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July 28, 2014

"The Common Core Commotion Haven’t we seen this movie before?"

Magnificent attack on education reform by Andrew Ferguson. Virtually no one escapes. He concludes as follows:

The delays and distancing suggest a cloudy future for the Common Core. Even its advocates say that the best possible outcome for now involves a great deal more unpleasantness: The tests will be given to many students beginning next spring, and the results will demonstrate the catastrophic state of learning in American schools. Of course, we knew that, but still. “Maybe this will be a reality check,” one booster told me the other day. “People will take a look at the results and say, ‘Aha! So this is what they’ve been talking about!’ It will send a very strong signal.”

It would indeed, but a signal to do what? Educationists don’t like unpleasantness; it’s not what they signed up for when they became reformers. We already know what happened when NCLB state tests exposed the reality of American public schools. It was time for a new reform. 

In that case, Common Core would survive, but only as NCLB survives—as a velleity, a whiff of a hint of a memory of a gesture toward an aspiration for excellence. And the educationists will grow restless. Someone somewhere will come up with a new reform program, a whole new approach—one with teeth, and high-stakes consequences for stakeholders. Bill Gates will get wind of it. He will be intrigued. His researchers will design experiments to make sure the program is scientifically sound. Data will be released at seminars, and union leadership will lend tentative support. The president will declare a crisis and make reform a national priority. She will want to be called an education president too.

"Solving California's Drought Problem: Market Pricing"

Still more on the fabulous lie that "government is the name we give to things we do together":

The New York Times reports that "cities across California are encouraging residents to tattle on their neighbors for wasting water" — just the kind of behavior that we want our government to cultivate.

Those reluctant to squeal are instead shaming residents they see washing their cars and watering their lawns, and embarrassing anyone suspected of taking long showers.

To help out, water officials in Los Angeles will soon offer hangers that residents can "slip anonymously around the doorknobs of neighbors whose sprinklers are watering the sidewalk."

What a swell way for government to pit neighbors against each other and create conditions that could explode into violence. But then, what should we expect when some officials defend the shaming practice because it's akin to an "education" program?

Even more: "Snitch nation".

There is value in collective self-policing, a feature of health societies that will never and should never disappear entirely. And public shaming has a rich, if lamentable, Western tradition dating back to the stockades. But the rise of an informant culture in America is distinct from self-policing, and many appear to participate in the encouraged practice of informing on others more in service to a base desire to indulge in a little schadenfreude than anything else.

"Madness in Madison"

Professor Emeritus of Economics at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, W. Lee Hansen:

The University of Wisconsin adopted its first diversity plan back in 1966 and every few years it launches a much-touted new one. During my 30-year teaching career at Madison, followed by more than a decade of retirement, I have seen not the slightest bit of evidence that the fixation on “diversity” has made the campus better in any respect.

I predict this new Inclusive Excellence plan will fail to produce its hoped-for utopian outcomes. In a few years, the university will hear demands for yet another diversity plan.  

Achieving “diversity” is like sailing toward the horizon.

You never get there.

"The First Single-Payer Domino"

Conservatives need to watch this: "If the health-care experiment fails in Vermont, it would send shock waves nationwide."

"Shalom, motherf****r"

Very well put.

But I will not apologise for surviving.

For surviving missiles intended to kill me. The fact they didn’t kill me doesn’t mean they weren’t sent with the intention to murder. We have a defence system, shelters, evacuation procedures and governments who take care of us – I will not apologise for living and surviving thanks to being prepared because we have a culture that celebrates our lives and cherishes them instead of sending 10-year old children to be fighters and bombers. I will not apologise for having a business, a home, a family and friends here who want normal lives and to live in peace with our neighbors. I will not apologise for existing and I want nothing more than to co-exist quietly with neighbors who accept me here.

 

"The Economics of Marriage, and Family Breakdown"

By Isabel Sawhill, Senior Fellow at Brookings. Includes this:

A child's education begins in the home. No improvement in public policy can compete with what only families can provide.

July 27, 2014

"RE2PECT"

Nobody makes ads like Nike.

Nobody.

"Ten most valuable albums of all time"

If you have a low-numbered copy of the White Album, it's supposedly worth about $10,000.

July 26, 2014

"The 25 Best Romantic Comedies Since When Harry Met Sally"

Of the ones listed that I've seen, I like 10 Things I Hate About You, Groundhog Day, and especially Clueless.

"8 Star Trek Technologies Moving From Science Fiction To Science Fact"

One more reason why Star Trek--particularly the original series--is great

July 25, 2014

"9 Actors Who Do the Exact Same Thing on Every Movie Poster"

Revealing: "#5. Jennifer Aniston Is Always With a Guy and Never Really Happy About It".

"ESPN First Take- Best of Jay Pharoah Impersonations"

He's good.

"5 Mysteries About the Human Race That Science Can't Explain"

Why does pain hurt, why does anesthesia work, and three more.

July 24, 2014

"How Israel's Iron Dome Rocket Defense System Works"

So effective that people go on "Iron Dome dates??" Geez.

"Broccoli Loves Us"

I don't know about "love," but everybody seems to agree that it's amazingly good for us.

"How To Blow $9 Billion: The Fallen Stroh Family"

Sad tale, but rather common

Yet today the Strohs, as a family business or even a collective financial entity, have ceased to exist. The company has been sold for parts. The trust funds have doled out their last pennies to shareholders. While there was enough cash flowing for enough years that the fifth generation Strohs still seem pretty comfortable, the family looks destined to go shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in six.

"Serial Killers: The 6 Worst Hard Drive Destroyers"

#6--Human error--is, I'm guessing, the biggest threat

July 23, 2014

"Python bumps off Java as top learning language"

"Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming and computer science, according to a recent survey posted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)."

It's what Nobel Laureate economist Thomas Sargent is teaching these days.

"18 Words That Have A Totally Different Meaning In North Carolina"

I take exception to #10 but most of the rest made me smile or laugh.

9. NASCAR

What it means everywhere else: A bunch of cars going around in a circle for hours on end.

What it means in North Carolina: It’s a sport. It’s a religion. It’s a tradition.

"Why Are Israelis Rooting for Germany in the World Cup?"

Compare to the habits of most of Israel's enemies

"The 12 Most Popular Free Online Courses For Professionals"

For the online-interested autodidacts among you.

July 22, 2014

"The Worldview that Makes the Underclass"

By Anthony Daniels aka Theodore Dalrymple. Excerpt:

By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child. Few homes were without televisions with screens as large as a cinema—sometimes more than one—and they were never turned off, so that I often felt I was examining someone in a cinema rather than in a house. But what was curious was that these homes often had no means of cooking a meal, or any evidence of a meal ever having been cooked beyond the use of a microwave, and no place at which a meal could have been eaten in a family fashion. The pattern of eating in such households was a kind of foraging in the refrigerator, as and when the mood took, with the food to be consumed sitting in front of one of the giant television screens. Not surprisingly, the members of such households were often enormously fat. 

"Scientists Pave The Way For Possible Alzheimer's Blood Test"

Let's hope that this works out and real soon.

"Peggy the Moocher Gets Wise to Obama"

"Fair enough. What’s the media’s excuse?"

UPDATED: link included now. Thanks to commenters.

"With Corporate Welfare, There's No 'Trickle Down'"

Excellent brief exposition of an important difference between crony capitalism and true capitalism.

"Flaccid American Universities"

Imprecisely titled--the author means not the universities per se, but the students--but still interesting. And sad because the students in question attend my alma mater.

(And, come to think of it, "flaccid" is also a poor choice. Better would be a reference to Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver: "It's not that they're stupid, it's just they don't know anything.")

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