class in person, while the rest continue taking the course via Zoom in the afternoon.  If I choose to give a test, how do I ensure that the at-home students don't get advantages (except, of course, for easier cheating) that the in-class students don't get?  If I had to defend my test-giving against charges of a lack of equity, how would I do so?

Tomorrow I'm giving a stats test, and next Thursday I'm giving a pre-calculus test.  Here's how I'm handling each of them.

Tomorrow's statistics class must be done during class time.  In-class students will get one version, on paper, and will do the test during our 50-minute class.  At-home students will get a different version, and it will show up on their Google Classroom page 5 minutes before class starts.  They have until 5 minutes after class to submit it.  This gives them plenty of time to print the test out (for those who do that), to scan their tests when done, and submit them through Google Classroom.  As I cannot prevent the at-home students from looking at notes, the book, etc., I will allow the in-class students to do that as well.

That isn't very creative, though.  With next week's pre-calculus class, though, another teacher and I are working together to get a bit more creative.

This test will be multiple choice, which is something I never do.  In-class students will get a paper copy and an answer sheet, which I can scan by document camera as soon as they turn it in and immediately give them their scores.  At-home students will take the test on their computers, and thus will need no extra time to submit their tests, but I am going to require them to submit their work so that I can give credit only for correct answers that are supported by work they did (an anti-cheating measure).  The online test administration can be set so that the students can take the test only during the test window I designate.  Also, the multiple choice answers will be written so as to prevent "process-of-elimination guessing" and other such issues.  And of course, there will be different versions of this test.

My tests were designed during pre-'rona "real school", where classes were 50-55 minutes each.  Thus, they're designed to be completed in 50 minutes.  However, due to the 'rona, I've been much more lax about time constraints--that might have been a mistake on my part, and not just because of cheating.  Now that I've had students back in class, I see that they've learned even less than I'd thought.  Too many haven't "engaged" in their learning, they have at most listened to what I've said and watched what I've done, and then during tests, they try to follow examples in the book or their notes.  Too many of them don't "own" the knowledge they're trying to demonstrate.  I shall endeavor to correct that.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Spare Me Your Sob Stories

Talk on the left is of "forgiving" student loan debt.  The problem with such terminology is that the debt wouldn't be forgiven, it would just be paid by other people--you and me, instead of the people who incurred the debt.  

Isn't it funny that, according to the left, people who are 18 (or older!) cannot know enough to make decisions about getting into debt and should be relieved of such burdens, but simultaneously we must listen to teenagers about global warming and perhaps even lower the voting age to 16?  We should let children decide they want to cut off body parts to change sex/gender?  The hypocrisy is stunning.

I have no interest in reading sob stories from people who willingly and voluntarily entered into debt.  If some were actually swindled or defrauded, that would be a different story; but absent that presumably small proportion, the rest have no excuse.  Adults live up to their responsibilities, they don't expect free rides from the taxpayers.  They pay their debts.

And the politicians who talk of "forgiving" these student loans are guilty of nothing more than trying to buy votes with the public's money.

Monday, April 05, 2021

I've Always Thought "Medical Marijuana" Was A Cop-Out

We wouldn't vote for recreational marijuana here in California.  No, it had to be sold as "medical marijuana" to ease the suffering of cancer patients.  That's how marijuana is sold in stores across California, as "medicine" for which you need a prescription.  The land of the hippie and surfer dude wasn't brave enough to flout federal law directly, we had to try, as Oppa says on Kim's Convenience, a sneak attack.

And maybe it's all crap anyway:

Researchers from the University of Bath's Centre for Pain Research have contributed to a major international review into the safety and efficacy of cannabinoids when used to treat pain, including chronic pain in children and adults.

Conducted for the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) and recently published across 13 linked in the journal Pain, leading experts from around the world including Dr. Fisher and Professor Eccleston from Bath reviewed existing data into cannabinoids, including for so-called '' and 'medicinal cannabis extracts."

Their findings suggest that although there is preclinical data supporting the hypothesis of cannabinoid analgesia, uncertainties especially in , imply the for efficacy and safety does not reach the threshold required for the IASP to endorse their general use for pain control. The studies and the statement from the IASP are limited to the use of cannabinoids to treat pain, and not for other conditions for which cannabinoids are used.

Dr. Emma Fisher who led the review of the clinical evidence said: "Cannabis, cannabinoids, and cannabis-based medicines are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to manage pain. However, our review shows that there is limited evidence to support or refute their use for the management of any pain condition. The studies we found were (high risk of bias) and the evidence was of very low-certainty, meaning that we are very uncertain of the findings and more research is needed."

I don't care if the feds legalize marijuana or not, but I have a hard time with states' flouting federal law and the feds' not doing anything about it. There be dragons.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

The Jamaicans and Kenyans Must Think We've Lost Our Collective Minds

What kind of hatred must someone have in their heart in order to promulgate something so stupid?  Jamaican and Kenyan math teachers are shaking their heads at us, and the Chinese and Russians are yucking it up at our expense:

An Oregon Department of Education newsletter from February promoted an online course designed to “dismantle” instances of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom.”  One example of “white supremacy” highlighted by the course was “the concept of mathematics being purely objective,” an idea which the resource stated is “is unequivocally false." 

That statement is unequivocally false.  Math can be put to different uses, but the math itself is objective as a hammer or a pencil.

“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” the guide states. “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"...

Examples of “white supremacy culture” cited by the document include a focus on "getting the ‘right’ answer" and requiring students to show their work. 

As normal people see this for the tripe that it is, and will ensure their own children are not harmed by it, programs like this will only exacerbate the educational gaps between different (racial) groups.  This does the most harm to those it supposedly claims to help.  One wonders if that isn't the true goal, to ensure there are always grievances and an army to fight with.

Not Where I Want To Work

Letting the inmates run the asylum is not a good idea.  Neither is letting children run schools or criminals run government--or letting criminals roam the halls of schools:

Legalize crime in schools? It’s on track to become a reality if Colorado’s SB-182 passes and is signed into law by Governor Jared Polis.

What are the intentions of this legislation?

“A school resource officer or other law enforcement officer shall not arrest a student of the school, or issue a summons, ticket, or other notice requiring the appearance of a student of the school in court or at a police station for investigation, for conduct that constitutes any of the following offenses allegedly committed on the school’s grounds, in a school vehicle, or at a school activity or sanctioned event.”

What are those offenses that a student cannot be disciplined or even arrested for as found in Section 6 of the bill?

Physically attacking staff or students

Disorderly conduct


Trespass or criminal trespass

Criminal mischief including vandalism 


Drugs and drug possession

Causing bodily injury that isn’t serious

Read the above again, out loud. Yes, it says exactly what you think it says. According to Leslie Herod, one of the supposed authors of the bill, this effort will end the school-to-prison pipeline and will ensure all disproportionate discrimination against blacks or hispanics will magically stop. 

“We introduced Senate Bill 182 in the Colorado General Assembly this year because school discipline does not have to only result in a punitive outcome like tickets and arrests. We believe schools need strong mental health services, trauma-informed approaches, and discipline codes that reflect age-appropriate discipline. Evidence-based inclusionary approaches to discipline like restorative justice programs can help students process disciplinary incidents and develop the tools they need to help ensure that infractions don’t happen again as they did for us. Kids need to be kids, they need to make mistakes and have the room to learn from those mistakes without jeopardizing their entire future.”

Gosh. That sounds wonderful doesn’t it?? Discrimination will stop, as will any violence in schools. Teen gangs will keep all mischief and violence off school grounds, and once a student has had counseling, no more bullying or drugs! This will stop the epidemic!!

You can't be merely stupid to believe in legislation like this.  You have to be willfully stupid at a minimum, perhaps even malicious.


No one brags about being illiterate, but some wear lack of math knowledge like a badge of honor--and this is what it gets us:

But people wildly overestimate the actual risks posed by COVID-19, according to several new polls that show the stunning extent to which the public has internalized alarmist misinformation.

A YouGov survey out this week reveals that young people aged 18 to 24 are the subgroup most anxious about resuming normal social life — despite being by far the least at risk from COVID-19. Indeed, the death rate for members of this age group is approximately 0.006% — a tiny fraction of a percentage. Meanwhile, folks over age 55 are the least worried about resuming social life, even though, statistically speaking, they have the most to fear from the coronavirus.

The level of comfort is inversely correlated to the level of risk.

I'm not shocked by this:

How did the public wind up so woefully misinformed? Well, the inescapable conclusion is that alarmist media coverage and irresponsible doomsday rhetoric from government officials are at least partially to blame.


Thursday, April 01, 2021

It Was Good To Take Some Time Off

The last few days, I've been at the KOA at Feather Falls Casino in Oroville, CA.  You might have heard of Oroville, at least the dam and its spillway, as they made national news back in 2017.  It's hard to believe that almost 200,000 people were evacuated in that crisis.

There's not a lot going on in Oroville nowadays, at least downtown, as I saw empty streets and closed businesses.  The dam, however, is quite impressive, being the tallest in the US and yet younger than I am.

That's your new $400 million spillway.  Both the dam and the spillway can be seen at the southernmost point of the lake in this picture.

Well downstream of the dam, along the Feather River, California Poppies are in full bloom.

 It was nice to get out for a few days.

Is "Income Inequality" Growing, Or Not?

If everyone's income doubled, the "inequality gap" would double, too--even though the poor would be twice as well off as they were before.  Only the jealous would resent the rich for also being twice as well off.

But is income inequality growing?  It depends on how you measure it:

We have shown on these pages that Census Bureau income data fail to count two-thirds of all government transfer payments—including Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and some 100 other government transfer payments—as income to the recipients. Furthermore, census data fail to count taxes paid as income lost to the taxpayer. When official government data are used to correct these deficiencies—when income is defined the way people actually define it—“income inequality” is reduced dramatically.

We can now show that if you count all government transfers (minus administrative costs) as income to the recipient household, reduce household income by taxes paid, and correct for two major discontinuities in the time-series data on income inequality that were caused solely by changes in Census Bureau data-collection methods, the claim that income inequality is growing on a secular basis collapses. Not only is income inequality in America not growing, it is lower today than it was 50 years ago. ...

Hat tip to TaxProf Blog.

I've Been Saying It For Months

After a little number crunching:

I believe I have enough data to prove my previous assertion: Whether or not “masks work”, mask mandates don’t and they are nothing but COVID-theater...

As more vaccines are distributed and people recover from infection (especially after receiving the new treatments that have been developed), smart leaders would do well to lift the mandates and restrictions and allow people to resume all their regular activities. Political leaders and media-types who insist on masks are following neither science or reason.