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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: 2017-10-17T08:58:47.926-07:00

 



A Peek Into The Future...From The Past

2017-10-16T19:14:17.545-07:00

Ten years ago today, the Freakonomics blog posted predictions about what air travel would be like 10 years hence.  It's now 10 years hence, how well do you think they did?

I give most of them "eh".



College Majors With The Highest Unemployment Rates

2017-10-16T19:10:38.804-07:00

I admit, #2 surprised me:
According to career site Zippia, which used US Census data to estimate the unemployment rate for people 22 to 25 years old in various fields, there are several areas of study that make job-finding harder...

Here are the majors that produce the highest unemployment rates:
1. Composition and Rhetoric — 17.54%
2. Environmental Science — 11.79%
3. Anthropology and Archaeology — 11.76%
4. Drama And Theater Arts — 11.42%
5. Film, Video, and Photographic Arts — 11.24%
6. Mass Media — 10.92%
7. Fine Arts — 10.90%
8. Area Ethnic and Civilization Studies — 10.84%
9. Intercultural and International Studies — 9.93%
10. Communication Technologies — 9.40%
11. Biology — 8.76%
Considering that all those numbers except #1 are in descending order, do you think they meant 18.54%?



Credit Where It's Due

2017-10-16T19:06:29.496-07:00

I don't often have something positive to say about California governor Jerry Brown, but when he does something right I'll absolutely praise him for doing so.  And in this instance, he's doing the right thing for the right reason:
Jerry Brown Sides with Betsy DeVos on Title IX. In his message vetoing a state law: “Since this law was enacted, however, thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students. Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding.”



Why Are Millenials Wary of Freedom?

2017-10-15T14:36:57.429-07:00

This column makes so much sense that I'm surprised it was published in the NYT.
Fear, in all its forms, is at the heart of these issues — fear of failure, ridicule, discomfort, ostracism, uncertainty. Of course, these fears haunt all of us, regardless of demographics. But that is precisely the point: Our culture isn’t preparing young people to grapple with what are ultimately unavoidable threats. Indeed, despite growing up in a physically safer and kinder society than past generations did, young Americans today report higher levels of anxiety.
My generation sure screwed up as parents.



The Purpose of School

2017-10-15T14:38:14.495-07:00

A colleague of mine came up with a pithy but entirely accurate saying this past week:  "Secondary education--where education is secondary."  A teacher who long ago left our school used to say that "our job is to babysit the kids until someone more important needs them."

I'm really starting to not enjoy teaching, and part of the reason is all the non-teaching things I'm expected to do.  And these non-teaching tasks are getting greater and greater in number and taking more and more time.  Let's look at just this past week, starting with the students.

  • Sophomores and juniors were administered the PSAT during school.  Freshmen and seniors didn't have to come to school until 11:15.
  • Immediately after the PSAT, when classes were to be in session, seniors had a mandatory "sexual assault at college" briefing that took 2 class periods.
  • On another day there was a mandatory senior class meeting that took half of a period.
  • There is at least one mandatory briefing this next week, I think it's about drinking and driving.

Now let's look at what I was tasked with just this past week:
  • I administered the PSAT.
  • Mandatory online survey about my attitudes regarding AP classes and the students who should take those classes.  This survey takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • Mandatory online video training regarding suicide prevention; this survey also takes approximately 30 minutes.
  • My district is requiring me to give up my desktop computer and accept a new laptop computer that I don't want.  I must backup all the data, bookmarks, settings, etc., on my computer, disconnect it, take it to the district office, pick up the new computer that I don't want or need, and restore all my backed up data to this new computer.  The instruction sheet on how to backup/restore the data takes two pages.
Secondary education--where education is secondary.



Limiting Press Freedoms?

2017-10-14T11:11:11.792-07:00

It was a stupid (and probably unconstitutional) idea when Alabama lawmakers wanted to do it, and it’s still stupid now that someone in Indiana wants to do it. And in both cases, the lawmaker who proposed it was a Republican—and Republicans should know better.
An Indiana state lawmaker has drafted a bill that would require journalists in the state to get a license, in an apparent bid to point out “hypocrisy” in the debate over gun rights.

The bill, drafted by Republican state Rep. Jim Lucas, would require professional journalists to submit an application for a license to the state police. If approved, the license would cost $75 and last for life, while subject to suspension, as first reported by the Indianapolis Star.
I know it's "just to prove a point", but still.  Someone, probably on the other side, will pick up on this idea and provide a winnable justification for it--and you know which side of the political debate would be on the losing side.



Higher Education Spirals Down To Ground

2017-10-14T11:00:46.021-07:00

If you have no standards, you can’t fall short of meeting them:
This fall, nearly 40 percent of incoming freshmen at California State University were placed in developmental math or English courses. In the state’s sprawling community college system, three-quarters of any given incoming group is deemed unprepared for college-level work when they arrive.

It will be semesters or even years – and thousands of dollars in additional tuition costs – until these students can begin the general education classes that advance them toward a degree. Frustrated or discouraged, many will drop out before they ever reach that point.

So California policymakers, eyeing educational experiments across the country that improved student achievement, are now pushing for sweeping changes to the traditional way colleges have helped students catch up. By next year, the high-stakes placement tests and non-credit courses could be largely eliminated.



Is It A School, Or A One-Shop Socialism Stop?

2017-10-14T10:58:56.658-07:00

In an effort to keep poor students attending class during their periods, California schools will provide free tampons and pads.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article178479851.html
I’m at a loss for words on this one.



California Pensions

2017-10-14T10:57:58.526-07:00

It’s not CalSTRS, the state teachers retirement system, but I find it hard to believe that STRS is in any better shape than PERS, the public employees retirement system:
The Sacramento region’s largest local governments will see pension costs go up by an estimated 14 percent next fiscal year, starting a series of annual increases that many city officials say are “unsustainable” and will force service cuts or tax hikes.

The increases come after CalPERS in December reduced the expected rate of return from investments, forcing local governments and other participants in the state’s retirement plan to pay more to cover the cost of pensions.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article178561476.html



Calling A Liar A Liar

2017-10-12T17:31:39.658-07:00

A Republican representative from Virginia, Dave Brat, is brutally honest about his fellow Republicans in the Congress:
Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) told PJM that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has violated the law of Moses by not following through on the Republican Party’s promise to totally repeal Obamacare.

Reflecting on President Trump’s time in office, the conservative lawmaker was asked if the president had “excessive expectations” as a candidate, as McConnell has suggested.

"Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before," McConnell told a Rotary meeting in his home state in August. "I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

Brat replied that Trump “had the exact expectations that Mitch McConnell and everyone in the Senate promised, that they are going to repeal Obamacare – that’s the expectation we all had.”

“Don’t lie, right? The reason we had those expectations is because you all voted on it 50 times on total repeal, not a skinny bill, so that’s a bunch of bull, having the ‘wrong expectations,’ that’s a bunch of bull. The American people had the exact correct expectations if you live in Judeo-Christianity land and you expect people to basically tell the truth, right? It’s in the big 10. Go check Moses,” Brat said during an interview on Capitol Hill.
That's what liberals might call "an inconvenient truth".



Running Out of STEAM

2017-10-11T18:48:27.798-07:00

Not far from where I live, signs for a middle school tout the school's STEAM program.  Everyone who pays attention to education knows that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math--in other words, a strong math/science-based curriculum.  So what is this STEAM, what does the A stand for?  Why, Arts, of course!

There's a fear that our educational system is falling behind the rest of the world in STEM topics.  That's why we created the nifty acronym, that's why some schools place a focus on the area.  Some worry that women are underrepresented in STEM fields, so there's an emphasis on getting women to enter the fields.

Why put the A in there?  How does A fit in with the rest of STEM, except to make a newer, even niftier acronym?

The answer seems pretty clear to me.  Someone was worried that an emphasis on STEM would diminish the A.  Put A into the acronym, and voila!--the arts are saved!

But throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your acronym kinda defeats the purpose of the acronym.  You know what I call science, technology, engineering, arts, and math?  I call it the curriculum!  That school I mentioned, they're going to focus on the entire curriculum.  Well, good for them!  If everything is your priority, though...

Over at her own blog, Joanne discusses a different interpretation of what STEAM represents:
Integrating art into science and math teaching — turning STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) into STEAM — is “counterproductive” and “pedagogically unsound,” writes Jay Greene in Ed Week‘s arts education package.

“By trying to put the arts almost everywhere, integration is likely to result in arts education almost nowhere,” Greene writes. Separate arts classes taught by specialists will be dropped.
These crazy educational fads.



Northern California Fires

2017-10-11T15:30:10.029-07:00

Northern California is a big place.  I'm quite a distance from the fires you might have heard about on the news, most of which are about an hour or more away by car.  Still, though, I could smell smoke in the air at school this morning, and before 10:00 we received the following email from our principal:
Colleagues,

The district has requested we suspend all outdoor activities because of the air quality. We are also looking for teachers that are willing to open up their classroom during lunch for students to sit inside and eat. If you are willing to do that and eat lunch with the students please let (the school secretary) know. The office will be open as well.
Life in the Sacramento area.



Rule #1: Don't Abuse Your Power

2017-10-10T18:37:28.485-07:00

This sheriff abused his, and I hope it costs him plenty--and not just in dollars:
Earlier this year, the Worth County (GA) Sheriff's Department enraged an entire nation by subjecting the entire student body of a local high school to invasive pat downs. The reason for these searches? Sheriff Jeff Hobby believed drugs would be found on campus...

The sheriff brought in drug-sniffing dogs and had his deputies frisk every single attending student. The sheriff claimed the searches were legal. And not just legal, but "necessary." The end result of the multiple invasions of personal privacy? Zero drugs, zero arrests...

According to school policies, students may be searched if there's reasonable suspicion the student is in possession of an illegal item. The same rules apply to law enforcement, but they were ignored here. Sheriff Hobby claimed he could search any student he wanted to (in this case, all of them) simply because he was accompanied by a school administrator.

Hobby was wrong and is now facing some serious legal problems. First off, Hobby has been sued by several of the students frisked by his officers...

This lawsuit is a problem for Sheriff Hobby, especially as it will be much more difficult for the sheriff and his deputies to avail themselves of immunity. Indictments have that sort of effect on immunity claims. [via Greg Doucette]  ...

Somewhat ironically, the indicted sheriff's attorney is bemoaning the same grand jury system law enforcement loves when it's indicting civilians
It's not your authority.  The authority belongs to the government, it only acts through you.  When you misuse that authority, you're misusing what isn't rightly yours in the first place.

This sheriff...chose poorly.  And I hope it costs him--perhaps as much as his freedom, but certainly his job.



It's Sad This Is News, But It *Is* A Victory Of Sorts

2017-10-09T20:13:43.118-07:00

Good on them:  University of Wisconsin to crack down on disruptions of free speech. “University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.”

Universities need to understand that students are their product, not their client.  You turn out a bad product long enough, no one will want that product, and no one will want to go to your school.  Most recent Exhibit A:  Missouri.



Idiot Teachers

2017-10-08T19:42:45.740-07:00

A long time ago I wrote a post called Idiots Who Would Be Teachers, in which I took prospective teachers to task if they failed any part of the entirely-too-simple California Basic Educational Skills Test.  I regret calling those who failed the CBEST "idiots".  They were unprepared, and while I stand by my belief that college graduates who can't pass the CBEST shouldn't be teachers, calling them idiots was inappropriate.

This teacher is an idiot:
Parents in a Wyoming school district are outraged that an answer on a multiple choice test included this option: "Shooting at Trump."



For Lefties, Someone Who Thinks For Him/herself Is Worthy of Anthropological Study

2017-10-06T20:25:42.296-07:00

You have to wonder how anyone could genuinely honestly truly be so oblivious to the beam in their own eye while commenting on the mote in someone else's:
Amherst College is offering a course this semester exploring why “some women become right-wing leaders” while others “fight for the rights of women.”

According to the course description, the seminar will explore “the consequences of neoliberalism, cultural conservatism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments for women of different social and economic strata as well as women’s divergent political responses.”

The description then elaborates on the nature of the divergence, saying that some women gravitate toward the “right-wing”—about which it provides no additional context—whereas others join “progressive forces,” whose activities it charitably describes as “anti-racist” and focused on defending the rights of others.
The left truly doesn't understand how and why people think for themselves instead of marching in lockstep.



A Needed Shot In The Arm

2017-10-05T17:56:01.356-07:00

I've not been happy teaching the last couple months--and yes, this school year started a couple days shy of two months ago in my district--but today I got a couple of kudos that helped make the day a little bit brighter.

A couple of days ago a former student came to me and told me that she referenced me in her college entrance essay, and asked if I'd like to read it.  That ball can bounce in any direction, there's no telling what she wrote, but I told her sure, please email it to me.  I received and read it this morning.

She wrote about how some traumatic event in middle school caused her to have tremendous, almost debilitating, anxiety.  She wrote about how she broke down crying the first week of school during both her freshman and sophomore years, not because of any test but just because of general anxiety.  But her sophomore year pre-calculus teacher "didn't believe in anxiety", and told her that if he were to give her a test on the alphabet she wouldn't be anxious at all because she knew the alphabet cold.  Her anxiety was caused by not being confident that she knew the material being tested.  The solution, then, was to know the material so well that there could be no fear of failure--and he was available to help her do that.  That teacher, she said, was the first person to tell her that her anxiety was conquerable, that it wasn't something she had to live with, surrender to, or accommodate.

You can imagine where the story goes from there, but there's more.  She grew to recognize that she could learn from mistakes and not just fear them.  And I believe she's sincere in that belief, not just writing it to get into a university.  I've seen a tremendous change in her confidence--and happiness--over the last couple years.  She's grown a lot.

The second minor anecdote requires some background knowledge.  When conducting hypothesis tests in statistics, one calculates what's known as a p-value.  If the p-value is small, if it's unlikely you'd get the results you did given some initial hypothesis, then you reject your initial (null) hypothesis.  The null hypothesis is abbreviated H-sub-0, or H-naught.  When you see it written, it looks like "Ho".

The first year I taught statistics, a former student of mine--who has since become a math teacher!--told me a pithy rhyme that his stats professor in college used to help students remember how the p-value and null hypothesis interact.

I received a text message from another former student today:
Thank god i was in your class because my business stats professor just used a complicated way to explain "if p is low, reject the ho".
Sometimes they listen.  Sometimes they remember.  Sometimes they learn.



Racist Hatemongers

2017-10-04T19:20:10.139-07:00

If you think it's ok to steal someone's property, and to threaten their physical safety, because that person has a different political ideology than you do--then you must be a leftist:
UC Riverside student Matthew Vitale, who had his Make America Great Again hat taken from him by a fellow student, has decided to press criminal theft charges against her, he told The College Fix in an interview Monday.

Meanwhile, peers of the young Latina woman who swiped the hat, Edith Macias, have rallied to her defense, demanding the university protect her from any charges and even pay her rent in a “solidarity” document released Oct. 1.

At issue is an incident last week in which Macias took the bright red MAGA hat right off Vitale’s head during a campus event, an incident that was recorded.

That video was posted on Facebook by Macias, who states in her post: “‘Make America Great Again’ coded ‘Continue the Genocide of POC’. You feel safe cuz you got the cops and politicians on your side. Youre not safe… just saying. We need to make racists scared.”
If you think it's OK to defend someone who does those things, and to defend such actions in the name of racial solidarity, then you must be a leftist--and a racist. 

It must take a lot of energy to harbor that much hatred against people.  Young Edith, I hope you learn a lesson in civility as well as what kind of behavior is acceptable in a diverse society--otherwise, your life will be miserable indeed. 



The Role of Education in Social Mobility

2017-10-04T18:34:31.841-07:00

It might not be as important as we currently think:
Geography plays a big role in whether a child born to low-income parents will rise to the top of the economic ladder, concluded a 2014 study led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty.

The economists found that “a poor child raised in San Jose, or Salt Lake City, has a much greater chance of reaching the top than a poor child raised in Baltimore, or Charlotte,” writes Cohen. “They concluded that five correlated factors — segregation, family structure, income inequality, local school quality, and social capital — were likely to make a difference.”

In a new working paper, Berkeley economist Jesse Rothstein found that school quality makes less of a difference than local labor markets (clear career pathways, union jobs, higher wages) and marriage patterns (concentrations of married or single-parent households).

“We can’t educate people out of this problem,” Rothstein concludes.



Tom Petty

2017-10-04T18:28:14.238-07:00

Tom Petty's is the first "famous person" death since Ronald Reagan's that's truly affected me.  And yes, that includes Leonard Nimoy's death.

I was a big Tom Petty fan in high school.  In fact, his was the first concert I ever went to, in September of 1981 at Cal Expo.  They threw a tarp over the race track and called it "festival seating".  It got to around 100 degrees that day, and since no one had yet thought to sell plastic bottles of stuff that fell for free from the sky, we just stood outside the race track all day and dehydrated.  It was pretty bad.

When Petty finally came on, he opened with American Girl.  He dedicated his song The Waiting to those of us in Sacramento since we'd waited in the burning sun all day.  Surprise (not really, but that's how they billed it) special guest Stevie Nicks came out and did two songs with Petty, Insider from his recent album and Stop Draggin My Heart Around from her recent album.  I was enthralled.  I took my mother's 110 camera (remember those tiny pictures?!) to the concert, no telephoto lens, here's the postage-stamp-sized section of one picture I got of Tom and Stevie:
I have all of Petty's albums from the 1976 debut self-titled album up through 1987's Let Me Up (I've Had Enough).  I was given a couple of his later albums but by then his style had changed enough that I didn't listen near as much as I used to.  There were some good songs, but they were more like Dylan than the Petty I remembered.  (BTW, I loved The Traveling Wilburys, which included Dylan and Petty.)  I very much enjoyed when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was the Super Bowl halftime show a few years ago.


In honor of his passing, I'm going to list those first seven albums as well as one of my favorite songs from each of them.  Since not all of these songs are available on Tom Petty's VEVO page on YouTube, I'll just list the songs here and let you find a current link on YouTube (if I provided a link, there's no guarantee that link would still work a month from now).  I hope you enjoy the music.

1976's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers self-titled album:  American Girl
1978's You're Gonna Get It!:  I Need To Know
1979's Damn The Torpedoes:  Here Comes My Girl
1981's Hard Promises:  The Waiting
1982's Long After Dark:  Change of Heart
1985's Southern Accents:  Dogs on the Run
1987's Let Me Up (I've Had Enough):  Jammin' Me

There are a few great songs on 1989's Full Moon Fever, but my favorite on that one was I Won't Back Down.

Petty's music brought me a lot of joy in life, and did so over several decades.  I'm sorry to see him go.





The Impetus Behind Common Core--One Man's View

2017-10-03T19:05:45.597-07:00

Jim Milgram, the Stanford professor who was the primary author of California's 1997 math standards, sent the following email to a list of which I am a member, and gave me permission to quote it here with attribution:
I wish you were right, but here in California, Ze'ev Wurman's work shows that the 12 years of reasonable standards and state enforcement actually did reduce the achievement gap and in the right way. Scores for "minority" groups went up significantly, while scores for others were roughly unchanged.

As you know, I was on the Common Core Validation Committee, so I had a first row seat to what was happening. You should have seen the sudden increase among the math educators involved -- when Ze'ev's results first appeared -- in their desire to get rid of the CA standards.

I had a long argument with the most well known among them. I focused on explaining our results in eighth grade algebra which had shown a very high percentage of those minority kids passing the course and scoring pretty well on the state exam.

The more they understood what was going on, the more determined they became. I recall that when I mentioned that fully 2/3 of the CA students were taking eighth grade algebra, one of them said that's horrible, and the others agreed. That's when I realized I wasn't speaking the same language they were, I had to get out, and I finally felt I had to report to Governor Schwarzenegger's office that CA should not get involved with Common Core. Unfortunately, the Race to the Top money had already been announced, and CA was desperate for funds. So it was too late. He tried to keep eighth grade algebra, but it only took Jerry Brown and Mike Kirst one or two years to get rid of it.

Jim
He has had more direct experience in this than I have, and I have no reason to doubt his sincerity.



Joanne Is On A Roll Today

2017-10-03T18:55:24.013-07:00

Two consecutive posts today are right on:
50 is the new 0
Is 50 is the new 0?, writes Kate Stoltzfus on Education Week Teacher. Schools in Maryland and Virginia are implementing “no zero” policies to make it harder for students to fail, reports the Washington Post. Often, the minimum grade is 50...

Making 50 the minimum grade lowers the drop-out rate  and keeps struggling students from giving up, argue advocates. Students are evaluated on learning, rather than behavior.

However, some teachers hate the idea. Say “no” to no-zero grading, argued teacher Gina Caneva in Catalyst Chicago.

When her high school made 50 the minimum grade, attendance at tutoring sessions plummeted. The F students had become D students. “Since few students were truly failing, hardly anyone thought they needed to work hard to improve,” wrote Caneva. The school’s rating rose because more students were on track for graduation, but students’ test scores remained low.
Yep.

When homework goes wrong

When homework goes wrong, parents should remember three rules, writes K.J. Dell’Antonia in Medium.
1. It’s not yours.
2. What kids learn from homework is rarely on the worksheet.
3. You don’t want to make tonight’s homework better. You want to make ALL the homework better.
If it seems like an unreasonable assignment, consider the possibility “that the reading assignment was given last week, not last night, or that the project was discussed in the first week of class,” writes Dell’Antonia. Or your kid got it wrong.
Double yep. 



Sociopaths

2017-10-02T20:46:30.323-07:00

There are many types of sociopaths in the world.  Some of them we recognize right away, and others we just shake our heads at; it's only later, when we've thought about it for awhile, that we recognize that there's more than a little that's "not quite right" with some people, that they're actually sick in the head.

The first type of sociopath is the shooter in Las Vegas.  I don't care what his reason was, he was a sociopath.  The second type of sociopath is demonstrated by these people:
CBS has parted ways with one of the company’s top lawyers after she said she was “not even sympathetic” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican,” when discussing the mass shooting that unfolded in Las Vegas late Sunday night.   link
I'm impressed CBS fired her.  Then again, who would want someone that unstable working for them?


How about this one--from a teacher, no less?  Giving that Felarca woman a run for the crazy title, and making all of us look bad in the process:
Lots of white trump supporters in Las Vegas at route 21 watching Jason aldean.  Pray only trumptards dies! link
One of the signs of sociopathy is a lack of empathy for other people.  The people above possess that warning sign.

This next fellow isn't a sociopath, just a dimwit:
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said Monday that he won’t participate in a moment of silence on the House floor for victims of Sunday night's deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas.

“As after #Orlando, I will NOT be joining my colleagues in a moment of silence on the House Floor that just becomes an excuse for inaction,” Moulton tweeted Monday. link
His idea of action is gun control.  Incidentally, I wonder if he approves of the "excuse for inaction" currently in vogue in the NFL.  Just sayin'.

Update:  From Sarah Hoyt:
[T]he carrion crows viewing this as a chance to advance their agenda, should get down on their knees and beg whatever God they believe in to forgive them and turn them into real humans, with real human feelings.

And that’s not counting the people saying it’s okay because those people were likely Trump Voters. Those people have willfully cut themselves from the human race and made themselves a species of hyena far more repulsive than real hyenas — who are after all only animals who can’t help their behavior.







A Little Media Bias With My Mid-morning Tea

2017-10-01T10:39:56.220-07:00

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
I know why some conservative speakers, white supremacists and the president’s supporters flock to Berkeley, and it has nothing to do with free speech. What they want to do is normalize hate and spread it on college campuses. 
This is not an op-ed, this was written by one of the paper's columnists.  If you don't believe that's media bias, then we have no common ground on which to have a constructive conversation.

You want more?  Here's more:
But Taylor, who identifies as a communist revolutionary and has some radical views and ideas that I don’t support, such as revolution that completely disrupts government, certainly isn’t wrong about what Berkeley represents: a battleground for political messaging.

And I believe she’s here for the right reasons.
I give this columnist credit for being honest with his illiberal, intolerant bias.

You know why "white supremacists" are the new bugaboo of the left?  Because no one listens to accusations of "racist" anymore, because in true Peter and the Wolf fashion, they've cried "racist!" so many times that no one believes them anymore.  What's the next epithet they'll hurl, once they figure out that "white supremacist!" doesn't work anymore?



Water Troubles

2017-09-30T20:10:36.470-07:00

Earlier this week, the problem was with my waterbed.  Even after draining the mattress, the fibrous "lumbar support" retains enough water such that maneuvering the mattress around (to get the heater out) was no easy task.  I was sore by the time I got that repair done.

And then yesterday my sink stopped draining.  Rather abruptly.  What could it be?  I'm the only one here, and it's not like lots of hair is going down my drain (see here for evidence).  I removed the trap--nothing in there.  I looked down the drain--nothing in there.  Dang, the stoppage is in the pipe in the wall.  That required a few hours' work today as well as two trips to Home Depot.  A snake got the stoppage--goop of some kind--cleaned out, and I replaced all the plumbing from the sink to the wall.  Sore from crawling under the sink so much.

Then I started work on the toilet.  Sometimes you have to jiggle the handle before the flapper settles; should be an easy fix, right?  Wrong.  I have some unique system in there, one that doesn't even use a "universal" flapper valve.  I figured out quickly why the thing sticks and needs to be jiggled, but fixing that dislodged what appears to be a jerry-rigged fix to keep the toilet from running.  Ugh!  To fix this, it looks like I'd have to--wait for it--remove the tank.  I'm gonna try to restore the jerry-rigged fix.  If that doesn't work, I might have to remove the tank to replace all the guts inside.

I'm tired of all these repairs!  I guess that's part of the cost of living in a house that's older than I am.