Thursday, August 29, 2019

America The Beautiful

There is a god and she doesn't drive a Prius!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Too Soon?

With the recent mass shootings, as with any others, the gun control crowd wants to strike while the iron is hot. While emotions run high, honest discourse is politically incorrect and an attitude of "we must do something, this is something, let's do it" might carry the day. We will hear of "common sense" gun laws without any explanation of what is "common" or what is "sensible." Proposals with so little regard for the U.S. Constitution as to smell of treason will be put forth. Reason will be in short supply.

But there are "common" gun deaths and there is some "sense" to be made. Let's look our brothers in the Second City where we find some of the strictest gun laws and yet Chicago operates on a daily basis as an ad hoc but very lethal shooting gallery. The death toll this month will exceed Dayton and El Paso combined. By the end of August well over 300 folks will have been shot and killed so far this year. In one city.

Where is the outrage? Why is there no outrage, at least none rising to the level of a one-shooter-several-victims event? Is there a racial component? Victims are largely black as are the shooters. Does that make the loss of life less important? Is there a demographic component? Is this because these are urban shootings with no connection to the deplorables and their deplorable leader? Is there a political component in addition to that inherent with the urban/rural divide? Urbanal America runs deep blue as does the political ectoplasm of the loudest voices screaming for gun control.

Why are there no learnings? Chicago's laws have done little or nothing to stop the massacre. So why are similar approaches proposed to address recent shoot-em-ups? Is it possible they are not looking to the efficacy of Chicago gun control because it would not support the anti-gun agenda and it isn't so much about saving lives as it scoring a political win?

Thursday, August 22, 2019


To Hell With Georgia! The rally cry of the Good, Clean Haters as the last act of defiance before their gridiron heroes charge into the slaughter. But it gets worse. How? Glad you asked.

You've probably heard of U.S. News and World Report because colleges and universities are adept at scamming their rating system using the deceptive outcomes to their own advantage. But there is another organization, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) whose job it is to keep track of how well their colleges and universities are performing as educational institutions. You, know, What WILL They Learn? Unlike that other rating system this one, from folks in the know, emphasizes Composition, Literature, Foreign Language, U.S. History, Economics, Mathematics and Science. Given these criteria and those judges how does Georgia's flagship party school stack up against a world renowned trade school?

The ACTA website offers a nice little comparison tool and you can easily compare the Fuzzy Bees to the Hairy Dawgs. Turns out UGA makes the A-Team while, educationally speaking, Tech is Junior Varsity. While neither makes the grade on economics (a quite serious failing) Tech doesn't even seem to bother with either Literature or Foreign Language. Sorry to disappoint all the Wrecks out there but neither Python nor R qualify as a Foreign Language though there may be some validity to the argument that Lisp should be accepted. Tech does address its shortcomings by charging more, addressing the needs of the thrifty by offering only a 40% graduation rate. Given the Party School's 65% graduation rate Dawgs are ultimately going to spend more, on average. Or so it would seem.

You'll also find that UGA, along with other Georgia A-listers KSU and Morehouse, made ACTA's list of Hidden Gems which is missing not just the Bees but each and every Ivy League school. And if you want to feel better (and end on a good note) notice that Georgia faired better than almost every other state in the union including those pretentious folk looking down their collective nose at dumb southerners.  

Monday, August 19, 2019

Modern Temperance Society

Can you find the interesting things in this photo?
No Alcohol Allowed
No, this isn't about drink driving in what appears to be a nice old car. There is a lot more to going on than just an old MG. Towards the left, way in the background are some lawn care professionals going about their daily grind with the usual complement of lawn equipment. While a weedwhacker and an MGC seem worlds apart, because they are, they share one thing in common: they don't do alcohol.

You see alcohol, like what the corn farmers are forcing down everyone's throat, is really bad for lots of engines, like those in lawn equipment and about any automobile over twenty years old and in most jurisdictions that means "any classic car." While some damage is done by the alcohol interacting with rubber components not suited to a drink most damage is ironically done by water that alcohol sucks right out of the air.

But ethanol is not just bad for the car, it kills people by pumping aldehydes into the air with a Stanford study suggesting a 9% increase in air pollution deaths if Los Angeles were to switch to E85. Sounds like a fair trade: increased profits for global agri-business for the low, low price of human lives.

Seriously, there must be some upside. Well, for every unit of energy required for corn-ahol you get 1.3 units out. Sounds good until  you look at sugarcane with a balance of 8 or cellulosic ethanol with a projected balance of well into the double digits. What about carbon balance? That has to be good, right? Now that get's very complicated as there are a large number of variables needed to arrive at a total carbon footprint: feedstock, fermentation; refining; and transportation. Most models, already complex, ignore change in land use but research indicates that tilling new soil for ethanol production releases so much Green House Gas that it takes decades or centuries to recover even with the most optimistic estimates of GHG reduction.

And this is done with the assistance of Beltway Bandits to enrich already wealthy industrialists all on the public's tab with arrogant disregard for cost in human lives. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

It Isn't An Experiment

First things first. A DeKalb County student was severely burned at school. This is a tragedy. And it was avoidable.

The story reported in the press indicates that a teacher ignited some alcohol in a container, the flames got out of control and the teacher then attempted to extinguish the flames with what was presumed to be water. It wasn't. It was alcohol.

It wasn't an "experiment" either. Most of what is labeled "experiment" in public schools across the country are in fact "demonstrations" bereft of any aspect of the scientific method. There is no informed hypothesis. No theory being extended, examined and verified. There is no mathematical modeling, no expected results, no data collected and no analysis. These are all just variations on the grade school volcano, mere classroom theater serving only to entertain, offering nothing in the way of learning or knowledge.

But there is an experiment at hand and it is the public schools themselves. The hypothesis was that governments were the proper instrument for education, an education based on the generally accepted notion that an informed population is the foundation of a sound, democratic society. But decades of data have not yielded much in the way of support for that original, government-is-the-best-education, theory. But rather than accept the data, declare the experiment a failure and move on, we've continually redefined the original hypothesis removing all teaching, learning and knowledge from the equation. We have generations who believe that third grade volcano spewing red dye number two represents legitimate science because they are being taught by a generation who believed the same and were never in close proximity to any real science.

It is time to call this experiment what it is: a failure. Then we can examine all the data, draw conclusions, form a new theory, a new hypothesis and design the next experiment, one that might work. This one certainly hasn't.

Monday, August 12, 2019

DCSD: Got Schooled

DeKalb County Schools just learned a $45K civics lesson. Turns out that constitutional rights extend to students and not just parents, not just voters and not just citizens. Even lowly students have rights. Also turns out the founding fathers put these protections in place to guard against government oppression. DCSD even found out that public schools are actually an agency of the government. Who knew? Apparently no one involved in education in DeKalb. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Is Distraction The Theme?

It is easy to bash DeKalb County Schools because they give you so many opportunities. But this time they are actually trying to do the right thing, provide an environment focused on learning, and they are getting trashed because that focus results in rules viewed by armchair critics as "insensitive". This case is about hair cuts/styling. So what is the problem?

In a sane world it would be a non-issue. The specific school is a DeKalb Theme school where enrolling requires application and a commitment by the parents and the child to follow certain rules including a strict conduct and dress code. If a student wants to distinguish themselves they have one option: learn. It is an environment where no distractions, even stylin' doos, are not allowed as permitting these distractions would be "insensitive" to those students and their parents who chose a theme school because it provides them the best education.

Being a theme school it is a choice school so no one MUST attend, and if participating in a program exclusively built around learning doesn't satisfy your need to be the center of attention then stay at your home school. 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Ask Not For Whom The School Bell Tolls

It tolls for the death of learning. This is no surprise to anyone paying attention but the eradication of learning, and teaching, from the education industry is all but complete. Systems like DeKalb have long focused on "wrap around services" emphasizing what goes on outside the classroom using this as a cover for ignoring what goes on inside the classroom. At the college level the transformation to a customer-focused service industry has been deliberate and tragic. Turning the keys to the asylum over to the inmates began with end-of-course teacher evaluations--that these often ask students who may have barely scraped thru the material "does the professor know the material?" and that these evals are a significant portion of tenure criteria pretty much tells you that academia have decided that happy students are more important than knowledgeable ones. Even knowing the depth of ignorance of these transient, self-entitled students, academia has placed their fate at the mercy of whatever incites their whiny indignation. One need look no further than Oberlin College to appreciate the existential threat academia has created for itself.

More pervasive is the societal tragedy know as the 504 Plan as this sits at the confluence of over-labeling ("diagnosing" as a disease or disorder that which cannot be shown to have a physiological basis), celebration of those so labelled and accommodations for those with "psychological impairments." The 504 scheme affords special concessions to those "students" who stress over tests and since qualifying for this program is based on wholly subjective evaluations parents are doc-shopping to get their kids in. And the "subjectivity only" evaluation model mimics what goes on in our public schools. Simpatico. At least one knowledgeable observer contends that by 2020 almost every child will have a diagnosis at which point there will really be no point. At least not where schooling is concerned.

Where will we be when our entire workforce requires time-and-a-half because they are just so stressed out? How will we compete in a global market of products, services and ideas? Maybe it just doesn't matter. That seems the message coming from the education industry. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Just Say NO To GO

DeKalb County Schools, the only entity on earth that makes DeKalb County Government look well run, is at it again. In this case "it" is taking more of your money by way of a General Obligation Bond for which you will have the pleasure of paying higher taxes via an increased millage rate. This is on top of what seems like a never ending series of eSPLOST money grabs which have changed only in that there is ever decreasing explanation of or justification for these tax increases. Being DeKalb County Schools there is also no oversight or anything else that could be mistaken for fiduciary responsibility.

But DCSD cannot do this alone, it requires active participation of voters who seemingly suffer from mass delusion. On blog comments some have rationalized that "some" of the money "might" make it to the classroom, a backhanded way of saying they know this money will be wasted, but they'll hold their nose and vote for the tax increase anyway. But money is not the problem and it is never the solution to structural and process failings. So why haven't they addressed these fiscal issues? Because that would undermine the argument that they need more money and since they waste it on friends and family less money means fewer smiles at the family reunion.

It really is time to put a stop to this. Vote no on the GO bond.