THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 572 May 25 - 31, 2009
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May 25, 2009
We honor those who fought to preserve our liberty. May we always have defenders. Republics die when the citizens will no longer fight to preserve them.
The telephone company is said to be coming today to repair my landline. We'll see.
Ha. The repairman arrived half an hour ago.
We came back from our walk to find that they're putting in a new cable from the poll to the house, throwing the old one away.. There were two that had been cut but one was an old one that hadn't been in use in 20 years, and was just never removed. That won't be replaced, of course. They tell me the whole job will be done in 10 minutes.
The morning paper tells me that the total number of properties in default in all three categories (which includes people who lost their jobs due to the crash and depression) totals $718 billion, and amounts to some 4 million loans.
Perhaps I do not understand, but haven't we spent more than $718 billion in thrashing about bailing out various companies? If we had just undertaken to make the payments for all those who couldn't make the payments -- taking over the payments, I believe it is called -- and later negotiated with those who were supposed to be making the payments as to who owned just what equity in those -- would that not have prevented the disaster, lowered the number of defaults (or at least limited them to under a trillion dollars)? I am no economic expert. I did once teach Economics 101, using David McCord Wright's textbook; so it's easy to find out just what I know about the subject. I read ahead of the class. (I was called in in mid-term to take over the class after the professor of economics had a stroke.) But it does seem to me that if the economic collapse happened because of real estate defaults, and the total defaults to date are under $800 billion with many of those brought about as the third wave because of the depression brought on by the bursting of the bubble, surely we did not need to spend billions to keep the economy going? As I understand it, that's what the original $700 billion bailout proposed by Bush's Secretary Poulson was designed to do: bail out institutions before the market could collapse. It didn't happen, of course.
No one seems to have proposed that the US simply take over payments with ownership to be negotiated later; but wouldn't that have prevented the collapse of the lending institutions? And I would think it simpler than handing lots of money over to Wall Street. I am sure that my logic is flawed.
I have mentioned before Charles Murray's book Real Education: Four Simple Truths, and I refer to it today over in mail. I've been reading it again, and it makes more sense than anything else I have seen on the subject.
And my phone works again.
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The California Supreme Court has decided that the California State Constitution is Constitutional under California State Constitutional Law. Hardly a surprise.
Meanwhile my iMac has decided to reject my mail password, and I can't figure out what to do about that. I'll work on it after I come back. This is madness.
Well, we had our walk, and Henry was over for lunch, so I'm just getting to the iMac. It continues to demand my password for the account at mac.com. Apple Help tells me to go to Mail Preferences Accounts. The only problem is that the demand for the mail password pops up and the Preferences is grayed out. If I manage to close the password demand fast enough I can get to preferences accounts before it reopens. I see no way to change the password or find out what it is, and I see no real way to get to Apple mail.
One problem is that I am not sure whether my real mail account is to me at mac.com or at me.com. I need to test those, I suppose. (Did. No mail comes to the iMac; but my iPhone gets mail to both mac.com and me.com, and I can read them. On the iMac it demands that I give it a password for myself at mac.com. If I sent mail to myself at me.com and at mac.com both get to the iPhone and I can read them, but neither ever appears at the iMac.
I have the feeling that I am going to have to delete the account at mac.com on the iMac and start over with account at me.com but I am not sure. But I am losing patience with the Mac way of doing things. It isn't offering me much in the way of help. And the thing keeps demanding a password that I was pretty sure I wrote down and I have tried with all possible variations. How the devil do I get it to ask the security questions or whatever it does as a safeguard? HELP is no help at all.
What this means is that the iMac is useless for mail. I can only get mail on the iPhone.
On the iPhone the account is at me.com. On the iMac an attempt to create and account at me.com gets the message that the account firstname.lastname@example.org already has this hostname and username.
In other words, the Mac is trying to drive me mad, and will probably get there. Do I dare simple delete the mac.com account and try to start over? Do I really remember the user name and password I am using on the iPhone? I think I do. But I don't know what happens if I have it wrong. How in the world can I change the password for the mac.com account when I can't access it? Well I guess I sort of access it in the sense that messages sent to me at mac.com and also to me at me.com get to my iphone.
But this is literally driving me crazy. I can't create an me.com account on the iMac because there is already one under the mac.com name. I don't know if I dare erase the mac.com account and I don't know what would happen if I do/ There has to be a way to do this. Sigh.
Digging into the iPhone and my log book I find that on the iPhone I had to delete the mac.com account entirely and start a new one at me.com. I guess I can do that on the iMac. I am a bit intimidated because I am not certain I know the proper password, but I guess I have to do that, since nothing I can do seems to give me actual access to the mac.com account and it's possible that some recent update to OS X simply negated it in favor of the me.com thing. Me.com works from the iPhone.
I suppose I am in no great hurry, but later this evening I will gulp hard and delete the mac.com account and hope that creating a new me.com account will take care of the problem. It's pretty clear that nothing I can do will let me access the mac.com account. I am not at all pleased with the way Apple has done this. I hesitate to post this because it makes me look like an idiot, but it may be of interest. The moral of the story is that you must UNAMBIGUOUSLY record user names and passwords, in some secure place. No hints, no partials. Do it entirely. Now put the log where you recorded all this in some place not at all obvious, and do not put it in a book you carry with you that you may lose.
PROBLEM SOLVED SEE BELOW
There is a story in all this. It turns out I had different passwords for the me.com and mac.com accounts, one of them being on the iMac and the other on the iPhone. The result was driving everything crazy including me. I was able to change the passwords for both accounts and they are now the same, and all works well; thanks to Peter Glaskowsky for walking me through all this. The moral of the story continues to be: have a secure log somewhere. One you don't carry around with you. There will be more on this in the column next month.
May 27, 2009
I will confess to being arch, but hardly disingenuous. The Court, having revised the Constitution by judicial fiat without any legislative action whatever, was now asked to decide whether an amendment passed by a vote of the people was an amendment or a revision. That was the point of law on which the opponents of Proposition 8 sued. But note that the Court first revised the Constitution by overturning what had been considered pretty well settled for over a hundred years.
This has nothing to do with the propriety or merits of gay marriage; it has to do with law. The legislature of the State of California had already made civil union pretty well equivalent to marriage so far as the rights of the two parties were concerned. Had the legislature then simply declared it public law that a civil union could be called a marriage and that the state could issue a marriage license, that would have been one thing, and it might even have been possible to maintain that an amendment overturning that legislation was in fact a revision. It is not an argument I would support, but it could be argued with some persuasiveness; but since the whole thing was begun by a drastic revision by the courts without legislative action, it was a different situation entirely.
We now have to consider what happens if a state of the union decides to allow polygamy and/or polyandry and/or multiple marriage as in say Heinlein's "Line Marriage" as described in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. If a state does that, what must the other states do regarding full faith and credit? And is it constitutional? Utah wrote into its state constitution that it would not allow polygamy, but state constitutions can be amended; what if Utah does that? Or, less likely but not impossible, a Muslim group manages to get a law allowing polygamy? Or if a state legislature, possibly in jest, authorizes marriage at age 10 (I believe marriage at age 14 with parental consent was legal in several states when I was growing up)?
The problem with allowing state and federal courts to amend constitutions without action of the legislature or people is that there seems to be no limit to what they can do; and once the notion is out that anything can be legal, the society may not be able to recover from the resulting loss of respect and awe for constitutions and the amending process.
The dread secret is that almost any form of government can work, and there is little a priori to show which is better. "Your fathers swore allegiance to my father, and you to me, and I am the son of the king" is no less absurd than "Fifty percent plus one of those who bothered to vote have chosen me to rule," and neither proposition has more apparent merit than "We are the best and the brightest, as were our parents; we are the natural rulers of this land, don't you agree?" Or "The Army has chosen me to be Emperor. Hail me, or dread the fury of the Legions."
Governments work so long as people will allow them to work. The primary -- elemental -- political act is that someone gives an order and it is obeyed. The primary necessity for government is that the loser of the selection process -- whether election by adult suffrage, election by manhood suffrage, election by an aristocratic elite, hereditary aristocracy, monarchy -- that the losers of the selection process stand down and submit. There is a certain degree of magic in that. The United States has been fortunate that for most of its history the losers of elections have submitted, and they did so back in the times when there were qualifications for being a voter as well as in more "progressive" times when place of birth and age are the only qualifications. When people begin to question the reason for obedience, a republic is in danger, because there will inevitably arise an issue people feel very strongly about.
Abortion is one of those: a court, without any legislative authority, found that not only had there been a "right to choose" lurking in the Constitution of 1789 as Amended, but that this right superseded the Constitution itself which gave no authority to Congress or the Federal Government on the subject of abortion -- and when that Constitution was adopted and the relevant amendments were adopted, every state in the land and the Federal government as well had severe restrictions or absolute prohibition on abortion. Clearly any state could have simply repealed all its laws against abortion; but none had done so. The Court acted without legislation. The result may have been right and proper and moral; but it did not strengthen faith in constitutional rule.
Gay marriage is another of those issues best left to state legislatures -- and, we note, at least one state has acted legislatively in the matter. The proponents and opponents of Proposition 8 (which for those few who don't know, successfully overturned a California Supreme Court finding of a right to gay marriage in the state constitution by amending the state constitution to forbid gay marriage) all feel very strongly on the issue. I am far more concerned that there be a rule of law, and that matters be settled by constitutional means, and bringing up a law suit to find an amendment to the constitution unconstitutional is not, in my judgment, helpful.
She is likely to be about as good as we are likely to get, and far better than I had expected. Of course she leans liberal; anyone Obama nominates will. But she appears to have a legal turn of mind and be sound in reasoning.
I did find this:
This is the Tasini case. Francis Hamit knows far more than I do. I have asked him for a comment.
Of course a trial finding in a copyright case is not definitive; and being reversed is not a disgrace. I found it interesting when I heard that she had presided over Tasini.
I wish Rush Limbaugh would find himself a physicist advisor. Or at least someone who took college physics. Some of his political analysis of the environmental movement is correct -- see Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy -- but his rant on painting roofs and roads white or at least a lighter color betrays a rather profound misunderstanding. At least this is a misunderstanding: I doubt it's the willful ignorance we get from many of the global warming alarmists. Rush ought to know better, but many of the global warming alarmists do know better.
He asks where the reflected heat from white roads would go. The answer, of course, is that the UV and visible light components of solar radiation would not be absorbed into the road to be turned in to heat but rather returned to outer space, after which we don't really care where it goes. With darker roads and roofs the UV and visible light components are absorbed and become heat. Now some of that heat is re-radiated toward space. If there is water vapor, methane, or CO2 in the atmosphere over the re-radiating surface, then some or all of the IR radiation will be absorbed as heat; this is the theory of CO2-caused global warming. (It's also how greenhouses work, sort of: visible light and UV come in, are absorbed as heat, and the resulting IR is absorbed by the glass before it can get out. (I say sort of because the insulation and lack of wind in the greenhouse plays a very important part of keeping it warm.)
That theory of CO2-caused warming is known to be flawed: Historically, CO2 levels rise after warming, not before, which isn't astonishing given that the oceans are CO2 sinks, and warm liquids hold less dissolved CO2 than cold ones (as you know from leaving a carbonated drink out to go flat). Freeman Dyson points out that water vapor is so much more efficient as a green-house gas than CO2 that CO2 cannot have much effect in any but cold, dry areas.
Limbaugh is right in saying that many of those on the "climate change" bandwagon are actually motivated by rent and power seeking schemes and neither know nor care about the actual science. I doubt that is true of Chu, who is in a very uncomfortable situation. Of course he wants grants for the national laboratories, and to get those he has to sail pretty close to the edge of real science. I'd like to see the national laboratories kept together too. They're national treasures. But I would fund them through a different process rather than making the Energy Secretary dance to political tunes.
The following is a press release. I do not usually run press releases here, but this may be of interest.
I received mail about one of the items in the Chaos Manor Reports section of this blog; I had sort of forgotten those were there. This place does get complicated. If you have nothing better to do, you might look at the Summary Page for Chaos Manor Reports. If anyone is curious about where Niven and I take our walk when we go up the hill, there's a long photo essay in the reports. It includes pictures of the Dragon House where Carmen Dragon grew up and where his son Daryl ("the Captain") married Toni Tennille.
There are also photos and noted about my trip to Japan, and other such matters. I have just read over the Japan trip notes and pictures, (1) and (2), and I found them interesting. I had forgotten much of this.
May 28, 2009
My local radio show host tonight mentions a story about Chrysler dealerships being shut down: all those that are closing donated to the Republican Party. I have no idea of the truth of this: it's the kind of story that many Republicans would like to be true. It will be interesting if we hear more of this. (See Mail )
Regarding Sotomayor: I have seen nothing to change my initial view. She is a liberal activist, better qualified than many, but her qualifications were secondary to her origins in the selection criteria. As Carl Rove observes in today's Wall Street Journal, "empathy" translates to "judicial activism" as opposed to "legal interpretation." Her ability to find good reasons for doing what she thinks we ought to do is not particularly remarkable. That is an ancient art. I am having a senior moment,: I can't recall the essay we read in high school about the interpretation of a will regarding a bequest and a cloak. Possibly by Swift. In any event the tortured logic allowed the heirs to do whatever they wanted despite explicit restrictions in the bequest. It was a satire on biblical proofs, but it would fit here as well. In any event, I make no doubt that she is good at the art.
I don't purport to advise Republicans on tactics. The conservative view of Sotomayor should be that judicial activism is destructive to constitutional principles, and employing judicial activists to get a particularly desired result -- the Dred Scott Decision comes to mind -- is a remarkably dangerous expedient. The way to adjust the Constitution to changing times is through legislative action, not through using the judiciary to undermine the separation of powers. That should be pointed out in the confirmation hearings, but as a general principle, not as an attack on Sotomayor herself. She's about as good as we are going to get from this President.
One incident in her past is said to be disturbing. She apparently made a big thing of having been asked, at a dinner with a recruiter, whether affirmative action in promoting a minority person -- Porto Rican for example -- above his ability was good for the minority. Now I wasn't there. I have no idea whether this was intended as a subtle insult to Sotomayor; but it is not in fact an unwarranted question. If a black student capable of doing decent work at UCLA is sent to Cal Tech to fill a quota, this is likely to be a disaster: those who do decent work at UCLA will flunk out of Cal Tech. The result will be one more example of a black flunking out. Let me hasten to add that I am not implying that there are no black students who can do well at Cal Tech or MIT. What I am saying is that relaxing the selection standards is not a good thing for either the student or the minority; and in this case what I am saying is that it is a question worth discussion.
Apparently Sotomayor did not believe that it was a valid question to be asked of her, and made a complaint that ended with the firm involved issuing a formal apology to Princeton (on pains of being excluded from recruiting at Princeton ever again). This is disturbing, but it was a long time ago when she was an undergraduate. I for one would hate to have my undergraduate views taken as representative of what I believe now. One supposes, incidentally, that the question was not asked to be insulting: recruiters do not take everyone they interview to a one on one dinner. My guess is that the chap was complimenting her in the mistaken belief that she could discuss the question dispassionately. Incidentally, one might speculate that had she not taken umbrage at the question she might have been offered a position with the firm and her entire career would have been different.
She's qualified. She has the nomination of the President. And her views are not all that different from many on the court including the Justice she replaces. Of course if anyone else had made the kind of remarks about the Latina Experience that Sotomayor has made, there would be furor; but that is merely indicative of the times we live in. We can exalt "the Latina Experience", but we dare not exalt "the WASP experience." So it goes.
According to our President, Sotomayor will "start providing some justice" to our broken American system. Cheer.
In my ramblings on Proposition 8 I said that when I was young I was regarded as a hopeless radical because I believed that the law ought to be color blind. I have been asked:
I don't know. I do know that I have not changed my views, but there was a time when my view that the law ought to be color blind got me labeled as a hopeless conservative. Is the pendulum swinging again? I haven't noticed.
San Diego is broke, although I have some evidence that the San Diego deficit is smaller than the cost of servicing illegal aliens in the city and county, one does wonder if this is not a pretty extreme measure? The power to tax is the power to destroy...
There is a new report from Francis Hamit on Self Publishing and Print on Demand.
Thanks. I have searched through this document in hopes of finding the section that must have been excerpted for reading in the English Literature class I took in high school at Christian Brothers. It must have been excerpted because I find the document itself nearly unreadable, yet I remember reading something from it and being highly amused at the time. Ah, well.
May 29, 2009
If you did not see Francis Hamit on Print on Demand yesterday (it was posted late) it is worth while to those interested in the matter.
Klavan gives a good lecture on Tocqueville. He is a bit more -- I search for the word. Condescending is a bit too strong, arch not strong enough, and sardonic subject to misinterpretation -- than I would be, but I like much of the background and the production values. It makes me wish I were set up to do a weekly lecture like that with that good a set of production values.
Of course Tocqueville has a great deal more to say than just what Klavan conveys. Democracy in America -- which is available as a free book for the Kindle -- is one of those seminal works that every educated person in America ought to have read, but in fact few have done so. It's not a difficult read, either. Tocqueville wrote when American Exceptionalism was considered self-evident to many. He wanted to know why we were so far ahead of the supposedly more advanced cultures and societies of Europe.
He came to many conclusions, but perhaps his most important observation concerned "the associations": that in America many of the necessary functions of civilization done by government in the Old Countries were done by voluntary associations, some religious, some secular. These had many purposes, but the effect was to give those who enjoyed that kind of work a means to be recognized and admired as well as a place to employ their talents. This meant that you didn't have to be a professional to be a civic leader, you didn't have to be rich to be a public benefactor, and you didn't even have to be all that smart to be considered a valuable citizen of real worth to the community.
As government replaces volunteers with paid civil service worker the effect may be more efficiency -- alas that is not usually so -- but it also takes away opportunities. There are other effects. Think about the difference between Civil Defense and FEMA when it comes to disasters. In Tocqueville America you would not have had people going down to the Super Bowl expecting to be taken care of. There would be those who expected to be taken care of, but there would also have been citizens who thought it their duty to help with the recovery and who had been organized so that their contributions would be useful.
That America still exists, some places and in some communities. If you're fortunate enough to live in one of those communities you know what a joy that can be.
As I said, Tocqueville Democracy in America is available free for the Kindle. I expect there are other free versions for other readers.
Thanks. Tocqueville is correct; I mistyped in a couple of places, and didn't pay attention to the red squiggle, probably because I was in a hurry.
May 30, 2009
Here's one of those stories that can get your blood boiling:
One suspects that there is a story within the story. Some zealot either member of the Board or employee sent the letter. They will never find out who sent it, the Board will apologize, and everyone will rally around. That of course is a pure guess on my part, but I don't believe that the kind of neighborhood that has a Homeowners Association with that kind of powers would also be hostile to the Marine Corps. Of course I am not familiar with suburban Dallas.
If you have any interest in what Russia thinks of the US economic practices, see mail.
The President is not pleased with North Korea, and now intends to go to the Security Council.
One wonders what would happen if North Korea decided to invade South Korea. They have a large enough army and plenty of artillery; there is nothing the US has in Korea that could do more than delay the fall of the South and that not for long unless we use nukes. The Legions are tied down in other places. It would take a while to put together an expeditionary force to retake Korea. What North Koreans, exposed to the fleshpots of the South where they have a real and booming economy is not clear; it's one reason one suspects that the North Korean dictatorship doesn't try the experiment. Another reason would be China, of course. If there is anything to the notion of spheres of influence, that is certainly within China's zone. Or the Japanese. But not ours...
Of course once one starts looking at spheres of influence, Taiwan instantly comes to mind. Korea was deliberately left out of the US sphere of influence in the 40's, but when North Korea invaded the South Truman realized that this had been a drastic error. Acheson took a while to realize that the old realist view of national interests did not apply to the motivations of ideological communists, or just how much chiliastic dreams figured in the making of Stalin/Mao policy; by the time he understood, it was a bit late, and the result was the Korean War. And yet this is a very simplified account of a much more complex situation. My point is that for that period of the Seventy Years War AKA Cold War ideologies counted, and there was an existential threat to western civilization. The main effect of the Korean War was to awaken the American people to the international threat; and most of us who lived through that think we woke up just in time.
But those days are gone; and it is difficult to see why the US should subsidize both Koreas, and why we keep any US troops in Korea. Many young South Koreans do not want us there (it's hard to know just how many, since student riots are not a reliable means for estimating true national sentiments). It's expensive and while Korea is hardly a hardship post it's not really a favorite place to be deployed. Bush insisted that the US would not deal directly with North Korea; that any such discussions had to involve China.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I doubt that China really wants North Korea to sell nuclear weapons to Iran or to any of the new republics in what used to be called Chinese Turkistan...
For a bit of the flavor of the Truman/Acheson era, try
May 31, 2009
More comes out on Judge Sotomayor: she was a flaming activist as an undergraduate, certainly passionate about Women's rights and Latino rights, but that doesn't seem to have much influenced her appellate decisions, barring the odd one about the fire department promotion examinations. That may or may not be relevant to the following:
I am not usually a fan of the essays one finds in Slate, but this one is very much worth your time. Saletan asks important questions, and does so without the usual rancor when such questions are raised. The most important question is this: suppose it is incontrovertibly proved that there is a significant correlation between race and IQ, and that IQ is in fact an important predictor -- perhaps even qualification -- for success in intellectual abstract tasks and thinking. If this be true, should we discuss it? Should we be allowed to discuss it? If there is incontrovertible evidence, should that be published or is it a hate crime to say this even if it were true? And finally, should tax supported institutions of any kind collect data by race? These are not trivial questions.
A major problem in education is that half of the children are below average. As an example, here is a question from a national test for 8th graders. The example is from page 56 in Charles Murray, REAL EDUCATION.
As Charles Murray notes, anyone who reads this web site (or reads to page 56 of his book) would expect "that almost everyone should be able to handle a question like this. Children are taught to divide and calculate percentages in elementary school. Dividing by ten is the easiest form of division... It is a problem based on a simple mathematical concept, using simple arithmetic, requiring a simple logical interpolation to get the right answer. It is an excellent example for starting to think about what below average means in mathematics -- because 62% of eight-graders got this item wrong."
It is unlikely that anyone who cannot correctly answer this question in 8th grade will be able successfully to complete a four year college education. Assume that's wrong; assume that fully half those who couldn't answer the question correctly in 8th grade were able to master Algebra in high school. I find that unlikely; but that's still 30% of the population who simply cannot complete a college-prep high school curriculum. My guess is that the number who can't finish (or at least won't benefit from) a real college-prep education is more like 80%.
Note that there are plenty of things one can do without being able to deduce that the way to answer that question is to take 10% of 90 (and almost any eighth grader can do that), take the answer 9 and add it to 90 (again nearly anyone can do that). Indeed, if told "take 10% of 90 and add it to 9" we can assume that 90% or more will get it right. What we can't assume is that of that 62% who got it wrong in eighth grade will have any need for "a world class university prep education" which is the goal of the public school system and No Child Left Behind. It isn't that there aren't lots of things that 62% don't need to be taught in high school; it's that a university prep education doesn't include much of what people who can't answer that question will need to know to make a living.
Now: assume that we decide all that's true, and set up a dual school system (such as we had in Tennessee when I was in high school) in which those who graduate an academic program in high school are automatically admitted to the State University, but those who do not have to do a lot of makeup work -- but are taught such things as drafting, and shop, and home economics, and other practical stuff. Assume further that perhaps 60% of the students elect to opt out of the academic prep program. So far this sounds about right: but comes the rub. Every whit of evidence we have indicates that if you do this, the academic program will contain more Ashkenazi Jews, Asians, and whites than their proportion in the population, and fewer Blacks and Hispanics than their proportion in the population. It would be wonderful if that prediction turned out to be false, but all the evidence is that it will happen exactly that way.
And now comes the question: should we have official records of this? Do we want to know this? Should the government collect statistics of performance by race? Do we do that for sports? I have no idea. I am quite certain that there are more black professional basketball players than white. I am fairly certain that is true for football, and I am fairly certain it is true in long distance running. I have no idea about baseball and hockey and swimming. My point is that we don't find disproportions in sports disturbing. We have no movement to force the NBA to hire more white players; but we certainly have well financed and politically powerful organizations in opposition to any kind of school tracking, and most of them are motivated by the racial disparities when tracking -- by self selection or by some other selection mechanism -- is tried.
At the moment we pour resources into the schools in a futile attempt to bring a few just below average students up to just above average, and we do that to the neglect of the well above average who could be brought up to way above average. I would contend that the nation benefits more when someone goes from well above normal to way above normal in intellectual capability than it does to take someone from way below normal to well below normal in intellectual capability -- and I also contend that taking students from way below normal to well below normal costs a lot more, and is much more frustrating to the teachers. Note that I am talking about traditional education, not training in teachable skills.
If you use the methods that work in teaching skills -- for example such as fencing -- to try to teach logical reasoning and intellectual reasoning. you will drive the bright kids nuts. (And in fact there's a lot of that happening.) The method is known disparagingly among Progressive Education advocates as "Drill and Kill". It works for teaching skills, including absolutely essential skills like learning the addition and multiplication tables to at least 15 x 15. Bright kids don't like having to learn the times tables by rote, but they need to. They also need to learn to recite poetry; the ability to learn things by rote is itself a skill and one most of us need. Drill and Kill does not work for learning intellectual reasoning and logic. Yes, one learns such things from practice; but not by doing the same thing over and over again until it is a habit, which is what one wants with many skills. In fencing, for example, the best instruction involves learning footwork without worrying about blade handling; various blade work one movement at a time; and only after all the basics are learned does one put these together. Of course some people are natural fencers, but most who reach championship levels have been trained one skill at a time. I have deliberately chosen fencing because at the higher levels it makes intellectual demands, and that part is attractive enough to induce smart people to go through the hideously dull training required to learn the basics.
My point here is the same methods won't work for education and skill training, and the closer you get to college level, the more the balance shifts: so that for more than half our students, university prep training adds essentially nothing to the skill set they will need to make a living. That is going to remain true, and I would say true forever.
Captain Suits, a radio talk show host who has served in the US Army in both Bosnia and Iraq, is saying that the US is deploying 3,000 US Security forces -- a brigade -- to Egypt in preparation for Obama's speech there.
For some reason this photograph, which is quite indecent and offensive and ought to be avoided by anyone who wants to avoid being offended by indecency, struck me as humorous. Remember, you have been warned.
Of course there will be warranty service after the US Government takes over General Motors.
From another conference:
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 weekly 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.
If you have no idea what you are doing here, see the What is this place?, which tries to make order of chaos.
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