Monday, October 31, 2022

The Very Definition of Fascism

When government “politely asks” businesses to do its dirty work for them, whether the businesses do so gleefully or reluctantly, isn’t that kinda sorta the very definition of fascism?

The Department of Homeland Security is quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous, an investigation by The Intercept has found. Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms.

The work, much of which remains unknown to the American public, came into clearer view earlier this year when DHS announced a new “Disinformation Governance Board”: a panel designed to police misinformation (false information spread unintentionally), disinformation (false information spread intentionally), and malinformation (factual information shared, typically out of context, with harmful intent) that allegedly threatens U.S. interests. While the board was widely ridiculed, immediately scaled back, and then shut down within a few months, other initiatives are underway as DHS pivots to monitoring social media now that its original mandate — the war on terror — has been wound down.

Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse. According to meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for Senate, discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests for false or intentionally misleading information.

This next sentence ought to send shivers down the spine of anyone who loves freedom: 

“Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain,” Microsoft executive Matt Masterson, a former DHS official, texted Jen Easterly, a DHS director, in February.

It's Halloween, so you know you want to be scared.  Go read the whole thing. 

Update, 11/2/22:  Even the ACLU, which has lost its way in recent years, is right on this one:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) went back to its roots Monday, condemning the government for working with Big Tech to censor certain topics and calling it a betrayal of constitutional rights.

"The First Amendment bars the government from deciding for us what is true or false, online or anywhere. Our government can’t use private pressure to get around our constitutional rights," the ACLU tweeted from its official account.

Plastic Recycling--Or Lack Thereof

Even the wackadoos at Greenpeace are admitting the reality:

Even Greenpeace has finally acknowledged the truth: recycling plastic makes no sense.

This has been obvious for decades to anyone who crunched the numbers, but the fantasy of recycling plastic proved irresistible to generations of environmentalists and politicians. They preached it to children, mandated it for adults, and bludgeoned municipalities and virtue-signaling corporations into wasting vast sums—probably hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide—on an enterprise that has been harmful to the environment as well as to humanity.

Now Greenpeace has seen the light, or at least a glimmer of rationality. The group has issued a report accompanied by a press release headlined, “Plastic Recycling Is A Dead-End Street—Year After Year, Plastic Recycling Declines Even as Plastic Waste Increases.” The group’s overall policy remains delusional—the report proposes a far more harmful alternative to recycling—but it’s nonetheless encouraging to see environmentalists put aside their obsessions long enough to contemplate reality.

The Greenpeace report offers a wealth of statistics and an admirably succinct diagnosis: “Mechanical and chemical recycling of plastic waste has largely failed and will always fail because plastic waste is: (1) extremely difficult to collect, (2) virtually impossible to sort for recycling, (3) environmentally harmful to reprocess, (4) often made of and contaminated by toxic materials, and (5) not economical to recycle.” Greenpeace could have added a sixth reason: forcing people to sort and rinse their plastic garbage is a waste of everyone’s time. But then, making life more pleasant for humans has never been high on the green agenda.

These fatal flaws have been clear since the start of the recycling movement...

Environmentalists’ zeal to ban plastic is far more destructive than their former passion to recycle it; it’s also harder to explain. Recycling, while impractical, at least offered emotional rewards to hoarders reluctant to put anything in the trash and to the many people who perform garbage-sorting as a ritual of atonement—a sacrament of the green religion. But why demonize plastic? Why ban products that are cheaper, sturdier, lighter, cleaner, healthier, and better for the environment? One reason: the plastic scare helps Greenpeace activists raise money and keep their jobs. Environmentalists need something to replace their failed recycling campaign.

The BBC Knows Not What It Writes About

They totally don't get it. Our governmental system is designed to ensure that passions are moderated, not enshrined into law:

It's notoriously hard to get new laws passed in the US and few believe the looming election reshaping Congress will solve that. Could the Swiss "people power" model help?

The US political system seems designed to create gridlock. The two chambers of Congress are frequently controlled by different parties.

The Senate has longstanding procedures that allow the minority party there to block most major legislation that doesn't have the support of at least 60 of the 100 senators.

And anything passed by Congress can be vetoed by a president (overriding that requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate).

All this means that the political stars have to align for the federal government to get things done - even overwhelmingly popular laws will wither on the congressional vine.

Policies like raising the minimum wage, enacting gun control legislation or immigration reform have substantial support but go nowhere in Washington.

Leave it to the BBC to suggest that minimum wage laws and gun control have substantial public support in this country.  They don't.

One wonders if they, like the NYT or MSNBC, even recognize what a leftie outlet they are.

Let the Swiss have their system, if they like it.  I prefer ours, thankyouverymuch.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

"Even Liberals Should Be Skeptical of Racial Preferences in Higher Education"

Do racial preferences in higher education help black Americans?  This liberal emphatically says no:

Let’s begin by being clear on terminology. “Affirmative action” in higher education embraces many activities that the plaintiffs in the Harvard and University of North Carolina cases are not challenging. Investing in educational pipelines to improve under-performing high schools, improving outreach to underrepresented students, improving admissions practices to better capture student ability—these all reflect the traditional meaning of “affirmative action,” and no one is questioning their legality.

The practices used by Harvard and UNC, and challenged by Students for Fair Admissions, are racial preferences—admitting some students with weak credentials, and rejecting other students with strong credentials, strictly based on which racial “box” they check...

This policy is carried out in a variety of ways, including giving negative weight to Asian applicant performance and having admissions officers give dramatically lower interview ratings to Asian-American applicants than Harvard’s own alumni give the same students in interviews. By Harvard’s own internal analysis, it’s clear that Asian-Americans would make up around 30 percent of the student body in a race-neutral process, but they are limited to around 18-20 percent of the student body. This is every bit as appalling and illiberal as the old Jewish quota.

Meanwhile, the corresponding racial preferences favoring Black applicants, if perhaps appealing to many liberals in principle, produce a cascade of terrible results.

At most elite universities and professional schools, preferences are so large as to produce huge gaps in student performance. Half of Black law students in American law schools have first-year GPAs that put them in the bottom 10 percent of the class—and their poor performance, it can be clearly shown, is entirely due to the large preferences the students receive.

Black students who receive no preference perform just as well as whites or Asian-Americans. But when a racial group is performing poorly by design, it has many awful effects. Black students will feel demoralized, stigmatized, and even discriminated-against (which of course they are, in a sense). Other students will form negative stereotypes about the poor-performing group—just the opposite of the intended beneficial effect of a “diverse” class...

Large preferences (racial or otherwise), we show, produce massive and heartbreaking declines in bar passage rates. Tens of thousands of Black law students have failed to become lawyers over the years because of misguided preference policies.

There are signs that these facts are starting to sink into the liberal establishment.

The Supreme Court will hear the Harvard/UNC case(s) tomorrow.

A Long Day of Football

In my district we're required to perform unpaid duty at 6 extracurricular events per year.  The district's view is that these unpaid events (supervising at dances or at sports, for example) are part of what we get paid to do, and while they're technically correct since that's what our contract says, the local teachers union could do a lot worse than ensuring such supervision is paid.  So much time and effort goes into planning, scheduling, and supervising such unpaid supervision, most of which would go away if you paid teachers even a modicum to supervise.

At my school we get away with doing only 4 events per year.  Usually I sign up for two Friday nights of football, both JV and varsity, and that completes my non-instructional duties for the year.  We don't have stadium lights on our school's football field, so we play our home games at a school that's only about 3 miles from my house.  These football games last from about 4:30 to 10:15, and then I go home.

After we signed up for this year's unpaid non-instructional duties, a friend invited me to her Friday night wedding--on one of the Fridays I'd signed up for football duty.  Since I wanted to go to her wedding I traded duties with a teacher at my school.

He'd signed up for JV and varsity games held at our own school--on a Saturday (yesterday).  I got up, cleaned up, left home around 10, and was at school by 10:30, and the games ended around 4:15 or so. So I spent most of yesterday's daylight hours at sparsely attended football games, sitting in my lawn chair and ensuring nobody jumped the fence in order to get in without paying.  Exciting stuff.

When the game ended, the same friend I'd traded with met me at school.  He and I attended the Oregon State @ Stanford game a few weeks ago, and last night we went to the Idaho @ Sacramento State football game.

I attended both schools.  I got my masters degree online at Idaho, but I've never stepped foot on the campus.  I took 4 classes at Sac State early in my education career--not a great experience, but Sac State is my hometown school.  No matter which team won, I could be happy.  I just hoped for a well-played, close game with lots of lead changes.

We sat on the Sac State side and cheered for Sac State, which was 7-0 going into the game vs Idaho's 5-2 record.  The line was Sac State by 13.5 at kickoff, with the over/under at 62.5 points.  Throughout the first half it was easy to cheer for Sac State, and in the 3rd Quarter they were leading 24-7.

I could actually feel the momentum shift after that, as Idaho eventually pulled ahead 28-24 late in the 4th Quarter.  Sac State moved methodically down the field and scored, winning 31-28.  Idaho had missed a field goal early in the game. 

I got home shortly after 10 pm.  That was enough football for one day.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Imagine Universities Populated By Capable Students

It's easy if you try....

As I’ve said for years, students who don’t possess the requisite skills and knowledge shouldn’t be in universities, they should be at Community College.  Imagine, no more impacted programs (as in nursing) as schools admit only the qualified.

The crisis in US K-12 public education continues to deepen, and decisions by many colleges and universities to abandon SAT and ACT scores are making it worse. Instead of demanding more accountability from high schools, colleges are expecting less.

In the latest dismal signs for students, scores on the ACT college entrance exam have fallen to the lowest level in 30 years, while fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (often called the nation’s report card) show devastating declines. Taken together, these results underscore the urgency of K-12 interventions and the necessity of reinstating testing standards for college applicants.  link

Update, 10/31/22Here's how universities make make higher education more affordable, if they had any incentive to do so:

If colleges and universities got back to basics -- teaching and worthwhile research -- they could serve students without saddling them with massive debt, writes Richard Vedder, an emeritus economics professor at Ohio University.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Should, But Won't

Being a leftie means never having to admit you were wrong:

Editorial: Achievement data should discourage future school closures

Just-released data confirms some of the public’s worst fears: COVID and remote learning took an enormous toll on many students. In Pennsylvania, two decades of academic gains have been wiped out, as students are at their lowest proficiency levels in nearly two decades. 

It’s now painfully obvious that snap closures that morph into long-term lockouts, while understandable during the early uncertainty of the pandemic, were wrong. They set back an entire generation of students, and it will take years to catch up. The nation must do better during the next public health emergency. But the immediate challenge is helping students set back by the pandemic to catch up. If they don’t, the nation will pay a huge price in jails, prisons and lost human potential.

For the first time, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, showed across-the-board declines, from 2019 to 2022, in proficiency for U.S. students in reading and math at the 4th and 8th grade levels. The worst declines were in math, with proficiency levels decreasing from 41% to 36% for 4th graders, and 34% to 26% for 8th graders.

The research shows that remote learning worked well for some students. Overall, however, the COVID experiment in universal education-by-screens was a failure. 

Zoom school was remote teaching, not remote learning.

Department of Defense Schools Are Not Immune to the Zeitgeist

Why do some people insist on providing explicit sexual material to other people's children?  And wouldn't you think that such people wouldn't get very near Department of Defense schools?  If you do, you'd be wrong:

Pentagon school libraries contained dozens of books with jarring, pornographic content, such as detailed instructions on how to have sex, or radical gender ideology from elementary to high school, a Fox News Digital investigation has found. 

Fox News looked into over 50 schools, selected at random, at the Department of Defense Education Activity, which services over 66,000 military-connected children in the Americas, Europe and the Pacific. Some of DoDEA's libraries boasted specific sections for "banned" books, including explicit titles such as "This Book is Gay," which discusses orgies and sex apps. 

Many of the pornographic and radical gender ideology books were added within the last two years amid President Biden taking office. This finding was determined by taking into account dates books were originally published.

DoDEA and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

I'll bet they didn't.

Books in DoDEA high schools were found to contain sex imagery, detailed instructions on masturbation, recording sex, sending nude pictures, how to have anal sex and other topics. 

It's not a school's place to provide such information to students.  That's what their parents (and the internet) are for.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Maybe There Are No Tailpipe Emissions....

I have friends with Teslas.  The cars are fun to drive in.  But let's not pretend they're so-called zero-emission vehicles:

As California, New York, and other states move to phase out the sale of gasoline-powered cars, public officials routinely echo the Biden administration’s claim that electric vehicles are a “zero emissions” solution that can significantly mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Car and energy experts, however, say there is no such thing as a zero-emissions vehicle: For now and the foreseeable future, the energy required to manufacture and power electric cars will leave a sizable carbon footprint. In some cases hybrids can be cleaner alternatives in states that depend on coal to generate electricity, and some suggest that it may be too rash to write off all internal combustion vehicles just yet. 

“I have a friend who drives a Kia he’s had for about 15 years,” said Ashley Nunes, a research fellow at Harvard Law School. “He called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of buying a Tesla. What do you think?’” 

“I said, ‘If you care about the environment, keep the Kia,’” Nunes said. 

Nunes’ advice points to the subtle complexities and numerous variables that challenge the reassuringly simple yet overstated promise of electric vehicles. Few dispute that the complete transition to EVs powered by cleaner electricity from renewable energy sources will have a less dire environmental impact than today’s gas-powered automotive fleet. But that low-carbon landscape exists on a distant horizon that’s booby-trapped with obstacles and popular misconceptions. 

In the meantime, the growing efforts by governments in this country and abroad to ban people from buying a transportation technology that has shaped modern society for the past century is prompting some electric car advocates to warn against using best-case scenarios to promote unrealistic expectations about the practicalities, costs, and payoffs of EVs. 

Shocking to me was the quote from a professor at Berkeley-lite:

“They're making these forecasts that are basically licking your finger and sticking it up in the air,” David Rapson, a professor of energy economics at the University of California, Davis, who analyzes electric vehicle policy, said about California forecasts, which also applies more broadly. “Nobody knows what's going to happen."

Will tenure protect him?

Read the whole thing.

I Expected His Case To Go The Other Way

I'm not sure I'm 100% comfortable with the Court's decision.  In fact, I'm 100% sure I'm not comfortable with it how the Supreme Court ruled.  Once they ruled, though, I guess the district had to hire him back:

A Washington high school football coach who was fired by the district over postgame prayers must be reinstated to his old job by March 2023, court documents filed Tuesday say.

Joe Kennedy, a former football coach at Bremerton High School, was put on leave in 2015 for reciting prayers at midfield following games. 

His case was decided last June.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Berkeley-lite and the Heckler's Veto

They make all the 1st Amendment noises but still cancel the event:

The University of California Davis canceled a student-led event with Turning Point USA, featuring Stephen "MAGA Hulk" Davis, on Tuesday after fights broke out between protesters and counter-protesters.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the university said the event was canceled before Davis began speaking after about 100 people outside the conference center started fighting, using pepper spray, knocking over barricades, removing traffic cones and banging barricades on the glass of the venue. UC Davis claims some people fighting were wearing "Proud Boys" clothing.

Approximately 30 people were inside the venue waiting for the event to start when the fights took place, the university said.

Event canceled.  The lefties got exactly what they wanted.

I'm Seeing This Storyline More And More Frequently

Facts won't sway the True Believers or the Virtue Signalers, but if there's this much resistance to plastic recycling, shouldn't we do away with it?  Is the purpose of government to tell us all how to live?

Plastic recycling rates are declining even as production shoots up, according to a Greenpeace USA report out Monday that blasted industry claims of creating an efficient, circular economy as "fiction."

Titled "Circular Claims Fall Flat Again," the study found that of 51 million tons of plastic waste generated by U.S. households in 2021, only 2.4 million tons were recycled, or around five percent. After peaking in 2014 at 10 percent, the trend has been decreasing, especially since China stopped accepting the West's plastic waste in 2018...

According to the report, there were five main reasons why plastic recycling is a "failed concept"...

Fifth and finally, the process of recycling is prohibitively expensive.

"New plastic directly competes with recycled plastic, and it's far cheaper to produce and of higher quality," said the report.

The "failed concept" won't end if the people in charge are, or are influenced by, the True Believers or the Virtue Signalers.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

"Woke" German

I took 3 years of German in high school.  I respect the language, notwithstanding the fact that every noun has one of three genders (masculine "der", feminine "die", and neuter "das") versus the one in English (the).  The Germans are very proud of their language; to be honest, I was a bit surprised when the German government did away with umlauts and resorted to merely placing an "e" after the formerly umlauted letter (probably makes keyboarding easier).  Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, given their so-called Teutonic efficiency.

Getting rid of umlauts is one thing, changing their language to satisfy a few weirdos who kneel at the altar of "inclusion" and "wokeness" is entirely another--and I'm sure they'll have none of it:

Linguists have slammed Cambridge University for teaching and encouraging students to speak a new form of gender-neutral German.

The university's 'inclusive language' section of the £9,250-per-year German course aims 'to use gender- and non-binary-inclusive language' in both speech and writing.

The push for inclusive language likely stems from German's use of the male form when referring to the plural form of words, which some argue is sexist and doesn't account for non-binary people.

Actually, all plurals are "die", which is feminine, but we'll overlook this one small error.

However, experts argue attempting to converse in the 'woke version' of the ancient language 'stand a good chance of making a fool of themselves.'

The Germans are very forgiving of people who try to speak their language, but I can't believe they'll be very accepting of holier-than-thou foreigners' changing their language for them merely to satisfy a few political cultists.

Standing Astride "Wokeness" And Saying "Stop!"

Math is racist?  What's next, gravity?  At least some eminent mathematicians are standing up against this sort of silliness:

Californians have witnessed many foundational pillars of society come under siege by fringe activism. They shouldn’t be too surprised that now even eternal, ubiquitous, infinite, and perfect mathematics is the next target in the crosshairs.

It’s only the chic excuses for decades of abysmal math results in U.S. schools that change, and with approximately four in 10 of California’s public school students proficient in math currently, the latest blame shifting should stretch parents’ patience.

A Seattle public schools pilot program has adopted framework for a K-12 curriculum teaching that “math has been appropriated by Western culture” and beyond that, is currently being used “to oppress and marginalize people.”

“The mathematicians of Alpha Centauri are doing the same math as us,” says UC Berkeley Professor Richard Borchends, winner of the planet’s most prestigious math award, the Fields Medal. “Life’s too short to waste on such folly.”

The Fields Prize is mathematics' equivalent of a Nobel, there being no Nobel Prize for Math.  Let's return to the article:

Professor Emeritus David Mumford says, “The idea that math is ‘racist’ is absurd,” he shot back. A second professor emeritus at uber-prestigious Harvard, David Kazhdan, says, “Empty claims without any concrete examples.”

Another Fields medalist, Prof. Martin Hairer at London’s Imperial College, says that context matters and that “no one truly suggests math in itself has a racist or bigoted component,” offering the understandably frustrated observation that “culture wars raging in the U.S. seem distant and incomprehensible.”

Bruce Berndt, named among the 10 most influential mathematicians, says that there may be some prejudiced “potholes” along the way, as in any human endeavor.

“In the thousands of mathematical papers I’ve read, I have never found anything that could be identified as racist. It’s a sad fact that science is being politicized by those who prefer ignorant prejudices over facts. Mathematics, thankfully hasn’t suffered too much.”

One of the world’s top-tier female mathematicians, requesting anonymity, is unconvinced that race or sex has anything to do with manipulating numbers successfully. “Math isn’t racist or sexist,” she says. “The problems of teaching mathematics in school have less to do with math and more with politics. Anyone who doubts that is to the sort of society in which we live.”

All I can offer is a "hear hear!" and an invitation to read the complete article.

Monday, October 24, 2022

What An Idiot

Do people really mean stuff like this when they say it, or are they virtue signalling to show off their leftie bona fides?

Centennial School Board candidate Jessica Schwinn suggested white people who quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are racist and accused them of advocating for white supremacy.

I have to believe she knows such a view is unsupportable (by reason), yet she voices it anyway.  What gives?

Put Out To Pasture

Ecstasy was the second cruise ship that I sailed on, it saddens me when these beauties get broken up:

Carnival Cruise Line’s oldest ship, Carnival Ecstasy, recently sail her final cruise after more than 31 years in service.

Carnival Ecstasy’s final cruise was a five night sailing out of Mobile, Alabama on October 10, 2022.  After the cruise was over, the ship sailed to Miami where the vessel stayed docked for several days.

On October 20, the cruise ship departed from Miami and is now headed towards Aliaga, Turkey.  Carnival Ecstasy’s ETA in Turkey is on November 7, 2022.

There is a large cruise ship recycling center in Aliaga. Four of Carnival Ecstasy’s sister ships (Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Imagination, and Carnival Inspiration) were scrapped here during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most recent ship I sailed on has also been sold for scrap:

On 12 April 2017, after being handed over to CMV she consequently departed Singapore as the Pacific Pearl sailed to Damen Shiprepair Schiedam in Rotterdam, The Netherlands and underwent dry dock to become Columbus.[14] In 2018, she underwent dry dock with Damen Shiprepair in Amsterdam.

In March 2020, CMV's operations were temporarily shut down, along with the rest of the cruise industry, to combat the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. By July 2020, CMV had entered administration. On 12 October 2020, Columbus was auctioned by CW Kellock & Co. London, and was sold to Greek ferry operator Seajets.[15] The ship was bought by SeaJets, but due to the ship aging and other problems, SeaJets sold her for scrap in Alang.[6] She was beached in Alang, India for scrap on 12 April 2021 and scrapping begin on 5 August 2021.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Climate Nihilism

Why do people choose to believe something that isn't true?  Are their lives so devoid of meaning that they have to create drama in their lives, they have to be a part of a fantasy bigger than themselves?

The main reason policymakers are pursuing pro-scarcity policies is because they, along with most of the public, believe the environment is getting worse, not better. The share of Americans who say the state of the environment is fair or poor rose from 49% to 61% between 2015 and 2022. Movies and television reinforce this perception. In David Cronenberg’s new film, “Crimes of the Future,” industrial waste, such as from microplastics, has become so prevalent that people’s bodies start evolving so they can eat it.

But almost every major environmental trend is improving. Lead, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide pollutants declined 99%, 91%, and 61% between 1980 and 2018, according to the U.S. EPA. It’s true carbon emissions are rising again. But that’s because natural gas shortages are forcing nations to burn more coal, which is twice as polluting. Carbon emissions globally were flat over the last decade and declined 22% in the U.S. from 2005 and 2020. And there is little evidence that microplastics actually harm human health, something Cronenberg himself acknowledged.

Why, then, do people think things are getting worse? 

Natural gas, easily gotten from frakking, and nuclear power are the most green large scale energy sources we have today.  We should be pursuing those with a vengeance.  The fact that we're not tells me that energy independence and higher living standards are not the goals of the environmental movement or our current administration.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Be A Hero. Eat Meat.

I Am Unemployable

I spent some time a few nights ago running through looking at different jobs.  I came to one conclusion:  I'm unemployable.

For years my dream job has been to work at a gaming company, one that designs and manufactures slot machines, running the calculations for slot machine wins--a Game Mathematician.  Most of the entry-level jobs seek a "recent college graduate", and the more advanced positions require skills I don't have.  I'm in no man's land, probably a common experience for people of a certain age.

There are many analytical-type jobs, often in health care, and there are also the education jobs (specifically community college).  Those jobs require a submission not only of a resume, but also of a statement of support for minorities, members of underserved communities, the disabled, the sexual minorities, English learners, etc.  Here's an excerpt:

Candidates must exhibit an appreciation of, a sensitivity to, and a respect for a diverse academic environment, inclusive of students, faculty, and staff varying social, economic, cultural, ideological and ethnic backgrounds. 

Some of them are even more declarative. 

We believe that educational justice can only be achieved when all students are successful — including students of color, students from low-income communities, English learners, and students with disabilities. Our team is committed to addressing gaps in educator understanding and practice, pairing support with high expectations, allowing all students the opportunity to access high-quality instruction.

Educational "justice"?  How about "excellence"?  If you're using "woke" terms like "educational justice", you're not interested in high expectations, you have ideological goals that don't align with academic excellence, despite claiming otherwise. 

To be honest, I don't care about your social, economic, cultural, ideological, or ethnic background.  If you're in my class, I'm going to teach you math.  If there is a difficulty, we'll see what other resources are available to help me to teach and you to learn.  I'm interested in my students as students, not as members of groups that don't have any relation to learning math.  You want so-called educational justice?  Seek academic excellence, and justice and success will follow.

You can say I'm old-fashioned, and I am, but tell me, how are your "woke" views working out?   Is student achievement going up?  Is there any evidence that high school students are doing better than in the recent past, or that university students are graduating better prepared to succeed in the adult world?  The reason so many jobs require university degrees is because high school diplomas are worthless, a point I've made several times on this blog.  A university degree today is only slightly more valuable than a high school degree of the past.

No, I don't fit the political or ideological structures in education today, and I'm too honest to lie in a statement of ideological conformity.  Thus, until I find a position that is not directly related to teaching math, I'm sort of stuck where I am.  Five more years, I should be able to make it.

"Eco morons"

I think this “gluing” trend will end if more of the victims act like Volkswagen did:

Eco-demonstrators who glued themselves to the floor of a Volkswagen factory then moaned that their hands hurt and they could not go to the toilet have been arrested.

Nine activists from the Scientist Rebellion group broke into Autostadt, a museum and car showroom opposite Volkswagen's main factory in Wolfsburg, late on Wednesday and glued themselves to the floor of the Porsche pavilion.

They vowed to continue their protest until Volkswagen agreed to lobby ministers to decarbonise the transport industry.

But they began complaining after just a few hours that they had no food and staff had refused to bring them a bowl to defecate in...

As the protest got under way, Mr Grimalda tweeted: 'Together with 15 other members of Scientist Rebellion I have occupied the Porsche pavilion at Autostadt.

'Nine of us glued to the floor and some of us on hunger strike until our demands to decarbonise the German transport sector are met.'

But just two hours later, he had begun complaining that museum staff 'refused our request to provide us with a bowl to urinate and defecate in a decent manner while we are glued, and have turned off the heating'.

He added: 'People in support can get out of the building but then they couldn't get back in. We can't order our food, we must use the one provided by Volkswagen. 

'Lights off. Random unannounced checks by security guards with bright torches. Police just came in'...

Images showed dozens of riot police inside the pavilion and people being arrested outside, ending the protest on its second day. 

That Volkswagen provided them food and water shows more decency than I would have.  I support locking the building and coming back in a week.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Democratic Soul-Searching After The Upcoming Election

Rest assured, I’ll never be a Democrat. And after the upcoming midterms, I suspect the party will have to do some soul-searching because Republicans have closed the gap in more races where Democrats have been heavily favored to win.  link

Never gonna happen.  They’ll lose, howl louder, and do more crazy stuff the next time they “win” an election.  That’s how the parties work, both of them.  There’s no “soul-searching”, just plotting to win the next one.

The Mathematics of Card Shuffling

Did you know there was such a field of study?  I didn't, and neither did I know that there's an expert in this field:

Their engineers assured them that the machine would sufficiently randomise a deck of cards with one pass through the device, reducing the time between hands while also beating card-counters and crooked dealers. But they needed to be sure that their machine properly shuffled the deck. They needed Persi Diaconis.

Diaconis, a magician-turned-mathematician at Stanford University, is regarded as the world's foremost expert on the mathematics of card shuffling. Throughout the surprisingly large scholarly literature on the topic, his name keeps popping up like the ace of spades in a magician's sleight-of-hand trick.

So, when the company executives contacted him and offered to let him see the inner workings of their machine – a literal "black box" – he couldn't believe his luck.

With his collaborator Susan Holmes, a statistician at Stanford, Diaconis travelled to the company’s Las Vegas showroom to examine a prototype of their new machine. The pair soon discovered a flaw. Although the mechanical shuffling action appeared random, the mathematicians noticed that the resulting deck still had rising and falling sequences, which meant that they could make predictions about the card order.

The field of probability was founded on gambling.  I guess some things never change :-) 

Read the whole thing, it's fascinating.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

It's Fun Wasting Other People's Money

How could anyone have thought this was acceptable?

Local officials were set to gather on Wednesday in San Francisco's Noe Valley Town Square to celebrate their latest win: a single public toilet that will cost as much as $1.7 million to build and won't be completed until 2025. 

But the celebration was canceled after a San Francisco Chronicle columnist highlighted the "mind-boggling" and "maddening" details of the project. 

California Assemblyman Matt Haney told the newspaper that he now considers the price tag "inexplicable."

As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

How Much More Will Canadians Tolerate?

Not much, I hope:



How do you end tyranny without a 2nd Amendment?  Well, you could wait 70+ years for it to crumble on its own, like the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc did.

A stitch in time saves nine.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Another (Democratic Myth) Bites The Dust

Democrats always squeal that Republican desires to clean up the voter rolls, to ask for ID at the polling station, to clean up Democratic cheating shenanigans--these are all attempts to squelch the vote of minority voters.  I don't hear any Republicans complaining about this result:

It was already clear after Georgia's primary election set new turnout records this spring, but it bears repeating once again: Democrats don't tell the truth about voting rights...

With this much-maligned law, Georgia's legislature had actually made voting more accessible to its citizens than it had been previously. They also made voting more accessible than it is in New York, New Jersey, Biden's Delaware, and a variety of other states that Democrats would never try to pretend are Jim Crow states. Georgia legislators had actually expanded early voting and made it easier for almost anyone in the state to cast a valid vote...

And now, once again, the results are speaking for themselves. Raffensperger announced on Tuesday that Georgia voters just set a new record for first-day early voting in a midterm election, with nearly twice as many people voting on Monday as had done so on the first day of early voting in 2018. Georgians are on pace to set a new record for midterm turnout in 2022 and are voting at levels that rival turnout for the 2020 presidential election.

If anybody is trying to suppress the vote, they are doing a pretty lousy job of it. But of course, this was also true in 2018, another extremely high-turnout election whose results Democrats still deny. 

They lie so shamelessly.

An Election Prediction


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

They Should Be Applauded

If more lefties knew that Che was a racist and a homophobe, maybe they wouldn't be so enraptured with him:

A University of llinois Chicago official was seen on video demanding an anti-Marxist display set-up by conservative students be removed from a sidewalk at the public university. 

"There’s a difference between public property and state property," an official at the college, identified by the Young America’s Foundation as associate director of UIC’s Center for Student involvement, Vance Pierce, said in the video. "Public property is anybody can set up outside on the sidewalk, there’s no issue. But inside, we do have some policies that we’re trying to share with you."

Chapter members of the Young Americans for Freedom had established a table on a sidewalk on Oct. 10 for a YAF-sponsored event called "No More Che Day," YAF reported. The Young America’s Foundation has sponsored "No More Che Day" on the anniversary of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara’s death at college campuses across the country for years to educate students about his "vicious campaigns to impose Communism on countries throughout Latin America."

YAF said the students were handing out literature regarding Guevara’s history at a table set up outside. 

The college students are heard pushing back on the school official’s claims, saying a sidewalk is public property. Pierce told the students that they could set up "across the street" and "do whatever," arguing that where they were located is "indoor of the circle of buildings" and "not just opened to anybody."

"Indoor of the circle of buildings."  What a tool.

Hearts Are Breaking Everywhere

Will this give North Korea the excuse it needs to invade?

The global superstars of BTS will perform their mandatory military service in South Korea, the group's representatives said Monday, confirming a move that was long dreaded by their army of fans.

The group's seven members will all fulfill their requirement to serve and not seek any further delays or special exemptions, BigHit Music said in a statement. It said that oldest member Jin will be the first to serve, with the stars to reconvene as a group again around 2025 after fulfilling their service commitment...

Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are expected to serve 18 to 21 months in the military to defend against the threat from the country's nuclear-armed neighbor, North Korea. But the law allows for special exemptions to be made for some, including athletes, musicians and others who enhance the country's prestige.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Test Scores, and Learning in General, Are Plunging

It's not attributable to the 'rona, either, although the lockdowns accelerated the process:

Recent national student test scores showed a massive decline in learning in reading and math. This achievement implosion has several explanations – one is the increasing politicization of classroom instruction, which is reducing rigor and diverting attention from improving students’ foundational knowledge and skills...

The politicization of classroom instruction leads not only to indoctrination but also, as the California student noted, to lower student achievement. “It’s not a school’s place to impose on the students any viewpoint,” he observes. “What we need to do is really encourage achievement for all people.”

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

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Strange Bedfellows Have Made My Feet Cold

Did that title get your attention?  😆

I'm filling out my mail-in ballot--sadly I only get one, unlike others in California, and since I'm a Republican none of my votes will count anyway.  Anyway, I'm reading up on the ballot measures.

California's voter information guides include information about each ballot measure, and then have a feature I really like--four submitted attempts to sway your vote:  Argument in favor of Proposition #whatever, Rebuttal to argument in favor of Proposition #whatever, Argument against Proposition #whatever, and Rebuttal to argument against Proposition #whatever.  It's a pretty good bet that I can tell which way to vote just by looking at which individuals and organizations have signed on to each of those four arguments.

But not this time, not for Proposition 30.

Here's how the Attorney General's office summarizes Proposition 30:

Increases tax on personal income over $2 million by 1.75% for individuals and married couples and allocates new tax revenues as follows: (1) 45% for rebates and other incentives for zero-emission vehicle purchases and 35% for charging stations for zero-emission vehicles, with at least half of this funding directed to low-income households and communities; and (2) 20% for wildfire prevention and suppression programs, with priority given to hiring and training firefighters.

Isn't that quite the mix of goals!  And we're only going to tax "the rich"!

I've seen one commercial dozens of times for this proposition, and we're told none of that.  All we're told is that California has the worst air quality in the state, and that our bad air quality is caused by car exhaust and fires caused by global warming.  Voting for Prop 30 will change this.  

Yeah, right.  I already leaned against Prop 30 before opening the voter information guide.

The Argument In Favor of Prop 30 was signed by the president of the CalFire State Firefighters (shocking, I know), a doctor in the American Lung Association, and the vice chair of the Coalition for Clean Air.  The Rebuttal to the Argument Against Prop 30 was signed by the CEO of California Environmental Voters, a Senior Attorney on Climate and Clean Energy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a/the senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Yes, I leaned harder against this proposition.

Then I looked at the Rebuttal To Argument In Favor, and it was signed by the president of the California Teachers Association and the former State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The Argument Against Proposition 30 was signed by the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the president of the California Small Business Association, and the President of United Latinos Action.

Those are some strange bedfellows, so strange that Hell itself must have frozen over.  In between their shivers and chattering teeth, they remind us that California has a huge budget surplus and thus we already have plenty of money to hire more firefighters.  They also remind us that our electrical grid is already so delicate that the state suffers blackouts every summer, and more electric cars isn't going to help that situation.

Despite the fear of frostbite on my feet, I'm voting NO on Proposition 30.


Things are beginning to look ugly in Northern Europe:

Britons are arming themselves with everything from generators to thermal underwear as they brace for rolling blackouts caused by the broader energy crisis in Europe.

At least I have a small generator to keep some equipment running (see the comments), and a trailer with propane if there are really bad times.

One thing I'll say about humans, we don't like being cold.  Cold kills a lot more people each year than heat does.

Does Oil Influence A Country's Economy?


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Learning Less

A good summary of why students are learning less:

Students find exams stressful, so we are told to reduce the number of exams. Neither do students like to read, so we are told to assign easier and shorter readings. Students find it hard to concentrate, so we are told to break down lectures into small chunks and intersperse activities in between. Students enjoy media content and are happy to engage with YouTube and social media, so we are told to incorporate more videos and make course material and assessments more creative and interactive. Some students don’t like to speak in class, so we are told to make sure there are myriad ways students can participate without having to actually speak.

Along with "grade inflation, flexible deadlines, warm language in feedback," these initiatives deny students a chance to learn, Wanic and Powell write. "The student-centered mindset has led to a dumbing-down of curricula and a constant pressure on educators to motivate students, rather than a pressure on students to take ownership of their own success and failure." It leaves them poorly prepared for the future.

(said in best Chandler-from-Friends voice) Could this be any more true? 

Notice how all of those actions are teacher inputs, and aren't improving student achievement.  Isn't it time to focus on student inputs, and maintain some standards in the process?

Friday, October 14, 2022

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Dems Don't Want You To Get Ahead

In the summer of 2017 I drove for Uber--not because I needed to, but because I wanted to.  I wanted to see what it was like. I made a killing at it, too, earning around...wait for it...$700 in several weeks that summer!  And oh, the things I learned.

I knew the deal when I signed on to Uber.  I knew what they'd pay, and I knew I could work (and not work) whenever I wanted.  Sounded pretty fair to me.

I enjoyed having that side gig.  After California passed AB5, reclassifying most gig workers as employees, I learned that there are a lot of jobs that got reclassified against the wishes of the workers.  People who do medical transcription for just one office--now an employee.  Freelance writers who get most of their money from one publication--now employees.  Certain musicians--employees.  Translators--employees.  Independent truckers who contract mostly with one company--now employees.  You get the idea.

Many Uber, Lyft, and Doordash drivers railed against the new law.  It was so bad that in 2020, California voters passed Proposition 22 which excepted app-based drivers and delivery companies from being considered employees.

Not to be outdone, Slow Joe wants to pass a national version of AB5.


Update:  I'll just copy Instapundit's entire post here:

BIDEN TO GIG WORKERS – DROP DEAD: Crime, especially in the big cities but also increasingly in their suburbs, is skyrocketing. But the Biden administration is preparing robbery on a massive scale, according to Issues & Insights. You know Biden, he’s from the government and he’s here to help us:

“In essence, the White House wants to outlaw gig work in America. No, it’s not saying so outright. The Biden Labor Department obscures that harsh reality with words meant to deceive. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh says the department’s proposal is needed to safeguard ‘​​our nation’s most vulnerable workers,’ and ensure they are not deprived ‘of their federal labor protections.’

“Left out is the part that, should the proposal become policy, millions of Americans will be stripped of their jobs and income. Under its rule, the Labor Department would be free to ‘determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act.’ And it will determine in every case that the worker in question must be a hired employee, no longer free to continue his or her job as an independent contractor.”

The key word there is “independent.” That idea threatens the bureaucrats, the mainstream media, and the power-hungry politicians. Just remember what they mean by “covering” something. With a pillow. Like Dave says.

What Is This?

What is it used for?

A fellow math teacher gave me this yesterday, knowing of my penchant for slide rules.  It's not a slide rule; it looks like a combination ruler, protractor, and compass, with a few formulas and trig values thrown in for good measure.  It says "Made in China", so I assume it's no older than the 90's.

At first I thought it might be some draftsman's tool, but closer inspection makes it seem like nothing more than an overgrown ruler.

Has anyone used one of these things?  What might it be good for?

Yes, the bottom part rolls.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

More Sickness Up North

I can't even...:

On September 7, Margaret Marsilla called Joshua Tepper, the doctor who planned to kill her son. 

Marsilla is 46, and she lives outside Toronto with her husband and daughter, a nursing student. She had known that her 23-year-old son, Kiano Vafaeian, was depressed—he was diabetic and had lost his vision in one eye, and he didn’t have a job or girlfriend or much of a future—and Marsilla asked her daughter to log onto Kiano’s account. (Kiano had given his sister access so she could help him with his email.) He never shared anything with his mother—what he was thinking, where he was going—and Marsilla was scared. 

That was when Marsilla learned that Kiano had applied and, in late July, been approved for “medical assistance in dying,” aka MAiD, aka assisted suicide.

His death was scheduled for September 22...

When we think of assisted suicide or euthanasia, we imagine a limited number of elderly people with late-stage cancer or advanced ALS in severe pain. The argument for helping them die is clear: Death is imminent. Why should they be forced to suffer? 

In 2015, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that assisted suicide was constitutional. In June 2016, Parliament passed Bill C-14, otherwise known as the Medical Assistance in Dying Act. MAiD was now the law of the land. Anyone who could show that their death was “reasonably foreseeable” was eligible. In this respect, Canada was hardly alone: The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand, among others, allow assisted suicide. So do ten states in the U.S. 

We devalue human life at our peril.

California's Genius Governor, Part 2

It was just a couple days ago I wrote about Gavin Newsollini's lack of knowledge about economics.  Well, that was then, this is now, and nothing has changed but the date:

Whatever billions California Governor Gavin Newsom hands out to voters right before Election Day he’ll take back — with interest — almost as soon as he’s won his four more years running one of the nation’s worst-run state.

Just as voters are getting their mail-in ballots — and even a few (!) non-voters — Newsom is sending out inflation relief checks of up to $1,050. That’s nearly enough to fill ‘er up twice.

“Relieving” inflation with free money is like treating a headache with a ball-peen hammer...

Newsom is handing out “free” funny money while inflation is raging, and then he’s going to raise taxes on gas, income, and who knows what else during what looks to be a nasty recession.

This guy is going to end up making Joe Biden look like King Solomon.

And there’s a non-zero chance that Newsom will be our next president.

There is a famous quote, various attributed to many different people but not appearing in print before the 1950s, along the lines of "A republic can only exist until voters realize they can vote themselves money from the public treasury."  I wonder how close we are to that point.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Highly Inappropriate

Today, in all our staff members’ mailboxes, was a flier for an incumbent school board member who is running for reelection.  I could not identify this person in a lineup, and neither do I know anything about the positions this person takes, so this isn’t a personal or political issue, but it just seems wrong.  I’m not sure what the applicable law or policy is, but it doesn’t seem right to have political materials placed in our work mailboxes.  Seems shady to me.  And since the person is a current and a prospective school board member, it’s possibly a conflict of interest.

What do you think?

Painting Yourself Into A Corner

Imagine the logical contortions needed to justify this:

Under President Joe Biden’s administration, transgender women who are born male must register for the Selective Service, which provides the Defense Department with troops in the event of a military draft. Transgender men who are born female do not have to register for the Selective Service. While the policy was established before Biden took office, the Biden administration has not changed the standard...

The website states that all biological males must register for the draft, including “U.S. citizens or immigrants who are born male and have changed their gender to female.”

The website also notes that “Individuals who are born female and have changed their gender to male” do not have to register.  

When your government needs you to bleed for your country, there are only 2 genders--and they're the ones people are born with.  Your government doesn't care about your feeeeeeeelings or how you "identify".

Monday, October 10, 2022

California's Genius Governor

Newsollini is such a genius, he thinks a new tax on oil companies will bring gas prices down!

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he will call a special session of the state Legislature in December to pass a new tax on oil companies as punishment for what he calls "rank price gouging."

Newsom told reporters on Friday that the special session will begin Dec. 5 after all the votes have been counted from the November elections and newly elected lawmakers are sworn in...

Kevin Slagle, vice president for the Western States Petroleum Association, said "a better use of the special session would be to take a hard look at decades of California energy policy and what they mean to consumers and our economy."

"If this was anything other than a political stunt, the Governor wouldn't wait two months and would call the special session now, before the election," Slagle said. "This industry is ready right now to work on real solutions to energy costs and reliability if that is what the Governor is truly interested in." 

I'd wonder if a class in economics might help our executives and legislators, but Donkey Chompers, a representative from New York, supposedly has a degree in economics and it obviously hasn't helped her.

If we get the government we deserve, we in California are getting it--good and hard.

Isn't It Funny How...


Just sayin'.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

1/10 of 1%

Each year, Stanford University chooses a football game for "teacher appreciation" and offers free tickets to teachers.  I received two, and the guy who teaches next door to me picked me up at 2pm for the almost-three-hour drive to Palo Alto.

Maybe Stanford didn't expect to win this game and that's why they chose this game to give away free tickets.  The stadium was closer to empty than full, even the student section was very small.  Oregon State came in 3-2 against Stanford's 1-3 record.

Oregon State received the opening kickoff and moved swiftly down the field.  The Stanford defense held them to a field goal attempt, which was missed.  That seemed to be the way it would go for Oregon State.

It was an ugly game, with many Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties against both teams.  Stanford led 17-7 at the half.  At the end of the third, Stanford led 24-10, and the already light crowd started to thin even more as the outcome couldn't possibly be in doubt.

Then something happened in the 4th quarter.

Oregon State scored twice, missing two-point conversions both times.  They had narrowed the Stanford lead to 24-22 with under 6 minutes remaining in the game.  After that last touchdown, Stanford awakened and started looking like they did in the first three quarters, moving the ball down the field with ease.

Sometime around the 50 yard line I turned to my friend and said, "You know what my 1/10 of 1%, alternate reality ending is for this game?  Oregon State holds Stanford to a field goal, then drives down the field for a touchdown to win."  We both laughed, neither team played like that could be the outcome.

With less than a minute left in the game, Oregon State held Stanford to a field goal and a 27-22 lead.  Then they started moving down the field.

On their last offensive play they snapped the ball for a pass play.  There's no way the receiver should have caught the ball, there's no way he should have stayed in-bounds, and there's no way the two defenders should have let him avoid their tackles.  But all of that happened, leading to a 56-yard touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game.  The 2-point conversion failed.

Oregon State beat Stanford 28-27.

It was an ugly win, but a W is a W.

The friend I went with was rooting for Stanford.  He likes to root for the Northern California teams, and besides, his father-in-law went to Stanford.  I have a lot of respect for Sammie Stroughter, who played at Oregon State and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later became our high school's football coach (I was texting him throughout the game), so I leaned towards Oregon State.  I wasn't rude about it--heck, Stanford gave me the tickets and I was obviously not seated in the OSU fan area, why be an obnoxious guest?  And since I don't really have strong feelings for either team, I was just hoping for a good game.  We didn't really get a good game, but that 4th Quarter, though....

Kickoff was 8pm and the game didn't end until after 11.  I got home a little after 2am.  Great way to spend a day.

One Surprise, One Not So Much

She's from Oregon:

Betsy Johnson is not running for Miss Congeniality. The longtime Democrat now running for governor of Oregon as an unaffiliated candidate is more likely to drop a swear word than a political platitude. When voters asked if she would repeal Oregon's drug decriminalization law, she responded, "Hell yes." On education, she declared, "Let's not worry about pronouns. Let's worry about mathematics."

So far, I like her. 

This comes, not at all surprisingly, from California:

A football player at a high school in California has been forced to stop carrying a pro-police flag as the team rallied onto the field, as critics said it made them feel "unwelcome and uncomfortable."

Some others compared the "thin blue flag" to a Confederate one, forcing school administrators at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita to tell the player to ditch the controversial symbol...

The school's principal also reiterated that the decision was not to signal a shift in support for law enforcement — especially after officers assisted the school during a mass shooting in 2019.

Which one surprises you?

At This Point, I Say Hang'em

In the 21st century, men should be long past raping young women just because we can.  Should the allegations in this case be proven, prison is too good a punishment:

A cargo ship was sailing across the Atlantic Ocean when the captain summoned two young US Merchant Marine Academy cadets to his room and gave them each a drink.

Shortly thereafter, the students started feeling like something was wrong.

Unbeknownst to them, their boss had spiked their drinks, according to a previously unreported complaint filed by the US Coast Guard. Once they were incapacitated, the captain raped one cadet and attempted to sexually assault the other, the Coast Guard alleges.

I wrote about similar happenings back in June.  Our women cadets should not have to live in fear during their training, and I expect the US Merchant Marine Academy to take stronger steps in the future to ensure they are not put in such danger.  I don't mean paper steps, either, I mean action.  This is disgusting.

I will be writing my congressman about this.

Update, 11/2/22:  It's been more than 3 weeks since I wrote my congressman.  That's a week for the letter to get to DC, a week back, and more than a week to come up with a reply.  I've received none.

Saturday, October 08, 2022

Using Technology To Teach English

This seems interesting.  I wonder if it's scalable:

That spirit has been harnessed at Mr Oyarbide's school, Nava College Preparatory Academy. The school was the trial site for a scheme that has pitched using the metaverse to help teach English to students with a limited grasp of the language.

The term metaverse is used to describe a series of virtual reality worlds that can be accessed through a browser or virtual reality (VR) headset.

The idea behind the scheme is to harness the power of VR technology to bypass traditional teaching methods and plunge students into a world of possibility in a virtual universe...

For Mr Oyarbide, the possibility of sharpened focus among his easily distracted students had huge appeal.

"I've been teaching for 12 years. If kids can figure out anything it is how not to pay attention! I wanted to try something different, do normal learning from books for one period and then switch to VR."

In doing this, he discovered that a VR environment swept away the inhibitions of many of his students wrestling with learning a new language.

He says the technique helped them practise their language skills without embarrassment.

Sounds good, but anyone with half a brain can see potential problems with this sort of pedagogy--Mr. Ovarbide included: 

Students would usually use the VR equipment for two or three hours a week...

Despite the positive impact VR has had on his teaching methods, Mr Oyarbide is not a starry-eyed convert to the avalanche of metaverse hype typified by Facebook's rebranding as Meta.

He says there is still great advantages to a traditional classroom setting.

"The old approach to teaching through books does not go away. And you're not going to wear a headset for four hours a day. But it does allow you to reduce teacher talk and create a tangible space for a student's confidence to grow."

Sounds good so far!

Retirement Pay

Retired teachers are allowed to lose 15% of our purchasing power, but only 15%:

The teachers’ retirement system provides a unique benefit that preserves retirees’ “purchasing power.” When inflation reduces the value of their pension dollars by more than 15%, the system makes a permanent adjustment, pushing retirees’ purchasing power back up to 85%. 

The inflation rate CalSTRS used for the fiscal year that ended in June was 8.3%, according to the retirement system’s announcement. 

That pushed the purchasing power of about 50,000 retirees below 85% for the first time, triggering new adjustments for them, according to the announcement. Only teachers who retired in 2005 or earlier were eligible for the adjustments, which showed up on this month’s pension checks. 

CalSTRS’ announcement said the system has “one of the strongest anti-inflation programs operated by any public pension system in the nation.”

I guess that's something.

Friday, October 07, 2022

Some Say Data and Evidence Are Tools of White Supremacy, I Say Such People Are Idiots

When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts:

Since Texas enacted its law, four other states have done the same, bringing the total of constitutional carry states to 25.

While there are some differences in how these states have implemented constitutional carry (e.g., a couple of them require you to be a resident of the State to carry, while others set an age minimum, etc.) it’s fair to say that overall, half of all states now allow citizens who can legally possess a firearm to carry at least a handgun without a permit. This national wave has been a tremendous victory for gun rights and continues the trend of expanding the right to carry...

Every time a state adopts constitutional carry, anti-gun groups, as well as much of the media (but I repeat myself), warn that every minor dispute will turn into a bloody shootout and the state’s homicide rate will therefore skyrocket. They also claim that the “research is clear” in favor of their arguments.

But is it really?

With so many states now having enacted some form of constitutional carry, this is no longer a hypothetical question. While some states have only recently enacted these laws, most others have had them for several years.

As of 2020, the most recent year for which detailed CDC data is available, 16 states had already embraced constitutional carry. By looking at the homicide rates in those states as well as their gun homicide rates in particular, we can get an idea of whether constitutional carry states actually are more dangerous than the nation as a whole.

If the anti-gun argument is correct, constitutional carry states should be far more violent, especially in the crime-surge year of 2020.

Fortunately, the CDC provides very detailed statistics on public health, including data on underlying causes of death, so we can check. The statistics are reported online through the CDC’s WONDER tool, an acronym which stands for “Wide-ranging ONline Data for Epidemiologic Research.” All of the data I am about to discuss can be found through that tool.

Read the original for the data data data, I'll jump to the conclusion:

Regardless, the data does not support the anti-gunners’ argument that constitutional carry states are especially violent and that violence is caused by permitless carry. Even when it comes to gun-related homicide, constitutional carry states are at least as safe as the nation as a whole, and perhaps slightly safer.

The only question I have about the author's analysis would strengthen his thesis.  When he says "the average overall homicide rate among the sixteen constitutional carry states in 2020 was 6.9 per 100,000, beating the national average of 7.5 per 100,000", I think his comparison is wrong.  He shouldn't compare the rates in the carry states to the national average, which includes those carry states, but to the average of the non-carry states.  Thus, the 6.9/100,000 would be compared to a number even larger than 7.5/100,000.  Then a simple comparison of those two ratios could reveal whether or not the difference is statistically significant, which it no doubt would be.

No wonder lefties don't like evidence.  The real world is conservative and disappoints them again and again.