Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Merit vs Equity


Merit was never a dirty word for Blacks. Competing on merit empowered us to destroy racist stereotypes about our capabilities, shatter color barriers, and pioneer inventions that improved all Americans' quality of life...

Merit-based programs operate as burners lighting a fire under a gifted young person. Kids, especially those from low-income households and struggling minority homes, are pushed to the limits of their abilities in these programs, rather than being held back. Some of them persevere against added obstacles of poverty, unstable homes, cultural assimilation and discrimination...

Social justice bureaucrats are fighting for equality of outcomes by lowering standards and eliminating gifted programming from public schools. Parents are right to push back for the sake of their children’s education. Increasingly, they are winning. 


One California high school has eliminated honors classes for ninth- and 10th-grade students. While school officials claim that the change was necessary to increase "equity," the move has angered students and parents alike.

"We really feel equity means offering opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds, not taking away opportunities for advanced education and study," one parent who opposed the change told The Wall Street Journal...

However, even if some ethnic groups are still underrepresented, nixing advanced courses is not the solution.

"I just don't see how removing something from some kids all of a sudden helps other kids learn faster," one education researcher told The Wall Street Journal.

When schools eliminate educational opportunities for gifted students, those who are most hurt by the change are disadvantaged, academically talented students. While wealthier families can move to a new school district or enroll their children in private school, low-income parents—and their kids—are stuck. While getting rid of honors courses was supposedly designed to help black and Latino students, it will deprive opportunities of many of the same kids it was intended to help.

Race to the bottom.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

New Furniture

Over Christmas break, all the student desks at my school were replaced with small, wheeled desks with separate (and relatively ergonomic) chairs.  We were on break this past week, and all the teacher furniture--desks, filing cabinets, tables, bookshelves, etc--were replaced.  We were told not to go back to school until yesterday, so they had time to replace all the furniture, and I went back today.

It's not what I had, and I'm not convinced it's any "better", but I spent a couple hours today moving furniture and unpacking boxes.  I can make it work.  In what had been my biggest fear, I did in fact get a legal-width filing cabinet, so at least I won't have to re-do all my filing.

I cheated a little bit.  I was supposed to empty my filing cabinet into boxes, and let whoever it was take my filing cabinet.  No way was I going to risk that, though, so I moved my filing cabinet to the library, which won't get a makeover until Spring Break.  Tomorrow, when the library is open, I'll move my old filing cabinet back, transfer all the files, and then get rid of the old filing cabinet.

Why not just keep the old filing cabinet, you ask?  Because, and I'm serious about this, in the name of equity, we all have to have the same furniture!  We were given a spreadsheet of approved furniture to choose from, and were told explicitly that no personal or other equipment in the classroom will be allowed.  In fact, the district people are supposed to come back in a few weeks and check on compliance!  Regarding furniture!  I kid you not!

I asked if I could get my filing cabinet delivered early, as some of the furniture was being pre-positioned before the break, so that I could easily do what I'm now going to do anyway, which is just transfer my files from one cabinet to another.  No, I was told, I'm getting paid to pack the files up, and that was what I needed to do.

Screw that.

Moving all that furniture around, and unboxing all my classroom books and references and supplies, my back is now killing me.  I'm getting too old for this crap.  The pittance they're paying me to box and unbox my stuff is not worth it.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Angela Davis Crawls Out Of Her Hole Again

I despise this woman so much, I admit to taking even just a hint of glee at her discomfort upon learning that she, a Black Panther member, is descended from someone on the Mayflower:

Activist, communist and former fugitive Angela Davis was shocked to learn she is a Mayflower descendent on Tuesday’s “Finding Your Roots” episode. 

Now 79, Davis was the latest to appear on the PBS show where celebrities and public figures learn about their ancestry. 

Near the episode’s end, after discussing multiple members of her family, the former Black Panther learned she’s descended from William Brewster, one of the 101 people who came to the colonies in 1620 aboard the Mayflower. 

“No, I can’t believe this,” Davis replied, laughing. “No, my ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower"...

“Would you ever in your wildest dreams think that you may have been descended from the people who laid the foundation of this country?” he asked. 

“Never, never, never, never, never,” she said.

So is her share of reparations payments to be cut down upon learning this, that she carries the evil oppressor's blood in her?  No, because there's no good argument for reparations:

As horrified as Davis may be at finding out this information about her lineage, she shouldn’t be. Even if she were right about her interpretation of “old America,” she has nothing to do with it and she has nothing to be ashamed of. The sins of the father shouldn’t be paid by the son; likewise, we shouldn’t judge Davis’ grandchildren for having a commie as a grandmother. 

Leftists have a hard time understanding that we shouldn’t encourage people to behave like the communist regime in North Korea, which punishes all descendants with imprisonment for up to three generations for a single action of someone who happens to be in their bloodline whom they may never have met. 

History is complex because people are complex. We should stop being overly critical and simplistic about the behavior of our ancestors, who were people of their time, by comparing it to our present-day norms and social expectations. 

As clean as we think our hands are, in a couple of generations, our descendants could easily look back and shake their heads at some of the barbarism we think is completely normal and remains legal. 

Just because we know how to utilize far more advanced gadgets than our predecessors doesn’t mean that we are any less humanly flawed than them (sic). 

Rather than constantly litigating and debating the past, why don’t we continue to build a better country together? 

Hear hear.

I despise Davis for her actions, not those of her ancestors.  She gets no blame for any wrong they did, and no credit for any good they did.  Evaluated on her own merits, I find her lacking.


I'm old enough to remember when 15% was considered an appropriate tip.

ANYway, do food servers still make a sub-minimum wage that is expected to be supplemented by tips?  I don't know, but if not, why is someone making $15-$20/hr expecting to be tipped?  California's minimum wage is $15.50/hr this year, with some local jurisdictions mandating a higher wage; I've seen starting pay at fast food restaurants advertised at $18/hr.  Is there really a need for a tip jar?

I'm not interested in the "living wage" argument, as I don't think people should be paid based on what they need, but rather on the value they bring to a company.  Neither do I think that a minimum wage worker should expect to support a family on that income.  And yes, I know that minimum wage purchasing power peaked in 1968 and is now about 58% of that peak--but compare California's minimum wage to that peak.

I'm fairly generous with tipping at a restaurant, having once dated a "food server", but am far less tolerant of the tipping craze at a place like Starbucks.  I'm clearly not alone in this view:

Let's be clear. The only scenario where I am strictly anti-tipping is in the case of cows. I'm not even remotely tired of tipping my restaurant server who is providing me with a service while probably being paid considerably less than minimum wage per hour. What I am tired of are the ubiquitous tip jars on every countertop of every place I go into. I get it, everyone wants to make a little bit of extra money, but a tip jar in some situations seems, well, not okay...

Again, I am not against tipping. It's just that when a server receives tips, it counts as part of their income, and they're required to report those tips to the IRS so taxes can be paid on them. Tips are to make up for the fact that servers are earning a reduced hourly wage rather than a standard minimum wage. I doubt the employee at the yogurt shop claimed those two dimes and three pennies I begrudgingly left as her tip. I just need a little bit more effort or involvement from someone to feel like a tip is warranted. The hair stylist who spends 90 minutes cutting and coloring the mop on my head? Absolutely. The bellhop who lugs my overstuffed luggage to my hotel room. Of course. The cashier at the deli who talked on their cell phone while I handed them two dollars for a Chapstick? No, I will not be dropping my spare coins into the Styrofoam cup that's taped to the countertop...

But if even I am tired of tipping, then others must be completely drained by it. Could it be that this pervasiveness of gratuities is dulling the senses for tip weary consumers and possibly making them leave less to the people who really depend on it? Hopefully not, because if your restaurant server lives in Texas or one of the other states that only pays $2.13 an hour that server is as dependent on tips as I am to Sondheim musicals.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Learning Is Hard Work

That this article appeared in the leftist LA Times tells you that there are cracks forming in the narrative:

A growing achievement gap between Asian American students and their white classmates is due largely to greater work effort and cultural attitudes, not innate cognitive ability, researchers say.

In a study published Monday in the journal PNAS, two sociology professors found that Asian Americans enter school with no clear academic edge over whites, but that an advantage grows over time.

Even if they come from poorer, less educated families, Asian Americans significantly outperform white students by fifth grade, authors wrote.

“What accounts for Asians’ greater academic effort than whites?” asked study authors Amy Hsin of Queens College in New York and Yu Xie of the University of Michigan.

“Asian and Asian American youth are harder working because of cultural beliefs that emphasize the strong connection between effort and achievement,” the authors wrote. “Studies show that Asian and Asian American students tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that can be developed through effort, whereas white Americans tend to view cognitive abilities as qualities that are inborn.”

Read the whole thing.


As I lie in bed this morning, scrolling through the online versions of many US newspapers (there's an app for that), I happened upon two almost-consecutive articles in the New York Post.  I read them both. 

I put my boyfriend on a Performance Improvement Plan to save our relationship 

Nadeen Hui shared earlier this week on TikTok that she “put (her) boyfriend on probation” early in their relationship, when they were experiencing “a lot of issues.”

“Ultimately I felt like we weren’t compatible, even though we have a lot of love for each other,” she said in the clip, which has been viewed by more than 357,000 people.

“As a last straw, we decided to do a performance improvement plan. For those of you not (working) in tech, a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) … is what you get put on when they’re about to fire you.

“And before you come at me, I know it’s kind of harsh to some of you, but he’s an engineer and sometimes it’s really hard to communicate with him without using something that he can already relate to. Plus, he kind of liked it.”

Hui went on to explain the couple had “a shared note with daily and weekly tasks he needed to do, and set of things that he needed to work on, and it worked out really well.”

So well, in fact, that they continue to use a similar system for “household chores” and “things that he’s responsible for … that has been the only thing that has stuck and works.”

Six out of 10 young men are single — the disturbing reasons why

They’re not getting jerked around by dating anymore.

New Pew Research Center data has found that nowadays, 63% of men under 30 are electively single, up from 51% in 2019 — and experts blame erotic alone time online as a major culprit.

“[Young men] are watching a lot of social media, they’re watching a lot of porn, and I think they’re getting a lot of their needs met without having to go out,” psychologist Fred Rabinowitz told the Hill.

“I think that’s starting to be a habit.” 

Am I the only one who sees a connection?

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

In Memoriam

The post I wrote when Queen Elizabeth died was brief, almost pithy, but hidden in it was deep sorrow, as someone I respected--and whom my formerly-British grandmother adored--was gone.

The Royal Mint, and mints around the world, started putting out commemorative coins.  I picked out two to purchase, one from the Royal Mint and one from the Royal Canadian Mint.  The one from the Royal Mint arrived today:

This set with the coin and the stamps has a production quantity of 20,000 and, according to the mint's web site, is no longer available.

The Canadian set should arrive in late March and has a mintage of 7,500.

Where Does The Responsibility Lie?

In the last couple months I've had two parents challenge me over their students' grades.  One explicitly states that since grade inflation is everywhere, I should inflate his student's grade; the other claims that I don't teach.

I ran across Joanne's post Learning Is Hard and agree with the following:

Cramming the night before the test with music playing in the background is not effective, says Willingham. Writing down everything the teacher says? Also not effective. Highlighting everything that seems important in the textbook? If you're a beginner, you'll highlight the wrong things.

He tells students how to analyze a lecture, read a complex text and take useful notes and the importance of avoiding distractions (your brain is not good at multi-tasking) and quizzing yourself. Multiple study sessions work best. 

Do I believe my students are doing the above?  I believe many do what's in the first quoted paragraph, I'm much less sure about the second paragraph (although I know some try to quiz themselves).

When I was working on my master's degree, I had the option of doing a thesis or taking a cumulative test.  It took me 5 years, one class a semester, to earn that degree, and having to study material I'd learned up to five years before presented a challenge.  The test was scheduled for May, so starting in January I got up early every school day and reviewed for 15-20 minutes.  At best I could review one topic in that time period, and sometimes not even a full topic, but reviewing material every day meant that I didn't have to cram the day or so before the test (although I took the day before the test off work and focused on the big topics).  When I finished all the big topics, I'd start back with the first one and go over them all again.  I don't know what I scored on that test, but I earned the degree, so that's something!  I'm a firm believer in "slow and steady wins the race" if you really want to learn and not just pass a test.

White Kids Don't Deserve To Learn

A couple days ago I posted about a California district that didn't want white people to come to an event, today I'll post about a Massachusetts school that didn't want white students in a math program:

A Massachusetts public school district is facing a federal civil rights complaint over a math program allegedly only available to students of minority backgrounds.

The complaint, filed by advocacy group Parents Defending Education (PDE) Tuesday, accuses Milton Public Schools (MPS) of racial discrimination and political indoctrination. The accusations target "The Calculus Project," a MPS program which allows students who partake to attend workshops and enrichment courses designed to strengthen their understanding of mathematics.

Both PDE and MPS parents argue that "The Calculus Project" is discriminatory due to its mission of increasing "the representation and success of Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, People of Color, and low-income students." They also note several benefits that seemingly only such students would be able to obtain, including leadership opportunities and socialization.

Parents have expressed their concerns over the fairness and legality of "The Calculus Project" to MPS administrators.

"The Calculus Project is a wonderful idea to promote high level mathematics and kudos to those students that take advantage of this program," one parent states in email correspondence obtained by PDE. "My question is WHY is this not a program for all at MPS. It seems to me this program in itself is discriminatory against children that aren’t “African American / Black and Latin X."

The mind boggles that people think this is OK.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Ebert's Best Movies

Of these 10 movies, I've only seen two of them--and only sorta liked one of those.  (I'm not one much for cerebral films, for the most part.)

Which two do you think they are?  What movie do you think should be on this list but isn't?  I've noticed that no blockbusters outside of Casablanca are on the list--does Ebert have something against financially successful films?


I've said this for years:  if "equity" is so important, especially in schools, then we should apply it to athletics and not just to academics:

Equity is all the rage in public schools. Academic excellence is a sin if it does not occur in proportion to whatever racial categories administrators embrace. Across the country, magnet schools eliminate colorblind entrance exams or Advanced Placement courses if too many Asians or too few African Americans pass...

If schools are to prioritize equity over equality, result over opportunity, and use skin color and sexual orientation as their primary metric of diversity, why not take their crusade further? Why should varsity sports become the sole survivor of their war on merit? If diversity is the prize, shouldn’t football teams prioritize playing Asians and Jews, both underrepresented, in order to achieve athletic equity? Likewise, if one varsity baseball player has a batting average of .300 and another just .100, wouldn’t equity demand that the second player have three times as many at-bats to achieve an equal number of hits?

And if Title IX, despite its original intent, can mandate cuts to some sports teams to ensure the proper proportion of male and female opportunities regardless of individual interest, shouldn’t the Americans with Disability Act be enough reason to cut others? After all, ice hockey inherently discriminates against paraplegics.

It is of course possible to go down a racial and religious rabbit hole. African Americans dominate the NBA today, but just a century ago, Jews dominated professional basketball. Is it antisemitic that the NBA today boasts only one Jewish player ? Or is it possible that for reasons of culture or individual choice, members of other groups simply tried harder and outperformed Jewish players?

We don't apply "equity" to sports because sports is important.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Ski Week

My district gets this upcoming week off work.

I don't feel bad about it.  We started the school year in early August.  It's nice to have a couple more breaks in the school year.  I had planned to go camping this week but some health issues got in the way.  Here's hoping for some camping over Spring Break!

Usually I don't bring schoolwork home.  I try to keep a firm line between my home life and my school life.  If I have work that needs to be done, usually I'll stay late at school to get it done rather than bring it home.  I did bring home a few quizzes from late Friday, though, and some statistics projects to grade.  If I spend 20 min a day over the rest of the break, I'll have it all graded.

We're not even allowed on campus this week.  In what is a case of trying to repair the engine while the airplane is in flight, our campus is getting new furniture this week.  I'll probably have to go in next weekend and get my classroom organized so I can teach Monday morning.  Until then, though, it's 20 min/day, and the rest of the time is my own.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Big Boobs

I can't decide if this dude is a sicko or if he's the greatest troll in the history of trolling:

A Canadian teacher who made international headlines for wearing gigantic prosthetic breasts rarely wears them outside of school — raising questions about whether the vulgar costume is just an act.

While parents have raged about transgender teacher Kayla Lemieux being allowed to wear Z-cup prosthetics in front of students, the shop teacher was spotted ditching the controversial fetishistic fashion after work and stepping out in public dressed as a man...

After shopping at a department store and pet supplies shop dressed as a woman, Lemieux headed home to get changed and emerged dressed as a man 30 minutes later. 

Lemieux then spent the afternoon in public wearing men’s sweatpants, trainers, a gray T-shirt and a navy puffer vest without breasts, makeup, glasses or wig.

I guess "and" is a good alternative, too.

Federal Debt

There might be 7 of us left in this country who are concerned about annual deficits and the national debt, and it's strange to see CNN publish an article about the topic:

If it feels like we’re dedicating a lot of recent What Matters editions to the national debt, we are.

It’s a top political story as Republicans and Democrats square off over raising the debt limit and paying the nation’s bills.

But the larger issue of the government spending more than it collects in tax revenue – and whether or when that will become an existential threat to the way Americans live today – should not be so quickly bypassed.

In recent weeks, we’ve:

There’s more this week:

  • The annual bottom-line financial report of the US released Thursday by the Treasury Department showed the country’s current path to be “unsustainable.”
  • A separate Congressional Budget Office report released Wednesday confirms interest rate hikes will make the ballooning national debt much more expensive to finance. In a matter of years, just paying interest on debt will eat up a significant portion of tax revenue.

    More plainly put, that means the portion of every tax dollar going to interest on the debt will grow from:

    • 13 cents of every tax dollar spent on interest in 2023 to
    • 20 cents of every tax dollar spent on interest in 2033.

    I talked to Michael Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that tries to raise awareness about the debt and spur Congress to act to fix the problem.

    Excerpts of our phone conversation are below....

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." --Chief Justice Roberts

I marvel that in 2023, people think they can get away with crap like this:

A California school district held an event for employees of color but warned educators that they should not invite their White peers because of "feelings of uneasiness and mistrust."

The Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD), in the Bay Area, hosted an event for all employees of color on February 8, but Dr. Lynnā McPhatter-Harris, the director of Student Support Equity & Inclusion for the district reminded employees their White peers should not be invited to participate, according to an email shared exclusively by Libs of TikTok with Fox News Digital. 

"Hello POCC staff, we are ready for out first coming together in 2023," McPhatter-Harris' email read. "We are looking forward to seeing our people of color in the district. Please invite any employee of color to this event."

"Be reminded that we have avoided inviting people that are not of color as there remains feelings of uneasiness and mistrust and we need this to be a safe space for our people of color," the email continued. "Please reach out to me if you have any questions of concerns."

If I said I needed a so-called safe space from people of color, I'd be crucified.  Yes, it's exactly the same thing.  There are not, or at least there are not supposed to be, different rules based on skin color.  We fought a civil war and had a civil rights movement primarily in support of that simple thesis.


A few people seem to be trying to make a big deal out of this:

President Biden on Wednesday used the term “boy” while referring to Wes Moore, Maryland’s first Black governor, in a speech about the economy.

Speaking in Maryland, Mr. Biden gave a shout to the governor, recalling Mr. Moore’s days playing wide receiver on Johns Hopkins University’s football team.

“You got a hell of a new governor in Wes Moore. He’s the real deal and the boy looks like he can still play,” the 80-year-old Mr. Biden said. “He’s got some guns on him.”

I’m going to cut Biden some slack here.  Referring to “the boy” as he did was akin to me referring to much younger people as “the kid”.  I don’t see his use of “boy” in this context as having any racial animus or even undertones.

Of course, had a Republican said exactly the same thing, I’m quite sure our “friends” on the left would not be as understanding as I am.  That’s part of what makes them such despicable humans.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Why No New Posts? Was A Bit Hot Under The Collar.

I got one of those emails yesterday, one where "my kid says you don't teach and I DEMAND to know why you don't teach, especially since my kid needs to get a Division 1 scholarship for sportsing."  There's just so much wrong with those emails, and I could tell you what would make it even more wrong but you'll have to trust my judgement as to why I choose not to share additional information.

I'm reflective about my teaching.  I know I'm not a Superteacher, but I do reasonably well at helping teenagers understand the topics in our curriculum.  My lesson plans are littered with comments from previous years saying things like "try explaining it this way, see if it helps" or "need more example problems here".  I genuinely try to do a better job each time I teach something, and then to be told I don't teach, well....

I have come to an epiphany.  The people in the best position to know about my math teaching abilities are my fellow teachers.  They know my standards, they know my teaching philosophy, they know that I'm fair but firm, they know I don't cut corners.  And of the 4 math teachers whose kids have come through our school, I taught the kids of 3 of them--two each from 2 of those 3.  (No, the one student I didn't have was not steered away from me!)  And these are just the math teachers, this doesn't include all the other staff members' children I've taught over the years.

If my fellow math teachers trust me enough to teach their children, I must be doing something right.  Heck with those parents and their email.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Advanced Placement

It's not just AP African-American History:

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned the College Board’s influence over university admissions and high school Advanced Placement courses Monday after clashing with the organization over a black history class earlier this month.

“This College Board, nobody elected them to anything,” DeSantis said at an unrelated news conference. “They are just kind of there and they provide a service, and so you can either utilize those services or not.”

In addition to overseeing the SATs, the organization also administers AP classes that allow students to earn college credits while still in high school.

“There are probably some other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better,” the governor added, vowing to examine Florida public schools’ reliance on the College Board.

The GOP grassroots favorite initially clashed with the organization after Florida education officials rejected a proposed AP class on black history for use in its schools.

DeSantis argued that the course was being used as a vessel for the promotion of progressive agendas, and asserted again Monday that that it was permeated by “neo-Marxism.”

I'm glad someone's finally bringing AP testing to the national discussion. 

I like the idea of having outside, objective tests to determine if students learned anything in a course.  What I don't like is a company raking in zillions in taxpayer dollars.

I'll leave the SAT alone for a minute, let's just talk about AP tests.  What I'll do here is talk about how AP tests are administered at schools.

Schools encourage students to take AP classes and then the AP tests.  Not only are university credits (sometimes) awarded for decent scores on the tests, but in many schools students get a "grade bump"--a B, which is usually 3 points in a GPA, earns 4 in an AP class.  Thus, A students can get GPAs higher than a 4.0!

We at schools encourage students to sign up for AP tests.  (We used to collect the money for them, too, and pass that on to the College Board, but now students pay for those tests online.)  We at schools (from now on in this post, "we" means school staff) order the tests and answer documents.  We store and organize the tests and documents.  We find and set up the testing location; in my own school, custodians set up tables and chairs in one of our gyms.  We supervise the taking of the tests over a period of a couple weeks.  We collect, collate, and organize all the testing materials--at my school, this is hundreds of tests involving scores of man-hours--to send back to the college board.

The college board writes and scores the tests.

As I said, I support having an outside, objective test with a common standard.  But look how much money is spent by schools, almost every high school in the country, organizing and administering these tests for the College Board.  Do they reimburse the taxpayer at all for all this work?  No (or so I thought), and they charge $97-$145 per test.  In a state that guarantees almost no out-of-pocket cost for public education, this should be anathema.

As I looked that information up, I came upon this:  The per-exam rebate that schools can retain to offset exam administration costs is $9All the times I've talked about this to the "AP experts" at my school, none of them has mentioned this offset rebate; in fact, I just emailed them to find out if we apply for this!  That takes a little of the wind out of my sails, but my back-of-the-envelope calculations tell me $9 each still isn't enough to reimburse my school for the amount we spend to prepare for and administer the tests for the College Board, which is making money hand over fist.

What would I prefer to see?  Something along the lines of New York City's Regents Exams, I think, or perhaps Britain's A-levels.  If the government prepares the standards, the government should test to those standards. AP has its own curricula and tests to those curricula--and those curricula are not necessarily apolitical, non-partisan, ideologically unbiased, or even necessarily aligned to state content standards.

If you started from scratch and wanted to create a way for high school students to earn some college units, the current College Board/AP model would probably be the last one you'd come up with. We can, and should, do better.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

I Disagree With None Of This

Quoted from Instapundit in its entirety:

ARE YOU EVEN ALLOWED TO SAY THAT? Idris Elba On Why He No Longer Describes Himself As A ‘Black Actor’: ‘It’s Just Skin.’ “If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other.”

Yeah, but that produces too little in the way of graft and political leverage.

Bad News, Then Good

First, the bad news:

Many Californians are reporting that scammers drained their inflation relief debit cards before they could use the money. What's worse? They're now finding out they may have to pay income taxes on the money they never received.

The state gave out these Middle Class Tax Refunds to offset high inflation and gas prices. Now, some say they would've been better off without the payments in the first place.

Why not just use direct deposit?  It's not like this couldn't have been anticipated.

If Florida, a red state, had done something similar, I'll bet this decision would have gone a different way:

California taxpayers got some great news Friday from the Internal Revenue Service, the federal government will not tax those Middle Class Tax Refunds after all.

Californians have been waiting for weeks to find out if the IRS will tax their inflation relief payments. Today, the IRS said no - it qualifies as "relief." 

I wrote about those Middle Class Tax Refunds just under two months ago.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Khan: Students Hit The Wall In Algebra I If They Don't Know 3 x 7 = 21

Linked with only this minor comment:  I've been saying this for years.  There are people who say that students can learn algebra if you just give them a calculator in place of knowing the multiplication tables.  They can't, Sal Khan is right.

Teachers Are Quitting Because Of Classroom Chaos

Linked without comment.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Here's Another One Where The Title Doesn't Match The Story

Why do relatively fewer black Americans earn university degrees?  CNN has the story:

Black students are less likely to attain college degrees because of discrimination and external responsibilities, study finds

Except, that's not quite what the study finds, as evidenced by the first two paragraphs of the CNN story: 

Black college students have lower six-year completion rates for any type of degree or certificate program than any other racial or ethnic group because of racial discrimination, the high cost of higher education and a multitude of external responsibilities, according to a new Lumina Foundation-Gallup 2023 State of Higher Education study.

The study, released on Thursday, found that Black students in less racially diverse programs are more likely to feel discriminated against, physically and psychologically unsafe, and disrespected, leading them to abandon their higher education goals. (boldface and italics mine--Darren)

Nowhere in the article was there any evidence of discrimination.  I have a hard time believing that there's a lot of discrimination against black Americans in academia.  Crazy, I know, but I don't buy it.  I'll be blunt, those reasons given above sound like excuses to me.  You don't have to justify feeeeeeling discriminated against, or feeeeeeeeling psychologically unsafe, or feeeeeeeeling disrespected.  And there's no way any person or organization could defend themselves from such accusations and prove a negative.  It's very easy to give those excuses.

Why do fewer black Americans earn university degrees?  I'd say that, given their K-12 performance as a group, many are not properly prepared for college.  The "external responsibilities" in the CNN title, explained in the article, could also play a role.  But racial discrimination?  I just don't buy it absent evidence.

(And for those of you who will want to scream "racism!" about this post, first, screw you.  Second, I didn't talk why white Americans aren't prepared for university-level work because that wasn't what the CNN story was about, and this post is about the CNN story.)

Thursday, February 09, 2023

I Guess It's Good That "Science" Is Catching Up To Reality

Public masking was useless?  I was telling you that almost 3 years ago:

After questioning the value of general mask-wearing early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided the practice was so demonstrably effective that it should be legally mandated even for 2-year-olds. A new review of the evidence suggests the CDC had it right the first time.

That review, published by the Cochrane Library, an authoritative collection of scientific databases, analyzed 18 randomized controlled trials that aimed to measure the impact of surgical masks or N95 respirators on the transmission of respiratory viruses. It found that wearing a mask in public places “probably makes little or no difference” in the number of infections.

These findings go to the heart of the case for mask mandates, a policy that generated much resentment and acrimony during the pandemic. They also show that the CDC, which has repeatedly exaggerated the evidence in favor of masks, cannot be trusted as a source of public health information.

They lied.  Or, to be charitable, maybe it was how it was described in this Newsweek article I quoted a week or so ago:

I believed that the authorities responded to the largest public health crisis of our lives with compassion, diligence, and scientific expertise. I was with them when they called for lockdowns, vaccines, and boosters.

I was wrong. We in the scientific community were wrong. And it cost lives.

I can see now that the scientific community from the CDC to the WHO to the FDA and their representatives, repeatedly overstated the evidence and misled the public about its own views and policies, including on natural vs. artificial immunity, school closures and disease transmission, aerosol spread, mask mandates, and vaccine effectiveness and safety, especially among the young. All of these were scientific mistakes at the time, not in hindsight. Amazingly, some of these obfuscations continue to the present day.

But perhaps more important than any individual error was how inherently flawed the overall approach of the scientific community was, and continues to be. It was flawed in a way that undermined its efficacy and resulted in thousands if not millions of preventable deaths.

What we did not properly appreciate is that preferences determine how scientific expertise is used, and that our preferences might be—indeed, our preferences were—very different from many of the people that we serve. We created policy based on our preferences, then justified it using data. And then we portrayed those opposing our efforts as misguided, ignorant, selfish, and evil.

We made science a team sport, and in so doing, we made it no longer science. It became us versus them, and "they" responded the only way anyone might expect them to: by resisting.

They knew they were wrong, at best maybe they thought that doing this wouldn't cause harm.  But it did, and I curse them for that.

So why do some people still wear masks?  Part of it is virtue signaling, part of it might be because they're ugly.

Fidei Defensor

The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, and every one of them since Henry VIII has held the title of fidei defensor, defender of the faith.  Coins with Charles III's image on them have not been released yet, but to this day all coins with from his mother's reign bear her image along with the the letters D.G. REG. F.D., or dei gratia (by the grace of God) regina (queen) fidei defensor (defender of the faith).

I know that he leans way left politically, but I wonder if Charles III approves of this:

The Church of England will look into the use of gender neutral terms to refer to God in prayers, but the centuries-old institution said on Wednesday there were no plans to abolish current services. 

The issue reflects growing global awareness about the assumed usage of pronouns causing offence or upset to those who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth...

The spokesperson said there had been greater interest in exploring new language since the introduction of its forms of service in contemporary language more than 20 years ago. 

Bishop Michael Ipgrave, vice chairman of the Church's liturgical commission, said the Church had been "exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years". 

The deliberation is the latest attempt by the Church, central to one of the world's oldest Christian institutions, to keep up with rapidly evolving notions around gender and sexuality in recent decades.

What Is Your Mood?

A friend and I were texting politics a couple days ago and I wrote, "It would be funny if it weren't so serious."  His reply was, "Is it weren't or wasn't?  Serious question from the grammarly challenged."  (Aside:  he's not grammarly challenged.)

I knew that "weren't" was the correct term, and I remember learning back in high school that the reason had "something to do with the negative, or not being real, or something".  I texted a couple of my school's English teachers.

I eventually got word that it had to do with the future perfect tense.  I broke out my Random House Handbook, which I probably hadn't opened since leaving college in 1987, and looked up "future perfect".  As I read the examples, I didn't see anything about "weren't" being used as I used it.

Until I got to the bottom of the page.  The subjunctive mood.

When should the subjunctive be used?  Although at one time it was a flourishing part of daily usage, the subjunctive now survives only in limited kinds of statements...

Several examples are given, but this subjunctive mood is never clearly defined!  However, one of the limited kinds of statements is "impossible or unlikely conditions"--I guess that's my "negative, or not being real, or something".  The example given:

If I were on the moon now, I would tidy up the junk that has been strewn there.

I'm sure my high school English teachers would be proud that I retained even a sliver of that knowledge all these decades later.  That puts me in a good mood.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Old Racism vs. New

John McWhorter is a national treasure.

Understanding the new politics of race:

Despite the success of the civil rights movement in the 1960s in transforming the lives of black people, race politics in the US at the start of this century seems more polarised than ever. Racial inequality persists but there are fierce debates over the causes and solutions. Rather than seeking to realise the liberal ideal of a ‘colour-blind’ society, a new anti-racism politics wants to raise consciousness about race and the ‘problem’ of whiteness. Is this leading to more equality and progress or not? How should liberals approach this question? Crucially, how is the US experience influencing what happens in the UK and what can we learn from it?

This Is The Next Place I Want To Visit In Mexico

Although I'm not a fan of their no-reservations, first-come-first-served hotel procedure, these hot springs look beautiful.  And I'll just book a room in town and take a shuttle bus, anyway.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Lowering Standards

I'm not one of those mythical teachers who likes to put trick questions on a test or quiz so everybody flunks.  My assumption is that I could probably write an assessment that the vast majority of my students would fail--but what's the point in that?  I teach the material, and then assess to see if the students learned what they were supposed to have learned.

What's a "reasonable" grade distribution in a class?  (Not that I'll get into it here, but I'm in sort of a "debate" with a parent about just that topic in one of the courses I teach.)  I both teach to and assess to a standard; thus, it's possible that every student could get an A, and also possible that every student could get an F.  In that latter case I'd have to reflect and determine if poor teaching on my part was to blame for the poor result, but what about the former case?  If everyone got an A, would that mean my standards were too low?

Not necessarily.  I teach two types of courses, spanning the academic abilities of my school's students.  In two of the three courses I teach, most of the students are college-bound and thus are expected to do well.  In two of the three courses I teach, the vast majority of the students are seniors and often take "senioritis" to new heights.  In one of the courses I teach, the academic level is about that of upper elementary school or at most 7th grade.  I doubt anyone would expect the grade distribution in that class to be the same as the grade distribution of a class of college-bound students.  Remember, the content of that last class is already low, I don't need to make a mockery of it by not expecting students to meet even those low standards.

So in one of my heavily senior, college-bound classes yesterday, I gave a quiz.  Of the 22 students in that class, 5 received an A+, 5 received an A-, and 8 received F's.  As I've discussed with teacher friends in other departments, this "upside-down normal curve" distribution is a common one.

Almost half the students in the class got an A, and almost as many scored an F.  Does that sound like an issue of poor teaching?  It's clear that the material was put out.  Does it sound like an issue of a poor quiz?  Again, it doesn't appear that the material was at all out of reach of the students--unless you think that most students should get an A, and that I taught primarily to only the A students.

Some people say that if almost half my students got an A, that the quiz was too easy.  I don't agree with that.  The material wasn't very difficult, but it is important foundational material for the rest of the semester--that's why I quizzed it, to make sure students understood it, and the quiz involved nothing more and nothing less than what we'd gone over in class.  To be blunt (and I was told this by more than one applicable student), those who failed did so mostly because they didn't study at all, and thus couldn't remember all the steps that went into the topic material.

That's what other teachers are seeing, too, and not just math teachers--this "upside-down normal curve", where there are a lot of A's and a lot of F's and not much in between.  In many cases it is a case of lowered standards--unless you think A's should be the most common grade in a class--and those who fail often do so because they put in no effort at all.

Some teachers have a real problem with giving a lot of low grades. They'll lower standards in order to "get the grades up", but all that does is lower standards for everyone.  Those who fail due to lack of effort will fail due to lack of effort no matter if the standard is high or low.  Those at the top with high standards will also be at the top with low standards.  And a student who will do just enough to get by will do that with high standards or with low standards.  Those students who try, though, get higher grades when you lower standards.  Thus, the B's and C's get pushed up to A's, but the bottom grades stay where they are.

I resist lowering standards.  Today's academic standards are not as high as they were 20 years ago, despite what the Common Core zealots will tell you, so what I teach isn't as rigorous as it was 20 years ago.  Does anyone deny that lower standards, and the grade inflation they help bring about, are an issue in education?  And yet, still so many failing grades.

I have no doubt that the results of this chapter's test will be better than the results of this one quiz.  Still, though, the "upside-down normal curve" issue isn't going away any time soon.

Yet Another Example of Media Bias

Do they know they're lying, or can they just not tolerate a view different from their own?

Usually I would only quote excerpts from a news article under the "fair use" policy.  In this instance, though, I have to quote the entire article to demonstrate that it doesn't support the headline given.

Republicans Rage Over Sam Smith’s Grammy Performance: ‘This Is Evil’ 

Singer Sam Smith sparked outrage among conservative figures over their performance at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, with many declaring it to be "satanic." 

Smith, who along with Kim Petras won the award for best pop duo/group performance on the night, sang their hit single "Unholy" at the ceremony. 

During the performance, Smith sang while dressed head to toe in red, including a devil horn hat, while being surrounded by dancers who resembled Samara from the horror film The Ring.

Petras performed in a cage surrounded by flames while flanked by famed drag stars Violet Chachki and Gottmik, who were dressed as dominatrixes also sporting devil horns. 

Smith and Petras also made history on Sunday by becoming the first non-binary person and openly transgender woman, respectively, to win a Grammy in the best pop duo/group performance category.

In response to their performance, a number of Republicans expressed their horror and anger at the apparent "satanism" being evoked by Smith and Petras. 

Conservative podcaster Liz Wheeler tweeted: "Don't fight the culture wars, they say. Meanwhile demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan. I could throw up." 

In response to Wheeler's tweet, Texas Senator Ted Cruz added: "This...is...evil."

 Ben Kew, editor-at-large for political news website Human Events, tweeted: "I know we on the right probably use the word satanic too often but this performance from Sam Smith is literally a tribute to Satan." 

Charlie Kirk, political commentator and founder of Turning Point USA, also noted that an advert for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which developed a COVID-19 vaccine, appeared at the end of Smith and Petras' performance. 

"The Devil. Brought to you by Pfizer...," Kirk tweeted.

Robby Starbuck, a former GOP congressional candidate for Tennessee's 5th district, tweeted: "People like Sam Smith who love to mock Christianity and use Satanic themes always think they're super edgy artists by doing it. In reality it's not edgy. It's boring, vile, rehashed shock tactics that Hollywood seals clap for because they're evil & stupid." 

When asked about the supposedly devilish performance backstage at the Grammys, Petras said it was inspired by not feeling accepted by religion. 

"I think a lot of people, honestly, have kind of labeled what I stand for and what Sam stands for as religiously not cool, and I personally grew up wondering about religion and wanting to be a part of it but slowly realizing it didn't want me to be a part of it," she said. 

"So it's a take on not being able to choose religion. And not being able to live the way that people might want you to live because as a trans person, I'm already not kind of wanted in religion. So we were doing a take on that and I was kind of hell keeper Kim."

Words mean something.  When I think of "rage" as a verb, as it's used in the article's title, I think of an out-of-control physical, verbal, or emotional outburst.  Nowhere in that entire article do I see anything close to "rage".  I see strong disagreement, much of it voiced on Twitter--but entirely in control.  In fact, the only place I see "rage" at all in that article is in the title itself.

So I'm calling you out, Ewan Palmer.  Are you a liar, inserting a loaded word where it clearly doesn't belong, or an idiot, not even knowing what a simple word means?  I'm at a loss to find any other explanation.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Why Are Some People Still Wearing Masks?

Before the 'rona, the only people in the US who wore masks were trick-or-treaters or doctors.  Now, there's a sizeable minority of people who continue to wear them.  Why?

“Researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea wanted to see if self-perceived attractiveness played a role in people’s mask-wearing intentions,” reports the Daily Mail. The researchers conducted three studies of Americans to determine how perceptions of attractiveness affect mask-wearing...

We’re learning more about the ineffectiveness of masks in terms of preventing the spread of COVID and other similar diseases. Brand-new research from the Cochrane Institute shows that surgical masks decreased the chances of catching COVID or another flu-like disease by only 5%.

Yet we see people continuing to wear masks, although less often than we used to. Perhaps mask-wearing is rooted in issues of attractiveness and self-worth, as this study suggests. Or maybe masks are serving as more of a psychological barrier than a viral one.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

Is There *Any* Evidence It Does *Any* Good In *Any* Setting?

Other than making money for race-baiting hucksters, so-called implicit bias (or unconscious bias) training does no good at all:

While these cases have spurred calls for greater law enforcement investment in , new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that the day-long implicit -oriented programs now common in most U.S. police departments are unlikely to reduce racial inequity in policing.

"Our findings suggest that diversity training as it is currently practiced is unlikely to change police behavior," said study lead author Calvin Lai, assistant professor of psychological and in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Officers who took the training were more knowledgeable about bias and more motivated to address bias at work," Lai said." However, these effects were fleeting and appear to have little influence on actual policing behaviors just one month after the training session."

Click here for the posts I've written I've written on this topic (and associated links, of course).

Saturday, February 04, 2023

One Political Party Openly Supports Anti-semitism

American Jews know this, but they're more loyal to their political allies than to their spiritual ones:

    But while it is possible to frame House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s making good on his pledge to oust Omar from her seat on Foreign Relations, as well as to evict Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee, as simply a matter of revenge for the Democrats’ moves against GOP members in the last Congress, it is actually a deeply significant moment in the history of both American Jewry and the struggle against antisemitism.

    By punishing Omar for her blatant antisemitism, the GOP majority is making an important statement about what is and is not acceptable political discourse in Congress. But by rallying around Omar, as the Democrats have done, her party is sending an even louder message: that one of America’s two major parties now considers its allegiance to intersectional ideology and racial identity politics to outweigh any concerns many of them might still have about normalizing antisemitism on Capitol Hill.
That’s not at all surprising from a party that pledges quadrennial fealty to Al Sharpton.

Pretty much.


Used to be that people who made tips (e.g., waiters, waitresses, and bartenders) earned a sub-minimum wage that would in theory be made up for with tips, but not anymore.  The guy makes $15/hr making coffee, and he thinks people should tip???

The 38-year-old earns about $400 a month in tips, which provides a helpful supplement to his $15 hourly wage as a barista at Philadelphia café located inside a restaurant. Most of those tips come from consumers who order coffee drinks or interact with the café for other things, such as carryout orders. The gratuity helps cover his monthly rent and eases some of his burdens while he attends graduate school and juggles his job.

Schenker says it’s hard to sympathize with consumers who are able to afford pricey coffee drinks but complain about tipping. And he often feels demoralized when people don’t leave behind anything extra — especially if they’re regulars.

“Tipping is about making sure the people who are performing that service for you are getting paid what they’re owed,” said Schenker, who’s been working in the service industry for roughly 18 years.

Tipping is out of control.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Teach Civics, Not Activism

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.  Teaching students to be "activists" is so much easier than teaching them civics, as if it's even difficult to prey on the emotions of teenagers:

Politically engaged but ignorant is not a great combo.

In a new RAND survey, they write, more K-12 teachers said civics education is about promoting environmental activism than “knowledge of social, political, and civic institutions.” Hess and Martin call that "nuts." Eager to engage students, "too many teachers think of civics instruction as a chance to promote a particular policy agenda," they write...

"It’s hard to imagine what could be more self-destructive to the democratic project than encouraging students who can't name the three branches of government to vigorously, vociferously demand that they get their way," they write.

Clearly Our Hands Are Not Tied Enough

This will make schools better (not!):

Suspensions for defying school rules may become a thing of the past in California public and charter schools.

Legislation introduced Wednesday by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would ban such suspensions while aiming to understand what is causing the children to act out and treating it. 

Oakland and San Francisco schools, well known for the world-class educations and the safe and orderly environments they provide, already prohibit such suspensions. 

You don't improve discipline by not enforcing standards of discipline.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Student Loan "Relief"

A headline from the major Sacramento newspaper:

Millions of Californians applied for Biden student loan relief. What is the holdup?

What's the holdup?  It was illegal, and it was stopped.  Duh.

Some lefties just refuse to accept that they can't have everything they want just because they want it.  In that way they're like young children.

We Need More Of This, But From The People Who Made The Mistaken Decisions

Our response to the 'rona was a disaster:

As a medical student and researcher, I staunchly supported the efforts of the public health authorities when it came to COVID-19. I believed that the authorities responded to the largest public health crisis of our lives with compassion, diligence, and scientific expertise. I was with them when they called for lockdowns, vaccines, and boosters.

I was wrong. We in the scientific community were wrong. And it cost lives.

I can see now that the scientific community from the CDC to the WHO to the FDA and their representatives, repeatedly overstated the evidence and misled the public about its own views and policies, including on natural vs. artificial immunity, school closures and disease transmission, aerosol spread, mask mandates, and vaccine effectiveness and safety, especially among the young. All of these were scientific mistakes at the time, not in hindsight. Amazingly, some of these obfuscations continue to the present day.

But perhaps more important than any individual error was how inherently flawed the overall approach of the scientific community was, and continues to be. It was flawed in a way that undermined its efficacy and resulted in thousands if not millions of preventable deaths.

What we did not properly appreciate is that preferences determine how scientific expertise is used, and that our preferences might be—indeed, our preferences were—very different from many of the people that we serve. We created policy based on our preferences, then justified it using data. And then we portrayed those opposing our efforts as misguided, ignorant, selfish, and evil.

We made science a team sport, and in so doing, we made it no longer science. It became us versus them, and "they" responded the only way anyone might expect them to: by resisting.

Been a long time since I agreed with something I read in Newsweek, but this?  This I can agree with.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Advanced Placement African-American Studies

They can say that they didn’t bow to political pressure, that the course as written didn’t conform to "longstanding A.P. principles".  But if that’s true, how did it get written, published, and distributed in the first place?  And does anyone truly believe that if DeSantis hadn’t made an issue of the content, that the College Board would have made the changes they’ve now made, and in such a short time?  Yeah, me either.

After scathing criticism of the Advanced Placement curricula for African American Studies by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board has significantly altered the curriculum by stripping many of the issues to which DeSantis objected...

In January, DeSantis announced he would ban the AP Black Studies course on the grounds that it violated state law that regulates how race-related issues are taught in public schools. Essentially, any ideological approach to teaching race-related issues was forbidden.  link

Education, yes.  Indoctrination, no. 

Update, 2/6/23:  Here we have a few people demonstrating class:

Pierre Rutledge, chair of the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board, issued a statement on behalf of his board that apologized to DeSantis for a comment made at their Wednesday meeting from a member who said, "Our governor is racist."

"We take it to heart when someone uses the term racist," Rutledge said Friday. "Words matter. And so as chair, I must start by saying we want to pull that back. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘we’re sorry.’ That’s not what we intended to say or be depicted by anyone. And that’s not the feeling of this board."

The accusations of racism against DeSantis came as the board criticized the governor’s rejection of an African-American history Advanced Placement course due to content about Black Lives Matter and queer issues. The College Board removed aspects of the course Wednesday that were opposed by DeSantis, and the course will be reevaluated by the Florida Department of Education to determine if it is appropriate for schools.

The Month I Spent Feeding The Hungry and Poor In Monaco

The ChatGPT AI was supposed to have some factuality upgrades made Monday, but somehow I'm not yet convinced.  

Prompt:  Write a 500-word college admissions essay about the month I spent helping feed the poor in Monaco.

(Note:  Monaco's per capita GDP is in the $180,000 range. That of the US is about $70,000.)

Here's the essay:

The month I spent volunteering in Monaco to feed the less fortunate was a life-changing experience that taught me about the importance of compassion, selflessness, and the power of community.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a stable household with everything I needed, but I always felt a sense of guilt knowing that there were people in my community who were struggling just to put food on the table. When I heard about an organization in Monaco that was working to provide meals for the homeless and those in need, I knew I had to get involved.

The first day I arrived, I was struck by the stark contrast between the luxurious buildings and glittering yachts in Monaco, and the poverty and hardship faced by so many people. I quickly learned that despite its reputation as a wealthy country, there were still many people who were struggling to make ends meet. I was humbled by the dedication and hard work of the volunteers and staff, who were working tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of those who needed it most.

Each day, I would arrive at the community center early in the morning to help prepare food and set up the dining area. The smell of fresh bread and warm soup filled the room, and I could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air as people started to arrive. Despite the language barrier, I was able to connect with many of the people we were serving through smiles, nods, and gestures, and I was struck by the strength and resilience of those who had overcome so much adversity.

As I spent more time working at the community center, I realized that the impact we were making was not just about the food we were providing, but about the sense of community and belonging that we were fostering. Many of the people we served were lonely and isolated, and it was heartwarming to see them come together to share a meal, laughter, and conversation. I was also moved by the kindness and generosity of those who came to volunteer, some of whom had traveled from other parts of the world just to be a part of this effort.

The experience of serving others also helped me to develop a deeper appreciation for the things that I often took for granted. I realized that something as simple as a warm meal could bring so much joy and comfort to someone in need, and that the smallest act of kindness could make a world of difference. I also learned about the importance of teamwork and the power of community, as we worked together to achieve a common goal of helping others.

The month I spent volunteering in Monaco was not only a time of service and selflessness, but it was also a time of personal growth and reflection. I left the experience with a greater understanding of the world around me and a newfound appreciation for the power of compassion and community. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of such a special and meaningful project, and I hope to continue serving others in the future.

In conclusion, the month I spent feeding the less fortunate in Monaco was a transformative experience that taught me the importance of selflessness, compassion, and the power of community. It was a reminder that we are all connected, and that small acts of kindness can make a huge impact in the lives of those around us.

Our AI overlords may someday penalize me for my mockery, but that day is not today.

Update:  How good can an AI get if it's programmed to censor views?