Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Commie in the Classroom

A few years ago, California teachers could not be communists.  Education code prohibited teachers from being members of the Communist Party and/or (and this will be a very close paraphrase of the original law) teaching communism with the intent of inculcating in the mind of students a preference for communism.  Our previous governor, Crazy Ole Uncle Jerry (Brown), and the legislature got rid of that prohibition.  Now we get this guy (video at the link) in a neighboring school district:

Project Veritas released shocking new video today of California AP Government teacher, Gabriel Gipe, boasting about politically indoctrinating his students at Inderkum High School. 

Gipe said that his intention is to radicalize students into supporting Marxist ideas by using the public school system as an avenue to incentivize them to participate in fringe extracurricular events.

“I have 180 days to turn them [students] into revolutionaries…Scare the f*ck out of them,” Gipe said.

“I post a calendar every week…I’ve had students show up for protests, community events, tabling, food distribution, all sorts of things…When they go, they take pictures, write up a reflection -- that’s their extra credit,” he said.

Gipe said he keeps track of his students’ political inclinations. He is also perplexed when a student expresses discomfort with the decorations in his public-school classroom.

“So, they take an ideology quiz and I put [the results] on the [classroom] wall. Every year, they get further and further left…I'm like, ‘These ideologies are considered extreme, right? Extreme times breed extreme ideologies.’ Right? There is a reason why Generation Z, these kids, are becoming further and further left,” he said.

“I have an Antifa flag on my [classroom] wall and a student complained about that — he said it made him feel uncomfortable. Well, this [Antifa flag] is meant to make fascists feel uncomfortable, so if you feel uncomfortable, I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe you shouldn’t be aligning with the values that this [Antifa flag] is antithetical to.”

He does this with other people's children

Update, 9/1/21The teacher is being fired:

A teacher who made national headlines after he was seen on video praising Antifa and communism while lamenting his short window of opportunity to turn his high school students into left-wing revolutionaries will be fired, administrators in a Sacramento district said Wednesday.

In an online message seen by Newsweek and posted Wednesday dubbed "What We Know About Teacher in Video and Next Steps," The Natomas Unified School District said it investigated not only the video but other irregularities. The notice does not name the teacher, though he is identified in the video as Inderkum High School advanced-placement government teacher Gabriel Gipe.

District administrators said they will be "taking the legally required next steps to place the teacher on unpaid leave and fire the teacher."

Good job, Project Veritas, for releasing and publicizing the damning video.

Just as a reminder, Project Veritas had a table at Freedom Fest this summer, and I got to see/hear James O'Keefe speak--he's a dynamic speaker.

The Iron Pyrite State

California is heading towards a feudal state.  I'm ok, I work in the government class, I'll keep getting paid--until the money from the peons runs out.  How can that happen, you might ask?

California is in decline.  The Golden State lost population in 2020 for the first time in decades, and the exodus included celebrity entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Joe Rogan. A long list of businesses, some as well known as Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Nestle, and Toyota, have either relocated or sent some jobs outside of the state in recent years.  

But just how bad have things really gotten in California? A new study from the Hoover Institution at Stanford University analyzes the anecdotes and finds a damning trend. 

Authors Joseph Vranich and Lee E. Ohanian examined available reports of companies relocating their headquarters outside of the Golden State. They find that 265 major companies have moved on to greener pastures since January 1, 2018.

The study also reports that the rate at which businesses are leaving the state is rapidly accelerating. For the first six months of 2021, the rate is nearly twice as high as it was last year. That means more businesses have already left California this year than in all of 2020.

Hard to maintain a strong economy if your business climate isn't good.

Monday, August 30, 2021


If you won't admit that a Republican would have to leave office for something like this, you're not being honest:

President Biden called a Black adviser "boy" during a Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) briefing on Monday.

The president used the term while introducing his senior adviser Cedric Richmond, a former Louisiana congressman. 

"I'm here with my senior adviser and boy who knows Louisiana very, very well and New Orleans, Cedric Richmond," Biden said at a press briefing with FEMA after Hurricane Ida rocked Louisiana.

"Boy" is considered to be a racially derogatory term toward Black men.

Data, Not Emotion

The complete study is here:

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Heritage Foundation's Election Fraud Database


The Mushroom Dome

Quite interesting:

The world’s most popular Airbnb listing isn’t easy to find.

From San Francisco, the journey begins with an hourlong drive down Interstate 280 and a windy traverse of “Killer 17” — one of the most accident-prone highways in California.

In the small coastal town of Aptos, you ascend into the Santa Cruz mountains, past centuries-old redwood groves and herds of deer. A few miles in, you lose cell service and have to rely on paper instructions printed out in advance.

When you spot the cluster of weathered mailboxes, you cut right and climb up a steep single-lane driveway until you reach an old, mint green shed.

You park and walk up the driveway, past black cats, clucking chickens, and dense thickets of foliage.

Here lies the world-famous Mushroom Dome.

Over the years, this 100-square-foot geodesic structure has hosted more than 5.8k Airbnb guests from all over the world.

People have traveled here from more than 40 countries — Djibouti, Mongolia, China, India, Australia, Peru — on 6 different continents. It’s been the subject of news articles, Instagram shoots, and video tributes.

The Mushroom Dome is the most booked and most wish-listed property on Airbnb’s platform, besting 5.6m other listings, including a house shaped like an elephant, a cave in France, and a 12th-century Scottish castle.

What makes it so popular? Why do people flock here? And how has this tiny cabin’s fame impacted the owner’s life?

On a recent afternoon in August, I went there to find out.

Know The Law

California Education Code, Section 38117:

ARTICLE 1. Apparatus and Supplies [38110 - 38120]
  ( Article 1 added by Stats. 1996, Ch. 277, Sec. 5. )


The governing board of each school district throughout the state shall provide for each schoolhouse under its control, a suitable Flag of the United States, which shall be hoisted above each schoolhouse during all school sessions and on school holidays, weather permitting.

The governing board of each school district shall provide smaller and suitable United States Flags to be displayed in each schoolroom at all times during the school sessions.

The governing board of each school district shall enforce this section.

(Added by Stats. 1996, Ch. 277, Sec. 5. Effective January 1, 1997. Operative January 1, 1998.)

If you're going to violate the law, you should be a little quieter about it--and not try to push your beliefs onto other people's children:

A California school district is investigating a teacher after she posted a video admitting that she encouraged her students to pledge allegiance to a gay pride flag after she removed the American flag from her classroom

"Okay, so during third period, we have announcements and they do the pledge of allegiance," the teacher, identified as Kristin Pitzen of Newport Mesa School District in Orange County, said in a video posted to social media. "I always tell my class, stand if you feel like it, don’t stand if you feel like it, say the words if you want, you don’t have to say the words."

She thinks she's being daring, but the US Supreme Court ruled in 1943 (during World War II) that students cannot be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school.  But let's continue:

"Except for the fact that my room does not have a flag," she said, explaining that she removed the flag during the pandemic and then whispered to the camera, "because it made me uncomfortable." 

She went on to say that one of her students asked where they should look during the pledge of allegiance since there is no American flag in the classroom. 

"In the meantime, I tell this kid, ‘We do have a flag in the class that you can pledge your allegiance to. And he like, looks around and goes, ‘Oh, that one?'" and points to the pride flag. 

At least the district is taking the correct approach:

"We are aware of this incident and are investigating. While we do not discuss employee related matters, we can tell you that showing respect and honor for our nation’s flag is a value that we instill in our students and an expectation of our employees. We take matters like this seriously and will be taking action to address it," public relations officer for the district, Annette Franco, told Fox News.

I cannot put my finger on the date when it became fashionable for Americans to say they hate the USA, but it wasn't so long ago.  I don't understand people like that.

I moved into my current classroom when I arrived at school in 2003.  There were no flags in the room.  I noticed that once (we absolutely do not say the pledge at my school) and shortly thereafter a student bought me classroom-sized US and California flags.  They still hang in the flag holders all during the school year; in June I furl them and put them in the locked closet so they'll be there waiting for me in August.  The student who brought me the flags graduated from ROTC and served in the Air Force.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Can't Argue With This

This is certainly how I see things:

Long before Donald Trump even had the chance to take office, we were constantly assured by Democrats and their flying monkeys in the mainstream media that the United States as we knew it was pretty much toast...

Objectively, the first three years of the Trump era were damned good ones for the republic. Unfortunately, American Democrats all live on a subjective moon that orbits a navel-gazing planet. Rather than just sit back and enjoy all of the peace and prosperity that President Trump helped bring about, all they could do was rend their garments over the fact that he had dared to defeat the least likable presidential candidate in history fairly and squarely.

Were you, however, to have been a regular consumer of the mainstream media in the United States of America, all you read or heard was that this great land had been ruined forever by ORANGE MAN BAD...

The only real chaos during the Trump years happened in 2020, obviously, and it wasn’t his doing. The pandemic threw everything into a tizzy, including election integrity. Now we’re seven months into a nightmare brought on by Democrat opportunists who ran over dead bodies just so they could point back and use them as excuses to obliterate any semblance of transparency in an American presidential election...

Again, we are just seven months and a handful of days into Biden’s tenure, and here’s a sampling of the havoc he has wrought:

  • Inflation is exploding
  • The peace Trump brokered in the Middle East has been destabilized
  • Our allies don’t trust us
  • Our enemies are mocking us
  • Our border with Mexico has become a porous COVID superspreader event
  • Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan

The title of the above piece?  

America Is Now Actually the Mess Dems Pretended It Was Under Trump

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Impact of the Janus Ruling On the NEA's Income

Some thought unions would come to an end after the Janus ruling.  Some thought it would invigorate the union movement out of fear.  Neither came true:

When it came to money, at least, all that sound and fury signified nothing.

The combined annual incomes of the National Education Association and its state affiliates as of Aug. 31, 2019, was $1,663,883,934. That was an increase of $45,727 from the previous year, or 0.003 percent.

That’s not to say there was no effect whatsoever. Thirty-one state affiliates lost members that year, and 24 saw a reduction in revenues. But there is no consistent correlation between membership levels or revenues and states where there were either #RedforEd protests or agency fee laws.

All the financial information comes from the unions’ annual disclosure reports for the Internal Revenue Service detailing their income and expenditures. These are public records, but the pandemic created a long delay before the IRS made many of them available.

Now that I'm not required to give them a cent of my money, it doesn't matter to me if they grow, shrink, or stay steady.  I just want them to leave me alone.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Venezuelan Currency

So many times on this blog I've talked about inflationary and hyperinflationary currency; how, if you have too many zeroes on your money, that's a sign that something is terribly wrong.

In 2018 Venezuela lopped 5 zeroes off its currency, yet today that currency is still valued at 4.17 million bolivars to the US dollar:

I received my latest eBay order today.  For being worth less than the paper they're printed on, those notes sure are pretty, aren't they?

Things are bad in Venezuela, and lopping off more zeroes isn't going to fix their problem:

Venezuela says it will make a million-to-1 change in its currency soon, eliminating six zeros from prices in the local currency as hyperinflation continues to plague the troubled South American nation.

Venezuela’s central bank on Thursday announced the change to the bolivar will go into effect Oct. 1.

The new 100 bolivar bill will be the highest denomination. It is equivalent to 100,000,000 of the current bolivar.

This is the third adjustment since socialist leaders began governing Venezuela. The bolivar lost three zeros in 2008 under now-deceased President Hugo Chávez, while his successor, Nicolás Maduro, eliminated five zeros in 2018.

Venezuela is in its sixth year of recession. Millions live in poverty, with high food prices that are commonly set in U.S. dollars and low wages.

The 1 million bolivar bill is currently the highest denomination, but it is scarce. More than seven of those bills are needed to buy a 1.3-gallon (5-liter) bottle of water,which cost 7.4 million bolivars or $1.84 dollars on Thursday.

This isn't the first time in recent history they've lopped off zeroes:

The government announced on 7 March 2007 that the bolívar would be revalued at a ratio of 1,000 to 1 on 1 January 2008 and renamed the bolívar fuerte in an effort to facilitate the ease of transaction and accounting...

The revaluation was rescheduled to 20 August 2018, and the rate changed to 100,000 to 1, with prices being required to be expressed at the new rate starting 1 August 2018.

And now they're excising 6 more zeroes.  3+5+6=14.  14 zeroes.  What could be the cause of this?  Hint:  it starts with "s" and rhymes with "motialism".

Modified Quarantine

True story, heard it from the parent.  I'll use quote marks, but it's really a paraphrase:

"Your child has been exposed to the 'rona at school.  He/she is supposed to quarantine at home and get tested twice within the next week.  However, no one is really tracking this, so it's more like a 'modified quarantine'.  Don't worry about it."

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Half the Population Is Living In Irrational Fear

It's not just college students:

Government restrictions on daily life during the pandemic have fueled a youth mental health crisis . Yet, even with many of these restrictions now lifted, young people are still living in a hysterical state of fear.

New polling proves as much. Axios/TheGenerationLab just surveyed college students about their comfort level with various forms of social activity. The poll finds that students, many of whom are vaccinated, are essentially scared of their own shadow — in a way utterly untethered from actual risk levels and scientific reality.
A knowledge of probability is so valuable, yet so rare.


When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts:

Over the past several months, critical race theory (CRT) has become one of the most divisive topics in higher education and in America’s political dialogue. Mainstream liberals have framed the issue as simply a matter of teaching accurate history. In their eyes, teaching CRT in the classroom is equivalent to teaching that slavery existed, Black Americans were historically discriminated against, and there are still some residual consequences from that historical legacy. To oppose CRT, in their eyes, is to teach a white-washed version of history in which America can do no wrong.

But according to actual critical race theorists, this is not the case. Its founders were explicitly concerned with deconstructing liberal democracy. As CRT founder Richard Delgado writes, “critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” Their desire for deconstruction rests upon the claim that America is fundamentally based upon white supremacy. As Harvard professor Derrick Bell (another founder of CRT) explained via his concept of interest convergence, Black interests are only advanced in this country when they are aligned with white interests. Because America is fundamentally racist, it is impossible for non-whites to get ahead.

But is this claim true? Is the United States fundamentally broken, unable to escape from its legacy of racism? Or are the traditional American principles of equal opportunity, hard work, and meritocracy the key to overcoming our current brokenness, even though we have historically fallen short of those ideals?

Asian Americans offer a compelling answer to that question. Along nearly every measurable life outcome, Asian Americans outperform whites. Asian Americans have the highest per capita incomelowest per capita crime rates, and highest rates of postsecondary achievement. Despite making up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, Asian Americans account for a whopping 60 percent of top scores on the SAT. Whites, despite making up more than half of the country’s population, only account for 33 percent. America is infected by a peculiar strain of white supremacy indeed if it allows for Asian Americans to beat whites on so many different metrics.

The veracity of critical race theory depends upon whites being dominant. At the very least, it requires minority success to be contingent upon white interests. But Asian Americans buck that trend, too. Asian American interests are oftentimes in direct opposition to white interests. As I argue in my book, An Inconvenient Minority, white resentment drives much of the anti-Asian discrimination performed by Ivy League admissions departments. Asian American achievement threatens the ability of rich, white applicants to get into their preferred universities. In fact, an internal Harvard report found that Asians would make up 43 percent of the student body if students were admitted solely on academic merit. It is only due to legacy admissions and racial profiling that Asians were capped at 19 percent of Harvard’s student body for close to 25 years.

Neither can historical privilege explain why Asians outperform whites to such an extreme degree. The Chinese Exclusion Act banned Chinese immigrants from coming to America, and over one hundred thousand Japanese Americans were forced into government-run internment camps in the 1940s. Those events (amongst many others) led to widespread discrimination against Asians in America; many states banned Asians from owning land even into the 1960s. And still today, many Asian Americans are first or second generation immigrants who suffer from a lack of English proficiency. Only one-third of Vietnamese immigrants are proficient in English, and yet Vietnamese immigrant households still have higher incomes than U.S.-born households.

So what explains the disparity? It’s not historical privilege, systemic bias in favor of Asians, or white assistance. It’s meritocracy.

A Loss Of Trust

It's not hard to believe that this wasn't an accident:

Personal information from California State University, Chico, students who requested a religious exemption from the COVID vaccine has been posted online after an apparent data breach.

The requests from about 130 students were dumped on an anonymous Internet message board, documenting approved and denied requests from CSU Chico students between June 7 and Aug. 10.

Trust is an extremely valuable commodity, and we’re seeing what happens when it’s casually tossed aside in pursuit of ideological goals.

I'm Told Election Fraud Is A Conservative Myth

Nothing to see here, please move along:

First, this public service announcement: There is no voter fraud in U.S. elections. Thank you for your attention.

A California man was discovered asleep in his car in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store in Torrance with drugs, cash, and several drivers’ licenses, according to ABC7...

Oh… I nearly forgot. There were about 300 unopened recall election ballots in the car.

Taken together, it’s an interesting picture, don’t you think?

I'm just gonna say it--I don't think he was going to cast those votes for Larry Elder.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

A Kilt

One of our younger teachers is a graduate of our school, and during his time as a student there was a student club called the Highlander Club.  It wasn't much, but the members wore kilts to school each Friday.  This teacher wants to revive the club.

To do so, he's drafted several teachers and convinced them to buy kilts and to start wearing them on Fridays.  I can't decide on a kilt, though.

If I wanted to have the most amazing kilt ever, I'd jump through the hoops that are required in order to get the official West Point tartan, and I'd have a kilt made from that.  It would take approximately forever and be very expensive.  And I don't want a traditional kilt, to be honest; I want a modern "utility kilt"--perhaps even a hybrid kilt with the West Point tartan sewn into the pleats, but again, getting that tartan would take forever.

I've pretty much narrowed my choices down to three: a solid black utility kilt, a hybrid kilt with the US Army tartan sewn into the pleats, and a woodland camouflage utility kilt.  I'm waiting for answers to emails from a couple of the companies before I make my final decision.

Update, 8/29/21:  My clan tartan is a bit "loud", and the West Point tartan and kilts with the "Old Grad Plaid" tartan are hard to come by.  I kind of like the Pride of Scotland tartan, but didn't find one in a kilt I liked.  For those who know me it'll no doubt be difficult to believe (snicker snicker) that I ordered two utility kilts, one in solid black and the other in woodland camouflage.  The solid black one arrives tomorrow!

Monday, August 23, 2021

I'm Done With The Emotions

This year my district bribed us with $3000 to implement a "flex" period in our daily schedule.  It's a 30-minute time that we can use to help students catch up/make up assignments, to help fill in the gaps of "learning loss", or to help work with students on social-emotional things.

I've tried a week of the social-emotional, and in a couple classes I can keep it up, but as I wrote here and here, my top university-bound students are in a world of mathematical hurt.  Too many of them are not adequately prepared for the course they're enrolled in.

I can keep with the social-emotional stuff, or I can try to fill in the gaps.  I made the decision today in those top classes, and today we "reviewed" factoring polynomials.  We'll spend several "flex" periods doing so.

Then, perhaps we'll move on to logarithms--unless I find a more immediate need.

Update, 9/6/21:  I'm told that perhaps within a week, one of my Financial Math classes will be moved to another teacher as part of a big shuffle and I'll get a brand new statistics class.

We've already completed Chapter 1 in statistics and are well into Chapter 2.  We only complete five chapters in the first semester.

I guess this new statistics class will have to get caught up somehow, and "flex" is the time to do that.

This Is The American Left

From Instapundit today:

ADHERING TO OUR ENEMIES: Democrats trust the Taliban more than their fellow Americans. “Leftists’ inability to distinguish between the barbaric violence of the Taliban on display this week and Americans who disagree with them politically makes for a truly disturbing statement about their judgment in all matters.”

Analysis:  TRUE.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Success In High School Math

At about the same time as San Francisco, my own school district switched from allowing students to accelerate in math as fast as they could to requiring almost every 8th grader to take "8th grade math" and every 9th grader to take "Integrated Math 1".  Here are the San Francisco results:

SFUSD does not provide grade distribution over time for higher level courses, and offers just numbers about course-takers, without breaking out the course grades, so we cannot make any definitive statement on those. Yet some hints are available from what SFUSD does provide.

Advanced Placement (AP) math course enrollment in SFUSD has stayed mostly constant, at 1,600–1,700 tests taken every year. Yet prior to the new program AP Calculus made about 70% of the tests taken with the other ~30% being AP Statistics, but under the new program the AP Calculus enrollment dropped to less than 60% while AP Statistics rose to over 40%. SFUSD administrators will tell you that “statistics today is more important than calculus” yet that is not what professors at leading colleges and STEM faculties are saying. AP Calculus is more demanding, as can be clearly seen from SFUSD’s own math “pathways” that allow taking AP Statistics under its regular pathway, but doesn’t allow for AP Calculus unless one takes a compressed (accelerated) pathway.

In other words, since the program change more students take the easier statistics and fewer take the more demanding calculus as their culminating high school math course. SFUSD does not provide a breakdown of student score on the AP exams so it is impossible to judge whether the scores on them have improved or deteriorated since the program change.

Finally, the only objective measure we have of the SFUSD new math program boils down to the state-wide Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing. Grade 3–8 SBAC tests do not include any significant algebra, so the only real way to assess SFUSD success is the 11th grade math test (which is not very demanding to begin with). Here the story is telling.

Read the whole thing.

Why do so many people who are responsible for the education of children do so much to inhibit the education of children?

Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Problems Are Legion

Why are so many CSU students failing?

California State University students are failing or withdrawing at high rates from many courses — including chemistry, calculus, English and U.S. history — prompting renewed efforts for systemwide reform.

New attention is being placed on classes that for years have shown failure or withdrawal rates of 20% or more — sometimes reaching as high as half the students. Efforts to overhaul the courses and improve teaching are now seen as a crucial way to help more students pass and graduate.

For example, more than a third of Sacramento State students in some physics, economics, computer science and anthropology classes failed or left those courses. At Fresno State, the same was true in some math, chemistry, criminology and music courses.

When more than 20% of students in a class receive a D, F or withdraw, that course is considered to have a high “DFW rate,” in university parlance. Generally, course rates are averaged over three years. Cal State Los Angeles, for example, reports that about 11% of all of its undergraduate classes have high fail rates. Statistics are close to that for the Fresno and Sacramento campuses.


Officials said the problem exists across all 23 campuses.

CSU reported 686 high failure courses systemwide last fall with enrollments of at least 100. Campus administrators, however, are looking at smaller classes too, signaling that the problem is likely to be more widespread. Just three campuses, Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento reported a total of 453 high failure courses.

Challenging course material, ineffective teaching and unprepared or overwhelmed students contribute to the rise in high failure/withdrawal rates, experts say. Failures in these courses and repeated attempts to pass them can add semesters to students’ time on campus because many of the courses are required for their majors. Worse, failing a class can send students into a tailspin that leads to abandoning majors or dropping out altogether.

Look at the reasons the LA Times gives!  The first two blame the professors, the third blames the students.  What about the universities themselves

It's time for our politicians--and I include CSU administrators among them--to admit that they're letting too many unqualified students into our universities.  For example, how long has it been since Sacramento State dropped it's Entry Level Math test for incoming freshman?  What possible reason could there be for dropping the SAT/ACT that to let in students who wouldn't otherwise have met the cutoff?  Campuses swarm with students who are there because they're told that going to college is the way to get ahead in the world--and they're not given any alternatives.  A few years later they've dropped out and wonder how they're going to pay the student loans they've racked up.

"Challenging course material"?  Isn't that kind of the idea behind college?  And I have no doubt that there is some "ineffective teaching" occurring, but can that truly be the reason so many students are failing so many classes?  And if that truly is a major issue, why doesn't CSU address it?

I'm inclined to believe that the lion's share of the problem rests with the students themselves--and we in K-12 aren't free of blame here.  Some of us resist the pressure to water down our courses, to pass students who shouldn't pass, to "round up" grades so students look like they've performed better than they did--but too many teachers don't resist that pressure.  Even I am forced to admit, however, that the river must have smoothed my rock over time, as the pre-calculus course I teach now does not have the rigor that the pre-calculus course I taught in 2003-2004 had.  Part of the reason for that is a change in standards, but I'm sure a non-zero proportion of the change is just that I've been worn down.

But I wasn't worn down because I wanted to be.  No, students and parents want easier classes.  They want easier classes and higher grades.  I wrote about this earlier this month.  

And the LA Times writes a hand-wringing article about what's to be done.

But, But, It Was Science!

It wasn't science, it was scienceAnd it was all theater:

They were elementary and homemade at first before becoming commercialized and mass-produced, but plastic dividers became as commonplace during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic as the paper masks that now litter city streets.

Put up with the aim of blocking droplets from the noses and mouths of the COVID-infected among us, they became a sort of virtue signal for businesses to show that they cared about the safety of their customers and employees. Plastic dividers popped up to separate Uber drivers from their passengers, supermarket cashiers from customers, students from teachers, and virtually every place there used to be unimpeded face-to-face interactions.

Now that we've had more than a year of life peering through plastic at our fellow citizens, the science is starting to catch up with the craze and it turns out those measures may have actually increased the chances of people contracting the Wuhan coronavirus.

A Sign of the Times

I have a student in one of my classes who hasn't yet shown up to school.  Her parents have been in contact with our attendance office, though, as the reason for her absence is automatically noted on my roll sheets.  The reason?

"Student is stuck in Afghanistan."

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Heckuva Job, Joey

They sold this administration as putting adults back in charge, reassuring our allies, with "diplomacy" the new watchword.

Parliament holds Joe Biden in contempt over Afghanistan 

MPs and peers unite to condemn ‘dishonour’ of US president’s withdrawal and his criticism of Afghan troops left behind to face Taliban 


I Must Not Be Lucky!

Whether this is true or not, it makes for interesting reading:

The distribution of wealth follows a well-known pattern sometimes called an 80:20 rule: 80 percent of the wealth is owned by 20 percent of the people. Indeed, a report last year concluded that just eight men had a total wealth equivalent to that of the world’s poorest 3.8 billion people.

This seems to occur in all societies at all scales. It is a well-studied pattern called a power law that crops up in a wide range of social phenomena. But the distribution of wealth is among the most controversial because of the issues it raises about fairness and merit. Why should so few people have so much wealth?

The conventional answer is that we live in a meritocracy in which people are rewarded for their talent, intelligence, effort, and so on. Over time, many people think, this translates into the wealth distribution that we observe, although a healthy dose of luck can play a role.

But there is a problem with this idea: while wealth distribution follows a power law, the distribution of human skills generally follows a normal distribution that is symmetric about an average value. For example, intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, follows this pattern. Average IQ is 100, but nobody has an IQ of 1,000 or 10,000.

The same is true of effort, as measured by hours worked. Some people work more hours than average and some work less, but nobody works a billion times more hours than anybody else.

And yet when it comes to the rewards for this work, some people do have billions of times more wealth than other people. What’s more, numerous studies have shown that the wealthiest people are generally not the most talented by other measures.

What factors, then, determine how individuals become wealthy? Could it be that chance plays a bigger role than anybody expected? And how can these factors, whatever they are, be exploited to make the world a better and fairer place?

We finally get an answer thanks to the work of Alessandro Pluchino at the University of Catania in Italy and a couple of colleagues. These guys have created a computer model of human talent and the way people use it to exploit opportunities in life. The model allows the team to study the role of chance in this process.

The results are something of an eye-opener. Their simulations accurately reproduce the wealth distribution in the real world. But the wealthiest individuals are not the most talented (although they must have a certain level of talent). They are the luckiest. And this has significant implications for the way societies can optimize the returns they get for investments in everything from business to science.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A Positive Interaction

My district office is so bad--and make no mistake about it, the rot starts at the top--that my best suggestion for how to fix things would be to nuke the entire *street* from orbit.  Yes, I acknowledge that doing this would cause significant collateral damage, but on balance, ensuring the removal of the greatest possible number of district office administration would probably be worth the cost.

As you can see, I don't have feelings of admiration and/or respect for the denizens of the D.O.  Yesterday, however, one of them impressed me, and impressed me to such a degree that I told other teachers the story today every chance I got.  I don't want to be the guy who complains all the time.

By the end of school last June I had completed enough outside training that I can move over to a higher level on our salary schedule.  The documentation was submitted over the summer and, when I returned to school last week, showed up on the computer.  I thus needed to submit my paperwork to let our payroll department know that I now meet the requirements to be moved on the salary schedule, and did so this past Monday.

The catch, though, is that the person who would usually process this paperwork no longer works for our district.  With no one sure whom I should send the paperwork to, I sent it to the head of our HR department.  I enclosed a letter explaining why I sent her that paperwork and what it was for.

Again, that was Monday.  On Tuesday I received a thorough email from our HR Director.  It was a few paragraphs long.

First off, she confirmed that HR had received my paperwork.

Then she explained that August is a difficult time for our payroll department, as their primary concern is to ensure everyone gets a paycheck at the end of the month.  Given all the new hires, etc., they are quite busy and will probably not be processing pay raises in August.  Once the August payroll is complete, however, then they will start processing those of us who have changes in the order in which they received our paperwork.  Even if my personal situation is not resolved in September (we have over 2000 teachers, in addition to all the other staff), it will be handled as quickly as they can do so and any pay due will be paid to me retroactively.

I appreciated her prompt, professional, and clear reply.  Such a reply gives me confidence that at least one boss over at the district office knows what she's doing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The First Two Hours of MTV, 40 Years Ago

I don't remember a lot of those songs!

Everyone knows Video Killed The Radio Star was the first video shown on MTV.  Most don't know (this is a great trivia question!) that Pat Benatar was the 2nd video.  Here's another trivia question:  who was the first artist to appear twice on MTV?

What About The Bears and the Elk and the Bison and the Birds?

How much kookier do we need to get before even the lefties admit this administration has gone too far?

If you want to visit one of America's national parks, there's an essential item you must bring: face masks.

Showing that even wilderness areas aren't free from the reach of the Covid-19 Delta variant, the National Park Service announced Monday that it is immediately enforcing mask rules.
I'm glad I got to visit so many parks this past summer, when people were slightly less bat-crap insane.
"Being vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of the coronavirus," said Capt. Maria Said, an epidemiologist in the NPS Office of Public Health and a member of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. 
"Masking in addition to being vaccinated will help prevent the spread of new variants and protect those who are more at risk of severe disease. This simple act of kindness allows us to be safe while we continue to enjoy the benefits of our national parks." 
Screw your "simple act of kindness".   You don't want to get or die from the 'rona, take reasonable safety precautions.  Stop trying to compel me to do it for you.  I am not responsible for your phobias and hypochondria.  I'm tired of this gaslighting wherein I am the bad guy because I don't want to comply with your compulsion and "pandemic theater".
This is why we need a Republican president.  Lefties only care about governmental overreach when the president has an (R) after his name.

Why So Many Of Us Think School Will Be Shut Down Again Soon

Oh, the emails were a-flyin' today.

Yesterday, a student came to school with a doctor's note saying he/she didn't have to wear a mask.  Now, any other doctor's note that comes to school, we obey it without hesitation.  Student can't take tests for 10 weeks because of a concussion?  No problem!  Student needs to leave class every day for 10 minutes for a "mental health break"?  No problem!  But let a kid bring a note saying they don't have to wear a mask, and teachers become medical professionals.  One of the teachers at my school wants to determine for him/herself if the medical excuse is valid, and claims to be free of the obligation to comply with the instructions if he/she determines the note is bogus.

Getting doctor's notes is apparently a thing in a nearby district:

Dozens of students are dropping their face masks at school thanks to a medical exemption.

Almost all of them are coming from just one doctor, but the school district says there’s nothing it can do about it. Parents and the district now question why so many mask exemptions are coming from one local doctor.

The phone has been ringing off the hook at Dr. Michael Huang’s Roseville office.

“We are fully booked up for the next three months, I can definitely get you in,” his receptionist Ashley said on the phone.

They’re all looking for the same thing: a medical mask exemption...

CBS13 asked Dr. Huang whether these exemptions are legitimate and whether those students actually need mask exemptions.

“The mask exemption letter, the one we do provide, each every one of them is after careful clinical exam and given appropriately,” he said...

But Eureka School District parent Dr. Chris Lillis worries about the immunocompromised kids in his child’s 5th-grade classroom.

“I’m exasperated because I feel like it’s such a small gesture to wear a mask to protect the health of someone who is less fortunate, and more vulnerable than we may be,” he said.

I call B.S. on the whole "immunocompromised" thing.  The immunocompromised have always been among us, are currently among us, and will continue to be among us forever more.  Until the 'rona they have never expected anything else from anyone else, they took their own precautions.  "It's such a small gesture to wear a mask"--if it's a "gesture", I opt out.  I love how people want to make me look like the bad guy for wanting to live my normal life normally while, in the name of the tiniest minority that has always been among us, are now more than happy to impose upon me how I should live my life.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, compulsion has always been a strong suit of the lefties.

But back to my story--we have teachers at my school who want to segregate the non-mask-wearers (nope, can't do that either), and now the local union is getting involved.  The district gives that union way too much influence, but darn it, the teachers don't feel safe and something must be done!  (gag)

Yesterday I gave my first instruction of the school year, as well as the first homework assignments.  It was shocking, shocking, how even my most advanced fell apart and were completely unable to understand a Day 1 homework assignment (none of which covered material they hadn't supposedly learned before).  Several students dropped the course today, after 1 day.  More drops are no doubt on the way.

In essence, these students haven't been in school for a year and a half, and it shows.  The shutdown has been a disaster, an absolute disaster for education, and no one wants to accept the magnitude of the problem.  That's another good reason just to shut the schools down again--so we don't have to face the problem right now.

If I were a betting man, I'd say we'll shut down in September.

Update, 8/18/21Some schools are beating mine to the punch:

Just days into the new school year, thousands of kids are under quarantine in public school districts across the U.S. after being exposed to COVID-19

I've got students at home who have "been exposed". 

Update, 8/21/21:  One of my school's union reps sent an email telling us that one of our school board members has filed a complaint against Dr. Huang with the medical board here in the DPRK.  What a Karen.

Monday, August 16, 2021

We've Seen This Before

I was a few days shy of 10 years old when the North Vietnamese, two years after American combat forces left South Vietnam, began their invasion of the South.  

On the CBS News web site there used to be a lengthy video report called "The Last Flight Out of Da Nang", which I once described as "the pinnacle of television news reporting".  Today, as we watched terrified Afghans hang on to, and then fall from, US aircraft they hoped would deliver them from torture and death at the hands of the Taliban, I thought about those South Vietnamese soldiers who did the same thing in Da Nang 46 years ago.

Is it just a coincidence that if you go to what used to be the link, you get this message?

The page cannot be found 

The page may have been removed, had its name changed, or is just temporarily unavailable. 

It's not hard to believe it's not just a coincidence, given that it's CBS News.  Much of the same footage can currently be seen here, though:

Also here.



The president is incompetent.


The secretary of defense is incompetent.

Slow Joe addressed the country today.  To say his speech was "undignified" would be to dignify it beyond its worth:

Getting out of Afghanistan after 20 years isn't the problem.  F***ing up the withdrawal this badly certainly is, and the president owns it.  Personally.

How long before someone writes a musical called Miss Kabul?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

John McWhorter Isn't White--And Neither Is He Fragile

Here's what John McWhorter has to say about the book White Fragility:

White Fragility was published in 2018 but jumped to the top of the New York Times best-seller list amid the protests following the death of George Floyd and the ensuing national reckoning about racism. DiAngelo has convinced university administrators, corporate human-resources offices, and no small part of the reading public that white Americans must embark on a self-critical project of looking inward to examine and work against racist biases that many have barely known they had.

I am not convinced. Rather, I have learned that one of America’s favorite advice books of the moment is actually a racist tract. Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us. This is unintentional, of course, like the racism DiAngelo sees in all whites. Still, the book is pernicious because of the authority that its author has been granted over the way innocent readers think...

When writers who are this sure of their convictions turn out to make a compelling case, it is genuinely exciting. This is sadly not one of those times, even though white guilt and politesse have apparently distracted many readers from the book’s numerous obvious flaws...

In 2020—as opposed to 1920—I neither need nor want anyone to muse on how whiteness privileges them over me. Nor do I need wider society to undergo teachings in how to be exquisitely sensitive about my feelings. I see no connection between DiAngelo’s brand of reeducation and vigorous, constructive activism in the real world on issues of import to the Black community. And I cannot imagine that any Black readers could willingly submit themselves to DiAngelo’s ideas while considering themselves adults of ordinary self-regard and strength. Few books about race have more openly infantilized Black people than this supposedly authoritative tome.

Or simply dehumanized us...

The sad truth is that anyone falling under the sway of this blinkered, self-satisfied, punitive stunt of a primer has been taught, by a well-intentioned but tragically misguided pastor, how to be racist in a whole new way.

I've excerpted a lot, but you should read the whole thing.

Educational Myths

So-called learning styles, and it's cousin "multiple intelligences", have no place in education.  They don't even have science! to back them up.


What Is The Purpose of Government?

Too many Americans, mostly but not all lefties, think the purpose of government is to be a parent--or worse, to immanentize the eschaton.  My view of the purpose of government comes directly from our Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Government exists to secure our rights, not control us.  

I heard Governor Kristi Noem speak at Freedom Fest a few weeks ago, and she was impressive.  Here again she comports herself with my view of the role of government:

GOV. KRISTI NOEM: I think it’s interesting that this side, this political party, the Democrats, who embrace getting abortion on demand, are accusing us of embracing death when we’re just allowing people to make personal choices and have personal responsibility over when they want to assemble, when they want to gather and spend time outdoors enjoying their way of life.

So we’ve had a fantastic event here in South Dakota. The rally will end … Sunday, I guess … and they’re having a fantastic time. We’re glad everybody made the trip to South Dakota.

South Dakota's government expects and allows people to be adults and to make their own decisions.  What a welcome change from the sick joke of a state in which I reside.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Honeymoon, The First Two Days

I've completed the first 2 days with students.  It's so nice for my school to be a school again.

My biggest complaints?  Having to wear a 'rona-burqa indoors, especially in a classroom with substandard ventilation and a/c.  I was sweating during 1st period yesterday!  One of my vice principals popped in during 6th period on Thursday and commented that it's pretty "steamy" in here.  Yes, I sent my 19th annual email to administration and to the head custodian explaining the ventilation system in my classroom.  In the end I anticipate the same response I've received to the previous 18 such emails.

We had our first 7th Period (happy hour) yesterday.  A former student was our waitress (you may say that term is sexist, but I don't like "server" unless we're talking about computers).  A few newbies showed up, so that's a good start.  I had a (huge) BBQ Bacon Burger, so perhaps it's no surprise that I don't even remember lying down after getting home--the food coma was severe.  I woke up at 3 am, crawled under the covers, and went back to sleep until about 6--which is an ungodly hour on a Saturday, but at least I'm writing this post!

It's been a year and a half since students have been in "real" school, and as is usual for the first few days, it's the honeymoon period.  Eventually I'll have to put my classroom management skills to use, but I'll enjoy the smoothness while I can.

The vast majority of my students are worried about the possibility that we're going to shut the school down again.  I join them in this concern.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

First Day of School

I got to school early today, and shortly before the 1st period bell I took a walk around.  We have almost 2000 students enrolled, and the halls and quads were teeming with teenagers.

For the first time in a year and a half, the campus looked like a school and not a park.  It was quite nice.

You know what wasn't nice?  Damn near having to yell to be heard at the back of class over my 'rona-burqa.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Mandating 'Rona Vaccinations For Teachers

From National Review:

California will become the first state in the country to require all teachers and school staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

“We think this is the right thing to do and we think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have for young children,” Newsom said of the decision on Wednesday as he visited a San Francisco Bay Area school that has already reopened after summer break.

The announcement comes amid concern over the highly contagious delta variant as California students return to school after summer break. 

What risk is there "for young children"?  Gawd, can we just recall this idiot already?  And if we're worried about kids' being exposed to the 'rona and taking it home to grandma, then grandma should get a vaccination to protect herself.  Requiring healthy people to cover their face?  I'm not a woman in a Muslim country.

Then there's this:

California’s vaccine policy comes days after Dr. Anthony Fauci told USA Today that he would “lean strongly toward” vaccine mandates for teachers, despite the fact that even without a mandate, almost 90 percent of educators and school staffers are vaccinated. 

So, if it's true that almost 90% of school staffs are vaccinated (it probably is), and if it's true that children face an infinitesimal threat from the 'rona (it is), then why for the love of God are we required to wear masks in class?

The government of this state is a cruel joke.

Undermining Parents

This is what we've come to now.

Certain teachers received an email today telling them students' preferred pronouns.  In some cases the individual student's parents are against this, but school staff are required to refer to the student in the manner the student prefers.  In fact, at my school we may or may not have at least one student who has an identity at school that is completely unknown to the parents; teachers are required to use one name and set of pronouns with the student and a completely different name and set of pronouns if the parents are present, the purpose being to keep the parents in the dark.

In California we expect parents to take responsibility for their children unless the parents make the wrong decision, then the state subverts the parents' rights and puts children in charge.  I find this both reprehensible and despicable.

Update, 8/21/21California isn't the only jurisdiction doing this: 

Journalist and author Abigail Shrier shared on social media Thursday a 2018 memo sent to her by a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher that explicitly states parents are not to be informed if their children have changed their gender identities.

Last Day Before Students Arrive

Today was our teacher work day.  I was out cold before 8 pm last night, so I was awake and ready to face the day today.  Got the classroom ready, trained some teachers on how to use our student information system, and had meetings with our English Learner teachers as well as the principal.

I'm as ready as I'm going to be for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


Tomorrow is our last in-service day--students show up on Thursday.

I'm exhausted.  I'm going to bed now.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Hear John McWhorter In His Own Words

John McWhorter is a self-professed "liberal Democrat" who is often called a right-winger by those on the far left who don't share his views on race.  Here he is on PBS' Firing Line just a few days before I had the privilege to see him speak a couple of different times at Freedom Fest in July:

"Columbia University linguist and race commentator John McWhorter explains the origins of critical race theory, what the decades-old legal concept has become in today’s national debate and his concerns about antiracism and how it is taught."

Some interesting terms he uses:  reign of terror, cudgel, cornerstone of a religion, recreational nastiness, witch-hunting

What he says from 12:22 to 12:58 is exactly what I will be challenging at school this year.

At 13:27 we get into "anti-racism".  The question and his answer go to 15:20 and are well worth your time.

Just watch the whole thing!

UpdateJoanne's post shows that pushback against teaching critical race theory in schools isn't coming just from the right.

Do You Need Even More Evidence That The 'Rona Is Political Now?

Sturgis, no; Obama, si!

Social media users piled on to Dr. Anthony Fauci for what many felt was a double standard when it comes to what type of gatherings he criticizes.

"No comment from St. Fauci on Obama’s soirée last night with a few hundred of his closest friends - or how about Lollapalooza last week in Chicago," one social media user said in reaction to Fauci's comments critical of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. "Or, I guess it’s SELECTIVE festivities, because the virus knows, and only attacks those who fit the Dems’ narrative."

The remarks came in response to Fauci's comments expressing concern about South Dakota's upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Sunday's "Meet the Press," with host Chuck Todd speculating the rally could become a "super spreader" event.

It would be difficult to disagree with this:

"There is a universally available, free vaccine that is 99.999% effective at preventing death," said commentary writer Drew Holden. "The pandemic is over. People need to get back to living."

I don't care about cases anymore.  If people aren't dying from this flu, it's not a problem.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Against Mask Mandates

Even if--and it's a big "if"--you could justify mask mandates and lockdowns in the early days, I can't see how it's morally possible now that vaccines are available for the asking.  Let's look at the issue from the standpoint of economics:

The obvious implication is that widespread vaccine take-up massively lowers the value of any health benefits resulting from government-imposed measures, such as mask mandates.

In other words, the “benefits” of mask mandates in highly vaccinated areas such as DC have plunged, while the costs are as high or have potentially increased further (both because the imposition of the mandate reduces the perceived benefit of vaccination, potentially deterring further take-up, and because many businesses have engaged in extensive reopening investments that will now be disrupted). Crucially, as more people become vaccinated, the benefit-cost ratio of these mandates falls and the case for them becomes ever weaker.

The obvious retort to this is that, in other areas of the U.S., vaccine take-up has been much lower overall. In Mississippi, just 44 percent of the adult population are fully vaccinated and cases are surging. Does that make mask mandates there more economically justified?

Let’s leave aside that 77 percent of seniors (over-65s) are fully vaccinated even in Mississippi, again significantly reducing the value of any health benefits of mandates. There’s a second reason in the externality framework that weakens the case for government mask orders today, although it might sit less comfortably with those in the public health world.

As Paul Krugman outlined in his most recent newsletter, the strongest argument for any government measures to mitigate or suppress COVID-19 last year was that vaccines were coming, meaning lives saved now from COVID-19 were potentially deaths averted from it forever. Yet, as stated, vaccines have been freely available now for months for any adult who wants one. In that reality, the “right” re: who should bear the liability for facing the external costs of other’s behavior should arguably shift back to our cold/flu normality.

As the vast majority of the population can access something that mitigates their risk of getting and transmitting COVID-19 much more significantly than a mask, it is surely the case that we should now consider the majority of the external costs as “internalized.” Each individual now is the “lowest cost avoider” of harm. In non-economic speak: if people still want to roam unvaccinated, they should bear the elevated risk, and not expect others to be coerced into making sacrifices to (primarily) keep them safe.

In other words, after setting aside a period of time to allow people to get the vaccines, we should take the non-vaccinated folks’ decision not to be pricked as a willing acceptance to personally front up the infection dangers. Many will self-evidently change their minds if they see delta cases in their area surge. But burdening everyone in a territory with government-enforced mask wearing or even lockdowns again (as Krugman advocates) is unjustifiable when the vast majority of the benefits will go to those actively forgoing the most effective means of alleviating the virus’s effects...

An economic approach to the pandemic made the case for certain government-mandated social distancing and mitigation efforts relatively strong a year ago. With vaccines freely available, those same economic principles bolster the case now for more limited interventions for the most vulnerable groups, while leaving most COVID-19 risk management to individuals. Blanket masking rules that apply to all are now far more difficult to justify on the grounds of “externalities” than before. And the reason for that are the vaccines: our path back to normality.


And on a related note: