Sunday, April 30, 2023

Another Army Football Player Goes To The Pros

I am against this policy that lets academy athletes play professional sports instead of serving as lieutenants, but then again, no one asked for my opinion when crafting that policy.  Looks like at least one Army football player from this year's class will be in the NFL, perhaps more:

Army linebacker Andre Carter II went undrafted but ended up signing a free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night.

The edge rusher did not have his name called through seven rounds and 259 selections in the three-day NFL Draft, hosted in Kansas City. Touted by some as a late first-round or second-round choice, Carter signed a free agent deal with the Vikings within an hour of the draft's conclusion...

Army has five other NFL-eligible players, some of whom may get signed as free agents in the coming days: defensive back Marquel Broughton; defensive lineman Kwabena Bonsu; defensive wide receiver Braheam Murphy; cornerback Isaiah Morris; and, running back Maurice Bellan. Carter and his teammates participated in a Pro Day at West Point on March 16, when 32 NFL scouts from 27 teams were on hand.

Army has four active NFL players, all of whom were undrafted free agents: Seahawks linebacker Jon Rhattigan; Chiefs linebacker Cole Christiansen; Steelers defensive back Elijah Riley; and, Eagles offensive lineman Brett Roth.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

All Your Children Are Belong To Us

Seems like schools only want parental involvement when it involves fundraising, volunteering, or being a teacher's "secret pal" for gifts.  Certainly don't want those parents to know what's going on with their kids!

The teachers claim they were mandated under the K-8 school district's policies to accept a child's transgender or gender diverse identity without hesitation and to hide it from families. They said they were instructed to use students' preferred names and pronouns in school, but to revert to their biological pronouns and given names when speaking with their parents.

When encountering "a suspicious parent," teachers were instructed to reply that they were allowed only to discuss "information regarding the student’s behavior as it relates to school, class rules, assignments, etc.," according to the suit.

I hope these teachers win their case, but I'm not holding out much hope here in the Democratik Peoples Republik of Kalifornia.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Equitable Grading

If "equitable grading" meant only not counting non-academic issues (behavior, attendance, bringing in a box of Kleenex for everyone to use) as part of a grade, I'd be all for it:

The Wall Street Journal reports on a growing trend in high schools to ditch homework and move to an “equitable grading” system, which is supposed to measure whether a student knows the classroom material by the end of a term without penalties for behavior like skipping class...

But some students and teachers in Las Vegas claim that some kids are gaming the system and that equitable grading ignores accountability.

This goes back to my perennial question, what does a grade signify?  I won't repeat here what I wrote 4 years ago, but my view on the topic hasn't changed.

My issues with so-called equitable grading start with treating grades like rewards or motivational tools rather than as measures of performance; for example, making the minimum grade that can be given (as opposed to earned) on a test a 50%, even if a student never takes the test, so that it's almost mathematically impossible to fail a course.  This is good if your sole reason for living is to get more students a passing grade than to ensure they learn something, but I'm not one of those people.

If you have to use "equitable" as a modifier, you know the result won't be a good one.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


It's bad enough to be so wrong about the relative sizes of different minority groups in the population; the problem is that too many people, both in and out of government, make decisions based on these exceedingly wrong estimates:

Any Bets On Who's Going To Win This Case?

My dime is on FIRE:

Today, two students represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sued their Michigan school district for viewpoint discrimination after they were forbidden from wearing apparel critical of President Joe Biden. 
“Criticism of the president is core political speech protected by the First Amendment,” said FIRE attorney Conor Fitzpatrick. “Whether it’s a Biden sticker, ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ sweatshirt, or gay pride T-shirt, schools can’t pick and choose which political beliefs students can express.” 
In Feb. 2022, two Tri County Middle School students wore sweatshirts to school with the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon,” a political slogan critical of President Biden with origins in a more profane chant. Even though the political slogan is widely used — multiple members of Congress used it during floor speeches — an assistant principal and a teacher ordered the boys to remove the sweatshirts. However, administrators allowed students to wear apparel with other political messages, including gay-pride-themed hoodies. 
The incident is part of a pattern of political favoritism by the school district. When the school district relaxed the dress code for field day, a school administrator ordered a student to stop wearing a Trump flag as a cape, but permitted other students to wear gay pride flags in the same manner. 
The school district is wrongly relying on a policy that prohibits “profane” clothing to censor this particular message, but FIRE’s lawsuit argues that ordering the students to remove the “Let's Go Brandon” sweatshirts violates the First Amendment.

My prediction:  the leftie school administrators will lose, but they won't learn their lesson.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

'Rona-related Isolation Did No Good

This from no less than the BBC, mouthpiece organ of a government that loved its lockdowns:

There is no evidence that shielding benefited vulnerable people during the Covid pandemic, according to a study.

Swansea University compared 117,000 people shielding in Wales with the rest of the population of three million.

The study found deaths and healthcare usage were higher among shielding people than the general population.

The Welsh government said shielding was introduced on medical and scientific advice and it will continue to review evidence from the pandemic.

The study also found the Covid rate was higher among those shielding - 5.9% compared to 5.7%.

The researchers said the data raised questions about whether the policy worked.

They concluded that a "lack of clear impact on infection rates raises questions about the success of shielding, and indicates that further research is required to fully evaluate this national policy intervention"...

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Prof Helen Snooks, who led the research, said: "If shielding was going to be effective in reducing deaths and serious illness from Covid, then it really needed to reduce the infection rate, but unfortunately we didn't find evidence of that in the study."

Here comes the biggie:

Prof Snooks also emphasised that the shielding group was "a lot sicker than the non-shielding group".

"There were more deaths and there were more hospital admissions. We are, at this point, thinking that perhaps it was impossible to shield people effectively when there was such a high level of healthcare transmission at that time," she said.

"For a particular person, it may have been the best thing to do. What we evaluated was the policy of writing to people and recommending very strongly that they stay at home. It wasn't underpinned at that time by any evidence."

"It wasn't underpinned at that time by any evidence."  Those of us who said that a few years ago were blood-libeled.

"It was sort of made up at the time and implemented."

Given that no one could provide any evidence, of course it was made up.  

It wasn't anti-mask people like me who were anti-science, who made this a totalitarian "with us or against us" issue, who damaged the credibility of public health officials.  It was the the people who "made it up at the time" who did these things.

#### them, including this one.

Update:  Even Nate Silver, now formerly of FiveThirtyEight, says this:

Nate Silver blasted COVID-era closures of churches while other public spaces, such as museums, were permitted to operate with fewer restrictions.

“It’s kind of crazy (and tells you a lot about who was writing the restrictions) that churches in some jurisdictions were subject to more restrictions than museums!” Silver, the data journalist and founder of the FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis news site, tweeted.

“Not even attempting to follow any sort of epidemiological principles.”

Yeah, pretty much.  And Nate Silver is no rightie.

School Discipline

I don't care about your skin color; if you act up in school, especially if you're interrupting the learning environment of others, there should be a penalty for that:

Legislation that supporters say will improve school discipline but critics say will kick more Black students out of school was adopted Wednesday by the state House. 

The N.C. House passed a bill that removes wording from state law that now lists inappropriate language, disrespecting teachers, dress code violations and minor fights as examples not to be deemed serious violations meriting a long-term suspension. 

Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican and primary sponsor of House Bill 188, said the change is needed because of how lax discipline has gotten in schools. 

“All it does is simply give teachers some, I guess, power back to control their classrooms,” Torbett said.

Meanwhile, California is going in exactly the opposite direction (with easily predictable results):

Instead of sending a student out of class for a minor infraction, teachers were encouraged to de-escalate by talking to the child quietly or writing them a note in class.

“We’re not just going to move the problem and kick the can down the road to somebody else,” Karigaca said.

The discipline models could be replicated throughout California public schools under legislation sponsored by State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). Senate Bill 274 would permanently extend the ban on willful defiance suspensions in middle and high schools after 2025. Current law bans these suspensions permanently for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

When the earlier ban was put in place, some teachers said their classrooms became chaotic because students didn’t see consequences for misbehavior. Now, even some educators who support the policy say they understand why teachers may worry that they do not have the resources to safely implement it at higher grade levels with older, and sometimes physically larger, students.

“If you’re not taught basic tools to support and manage a classroom, then you are going to see behaviors escalate to a point where you might feel a little loss of control or safety in the environment that you’re supposed to support,” said Justine Bernacet, the lead seventh-grade teacher at KIPP Sol Academy, a charter middle school in East LA...

Oakland is among a handful of school districts — including Los Angeles, Pasadena and San Francisco — that have already ended willful defiance suspensions, which punish students for nonviolent acts such as ignoring the teacher, wearing a hoodie in class, talking back to a teacher or disrupting the class by tapping their feet. These disciplinary actions disproportionately affect Black, Latino and indigenous students, leading to higher dropout rates in these communities, according to a state report.  

Statements like that last one drive me nuts.  Are we to believe that California's teachers are racist and are targeting "Black, Latino and indigenous students", or might these students commit a disproportionate number of offenses?  And if the latter, why is that?

Sorry, "racist teachers" isn't the first answer I'd jump to.

Airplane Etiquette

As a moderate air traveler, I subscribe to the following in airplane etiquette:  the person in the middle seat gets primary access to both armrests; even though you can, you shouldn't recline your seat if there's someone directly behind you; and as soon as the seat belt light goes off at the gate, the aisle people should get up and get their gear out of the overhead bins.  I didn't even know that last one was a debate until I read this piece:

But there’s one bit of travel etiquette that has been spreading steadily online for five years that has become something of a mantra in recent months — and it's stupid.

It's the notion that it's bad to stand up once the plane lands. Buzzfeed even had an article headlined, "If You Stand In The Airplane Aisle As Soon As The Plane Lands, You Are Wrong."

The objectors here think they’re preaching good behavior, but really, they are being inconsiderate. 

Maybe this kind of writing is why Buzzfeed is shutting down, but I digress:

A considerate person has her ATM card in her hand by the time she gets to the front of the ATM line, and when she’s using the machine, she concentrates on the screen rather than staring at the birds or the clouds. She might get her cash only 10 seconds sooner by being quick and prepared, but the person seventh in line might get his cash a minute earlier if everyone in front of him is prepared and quick. That might make the difference between catching the next bus or missing it.

This is why the standard objection to the immediate-standers is not only dumb, but self-damning. 

The people making this objection literally only think, “What is in it for you if you stand?” They don’t think, “What behavior might help other people?”

So here's why, when I have the aisle seat, I stand up right away and start gathering my stuff: Yes, it's true that if you stand up once the "fasten seatbelt" sign turns off, you can’t go anywhere. BuzzFeed argues that this is why everyone should “wait until the doors have opened and it's your turn to get up and gather your s***.”

But gathering your things ahead of time is actually the courteous thing to do.

You have downtime while the doors are closed, and if you’re standing, you can use that downtime to get your bag down from the overhead bin. Maybe this saves you only 10 seconds, but if every aisle-sitter did it (both sides of the aisle for 30 rows), then the last person on the plane will get off 10 minutes sooner.

And there’s more. When I stand up once the seatbelt sign goes off, I am often able to pass a backpack or jacket to my rowmate or even get the roller bag from above my seat down for the lady two rows ahead, who otherwise would be clogging up more of the lane when it was “her turn” to get up.

Another benefit to others is this: When I’m standing in the aisle, the middle-seat person, who just spent two hours with no elbow room, now has a little bit more space. If the sitters had their way, we’d all be crammed into the same square footage we were crammed in during takeoff and landing.

Courtesy and consideration are about thinking about how you can help others or at least avoid inconveniencing them. Too many of the social media scolds think only of themselves. 

The one and only time I flew on a foreign discount airline, they enforced the opposite.  A flight attendant would stand in the aisle; anyone in front of that flight attendant could stand up and get their belongings, everyone else had to stay seated.  When those people had mostly cleared out, the flight attendant would back up a few rows and those new rows of passengers would stand and get their gear.  It was so inefficient.  Yes, it looked orderly, but it was inefficient.

I'm flying to Mexico in mid-June.  While I booked the flight through Mexico's flag carrier, the flight will be on an American airline.  I don't see Americans staying seated because some softhead without good reasons says they should.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Personal Responsibiliity

How is it that lefties think that a 12-year-old can decide his/her own gender, independent of anatomy, but an adult doesn’t understand enough to enter into a legally-binding loan agreement?

The Supreme Court decision on whether or not it allows the Biden administration to move forward with the plan to cancel $400 billion in student debt will have life-changing financial consequences for tens of millions of Americans.

Unfortunately for borrowers, legal experts remain skeptical that the justices will greenlight the relief.

“I expect the court will rule against the Biden administration,” said Paul Collins, Jr., professor of legal studies and political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Collins predicts the six conservative justices will vote down President Joe Biden’s program, and that the three liberal justices will be in favor of it. “The Supreme Court is an incredibly ideological and partisan institution in 2023 — perhaps more so than at any other point in American history,” he said.

Do you think a professor of political science in Massachusetts might be just a teeny bit biased in his opinions?  I do. 

Anyway, I can find no legal or moral justification for having taxpayers pick up the bill for people who, having graduated high school and being on their way to college, were supposed to have been smart enough to know what they were doing.

If The Lefties Who Voted For Prop 47 Had Used Their Brains Instead Of Their Tribe Mentality, They'd Have Known This Would Be The Result.

When you advocate for a course of action that has easily predictable results, you share some of the responsibility for those results.  Thus, this result is the fault of leftie softheads:

A California sheriff said legislation touted as creating safer neighborhoods and schools is to blame for the state's soaring addiction and homeless rates.

"When we stopped enforcing drug rules and laws," Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco told Fox News, "we started seeing a major, major, major increase in what we see now as the severe mental health problems of people that are living on the street"...

The problem stems from Proposition 47, approved by voters nearly a decade ago, Bianco argued.

Also referred to as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, Prop 47 changed crimes like theft of goods under $950 and drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors and ultimately reduced California’s prison population by more than 13,000 inmates. More than half the money saved on prison costs is earmarked for mental health services, substance use disorder treatment and other programs.

"It was astonishing that people did not do the research of what they were voting for, and they trusted the government to be honest to them when they said it was safe schools and safe streets, because everybody's for that," Bianco said. "But we were lied to."

California's fatal overdose rate rose more than 35% between 2014 and 2019, then skyrocketed the following year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

I don't care if you were lied to.  If you bought into the stupid lie, especially because it buttressed your liberal bona fides, you're responsible. 
Bianco said a false narrative of mass incarceration for simple drug possession fueled Prop 47's popularity...
The inability to force people into substance abuse treatment has led to a "drastic increase" in mental health issues and drug-related crime, Bianco said.

"We cannot force them into drug rehab," he said. "Now they get a ticket. If they fail to go to court on that ticket, they just get another ticket."

How anyone could have believed anything different would happen is, well, unbelievable.  They were vaping the unicorn farts. 

There's a difference between being wrong and saying you believe something that is obviously not the case.  I can accept wrong, I can't and won't accept willful stupidity.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Roddenberry Nailed It So Many Years Ago

Months before I was born, Star Trek's original pilot episode, The Cage, was completed.  NBC found it too intellectual, with not enough action, and ordered a do-over.  Footage from The Cage was later repurposed for use in an episode called The Menagerie.

In The Cage, the inhabitants of Talos IV are physically frail, with huge heads and brains.  They communicate via telepathy, and eventually found a way to make illusions that seem real.  In this episode, the Talosians have kidnapped Captain Pike and are using illusions to convince him to fall in love with Vina, a beautiful woman.  Their plan is to breed humans to help them rebuild and repopulate the planet.  Here's a little of the dialog from the episode:

Captain Christopher Pike: Why did they go underground?

Vina: War, thousands of centuries ago.

Captain Christopher Pike: That's why it's so barren up there?

Vina: The planet's only now becoming able to support life again.

Captain Christopher Pike: So the Talosians who came underground found life limited here and they concentrated on developing their mental power.

Vina: But they found it's a trap, like a narcotic...

Vina: When dreams become more important than reality, you give up travel, building, creating. You even forget how to repair the machines left behind by your ancestors. You just sit, living and reliving other lives left behind in the thought record.  

Does this not sound at all like what too many people experience today with their phones and gaming and VR?

Earth Day

I don't understand those who revel in apocalypse porn, and I wouldn't care if their crazy beliefs didn't impact me.  Apparently, though, even Earth Day isn't enough for some of those kooks:

Even the left finds the day more than a little glum just now though that’s because the world hasn’t ended yet. Remember—end-of-the-world doomsday scenarios make environmentalists happy, so when the end of the world fails to arrive on schedule, they get the sads.

Their predictions have been almost 100% wrong for 50 years now, and that doesn't seem to deter them.

I'm a conservationist.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Tower Records

As a youth I spent significant amounts of time at Tower Records and Tower Books on Watt Avenue.  At the time I didn't realize it was a hometown business that had gone worldwide (well, at least to New York and Tokyo):

From these humble roots grew the international empire of Tower Records. In 1961, the younger Solomon opened the first official Tower Records, complete with its famous red-on-yellow signage, on Sacramento’s Watt Avenue. In 1968 and 1970, Tower opened larger locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively. The first of a string of immensely profitable stores in Japan followed in 1979, and then, in 1983, the company opened a four-story temple to music in one of the most run-down sections of New York City. As with the locations in San Francisco, L.A., and throughout Japan, the New York City Tower was an enormous success.

I also didn't know that an employee's experience working at Tower was the backdrop for (the awesome 90s movie) Empire Records.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Summer Plans

I don't think I've taken my trailer out camping since October, and now I probably won't until school gets out.  It will have been over half a year.

I was supposed to go over Spring Break, but a rock slide made access to my planned campground much more difficult than it needed to be, so that trip will get postponed until June.  Maybe I can go there right after school gets out...

About a week after school gets out, I'm headed for Puerto Vallarta.  I like to go places I haven't been or do things I haven't done before when I travel, and I'll get a smidge of both in PV.  I overnighted there on a cruise 7 years ago, so here are my planned new events:

  • take a bus to Sayulita
  • take surfing lessons in Sayulita
  • rent a waverunner

How fun do those sound?

A few weeks after my return I'm going on an Alaska cruise with my mother.  When we booked it I had previously been to all the ports of call, but in the interim, Victoria BC has been replaced with the thriving metropolis of Prince Rupert BC.  From what I've seen on YouTube it doesn't seem like a fair trade at all, but at least it's somewhere I haven't been before.

The last weekend of July, some of my high school friends have planned a "reunion" of sorts.  I don't have a lot of details yet, but since Styx and Starship were popular when we graduated high school, we're going to a concert of theirs at the local casino!  Our 40th high school reunion should be this year but I think it's only in the initial planning stages.

I'm already doing preliminary planning for Summer '24, when my sister and I are scheduled to spend 2 1/2 weeks in Italy.  She's given me carte blanche to do the planning, saying "I just want to pay my share and show up and have it all done for me."  I am so the right person for that job!

I wish I knew enough about how to arrange it so I could deduct at least part of the cost of that Italy trip from my taxes....

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

They Came So Close

Interesting article on CNN about why the Vikings might have abandoned their Greenland settlements:

The Vikings disappeared abruptly from Greenland in the mid-15th century, some 400 years after arriving there. Why they abandoned a successful settlement is a mystery that historians never have been able to fully explain.

Theories include drought, changing temperatures, social unrest, and the overhunting of walrus tusks (a cherished luxury good in medieval Europe) — conditions that would have made Norse colonies in Greenland economically nonviable.

Now, a team of researchers from Harvard University and Pennsylvania State University say they have uncovered another key factor that could explain why the Vikings fled: a rise in sea levels.

Using a computer model based on geological and climate records, the team found that sea levels would have risen by up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) during the the four centuries of Norse occupation of the eastern settlement Vikings established in Greenland in 985 AD. 

The researchers calculated that 204 square kilometers (79 square miles) of land would have been been flooded during the period the settlement was occupied, making Norse communities more vulnerable to storms and coastal erosion as they also lost fertile lowland.

The loss of habitable land would have been compounded by a trend from warmer temperatures toward cooler, drier temperatures in Europe that ultimately led to what is known as the Little Ice Age, which began around 1250 AD. A study detailing the findings published Monday in the scientific journal PNAS

So in this article they acknowledge the Little Ice Age and changing sea level changes well before the advent of SUVs but they just can't or won't pull it all together.  Swing and a miss.

Monday, April 17, 2023

The Capital Region Covers Itself In Math Glory (not)

If these numbers are correct, they're a damning indictment:

“87% of Sacramento County parents think their kids do math at grade level,” reads one billboard. “28% of kids actually do." The goal of the #GoBeyondGrades campaign is to persuade parents to talk to teachers about their child's achievement and take advantage of summer programs, writes Sawsan Morrar in the Sacramento Bee.

In addition to Sacramento County, the foundation-funded billboard campaign is targeting Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City and Washington, D.C.

In all six regions, 80 percent of parents said their children earn As or Bs on their report cards," according to a recent Learning Heroes survey, and 89 percent believe their child is at or above grade level in reading and math. Parents are very confident that their children will be prepared for success in college and the workforce.

It ain't necessarily so....

Coincidentally, a parent recently told me that he thinks that 80% of the students in a high school math class should receive an A or a B.

Hey Nineteen

Are fundraising commercial writers all Steely Dan fans?

One of the many apps on my TV is PlutoTV; click on PlutoTV and you have well over 250 channels available, and that's just on that one app.  Recently on the More Star Trek channel (yes, there's a regular Star Trek channel) I've been watching Voyager.  I'd forgotten how good a show that series eventually became.

PlutoTV has commercials, and one came on for St. Jude Children's Hospital.  The request was for "just 63 cents a day", or $19/month.  Strange number, but whatever.

Several minutes later, during the next commercial break, there was a commercial for the ASPCA.  The request was for "just 63 cents a day, $19 a month."

Any thoughts on why they'd ask for such an odd amount?  Why not 67 cents a day for an even $20?

Sunday, April 16, 2023

On What Planet Does This Make Sense?

Why is it the electric company's business how much money I make?

If you live in California, your electricity bill could be affected by how much money you earn. 

California's three largest power companies - Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric - have submitted a joint proposal to the Public Utilities Commission outlining a fixed rate restructuring that would be based on one's income. 

The plan would break down monthly bills into the fixed rate plus a reduced usage charge based on consumption. According to officials this fixed-rate plan would reduce monthly bills for low-income customers and if electricity usage is controlled, bills would also be lowered.

I'm sure there's some so-called social justice aspect to this.  I should pay more than a 20-something because I make more than a 20-something?  I've already been a 20-something and worked to earn more, and now I do.  Are we going to do the same for gas, groceries, insurance?  Will I have to submit 1040s to corporations now?

Just another example of how the left doesn't want to bring anyone up, it wants to bring everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Oh, Heck No

Here in California we have a few bears up in the mountains, but rangers chase them through (and away from) campgrounds with pop guns.  They don't sound too dangerous.

Rattlesnakes?  If you get close enough to one to make it rattle, back the truck up.  Don't mess with it.

Yes, there are sharks off the coast, but shark attack stories don't usually come from California.  And in the greenbelt along the American River there are some mountain lions, but they've apparently learned to give the humans wide berth.

Bottom line, we don't have too many big bad animals here in California.

So where did this alligator come from???

A seven-foot alligator was found in a California river and wildlife authorities aren’t sure how the animal got there...

Before the alligator’s death, the animal was captured and brought into the Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento, a wildlife rescue in McClellan, California, by a man who claimed to have found the alligator swimming in the American River near Sailor Bar Regional Park.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Women's Sports (and A Name From My Past)

I'm a pretty smart cookie.  I know what a woman is.  I also know that, for the most part, women cannot compete physically with men.  If that weren't true, there wouldn't be women's sports leagues or women's sports in K-12 and college.  

And no, a guy who claims to be a woman isn't a woman.  William Thomas was an average swimmer until he changed his name to Lia and started swimming on the women's team, shattering records as he went.  At least Bruce Jenner competed as a man and still set records.  When a "trans woman" set a bunch of records in weightlifting in Canada, this happened:

A bearded pro powerlifter entered a women’s competition in Canada — and smashed a record held by a trans lifter who was watching.

Avi Silverberg, the head coach for Team Canada Powerlifting for more than 10 years, entered Saturday’s Heroes Classic tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta, after identifying as a female.

Video shared by athlete activist group the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) shows him walking up to the platform still fully bearded and wearing a regular men’s singlet.

He then casually bench-pressed nearly 370 pounds — beating the current Alberta women’s record by almost 100 pounds.

That record — 275 pounds — was held by trans athlete Anne Andres, who was seen watching Silverberg while volunteering at the event.

This is the part I love:

ICONS said Silverberg “mocked the discriminatory [Canadian Powerlifting Union] policy” that allows competitors to register for events under their “gender identity and expression, rather than their sex or gender,” vowing “no consequences” for doing so.

Your policy is stupid. 

That worthless human Megan Rapinoe, whose team was beaten by some teenage boys, would be the nobody she deserves to be if she had to compete against men.  Even LGBT icon Martina Navratilova has acknowledged that men should not compete athletically against women.

Here's what gets me:  we all know this to be true.  We all know that most men are bigger, stronger, and faster than most women.  It's not a secret, it's not something that's just been discovered.  This has been known by every member of our species for millenia.  If this weren't true, we never would have passed Title IX and required universities to have more women sports than they previous had.  That was done in 1972, back in the Dark Ages when people still had common sense.

So now we have Riley Gaines, an NCAA Champion (woman) swimmer, attacked physically by a biological man who claims to be a woman, because he didn't share Riley's viewpoint.  And crazy lefties condemn Gaines because she is smart enough to think that women shouldn't have to compete against men athletically, and says so openly.  I don't hear any of them condemning the biological male who decked her, no, that would be "transphobic".  There was more than just one striking blow, read the whole story at the link.

When I was growing up, we were taught that a man should never hit a woman.  The reason was obvious--it would be an unfair physical contest.

I heard more details about Gaines' ordeal while I was driving to work today, and then I heard a name.  I came home and read the article linked above:

But SF State’s vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, Jamillah Moore, sent an email that made no mention of an apology to Gaines, or the acts following her speech about saving women’s sports to the university’s chapter of Turning Point USA. 

"Let me begin by saying clearly: the trans community is welcome and belongs at San Francisco State University. Further, our community fiercely believes in unity, connection, care and compassion, and we value different ideas even when they are not our own," Moore wrote.

"Thank you to our students who participated peacefully in Thursday evening’s event. It took tremendous bravery to stand in a challenging space. I am proud of the moments where we listened and asked insightful questions. I am also proud of the moments when our students demonstrated the value of free speech and the right to protest peacefully. These issues do not go away, and these values are very much at our core."

Jamillah Moore.  That's not a common name. 

Twenty years ago I took 4 courses at Sac State in pursuit of a CLAD (cross-cultural, language, and academic development) credential.  It was all the rage at the time, ensuring we teachers knew how to deal with students for whom English wasn't their first language.  I wrote 7 blog posts about my experience, which wasn't positive, and the links are included in this post.

I was in a cohort of teachers, most of whom were from my district, who were taking classes for the CLAD credential.  In one class there were about 25 teachers, mostly from my district, and all were women but me.  The instructor created such a horrible class environment that--I am not exaggerating here--one of the other teachers would just spontaneously burst into tears, even if we were just working individually and quietly.  And no, it was never the same person twice.  You could cut the tension with a knife.  I ended up having a relative of that instructor as one of my students a few years later (daughter or niece, I can't remember now) and I'll admit it took me a long time to warm up to that child.  Anyway, that instructor ran a class that was by far the worst educational experience I'd ever had.

So going into next (and for me the final) class, most of us expected another train wreck, another racist disaster.  I was quite surprised at how welcoming the instructor of this class was, how she "walked the walk" of tolerance, how she didn't attack when faced with an opinion with which she disagreed.  I certainly didn't agree with some of the readings in that course, especially by nutjob Paolo Freire, but being exposed to ideas with which we disagree is part of education.  The instructor handled the class adeptly, she truly impressed me.

Her name was Jamillah Moore.

To say I'm disappointed in her (non-)response to the SFSU mob violence would be a tremendous understatement.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Is This What A Library Should Look Like?

For some completely unexplained reason, our district has given one woman (the "furniture nazi") complete power to dictate what furniture we need and will have in every room of our school.  We teachers have had over a month to adjust to what we were given, and now our office staffs and others have gotten their furniture.

We came back from Spring Break yesterday and I headed to our staff lounge, I wanted to see what stupidity had overtaken the place--and it had taken over the place.  We now have a couple bar-height tables with 10 bar-height stools, as well as a couple "normal" tables and chairs.  No one likes climbing up the stools to the tall tables; one lady said she couldn't sit there with a skirt on!  I surveyed everyone who haunts that particular lounge (our ranch-style campus has 3 lounges) and while one person was ambivalent, no one else liked the too-tall tables.

I knew the front office and counseling office would be disaster areas, and they even exceeded my expectations.  Then there was the library:

Does that look like a high school library to you?  This is less than half of the original seating in the library, and less than half of the shelving space.  What you see is what you get, that's our library.  How is that a library for a school with almost 2000 students?  Why did some furniture purchaser get to decide that this is what a library should look like, and why did the district suits allow it?

Hey, "anonymous" commenter from my last post:  librarians are in the teachers union.  That union didn't do squat about this.  They didn't do squat about our being compelled to accept the furniture that the furniture nazi ordered, all they did was negotiate with the district to pay us a couple hundred dollars each to pack up and unpack our classrooms for the furniture swap.  How many dollars per hour do you think that came out to for our librarian, who had to box up every single book in our library?  Where was your vaunted union here?  The union for all the secretaries--office, attendance, counseling, finance, etc--didn't even negotiate extra pay for them.  Wave your union banner high, though, "anonymous", unions are covering themselves with glory just about as much as the furniture nazi is.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Payroll Deduction for Union Dues

The issue is payroll deduction for union dues.

I can actually see both sides of this issue--well, at least part of each side.

Argument in favor of ending payroll deduction for union dues:  why should a government agency (schools) serve as a conduit for funding an outside organization (union)?  Let them get their money from their members.

The legislators say that it’s not necessary for public school districts to be involved in financial transactions on behalf of unions.

Argument against the above argument:

Union officials had to get all their members to sign up for a new form of dues payments, and then manage the administrative burden that came with those payments. For example, if an educator’s credit card expired, the union would then have to make sure that the educator added a new form of payment...

“Many of our classified employees do not have credit cards or bank accounts,” she said.

Point of order!  I call B.S. on that last statement. I'll bet every one of those people is paid via direct deposit.

Argument against the argument against:

Proponents of the bills disagree. Finding another method to collect dues “is a very minor inconvenience,” said Rusty Brown, the Southern director for Freedom Foundation, a conservative, free-market think tank. “To say that’s shifting rights away—that’s, at best, a stretch.”

He argued that it’s no longer necessary for public school districts to serve as a financial intermediator between teachers and their unions, since automatic bill payments are increasingly common and easy to set up.

If you can do it for the electric company, you can do it for your union. 

Argument against ending payroll deduction for union dues:

But teachers’ unions say that adapting to these measures will require a lot of time and money and could hurt their membership numbers. They also point out that many of these bills exclude conservative-leaning unions, like those for police, and target teachers’ unions, which typically support Democratic politicians.

Argument against the above argument: If they provide a decent service, people will pay for it; it's not the school district's responsibility to keep a union's membership numbers up.  That's a silly, whiny argument.  The next point, though, is valid--why are they singling out the teachers unions?  If you're going to get rid of payroll deduction for unions, then all public service unions should be treated this way.  It's hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a penalty for being a union that supports Democrats, and that's not how a legislature should make decisions.  

My conclusion:  it's very little effort for a school district to set up payroll deduction.  You can have money deducted for an IRA/403b or for health insurance contributions, why not for a union?  No, it's not the district's responsibility to support the union, but if they're going to set up payroll deduction, I don't see why union dues cannot also be withheld--especially since government employees are no longer required to be a member of, or pay money to, a union since the 2018 Janus case (about which I've written many times) and thus all union dues are voluntary.

I did find this concern interesting, however:

Legislators in support of the bills have also said that having to let school district officials know whether you’re a union member could lead to harassment or discrimination.

“This bill is about removing any potential fear or intimidation in the workplace,” said Arkansas state Sen. Joshua Bryant, a Republican and the author of a related bill, during a floor debate, according to the Freedom Foundation. “The technology is there to be able to pay our dues direct. Why do we have to go through and fill out a form, check a box, and annually let people know what we’re doing? Why can’t we just take this like we do everything else and take it to our home?”

Yes, it could happen, but absent any evidence that it does happen or has happened, I'm tentatively willing to call this one a red herring.  Still, the old warning holds true:  eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.  You've got to watch labor unions like a hawk.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Family Mottos

I wish I'd read some of these when I was raising my son.  Instead, the best I probably used most often was "a place for everything, and everything in its place."  At the very least I've never lost my car keys.

I do remember once when my son searched for quite some time for something.  When he finally found it I teasingly said to him, "Where is its place?  If it had been in its place, you'd have found it right away."  He teasingly replied, "When I put it there, that was its place."

I've still never lost my car keys.

Friday, April 07, 2023


If you're keeping secrets from parents about their children, you might just be the bad guy in the story:

The Chico Unified School Board in Chico, California, voted Wednesday evening to uphold its so-called "parental secrecy policy," which says that school staff should not reveal a transgender student's gender identity to their parents without the child's permission. 

The vote comes after the Center for American Liberty filed a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of Aurora Regino, a mother who accused a guidance counselor of helping her 11-year-old biological daughter transition to a male without the family's knowledge.

Alternative Math

It's a cute short story:


It hits a little too close to home.  Not that most parents are like those in this movie, or even a large number, but just enough are to make teaching less than enjoyable these days.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Newsollini's Laws

Gavin wants California to stop working with Walgreen's?  Not so fast:

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared in March that California was “done” doing business with Walgreens after the pharmacy chain said it would not distribute an abortion pill in 21 states where Republicans threatened legal action. Since then, KHN has learned that the Democratic governor must compromise on his hard-line tweet.

California is legally bound to continue doing business with Walgreens through the state’s massive Medicaid program, health law experts said. And according to a public records request, the state paid Walgreens $1.5 billion last year.

Newsom’s administration confirmed it will “continue to comply” with federal law by paying Walgreens through Medi-Cal, which provides health coverage to roughly 15 million residents with low incomes and disabilities. Were California to stop covering Medi-Cal prescriptions filled at Walgreens stores, legal scholars warned, the state would run afoul of federal law, which allows patients to get their medications at any approved pharmacy...

Newsom spokesperson Anthony York said, “Tweeting is not policy.” He added the governor will not “take any action that hurts people who need access to care.”  

Not unless he can get away with it, anyway.

Even a newspaper editorial board wishes he'd quit trying to burnish his liberal bona fides and, if he's going to sign gun control legislation, it ought at least to be constitutional:

The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board believes the Second Amendment is a fact of American life, and we lack the legal expertise to judge the points made by the high court’s conservatives. But we also believe the Second Amendment was written more than 230 years ago , at a time of muskets and long rifles , not the modern weapons involved in the horrible mass shootings seen today. We believe the Second Amendment can coexist alongside responsible gun legislation, so that every American can expect to survive in public and private spaces.

It’s obvious that two-thirds of the Supreme Court draws a different line than we might. As a result, we urge Newsom and the Legislature to renew their efforts to reduce gun violence but to do so by thinking more fully through their legal obstacles. They must craft laws that can survive the high court — not pass measures that amount to little more than value statements or thoughts and prayers.

The man wants to be president.  He views the governor's office as his personal ticket to the White House rather than a public service platform for executing the laws.  He's a menace to limited, constitutional government.

Cool Recruiting Letter

Sure, I'll post it.

July 6, 2017
West Point Admissions

Dear High-Achieving High School Students,
Hi. My name is West Point. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, because my name often gets lost among the myriad of colleges vying for your affection and tuition. Ivy Leagues like Harvard, Yale and Stanford; Public schools like Alabama, Clemson and Penn State. These are all great schools, and no matter where you end up, if you’re willing to work hard, you’ll go far. But before you make your final decision, I’d suggest you add one more name to the list.
It’s true, I’m not an Ivy League. But I consistently rank among the nation’s top colleges, and to be frank, I’m even more selective than the Ivies. In addition to being academically competitive, qualified applicants must be physically fit, have leadership experience, acquire a congressional nomination and pass a rigorous medical exam just to be considered for admission. So if you’re into history, prestige, academic rigor and competitiveness, then I’ve got what you’re looking for.
If you’re attracted to State Schools, then you’re in luck. I’m a state school, only my state is the entire United States. Of America. Our traditions and school spirit rivals any public school in the nation.  We’ve got dozens of NCAA Division I athletic teams, and the fiercest rivalry in college sports (Go Army. Beat Navy.). Beyond that, my Long Gray Line of graduates includes presidents, generals, governors, astronauts, CEOs, and captains of industry. As members of that close-knit circle of people, my students are instantly connected to the countless numbers of graduates who are shaping our nation’s future.
It’s possible that you heard about me in your history class. (My location was kind of a big deal during the Revolutionary War. A couple of guys—George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—scouted me out as an essential defensive position against the British.) Yes I’m a military school and yes my students wear uniforms. So I understand that some people might assume I’m uptight or stuffy. I get that a lot.
But I promise you this: look beyond the brass, the buttons, and the saluting, and you’ll be amazed.
For starters, my campus looks like Hogwarts, only nothing about me is make believe. My facilities are world-class and my students are on the forefront of cyber technology, international politics, and engineering. They travel the world—not just to Snapchat from Paris, but to study, meet with foreign Ambassadors, become fluent in other languages, or to train with counterparts in other nations. Defense Against the Dark Arts? Yeah. We teach that. My students jump out of planes, shoot targets, climb ropes, forge through rivers, build bridges, explode things, and they have fun while they’re doing it.
All kidding aside, what happens here may look like magic, but it’s a product of more than two hundred years of excellence. I’ve been around since 1802, and I was built specifically for people who want to get the most out of life and be the best they can be. People like you.
No one who comes to me leaves the same as when they arrived. While most colleges exist to convince their students that they’re already the best—I do things differently. I help America’s best students achieve more than they could imagine; I exist to make them better. Around my campus, being better means being a better leader. To me, leadership means putting yourself last and others first.
I know, this isn’t what most people teach about leadership, but like I said, I do things differently.
No, I’m not what you would call a “normal” school. But what is “normal” anyway? And who wants “normal” when you can have exceptional?
When it comes to tuition, my price is steep, but I won’t cost a penny of your money. Tuition here is fully funded—that means free room, board, full medical and dental, and I pay a monthly salary to my students too. But I require a lot in return: I require mental toughness. I require students to reach their physical limits, and then go a step more. I require dedication, determination, and selfless service. And in exchange for all this—a free education and priceless leadership training—my students serve for five years in a career that matters, as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
I know that you have a lot of options for where to go to college. And no matter where you go, if you’re destined to be a leader, you will find a way to be one. I know that’s true.

I also know that I may not be the one for you. And that’s okay if that’s the case. But I would hate for you to miss out on a chance of a lifetime, simply because you didn’t take a second look. So before you decide—before your life changes forever—consider adding my name to your list of options.
What do you have to lose?
Very Respectfully,
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point

It's Not "Tough Grading", It's "Maintaining High Standards"

Lowering standards may have some short-term benefits, but it's a long-term disaster.  High standards, and quality teaching that helps students meet high standards, is a recipe for success.

It turns out that what the Air Force Academy figured out over 7 years ago about university students holds true for high school as well:

Students learn more when their teachers have high expectations, concludes a study in North Carolina, reports Kevin Mahnken. Algebra students with "tough" teachers earned higher test scores, and did better in subsequent math courses.

High standards “change the way students engage with school,” said Seth Gershenson, an economist at American University and one of the paper’s co-authors.

Researchers compared students' course grades to their performance on end-of-year exams. "Compared with students who had previously demonstrated similar levels of math performance, those assigned to stricter graders saw larger scoring gains" in Algebra I, and did better when they got to Algebra II, Mahnken reports.

Tuesday, April 04, 2023


I've uploaded 3 more pictures to my page at  Two of my pictures from Panama have been downloaded more than 1500 times each!

Take a look :-)

Monday, April 03, 2023

Trip Canceled

I was supposed to go camping tomorrow, but today I got a call from the campground saying a rockslide had closed the road.  I could still get to the campground, but I'd have to drive dozens of extra miles down a twisty-turny road to come in from the opposite direction.  I postponed till June.  Can't find another campground within 2 hours that I really want to visit.

So now it's Monday night of spring break and I am not going anywhere.  Sure, I could go to Las Vegas, but I've been to Vegas plenty of times and don't really have a pressing need to go there.  Palm Springs is ridiculously expensive, as is San Diego.  I looked up places in Florida, the DR, Belize, and Mexico, but the only one that jumped out at me was Cancun--and not only have I been there plenty of times, but a friend from work took her kids (both seniors at our school) there today and it would just feel weird if I decided to go tomorrow too, ya know?

So after spending more than 2 hours at the computer looking at flights and hotels, with nowhere screaming at me to go, I still have no plans.  I texted my son to see if he would like to meet in Vegas for a couple days but don't expect to hear from him till tomorrow.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Grades At Universities

I suppose it might be a natural human instinct to want as much as you can get while working as little as possible for it.  It might be a natural instinct, but it's not one that should be indulged.

Students want the highest grades with the lowest effort.  What happens when we get rid of grades?  Why not just have them pay their tuition and then escort them to the nearest party?  After 4 years, give them a diploma, it would accomplish about as much as the system we currently have does and should cost taxpayers a lot less.

Joy Malak floundered through her freshman year in college.

"I had to learn how to balance my finances. I had to learn how to balance work and school and the relationship I'm in." The hardest part about being a new college student, Malak said, "is not the coursework. It's learning how to be an adult."

That took a toll on her grades. "I didn't do well," said Malak, who powered through and is now in her sophomore year as a neuroscience and literature double major at the University of California, Santa Cruz, or UCSC. "It took a while for me to detangle my sense of self-worth from the grades that I was getting. It made me consider switching out of my major a handful of times."

Experiences like these are among the reasons behind a growing movement to stop assigning conventional A through F letter grades to first-year college students and, sometimes, upperclassmen.

Called "un-grading," the idea is meant to ease the transition to higher education — especially for freshmen who are the first in their families to go to college or who weren't well prepared for college-level work in high school and need more time to master it.

But advocates say the most important reason to adopt un-grading is that students have become so preoccupied with grades, they aren't actually learning.

I can guarantee that without grades, most won't learn at all. 

Another solution is to keep grades but don't do anything with them:

Beginning July 1 of this year, the University of Pennsylvania will cease recognizing students’ academic achievements via Dean’s List designations.

According to Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein and Vice Provost for Education Karen Detlefsen, the change comes from “the shared belief that a Dean’s List designation does not reflect the breadth and evolution of students’ academic achievements over the course of their education.”

It amazes me that such things are being considered after we've spent an entire month learning which is the best college basketball team.  We won't eliminate the search for excellence in sportz, 'cuz sportz iz importunt.