Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Insensitive? Or Too Sensitive?

Is the school district being insensitive, or is the parent being too sensitive?
Some parents say an upcoming Civil War Ball at Ranchos Middle School is culturally insensitive, and are asking Golden Valley Unified School District to reconsider the event.

The dance, slated for this Friday, has been held for the past 17 years as a way for eighth-grade students at the Madera County school to celebrate the end of the Civil War unit in their history classes.

Vicki Snowden-Jackson, the parent of a sixth-grade student, said she was appalled to hear of the dance, and wants the district to reconsider it before her son starts middle school.

Jackson, an African American woman, said it’s a culturally insensitive way to teach the Civil War.

“They're not holding celebrations when they teach World War II, and the Nazis threw parties then,” Jackson said. “Why do it with one of the darkest times in American history"...

The superintendent said the ball has not been a problem before. If issues came up, it has typically been handled at the school with options for teachers to come up with alternative assignments if needed. The district is not opposed to reviewing the project.

But Alvarado said "this aligns with our academic standards and meeting standards with our board. It's a time in history when things definitely occurred that no one is proud of. It's not about glorifying that."  link

Fake But Accurate, Redux

Wasn't it Dan Rather who popularized the phrase "fake but accurate", when caught telling a BS story about President Bush's air national guard service?  Well, here it is again:
The mask slips yet again. When challenged to defend flyers posted around an Oregon campus that warn of a widespread sexual assault problem, a college official said the following: "Believing survivors means let's sit down and understand each other's experience. Let's believe what that person said, he or she has experienced, that we have experienced. It may not be the truth, as has been determined, but it is that person's truth and what they were going through."
You can think whatever you want, but in most places in life there's objective truth.  One person shouldn't be penalized just because someone else is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and chooses to believe (or merely state) something objectively false.

Internet Pricing

Have you heard about that van attack in Toronto?  Well, the perpetrator is a self-described "incel".  Incel is short for "involuntary celibacy"--in other words, a dude who can't get laid.  These guys, instead of investing in a little grooming and some social skills, decide that they need to get women back. 

Lovely little internet subgroup you've got there.

Anyway, I'm obviously not an incel, as I've been getting screwed by my ISP for many years now.

My recent purchase of a Roku TV has convinced me that I need to increase my internet bandwidth.  While talking to my ISP yesterday about some email settings on my new computer, I asked about increased bandwidth.  The support person looked and gasped out loud, "Ohmigawd, you only have 1 Mbs download.  How do you even live on that?"  It's not like I'm on dialup or anything, but dang.

I can easily get 6x my current bandwidth, so I agreed to do that.  Then I waited for the shoe to drop regarding cost.  Then it was my turn to be shocked; the price they quoted me for 6x the bandwidth is 1/2 of what I'm paying now.

They can do that because I'm willing to sign a 1-year contract.  I asked what happens at the end of that contract, expecting the price to skyrocket.  The answer was that I could go month-to-month (which I've apparently been doing for a decade or more), sign another 1-year agreement, or terminate service.  Will anyone tell me these options, I asked?  No, he said, I'd have to ask.  Otherwise they'll just jack up my rate (about to what I'm currently paying) and I'll automatically go month-to-month.  If I ask, they'll (probably) be able to put me on another contract at a reasonable price.

So I've already added a reminder on my calendar next April.  I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars a year more for internet service anymore.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

"Basic Income" Flops In Finland

Giving unemployed people a "basic income" hasn't worked in one of the most homogenous countries in the world, Finland.  And yet people want to try it here:
The Finnish government has decided not to expand a limited trial in paying people a basic income, which has drawn much international interest...

When Finland launched the experiment its unemployment rate was 9.2% - higher than among its Nordic neighbours.

That, and the complexity of the Finnish social benefits system, fuelled the calls for ambitious social security reforms, including the basic income pilot.

The pilot's full results will not be released until late 2019...

It also argued that basic income would increase income inequality and raise Finland's poverty rate from 11.4% to 14.1%.
Update:  I guess I should add the part about trying it here in the Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia:
Republicans in Congress certainly talk a good game about helping the poor and middle class, arguing, however unconvincingly, that their rewrite of the tax code will amount to more than just a giveaway to the rich. But all their shameless maneuvering is really doing is making once-crazy, semi-socialistic economic ideas, such as universal basic income, seem sane.

Take the city of Stockton.

For weeks now, Michael Tubbs, the mayor of this rough-and-tumble Central Valley city, has been making headlines for jump-starting a government-run pilot project that will give dozens of families $500 every month, no strings attached and regardless of employment status...

Although universal basic income gets derided as socialism, Tubbs sees it as a tool, like the earned income tax credit, for helping poor people stay afloat and keeping middle-class people from sliding into poverty.
If it can't work in Finland, freakin' Finland, well, we can make it work in the DPRK.  Because...just because.

Monday, April 23, 2018

You Are Not Oppressed

Alonzo Rachel.  Condi Rice.  Thomas Sowell.  Bill Cosby.  Clarence Thomas.  Larry Elder.  Mia Love.  Diamond and Silk.  Black Americans who have been called everything from "Uncle Toms" (by people who obviously never read Stowe's work) or even "race traitors" for daring to suggest that black Americans haven't necessarily been served well by liberal policies, for starters.

Add a new name, Candace Owens, to the list:
Candace Owens is a young African-American woman who works through Turning Point USA, among others, to bring a message of empowerment to the black community...

Owens uses a theme from the movie The Matrix to urge young people to “take the red pill” and become conservatives like her. She has even had the courage to take on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yesterday morning, Kanye West tweeted his approval of Candace:
I love the way Candace Owens thinks

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 21, 2018
That caused the Left to go insane.
I'm not usually a fan of Kanye West, but two more of his tweets made sense to me:


There's more, including video, at the link.  Go here for a video of her telling Black Lives Matter protesters "you are not oppressed".

And if I missed any significant names in my list at the beginning of this post, please add them in the comments.

The Coarsening of Our Culture

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe thinks we're dropping too many F-bombs in public, and I agree:
Maybe the rampant overuse of the F-word and other obscenities is actually benign — as benign as women wearing pants or interracial marriage, to mention a couple of once-inflexible taboos.

Then again, many people used to tell themselves that smoking was benign. That no harm was done by leaving dog droppings where they fell. That racial slurs were nothing to get worked up about. Are we quite sure that the relentless potty-mouthing of American culture doesn't belong in that category? A flood of profanity pollutes our public square. It's time we gave some thought to cleaning it up.
I'm reminded of a quote by General Washington:
The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing (a vice heretofore little known in an American army) is growing into fashion; he hopes that the officers will by example as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope of blessing of heaven on our arms if we continue to insult it by our impiety and folly.  Added to this, it is a vice so mean and low that every man of sense and character detests and despises it.  (Quoted from the 1985-1986 Contrails, a book of knowledge given to freshman cadets at the Air Force Academy)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

New Computer

I finally broke down and bought a new computer for home.

I was an "early adopter" of Windows Vista.  That's what my old computer ran on.  That was a few operating systems ago.

So I bought a system that runs on Windows 10.  Vista is so old that I can't directly connect the two computers and do an automatic transfer of data, settings, software, etc.  Gotta do it all manually.  Fortunately I have a couple of external hard drives.

Tomorrow I'm going to call my ISP and ask them to help me set up my email account.  Should I use the Mail program that comes with Windows 10, or should I stick with Mozilla Thunderbird?  And if I stick with Thunderbird, how do I move all the Thunderbird "stuff" (saved emails and folders, filters, etc) to the new computer?

I'm sure there are some who will tell me that Macs are easier.  Perhaps, but once I get this computer working the way I want it to, it'll be much more versatile than a Mac--lots more software available, and I do some pretty obscure things sometimes.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Vanilla Ice Gets Modern Press

It's kind of sad when law enforcement is a partisan issue, but leave it to some College Republicans to make a funny out of it:
The College Republicans at the University of California, Merced advertised their club last month with signs that read "I.C.E. I.C.E. Baby" and provided the phone number for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now the student government is considering defunding them and similar organizations, in part because College Republicans might use those funds to attend conservative conferences and spread hateful rhetoric on campus.

The initial advertising campaign provoked a response from school administrators several days after the incident. The officials condemned the group's "bigoted and hateful" tactics but reminded students that "as nasty as the club's signs were, they are protected by the First Amendment."
Of course the libs want to go too far in response:
In an April 16 statement, the California College Republicans say they "view any attempt to defund CRUCM as an explicitly biased attack against conservative values and ideas....Any repercussive action by UC Merced student government or campus administration is an assault on First Amendment rights." They don't say whether they plan to take legal action if they lose their fees, but they're hinting that this issue won't be resolved quietly. This is, after all, the same litigious College Republicans chapter that threatened to sue their school when administrators quoted high security fees for bringing the right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro to campus.
A reasonable comment:
Fears of deportation, or of having their Dreamer or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) revoked, are real for many students. A call to I.C.E. from an antagonistic fellow student would be life-altering to some in UC-Merced's student body. But even shitty, loathsome speech is protected by the First Amendment. The more we equate words with violence, the easier it becomes to justify suppressing speech––and who would be in charge of drawing those boundaries for what type of speech is allowed? The best responses to the College Republicans' flier will consist of nonviolent activism and other forms of speech, not measures that chip away at everyone's First Amendment rights.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

California Government Wants All Businesses To Leave The State

Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land since before I was born. It benefits certain people, though, to repeat the so-called statistic that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. What does that statistic even mean? How was it determined? Can anyone tell me?

No, of course they can't. And they don't want to, because that would shoot their entire narrative. And with lefties, it's all about the narrative.

So, we have a national law that's been on the books for over half a century, but California decides it's going to up the ante a bit:
A bill introduced this week in California (where else?) would force businesses to submit payroll data to the state, so it can police whether or not men and women receive equal pay.

It would be yet another absurd regulatory burden and massive bureaucracy expansion in a state already hampered by both.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced the bill before a Judiciary Committee Tuesday. Jackson said, "Women are in the workforce primarily because they need to be and it’s important that women are paid equally."

She added, "It’s an enormous problem."

It's not. The wage gap is a myth that does not account for differences in job selections, work hours, the danger of the job, or anything else. Women tend to make less money than men because a work/life home balance is more important to women than men. Men are more likely to think it perfectly fine to work 60 hours per week than a woman, especially one with a family. Further, men tend to select higher-paying job fields than women. This alone accounts for much of the gap.
Read the whole thing, and marvel that this state still functions at all with such idiots in charge.

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Too many of today's university student protesters are not brave civil rights warriors, they're pathetic children who aren't even smart enough to think their actions through.  University administrators, rather than giving in to the entitled little brats, need to demonstrate exactly who is in charge of the university (this assumes, of course, that the administration isn't completely happy with the social justice warriors and their tantrums).  New York University shows one such way to out today's Freedom Riders as the Freedom Hiders cowards they truly are:
At NYU, administrators threatened the protesters’ financial aid, and the woke warriors went back to their rooms.

Spare a thought for those knights of social justice, the student protesters. Motivated by the yearning for a better world, they sacrifice their time and energy in service to their ideals. They display courage, stamina, determination, and creativity in coming up with rhymes in their chants.

Except if you tell them they’re jeopardizing their financial aid or their housing. Then they fold immediately...

NYU administrators showed little patience for the activists disrupting the proceedings at the Kimmel Center for University Life. But how to dissolve the protest? It turned out that there was no need to bring in the police. Ringing up the students’ parents was all it took. The phone calls advised parents that students who interfered with campus functions could be suspended, and that suspensions can carry penalties of revoked financial aid or housing. The students “initially planned to stay indefinitely,” notes the Voice’s report. “Instead, the students departed within forty hours.”
The school called mommy and daddy, and the kiddies folded.  Classic.
 NYU shows us that it’s possible to maintain order on campus, even in the face of the strenuously aggrieved, with a tactic as simple as a phone call. If it disabused the protesters of any notion that the world must stop and listen to them any time they’re feeling feverish with injustice, it did them a favor. Undergraduates often joke about how ill-prepared they are for life after graduation, “out there in the real world.” Colleges and universities should seize the opportunity to teach the real-world fact that being woke is not a license to interfere with other people’s business.
Hear hear.

One Of The Benefits Of Living In A Federal Republic

This post will make much more sense if you first read this one from a couple weeks ago.

So, from that post you can see that the government here in The Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia is trying to "protect" me from the ills of mismarked Everclear.  It's bad enough that I couldn't get 190 proof Everclear in the past, only 151 proof--but now I can't get any, all praise to my glorious benefactors downtown.

Not every state in this country is run by batcrap-insane liberals, though.  Some states trust their residents to behave like adults (and penalize them when they don't), and being over half-a-century old, I have friends all over the country.  When I got home from work today I noticed a package on my porch.  What's this, I wondered, as I haven't ordered anything from online recently.  When I saw the return address, I knew what it was.  And sure enough:
It's limoncello season once again :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Rest Of The Country Is Tired Of Subsidizing California's High Taxes

Until recently, California could get away with ridiculously high state and local taxes in part because those taxes could be claimed as a deduction on federal income taxes.  As a result, while Sacramento got to keep the money raised by those taxes, Washington didn't get as much money from California.  There's an argument to be made that the rest of the country was thereby subsidizing California's high taxes.

I'm not saying that the Republican Congress and Republican President intended to shaft California specifically, but honestly, could you blame them if they did?  Regarding the tax reform bill signed into law in December, here's the keening from The People's Republic of Kalifornia, Ignorer Of Federal Law and everyone's favorite Sanctuary State, where illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens do:
President Donald Trump’s tax cuts will be anything but for about 1 million California taxpayers who will owe Uncle Sam more money a year from now.

They’re the Californians who will lose a collective $12 billion because the new law caps a deduction they have been able to take for paying their state and local taxes, according to a new analysis by the Franchise Tax Board.

Very wealthy Californians earning more than $1 million a year will pay the lion’s share of that money, with 43,000 of them paying a combined $9 billion.

But some middle-class Californians will pay more, too.

About 751,000 households with incomes under $250,000 probably will owe more tax. All together, they’ll owe an extra $1.1 billion...

He (Governor Moonbeam) also said in January that he’s worried that the changes will provide an incentive for wealthy Californians to leave the state, potentially starving the state of tax revenue. The state’s wealthiest 1 percent, for instance, pay about 48 percent of the state’s personal income tax.
What was it Margaret Thatcher said about socialism and running out of other people's money?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

System of Professional Growth

For some reason my district prides itself on its System of Professional Growth, which is a fancy term for my evaluation.  It's so complex that you don't just get evaluated; no, you have to attend 1- or 2-day training sessions in order to learn how to participate in your evaluation.

I got the email yesterday saying I have the pleasure of being evaluated next year. They graciously gave me many dates for training, all of which I’ll ignore because they're during the summer--and I don't plan to be home much this summer. Besides, if you need training in how to be evaluated, something is wrong with the evaluation system.

I have an idea. Why don’t they just make one of those stupid training videos for us to watch, like we have to for suicide prevention or web site accessibility or using hand sanitizer? Or, do we have to attend evaluation training in person, rather than online, because evaluations are so much more important than suicide prevention or web site accessibility for the deaf or blind?


Being A Teacher Is Getting Worse

Schools are a microcosm of the communities from which they draw their students.  Sadly, that's why we have this list of "10 things teachers did not have to deal with 10 years ago".  Here are the items:
  • The inability to punish students.  The author is as much a fan of so-called restorative justice as I am.
  • Cell phone addiction.
  • Online bullying.  Honestly, unless something happens at school, this is an area where I think schools should but out or, at the most, notify parents and let them take care of the out-of-school issue.
  • Pep rallies for standardized testing.
  • Constant student anxiety.  I've written before how ADD used to be the "gold standard" for getting special accommodations in school, now anxiety is.  
  • Fear of school shootings and lock-downs.  You're much more likely to get killed when you get in a car than you are at school--but the author seems resigned to the idea that this fear is justified anyway.
  • Heroin and opioid epidemics.
  • Politicized schools.
  • Era of "feelings" where students are never wrong--because they "feel" their grade is unfair, it is.  By definition.
  • Naked utilitarianism in education--schooling exists solely to prepare students for jobs or, in the case of many schools, college.  Anything besides going to college is failure.

California Students Score Among The Worst In The Nation

I guess all our “diversity” and “caring” and “compassion” aren’t translating into much academically.

Yes, someone has to be worst, but Liberal Utopia? Why is it that the most liberal places—I’m talking about you, San Francisco and Berkeley—have some of the worst outcomes?
California’s poor students performed worse on a national exam than needy kids from all but one other state, according to results released last week by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Congratulations, folks. We beat Alaska.

These students’ lackluster scores on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress come despite the state’s $31.2 billion investment in their learning under a new school funding method championed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013.

Can Humans Melt the Antarctic Ice Cap?

If math is haaaaaard for you, maybe you don't want to read this:
When discussing climate with people who do not have technical backgrounds, I have learned much of the climate discussion is a foreign language to them.

Phrases like “Dalton minimum” or “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation” make their eyes glaze over. Once, after I explained what causes wind, the reply was, “my head hurts.” So, I no longer try to explain atmospheric science. Besides, I am an engineer, not a meteorologist. I have had better luck by sharing simple examples that let people reach conclusions on their own about human versus natural influence. Telling them I can show them the math if they want to see it adds credibility, because few, if any, alarmist publications intended for the general public include any math to support their claims. Describing the energies that drive weather, and therefore climate, is a good way to do this.

So, I take them through a few examples of how much energy is involved and how miniscule human activity is by comparison. Done properly, this lets a non-STEM person grasp the huge amounts of energy involved...

These types of examples are good for communicating with nontechnical people. They let people relate atmospheric physics to their own life experience and everyday understanding of the world in which they live — even if that understanding might be skewed or incomplete.
Then follows some math and science that most people should be able to follow.  Here's the conclusion:
I know, I know. This is a very simplistic analysis that ignores the complexities of actual heat transfer. But that’s the point; non-STEM people can follow it if they know a little math.

And yes, the alarmists would argue human emissions are indirectly causing heat to transfer to Antarctica, and this type of analysis is therefore irrelevant. So what? They must show how human emissions transfer that heat, and how much heat is being transferred.

My goal here is to show the enormous energy levels involved and how ridiculous it is to blame humans for any significant ice melt. That’s my hypothesis; let the alarmists come up with the null.
And they can start acting like they believe their own doomsday scenarios, too.  If they did that, at least I'd be able to have some respect for them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sacramento Supe Salaries

Want to make some good money?

Sacramento school superintendent salaries have exploded in recent years, growing to challenge the paychecks of university presidents.

Locally, superintendent salaries range from $240,000 for Sarah Koligian in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, which has 20,353 students, to $330,951 for Christopher Hoffman, who leads the region's largest school district, Elk Grove Unified, with 63,297 students, according to 2017-18 state enrollment figures.

Hoffman's pay is more than the salary of President Robert Nelsen of Sacramento State, who is paid $324,029. The California State University campus serves 29,000 students…

Being a Sacramento area superintendent can be lucrative:

Evans, who runs the smallest of the six districts, with 14,895 students, also earned a 6 percent bonus, or $17,580, in 2017, bringing his pay this school year to $311,184. He also is eligible for extra pay if he works more than his contracted 220 days…

Finkelstein said superintendents use comparisons with other districts to get bigger paychecks. "They are watching what their peers are making," he said. "Salaries are reported publicly all the time. They are saying, 'The person down the street is getting a $20,000 raise. I need a $20,000 raise.' "

He said there is no evidence to support the idea that school districts that offer higher pay get better results academically or otherwise…

We teachers are getting pay raises all the time, right? I mean, if that district down the street is getting a 4% pay raise this year, I need one, too, right?

Teachers in the Sacramento region have also seen boosts to their salaries in recent years, although the raises have been significantly less than those of superintendents. Teachers' salaries have grown from 9.5 percent to 16 percent in the last five years, depending on the district, on top of regular step increases.

I don’t think we’ve gotten 9.5% in my district in the past 5 years.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Don't Follow Your Passion

It seems that Mark Cuban and I agree on something, and for the same reason:
"One of the great lies of life is 'follow your passions,'" says Cuban as part of the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series. "Everybody tells you, 'Follow your passion, follow your passion.'"

Cuban says that's bad advice because you may not excel at what you are passionate about. 
This is why students should get as much education as they can, especially in K-12 where there's no out-of-pocket expense.

I wonder how many teachers, who often dish out this bad advice, planned on being teachers when they were in high school.  I certainly didn't.

Intentional Juxtaposition

Joanne has two juxtaposed posts over at her blog:

Gourmet food delivery goes to college


Hungry in college?

Yes, they can both be true, but it seems to me that if the latter is true, then people are making some seriously bad financial decisions--both about college and about food.