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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: 2016-10-22T04:27:54.700-07:00


Logarithm Test, Part 2


They're good at pushing buttons on a calculator.

The second half of the test, given today, was a "calculator allowed" test.  Most of the questions didn't require a calculator, even for a decimal/fraction-written exact answer.  But there were a couple of problems that required them to pull variables out of an exponent, and they were able to do that just fine.  With a calculator.

But they couldn't do similar problems yesterday, on the "no calculator" portion of the test.  What gives?  The steps are exactly the same!

What Is It About Logarithms?


I find logarithms to be one of the most interesting topics in the math I teach, along with matrices.  For some reason, though, students freak out about logarithms.  On the test they make the goofiest mistakes, unlike any they've made before (e.g., on quizzes), such as
log(x-6) = log x - log 6  
or, one of my personal favorites,
x ln x = ln
I'm at a loss.

Freedom of the Press


Too many people today have either forgotten, or never understood in the first place, what "freedom of the press" was intended to guarantee:
I’ve often argued that the freedom of the press was seen near the time of the Framing (and near the time of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, as well as in between and largely since) as protecting the right to use the press as technology — everyone’s right to use the printing press and its modern technological heirs. It was not seen as protecting a right of the press as industry, which would have been a right limited to people who printed or wrote for newspapers, magazines and the like. I discussed this in great detail in my article on the history of the free press clause.
After explaining that the freedom of the press is not redundant with the freedom of speech, Professor Volokh continues:
Likewise, George Hay — who was soon to become a U.S. Attorney, and later a federal judge — wrote in 1799 that “freedom of speech means, in the construction of the Constitution, the privilege of speaking any thing without control” and “the words freedom of the press, which form a part of the same sentence, mean the privilege of printing any thing without control.” Massachusetts Attorney General James Sullivan (1801) similarly treated “the freedom of speech” as referring to “utter[ing], in words spoken,” and “the freedom of the press” as referring to “print[ing] and publish[ing].”

And this captured an understanding that was broadly expressed during the surrounding decades. Bishop Thomas Hayter, writing in 1754, described the “Liberty of the Press” as applying the traditionally recognized “Use and Liberty of Speech” to “Printing,” an activity that Hayter described as “only a more extensive and improved Kind of Speech.” (Hayter’s work was known and quoted in Revolutionary era America.) Francis Holt (1812) defined the liberty of the press as “the personal liberty of the writer to express his thoughts in the more improved way invented by human ingenuity in the form of the press.” William Rawle (1825) characterized “[t]he press” as “a vehicle of the freedom of speech. The art of printing illuminates the world, by a rapid dissemination of what would otherwise be slowly communicated and partially understood.”
Remember, Thomas Paine published Common Sense as a pamphlet.  He was not a newspaperman, but he used the "press" to create his work for distribution.

My New Favorite Phone App


My pre-calculus classes are comparatively small, but my statistics classes have 35, 36, and 36 students.  That's a lot of teenagers in one classroom, and in one stats class in particular, the volume can get exceedingly loud.

I'm usually pretty good at classroom management--it was one of the few worthwhile classes in my credentialing program--but keeping a classroom volume down to a reasonable level has not been one of my strong suits.  I don't have many of the difficulties other teachers have, but noise level is one of my issues.  It's also one of my pet peeves.

This past weekend I downloaded a sound meter app onto my phone.  After instruction was over today, and when it was time for students to work on the practice problems I'd assigned, I told them I didn't want the volume to go over 60 dB.  I projected the face of my phone up onto the screen where they could see the decibel meter in action.  I don't care how accurate it is, what I cared about was keeping the volume reasonable--and on that meter, 60 dB seems reasonable.

It actually worked!  For a time, at least.  But this time, when the volume creeped up, I didn't have to raise my voice in order to be heard.  "Note the volume, please," in a soft speaking voice, was all that was needed.  Or, if one group started getting a little loud, I'd walk over to them and merely point to the screen.  Yes, this really worked.

Of course, it could just be the Hawthorne Effect, but I choose to believe that being able to see objective and measurable evidence of loudness, rather than just "noticing" (or, more likely, not noticing) that it's getting louder, made it easier for the students to modulate their volume.

I just don't want a loud classroom.  If this app helps me get there, I'm ok with that.

Whose Culture Is That Of A Gorilla?


"Cultural appropriation" is one of those silly, lefty, paternalistic ideas that deserves no more attention than is required by mockery.  Cultures adapt and change all the time, and to assume that one person--often by virtue of skin color--cannot participate in anything related to another culture is just silly.  I'm going to have some chips and salsa in a bit, is that acceptable?  No, according to the most outlandish of the "cultural appropriation" crowd.  It's probably not acceptable when students tell me good-bye when they leave class and I respond with "adios", either.

Halloween is one of those times when the "cultural appropriation" types screech the loudest, what with their "my culture is not a costume" posters and the like.  My question is, whose culture is that of a gorilla?
According to a display at Florida State University, dressing up as Harambe for Halloween is an example of “cultural appropriation.”

The warning is one of many on a “My Culture Is Not a Costume” bulletin board hanging at the school’s Deviney Hall residence, a picture of which was provided to Campus Reform.

Other “examples of appropriation” on the board include “headdresses” and “Latinx alien.” Below that are suggestions for “great Halloween costumes” including “extraterrestrial alien,” “Steve Jobs” (what?), and “any animal,” despite the fact that Harambe is previously listed as an unacceptable option...

After all, exactly what kind of culture would dressing up like Harambe be appropriating? Gorilla culture? No, that can’t be it, because “any animal” is on the “great Halloween costumes” list — meaning that gorillas by other names would be okay. African culture? No, that can’t be it, because even though gorillas are African animals and the name “Harambe” is a Swahili name, no other African animals (or animals of any other African names) are advised against.

So what culture, exactly, would dressing up like Harambe be appropriating?

Writing Tests


I'm currently taking a testing/measurement/assessment course for my master's program.  While lately I've been poring over research to see if there's any consensus about what makes for a math teacher (and which teacher candidates might become great math teachers), and the results are about what I expected.

Leaving those lofty research heights, however, I'm compelled, by virtue of living in the real world, to continue to teach and assess my students--and that means writing tests and quizzes.  Putting some of the practical lessons I've learned to good use, I spent quite a bit of time today writing a test on basic probability.

One thing I've learned:  be explicit about what I expect.  Rather than saying, "what is the probability of drawing, without replacement, 2 consecutive kings from a deck of cards?",  my wording is now somewhat different:
What is the probability of drawing, without replacement, 2 consecutive kings from a deck of cards?  State the applicable formula/rule, substitute numbers into that formula, and then solve.
Clarity and specificity are the keys.

And if you're wondering, the answer would be:
P(A and B) = P(A)*P(B|A)
P(K and K) = 4/52*3/51 = 4/884 = 1/221

The Northern Lights


Saw a deal online, talked to a friend about it, told him that the deal ends tonight, and his reply was "book it."

Over "ski week" in February we'll be traveling to Reykjavik to (hopefully) see the Northern Lights.

The only time I've seen Reykjavik before was when there was next to no darkness; this time I'll be going when there's very little light.  It'll be interesting to note the differences.

How 1066 Changed English


I've read compelling arguments that the defeat of the English in 1066 turned out to be the best thing that could ever have happened to the English.  Saxon law was pretty good, but the combination of Saxon law and efficiency with Norman law and customs made for a good melding.

I'm not in a position to say if that's true or not.  It happened, 950 years ago, and we live with the results today.  I'm quite sure that every event in history has both good and bad results.  When looking at history, though, I like to look for the changes.

In this post I wrote about how English is currently changing.  In this article the author, while bemoaning the Norman victory, discusses how the language changed after 1066:
Englishness became, almost by definition, a badge of subjugation. Human nature being what it is, people soon began to adopt the names and manners of their overlords. On one English farm in 1114, records Peter Ackroyd, the workers were listed as being called Soen, Rainald, Ailwin, Lemar, Godwin, Ordric, Alric, Saroi, Ulviet and Ulfac. By the end of the century all those names had disappeared.

The status of the defeated English is often illustrated with reference to the vocabulary of meat. The Anglophone farmer in the field used plain Saxon words for his livestock: cow, pig, sheep. But by the time these animals found their way onto his Norman master’s plate, they had acquired French-derived names: beef, pork, mutton.

More telling, though, is the political vocabulary introduced under the Normans. Out go witan, folkmoot and folkright. In come fealty and homage, fief and vassal, villein and serf.



Water fell from the sky yesterday, which was novel enough that a couple of kids at school carried umbrellas--even though the amount of water that fell was barely enough to make the ground wet.

It was supposed to rain today, too, and it still might tonight.  Today ended up being somewhat overcast and warm enough not to need a jacket, but it feels like rain tonight.  It doesn't smell like rain, it feels like it, and I don't know how to describe that.  (couple minutes later:  I'll be darned, it's just starting now!)

I've spent a lot of this afternoon watching movies and drinking hot tea.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Update, 10/16/16:  It's been raining lightly for awhile this morning.

With A Third of Iraq Belonging To ISIS....


I just want to remind you that this is what the president was bragging about 6 years ago:
Video of the president and vice president bragging about Iraq is here.

My post from a year and a half ago, detailing what a disaster the president has been regarding just foreign policy, is even more true today.

Who Could Have Foreseen This Disaster?


Anyone who knew anything about human nature and economics, that's who:Minnesota’s Democratic governor on Wednesday said Obamacare is "no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people" — the latest sign of Democrats' growing concern about the law's rising insurance costs.Gov. Mark Dayton's criticism comes as his state faces massive rate hikes and shrinking competition in its Obamacare insurance marketplace next year. Dayton's comments also come almost a week after Donald Trump and Republicans seized on former president Bill Clinton's remarks lamenting Obamacare's affordability problems..."The governor wants to make it clear that the Republicans in Congress are to blame for their unwillingness to make improvements necessary to make the Affordable Care Act more successful," Dayton spokesman Sam Fettig said in an email to POLITICO.  No, the Republicans aren't to blame at all.  Not a single Republican in either house of Congress voted for that bill.  Not only was it an all-Democrat bill, but you might recall Nancy Pelosi's saying that it had to be passed before we'd even get to find out what was in it.  No, this is entirely a Democratic screw-up, one of massive proportions.  The Republicans are under no obligation at all to fix it.  In fact, they've sent at least one bill to President Obama to repeal the law, but he vetoed it.  He'd rather the American public have massive insurance cost increases, lack of ability to see a doctor, and reduced competition, than admit his signature policy is a failure.It "bent the cost curve" all right.Update, 10/14/16:  From Instapundit:ED MORRISSEY: Minnesota Could Be the First Obamacare Domino to Fall.As the Star Tribune notes, all seven of the remaining insurers in the state had threatened to follow Preferred One out the door without the massive rate hikes. Even with Rothman surrendering to the realities of centrally controlled economies, Blue Cross Blue Shield will still exit Mnsure at the end of 2016. The massive price hikes, Rothman said in September, were “a stopgap for 2017.” Foreshadowing Dayton’s announcement on Wednesday, Rothman added, “It’s an emergency situation – we worked hard and avoided a collapse.” Avoided? As Dayton made clear yesterday, all Minnesota has done is postpone a collapse – and probably for only another year. The biggest problem for insurers in these markets is the unstable utilization rates, which prevent them from accurately calculating risk to set a tenable premium price. The reason for that instability is that higher prices are disincentivizing healthier consumers from buying expensive comprehensive insurance policies as they opt instead to pay out of pocket for their minimal utilization and pay the tax penalty for non-coverage instead. Thanks to skyrocketing premiums and deductible thresholds, the likelihood of many consumers to have benefits applied to anything but a basic wellness check is remote at best, which makes the risk worthwhile.Leave it to Big Government to coerce a market into existence, where individuals are required to buy a product they can’t afford to use, and which producers can’t afford to sell — and then blame the free market for the inevitable collapse.Update, 10/15/16:  North Carolina isn't looking so good, either:These stories are now becoming so common as to be the norm, but there’s yet another tale of the Obamacare exchanges essentially collapsing in North Carolina as we approach the next open enrollment period. Keep in mind that health insurance is still mandatory under law and the grace period for not facing a hefty penalty on your taxes for non-compliance is over. Also remember that if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor and the Affordable C[...]

What New At Universities?


Here's an astute observation:
It’s not new for college students to indulge in self-righteous certainty, to be so intoxicated by a grand moral mission that they can’t see any value in hearing what the other side has to say. What is new: administrators who bend to their will.

The Last Research Paper


Next semester I'm taking a math class, and I hope I won't have a research paper due in there!  It's been a few semesters since I've had a real math class; the last few semesters I've had an educational philosophy class and a couple of math history classes.  I'm currently taking a measurement and assessment (think: testing) class.

We have tons of small writing assignments in this course along with three papers.  I've already written the shortest of the three, my personal philosophy on testing and assessment, and turned it in.  The second paper was a unit or lesson plan that incorporates what we have learned in class; mine turned out to be over 10 pages long, but I finished it and turned it in.  I only have one paper left, the most "academic" of the three.

It's limited to 7-10 pages, so it's a "mini-review" of literature.  We're required to review only peer-reviewed journal articles (like that means much anymore); I thought about writing about math testing but thought I'd settle on something a little more fun.  I'm going to write about math teacher quality--how do we measure and assess how good a math teacher is, and can we determine in pre-service if a teacher candidate will be a good math teacher.

Oddly enough I found many journal articles related to this topic, a few directly but most tangentially.  I printed them out to make reading them easier, but even printing them double-sided the stack is about an inch-and-a-half thick. 

I doubt I'll read all of them in their entirety, rather just enough to get the flavor (as well as a few quotes).  I don't have much time to read them all, the paper is due in a little over a month :-)

Once this one is turned in, I can't imagine why I'd ever need to write another such research paper again in my life.  Ever.

Let's hope.

Trump's Foul Talk


Yep, it was foul.  But as I've said so many times:  he says mean things, Clinton does mean things.

All of you Clinton supporters pretending to be upset over Trump's comments:  you supported and voted for a rapist, and now you're supporting and voting for the wife of that rapist.  And she's not innocent; no, she trashed those women in public, and even hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Paula Jones.  I guess all victims of sexual assault should be believed unless they were assaulted by her husband, right?

I guess I'd feel more sympathy for you and your outrage if I had never encountered the phrase "Sarah Palin is a c**t" back in 2008.

"Cocks not Glocks" got invited to the White House?  Brandishing dildos in public is so good that you get invited to the White House, but vulgar language a decade or more ago is bad?

Your "trumped-up outrage" doesn't impress me:
Now why might it be that men regard women as sex objects? Surely the ravenous purchase by females of stiletto heels, push-up bras, butt-hugging mini-skirts, plunging necklines, false eyelashes, hair extensions, breast implants, butt implants, lip implants, and mascara, rouge, and lipstick to the tune of billions a year has nothing to do with it. Females would never ever exploit their sexuality to seek attention from men. Bush and Trump, driving to the set of Days of Our Lives on a studio bus, comment on the legs of actress Arianne Zucker who is coming to meet them: “Oh, nice legs, huh?” Trump says. “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple,” Bush says. How surprising that Trump and Bush noticed Zucker’s legs! As documented in the video, she is wearing a skimpy purple dress, with an extremely short hem cut on the bias, a low neckline and fully exposed back. She is in high heels to accentuate her bare legs. The ratio of exposed skin between Zucker, on the one hand, and Trump and Bush, on the other, is perhaps 100 to one. But all that bare flesh must simply be because Zucker has a high metabolism and gets exceedingly warm; she would never want to broadcast her sexuality to men or have men notice her. The fact that she swishes her hips when she walks must just be a quirk of anatomy.
Now, I don't argue that Trump's comments are costing him big time.  What I argue is that such talk only matters if you're a Republican.  Use your intern as a humidor and no one cares--if you have a (D) after your name.    I also argue that Trump's language isn't as important as what Friday's Wikileaks dump says about what Clinton has done.

We've already had almost 8 years of one affirmative action president.  He's been a disaster; I'm hard-pressed to think of one thing I can actually support him on.  Now we're poised to elect our second affirmative action president in a row.  No matter which of the two major candidates is elected, we'll be in bad straits; Clinton's election, though, will be worse for America.

But at least she keeps her potty mouth to herself, right?  You can sleep well at night knowing that.  While she sleeps with a rapist.

The Republic is doomed.

My Life(time) In Numbers


Of course it all comes down to the metrics used to generate the graphs, but here's how the United States has done since the year I was born according to this web site:Notice what's missing--a "freedom" index.  Yes, our 2nd Amendment protections are stronger today than when I was born, but when I was born, firearms weren't the bugaboo for some people that they are today.  In fact, a friend of mine (and long time reader of this blog) used to take his .22 rifle to high school for marksmanship instruction in PE.  Also, when I was born, we didn't live in as much of a surveillance state as we do today, and I have no doubt it will get worse before it gets better.Here's how we've done compared to Britain:Next, I thought I'd look at a couple of countries that weren't in such great shape when I was born but are considered in great shape today.  Germany was only 15 years out of its disastrous defeat in World War II back then, and while free and independent it was still swarming with American servicemen:As the old advertisement would say, "You've come a long way, baby."South Korea went from being a tightly controlled country to one with more freedom, and the results speak for themselves:And then there are neighbors to the north and south.  Mexico has made some improvements, but certainly not much in the way of economic freedom:Mexico has made a lot of improvement, mostly because it had so much more improvement to make.And lastly, Canada:Interesting snapshots, to be sure.[...]

Institutionalizing Gender Hatred


Femininity is toxic.  Such women are weak, whiny, and vain.  They are a drag on resources, and it's time we do something about it.

If that offended you, then perhaps you can understand the sickness behind this:
A group of Claremont College students hosted an event where they discussed why masculinity is triggering and “toxic.”

The event, “Masculinity + Mental Health,” was organized by a group of women called “Thrive,” who aim to provide a “safe space” for students to discuss mental health, Steven Glick of The Claremont Independent wrote. 

“Masculinity can be extremely toxic to our mental health, both to the people who are pressured to perform it and the people who are inevitably influenced by it,” the Facebook event page reads.
What the heck has happened to our universities?

No More Ice!


The boy who cried wolf:
Dire predictions that the Arctic would be devoid of sea ice by September this year have proven to be unfounded after latest satellite images showed there is far more now than in 2012.

Scientists such as Prof Peter Wadhams, of Cambridge University, and Prof Wieslaw Maslowski, of the Naval Postgraduate School in Moderey (sic), California, have regularly forecast the loss of ice by 2016, which has been widely reported by the BBC and other media outlets.

Prof Wadhams, a leading expert on Arctic sea ice loss, has recently published a book entitled A Farewell To Ice in which he repeats the assertion that the polar region would free of ice in the middle of this decade. 

As late as this summer, he was still predicting an ice-free September.

Yet, when figures were released for the yearly minimum on September 10, they showed that there was still 1.6 million square miles of sea ice (4.14 square kilometres), which was 21 per cent more than the lowest point in 2012.

For the month of September overall, there was 31 per cent more ice than in 2012, figures released this week from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) show. This amounts to an extra 421,000 (1.09 million square kilometres) of sea ice, making the month only the fifth lowest since records began.
When the facts contradict your expectations, believe the facts.

Designed This Way, Or Just Really Wrong and Screwed Up?


I'm not sure the Democrats in Congress and the White House were actually smart enough to make a program that would fail so spectacularly that they would have to go back and try for single payer in order to fix it.  Oh, I'm sure they planned to do that anyway, but I believe they really believed their own rhetoric--they actually thought Obamacare would work. 

Only MSNBC viewers and New York Times readers could possibly have believed that:
“Tennessee is ground zero for ObamaCare’s nationwide implosion. Late last month the state insurance commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak, approved premium increases of up to 62% in a bid to save the exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act. ‘I would characterize the exchange market in Tennessee as very near collapse,’ she said.

Then last week BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced it would leave three of the state’s largest exchange markets—Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville. ‘We have experienced losses approaching $500 million over the course of three years on ACA plans,’ the company said, 'which is unsustainable.’ As a result, more than 100,000 Tennesseans will be forced to seek out new coverage for 2017.”
How, with a complete and total lack of evidence, people could think that government is the solution to the vast majority of problems, I'm at a loss to understand or explain.  Cause--well, yes, of course, but not the solution.

Boys Don't Matter


Hard to argue with this:
Young women are taking more honors classes, getting better grades and have a higher overall GPA than their male peers, according to a report compiling SAT Test data.

The report, released by the College Board, looked at the test scores of college-bound seniors in 2016, and reviewed high school data demographics. Girls, it turns out, are doing much better in high school than boys. In a chart compiled by American Enterprise Scholar Mark Perry, it's clear that girls are outperforming boys on nearly every level in high school...

Don't expect to hear calls for helping boys perform better in school. Activists have focused so heavily on girls for years now that boys have gotten the message that they no longer matter. It's what Christina Hoff Sommers wrote about in her book "The War Against Boys" nearly two decades ago.

What Perry noted in the chart above isn't new for this year, it's been a trend since before Hoff Sommers' book. Yet the focus is still on girls.
It would only be an issue if the sexes were reversed.

Clowns To The Left of Me, Jokers To The Right


Is anyone else tired of the hysteria over clowns lately?  Talk about a drummed up issue!  I even got a robo-call from my school district on the subject last night.

Never in my life have we had less substantive issues discussed, especially only a month before an election, than this one.  Seriously, clowns, and whether one presidential candidate called a beauty pageant contestant fat?  No immigration?  No public debt?  No threats from ISIS, Russia, or China?

It seems like everyone who should be serious is a clown.  The Republic is lost.

Why "Free" College Is A Bad Idea


If you love our "free" K-12 system, if you think our "free" high schools are great, just imagine what "free" college would be like!

If you're not bright enough to conduct that thought experiment, let's take a look at the lesson France provides us:
From certain perspectives, the French higher education system would seem to be doing great. There are numerous prestigious schools, thousands of students attend them, and the government has spent millions upon millions of euros since the 1980s in subsidizing both students and universities. But looks are deceiving. In fact, the number of students failing to pass their first year is at a record high, universities are overcrowded, infrastructure is in dire need of renovation, and youth unemployment is closing in on 30% (the European Union average is 20%). It turns out that free and fair are neither free nor fair...

If you subsidize something, you get more of it. These subsidies have effectively created a generation of young people who attend college because it is free, even if an apprenticeship might suit them better. Their education costs their neighbors large amounts of money and costs them several years of their lives that could have been spent learning more relevant skills.

But free college wasn’t enough; France also wanted it to be fair. To that end, France got rid of the ‘elitist’ system of getting accepted to a university. For many years, admission to a university required an entry exam or good grades: the numerus clausus. The French government got rid of that, opening the floodgates for thousands of students who otherwise would have been rejected. The effects of this have been especially pronounced in social sciences, law, international relations, history, and medicine. Since that time, only medical schools have successfully lobbied to get the restrictions reintroduced.

Unable to manage the overpopulation by limiting admission or increasing tuition, French universities have turned to a third way to deal with the problem.

2014 data show that only 30% of French students get their bachelor degree without resetting a year, only 43.8% make it from first to second year, and a solid 19% leave university with no diploma whatsoever. Why is that? Some of it obviously has to do with the decline in the quality of public secondary education, but degrees are also more difficult to acquire than they were before...

Instead of making the system free and fair, higher education becomes increasingly expensive for taxpayers and increasingly difficult for students.
Economics 101 tells us that this is exactly what would and should happen.  Still, some people believe in unicorn farts.

Free Speech in Academia


It's no secret that free speech is under assault in universities across the Western world.  Sadly, it's only news when someone stands up against that assault.  What's interesting is when the person standing up against it runs the University of California system, the flagship campus of which was at the forefront of the free speech movement back in the 1960's.  It's a start, but she doesn't go far enough:
All that said, Napolitano’s acknowledgment that American universities are facing a crisis of free speech, and her sharp criticism of illiberal activism, is an important step forward for the movement to save universities from the forces of censorship and intolerance. Let’s hope that a critical mass of students and faculty will back her up.
It's not just in the United States, either:
I came to England a few days ago in order to participate in a conference in Winchester on the fate of free speech in the academy, U.S. as well as British editions. We'll be publishing the papers for that conference in The New Criterion come January, but I can reveal now one thing that struck me about our deliberations.  Two years before, we had held a conference on a similar topic (which you can read about here): "Free Speech Under Threat." To some extent, what transpired in Winchester a few days ago comes under the rubric of what the philosopher Yogi Berra called "déjà-vu all over again."

But there are differences. In the couple of years since we last considered the issue of free speech, blatant assaults on free speech have grown much more common to the point where they are less scandalous than simply business as usual. People are harassed, shunned, sacked, fined, even jailed in some Western countries for expressing an unpopular opinion.

It is difficult to maintain a perpetual sense of emergency, however, and it’s my sense that many incursions upon free speech are now met more with a weary shrug than the outrage they would have occasioned even a few years back.
They intend to wear us down.  Eternal vigilance is the price we must continue to pay in order to maintain our freedoms.



I've always been fascinated by futuristic, super-high-efficiency cars.  It has nothing to do with global warming, but rather with my own sense of conservationism (which is very different from environmentalism).  And let's be honest, the "cool" factor comes into play, too.

I loved the Aptera.  I'm glad I didn't plunk down $500 to reserve one before the company went belly-up, though.  There's a brief shot of an Aptera in the background in the 2009 Star Trek movie!  Here's video of a Popular Mechanics test drive of the car back in its heady days:
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Now I'm liking Elio.  An engine with less than a liter displacement, only 55 hp, but can go over 100 mph (largely because of its small profile)?  What's not to like!  And the price is right, too, at $7300.  But the memory of Aptera looms large, and I don't want to plop down reservation money on this car until I can be sure that it's not Aptera v. 2.0.  Here are some Elio videos.



One of my Sunday morning pursuits is to use an app on my phone to check out the BBC, CNN, FoxNews, and USAToday (3:1 liberal, I know, but it keeps me informed).  This morning the BBC web site had two articles on language that I found interesing.

The first was "Eight of the world's quirkiest phrases", along with an explanation of each.  I've heard "not my circus, not my monkeys" before, but didn't know it was Polish in origin.  The last three are French, and they're all pretty good!

The other article was one documenting the changing pronunciation of English words in England, particularly the "th" sound--which is predicted to be extinct by 2066, my 101st birthday:
According to the Telegraph, those changes include the complete disappearance of the voiced dental nonsibliant fricative, also known as the "th" sound. It will be replaced with the "f," "d," and "v" sounds, so "thick" becomes "fick" and "mother" becomes "muvver." Other changes include words like "cute" and "beauty" becoming "coot" and "booty," the "w" and "r" sounds becoming indistinguishable, and the dropping of "l" sounds at the end of words.

Researchers studied 50 years of language recordings and current social media to make their predictions, which the Guardian sums up in a sentence: "I totes fink that car is a booty." (Your Newser editors have no idea why the newspaper didn't change "that" to "dat" in dat example.)

Researchers believe the changes will be spurred on by immigrants, who have a hard time pronouncing the "th" sound; the increased use of voice command; the prevalence of the American accent in pop culture; and the fact that most computers are developed in California.
I'd love someone to explain that last comment.