Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tragedy In Paradise

A recent trip thru the Honolulu Airport ended in tragedy for a vacationing couple, Max and Edna Bloom. Currently living in the Atlanta metro area the couple recently moved from New York to be closer to the grandkids. Max and Edna were returning from a two week second honeymoon celebrating their fiftieth anniversary when tragedy struck. Edna, angry and distraught nonetheless spoke with reporters.
"We'd had a great time in Hawaii, but I don't eat pork and I was pineappled-out from all the luaus. I just wanted a Reuben, didn't even care if it was a good Reuben, just a Reuben. So Max--Max is--WAS--always so good to me--Max runs up the concourse looking for some place selling sandwiches while I guard the luggage. You know you can't be too careful these days. Some terrorist might drop a hot cellphone in your bag. So Max, bless his heart, I see him about three gates away as he comes running back and guess what? He's got this huge smile on his face and he's waving a Reuben in the air."
"I shout 'where did you find it?' He shouts back 'Aloha Snackbar!' and that's when the officer shoots him dead." Fighting back the tears she ended with "you know the rest."
Indeed we do.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dunwoody To Build Community Theatre

You heard it here first.

You may have been wondering about the sudden urgency around destroying the Brook Run theatre. Council has been acting like a four year old who has just realized he needs to pee and by all that is holy (or unholy) that theatre is coming down. Why the rush? Because the fix is in. Someone, someone with friends, someone at City Hall has a burning need to get a theatre built and the one at Brook Run is standing in the way. But it will stand no longer.

In the absence of Russian hackers publishing emails we'll never know how this situation came about or how it will play out but rest assured--within two years of leveling the current, and only theatre owned by the City they will spend nearly twenty times as much as necessary to build a new one because by then it will be obvious that a Smart City must have a community theatre. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Test Water, Not Kids

Because testing water shows that someone else isn't doing their job and testing kids shows that Public Schools aren't doing their own job. Because that's the best our Public Schools can do.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Live By The Sword

Die by the sword.

That is what Georgia's "educators" are about to do, die from a fatal wound delivered by a sword of their own making. For decades "educators" have justified all manner of wasteful and ineffective (if not downright destructive) trial and error "educational programs." Remember new math? How about transformational (AKA "Roberts") english? Given this long list of failures we should not be surprised that educrats consider testing water more important than testing students and they should not be too surprised that those holding the purse strings want to follow their lead.

With amendment 1 some folks with the money, the State in this case, propose to do exactly what "educators" have taught them to do: "try something, anything, because what we're doing now isn't working." That is the essence of the logic supporting a Yes! vote on that particular referendum. This leaves the "educators" in the uncomfortable position of supporting their cause on the basis of frugality. The engine of modern society's explosive growth of useless but expensive administrators is cautioning against adding more. They don't really have a problem with administrative bloat, they have a problem with someone else getting the money fueling that bloat. As long as they control the cashflow, Bloat Is Good [tm].

Will it pass? Who knows. Language put before the public would do Madison Avenue (or perhaps Goebbels) proud. But this will come up against Little Johnny's Teacher who will tell Johnny's Mommy "Vote No!" No matter that Johnny, an eighth grader, cannot read. No matter that Johnny's Mommy cannot read either. Nor that Johnny's teacher struggles. You do not need to read to vote and teachers say Vote No. Hopefully the sword is sharp. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

III NOT 111

The AJC, particularly the online edition (separate rant) can be a real PITA. Mostly due to ignorance and occasional incompetence. Did you read the article on the Booth Museum? Do you know where the Booth, the second largest museum in Georgia, is located? Good, because unless you read to the last line of a long article the best you'll get is "30 minutes north of Atlanta." This isn't just violation of the Who, What, When, WHERE rule of journalism. This exposes a worm hole exclusively for the use of AJC reporters, because normal folk cannot get from Atlanta to Cartersville in 30 minutes.

Then there's the gun thingy and all things related--like folks WITH guns. They don't know the difference between a pistol and a revolver and every blackish long gun is "an assault weapon" or worse yet, with faux authority, they'll declare it an AK-57. Because that is 10 more assaulting than an AK-47.

The AJC's most recent exposition of "why idiots shouldn't write articles, but we let them anyway" revolves around the Newton Mosque. The one some folks do NOT want built. That one. Apparently one group has offered vocal (well posted on the interweb) opposition. Problem is the AJC reports them as the "111% Security Force." Perhaps they were watching a football game where color commentary (can you still call it that?) included something like "giving one hundred ten percent" between made-up ejaculations including words like "athleticism." So it must be 111%, right? Because giving one hundred eleven percent is one percent more than giving one hundred ten percent.

But you know what? Fact checking ain't that hard these days. Google is your friend. Wikipedia is your god. And the very group the AJC reported on has a Facebook page. Look it up fer chrissakes. And if you're curious about the Three Percenters check here because the AJC is clueless.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kale Cures

It does. Really. Just ask any Kale Muncher. And that part isn't hard because they are just about everywhere. But something the most fervent Kale aficionado may not know is that Kale Cures Cancer. Not just any cancer but the biggest "C" of all : Lung Cancer. Researchers are baffled but the twitter-sphere is convinced. And that makes it actual factual.

But. You have to smoke it. All the fun of sucking on a fag with none of the downside.

Not to worry, it's easier than you think. Kale not only looks like tobacco and tastes like particularly rancid tobacco, kale leaves dry, cure, roll and smoke much like Sir Walter's finest. TOD's not going to re-invent any wheels but point you towards some excellent references. First is the Leaf Only's Tobacco Curing and Fermenting instructions that will get you from raw kale to rolling stage. Do not skip this step. Under no circumstance do you even want to try smoking raw kale, at least not as a cigar. Once you get properly cured kale the fine folks at wikiHow guide you through the rolling process.

Once you've got your kale-bano-s you store and maintain them like any other smokable weed. And smoking is much the same as well--outside and away from others.

Enjoy.


Disclaimer. If you eat kale you get what you deserve. If you smoke kale you get what you deserve but at least you won't be breathing our air. Smoke at your own risk and to society's benefit.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Will work for benefits

The Economic Policy Institute likes to portray itself as the voice of the downtrodden at least on economic matters. This translates into pay. Apparently not compensation. In taking up for Teachers, a drum they've beaten for over a decade, they say:
Not accounting for benefits, teachers across the country earn less than other college graduates...
In the real world most folks account for benefits. There's a growing number who will damn near work for benefits. And they're just talking about healthcare.

Don't teachers get healthcare benefits? Sure they do. They also have had, and in some cases taken advantage of, abandoning Social Security for retirement options they themselves decided were superior. And these are not village idiots, as EPI like to tell us, over and over and over again, these are highly educated folk.

Even if you adjust a nine-month contract for full year equivalency it is very difficult to account for the size and expanse of holiday breaks and other time off affording teachers. And dare we delve into tenure and the requisite "lemon rooms?" We dare not.

And EPI likes to talk about similar amounts of education as if a righteous system would reward diploma holders based on the amount of time require to get the sheep skinned. Really? Do they know that a PhD in Mathematics requires more time than a JD? Who do you think drags down the biggest bucks? The Math Prof or the Lawyer? And do they think a four year Chemical Engineering degree is as easy to secure as a four year degree in "English-Education?" Perhaps so. Perhaps they don't have a lot of folks on staff holding a degree in engineering. Why? Perhaps engineers aren't suited to their work.

Which brings us to the final point. Any teacher thinking their Art-Education degree is worth as much as that degree in Petroleum Engineering should sell it on the open market. After all every college degree requiring four years to get are pretty much the same, right?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

You MUST Send Your Kids To College

Increasingly folks, even those with kids, are asking "Why?" By the time many mortar-boreders walk under the arches they're pushing tens of thousands of dollars in debt out ahead of them. The college degree that had been touted as the gift that keeps on giving turns out to be one that keeps on taking.

But it does give, right? Right. Well that is the widely held belief but the understanding you have to ignore is that correlation is not causality. This particular universal truth is one that is quickly glossed over by academia, particularly the for-profit universities named after a far away city or state. Not only is a degree with their name on it not entering into a causal relationship with your future income, it probably will not correlate very well either. This is mostly because as schools (using the term very loosely) they are masters of convenience and do not produce graduates with much mastery of much of anything else.

So the real problem is just these new-age diploma millIs, right? Right.

Turns out so-called legitimate higher education has something of a bubble going on. They are producing, at almost every level, a number of graduates exceeding what industry can absorb. It isn't just those folks whose passion led them to an advanced degree in "Post-Coital Haiku Studies" this is true with the much Ballyhooed "STEM." TOD has already recounted the GT-EE-PhD who could not find a job until he dropped the PhD from is resume (and quit calling it a "C" "V") but this happens in the STEMiest of STEM: Mathematics. A PhD in Math should be a ticket to anywhere you wanna go, right? So long as you don't actually want to go into academia. For the past several years US universities have awarded between 1800 and 2000 Math PhDs yet a search on EIMS for tenure track Math positions a total of 32. Hardly one tenth the number of new PhDs given you discount the thousands more waiting in the wings with "Visiting Professor' (IE: post-doc) on their C.V. You think you don't even use your high school algebra? How much work you think is out there for Algebraic Number Theorists? Don't save all your pity for the poor English major.

And when it comes to education (rather than training) other STEM areas fair no better. The answer lies in the hyperbole of the high tech execs wringing their hands over the lack of skilled tech workers. They dare not say so but they are really looking for programmers not computer scientists or engineers of any stripe. That's one reason, indentured servitude being the other, they love H1B. They want training, not education. They want certificates not diplomas. Their jobs need skills, not credentials.

So is that university credential really a sound investment? Like any other investment it's relative--you have to compare to an alternative. Any public school sophomore who has endured "STEM" classes ("Here's a spreadsheet, it can add numbers. Numbers? Oh, they're a concept. We'll do that when we get the toothpicks.") should be able to drive a spreadsheet well enough to calculate the net present value of two options: "investing" in college, deferring income, or entering a trade, or the military taking an earlier salary (and making ROTH IRA contributions). Of course these models must be parameterized to adjust for starting salaries, annual raises, periodic promotions, taxes with tax increases, and the time value of debt and investments (like those ROTH IRAs). Extra credit for a pretty graph on the summary sheet showing how long the model has to run before Net Present Values cross--assuming they ever do. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Halloween Is Upon Us

Vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
These are the things that terrify me the most
No aliens, psychopaths or MTV hosts
Scares me like vampires, mummies and the Holy Ghost
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

So say the Feds.

And just what should we be really afraid of? Well, Obama's Feds claim it is the Russkies. See they're gonna hack all the States' election systems and steal your identity. Haven't you always wanted a Russian accent? No. Well that's what should keep you up at night.

You may be wondering how the Feds can be so certain? Well these are the folks from the same Federal Government that post-facto authorized HRC's basement email server declaring it safe and secure. So you see, these guys know security inside and out, and NO there was not a political agenda in play. By all that is holy they know computer security inside and out and they know when it is important. And this is important. Really. You can trust them. They're the Feds.

Thankfully the good folk in Georgia are safe. Not because Russian hackers think we're in that Georgia. No, we're safe because when voter data escapes our incredibly secure systems it is because the Secretary of State's office sends it out to their buddies.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Goldilocks : Choosing Mediocrity

Advocates of the status quo who believe that they have arrived at just right compromise yielding the best benefits to themselves are girding for battle. The battleground? Schools of course.

This time the battle centers around a referendum, which if passed, allows the State of Georgia to intercede at the "local" school level on behalf of ill-served students. Lots of issues here.

We have one of the leaders of Georgia's Teacher non-unions, Verdallia Turner, blasting Superintendent Green who has (wrongly in her view) chosen to avoid takeover by doing a better job:
"Superintendent Green came from Kansas. He is going to leave DeKalb County. We are here to stay."
She much prefers Superintendent Lanoue of the Clarke County School system, not because his failed attempt to leave was aborted by his system's botched handling of a rape situation but rather because he prefers to ask voters to reject the referendum outright thereby preserving the status quo. Apparently Ms. Turner and Superintendent Lanoue how the system is working...for them anyway. Lanoue seems to prefer a greater cultural or social agenda:
"We need to help you build your community around your school and we can do that outside the Opportunity School District."
Notice that it appears to be your school, your community yet they are required to build anything. Also does not really sound like the "we" being referred to are particularly invested in "your" community. If your community needed help you might even find it condescending.

Then there is the warning (not really a threat) that if you don't do as Ms. Turner and Superintendent Laoue insist is really in your best interest:
"But if you vote this in, what yo've said is that you're giving the responsibility to educate your children to someone else." 
Like he and she are NOT someone else? Really? Isn't that the very essence of why we put our kids' education in their hands in the first place? That, in fact they ARE someone else and we, the poor uneducated masses are ill-equipped to educate our own children? Or is she the "Goldilocks" choice? Just right--in her estimation.

The next dodge in justifying tenure-holding "professionals" strangle-hold on a never diminishing stream of funding is the "local control" unicorn. Turner claims:
"People do not understand this will take away our local control. If you don't like your board of education, vote them out."
So all of a sudden she's one of us? Unbelievable. Really. Unbelievable.

Then there is that whole BoE/VoteThemOut line of crap. Anyone who paid any attention at all to DeKalb Schools over the last decade knows what a steaming pile of BS that is. Do the incompetents get voted out? Really? Then why did the Governor have to act and kick them out? And...don't we elect the Governor? How about State Representatives and Senators? They're still elected aren't they? Can't we vote THEM out?

Oh, but the folks that will decide on take-overs are appointed-hired guns. So? Aren't superintendents, ones Ms. Turner likes as well as those she doesn't, also hired guns? Haven't we been schooled by SACS that superintendents rule and no meddling by our elected officials will be tolerated? Do we elect the folks running SACS? Hell, do we even know who they are, what they're qualified to do and how they got the job?

So the next time you're sitting at the kitchen table going over your child's homework, know this: if you truly want control of your child's education you have only one option. Homeschool.