Saturday, July 31, 2021

Media Bias

This should be all the evidence you need:

Update, 8/2/21:

Update #2, 8/3/21:

Friday, July 30, 2021

Disciplinary Policies

We all know that black and Hispanic students, especially boys, are suspended from school at rates higher than Asian and white students.  Somehow, this is supposed to be a marker of racism rather than of cultural issues.  

Some view school suspensions as punitive, but any teacher can tell you that removing a disruptive student makes learning easier for everyone else, and there's a new study that demonstrates that:

To evaluate the net effects of classroom disciplinary practices, policy makers and educators must understand not only their effects on disciplined students but also their effects on non-disciplined peers. In this study, we estimate the link between peer suspensions and non-suspended students’ learning trajectories in a California school district where middle and high school students took up to twelve basic skills tests in mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) over the course of the 2009–10, 2010–11, and 2011–12 school years. We find that Hispanic students, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, English language learners, students enrolled in special education, and low-achieving students are disproportionately exposed to classmate suspensions (boldface mine--Darren). Analyses with student and classroom fixed effects show that student achievement in mathematics increases when their classmates receive suspensions, particularly suspensions attributed to disruptive behavior. We find no association between classmate suspension and ELA achievement. Because these results come from schools in which suspensions are relatively rare events, they may not generalize to settings with draconian disciplinary cultures. Nonetheless, our findings imply that suspensions, when used appropriately, can improve the academic achievement of non-suspended students, particularly for students from vulnerable populations.

Somehow it's racist to discipline minority students but not racist to make other minority students lose out on education because of disruptive students.  I do not understand the leftie thought process.

Pics of Me

I was told that during this trip I looked relaxed and happy.  While I was certainly both, here are some pics--you decide:

In addition to relaxed and happy, I also appear extremely well-fed.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Freedom Fest Road Trip--By the Numbers

Total days:  30 (6/29-7/29)

Total miles:  4,609

Average mpg:  13.9 (not bad when so much of it was towing!) 

Average speed:  44 mph

Nights in houses:  7

Nights in the trailer:  23

Number of loads of laundry:  3 

Wal*marts visited: 2 (corrected 8/3)

Audiobooks listened to:  6

Gas stations that sold marijuana:  1 seen (not visited!)

National parks/monuments/historic sites visited:  7

National parks/monuments/historic sites visited that I hadn't visited before:  6

Highest gas price paid:  $4.40/gallon on I-5 in the Central Valley of California

Lowest gas price paid: $2.85/gallon in Phoenix

Highest elevation:  Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, 10,378'

Longest stay in one location:  6 nights in Rapid City, SD

Since my purchase in February 2017:

Total mileage on my pickup:  27,374.3

Total mileage while towing:  10,384


Update, 7/31/21:  

Number of times I wore a mask:  1 (the cable car up Sandia Peak is considered "public transportation")

Monday, July 26, 2021

Competing Against Yourself

One thing that's really added value to my (so far almost) 30-day, 4000-mile trip has been the National Park Service App.  It allows online or offline access to information about hundreds of national parks, historic sites, and monuments across the country and in US territories.  I've especially enjoyed the information about hiking trails and driving routes.

My favorite capability, though, is that it allows you to keep a list of those places you've visited!  On this trip I've added Montezuma's Castle, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Petroglyphs, Florissant Fossil Beds, and Devils Tower to my list of National Park Service sites I've visited, and tomorrow I'm going to add Golden Spike National Historic Site to the list (being from the Sacramento area, that one holds special significance to me).  It will be my 37th.

I encourage you to download this app, mark those sites you've visited, and start planning on more!

Close Encounters

I left Rapid City yesterday morning and went to Devils Tower National Monument:

But wait, there's more:

For perspective, if you zoom in on those curved grooves above and to the right of my smooth pate, you can see a climber!

If, upon seeing these pictures, 5 musical notes didn't immediately pop into your head, you're a young'in!

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Freedom Fest So Far

Among other speakers so far I've heard and seen Kristi Noem, Corey DeAngelis, Maj Toure, Larry Elder, John Mackey, Naomi Wolf, and Ayaan Hirsi-Ali.  To say that the conference has been intellectually stimulating would be an extreme understatement.

Update, 7/24/21:  It just got better and better.  The conference is over now but you can add James O'Keefe, John McWhorter, and Mark Perry to the list.  What a treat!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Whom We Honor, We Craft In Stone

Michelangelo once said, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."  Today I went to Mt. Rushmore to see the statue that was in a mountain:

After Mt. Rushmore I continued about 11 miles down the road to the Crazy Horse Monument.  The monument is on private land and is financed by donations--it's been a work-in-progress since 1948 and is nowhere near done:

It should be quite impressive when it gets done.

Just A Reminder

This guy was the first presidential candidate of the party that was formed in opposition to slavery:

The Republican Party has been the party of individual rights since its founding.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Next Phase

After enjoying Albuquerque, I made it to Colorado Springs in time for my son's 25th birthday.  Here's a picture of him, my mother and me:

And in what was the quirkiest of fates, the parents of a former student of mine, a student who eventually graduated from the Air Force Academy, saw me on Instagram and invited me over--because they now live in Colorado Springs!  Mike and Cris, thank you for the hospitality:

Then it was off to Denver, where I spent a day and a half with a friend of mine since high school.  I left this morning, and after a solid day of driving, camp is now set up at the Three Flags RV Park just outside of Rapid City.  I have a free day tomorrow to go have some fun, then Freedom Fest 2021 starts on Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant

I've written previously about California's proposed racial/racist math framework.  Enough people opposed this dreck and now the state Board of Education is tucking tail and running.  Oh, they'll be back when they hope no one is looking, but make no mistake, this is a victory:

The California Board of Education is set to push back against implementing an overhaul of its mathematics curriculum after opponents argued the plan needlessly inserts politics and social justice initiatives into lessons.  

"California is on the verge of politicizing K-12 math in a potentially disastrous way. This postponement means the State Board of Education has heard the message loud and clear. STEM leaders don’t want California students left behind by introducing politics into the math curriculum," said in a statement Dr. Williamson M. Evers, a senior fellow of the Independent Institute

The California board is slated to postpone implementing its proposed Mathematics Curriculum Framework during a Wednesday meeting, pushing final action on the curriculum to May 2022, according to the board’s agenda for this month.

Turns out it's based on bad research:
The push to create “equity” and more “social justice” in public schools in America's largest state rests on this basic premise: “We reject ideas of natural gifts and talents,” declares the current draft of the California Math Framework, which also states that it rejects “the cult of genius.”

Informed by that fundamental idea, the 800-page Framework calls for the elimination of accelerated classes and gifted programs for high-achieving students until at least the 11th grade...

But the Framework, which could be adopted next year, claims its recommendations are based on the latest, seemingly unimpeachable findings of advanced social science research. Phrases such as “researchers found,” “the research shows” and the “research is clear” are sprinkled through the Framework, which states unequivocally: “The research is clear that all students are capable of becoming powerful mathematics learners and users.” If true, this evidence would provide a powerful rationale for adopting the Framework's proposals, which, given California's size and prestige, is commonly seen as a model for other states.

A review of much of the research cited, however, reveals that what the Framework describes as “clear” is often actually pretty murky, hotly disputed, or contradicted by other research, misleadingly stretched to cover situations for which it was not intended, or, in some instances, just plain wrong.
Good riddance.

The Pikes Peak Region

I lived here in Colorado Springs when I was stationed at Fort Carson from 1987-1990.  There's so much here--Pikes Peak (drive or hike up), Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, the US Olympic Training Center, Old Colorado City, and so much more.

A Swiss friend once told me about the Switzerland that they sell to tourists, and then the Switzerland for those who live there.  Here are a couple shots of the Pikes Peak Region for the tourists, taken today:

Can you see why they call it Garden of the Gods?  You can see Pikes Peak in the background of the first picture.

Not too far away is the Florissant National Fossil Beds.  I was expecting mammoths and such, but mostly there are petrified redwood trees and a valley that millions of years ago was a forest, then a lake and now...

There are plenty of prehistoric fossilized fish, leaves, insects, etc.

Overcast, cool temps, great scenery--a good day.

Happy Multiples Day!

 Today is 7/14/21.  The next multiples day won't occur for 3 years.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Big Booms

I spent some time this morning at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.  This is New Mexico, after all!

Sure, there was a B-29 and a mock-up of the tower and Trinity device, but what was my favorite display?  Being a proud Air Defender and member of the Order of Saint Barbara, it was the Nike Herc!

Excellent museum, only $15 admission ($8 for military/veterans).

Saturday, July 10, 2021

So Much For "The Science"

Governor Newsollini of California is going against "the science" and will make my work life a living hell when school starts again in a month:

The nation’s two biggest teachers unions have praised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new coronavirus guidance for schools, saying it offers a "roadmap" for a return to normal, even as some states go a different route... 

However, California issued immediate counter-guidance, mandating masks in the fall for teachers and students alike. 

"Masking is a simple and effective intervention that does not interfere with offering full in-person instruction," said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly. 

 "At the outset of the new year, students should be able to walk into school without worrying about whether they will feel different or singled out for being vaccinated or unvaccinated — treating all kids the same will support a calm and supportive school environment," he said.

I agree with the teachers unions.  The ground feels cold.

There was a time when I was proud to be from California.  Now it's just a sick joke.

An Exciting Few Days

After visiting Sedona, I decided to extend my stay in Camp Verde by another night so I could explore the surrounding area and town.  What's left of Fort Verde, an "Indian Wars" army fort, looked like all the other forts of that period!  Nearby was Montezuma's Castle National Monument, a Mesa Verde-type cliff dwelling that was abandoned around 1400:

The next 2 nights I spent in Winslow, Arizona.  

Yes, I stood on the corner (like you wouldn't!), and yes, I visited the meteor crater about 20 miles away:

20-something miles on the other side of Winslow is the Petrified Forest, so I stopped there as well:

In that last picture I'm standing in the same spot as Albert Einstein did 90 years ago.

I went from south to north through the park, which means I ended up at the overlooks for the Painted Desert:

Watching that dust storm blow in from miles away was awe-inspiring.  The views brought this song to mind:

Now I'm in Albuquerque, where it looks like we might get an afternoon rainshower.  No, I won't be taking a Breaking Bad tour while I'm here, but I will go to the candy store that made the blue ice!

Now is a good time to bring up something for active duty military and veterans:  as of Veteran's Day 2020, we military and former military types get free admission to national parks and monuments.  Just show proof of status (the "veteran" designation on my driver's license was sufficient) and you will get in without charge.  So far I've gotten into Montezuma's Castle and the Petrified Forest at no cost, and will also see the Florissant Fossil Beds and Devil's Tower on this trip.  Of course I know that we didn't serve just so we could get into national parks, and part of me wonders if this set-aside is a good idea, but I'll take advantage of it for now.