Friday, July 22, 2016

Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction

With ballots being due by the end of next week, a few notes on the qualifications of some of the candidates, to help you make your choice.  At the end I'll tell you the kinds of things that I am looking for with a bit more detail.

Chris Reykdal used the words "designed by people of privilege" when referring to our education system.  In my mind this automatically disqualifies him from anything, up to and including handing me my fries at McDonalds.

Prouty and Fleming both oppose charter schools.  Disqualifying.  A more open and free market in education may be the only way that we can actually improve education by allowing parents to have the ability to move their children to better schools.  Add to this the fact that the people of Washington voted to have them, these candidates are out of touch with what people want.

Jones is endorsed by The Stranger.  Nuff said.

Runte has a PhD in Environmental History which should exclude him from consideration, but his positions seem sound.

Blair.  I like his ideas.  I doubt he can get elected.  He will be opposed by the major players.  I suspect that his proposals are too radical to be implemented by the Legislature or supported by the majority of people in the state.

Higgins sounds good but his website is short on specific policy proposals.  It's also a bit concerning to me that he has jumped around a lot and has very little real educational experience (I don't count being a substitute teacher as real experience.  You don't have to deal with lesson planning, establishing classroom norms, grading, evaluations, bureaucracy, etc)

Maksirisombat is a straight up leftist who is opposed to parents having choices in education.  He doesn't have a web page but I was able to find his King County Democrats questionnaire.

Spring hits the buzzwords on his website.  What exactly does "fully fund" mean?  The court said it but they've never defined it.  Free college, lower property taxes, reduce class sizes, increase the graduation rate?  Buzzwords with little meaning and many problems.  What we really need is some new ideas, not rehashing of the things that haven't worked.

Takeaways: Blair and Runte seem to be the best possible choices given the limited amount of information available, Runte is probably more electable and has ideas that will more readily translate into actual programs and accomplishments within the system that we appear to be stuck with.

So what do I think of all the various proposals?

Charter schools: If parents have choice education will get better.  Parents are most qualified to decide what best suits their children.  I support a complete voucher system where each parent gets a voucher and chooses a school.  Charter schools is at least a step in the direction of more choice.

Fully funding education: Given that no one is willing to actually define this, if I were in the Legislature I'd do what they are doing, which is tell the State Supremes to push off.  All we ever hear about is that our schools don't get enough money, but there is plenty of research out there that suggests that funding and achievement don't necessarily go hand in hand when it comes to education.

College for all: Bullshit.  I can make you a list of a hundred students right now that have no business going to college.  They aren't suited for it academically, they are interested in it careerwise.  What we really need is to scale back the push for college for everyone and make more opportunities available for trade school and apprenticeship programs.  There's nothing wrong with being a plumber or a mechanic.  I am a highly qualified Harley mechanic in addition to being a teacher and someone who has that aptitude should pursue it and be provided with the opportunity in our education system.

Increase the graduation rate:  Sounds good but what does this mean?  I could increase the graduation rate tomorrow by eliminating the hard classes and lowering the standards.  This is the story of our state testing.  The WASL was really hard, the HSPE was less difficult, the EOC was pretty easy.  Each time we changed tests the passing rates went up.  Were we teaching them better?  Nope.  How about instead we have an alternative track for students who aren't academically inclined?  Get rid of advanced algebra and replace it with trade math for students who want to go in that direction.  Get rid of advanced literature classes and replace them with tech classes for those students.  Teach the students who aren't academic civics, reading, writing, basic math and give them a taste of the trades so that they can make an educated decision (no pun intended).

What else?  I don't know.  There is more but I think that covers the basics.  Hope it helped.

PS I'm not running so don't ask.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

There is nothing new under the sun

During the third and fourth centuries the Roman armies, whose legions were primarily composed of Roman citizens with auxiliary troops from subject areas within the Empire, began hiring mercenaries from outside the Empire to fill their legions.  Many of these came from the Germanic tribes.  I remember reading Gibbons' The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when I was in high school and I seem to remember that the citizens, enjoying the prosperity of Empire, didn't want to join the legions (twenty five year term of service), so started paying mercenaries take their places instead.

In an interesting turn of events, the German parliament (Bundeswehr) has recently been considering recruiting foreigners to fill it's army ranks.

As Marcus Aurelius once said "almost all of the transactions in the time of Vespasian differed little from those of the present day" or to quote a more modern version from Ecclesiastes "there is nothing new under the sun".

I wonder if the results will be the same.  In 410 AD Rome was sacked by the Visigoths, a milestone in the decline and fall of the Empire.  We don't sack cities anymore but what might be the modern equivalent?

Old school audio

My dad has had this Mitsubishi Diatone X-10 (aka MC-8000 in other parts of the world) for years.  He loves it, makes good sound, plus it is a conversation piece.  Recently started not playing at the right speed.  He took it in to a stereo shop and they told him that it needed a part that was no longer available.  I said I would put it on craigslist for him, free for parts, get rid of it.

Just out of curiosity, however, I hooked it up to see what was going on.  Threw on a Kate Bush LP and, with a bit of research, discovered that the speed could be adjusted with a potentiometer on the back panel.  Top one is for 33rpm and bottom for 45rpm.  A few simple adjustments and a stopwatch and it was spinning just as it should for both options.

Still have a problem, however, of which my dad has no recollection.  The tonearm motor doesn't track across with the tonearm.  It starts, it cues, it plays, but the tonearm angle slowly increases until it starts skipping badly.  You can see it in the picture below.  That arm should be hanging straight down and the motor should be walking with the tonearm.  I wonder if this is the problem that the stereo fixer guy was referencing.

Fun fact: The gold record is an Elvis LP, special edition that I got when I was a kid, the turntable doesn't recognize it as a full sized LP because the light sensor shines through it.  Since everything is electronic there is no option for me to just stop and play from the beginning at 33rpm.  It goes straight to the middle and plays the last two songs at 45rpm  It sure looks cool, though.

Oh, and the December's Child album that you see in the foreground?  Sounds horrible.  Badly worn out.  I think I bought it used.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Human Condition

I'm single.  Didn't choose to be that way, it just sort of happened.  I was happily married but things didn't work out.  I would much prefer to be married (or in a long term relationship) just because I am not solitary by nature and I like having someone to talk to.  I know, it isn't all puppies and roses, been there, done that, but all things considered I preferred the married.

I have talked to quite a few married people over the years and almost without exception, if the subject comes up, they talk about the freedom of not being married.  They reminisce about how great it was to be able to go where they wanted and do what they wanted, when they wanted.

I wonder if that is a part of the human condition, to be unsatisfied with what you have and yearn for the different.  We single people want relationships, people in relationships want the single life.  I wonder if there is a middle ground.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Constitutional crisis (draft title)

In California domestic terrorists waving Mexican flags are assaulting American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights while police stand by.  No, seriously.  You may not have seen it on the news, but attendees at the Trump rallies in San Jose and San Diego were assaulted by gangs of Hispanics waving Mexican flags and yelling anti-white slogans and calling for the return of California to Mexico.  The police in San Diego apparently did a decent job but the SJPD were told by the mayor to stand down.  He later released a statement blaming Trump's rhetoric for the violence.

Mil Yiannopolis was recently assaulted and forced off the stage at an event hosted by College Republicans at DuPaul University.  Ironically one of the objections to his speaking was that he is "anti-gay".  In case you aren't familiar with Milo, he is a flaming queer whose tour is named "The Dangerous Faggot Tour".  He is also a conservative.  The only person arrested, in spite of several documented assaults on attending conservatives, was a conservative.

Attorney's General in several states are exploring the idea of making it illegal to deny global warming.  The California state school system has just ordered that any textbooks with information suggesting that global warming is not real be removed from their system.  Numerous leftists have put forward serious calls for global warming denial to be criminalized.

Another Muslim shoots up another venue full of Americans.  The solution (once again) according to the left, is to restrict our rights to own certain firearms and to accomplish this restriction in part by eliminating due process.  Senator Joe Mancin, D-WV, stated in a recent interview that "due process is killing us" as he argued for adding anyone on the terrorist watch list (a secret list that you can't find out if you are on and there is no process for being removed) to a five year purchase ban list for firearms.  What recourse would you have if the President simply had his political opponents added to the list?  Meanwhile the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that the Second Amendment doesn't let you carry a firearm, a direct contradiction of SCOTUS opinions over the past ten years.  Unfortunately the death of Antonin Scalia means that the current court makeup would let this ruling stand, and a Clinton court would overturn the rulings on the Second Amendment.  The arguments by the left that precedence is important in considering court cases would disappear as they gleefully ruled that the Second Amendment only applies to the government, in spite of the words "the right of the people" prominently included in the text of the Amendment.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who is unarguably guilty of serious violations of the laws regarding the handling of classified information, is leading Donald Trump in most polls.  General David Petraeus, who committed far less egregious violations of the same laws (he revealed classified information to a major with a Top Secret security clearance who happened to be his mistress), had his career (rightfully) destroyed, both in the military and politically.  Hillary continues to garner support in the 40 percent range.

I'm not a Donald Trump fan.  (The fact that I feel the need to preface every argument about any of the above topics with that statement is unfortunate, however.)  The left (capital L?) is slowly destroying this country by eliminating the freedoms that we once enjoyed.  The First Amendment, freedoms of speech and association, are in danger.  The Second Amendment, the right to defend ourselves, both from criminals and from a tyrannical government, are at risk.  White people and Western culture are increasingly at risk from a vocal and violent minority in our own countries.  We are told that we stole our prosperity, we are told that we are racist, we are told that for the good of the world we should just go away and die.  Meanwhile immigrants from third world hellholes like Mexico and the Middle East flood across our borders, collect government assistance from a system that they had nothing to do with establishing or funding, and demand the destruction of the same system that supports them.

What do we do?  Well, nothing, as near as I can tell.  If we were serious about defending our right to exist neither Trump nor Clinton nor Sanders would be serious candidates.  Sanders would be campaigning for the Workers World party, handing out leaflets outside movie theaters, Clinton would be in court defending herself from various felony charges, and Trump would be taping the latest season of celebrity apprentice.  Meanwhile serious candidates from both sides of the political aisle would be debating the merits of taxation levels, foreign aid, military interventionism, economic policy, etc.  Unfortunately serious candidates from the left side of the aisle have been driven out by their own party and serious candidates from the right side are either no more serious than those on the left (Kasich supports Obamacare, Christie doesn't believe that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, Bush believes in massive third world immigration) or are demagogued by a leftist media so that the average person thinks that they are a dangerous radical (Ted Cruz springs to mind).

Meanwhile white people get beat up at political rallies, anyone who disputes global warming is in danger of criminal prosecution, and pointing out that we have a "Muslim terror" problem, not a gun problem results in charges of racism.

If this isn't the textbook definition of a crisis, I'm not sure what is.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Thoughts on Orlando shooting

1) It's not a gun problem, it's a Muslim terrorism problem.  There was an Imam who recently visited a mosque in Florida who preached (while at the mosque) that gays should be killed.  Why was he allowed into the country?  Those idiots at the Westboro church get more hate than does Islam and all they do is hold up signs in protest.

2) It's not a Democrat or Republican problem, it's a Muslim terrorism problem. The shooter was a registered Democrat in Florida.  The Trump campaign was attacked by the media because some jackass punched a protestor.  Setting aside the fact that the vast majority (almost all) of the violence at Trump rallies has been instigated by Democrats, it should not reflect on a campaign that someone who commits violence is somehow supportive of that campaign.  That being said, it is the Democrats who are apologetic for Islam, who constantly natter on about Islam being a "religion of peace", and who attempt to cover up the fact that the vast majority of terror attacks are carried out by Muslims.  There is no comparable number of attacks carried out by members of any other religion and there is no evidence of any sort of "backlash" against Muslims, especially any backlash that has resulted in the death of Muslims.

3) Numerous Islamic countries have the death penalty for homosexuals.  And enforce it.  Where is the outrage.

Meanwhile we have our panties in a twist because a gorilla at a zoo had to be shot because a child was in danger (or potentially in danger).  It's a freaking gorilla.  I am sad that it had to be shot, but the child was potentially in danger.  Shoot the damn gorilla and get over it.  That got six solid days of coverage.

Meanwhile the fact that the shooter in Florida was a Muslim who was a registered Democrat will most likely be ignored by most in the mainstream media and this story will virtually disappear from the headlines in short order, except when President Obama and Hillary Clinton are caterwauling about the "gun culture" in the United States and attempting to overturn the Second Amendment by executive fiat.

I am increasingly supportive of Trump's proposal that we restrict Muslim immigration into this country unless those Muslim's have been properly vetted.  Oh, and on top of that, maybe we should actually profile Muslims when they do things that suggest that they are going to commit some sort of terror attack.  Nidal Hassan, Army major, was the subject of multiple complaints, none of which were investigated because he was a protected minority.  The Tsarnaev brothers were the subject of Interpol warnings to the FBI which were ignored because...  The Paris shooters (at least one of them) was checked by Czech (IIRC) immigration and the warning was ignored because...  The San Bernardino shooters had posted allegiance to ISIS on freaking Facebook but ...

Yeah, the ... stands for "they were Muslims" in every single case.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How do people make their living doing this?

Until tonight I hadn't posted anything since the beginning of May.  I had a few thoughts that I jotted down, thinking they might make good blog fodder, but I just could never quite get motivated to actually write.  I guess that's why I haven't ever published any books either.

Amusing anecdote.  Listening to Crowder the other day (highly recommend, by the way) and he mentioned the rich folk who hypocritically push for higher taxes then shelter their money in a tax haven like Ireland. 

He mentioned Bono.

I really wanted to contact him to let him know that Bono, rather than being a hypocrite, might have his money in Ireland because, well, he's Irish.

But since I listen to podcasts weeks later it wasn't really timely so I let it go.

Until now.

Painful anecdote.  Bicycled twenty miles on my mountain bike the other day.  Just about killed my knees.  I don't think mountain bikes are really designed for riding twenty miles of street.  Way too short, knees too bent.  Now I have to fix up my street bike.  Which won't be cheap as so much stuff is rusted solid: spokes, cables included.

Ongoing project anecdote.  Spent a bit of time on the Fatboy rebuild.  Thinking that it might be nice to get it done prior to the four year anniversary of the event.  Either the front exhaust pipe is bent or the front right floorboard (what I like to call the "passenger" side and then people look at me funny) is bent.  I have no way to tell which unless I can find someone with an old Fatboy to set side by side with mine.  Hmmm.  If only I knew someone with a Harley shop.

Expensive anecdote.  Thought about buying an old Norton Commando.  Just seems like it would be cool.  Probably would be more cool if I lived somewhere where I could ride it all year round and lived in town so I could run errands on it instead of having to get on the stupid freeway and ride twenty minutes to do all my "quick" errands.  Maybe somewhere like Santa Barbara.  Maybe I could pretend to be a psychic and open up a detective agency.  No, that would be stupid.  I just want an old Commando.  Instead I guess I'll try to get my other two bikes running and just have too many bikes that way.