Friday, June 23, 2017

After 20 Years, I Guess It Was Bound To Happen

It was my first or second year of teaching when I lost my first student.  He was new to school, quiet, didn't turn any work in, and I didn't pester him about it because I figured he was still getting his bearings.  He didn't come back to school after the weekend; I was thankful I didn't know him well.  I know that sounds callous, but that's the way it was.

In the intervening years I've lost a couple of former students, but (fortunately for me) they weren't students with whom I'd developed strong relationships.  They were people whose names I recognized, yes, but not one of those few students with whom you sometimes build that extra strong relationship with.

Until now.

Tonight I'm going to see several members of last year's graduating class.  These aren't the conditions under which I'd hoped I'd see them again.

But when you deal with hundreds of new people year after year after year, eventually it happens.  And it's going to be difficult, especially since she was so young.

Update:  That was difficult.

The First Socialist--As Wrong Then As Socialists Are Today

I recently stumbled across a reference to Robert Owen and his status as "the first socialist".  I recalled that name immediately--in the text for my Educational Theory course, Owen was identified as a "Utopian Theorist and Communitarian Educator".  My written response to the text's chapter on Owen was visceral, but measured:
As someone who spent my formative years preparing for war against communists, I find very little value in Robert Owen as a theorist or as a person. I mean, here was a man whom Marx and Engels disagreed with only because he sought gradual communism instead of a revolution of the proletariat. And like most people of his ilk, he was a hypocrite: he wanted communal ownership of everything but he didn’t give up any of his own worth; he wanted everyone to be equal but he “acted in a top-down paternalistic fashion” (p. 251). He didn’t even admit his theory was wrong when New Harmony failed—and it failed because Owen, like all utopians, refused to believe in the one constant in the universe: human nature.

In proverbial stopped-clock fashion, he got some things right: the equality of women, a “permissive but controlled” environment in schools (p. 258), teachers who related to children (p. 258), a “subject centered” curriculum (p. 259). He and I might agree with some of his beliefs about what and how a classroom of students should be taught.

He believed that “education was inextricably related to society” (p. 261), but was mistaken about that relationship. Who cares if he was “the creator of a comprehensive social and educational theory” (p. 261) if that theory could not have been more wrong? As I said, he wasn’t entirely wrong as far as his “in the classroom” ideas went, but on balance I find him lacking.
So, who was Robert Owen, this person whom next to no one today has ever heard of?  He was an industrialist during Britain's Industrial Revolution.  He identified the ills of the Industrial Revolution, but incorrectly identified the solution as "communitarianism"--communism, essentially.  He believed in Hillary Clinton's "village" much more than he believed in the nuclear family.  While he cleaned up the town, New Lanark, where his mill was, he also viewed his workers as "downtrodden to be helped" instead of as equal humans; he would even "inspect" their apartments to make sure they were living "correctly".  He was the quintessential do-gooder, and insisted that people live his way.  He believed people weren't responsible for their own character, that circumstances dictated character.  Such people always want to tell others how they should live.

In 1824 he moved to New Harmony, Indiana, and tried to establish a "communitarian society" on America's frontier.  He got plenty of people to flock there, despite the town's abolition of private property.  Within two years Owen proclaimed New Harmony a rip-roaring success, but by 1828 a lack of Harmony caused Owen to pack up and return to Britain, his communitarian experiment an abject failure.

So that's what I know about Robert Owen--what did the link I saw say about him?
In 1825, industrialist Robert Owen came from Scotland looking for a place to set up his own version of socialist paradise. (It is one of the lost mysteries of history whether Owen himself or his adherents coined the term.) He was well-known and applauded in his home country for the way workers in his cotton mill were treated and for their onsite living conditions. He wanted to set up a society in America for the whole world to see, where people lived according to his ideals of equality, atheism, and science. 
He's still fit in with his fellow-travelers on the political left today, that's for sure.
Soon, somewhere between seven and nine hundred Americans — all followers of Owen’s socialist plan — showed up at New Harmony in an attempt to make history. Like almost all of the Utopian collectives of the day, Owen’s settlement at New Harmony failed, and by 1829 the property had been sold off to former residents, among them five of Owen’s adult children.
At least it wasn't a revolution that ended it! But isn't it funny that people didn't want to live under his yoke any longer, so they bought their property from the communitarian who previously wouldn't let them own it!  When they wouldn't live as he wanted them to do, he made money off them.  Some might call that hypocrisy.
Owen himself didn’t live there; he devoted his time to traveling the US and Europe promoting his ideas. When he did arrive for a visit in January of 1826, his response to the disaffection and unhappiness among his citizens was to hold some meetings and reorganize, while pretending the experiment was successful. The settlement had already been bogged down by bureaucracy and regulation; it was only a matter of time before New Harmony was finished as a social experiment. Several more reorganizations failed to achieve the results expected.

Yet in the same way today’s socialists refuse to accept failures of their chosen system, other groups of the time thought they could succeed. Owen sold off some of the New Harmony property to small groups wanting to establish socialist societies of their own. Including others under different leadership and slightly different precepts, at one time there were as many as 50 socialist societies in the United States.

All of them failed; most within a matter of two or three years.

On returning to England, after spending almost all his money on the New Harmony disaster, he blamed the location, the people in the group — everybody and everything else. Sound familiar?
Seems he left off "outside agitators".  It's always "outside agitators" who disrupt social idealism, isn't it? 

But why did New Harmony--indeed, socialism/communism itself--fail?  Here's the answer in a nutshell:
As the first of the socialists, Robert Owen made some obvious mistakes that would continue to be made until the present day. The first of those was his failure to recognize people as individuals. He saw people as a homogeneous mass, with identical needs, without taking into account the differences that abound in character, ability, intelligence and other aspects that make us all uniquely human. He never recognized that his fellow socialists had free will, and most of them wouldn’t hesitate to use it. Neither did he recognize that his solution for economic slavery and oppression was equally oppressive and enslaving, only in a different form.
Socialism/communism don't comport with human nature.  That is why they require compulsion in order to operate, and that is why they eventually fail. 
One hundred years from Lenin’s revolution, the body count stands near 100 million. Yet, socialists still refuse to admit they are wrong.
But they believe in "science".  Perhaps a little study of history would do socialists some good.  I'm reminded that the Jamestown experiment almost failed--until the socialism was dispensed with and the colonists got a dose of capitalism, getting to keep the fruits of their own labor.  That's what works, that's what comports with human nature.

It's why I'm a capitalist.  It's why I'm a conservative.  It's why I'm an American.

It's Official

I received it today, they can't take it back:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Free Speech, Especially On Campuses

If you had asked me 25 years ago where I thought our rights were "headed", I'd have said that the First Amendment would get stronger and the Second Amendment would get weaker.  Here we are 25 years later and I'd have been wrong on both accounts.  As I don't mind that the Second Amendment has more force today than then, I'll just emphasize the First Amendment.

Not only are the idea of "hate speech", and Antifa-type crowds, eroding the First Amendment right before our very eyes, but universities--which I'd have thought would be the First's bastion--have been its weakest link.  This chart of free expression should be covered in green but it's not, and notice especially the horrific ratings of the University of California campuses.

Back in the 1960s, university students fought against in loco parentis.  I guess we've come full circle, as Pink Floyd explains:
Hush now baby, baby don't you cry.
Mama's gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.
Mama won't let anyone dirty get through.
Mama's gonna wait up until you get in.
Mama will always find out where you've been.
Mama's gonna keep baby healthy and clean.
Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby,
You'll always be baby to me.
That's today's universities, right there.

Update, 6/23/17:  As if on cue:
Evergreen State College Student: 'F*** Free Speech'

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

High School Me's Head Is Spinning From Indecision

Are you kidding me?  These are on the same night and less than 20 miles apart??

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo | Toto

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Even "modern me" is a little torn.  I've seen both once--Tom Petty was my first concert, in September 1981, and I saw Pat Benatar just a few years ago.  Tom Petty will be held inside, which is certainly a consideration in the Sacramento Valley in August.  But Pat Benatar and Toto?  Come on, you know they'll perform Africa (here's one of my favorite versions of it).

Decisions, decisions.

Healthier Lifestyle Starts Today

I look and feel gross.  I'm afraid to step on the scale, knowing it will tell me I weigh more than I did 7 years ago when I started dieting and exercising and lost almost 25 pounds in about 4 months.

I did it before, I'll do it again.  I won't have hot yoga to help me this time, but perhaps next week I'll zip over to Costco and buy a 24 Hour Gym membership and spend some of my summer days there.

I've got to do something.  Ugh.  And in an attempt to hold myself accountable, I'll post my weight each Monday.  If I fail to do so, remind me!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Be It Ever So Humble

I'm back, about a week early.  And there's a reason for that.

I left last Tuesday, towing my trailer with my pickup and headed for Colorado Springs.  I reached Ely, NV, that evening, and the truck was acting up.  It ran like crap.

On Wednesday I visited 3 different mechanics in Ely, taking up pretty much the entire day.  The last one figured out I was running on 7 cylinders; his solution was to replaced the grossly-fouled #6 spark plug with a new one and to send me on my way.  He said I'd make it to Denver and back and then might need a new engine.

Thursday I somehow made it into Grand Junction, CO.  No power on hills at all, and it shuddered as if not getting any fuel or air.  I called a GMC dealership--but they don't work on 1979's, too old.  (You can't plug a diagnostic computer into them.)  Another shop referred me to a 3rd, and they gave me directions to get there.  I made it about 100 meters before the truck died on the side of the road.  I coaxed and cajoled the poor thing and finally limped into the garage.

They checked and there's plenty of pressure in all 8 cylinders, so not an engine problem.  The #6 spark plug, with only a few hundred miles on it, looked as if it had a few hundred thousand.  A loose grounding strap in the distributor and a bad #6 spark plug wire looked like a a reasonable fix.

It was not.

They drove me to a hotel that night--which was a dump and exceedingly overpriced due to Country Jam 2017 being held less than 10 miles away that weekend.  Friday morning, right before checkout, I got a call that the truck was ready.  They even came and picked me up.

I got about an hour east of Grand Junction, where the climbs really start, and realized that the problem remained.  It died a couple times on the way back to town, but I made it to the shop.  They replaced the fuel filter and fuel pump.  Then they put in a 2nd fuel filter when the first one made it run even worse!  They stayed after quitting time to install these for me--but the shop isn't open on weekends.  It would either work or I'd have to wait till Monday.

It didn't work.  And because of Country Jam there were no rooms or camping spots to be had.  A dozen or more rigs camped out in the Walmart parking lot Friday night.

I was able to get a camping spot on Saturday afternoon, and reserved it for 2 nights.  My mother had offered to tow my Camry out to me and tow the truck home, and at this point in the debacle I took her up on her offer.  She and her friend showed up Sunday afternoon after driving with absolute minimal stops.  We swapped out vehicles and they headed back immediately--they'd put their own trip on hold to help me out.  I got the trailer ready for travel and left a few hours later, of course going much more slowly than they were because I was towing with a Camry.

They put my truck in the garage around Monday noon.  I stopped off in Reno for the night to blow off a little steam--and darn near every room in the city was occupied because of a rodeo in town!  I was lucky to get a (somewhat inflated-price) room via, as calls to reservation lines had lengthy waits.

I stopped for a $6 breakfast today and made it home around 1:30 pm, a week after I'd left.

There's no place like home.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Blog Break

Blogging will be intermittent to nonexistent for the next two weeks.  Should be up and running again at full steam by July 1st.  See you then!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Happy Camper

This camp starts today.  Can you imagine how much fun I'd have there?  I'd stir the mud, they wouldn't want me there spoiling their groupthink.
Northern Illinois University will be hosting a “social justice summer camp” for educators June 11-14.

According to the event description, the three-day camp will aim to “bring together teams of educators to investigate multicultural and social justice education. Campers will have significant opportunities to discuss social justice issues, both general and specific to their schools, with experts and colleagues, as well as time for individual reflection.”

The camp will also focus on presenting a “candid and nonjudgmental exploration of multiculturalism, privilege, identity, oppression and more.”

The Thin Veneer of Civilization

I've long said that civilization is only a quarter inch thick.  Take away the simplest modern conveniences, take us back to the 18th or 19th centuries, and most of us would probably become as brutish as our ancestors were.

Late last week there was a notice on my front door from my electricity utility--for about 9 hours tomorrow, my neighborhood will be without electricity.

My house is mostly electric.  Yes, I have a gas water water heater, but the controller on it is electric.  When the power goes out, I don't think my water heater will continue to heat gas.  Everything in my kitchen is electric--how am I to cook?  How long will the food in my frig and freezer last?

At least I'll still have running water.  And an outdoor barbecue, if I *really* need to cook something.  But internet?!  My DSL comes in over the phone line, but my router requires electricity.  I'll be without internet all day!

Should be a pretty boring day.  Perhaps I'll get some reading done.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman

I finally saw Wonder Woman today.

Given all the hype, I expected to see The Best Movie In The World.  It was good, but it did not transport me to Nirvana.  I give it a solid B.

Should you be interested, look up Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston.  He was a "unique" fellow, to say the least; for those of you who won't believe anything unless it comes from NPR, here's an even juicier version:
The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.
Wonder Woman was written to have an alluring sexuality--and both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot have been capable of playing that up.  In fact, when her hair is pulled back, Gadot bears a striking similarity to Carter.  But while Carter's Wonder Woman was limited to the censors of 1970's television, Gadot most certainly is not.  Carter was hot, Gadot exudes sexuality but with barely a nod to it.

Carter's Wonder Woman used violence only as a last resort, and when she did use it, she used no more than was necessary to accomplish her task.  I don't recall her ever having killed anyone, for example--but again, that's a limitation of 1970's TV.  Gadot's Wonder Woman is a fierce fighter and takes out many people (while looking good doing it).

I know the argument for setting this movie in World War I, when Wonder Woman's story actually took place in World War II--and I don't accept the argument.  Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Superman all have a place in World War II, and the war was big enough for them not to bump into each other.  I grant that the WWI story line was a good one, I just don't accept that it was necessary to deviate from "canon" for this movie.

It dragged in a few places, too.

The movie started and ended in the modern day, so this World War I story line seems to be a one-off.  That also sets the stage for the modern Justice League, which will no doubt be DC's version of Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D.  I'm looking forward to such movies.

Overall, I give the movie a B, perhaps because it would be near impossible for it to have lived up to the hype.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Who Do They Think They Are, The TSA?

On what planet would this be considered even remotely acceptable?
A newly filed federal lawsuit claims that police officers groped 900 students at Worth County High School in Georgia during a warrantless drug sweep that yielded no results.

The human rights group, Southern Center for Human Rights, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students against the Worth County sheriff over an April 14 incident when 40 officers came into the school with no advance notice, KTLA-TV reported.

According to the lawsuit, the officers put the school on lockdown for four hours, during which they ordered students out of the classrooms and into the hallways. Students were allegedly then forced to stand spread eagle against the lockers while officers conducted intimate searches of male and female students, including touching the breast and genital areas, KTLA reported.

The lawsuit mentions one girl in particular, using only her initials K.A., who was searched by Deputy Brandi Whiddon. The lawsuit goes into disturbing detail about how in-depth Whiddon’s search of K.A. was...
No warrant?  No immunity.  There should be arrests, all right. Those officers are going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money, and they shouldn't be able to shield themselves from the effects of their own negligence by hiding behind their badges.
Worth County School Board attorney Tommy Coleman told CNN affiliate WALB-TV that authorities had a list of 13 suspects within the school, but only three of those students were in attendance that day, KTLA reported.

“The egregious thing that happened was he didn’t search just those individuals but he searched every single student at the school,” Coleman told CNN. “There was aggressive searches and touching of undergarments and breast and genitalia by deputies.”
Every student in the school?  If that isn't "unreasonable", I don't know what is.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Applied Statistics

Perhaps we all believe in science until the science goes against our personal convictions:
Children brought up on almond and soya milk are shorter than youngsters who drink just cow's milk, a new study has found.

The plant-based products have become increasingly fashionable, with many extolling the health benefits of them, and others turning to them because of an intolerance or dislike of plain milk.

But the new study found that children who drink non-cow's milk - including plant-based milk drinks and milk from other animals, are growing up shorter than those given traditional fare.
This study could be a fun one to analyze. Not only do you get the math, you get cause/effect, correlation/causation issues, as well as “how much proof do you need to cause you to change your opinion” discussions.

Girls Can Wear Whatever They Want?

There's an easy solution to this:
A note left urging female students at a Canadian high school to respect “male education”, and to stop wearing skin-baring clothes at school just because “it’s too hot outside” has sparked a sexism row.
Here’s how you accomplish the desired result without giving certain people an opportunity to complain about the policy: claim that if they’re showing too much of their bodies, they’re creating a “hostile work environment” and are subject to discipline under the school’s/district’s sexual harassment policy. And then enforce the implied threat.

No leftie can speak against sexual harassment.  Problem solved.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Climate Change Hysteria

This article explains why the biggest problem with President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accords is not the withdrawal itself, but with President Trump's hamfisted lack of explanation of why it's a reasonable course of action.
Instead of starting with the social case against the substantive provisions of the Paris Accords, Trump justified his decision by invoking his highly nationalistic view of international arrangements. He said the United States was once again getting ripped off by a lousy treaty that, in his words, would force American “taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” He then insisted that his first duty is to the citizens of Pittsburgh, not of Paris—giving the impression that there are only provincial arguments that support his decision.

Yet, ironically, the President has a stronger case on this point than he does with his attacks on free trade, which he justified in similar terms. Free trade has a natural corrective, in that no private firm will enter into any agreement that it believes will work to its disadvantage. That was decidedly not true of the Obama approach to the Paris Accords, which gives a free pass to China until 2030 even though its recent carbon emissions have increased by 1.1 billion tons, while the United States’ total has dropped by 270 million tons, and will continue to do so.
I like a lot of what the president has done so far, but he should do a better job than he's been doing of explaining himself--and no, Twitter isn't sufficient.

Here's someone who does a great job of explaining himself--Roy Spencer: climatologist, author, former NASA scientist:
But first let’s examine the basics of why so many scientists think global warming is manmade. Earth’s atmosphere contains natural greenhouse gases (mostly water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) which act to keep the lower layers of the atmosphere warmer than they otherwise would be without those gases. Greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation — the radiant heat energy that the Earth naturally emits to outer space in response to solar heating. Mankind’s burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal, petroleum, and natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and this is believed to be enhancing the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. As of 2008, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 40% to 45% higher than it was before the start of the industrial revolution in the 1800’s.

It is interesting to note that, even though carbon dioxide is necessary for life on Earth to exist, there is precious little of it in Earth’s atmosphere. As of 2008, only 39 out of every 100,000 molecules of air were CO2, and it will take mankind’s CO2 emissions 5 more years to increase that number by 1, to 40.

The “Holy Grail”: Climate Sensitivity Figuring out how much past warming is due to mankind, and how much more we can expect in the future, depends upon something called “climate sensitivity”. This is the temperature response of the Earth to a given amount of ‘radiative forcing’, of which there are two kinds: a change in either the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth, or in the infrared energy the Earth emits to outer space.

The ‘consensus’ of opinion is that the Earth’s climate sensitivity is quite high, and so warming of about 0.25 deg. C to 0.5 deg. C (about 0.5 deg. F to 0.9 deg. F) every 10 years can be expected for as long as mankind continues to use fossil fuels as our primary source of energy. NASA’s James Hansen claims that climate sensitivity is very high, and that we have already put too much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. Presumably this is why he and Al Gore are campaigning for a moratorium on the construction of any more coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

You would think that we’d know the Earth’s ‘climate sensitivity’ by now, but it has been surprisingly difficult to determine. How atmospheric processes like clouds and precipitation systems respond to warming is critical, as they are either amplifying the warming, or reducing it. This website currently concentrates on the response of clouds to warming, an issue which I am now convinced the scientific community has totally misinterpreted when they have measured natural, year-to-year fluctuations in the climate system. As a result of that confusion, they have the mistaken belief that climate sensitivity is high, when in fact the satellite evidence suggests climate sensitivity is low.
For those of you who want to complain that I quote someone who's not a climatologist--well, here's a climatologist. Yes, I've found people who've spoken against him, and yes, I can find web sites attacking what he says, too.  So you choose to believe your way, Chicken Little, and I'll choose to believe mine.  The fervor with which the Believers attack and respond, though--yes, it's a religion to them.  And I'll enjoy taunting them as much as they enjoy taunting those with more conventional religious beliefs.

I wrote this post 7 1/2 years ago, and I still stand by it.  One of the benefits of getting old is the wisdom that comes with experience; I'm not as easily fooled as some are, if for no other reason than because I've seen this trick before.  The Believers have cried wolf too many times in just my lifetime for me to take their current howls seriously.

Not A Bad Choice

Putting someone from FIRE into a higher education post in Besty De Vos' Education Department?  Inspired!
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Adam Kissel, formerly of the Koch Foundation and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs, the department confirmed Monday. Politico first reported the hiring.

As director of the Individual Rights Defense Program and vice president of programs at FIRE, Kissel was a frequent critic of universities the group has accused of violating the free speech rights of students and faculty. He's also criticized broader "intolerance" on campuses. Kissel has also taken issue with the standard of proof used by colleges in the adjudication of recent sexual harassment and assault cases.

The Very Definition of Snowflake

For people to get this worked up over something so innocuous shows the state of our education system:
Two schoolyard supervisors were removed from Carroll Elementary School in Elk Grove after forcing eight students to sing and dance on stage last week as punishment for a recess infraction, district officials said Monday.

After a recess bell sounded Thursday, yard staff made sixth-grade students who were not standing still in line get on a stage to sing and play “Simon Says,” students said Monday after school.

“She made us sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and, like, the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ ” said Ava Mak, one of the sixth-grade students who was punished. “She also made us sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’ ”
Oh, the inhumanity.  Not group singing! (gasp!)

Read more here:
Principal Paul Hauder sent a letter to the school’s parents describing the incident and apologizing for it. He followed up with a letter to the parents of the eight students involved in the incident, which included an offer to provide counseling if needed.
This is how far schools have gone from the paddle of days gone by.  Are you happy with the results?

Read more here:

Monday, June 05, 2017

If This Isn't Racism, I Don't Know What Is

If you have to use someone's race as anything other than a color descriptor, you are a racist:
White Women Drive Me Crazy

White women are so dangerous because they’re allowed to be so soft — innocent until proven innocent...

I don’t know if I liked sleeping with white women because I’m queer or because they all smell so good. Like if I pressed my body against theirs and breathed deeply enough, some of their clean might rub off on me. I just wanted to feel clean. I wanted to smell good. These days I mask my smell with the scent of roses and a Burberry perfume I can’t afford and everyone says I smell good but I don’t fuck (sic) white women anymore.
This person wails and rants against racism, and would probably be one of the first to tell you that she can't be a racist because she's a minority and only people in the majority or in "power" can be racists.  Convenient, that.

The Thayer Award

Sylvanus Thayer is known as the "father of the Military Academy", and thus it is fitting that West Point's Association of Graduates named its greatest honor after Colonel Thayer:
Since 1958, the West Point Association of Graduates has presented the SYLVANUS THAYER AWARD to an outstanding citizen of the United States whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify personal devotion to the ideals expressed in the West Point motto, “DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY.”

Thayer Award Criteria

The Award is given to a citizen of the United States, other than a West Point graduate, whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature in the civilian community draw wholesome comparison to the qualities for which West Point strives, in keeping with its motto: “Duty, Honor, Country.” The individual selected for the Thayer Award must agree to accept the Award at West Point.
I remember in 1983 seeing General Doolittle, of Doolittle's Raid fame, at the dinner in his honor in the Cadet Mess Hall, and marveling at what a tiny person that giant of a man was.  I also remember 1986, when I sat across a table from Doctor Teller, and, being one of only a few people in the office with him, got to speak to him.  I asked him how he answers the criticism sometimes leveled at him that he is partly responsible for the scourge of nuclear weapons and the deaths of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I also remember his answer.

General Doolittle and Doctor Teller were at West Point to receive their Thayer Awards, and today the Association of Graduates has announced the 2017 Thayer Award recipient.  I agree wholeheartedly that this person is one whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and stature are in keeping with the the motto Duty, Honor, Country.  Receiving the award 23 years after his father did, this year's Thayer Award will go to President George W. Bush.

Recipients of the Thayer Award are listed here; I'm not sure exactly what year the requirement was added that recipients not be West Point graduates, but it was clearly after 1973.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

As Official As Official Can Be

I received the transcripts I ordered.  I'm a master!

Because our seniors have already graduated, I have a few periods without students tomorrow.  I'll probably head down to the district office, paperwork in hand, and sit at someone's desk to ensure all of this is recorded properly so that I can get a pay raise next year!  Took me 5 years to get the degree, should take me 3 years to recoup that cost--so after 8 years I'll have broken even.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Inmates Running The Asylum

His peers want him penalized for doing what he's paid to do.  Must be all that marijuana:
Bret Weinstein was driven off campus to teach because the campus police said they weren’t allowed to protect him.

Now the white biology professor might be driven off campus under Evergreen State College’s own disciplinary process.

More than 50 professors at the public college – nearly a quarter of faculty – have signed a statement as of Friday afternoon calling themselves “angry and frustrated and concerned” by the backlash against students and the university.

They demanded Weinstein be punished for his response to students who cornered him and called him racist after he refused to leave campus on the anti-white “Day of Absence”...
Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Cool Coin

After last week's Italian gettone, here's one from Israel.  Note that it has both Hebrew and Arabic writing on it:

Thursday, June 01, 2017

How We Roll In California

I've written recently about California's proposal for government-run health care--how just health care would cost twice our current state budget. The California Nurses Association, an unbiased group if ever there were one, has figured out how we can pay for it. Guess how.

Go on, guess. I'll give you a hint: it's two words.

Give up yet?  Higher taxes!
The high cost of paying for Canadian-style health care for all Californians has for more than two decades killed proposals by politicians to adopt such a system.

But advocates of the model have some ideas for two Democratic state senators trying to remake California’s health care market into a taxpayer funded model that gets rid of the need for insurance companies and covers everyone regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

A report by economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, released Wednesday, found that overall health care spending in California would fall 18 percent under the proposal from state Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Accounting for savings achieved with their Senate Bill 562, it would cost $331 billion per year to run a universal coverage system in which state government, with taxpayer dollars, pays for medical services and procedures – down from more than $404 billion in spending under today’s system, according to the economic analysis. It was paid for by the California Nurses Association, the bill’s lead sponsor, which also endorsed Lara in his 2018 run for state insurance commissioner...

Under the nurses’ proposal, the state would need to come up with an additional $106.9 billion. Most of that would come from taxes on businesses ($92.6 billion), with $14.3 billion from increasing sales taxes.
Genius! Why hasn't anyone else thought of raising taxes?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Falling Off The Skyscraper

Even as you pass the 3rd floor on the way down, you can console yourself by saying, "Nothing's happened yet!"
In the coming years, California’s claim of being the economic exemplar of the country may be further undermined by legislative overreach. The statewide rise in the minimum wage will hit the lower-wage sector, particularly outside the coastal enclaves. Various plans to boost the welfare state, such as a single-payer health care system that includes the undocumented, and a host of union-driven initiatives, seem certain to drive up costs and impose an ever-heavier tax burden on the state’s struggling middle class.

Perhaps most threatening, over time, may be a host of new environmental laws which will impose enormous burdens on affordable housing, energy prices and industrial growth. The slowdown in tech growth, coupled with a looming decline in the markets as the Trump agenda unravels, could weaken the capital gains juggernaut that has sustained the state through the past decade. Gov. Jerry Brown, under whose watch spending has risen 45 percent, is already predicting a large deficit for next year.

So far this decade, California has defied economic logic, largely due to the explosive growth of Silicon Valley, as well as the effects of rapid real estate appreciation. Yet, these gains have failed to reverse, and in some ways have even exacerbated, the state’s highest-in-the-nation poverty rate, growing inequality and a mounting outmigration of middle-class families. These facts suggest that it’s time to end the celebration and start focusing on how create a more expansive, less feudal California.
Something that can't go on forever, won't. That's as much a law of economics as it is physics.

While We're Renaming Things...

Berkeley was named for a slave-owning Anglican priest, so let's rename the city, too:
San Francisco Chronicle op-ed: The Case For Renaming Boalt Hall, by Charles Reichmann (Adjunct Professor, UC-Berkeley)
You see, Boalt was a racist. He didn't like the Chinese.

Opposite Day

Yes, I know that schools are a microcosm of the community from which their students come, but really?  Not one?
A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English.
Let’s find out what those schools are doing, and do the exact opposite. We might not be 100% right, but we'd be far more right than wrong.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Considering how much effort I put into my just-finished master's program, I marvel at people like this:
So, Mui is pretty sharp at math. Which makes sense. She has been working to master the subject since she was a little kid. According to Mui, she was learning addition and multiplication in preschool, and really, she just kept rolling. Mui proved to be so good at math that after fifth grade she started taking community college courses.

She didn’t stop there.

On Saturday, Mui will be the youngest among more than 8,700 graduates at George Mason University’s 50th commencement. She has earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Virginia’s largest public university, a milestone reached before she has even graduated from high school.
Wow!  And good for her!

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Can See

Friday morning I was trained to put in my new contact lens--a hard lens, one that will reshape my eye while I sleep and obviate the need for glasses or contacts the next day.  Thirty-plus years of looking up when putting in a contact lens must be discarded, I now have to look directly at it as I poke it into my eye.

So I put it in Friday evening.  Saturday morning, when I took it out, I could see.  At my appointment a couple hours later my doctor told me that we'd achieved 75% of the correction we'd planned on in just that one night.  This leads us to hope that perhaps, in time, my vision will be good for perhaps 2 days at a time before I'll need to put the lens back in again.

I was a little emotionally overwhelmed Saturday morning when I could see so clearly.  It was more than I expected, especially after only one night, when for others it can take a week.

It makes me so...happy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Relatively Easy Day

Today was Senior Checkout day.  As I have only seniors 1st, 3rd, and 5th periods, and planning period 2nd, I didn't have students until 4th period today.

Which made it a good day to get an eye appt for training in how to wear my new contact lenses--which I wear at night, and which sort of reshape my eyes for good vision during the day.  Got to school in plenty of time for 4th period's quiz, the average of which was over 90% (no, it wasn't the hardest quiz in the world, but it included a proof by induction).  Then it was lunch time, followed by no students 5th period, so I wandered down to the local park, where our post-checkout seniors were having their senior picnic.  They ran out of Chipotle burritos before I could snag one, but eventually the pizzas showed up and I got a slice of pepperoni.  And I also got two cups of Pinkberry frozen yogurt covered with M&M's, so all in all not a bad deal.  Got back to school in time to give 6th period their quiz.

Got home and got the pickup and trailer ready for a short shakedown cruise to see if anything needs to be looked at before my Colorado trip this summer.  Tomorrow I have to go to the eye doctor again so he can take a look at my eye after a night of wearing the lenses, and then I'm off for a night or so.

Probably won't blog again till Monday--let's see if I can take a couple days off!

Cool Coin

This is a pay phone token that I picked up in Italy during the summer of 1976. It's a gettone, pronounced "jeh-tony".  If I remember correctly, there was quite the shortage of coinage in Italy at the time, and these circulated as coins--perhaps worth 50 lire, at a time when there was somewhere between 700 and 900 lire to the US dollar.

click images to enlarge

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Today was the big day.  As I've done each year for the past several years, I planned an outing to a local Mongolian Barbecue restaurant after school for the graduating seniors I've taught.  Someone counted close to 50 showing up today--good food, good times.

And I'm still stuffed!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

If You Have No Standards, You Can't Be Attacked For Not Meeting Them

Joanne has a post today about what is arguably the worst decision a university system--not one school, but an entire system of 23 universities--could make:
California State University, which recruits from the top third of California graduates, plans to stop using placement tests to decide whether students need remediation in English and math, reports Emily DeRuy in the San Jose Mercury News. Instead, CSU schools will analyze high school grades and SAT or ACT scores.
Grades aren't a very useful tool for universities, and periodically there's talk of ditching the SAT/ACT because somehow they're racially biased.  Let's be blunt--you have to have some way of determining if a student is ready for college-level work.

This is a bad idea.  A wise man once spoke about "the soft bigotry of low expectations".  This idea is Exhibit A.

Juxtaposed with that article is this one:
Illinois high schools have cut remedial classes and placed most students in a “general” college-prep track that doesn’t prepare graduates for college, concludes a Chicago Tribune analysis of the class of 2015.
My district in California is well on its way to doing this.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Feels Good

Our seniors are taking final exams today and tomorrow, and today I gave finals to all my stats classes.  Not a single person in the entire course failed stats.  And no, I'm not known as an easy grader.

I taught them something!

Update, 5/24/17:  Dang it, I missed one yesterday, so in each of the 2 courses I teach, I had one senior not pass.  I have about 90 seniors total, so the percentage isn't horrible, I guess.  I had a lot more seniors earn A+'s than F's, so that's something.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Making The Numbers Match

While writing my last post I felt compelled to back up some of my numbers by looking at the state budget.  Looking at the budget document online prompted me to look at K-12 spending in particular.  I admit that I'm flummoxed, what am I missing here?

Here's the State budget for 2017-18:

Click on (and thus open the pdf's for) both Summary Charts and K-12 Education.

For summary charts, scroll down to Figure SUM-03, which shows a $183 billion state budget.  Note that the general fund portion of K-12 education is a little under $54 billion.  It also shows another $770 million in special and bond fund expenditures for a grand total of $54.3 billion.

Now open the K-12 pdf.  The 2nd paragraph on the 1st page says:
The May Revision includes total funding of $92.3 billion ($54.2 billion General Fund and $38.1 billion other funds) for all K‑12 education programs.
How, exactly, do you make the numbers on those two documents match?  Where is that $38 billion coming from?  Could it possibly come from the feds?  Wherever it comes from, it amounts to about a thousand dollars per person for everyone in California. That's a lot of money.

Single-Payer Health Care in California

The major Sacramento newspaper, never known for having a conservative bent, publishes this story about a proposed single-payer health care system in California:
The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag...

The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending (budget is here, click on Summary Charts, then scroll to Figure SUM-03 --Darren) for the budget year beginning July 1.

Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.
This is California.  We don’t let little things like reality stop us from doing what we know is right.

Read that last paragraph again; "could be available", when translated from California liberal to normal person language, means "huge extra tax on businesses", which is just what we need to make California businesses more competitive with the rest of the world, and to stop businesses from leaving the state.

Socialism is expensive.  How much are you willing to pay for "free" health care?

Update, 5/26/17In case you think I'm being too hard on, or too biased towards, our California legislators:
A California Senate committee tasked with reviewing bills that spend state money passed a $400 billion universal health care proposal Thursday with no funding plan.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, introduced SB 562, a sweeping overhaul of the state’s health insurance market. He’s also the chair of Senate Appropriations. The committee passed the bill with a 5-2 vote during a fast-paced suspense file hearing, clearing the way for it to be taken up on the Senate floor next week.

The vote came days after the committee revealed the Legislature’s first cost assessment of the bill, which turns out to be more than the entire state budget for the year beginning July 1.

Lara has yet to reveal a detailed plan about how the state would come up with the money to provide health care to the nearly 40 million people living in California. Opponents argued that the funding issue should have been addressed before the committee voted on the measure.
As you can see, I'm not being too hard on them at all.  They're even worse than I tell you they are.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The 3 M's

I'd like to learn some more math, so I started looking at course offerings at a nearby community college, as well as at Sacramento State, to see if they offer Game Theory.  That search led me to the web site of Sac State's College of Continuing Education, where I find the Community College Faculty Preparation Certificate ProgramThis could be interesting!

One of the links at the CCFP site was to a 2014 online handbook called Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges.  It makes sense to see if I meet the qualifications for teaching at a community college before enrolling in a community college faculty preparation program, no?

So I started thumbing through the handbook, and it turns out I'm now qualified to teach 3 different subjects; here they are, along with the requirements I meet:
Manufacturing Technology (quality control, process control): any bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience
Mathematics:  bachelor's in mathematics or applied mathematics and a master's in statistics, physics, or math education
Military Studies:  any bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience (in the pay grade of E-7 or above)
It's nice to know I have some options.

By the way, I did find a game theory class--in the economics program at Sac State.  Haven't yet found whether it's offered at night or online.

Update, 5/22/17:  Turns out those three subjects align quite nicely with the 3 career fields in which I've worked.  I've been an army officer, a manufacturing manager, and a math teacher.  Funny, that.

So Crazy It Just Might Work!

Instead of spending so much teachers' (and prospective teachers') time on diversity and equity and hate whitey and "unconscious bias" and God knows what else, what say we focus on curriculum?
Slowly, slowly, a small but persuasive body of work is emerging which raises curriculum to an object of pressing concern for educators, and expresses long overdue appreciation for the idea that the instructional materials we put in front of children actually matter to student outcomes. A welcome addition to this emerging corpus is a new Aspen Institute paper by Ross Wiener and Susan Pimentel, which makes a compelling case—equally overdue—that professional development and teacher training ought to be connected to curriculum. A primary role of school systems, states, districts, and charter-management organizations, the pair write, “is to create the conditions in schools through which teachers can become experts at teaching the curriculum they are using and adapting instruction to the needs of their particular students"...

Practice What You Teach begins with a discussion of research demonstrating the frustrating state of teacher “PD,” which, like the sitcom Seinfeld, is a show about nothing. Next, they discuss curriculum materials, which “have a profound effect on what happens in classrooms and on how much students learn.” When average teachers use excellent materials, Weiner and Pimental note, “student learning results improve significantly.” The general disregard for curriculum as a means to improve teacher effectiveness and student outcomes is reflected in the observation that “many teachers do not have access to strong, standards-aligned curriculum; in fact, most teachers spend hours every week searching for materials that haven’t been vetted and aren’t connected to ongoing, professional learning activities in their schools.”
Honest teachers will tell you this is true:
...Ashley Berner of Johns Hopkins described how schools of education “turned from academic subject mastery to developmental psychology as the foundational resource for teacher preparation” a century ago. This relegated curriculum to a thing not just beneath the notice of teachers, but beneath their dignity. We are encouraged to “teach the child, not the lesson” and other empty platitudes: Education is not the filling of a pail, it’s the lighting of a fire. Students won’t care what you know until they know that you care. Ad infinitum.
I get so tired of educational platitudes.  Don't forget, "I don't teach content, I teach students!"  Sheesh.

And I like this line of reasoning:
It does not diminish our appreciation of the actor’s talent that he performs Hamlet but didn’t write it. No one expects their doctor to repair to the lab every night to prepare pharmaceutical compounds on the theory that she alone knows what her patients need. The master carpenter begins his day in the lumber yard, not in the forest.

We flatter teachers’ professionalism by telling them they alone can best determine what will engage and enlighten the children before them, but the price of that flattery is that we make their jobs impossible to do effectively, forcing them to spend fruitless hours on Google and Pinterest hoping to find materials that a well-run and coherent system would provide to them—along with training on how to implement it effectively.
True enough.

So yes, let's insist that teachers focus on their subject matter and curriculum, not on social engineering--which might be more fun and less work, but it's not what we're paid to do.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Typical Teachers Union Position

In theory, I'm not against unions.  Synergy, and all.  I am, however, against unions when they advocate for insanity, as in this case:
The bill for city teachers no principal wants will hit $34 million next year and has become a sticking point in deadlocked contract talks as fiscal watchdogs warn that cash-strapped Hub taxpayers can’t keep carrying the dead weight.

As of yesterday, 47 tenured teachers earning an average of $91,000 a year are without formal classroom positions in the so-called “excess pool,” school officials told the Herald...

The teachers’ union is digging in its heels and insists that unwanted teachers get placed in classrooms...

The teachers lose their positions because of poor performance, or no principal wants to hire them, or because they have failed to obtain proper licenses. Other times, they lose their positions due to school closures or budget cuts.
I really honestly truly would love someone to comment on why the teachers union's position is the correct one.  Be civil, be intelligent, and be clear. 

I Wonder If A *Two*-Party System Might Help

Maybe not, but the one-party system isn't doing any good, either:
But income tax revenue from the wealthy tends to be volatile and unreliable—in Connecticut’s case, as the WSJ notes, the hedge fund industry’s decline has led to lower-than-expected tax receipts (states like California have run into similar problems when taxing their own economic elite). Moreover, financiers are mobile, and can move to other states if rates get too high.

It’s tempting for blue model partisans to see the state and local pension crisis as a temporary problem that can be papered over with high-end tax hikes. And while the rich may well need to pay more to address the problem, it won’t be enough. The forces that have brought about the blue model crisis are structural: Overly-powerful public sector unions, dishonest accounting practices, chronic political can-kicking, and a defined-benefit pension model that doesn’t work in the 21st century. These are deep-rooted problems that will require major reforms in the way government runs and the way the civil service is organized. As Connecticut Democrats are realizing, the Bernie Sanders approach to government deficits—tax the millionaires and billionaires, then tax them some more—is simply not adequate to the scope of the crisis.

Lucid Dreaming?

Last night I collapsed on top of my bed around 8--and woke up around midnight, with the audiobook still playing.  Shut that off and went right back to sleep.

Strange dreams.  The one I remember the best was going to some friends' house, and then noticing I was naked.  I knew I couldn't have gotten all the way to their house while naked but I couldn't explain what had happened, so I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my waist.  Moments later I looked down and, on my legs sticking out from under the towel, were jeans.  Apparently I was now wearing jeans under the towel.   Puzzled I said, "Is this a dream?"

And I immediately woke up.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cool Coin

As I type this (in December!), this bimetallic beauty from Mexico, denominated 10 pesos, is worth about 50 US cents.
click images to enlarge

Thursday, May 18, 2017

College Accreditation

This article identifies many problems in the current accreditation system, but this one is pretty telling:
Note what’s missing from this list: improving quality in the classroom. No institution seeks accreditation to improve the education it provides. If any improvement results, it’s a byproduct, not a goal. (Talk about an elephant in the lecture hall!)
As someone who used to *volunteer* at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and worked on ensuring state universities met CDE’s standards for teacher credentialing programs (it’s a type of accreditation), I can state categorically that form over function was the rule of the day.

Who's Surprised? Not Me....

Dallas County Whistleblower Tapes Democrat Campaign Worker Describing Voter Fraud Schemes

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Some Dem Actually Tweeted This

Michael Savage is right, liberalism is a mental disorder.  Some lib actually tweeted this, after another Dem suggested President Trump be removed and replaced by Vice President Pence:
Dems now hoping the guy responsible for an HIV outbreak in Indiana takes control#TheResistance is trash
That's right, VP Pence is now apparently responsible for an HIV outbreak in Indiana.

Too Much Potential To Go To Jail

People screamed and yelled--and justifiably so--when Stanford swimmer Brock Turner got off light for rape.  Rich white male privilege doesn’t explain this one; why were people so riled up about Turner's case but have nary a peep to say about this one?
Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover in a drink and drug fuelled row could be spared jail by a judge because she's 'extraordinary' and it would damage her surgeon career
Don't you see yet?  It's not about sex, it's about class.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When The Truth Is Too Uncomfortable

You can read the entire story about a school/district in which too many students--mostly of a specific race--are out of control. Students don't feel safe, adults don't feel safe. What the heck? The conclusion really hit it out of the park for me:
Between public racial sensitivities, current federal regulations, and (it’s a good bet) their own reluctance, the administrators’ hands are more or less tied. In 2013, the Obama administration’s Department of Education Civil Rights Division warned school districts that schools violate Federal law when they “evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race” (author’s emphasis). Cheltenham’s ruffians will be safe from discipline and stigma, though not, of course, from each other.

The bitter irony of the widespread evasion about racial discrepancies in “externalizing” behavior is that it harms Cheltenham’s blacks above all. The large majority of kids who are well prepared to walk the halls and talk to teachers with a modicum of civility are forced to cede their educations and safety to the uncivilized few. Cheltenham has a committed (for now) cadre of white parents dedicated to diversity, but the township’s population is considerably whiter than its schools; a sizable number of whites have clearly already fled the local schools or decided not to move there in the first place. They’re not alone. Several disgusted black parents said that they had pulled their children out of the local schools despite paying “astronomical” taxes in order to live in the reputedly excellent district.

Now this lovely suburb with once-envied schools is facing black as well as white flight. (boldface mine--Darren)  Let’s see how the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division deals with that.
To paraphrase an old saying: you may not be interested in the reality, but the reality is interested in you.

You can pretend all you want, but the reality still reigns.

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Global Warming is Pseudoscience"

He's a Nobel laureate in physics.

Update, 5/18/17:  Maybe this is because CO2 isn't pollution, it's plant food:
GLOBAL GREENING: Scientists Find ‘Lost’ Forests The Size Of Seven Texases
Update #2, 5/23/17: Back when the "best and brightest" ran our institutions, there was unanimous agreement on global cooling.  Are they any better or brighter now?

Sunday, May 14, 2017


If you scroll down through posts from the past week you'll see that I updated a few of them today.  Scroll down and take a read!

I Like Camille Paglia's Version of Feminism

I'm all for equality and empowerment:
Rather tragically, feminism is now fully synonymous with the most absurd and regressive of far-left neuroses.

Whether we’re talking about the disproportionate outrage that is Slut Walk, turning a blind eye to sex crimes in migrant and Muslim communities or the fabrication of numerous “rape culture” incidents, today’s incarnation of feminism is increasingly disconnected from reality.

Rebel feminist icon Camille Paglia will have none of it, though. The author and Philadelphia-based professor has always kept her feet firmly grounded in the real world, backed up by history.

Her new book Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism makes this much clear. And for this fresh dose of sanity we must give thanks...

Another thing that still riles the feminist establishment is that the Bernie Sanders-supporting lesbian never bought into victimhood.

Paglia’s always been an empowerment feminist, actually wanting women to succeed instead of finding meaning through wallowing in victimhood.
This same philosophy applies to race, too.

It May Not Be Official Yet, But...

I received an email from my instructor today, confirming that I did well on the last test and congratulating me on completing my degree :-)  He also said that it was the grade on one homework assignment that kept me from scoring 90% in the class, so he dropped that grade and gave me an A in the course.  I'll take it!

When Truth Brings Trouble

When you can get in trouble for saying what is obvious, things aren't good:
Almost anyone who has been forced to sit through diversity training has probably thought, "What a complete waste of time." No slideshow presentation is going to undermine one's beliefs, so any real bigots taking such training won't be swayed, for one thing. For another, it takes time out of doing actual work in a pathetic attempt at indoctrination.

When Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology at Duke University, said what most of us happen to think about so-called diversity training, however, he stirred up a whole storm of social justice viciousness...

Now he’s the subject of two disciplinary proceedings – one for “unprofessional conduct” and one for “harassment” – and he is reportedly resigning after the 2017-2018 academic year.
I wonder what would happen if conservatives behaved this way.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Another Nail in the Obamacare Coffin

Congress shouldn’t do anything. Let this 100% Democrat-approved disaster die the death it deserves. Let everyone see the strength and wisdom of Democrat ideas:
Health insurance giant Aetna said Wednesday that it will not be participating in any Obamacare exchanges in 2018.

"Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership," T.J. Crawford, Aetna spokesman, said in an email.

The reason for the losses, he said, came from structural issues within the exchanges "that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration." He did not cite uncertainty over the future of Obamacare, as the company had done when it announced last week that it would be exiting the exchange in Virginia.

Aetna also announced in early April that it would be pulling out of the exchange in Iowa, and the latest announcement adds Delaware and Nebraska to that list, both on and off the exchange.
Aetna is only the most recent company to pull out of Obamacare exchanges.

Update, 5/14/17:  Where's that $2500/family savings?
Early moves by insurers suggest that another round of price hikes and limited choices will greet insurance shoppers around the country when they start searching for next year’s coverage on the public markets established by the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance companies are still making decisions about whether to offer coverage for individuals next year on these markets, and price increase requests are only just starting to be revealed by state regulators. But in recent weeks, big insurers like Aetna and Humana have been dropping out of markets or saying that they aren’t ready to commit. And regulators in Virginia and Maryland have reported early price hike requests ranging from just under 10 percent to more than 50 percent.
Note that this story is from the Associated Press, which is not known for a conservative bias.

Unicorn Farts Are Expensive

I wonder how much further California will go before even lefties will ask what the heck we're doing.  There is a cornucopia of Crazy California stories today.  Margaret Thatcher told us decades ago that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money, and nowhere is that more true in the US than in California:
California Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday revised his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, raising total spending by 2.2 percent and increasing funding for schools and transportation, even as he warned that the state's economy likely cannot sustain the growth of recent years...

Still, Brown said the budget was considerably more constrained than in any year since 2012, when California struggled through years of deficits. California faces a $3.3 billion revenue shortfall, down from a $5.8 billion shortfall in January.
It's not bad enough that we're overtaxed, we're overregulated, too--and we're going to lead the world to a brighter tomorrow even if it bankrupts us:
When Stanford University energy economist Danny Cullenward looks at California’s policies on climate change, he sees a potential time bomb.

The state wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions so deeply in the coming years that oil refineries and other industries could face skyrocketing costs to comply with regulations, driving up gasoline prices until the system loses political support. If that happens, an effort touted as an international model for fighting global warming could collapse...

Although it’s not yet clear how the rebates would function, the proposal is an acknowledgement that costs for gasoline and electricity are likely to rise, and lawmakers want to help insulate voters from the effects. The state’s transition toward low-emission technology could prove expensive over time, requiring the purchase of millions of electric vehicles and shuttering natural gas operations in favor of new solar plants.
How, exactly, do we "insulate voters from the effects" of higher gas and electricity prices?  So much of California lawmaking seems to operate along the same lines as the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes.

So California is, yet again, in an economic hurt box.  How to raise money?  The Colorado way--the most cowardly way possible, and on the backs of the people least likely to be able to afford it:
Pressed to come up with the money to stave off its public employee pension time bomb, the state of California is jacking up the cost of traffic tickets...

This is a variation of what we call the “blue civil war”—the way the tightening fiscal vise around state and local governments end up pitting Democratic constituencies against one another. In this case, poor and minority Californians, who tend to need to drive further to work, are paying the brunt of the increased traffic fines—which are going to cover the retirement hole for unionized public employees.
California's one-party government is a debacle.

Update, 5/14/17:  Clearly we have solved every other imaginable problem in California, if this is what the legislature is working on:
Acting on purported consumer protection concerns, the legislature recently expanded its autograph law (which formerly only applied to sports memorabilia) to include any signed item worth over $5—including books.  Under that law, sellers must produce a certificate of authenticity and maintain detailed records of every sale for seven years.  Sellers must, among other things:
  1. Note the purchase price and date of sale,
  2. specify whether the item is part of a limited edition,
  3. note the size of the edition, anticipate any future editions,
  4. disclose whether the seller is bonded,
  5. divulge any previous owner’s name and address,
  6. if the book was signed in the presence of the seller, specify the date and location of the signing, and identify a witness to the autograph.
Failure to disclose any of the required details, or to keep the certificate for the full seven years, results in outrageous penalties. Even an inadvertent omission can subject a seller to actual damages, plus a civil penalty of up to 10 times the damages, plus court costs, plus reasonable attorney’s fees, plus expert witness fees, plus interest. Professional plaintiff’s lawyers must be chomping at the bit. If Bill sold just 100 signed copies of a $30 book, but six years later, couldn’t locate the records noting the size of the edition, he’d be liable for (at minimum) $30,000. Bill sells tens of thousands of signed books each year.
Do you wonder why it's so expensive to do business in California?  This is why it's so expensive to do business in California.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Free At Last!

My original plan was to take the last test of my master's program after school tomorrow.  Tomorrow turns out to be a bad day for test-taking, though, and since I figured "there's no time like the present", I arranged to take the test during my prep period this morning.  So that's how I occupied myself from about 8 to 9 this morning.

Unless I missed something horrific, the test was relatively straightforward.  There was nothing unexpected on it, and my answers to the problems seemed reasonable.  I'm predicting a very good grade on this test.

That was the last test of the last class of my master's program.  It's all done except the paperwork-filing.  I dug out the papers from 5-1/2 years ago in which district mucky-mucks approved my participation in this program--as soon as I can get a transcript I'll take all this paperwork to the district office and ensure I get that pay raise I've worked 5 long years for!

And now that I have my afternoons free--no more studying!--I think I'll go take a walk :)

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Lavish Expenditures of Taxpayer Money

This comes from the San Francisco Chronicle, hardly a conservative mouthpiece:
University of California President Janet Napolitano’s office spent more than $4,000 on one employee’s retirement party and thousands more on other going-away, staff-appreciation and holiday parties, perks that are not typically seen in the public sector and that raise questions about lavish spending practices as the university increases tuition and fees on students.

The new details come after state auditors found $175 million in secret reserves in the office of the president, money that lawmakers said should have been disclosed to the public and the Board of Regents, which oversees the 10-campus university system. 
Financial misconduct at the highest levels of academia--in California, no less?  I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

Remember this story the next time you hear someone talk about "free" college.

The Non-Existent Pervasive Rape Culture

Got this from Instapundit today:
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS: Fake Statistics Created ‘Rape Anxiety’ Among Female Students.

Keep them scared and they’ll demand protection, instead of maturing into strong, responsible, and independent young women.
If anyone truly believed that 20% of women will experience rape or sexual assault in college, no one would let their daughters go to college. No one. Common sense dictates that.

But then, how would liberals rile people up if they couldn't lie?

Update, 5/14/17:  Yes, this article focuses momentarily on the fact that not all rapes are reported,  but if you want to play that game, I ask how many of the reported "rapes" were just morning-after regrets?
Most U.S. colleges — 89% — reported zero incidents of rape in 2015, according to American Association of University Women (AAUW) analysis of data provided by schools to the U.S. Department of Education.

Monday, May 08, 2017

In Deep Blue California

Maybe the reason liberals think everyone is a racist is because they themselves are racists:
Sacramento County lawyers who were found last week to have improperly excluded African American jurors from a trial over a lawsuit brought by a black former inmate at the downtown jail agreed Monday to settle the case for $2.5 million.

The trial was supposed to start last week but was halted after one day of jury selection when U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez sided with attorneys for James Joshua Mayfield, finding that the county was striking blacks from sitting on the jury “because of the color of their skin.”

On top of the $2.5 million settlement, the judge charged the county for an extra $13,640 in costs "with respect to the jury selection issue."

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Is The Definition of Misogynist "Someone Who Didn't Vote For Hillary Clinton"?

If so, would that make all the 2008 Barack Obama voters misogynists?

Doesn't look like she won, but I'd have worn an "I'm With Her" shirt for Marine Le Pen's run in today's French election :-)

Name-calling is the one thing lefties are good at, whether the names make any sense or not.  And bummer for them, no one's even paying attention to their pejoratives anymore. 

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Riddle Me This, Socialized Medicine Advocates

My grandfather died from ALS.  I have skin in this game:
The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it had approved the first new drug in 20 years to treat the paralyzing disease ALS.

The drug is not a cure but can slow down the inexorable worsening of the disease, which gradually paralyzes patients completely. It's always fatal and there is no cure...

It's in fact the first new drug approved for ALs since 1995, when riluzole, sold under the brand name Rilutek, was approved.

Radicava is given in the form of an intravenous infusion, with two weeks of daily treatments followed by a two week break...

It comes at a price. Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America says the drug will cost more than $1,000 per infusion.

"If taken annually for 12 months or 13 cycles, according to the dosing and administration in the label, the cost before government discounts, will be $145,524," the company said.
So you want single-payer health care.  You want insurance companies to go out of business, and you trust the government (currently run by Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress) to pay for your health care.  How much should government spend?  When is an amount too much?  Uncle Sugar has big pockets, are you OK with the cost above--for all 20,000-30,000 people in the US with ALS?

You can't just go on emotion, you have to think as well.  Can we afford this?  What are the costs--not just dollar costs, but costs to freedom and privacy--in having the government this involved in your private life?

More of My Money Down The Craphole

It's bad enough that I have to pay for public transit--to "save the planet" and to help the poor--but now I'm providing actual cars to the poor:
Residents at three public housing areas now have a mini-fleet of free Zipcars to make their way around Sacramento.

On Friday, Sacramento launched a pilot program that put eight shared electric Kia Souls at public housing sites. Up to 300 residents can apply for on-demand access to the vehicles, with no charge for maintenance, insurance or juicing up the battery.

The program is funded through a $1.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board using cap-and-trade funds that businesses pay to offset their carbon emissions. 

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, May 05, 2017

Cool Coin

Tell me you're not impressed with the symbolism--and dare I say it, power--portrayed by this coin from Nazi Germany.  Simple, but evocative.

click images to enlarge