Monday, April 27, 2020

Pause That Refreshes

Pandemic pandemonium has some weaker minds professing boredom while others sit in amazement at what is going on out there. In education.

And there is much that amazes.

Look at what APS is replacing Carstarphen with. How do you consider this an upgrade? Simply put, Carstarphen learned a lot at Harvard, but it was all about how legacy public education is doomed, disruption is necessary and incumbency is at risk. But the incumbents are in power, by number and money, and will not go quietly. Hence the hire that will plug the drains and refill the cesspool to levels not seen since Beverly Hall.

The poster child for public school dysfunction can be found in Carrollton where the school has decided their newest role is social media's social justice police. Hence, they have expelled, whatever that means with shelter-in-place, students because these students made social media posts someone at the school didn't like. Their lawyers might want to re-read the state constitution. Children aren't really entitled to a public education but the other way around: the state is mandated to provide one. Sounds like they need to dust off their "teachable moment" bumper stickers.

Distance learning has been a schooling for some. A few attentive parents have noticed that the average school day doesn't include a whole lot of instruction and learning. Projecting the learning power of public schools into the home has some wondering if full-on, real homeschooling might not be a good option. Others, naively, are pondering a run for school board. Little do they know even should they win, they lose.

Then there is the DeKalb County School System. Whenever you need a good laugh they are always ready and willing. They've found their next Supe and hired a PR firm to make sure everyone thinks he walks on water when it isn't frozen. Given an easily Giggled track record of intense controversy, they've got their job cut out for them. Seems like he took professional development courses on obstruction of justice and "hide the rapists." He's not what this county needs but it is increasing apparent he is exactly what this county deserves.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Oprah Goes A-Schoolin''ll do fine. Uh-huh.

With pandemic hysteria and education be damned, DeKalb County Schools have gone all "educational Oprah" : Everybody Gets An 'A'! That's right! Just reach under your virtual-at-home desk, grab your 'A' and run. You're done! Well except for the feeding--you're still gonna get those free feeds. It's just the education part that is being shorted and frankly you'll never notice the difference, now will you?

For some this just isn't enough. The Left Wing Exsanguinator of the AJC wants Georgia Colleges and Universities to throw their standards and integrity out the window by dispensing with grades and quality points and making every course pass/fail. You cannot make this up. Sure, the social justice warriors and snowflake profs and students are in a corner curled up in a fetal position whining how their life is sooooo very stressful. So they want a pass on that whole "grade' thing.

You have to wonder. Can you imagine these creatures under the pressure to maintain a student deferral to avoid deadly killing fields in Southeast Asia? Can you imagine being on forward patrol with one of these?

A big problem with the standards-elimination proposal is that some of these universities are R1, top notch research institutions where people actually do Hard Things[tm]. As pointed out by some of the better profs, their earned PhD, often in a competitive, difficult subject area is proof they can take on and overcome difficult challenges. Are they facing an abrupt paradigm shift? Certainly. Are the grounds shifting under their pedagogical feet? Of course, but their rigorous academic training gives them the balance, the strength and perseverance to push through. With intelligence. With ingenuity.

Some apologists point to other states where schools, that their snowflakes sadly do not attend, have shunned their integrity. Perhaps at those schools they know their customers. Or perhaps, unlike USG, they don't already have it covered. In Georgia, schools have something for those who, for any number of reasons, simply cannot complete their work: take an 'I'--incomplete. It isn't as if there is any serious damage done as most of today's crop of students aren't expected to graduate in four years anyway. The six year graduation rate at UGA (Flagship R1 University) is about 83% and bumps up by only one percent in eight years. The four year rate is above the national average but still below 60%.

So the choices are clear. Either buck up buttercup, do the work and accept the grade you earned without whining about how life is difficult--it is for everyone, or take an 'I' and complete the work and the grade when you're feeling a little better about yourself and your stress level. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Art Nouveau Riche

As folks like to say about relationship status on Facebook: "It's Complicated." In this case it is also a tangled mess, intentionally intertwined, meant to confuse. Let's unravel.

In a nutshell the nouveau riche are steeped in envy-fueled self-loathing and are characterized by a profound lack of originality. They want to use their new-found riches to buy what they feel will make them appear to be the much more respected "old money." This captures the essence of this city, founded as a copy cat clone of neighboring Sandy Springs that has been chasing trends ever since. Live-work-play. Canton Street South. Placemaking. West of Decatur. Transit oriented development. Neo-urbanism. Each convulsive twist is supported by some highly overpaid consultant given a brief constraining the outcome and whose opinions are rendered by teams that live in distant states and know little of this area and our residents. Even the branding flails between plagiarism and banality.

The city's relationship with the arts is bizarre, antagonistic and borders on mercenary. To paraphrase Mark Twain, they hate the arts and only tolerate it when it brings them money. Remember the music museum that was proposed to be located at Perimeter Mall but fell through when it was determined that there would not be enough school field trips to keep it afloat. The city picked up parks for a song including a theater at Brook Run, but rather than provide a better venue for the Stage Door Players they insisted on its destruction. Originally they claimed to keep and preserve the stained glass windows for the value as art and history, but now, quietly, these appear on the auction block.

Then there is the rather odious affair of the "Everything Will Be OK" signs, sold by the Spruill Center, who state "100% of the proceeds go to help artists in need." And yet... Not once did they reach out to the artist who created the original mural. Instead they hired lawyers to file Word Marks thereby claiming the artist's intellectual property rights, copying the practice of patent pirates in the business world.

So what exactly do they mean when they say "help artists in need?" Did the sign vendor donate all these signs, with no expectation of quid pro quo from the Center or the city?

Now before you get all pissy ponder the process by which a hotel and a restaurant appeared on property deed restricted to non-commercial purposes. And make no mistake, when there are city employees on the board, it is the city's doing. This is not how you create an NGO, but a captive corporation and were this the private sector there would be a prosecutor somewhere crafting a sentence that includes "RICO."

Do you really think there was no collaboration between developers, city and Center? And does all that money somehow elude the grasp of the newly hired suit with his six figure salary, benefits and staff? Or is that what they mean by "helping?" The only thing that is abundantly clear is that the arts community had best have  a lawyer when dealing with Dunwoody.

The city sees the arts as a frenemy: antagonist and tool. Money has been poured into consultants' purses and push polls have littered Survey Monkey, not to support the arts, but to use the arts as cover for a broader, nouveau riche agenda of destruction. In conjunction with consultancies like Civic Moxie and their buzzword laden Power Points, the city has its newest non-profit, "Create Dunwoody" under the guise of promoting public art and placemaking.

And what does "Create Dunwoody" say to you?

Any resident who has been out and about knows there already IS a Dunwoody. A community of pleasant neighborhoods with well maintained homes, manicured lawns, tennis courts and swimming pools. Interspersed are pockets of shops, restaurants and professionals who serve the community and in turn are supported by the community. A pleasant, suburban bedroom community, of, by and for its residents. Close to urban amenities, but distant enough for refuge, for peace and quiet. And this Dunwoody WAS created, and has over time, organically, reached a mature state, of continual and evolutionary improvement.

This is the Dunwoody you saw from the back seat of the real estate agent's car. It is the Dunwoody that made you want to live here, to become part of this community. It is the community you wanted to help maintain and improve. It may well have been this kind of community allegiance that led many of those who voted to vote in favor of a city. A city you expected to contain urbanism to regions around MARTA and Perimeter Center. A city you expected to support the community, its residents and their suburban lifestyle. You expected that because you were led to believe that is what was on offer.

Now you know that to be wrong. When the nouveau riche at City Hall look at YOUR Dunwoody they see something they despise, something reminiscent of their former days before riches and power and envy and new friends. Their Dunwoody, the one envisioned in "Create Dunwoody," is a cookie cutter clone of whatever trend consultants have told them will raise their profile and inflate their flagging self-esteem. That is definitely NOT a quiet, suburban bedroom community. And their developer colleagues know this is a brownfield and that YOUR Dunwoody is in their way and must be displaced before they can "Create Dunwoody" and profits.

The utter destruction of the theater at Brook Run was mere foreshadowing of what lies in store for YOUR Dunwoody. This is not an existential threat, it is fait accompli

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Ich Haben Eine Kleine Problemo... Banner Bar
When you go to the Smart City home page you will be greeted with the banner bar above. Are you looking for something? On the site? You know, like with a search? See the search icon? No, neither does anyone else. Because it doesn't exist. Now, you might think that little icon on the bottom right of the screen capture looks like a question mark for search. You'd be wrong.

Globe In Callout
This is actually an icon allowing you to change the language for the entire site! That's right. There is no search function but you can read whatever it is you can find in a multitude of languages. How so PC! And what a selection we have. Afrikaans, Belarusian, two dialects of Chinese, Haitian Creole, Igbo, Hindi, Latin (a dead language), Pashto, Serbian, Xhosa, and wait for it...Yiddish. Oy vey!

But there is a little problem.  See anything missing:

Somewhere between Dutch and Esperanto one might, assuming alphabetic order holds, expect to find "English." You're probably thinking this just cannot be so, that there must be an obvious answer. Perhaps the current language isn't shown. Perhaps English would magically appear if we went to say, Hebrew? Let's try.

If you're not up on your Hebrew, you're left with randomly selecting to get to familiar ground. Can you imagine how annoying this would be if you accidentally slipped and selected the wrong language? And...we still don't know if English magically appeared, though we suspect the newly selected language  is the one with the check mark.

Why don't we try to parlez vous francais?

Yep. The selected language is checked. And "English" is still nowhere to be found. And what is really interesting is that these technodweebs are using Google services to translate the page (thank goodness) but using Google's search seems to have eluded them.

How do governments get away with doing this kind of crap? In a word: relativism. In their world nothing is tied to an absolute. No functional requirement, no minimum performance. We in The Other Dunwoody Triple Dog, Lick The Frozen Flagpole Dare anyone with the city to provide a document, predating the deployment of this site, that requires this function listing the specific languages and excluding English. Extra credit for performance requirements. Ain't. Gonna. Happen. Because if there were such a document, then someone at city hall should be fired for giving the rollout order for this, or if this matches the requirements they should be fired for a really stupid specification.

More likely they're relying on relativism. This is "better." Better than what you ask? Well that is the other edge of their Sword O' Stupidity: incomplete comparisons. Better than whatever, it doesn't matter. And it is better because they say it is. When they get tired of "better" they'll use better than better: "best." Something that is "best" isn't necessarily better than anything or everything else, it is just that nothing else is better than best. So lots of things are "best."

Now we're at a point where we all can agree. The Dunwoody IT department is the best!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Now THIS Is A Crime

Click on over to this Smart City's website, poke around a bit and you may well run into this road apple of incompetence:

Couple of problems with that. First the browser in use is Chrome and HTML5Test gives:

You may be confused by "ECMAscript" and it does sound like a skin disease, but it is an International Standard of which Javascript is an implementation. You will find that V8, the scripting engine used by Chrome (among others) is pretty complete, even 100% with some of the later releases of the standard:

Now, you may be an apologist who thinks it is really difficult to properly determine that a browser is running Javascript or you may even believe that the F&F crew who set up this half-arsed website are justified in using non-standard features of their fave, probably outdated, browser. You'd be so, sooooo wrong:

And it comes from a land down under. Maybe they have better F&F mates.

What is it about government IT that cultivates cronyism, incompetence and waste? Remember all the networking gear lying about at APS? For years. But we need look no further than our very own IT Cluster Eff down at city hall. Seems they bought something that cost more than $50K (amazing that some IT bozo is allowed to spend <$50 w/o council approval, but then that is the nature of the disease) and forgot to put it before council. Now city staff are patting themselves on the back for a "good catch" and the item appears on the agenda for council's back-dated rubber-stamp thereby condoning staff's abundant incompetence. In fact, if you read closely, you'll notice that the purchase was in the amount of of $86,971.04 but council will approve $100K. For a flash-only backup storage controller. Yes sir, not one of the more economical yet perfectly adequate hybrid systems because when you're spending OPM and making friends in the vendor community the sky is the limit.

You just cannot make this up and as long as this city hangs around you'll never need to try.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Virus Affects The Brain

It seems that someone's brain has "cratered"...

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Lemon Drop Days

So if you're a Tech, or maybe even a UGA grad, when you read this you're probably wondering why there were no profs like this when you were taking Calculus. You, know, the kind who go the extra mile to actually actually teach so you can actually learn. Even when it is inconvenient, when it requires extraordinary effort, when circumstances are far from ideal. For you and for the prof.

Maybe this is just difficult times causing some to flourish while others wilt. Maybe there is an inverse analogy with the pandemic. Viruses retreat to safe reservoirs, waiting to return when conditions are favorable and opportunity arises. Maybe the service academies are safe harbor for the good remaining in education, protected from the onslaught of pressures to become credential factories, a place where snowflakes are turned away at the door. Perhaps there is a seriousness not seen outside the services. These are not students to be placated with inflated, unmerited grades; these are officers-in-the-making whose post-commission knowledge and abilities will lead others into and through harm's way. In many cases those who stand at the head of class in an academy have or will serve alongside former students. This is not a place where professors can pass their failures along to become someone else's problem. This is life and death where professors are called upon to stand and deliver.

Thankfully there are those among us, largely unnoticed, who when confronted with tough challenges in difficult times are stirred to action rather than shaken into incapacity.

Monday, April 6, 2020

AJC Confession

In their explanation of their change to editorials, which they imply are only in the editorial pages, they acknowledge polarization. In politics. And they attempt to dodge, unsuccessfully, their responsibility for this divisiveness. The editorial staff are perforce describing their previous preferred "fair and balanced" approach of offering a (curated) platform for those they, the AJC editorial staff, consider adequately "from the right" to give the appearance of offsetting their deeply entrenched leftist dogma.

Too little. Too late.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Existence Proofs

Agendas hate 'em. Agendas require swirling pools of propaganda where unprovable statements rule the day, so any existence proof is kryptonite for those living and breathing their agenda.

The city and their developer colleagues are confronted with some serious kryptonite. Their plan is to tear down the Village replacing it with a neo-gulag of ground floor shops topped with multiple stories of transient apartment renters. They like to call this "re-vitalizing" implying that there is no vitality left in Your Dunwoody. They claim this will bring a horde of "chef driven restaurants" and other things they believe we're dying to get. The counter argument suggests that there is no trendy development or decor that will magically produce the next Hugh Acheson.

Unfortunately for the city, their developer colleagues and their shared dream of profits, the existing Village (the one they intend to destroy) likely has our version of Weaver D's: NFA Burger. NFA is racking up kudo's and glowing reviews as the only burger you'll ever want. No faux-reno-warehouse held to the ground by five floors of apartments required. No high density, pandemic petri dish housing is needed to ensure there are folks lining up for the best burger they've ever had. Instead, Billy Kramer, the owner, needed only a corner of a gas station, and his most excellent burger to create a cadre of satisfied, repeat customers. Much to the developers' dismay Kramer has overcome what this city would call the crippling handicap of a Williamsburg architectural motif.

NFA is an existence proof, debunking the city's unsubstantiated claims that Your Dunwoody must give way to theirs and NFA presents an existential threat to the profits of their developer colleagues. Oh, and NFA makes a most excellent burger. You better go get one before the city shuts them down.

When Things Don't Add Up

Inconvenient inconsistencies are squizzing out about the whole SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We have some Emory prof enjoying his 15 seconds of fame with a model that shows Georgia peaks on 23 April a day which will see 84 deaths. Assuming we do as we're told so as to flatten the curve.

Then there is that whole curve thing. Based on data that are suspect to say the least. Severe screening for access to tests skews any data with a label resembling "confirmed case." What of all those cases where the high standard of symptoms is not met, yet the candidate carries, and likely transmits the virus? And which test and why? Why is the USA exclusively focused on the RT-PCR and not also performing serological testing? How can modeling be done in the absence of  broad and deep data? When we see the curve we are asked to flatten is the hockey stick a representation of actual cases or is it a representation of increased availability of tests? You might think that deaths are difficult to bury under political spin but how many have died without a conclusive RT-PCR or serological test? Very likely deaths are under reported though not as severely as infections.

Then there are those statements that when taken together, though never presented together, just do not make sense. Models showing a peak in late April with an apex just coincidentally matching hospital capacity do not align with the kudos given Ford (well deserved) for committing to 50,000 ventilators by July. A normal production profile will include a production ramp-up thru April with a majority of production (and delivery) occurring after the peak predicted by the model(s). This seems to suggest that the commonly shown bell curve is not the real profile that is expected. There is also little said about how flattening the curve extends the duration of calamity. No one is discussing what impact this has on total illness or death.

There are suggestions of recurrence when sequestering ends and we expose previously isolated populations to the remaining virus harbored in those remaining ill or simply asymptomatic. Ebola moves into animal reservoirs. Is there any reason to believe this virus will not survive beyond the immediate crisis in a natural reservoir? Based on what exactly?

We were not told the truth when we were told to not wear masks or gloves. But yet, these were important, even critical, for health care workers. Why would they only work for them and not us? They work equally well, but the "speakers of truth" wanted supplies reserved for one group and not the other. We haven't been told the truth and it isn't likely this will change anytime soon.