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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: 2017-02-27T05:04:03.646-08:00

 



Iceland Pictures--Puffy

2017-02-26T07:00:28.374-08:00

I first tried to go to Iceland in 2011--but a couple months before the trip I was injured in a skiing accident and couldn't travel.  I think it was prior to that trip that I bought a puffin Beany Baby at a discount store--$2, if memory serves.  I thought it would be fun to take pictures of the puffin at various places in Iceland.When I finally made it to Iceland a year and a half ago, I did so without the puffin.  I'd forgotten it at home.  I didn't make that mistake this time.  No, the mistake I made this time was taking and posting all these pictures of Puffy :-)click to embiggen Visiting family In the window at Cafe Loki, across from the Hallgrim's Church Resting on a bed that was plenty big for him, but tiny tiny tiny for me At the geysers At Gullfoss Puffy and I enjoy Gullfoss together At Thingvillir, the most Icelandic of Icelandic places[...]



Filmed In Iceland

2017-02-25T12:46:15.721-08:00

But not by me!
allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/z_nImUzRv0w?rel=0&controls=0&showinfo=0" width="560">



Iceland Pictures and Video--Geysir and Strokkur

2017-02-25T10:04:52.908-08:00

Geysir is the geyser from which all geysers get their name.  It used to erupt 100m into the air, now it doesn't erupt at all.  Here's a picture from July 2015:



Nearby Strokkur, though, still erupts every 6 minutes or so.  It's more like an explosion than a fountain, and the water is spit about 100 feet into the air.  Here's a 2015 summer shot of Strokkur, with a crowd waiting to see the big event.  Notice all the greenery!




I didn't take pictures this trip but I got some good video, which I spliced together (editing out all the waiting) and put on Vimeo.  You'll see Strokkur erupt from a distance, then up close, and then in slow motion.  Notice all the whitery!



Iceland Pictures--The Cemetery

2017-02-25T07:27:20.870-08:00

Our hotel was a 10-15 walk from the downtown core, and this cemetery was directly along the route.  We passed through it several times because it was so peaceful and moving.  Here are a few shots:

click to enbiggen





No Vikings in here, as the cemetery dates back only to the 1800s.



Iceland Pictures--Hallgrim's Church

2017-02-25T06:56:27.214-08:00

Reykjavik is a beautiful little city, and the high point, both figuratively and literally, is the Hallgrimskirkja, on a hill in the middle of the city.These first two pictures are from my trip there in July 2015:click to enlarge Also in July 2015, here's the view from the church tower:As I said, it's a beautiful city. In July, it could be sunny and 60s or it could be rainy. This past week it was in the 30s, with weather alternating between sunny and snowy--often within an hour or less:It didn't snow the first day or so, and then...It never snowed for long, and as I said, sometimes it would go from clear to snowy to clear again within 2 hrs. Very wild![...]



Cool Currency

2017-02-24T13:01:00.792-08:00

What about this 100+ year old 100 Mark note from Germany?

click to enlarge

Granted, it's a bit larger than I'd like to carry around in my wallet, but it's a true work of artistry.



Too Much Government

2017-02-22T14:53:48.608-08:00

I endeavor to avoid politics when I travel--there's not a lot of good that can come from such discussions in other people's countries! I just came across this, though, and I have to say that banning something for no reason other than personal preference is not a trait I'd want in a politician:
Pineapple on pizza would be a forbidden fruit, if the president of Iceland had his way...

When one student asked him what he thought about pineapple on pizza, he launched into a tirade — explaining he would pass a ban on the topping, if he had the power, according to a translation by Iceland Magazine.
I still wouldn't mind staying here a couple more days, though.



Last day

2017-02-22T14:45:20.585-08:00

The weather ran the gamut again today; this time, though, the snow stuck on the ground in Reykjavik.  I've been wearing this rabbit skin hat I brought to keep my head warm, but I don't really like it.  So I bought an Iceland beanie with fleece inside :)

There's a cemetery between the hotel and the main downtown district.  We've walked through it a couple times.  This morning, before the snow fell, I caught a glimpse of this 19th Century (?) headstone with runes on it.  Very cool.
I'll post more pictures and video when I get home, when I have access to what's on my phone. Great trip (except for not seeing the Northern Lights). Bus picks us up to take us to the airport just after lunch tomorrow (it's 10:44 pm here right now).




A Natural Tease

2017-02-21T17:04:37.715-08:00

Strokkur, the geyser on the Golden Circle Tour, sure knows how to be a tease.  Wait long enough, though, and you're bound to see an eruption.  I captured one in slo motion.  It's not high quality video, and it's kinda long, but the end--when you see the beginning of the eruption--that's way cool.  Video is here.  For comparison, here's video of Strokkur that I took a year and a half ago (summer).

Then we went out on the Northern Lights tour.  The forecast was very positive, the reality was the opposite.  No sighting at all.  In other words, we froze out on the water for no good reason.  This picture sums up my feelings on the Northern Lights tour:




A Teaser Pic For Today

2017-02-21T16:45:39.345-08:00

Just got in from the Golden Circle tour. It was supposed to last 6 hours, it lasted 8. Here's why:
The weather alternated between cold and yucky and cold and reasonable clear.  One road was closed, that created a small problem.

Now we're heading out for a quick dinner and then the Northern Lights tour!

Update:  we didn't get to see the Northern Lights.  Extremely disappointing.



I've Made It To Reykjavik

2017-02-20T13:04:09.700-08:00

I am physically exhausted, having gotten only a couple hours of sleep in the last 34 hrs. But I can't go to bed (it's 9pm here) without posting a picture:
It's one of my favorite sculptures in Reykjavik.



Recording Your Professor

2017-02-25T10:24:41.948-08:00

Readers might recall that, early last semester, a student and that student's parent pushed our school hard to allow the student to record me during class.  I'm quite against that--I don't want to accept the risk of having teenagers, with their video-editing savvy, to have video of me.  No good can come from that.  Add to that concern the fact that our newly-adopted textbooks all have online videos and tutorials, and there's no legitimate reason to record me.University professors are a little different.  In many cases they're lecturing to a hall of students who don't have the opportunity to ask questions during class.  Accordingly, some professors allow students to record them, some don't.  That seems eminently reasonable to me.  However, I'm not sure it's appropriate to hide behind a "no recording" policy when doing and saying things in class that you'd regret if word got out:A student who recorded his professor’s post-Election Day rant against Donald Trump has been suspended, but his attorney vowed on Wednesday to fight the sanctions, calling administrators’ decision punitive and a violation of the student’s Constitutional rights.Student Caleb O’Neil was suspended for a semester from Orange Coast College for allegedly violating a policy that prohibits recording professors, but his attorney, William Becker, called instructor Olga Perez Stable Cox’s tirade against Trump an “unconstitutional act that needed to be documented."Which constitutional rights?  And a professor's tirade is unconstitutional?  Uh, interesting.   But let's continue:Becker told the Register “this is an attack by leftists in academia to protect the expressive rights of their radical instructors at the expense of the expressive rights of conservative students on campus.”This is no doubt true.I probably tilt towards the student in this case as I tilt towards Edward Snowden--violated the rules, but did so to expose wrongdoing.Update, 2/27/17:  The suspension has been vacated:The Coast Community College District board of trustees has directed Orange Coast College to revoke its suspension of a student who secretly video-recorded his human-sexuality professor calling President Trump's election victory "an act of terrorism"...But, the OCC statement said, "without condoning the unlawful recording of a lecture, the student's desire to voice his displeasure is understandable.""The student in this case felt he could not freely share his political views in a classroom, which is why he felt his only recourse was to record a lecture he felt was unfair," according to the statement."The teacher in this case felt she was sharing her views and responding to a student who voiced concerns about the political climate," the statement added. "Without condoning what was said, the angst and distress she has felt, as hundreds of hateful and threatening messages were directed at her, is understandable." "It's time to move forward with increased empathy and understanding of the differences that have and will exist on a campus filled with individuals from an array of backgrounds who bring them a wide range of political views, religious affiliations and ideals," according to the statement. [...]



Cool Currency

2017-02-17T12:42:00.168-08:00

I'm writing and scheduling this post in early December, with plans to leave for Iceland in a couple days:

click to enlarge


Actually, all of these "cool currency" posts were written in early December and scheduled for later dates!  Oh, Darren, you're thinking, you're so sneaky!



Not An Overwhelming Victory

2017-02-18T11:03:12.585-08:00

Not a crushing defeat either, though.  I got my first test back in my current (and last!) master's course.  I expected a low A, I got a high B--89%.  I'm more disappointed in that than perhaps I should be, but I'll let this serve as a motivator not to slack off.

I've been getting up every morning for the past few weeks and studying 15-20 min for my cumulative test, which I take in April.  Talk about high stakes--if I score well enough, I get my master's degree.  If I don't score well enough, I don't.

Ugh.



Compelled Vegetarianism Lauded In The People's Republik

2017-02-15T17:07:11.199-08:00

Vegetarianism is good for the environment--so let's force it on kids!
Oakland schools partnered with the environmental group Friends of the Earth (FOE) to fight global warming by making student lunches climate-friendly.

FOE gave kids a lunch menu designed to eliminate foods it says are “unsustainable for our planet.” The new menu features far less meat and more plant-based food. Any meat or cheese the school did use came from “pastured, organic dairy cows.” The student’s lunch menu went from beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza to vegan stir fry tofu and vegan tostadas. The new FOE-approved menu served meat and cheese-less frequently and reduced the portion sizes.
Tofu?  Does anyone really like tofu?
“This is a landmark moment for school food,” Jennifer LeBarre, head of nutrition services for Oakland Unified School District, said in a FOE press statement. “We were so excited to see how the data showed that we could reduce our carbon and water footprint by serving healthy, delicious food –– like the vegetarian tostadas with fresh made in-house salsa, that kids absolutely love –– all while saving money.”
It's ok to force this on your own kids, but it should be criminal to force this on other people's kids.



You've Probably Heard About The Oroville Dam Spillway

2017-02-14T17:57:37.031-08:00

Sacramento is in no danger, but tens of thousands of people were evacuated.  They're being told that the immediate danger has passed and that they can return home:With the crisis at the Oroville Dam stabilized for now, authorities announced Tuesday that the 188,000 people evacuated Sunday will be allowed to return to their homes but should prepare to move again if a new emergency arises.The announcement by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, who ordered the mass exodus Sunday afternoon amid fears that the dam’s emergency spillway might collapse, came in a 1:40 p.m. press briefing in Oroville...Despite that, officials said they are confident that the steps taken to repair the hillside along the emergency spillway – using helicopters to dump boulders into holes and pour concrete on top of the piles – have made the structure safe in the event that the emergency spillway must be used again.They also said such a scenario is highly unlikely, with the next series of storms predicted to be much weaker than previous ones...More storms are predicted to hit the area starting Thursday, but Croyle said they are not expected to be powerful enough to produce rainfall that will create another problem.Meanwhile, a massive effort is underway to fill in erosion in front of the emergency spillway that led to officials ordering the evacuations. Authorities have 40 truckloads moving 30 tons of boulders every hour, two helicopters dumping rocks every 90 seconds and 125 construction crews at work.“We’re aggressively attacking the erosion concerns that have been identified...,” Croyle said. “We have a long spring runoff ahead of us, and we’re prepared for that...”You'd think that perhaps they'd be doing maintenance on dams all along, but we in California have other priorities:The flood danger from the Oroville Dam receded Monday, but California was hit by a wave of criticism for failing to heed warnings about risks to the spillway at a time when the state spent generously on illegal immigrants and high-speed rail.California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, came under fire amid reports that federal and state officials for years rebuffed or ignored calls to fortify the massive 50-year-old dam, which provides water to more than 20 million farmers and residential consumers... A radio talk show host, Mr. Donnelly said California “has been so busy defying President Donald Trump in order to protect illegal aliens from deportation that it forgot to do the things government is supposed to do, like maintain infrastructure. Governor Brown is now going hat-in-hand to beg the Trump administration for emergency funds.”That's a bit of hyperbole, at least as far as raising the topic of defying the new president.  California has been spending money on illegals and building the bullet-train-from-nowhere-to-nowhere for many times longer than the few weeks Trump has been president.Built in 1968, the Oroville Dam, located about 70 miles north of Sacramento on the Feather River, is the tallest dam in the nation at 770 feet, but environmental groups argue that the project’s infrastructure needs have been a low priority.In 2005, advocacy groups led by Friends of the River urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order the state to reinforce the dam’s earthen walls with concrete, citing the erosion risk, the San Jose Mercury News reported.The agency rejected the request on the recommendation of the state Department of Water Resources and local water agencies, which would have been on the hook for improvements that could have cost as much as $100 million.Reinforcing the Oroville Dam was not included on [...]



Turning An Argument On Its Ear

2017-02-14T17:40:43.217-08:00

Is he a closet Republican or something?
CHRIS KENNEDY, the Chicago-area businessman and son of the late ROBERT F. KENNEDY who entered the Democratic race for governor last week, had some strong words about needed school improvements across the state — and in Springfield.

During an interview with The State Journal-Register, he mentioned the city's three public high schools.

He said at Lanphier and Southeast, "less than 10 percent of the kids who graduate ... are ready to go on to a university, enter a trade school, go to community college, or enter the workforce without remedial education. Ninety percent of those kids, therefore, are going to be doomed to a life of economic oppression"...

"The state needs to step in," Kennedy said. "What is the economic impact of having all of those people unable to take care of themselves? Where is the moral outrage in the community?"
His is the best argument for school choice that I've heard in a long time.




Whirlwind

2017-02-14T18:00:07.905-08:00

My latest master's course isn't a full-on course in abstract algebra, rather it appears to be an eclectic pick-and-choose of topics that (I hope) will illuminate some of the interwovenness of algebra and geometry topics.  The first test, which I took last week (no score yet!) dealt with groups, permutations, and isometries of the complex plane.  Yes, I know, not a lot of commonality there.  And now we're into some topics related to triangles on spheres before moving onto the platonic solids.

It's nothing if not interesting.  And one of our homework problems is amenable to a solution using matrices--my first course in this program, 4 1/2 years ago.  It's taking me awhile--the solution, given but which we're supposed to derive, is pretty ugly, which makes matrices even more difficult to use--but I'm going to keep at it!

Update:  Got it!



Do You Have A Fire Extinguisher?

2017-02-15T17:13:29.058-08:00

Had a little engine fire in my truck yesterday; fortunately it happened just as I pulled into my garage, and not out on the road somewhere.

I grabbed my house fire extinguisher--how long has it been empty?  I rushed into my travel trailer and got the fire extinguisher I keep in there, and that put the small fire out.

Today I went out and bought a fire extinguisher each for my car, my truck, my trailer, and the house.  The several dozen dollars I spent on them is a pretty cheap insurance policy.



Why Can't They Learn?

2017-02-11T10:52:24.779-08:00

If liberals were smart they'd learn from others--especially the Europeans they want to mimic.

They'd learn that socialized medicine doesn't work for very long.  They'd learn that letting in too many immigrants from Muslim countries isn't a very good idea--and leads to the very rape culture they fantasize exists at US university campuses.  And they'd learn that universal pre-Kindergarten doesn't solve society's ills, but creates more:
A scathing report, highlighted in the UK Daily Mail, details the findings of the Institute of Economic Affairs regarding Britain’s universal free childcare program. The bottom line: researchers have concluded that a government-funded, government-mandated universal daycare and pre-K program has done nothing more than bankrupt the middle class while failing to serve the country’s poor. What’s worse, government involvement has led to excessive regulation that not only drives up programming costs, but limits parental choice when it comes to how they would like to care for and educate their own children...

The statistics should come as no surprise to concerned Americans following the push for universal pre-K on this side of the pond. In 2013 the Wall Street Journal published an analysis that determined universal pre-K had “negligible educational value,” while being “massively expensive.” Politicians push the idea based on studies showing the “value” of Pre-K in the short-term while ignoring the long-term. The reality is that low-income children who receive the immediate benefit of preschool education still wind up behind the game academically because they lack the necessary support at home to sustain education benefits into the future.

The true intention of citing the studies is to distract from the fact that universal pre-K has nothing to do with education and everything to do with providing glorified daycare services so that parents can go to work. Two-income families would be required in order to pay for universal childcare programming. In other words, it wouldn’t matter if a mother or father believed in or wanted to stay at home with their preschool aged children. Under federally regulated preschool, they wouldn’t have a choice. Both parents would be forced to work full-time just to generate the tax dollars that would pay for the program. Hence, as the British researcher above noted, universal pre-school legislation not only tells mom and dad to get back to work, but takes over parent decision-making as well.
*sigh*



Cool Currency

2017-02-12T17:18:03.106-08:00

It may surprise some people to learn that many beautiful notes come from the Middle East.  I had a difficult time choosing just one for this post, but I settled on this 50 riyal note from Saudi Arabia that I earned when I lived in Riyadh for a few months at the end of 1977:

click to enlarge


If memory serves, the exchange rate at the time was fixed at 3 1/3 riyals per dollar (or something very close to that).



How Today Has Gone

2017-02-09T18:18:26.585-08:00

We had a staff meeting after school.  My principal asked me to present on a certain topic; I knew it would be one at which the staff would throw vegetables, but even knowing that I still lost my cool at one point and said, "screw it, I'm out," and I sat down.  We spent more time in that meeting complaining about a legal requirement (that has been one since 1976!) than it takes to comply with said legal requirement--and yes, I'm quite serious about that.

Then, after getting frustrated in the meeting, I had to take the first exam in my current (and hopefully last!) master's class.  There were a couple minor things that I couldn't remember under pressure but I think I got the biggies.  I'm predicting a low A.

Then I got home and, with all the rain we've been getting, one of my fences is ready to come down--and if it does, my dog will...well, you know.  It all goes downhill from here.  First I have to figure out why the fence is falling in the first place--is the post rotten?  It shouldn't be, it's one of the newest ones in my fence!  But I can't tell anything in a torrent in the dark, so I jerry-rigged it a bit and hopefully it will stay up till I can see in in the daylight on Saturday. 

I'm inside and dry now.  A friend is coming over.  I hope the rest of my evening is more enjoyable than the past 4 hours have been!



Believe Them When They Tell The Truth

2017-02-08T16:23:26.983-08:00

I've had some Facebook discussions with college students, some even at Berkeley itself.  "Oh, we don't support the rioting, that's all outside agitators," they say.  "The students participated in peaceful protest."Bull.Many students participated in the rioting.  Many supported the rioting.  Many (most?) conflate Milo Yiannopolis' words with real, genuine violence, thereby justifying their own actual violence.How do I know?  Because in column after column in the school's paper, The Daily Californian, they tell us so:The University of California – Berkeley newspaper The Daily Californian published a series of columns Tuesday that praised the riot that shut down Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos’s speech last week. Headlined as “Violence as Self-Defense,” the series was intended to give a voice to those who thought the multiple assaults and serious property damage committed in the name of cancelling Milo were 100 percent right. The first op-ed, written by UC Berkekely (sic) alumna Nisa Dang, lectured critics of the riots to “check their privilege.” Dang claimed that Yiannopoulos’s views amount to “violence,” and that in turn legitimized violence against them. Criticisms of the riots are not just wrong, in her opinion, but also constitute “violent acts” against minority students...The next column, written by an illegal immigrant student named Juan Prieto, argued that the riots actually ensured the safety of students. Prieto claims that Yiannopoulos having a chance to speak would make all illegal alien students subject to violence...In the following article, former student columnist Neil Lawrence identifies himself as one of the “black bloc” rioters and pushed back against the idea that his fellow demonstrators were outside agitators. (RELATED: Famous Berkeley Prof Suggests That Violent Protesters At Milo Event Were Right-Wing Plants)...The next columnist, Desmond Meagley, also supported the use of violence to challenge the alleged violence of Yiannopoulos’s views and claimed there were many students among the black bloc rioters...The final op-ed in the series, written by Berkeley student Josh Hardman, took the most moderate stance of the bunch as it didn’t fully endorse last week’s violence. However, Hardman argued that Yiannopoulos’s “hate speech” should not be covered by freedom of speech and he was pleased he was not allowed to speak.This is how bad our education system is in this country.  We have done such a poor job of teaching that these students at a flagship university think those arguments are valid.  Our culture is sunk if the above is what passes for intellect anymore.It sickens me that my tax dollars are paying for their so-called education.[...]



If They Were Telling The Truth

2017-02-07T17:43:40.772-08:00

If they were telling the truth, they wouldn't keep having these Climategate scandals:
House lawmakers will renew their long-dormant investigation into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the heels of whistleblower testimony that agency scientists rushed a landmark global warming study to influence policymakers...

Smith’s investigation largely petered out in late 2015 after the Obama administration refused to hand over scientists’ emails regarding highly-publicized “Karl study,” named after its lead author Tom Karl. Democrats, environmentalists and science organizations joined forces to condemn Smith’s investigation.

Over the weekend, Dr. John Bates, the former principal scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., went public with complaints that NOAA scientists put a ‘thumb on the scale’ to get results that showed more global warming since 1998 — a period usually referred to as the “pause” in warming...

The committee aide said they had heard from other NOAA whistleblowers as well, but would not bring that evidence forward until given permission by sources.



Majors Matter

2017-02-06T17:09:04.495-08:00

I've told students for years--not everyone needs to go to college, but if you go, where you go to college isn't as important as how much you put into your college education.  And if you want to make a good living, choose a major that will allow you to make a good living.  Engineering degrees will pay more than Aggrieved Victims Studies degrees:
“Deciding your major plays a bigger role in determining your career earnings than does where you go to school or even deciding whether or not to attend at all,” says Gregory Wolniak in an Atlantic interview. He directs the Center for Research on Higher Education Outcomes at NYU Steinhardt and co-authored  How College Affects Students.
You'll get out of it what you put into it.