THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 450 January 15 - 21, 2006
Highlights this week:
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January 15, 2007
Mailbag for the week is up at Chaos Manor Reviews. Tomorrow there will be a column segment, and for the week you'll have two CES reports and one speculation on the future of the iPhone.
I have sent a letter to subscribers. If you subscribe and did not get it, please let me know, giving me the way you subscribed and when. If you haven't subscribed, this would be a good time!
The LA Times this morning describes, with wonderment, a public inner city school where the test scores are comparable to Beverly Hills. Reading reveals that a new principal, a single black woman with an M.S. from Columbia took the job with high expectations -- and in her first season issued 100 suspensions to restore discipline in the school. Once that was established, academic standards rose, learning took place -- a miracle.
I am sure that once this gets out, the ACLU will be down to that school to protect the rights of all those suspended students.
Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.
Incidentally, in the LA school district, there are 8.3% white, and 92% Minority students. I am not sure why I find that amusing. Magnet schools are now looking for white students; there's a shortage.
Do note that under the court imposed "equality" system of school financing, schools are paid by the state for students who attend. Disciplinary action that results in lower attendance cuts the amount of money the school gets. The result is that particularly in the inner city there is often no discipline, thus no one learns; the equality is equality in misery and incompetence. Under the old system in which local school districts set school taxes and controlled the schools there was at least a chance of discipline and learning. The liberals meant well when they forced the changes in financing. They certainly meant well. They could not possible have wanted to destroy public schools so that wealthy people (like lawyers and judges) could give their kids enormous advantages by sending them to private schools while other children get a primary hamper by being sent to public schools where there is no discipline and thus not a lot of learning. They couldn't possibly have intended that result. But if they had intended it, would there be a better way to accomplish it than what the courts have imposed on the nation?
Lousy schools. Open borders. Structural reasons for not having school discipline. Free Trade. All well intentioned. The results weren't intended. Were they?
|This week:||Tuesday, January
I seem to be Guest of Honor at Further Confusion this weekend in San Jose at the Doubletree Hotel. I had just about forgotten that one: I intended to drive. Given the weather, I have asked them to book me a flight out of Burbank. Driving the Grapevine in freezing weather is not a good idea.
I'll see you all in the Bay Area this weekend.
We watched some of the Golden Globes last night, but switched off when the Borat Boor came up to bash America while accepting his award for Worst Taste Movie of the Year. I guess that's what it was for. It could hardly have been for excellence.
I understand Borat's appeal at the box office. Potty humor often does well at the box office. It isn't usually done under the pretense that it's anything but what it is. The notion that we have to give awards for that sort of thing is another story. Sacha Baron Cohen knew exactly what he was doing when he allowed people to be drawn into this thing by pretending that they were taking part in some kind of good will documentary about America. I feel terribly sorry for the lady who tried to give lessons in manners to this pretender, and those who held a dinner party thinking they were entertaining a foreign journalist.
Parenthetically, I applied for membership in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (88 members) as a film reviewer for Nikkei Business Publications. Alas, they didn't think my mini-reviews at the end of each monthly column were sufficiently weighty to qualify me. I didn't think they would, but it might have been fun to go to the glitterama event and report on them. We've lived in Studio City for nearly forty years, but we've pretty well stayed out of the Hollywood scene. It might have been fun...
January 17, 2007
There will be a third.
Charles Murray is one of the few social scientists who actually deserve the term "scientist". All his books, from the original Losing Ground are worth reading, and The Bell Curve, despite all the academic denunciations, is one of the important works of the last century. Science means realistic assessment of the situation.
Note that Murray, as most of us who are familiar with IQ tests and their reliability, isn't concerned about a few points one way or another. Jacques Barzun dealt with that a long time ago in the chapter "Your IQ or your life" in his still important Teacher in America.
Incidentally, I seem to have forgotten how to link books through the Amazon logo; that is, if you log on to Amazon through the buttons on this site and then search for books, that seems to register and I get a small credit for the recommendation if you buy it. What I don't seem to know is how to look up the book for you and attach the tag that tells Amazon you got there from here. I suspect one of you will tell me; thanks in advance. I'll add a note to the next paragraph once I learn.
For The Bell Curve, that link will do it, but building the link is not easy. I don't expect people to cut and paste in order to buy books in a way that gives me a small recommendation fee. I will have to find the automation process. I get a couple of hundred a quarter out of the Amazon associates fees, which isn't the earth but it's enough to take Roberta to a good dinner once in a while, so it's worth figuring out I guess.
Is there much more to say? Beware, Emperor. Perhaps next you will begin to give the Secret Service obscene passwords?
Why the President of the United States wants to turn over part of the US to Mexico is not known to me.
Of course getting rid of Bush and bringing in Democrats will do nothing to change the situation. El Paso has become a flea market, and is descending into the muck. Viva open borders. And now the triumphant invaders have persuaded the Emperor to jail the Gestapo Border Patrol agents.
Caesar, you must be careful. You may offend the people as you will. You dare not offend the Army. And while the Border Patrol is not yet, not quite, the Army, it is seen by the Army as a close cousin. Beware, Caesar.
January 18, 2006
The Democrat Congressional Ethics scheme seeks to silence Internet comments about Congress. Anyone with more that 500 readers will have to register as a lobbyist or be fined and possibly jailed. The campaign finance laws were bad enough. Now, snuck into a Congressional Ethics -- there's an oxymoron -- act is an attempt to halt the modern equivalent of pamphleteering. Pamphleteers were precisely what the Framers intended to protect with the First Amendment. In those days there wasn't a Main Stream Media, although HM Stationary Office came close: i.e., official propaganda. What the politicos of the time sought to halt was Committees of Correspondence, and pamphlets denouncing the government.
The new "ethics" act doesn't officially try to stop people from criticizing incumbent, but like all campaign finance reforms that's the real purpose and effect. Incumbent protection is the goal of nearly every government action interference in the political process.
I don't expect this to pass. Not even the new Senate can be that stupid. Surely?
January 19, 2007
I'm off to the Doubletree in San Jose for Further Confusion, where I am Guest of Honor. I'll see what I can do to keep this place up, get the column done, and so forth. I'm carrying more computer power than the government had when I started writing this column. Ain't Moore's Law wonderful?
I did some work on Mamelukes today. It's Niven's turn on Inferno. He says he's moving right along. We'll get together when I get back. For those who know the geography, we are at 50,000 words and Geryon has taken our party down the great barrier to the 8th Circle.
We now have the Bolgias and the last circle to go. As Larry says, we have undertaken some ambitious material.
I'll post about a quarter of Mamelukes in the subscriber area when I get back.
I've just printed my boarding pass. With luck the TSA won't give me too much trouble.
Here I am in Bob Hope airport. It ought to be theAmelia airport. the Tablet wil NoT recognize the last Name. Maybe I Can't spell it. Mrs. Putnam does not Sound right,
I am aboard. the wireless dropped When I got to the airplane. Worked in terminal just fine.
And now at Doubletree which some may remember as the old Red Lion near the airport.
I actually wrote the threat report on Chinese anti-satellite capability using Ground to Air missiles (Sa-4 and follow-on) in 1966. We studied possible uses they might make of this capability. Now they have demonstrated it and also added to the debris in a rather crowded orbit. It is worth following this story carefully.
One thing they are signaling: if they seriously want Taiwan, they have the ability to knock out space assets we rely on. We -- at least military planners -- have always known that. Now the Democrats do too. Why they want to send that signal just now is worth discussion.
And Charles Murray's excellent series in the WSJ on Education finished with yesterday's essay on the value of smart people and teaching them.
This is must reading for anyone interested in public education and not besotted with liberal ideology.
January 20, 2007
I am at the Further Confusion convention in San Jose. This is a Furry Con, and it is larger than BayCon. Why I am Guest of Honor is an impenetrable mystery, but it is a lot of fun. I am collecting pictures of an amazing variety of furry creatures (and some not so furry), magnificently done and extremely well acted. It's a great deal of fun.
We have over in mail a pointer to a rather shocking document. I am not in a position to research the authenticity of what purports to be an official State Department document; can someone look into this for me?
|This week:||Sunday, January
The conclusion of Murray's WSJ series
is probably the most important for regular visitors of Chaos Manor to read. The first 2 installments are well-written and persuasive, but contain little that has not been previously stated in some form by you or your contributors.
The final installment deals with the necessity of educating those with high (120+) IQ to imbue them with wisdom. Murray states that "The encouragement of wisdom requires a special kind of education. It requires first of all recognition of one's own intellectual limits and fallibilities--in a word, humility. This is perhaps the most conspicuously missing part of today's education of the gifted. Many high-IQ students, especially those who avoid serious science and math (emphasis added), go from kindergarten through an advanced degree without ever having a teacher who is dissatisfied with their best work and without ever taking a course that forces them to say to themselves, 'I can't do this.'"
With this fresh in mind, read this account of the Duke lacrosse imbroglio
There were few among the Duke faculty who were willing to speak up for the lacrosse players early in the case. There was Steven Baldwin, the "Duke chemistry professor who finally broke his faculty colleagues' own wall of silence on October 24, publishing a letter in the Duke student newspaper, the Chronicle, denouncing his fellow professors for what he called their 'shameful' treatment of Seligmann and Finnerty and rebuking the Duke administration for having 'disowned its lacrosse-playing student athletes.'"
"There just wasn't anything clear in (Duke president) Brodhead's statements that we were going to believe our own students," said Michael Gustafson, a Duke engineering professor who has criticized the university's handling of the March 13-14 incident. "There was obviously conduct with which Duke did not agree--parties with underage consumption of alcohol, hiring strippers, and if that was the whole story, then Brodhead was absolutely right to condemn it. The problem comes into play when there's a rape allegation. There was never a clear distinction drawn between those incidents and rape, so there was never a clear sense that the students were innocent until proven guilty."
The numerous denunciations of the lacrosse team documented among the Duke faculty all come from professors of humanities or social sciences.
I had never considered the study of math and science important to developing wisdom (even though I have degrees in physics and engineering). It may be more of a factor than I had thought.
The Western World seems to have forgotten its heritage. Plato's Academy had a sign over the doorpost: no entry without mathematics. Geometry and mathematics encourage rigorous thinking, and for those who will specialize in abstract symbol manipulation practice in mathematics is essential. Real education -- which is learning to do abstract reasoning -- is simple not possible without mathematical skills, and the West has long known this. Dorothy Sayers in her essays on education stresses this. (Sayers was an early advocate of higher education for women in a time when English universities discouraged that sort of thing.) Sayers' essays on the importance of Latin or other inflected languages, and mathematics, as means for encouraging precision in thought and language are, of course, long forgotten as we enter the new Dark Age.
(A Dark Age is a period in which everyone has not only forgotten how to do something, but has forgotten that it was ever done: such as the common knowledge that 95% of the children in American can (and did) learn to read in first grade, and overcome ADD and ADHD without drugs.)
Most "Social Scientists" are practitioners of Voodoo. See my essay on that. Charles Murray is an actual scientist applying scientific method and rigorous thinking to actual data about human beings in society. This makes him a rarity. He shouldn't be. There are plenty of data out there, we have long had the mathematical tools to construct predictive equations to generate testable hypotheses about human activities, and we have for a dozen years had the computing power to solve those equations. Before computers we could build models we could not solve, and the result was a series of simplifying assumptions known to be false but needed because without them we could get no answers at all. we now can invert matrices in seconds, and apply numerical analysis non-linear systems --but we don't in general DO it. Instead our "social scientists" continue to teach cookbook stat in their "mathematics for social scientists" courses (social science majors right fear the rigor of real mathematics and never take courses in the math department). Social science remains Voodoo.
We need clear thinking, and the rigor of mathematical training encourages it. Alas, in general it is not to be, because we are truly entering a Dark Age.
I remain at Further Confusion at San Jose, and they have a busy day scheduled for me. I'll try to give a bit of the flavor of the place in tomorrow's View. It's a bit like being in a real world cartoon...
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 8,000 - 12,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here. This site is run on the "public radio" model; see below.
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