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Preview: Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher

Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher

Education, politics, and anything else that catches my attention.

Updated: 2016-12-08T22:32:38.100-08:00


A Vicious Rumor


It's no secret among those that know me that my favorite dessert is Chocolate Ganache Torte from Trader Joe's. Well, there's a rumor going around my school--started by a student who sought out a CGT--that Trader Joe's is discontinuing this dessert (which is found in the freezer section).

I will shortly be drafting an email to TJ's to confirm or deny this rumor.  Stay tuned.

A Better Understanding


I've been able to calculate the determinant of a matrix forever.  If I didn't learn before my first linear algebra course in 1985, then I learned then.  When I took linear algebra in my master's program, there might have been spent 2 minutes on the subject because it's assumed a student at this level would know how to calculate a determinant.

I remember calculating eigenvalues and eigenvectors back in 1985, and I calculated them again 4 years ago when I took linear algebra.  I can calculate eigenvalues and eigenvectors till the cows come home.

Until today I didn't understand what a determinant "was", or what eigenvalues and eigenvectors "were".  I knew I didn't understand, I assumed there had to be some physical representation for them, I wanted to understand.  But I never got satisfactory answers.

Yesterday a former student--who is majoring in math!--dropped by school to visit.  He saw that under our new standards, we're covering matrix operations in pre-calculus in a lot more depth than we did under the standards in place when he was a student.  We got to talking about what we cover, and I mentioned that I still didn't know what a determinant really "was". 

He pointed me to a YouTube video he found.  I watched it this morning.  Within the first 7 minutes I had a good, big picture understanding of what a determinant is/does.  7 minutes.

Then I looked at the related videos in the column on the right.  There, near the top, was one on eigenvalues and eigenvectors.  Less than 10 minutes later I had the understanding that had up until today had eluded me. 

I like learning :)

You've Got To Be Kidding Me


I remember having hot chocolate and cookies brought into the barracks during finals week, but that's about it.  I certainly don't remember anything like this at West Point, thankfully:
A prestigious military school is providing coloring books for cadets to deal with stress.
The Virginia Military Institute, the first state-sponsored military college in the country founded in 1839, offers a “stress busters” program to provide students with yoga classes to “unwind and relax"...

“Stress Busters is held on Reading Day of each semester,” the school said. “This is an opportunity for cadets to unwind and relax before studying for finals. This event often includes stress reduction activities such as yoga, therapy dogs, coloring book stations, card/game stations, and grab-and-go snacks to take with you on your way to study!”
At least one person gets it:
“VMI once took America’s youth and prepared them for duty and the harsh realities of war,” a VMI alumnus and veteran told the Washington Free Beacon. “Now, for $20k a year, VMI will turn your teenagers back into children.”

It's Better Than Nothing, I Guess


It's not the Rose Bowl, or the BCS Championship Game, or anything like that, but for the first time in a couple decades, Army is going to a bowl game:
Motivation level: Army has been to only one bowl in the last 20 years, so the Black Knights should be fired up to put an exclamation point on what has been a terrific season.
And for the opposition:
Best moment: Facing the second-rated defense in the nation at the time, Jeffrey Wilson rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns and North Texas beat Army 35-18 on a rainy field. It was the Mean Green’s first victory over Army in five tries.
They've already beaten us this year. Great.

Going into the Navy game, Army is 6-5.



When I got to the mall about 12:30 this afternoon, I had no difficulty finding a parking spot.  I'm not saying there were tumbleweeds blowing by, but I didn't have to drive all over the place to find a spot.  There were many to be had.

Is anyone else seeing the same thing?  I thought it odd because I've heard that consumer confidence is way up this season--thank you, President-elect Trump  :-) 

An Astounding Lack of Self-Awareness


I marvel that our friends on the left, nearly a month after the election, can still not be aware of the fact that their elitism, their bulldozing, and their disdain and hatred for those of us on the right, hasn't worked for them in years.  This author is so "enbubbled" that he not only misdiagnoses the Democrats' problem, but his so-called solution only works in favor of Republicans.  To believe, as he does, that the Democrats haven't been playing dirty and thus need to start (do I need to run through the list of dirty plays, starting with Obama's weaponization of the federal bureaucracy, specifically the EPA and IRS, to a degree that would cause even Richard Nixon to blush), is to be in such denial of today's reality that one wonders about his mental state:The emerging Trump administration is a frightening mixture of free-market fundamentalists and C-list conspiracy theorists. This motley crew may well run headlong into political disaster. But Democrats should not assume that the Trump administration's incompetence will automatically result in a Democratic wave in 2018. Remember, Democrats are in their weakest position in national and state government since before the Great Depression. So what should Democrats do? Take a page from the GOP playbook and obstruct everything. One of the most galling things about the complete Republican takeover of American government that we witnessed last month is the way it rewarded the party's destructive behavior during the Obama years. Not only did voters never punish Republican leaders for pouring sand into the gas tank of representative democracy, they granted them victories in nearly every contested House and Senate race, proving incontrovertibly that voters simply do not care about or understand the ways that Republican leadership subverted longstanding norms of parliamentary procedure. In perhaps the most brazen violation of democratic norms in living memory, the Republicans just stole the colossally important swing seat on the Supreme Court by obliterating precedent and refusing even to hold hearings for Merrick Garland. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer cannot continue their heroic work into their late 80s, the Democrats may be facing a hostile Supreme Court until most of Bernie Sanders' young voters are having their midlife crises. But the Senate's Great Merrick Garland Heist is a symptom rather than the cause of our dysfunction. The towering mountaintop snowcap from which the swollen river of hateful, paralyzing, and destructive nihilism flows is the House GOP. The face of America's political torment is the smug visage of Utah's Jason Chaffetz, a man who epitomizes everything that is wrong with our politics, and who the Democrats have no realistic chance of ever unseating. Secure behind their ingenious 2010 gerrymandering plan, and the concentration of Democratic voters in big cities, it was Chaffetz and his minions who turned the tragedy of Benghazi into the 21st century's Scopes trial, and who decided to use the legislature's oversight responsibilities to hold a series of theatrical hearings about Libya rather than, say, holding President Obama accountable for his (morally outrageous and possibly illegal) policy of perpetual drone warfare.Perhaps the author doesn't realize that tens of millions of us across this country don't want what he wants. Perhaps he doesn't realize that it was the Democratic congressional stranglehold on the Congress from 2007-2011, along with President Obama from January 2009 to January 2011, that was so hideous, so brazen in its actions, so un-American in its outlook, that the American people returned Republicans to power in the House of Representatives after only 4 years of Nancy Pelosi's so-called leadership, and two years later returned Republicans to power in the Senate, and last month gave Republicans control of more offices and legis[...]

Cool Currency


In this post from over a week ago I threw out the suggestion that maybe I could post pictures of some of the beautiful coins and currency I have, in part to show how money can be functional as well as beautiful (I think American money is quite ugly).

For those who think I'm asking to be robbed by doing this, I keep my collection in a secure, secured location.  And while I've been collecting since my first trip to Europe in 1974, most of what I have couldn't be sold for much--it means much more to me than it's worth.

Anyway, here's a note from South Africa that my nana brought back for me after her visit to see some relatives there in the 1970s (the quarter is for size reference):

Beautiful, isn't it?

What An Ideologue Regrets


Smart people knew 8 years ago that this was a foolish move, but hey, welcome to the party, Mr. Lundestad:
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama in 2009 was an experiment to encourage the newly elected Democrat to follow through on his lofty promises, according to at least one former member of the Nobel committee. But apparently, that was a failed experiment.

A regretful Geir Lundestad, onetime secretary of the Nobel committee, told the Associated Press that he hoped the award would strengthen Obama. But it didn’t, according to the group, despite the White House’s belief that the president “lived up to the standard that he has set for himself” regarding the prize.

McDonald's In The News


I can't remember the last time I ate at McDonald's.  Or Burger King.  Or Wendy's.  I just don't do fast food much anymore.  Periodically a friend will pick up tacos at Taco Bell or Jack in the Box and bring them over for movie night, but otherwise, I just don't.But I saw McDonald's in the news twice today and thought it might make an interesting blog post.First, the Big Mac is almost as old as I am.  And its creator has died:Michael Delligatti, the man who brought you the Big Mac, has died. He was 98.Delligatti, more affectionately known as “Jim,” was one of McDonald’s first franchisees. He first created the Big Mac in 1967 at his Uniontown, Penn. restaurant, Business Insider reports.Almost 50 years later, it’s the same recipe served in chains today: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions—on a sesame seed bun (for those of you old enough to remember the jingle).That was the creative, entrepreneurial part of the story.  Now comes the economics segment:As the labor union-backed Fight for $15 begins yet another nationwide strike on November 29, I have a simple message for the protest organizers and the reporters covering them: I told you so.It brings me no joy to write these words. The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing.Let’s start with automation. In 2013, when the Fight for $15 was still in its growth stage, I and others warned that union demands for a much higher minimum wage would force businesses with small profit margins to replace full-service employees with costly investments in self-service alternatives. At the time, labor groups accused business owners of crying wolf. It turns out the wolf was real.Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touchscreen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk...Of course, not all businesses have the capital necessary to shift from full-service to self-service. And that brings me to my next correct prediction--that a $15 minimum wage would force many small businesses to lay off staff, seek less-costly locations, or close altogether.Tragically, these stories—in California in particular--are too numerous to cite in detail here. They include a bookstore in Roseville, a pub in Fresno, restaurants and bakeries in San Francisco, a coffee shop in Berkeley, grocery stores in Oakland, a grill in Santa Clara, and apparel manufacturers through the state. In September of this year, nearly one-quarter of restaurant closures in the Bay Area cited labor costs as one of the reasons for shutting down operations. And just this past week, a California-based communications firm announced it was moving 75 call center jobs from San Diego to El Paso, Texas, citing California’s rising minimum as the “deciding factor.” (Dozens of additional stories can be found at the website $15/hr protesters are protesting people right out of their jobs.  You can't rewrite the laws of economics.[...]

Let The Stress Begin!


Last night I heard from the department chair in my master's program.  Crap is getting real now.

Over the past 4 1/2 years I've taken one graduate course per semester; next semester will be my 10th class, my 30th unit, and then end of my program.  Rather than writing a thesis, though, I have to take a cumulative final exam over 6 of the 8 math classes I took as part of the program (the other two classes were education classes).  I got to choose which 6 classes to be tested on--yay me.

Last night the department chair sent me review topics for 4 of those classes.  The other two were taught by an instructor who died in a car accident about a year ago, so the instructions I was given for those two courses was "study the tests you took in those classes"--in other words, review those classes in their entirety!  By the way, the review topics for just those 4 classes took two typed pages.

So next semester I'll be teaching as well as devising new lesson plans for all the classes I teach (that takes time, if you want quality education for your kids) because we got new curricula this year.  I'll also be taking my 10th class--a math class, not an education class!--and studying math I've learned over the past 5 years in order to prepare for my cumulative exam.  And I'll take this cumulative exam a few weeks before I finish the 10th class, and that 10th class will be covered on the cumulative exam!

So yes, the stress curve has taken a jump.  Crap is getting real now.

The Fun of Teaching Probability and Statistics


There are so many interesting real-world examples from which to draw!

The last chapter my students studied was about probability, and the current chapter is on the normal curve.  I've been writing quiz and test questions (I don't really like using the "test bank" that comes with our adopted curriculum materials) recently and having fun. 

For example, last week I spent a lot of time sick in bed--playing Yahtzee on my phone :)  As I played I realized that I was constantly calculating expected values, probabilities, etc., in my head, and that some of these would make excellent quiz and test questions.  But that was last chapter's material.  No problem--my bonus question on each chapter test relates to last chapter's material, to keep it current in the students' minds.  I could use a Yahtzee question as a bonus question for this chapter's test!  Example:  I need 4 5's in order to score 63 points on the left (of the Yahtzee scorepad) and thus earn the 35 point bonus.  On my first roll I got two 5's and on my 2nd roll I got one 5.  What is the probability of getting 1 or 2 5's on my 3rd and final roll?  Example:  On my first roll I got a 23345. I keep the 2345 and roll the remaining die.  What is the probability of getting a 1 or a 6 on either of my next two rolls, thus getting a "large straight"?

Today we had 3 2-hour block periods (don't ask), and I spent about 20 minutes each period today teaching my students how to play Yahtzee.  My rationale was simple:  if they understood how to play the game, they'll be able to better understand what I'm asking on their test.  They'll be able to devote all their brain power to calculating the probabilities rather than trying to figure out exactly what I'm asking.  In another couple years I'll probably have to do that for playing cards, too, as entirely too many students today don't know what comprises a standard deck of cards (and hence have difficulty understanding probability questions about drawing from a deck of cards). 

My current master's class is on testing/measurement/assessment, and one of the last chapters in our book was about standardized tests.  We read about stanines, deciles, having a score in the xth percentile, etc.  Since standardized tests mostly assume a normal distribution of scores, questions about stanines, deciles, etc., are great questions for our current chapter on the normal curve.  Throw in a little SAT score information gleaned from the College Board and you have a smorgasbord of questions that can be asked, all of which have some applicability to the students themselves.  Example:  given that the average SAT math score is such-and-such with a standard deviation of this-and-that, what is the minimum score that would place a student in the top decile?  Example:  what fraction of test scores are in the 5th stanine?

If you're creative enough and thoughtful enough, writing test questions can be quite enjoyable.

In Solidarity With My Gay Brothers and Sisters...


...I recommend that we petition the City and County of San Francisco to rename Castro Street and the neighborhood known as The Castro.  After all, how can a gay enclave share a name with a notorious homophobe?
Fidel Castro was many things: a revolutionary, a communist, a garrulous orator. Amid the fawning encomia released upon his long-overdue death at the age of 90, it should never be forgotten that he was also an oppressor, torturer, and murderer of gay people.

“We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant,” Castro told an interviewer in 1965. “A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.”

In the eyes of Castro and his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara—who frequently referred to gay men as maricones, “faggots”—homosexuality was inherently counterrevolutionary, a bourgeois decadence. To a traditional Latin American machismo that viewed gayness pejoratively, they married an ideological fixation treating it as politically undesirable...

Though the Cuban regime closed down the UMAPs in the late 1960s, it continued to repress gay men as ideologically subversive elements. Openly homosexual people were prevented from joining the Communist Party and fired from their jobs. One of the country’s most distinguished writers, Reinaldo Arenas, recounted the prison experience he and countless other gay men endured in his memoir Before Night Falls. “It was a sweltering place without a bathroom,” he wrote. “Gays were not treated like human beings, they were treated like beasts. They were the last ones to come out for meals, so we saw them walk by, and the most insignificant incident was an excuse to beat them mercilessly.”

Gays comprised a significant portion of the 125,000 Cubans (“worms,” in Fidel Castro’s words) permitted to leave the island for the United States as part of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift.
You know, just in case you know of some leftie who worships this now-dead human piece of excrement.

The Final Push


I've been kind of a slacker in my master's course the last couple weeks.  In my defense, though, I had worked ahead and was all caught up, and then some!

I have 4 short assignments, and one longer assignment, that are due by next Sunday.  I thought I'd better get started on them so I decided to tackle the longer assignment, which is a peer evaluation of a classmate's project.  Turns out, though, that she posted the wrong assignment, leaving me with nothing to evaluate.  I emailed both her and the instructor, and hope this will get fixed pronto.  (I have a comment I'm dying to make about this, but I'm not going to.  Maybe someday.  It's so hard not to!)

Instead I knocked out two of the smaller assignments.  I'm working late tomorrow and then going to my mother's house for dinner, so I doubt I'll do anything tomorrow (except send another email if the situation above still hasn't been corrected).  I can finish the other two assignments on Tuesday.  That leaves only Wednesday and Thursday to do the big assignment, because I don't want to be working on it during the weekend!  Ugh!

Now I'm going to go chug some more cough syrup and relax the rest of the evening, knowing I have to be healthy enough to go back to work tomorrow.

Professor Watch List


Is your professor keening over Castro's death?  Trashing capitalism, dead white men, and/or the Constitution?  Who you gonna call?  Not Ghostbusters:
Conservative student organization, Turning Point USA, has released a new project called the Professor WatchList. The website enables students and parents to research professors that have a history of promoting a radical liberal agenda in their classrooms...

(Project founder) Charlie Kirk told Independent Journal Review the site is merely a tool for students to help them make informed choices. Kirk writes:
“Alumni, donors, parents, and students deserve to know the biases that exist in our universities. This is an awareness tool, not calling for termination or action. We simply seek to educate the public on the radical behavior that has taken over our colleges and universities.”
You support transparency, don't you?

Break So Far, and Thoughts on Christmas


As no one brought up politics yesterday, what could have been a contentious family dinner was instead rather enjoyable :)

My near-death illness seems to be abating, but has instead left me with an itchy-as-heck rash on my neck and cheek.  Is this what growing old is like, mystery illnesses for no good reason?

I put up my Christmas tree this morning, and several minutes ago finished putting up my Christmas decorations.  I have two totes of Christmas decorations and paraphernalia but leave one of them entirely untouched.  I've decided which decorations I like a lot and which I can do without, and thus the two totes.  And of course, I've switched out all the candles in the house to the Christmas scents.

I don't really have a theme when it comes to decorations.  There's no unifying style, just random decorations here and there.  But it satisfies me, I like what I see.

My Christmas tree got a new ornament this year, from Calgary.  My tree is covered with ornaments from places I've been, thus allowing me to relive my past vacations each year when I decorate.  My tree, too, is a hodge-podge of ornamental styles, from my Star Trek (and one Battlestar Galactica) ornaments to military themed ones to vacations ones, and a few actual Christmas ones thrown in for good measure.  It may be odd but it is, however, my tree, and it brings me great joy.

For the first time in a couple years I've put my grandparents' manger scene out on my front porch.  I'm not plugging in the lights, but it's out on the porch--where it was every Christmas while I was growing up.

My mother and I, veterans both, went to Applebee's on Veteran's Day and received $5-off-your-next-visit cards that expire on Sunday.  Since only one card per table per visit can be used, I think we'll do appetizers there the next couple days to use our cards without spending too much money.

Did I mention that I buy presents all year long, and therefore I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping?  Well, I do, and I am.  That means I can go to the stores and the malls and just absorb the season without the anxiety of "having" to buy somebody something.

I started playing the Christmas CD's today.  I don't think I have one with my favorite Christmas carol, O Come All Ye Faithful, but I play what I have.  I should go find a CD of chorale music--including O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark The Herald Angels Sing.  The two "Christmas" songs I despise the most are Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer and that stupid Christmas Shoes song.  Seriously, a dying mother gets people in the Christmas spirit?  Seriously?

How long can I sit on the couch and watch the lights sparkle on my tree?  A long time, I'd wager to guess.  It can be so hypnotic.

Agency Fee Rebate


What a nice Thanksgiving gift!  Today in the mail I received my agency fee rebate check from the CTA.  If you don't know what that means, let me explain.

With regards to union membership, there are two types of states:  "right to work" states, wherein an employee has a right to work without being required to pay a union, and "fair share" states, where employees are required to pay a union.  Twenty-six states are "right to work" states, and of course California isn't one of them.  As a result, I'm required to pay a union as a condition of my employment.  In fact, not paying a union is about the only thing a teacher could do that would cause the teachers union to push for dismissal.

We all learned about "closed shops" back in high school history class, places where union membership was required as a condition of employment (BTW, closed shops were put in place to keep blacks from working, but that's yet another sordid detail from union history--that, and the violence).  Closed shops are now illegal in the United States.  As a result, I'm required to pay a union to "represent" me but I'm not required to be a union member.

Due to a few court cases, though, I'm only required to pay for those activities that a supposedly impartial arbiter (paid for by the union) determines are directly related to collective bargaining and organizing.  Each year I have to send a certified letter to the CTA requesting my refund, and each year they send it (why I only have to resign once, but have to request the money each year, is a situation that exceeds my own logic).  Usually I get somewhat over $300 of my over $1000 a year in union dues refunded to me.

This being an election year, though, my rebate check was slightly over $400.  Take a look at the percentages below.  The national teachers union spent almost 5/8 of its money on activities not related to collective bargaining (e.g., political donations), and the state and local unions spent about a third of their money on such activities:

Keep these percentages in mind when you hear unions and other lefties wanting to overturn the Citizens United case!

Anyway, if you're a California teacher and would like to learn more about your rights regarding union membership (or non-membership, if that is your choice), visit the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.

Perspective on Nazis


I'm not a fan of completely lifting someone else's posts and putting them here at RotLC, but what could I say that would improve on this:
PERSPECTIVE: An Awful Lot of Media Coverage for About 200 Losers Getting Together.
Jim Geraghty:
It is not that hard to gather a couple dozen or couple hundred people together for just about any idea or concept, no matter how obscure or outlandish. About 80 Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln presenters – don’t call them “impersonators!” – gathered for their convention in Vandalia, Illinois. The white nationalists couldn’t gather as big a crowd as the 300 mermaids and mermen at “MerFest” in Cary, North Carolina last year. Of course, all of these gatherings shrink in comparison to “BronyCon”; about 7,000 grown adults attended the last convention for My Little Pony fans. (You may find that a completely different sign of the Apocalypse.)
Yet from the headlines, you would think that this was some sort of burgeoning mass movement, marching through the streets and taking over the nation’s capital.
It takes a lot of effort to establish a narrative.
UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Seen on Facebook:

Progressives on 9/12: ‘Just because some Islamics are terrorists, doesn’t mean all Islamics are terrorists! It’s not okay to just walk up and assault them!’
Progressives on 11/9: ‘Some Trump supporters are Nazis so Trump and all his supporters are NAZIS! Just walk up and assault them!’
Yeah, pretty much.
When even Joy Behar says that we shouldn't be paying so much media attention to these people, maybe you lefties should realize that no one likes Nazis.  Maybe you should learn a little something about the right, something beyond your wildest evil fantasies about what we're like.  Red herrings and straw men don't make for a satisfying intellectual meal.

White Privilege


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Would You Want This Guy Teaching Your Kid?


Seriously.  Watch this kid.  Listen to him.
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And he goes to a multi-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars-a-year school.  And he wants to be a teacher.  *sigh*

I'm reminded of this Amherst freshman:
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He tutors "underprivileged" kids so he's a saint, but can't respond to D'Souza's point that "This college is privilege!"  (If you don't want to watch the whole thing, start at 8:35)

It's Hard *Not* To Write About How Bat**** Insane the American Left Is Acting


I'll cut/paste this, whole cloth, from Instapundit:
CHARLIE MARTIN: The Hysterical Left Is Making NeverTrumpers Reconsider.

I’ve got to say: if you’re trying to make a case against Trump via trying to reverse the election by mob rule, by threats of violence against electors, and by openly planning an insurrection — er, “disruption”?

Then you’re making one hell of a good case that Trump is less of a threat to democracy than his opponents.
I'd rather write about something else, but let's face it, the left's complete and total meltdown is a big deal.  Seriously, harassing electors at their homes, and publishing their names and addresses?  Way to win friends and influence people, lefties.

Thanksgiving Break, Day 1


I don't consider the weekends to be part of break time :-)

This morning I went to the DMV to pick up my personalized license plates.  I had an appointment, walked in a few minutes early, and there was no line.  Checked in and was given a number, and before I could even sit down, my number was called. 

Plates look good on my pickup :-)

I was in a meeting all day on Friday, so my substitute was left with the task of giving quizzes in each of my 5 classes.  I brought them home to grade.  Knocked out one class today, my plan is to do a class a day until they're all graded.

I haven't watched any NFL this season because the league (not just the idiot from the 49ers) has been taking an anti-American stance.  A friend asked me to meet him at a restaurant tonight to watch the game, though, and since we don't see each other often at all, I'll suspend my personal boycott tonight.

That will pretty much be my Monday.

Canadian Coins Captivate


I think American coins are ugly.  American currency is, too.

It wasn't always this way.  It wasn't until 1909 that we first started putting dead presidents on our coins, for example.  Until then, any humans on our coins were either representations of Lady Liberty or were Native Americans. I want to remove all dead presidents from our coins.

Washington and Lincoln made appearances on our paper money in the 1800s, and later even non-presidents did:  Hamilton, Lincoln, and Chase, for example.  But our paper money wasn't always so ugly.  Even though it's long been green and black, we used to have beautiful images on our currency.  This "educational series" note is one of the most famous and most beautiful.  And though that note has Martha and George on the reverse, I'd still be all for removing George, Abe, et al., from our currency.

Even our commemorative coins today are uninspiring, which is unfortunate given their themes.

There are plenty of countries around the world that produce beautiful coins.  If you want to see some genuine outside-the-box thinking on coins, though, you need look no further than to our friend to the north, Canada.

Just browsing the Royal Canadian Mint's web site turned up these three commemorative coin subjects:  Star Trek, DC Comics, and Star Wars.  Note that these are actual commemorative legal tender coins, not coin-like medals made by a private mint.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that our coins should be about pop culture.  But travel the world and you'll see all sorts of representations on even circulating coins, from animals, to sports (really!), to plants, to national crests and symbols, to historical representations, to landmarks, etc.  And foreign currency gets even more creative.  Have you ever seen, or felt, Australia's polymer, not paper, notes?  Imagine trying to counterfeit a note with a see-through spot on it!

Money is a tangible ambassador for its country of origin.  Ours is less than satisfactory.  Perhaps I should run a series of posts with pictures of very cool coins and currency that I have collected over the decades....

The Union Voting Guide


Here's a chart from the American Enterprise Institute showing voting patterns of union households in each presidential election since 1972:
click to enlarge
Do union voting guides look like that?  Are they at all representative of the obvious ideological diversity of union members?  No, I didn't think so, either.

Kinda Sorta A Victory For Sanity


If you just read the headline, this sounds like a victory for the forces of sanity against the delicate dispositions of the snowflake brigade:
Oberlin College has refused to suspend failing grades this semester despite requests for relief from students who skipped classes and missed study time to protest recent deaths at the hands of police across the nation.

A student petition, signed by more than 1,300, called for the college to institute a "no-fail mercy period" that would eliminate all failing grades and make a C the lowest possible grade a student could receive, the student newspaper reported.

President Marvin Krislov responded with an email to students on Sunday, saying he and the college's deans opted not to grant the reprieve after giving the request serious consideration.
Then you read the next sentence:
"We are in firm agreement that suspending grading protocols is not the way to achieve our shared goal of ensuring that students have every opportunity and resource to succeed," he wrote.
I would prefer something along the lines of "Choice have consequences.  Put on your big kid undies and face the day."  But no:
"To reiterate: we are firmly committed to supporting students in their health, well- being, and academic success," Krislov wrote.
Too squishy for me.