Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2012

Princeton Mexican Migration Project discovers . . . tighter border enforcement keeps illegal immigrant IN, not OUT

Douglas Massey runs the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton , compiling and sharing the best available data sets on that most elusive population--illegal or undocumented workers. Recently, Reason summarized his conclusions: • We are not being flooded with illegal Mexican migrants. The total number of migrants from Mexico has varied very little since the 1950s. The massive influx many have written about never happened. • Net illegal migration has stopped almost completely. • Illegal migration has not stopped because of stricter border enforcement, which Massey characterizes as a waste of money at best and counterproductive at worst. • There are indeed more undocumented Mexicans living in the United States than there were 20 years ago, but that is because fewer migrants are returning home -- not because more are sneaking into the country. • And the reason that fewer Mexican citizens are returning home is because we have stepped up border enforcement so dramatica

Gary Johnson's path to 1,000,000 votes: testing the Dondero approach

Strategic voting works:  in the recent elections in Canada's Alberta Province, strategic voting managed to keep the Libertarian-oriented Wildrose Party from becoming the largest party in the legislature. My friend (and often nemesis, but hey that's life) Eric Dondero has proposed a strategic voting idea for the upcoming presidential election.  Eric supports Mitt Romney for President, but he also has a deep attachment to the Libertarian Party, and seeing the LP crack the million-vote ceiling this year. In a nutshell, Eric proposes that in states where that are already considered "safe" Romney states, Libertarians and Libertarian-minded Republicans should feel free to cast a strategic vote for the Gary Johnson/Jim Gray ticket.  He identifies SC, GA, AL, TX, AZ, UT, AK, WY, ID, and (maybe) CA as his target states. What I'm going to do is analyze that strategy and also a few alternatives.

Who is Judge Jim Gray (and why both Gary Johnson and you should care)

The Daily Caller suggests that Libertarian Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson will soon name anti-Drug-War activist Judge Jim Gray as his VP running mate: “Gary had liked him from the very beginning,” the Johnson adviser said. “Every time we would bring up somebody else, Gov. Johnson would say ‘what about Jim Gray?’ He was Johnson’s favorite from the beginning.” Gray was a conservative Republican who later became a Libertarian after deciding that the nation’s drug laws did more harm than good. He is the author of several books about law, politics and the drug war, and helped spearhead Proposition 19 in California, which would have decriminalized marijuana in the Golden State had it passed. Former JAG Officer and Federal Prosecutor, Jim Gray is now a Superior Court Judge in California, where he crusades from the bench against drunk driving and the US drug war. He was also the Libertarian candidate for US Senate in 2004 , in which he garnered 216,522 votes (1.8%), and in 2010

Testing to destruction? The EPA accused of Tuskegee-like human experimentation

This is at : Which do you find more shocking: that the Environmental Protection Agency conducts experiments on humans that its own risk assessments would deem potentially lethal, or that it hides the results of those experiments from Congress and the public because they debunk those very same risk assessments? recently obtained through the Freedom of Information Act the results of tests conducted on 41 people who were exposed by EPA researchers to high levels of airborne fine particulate matter – soot and dust known as PM2.5. If we are to believe the congressional testimony of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, these experiments risked the lives of these 41 people, at least one of whom was already suffering from heart problems. Ms. Jackson testified in September before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” Just to cl

Star Trek Discovery, The Voyages of the Marie Curie, Episode One, Chapter Two

In which we discover what happens when a Tellarite gets into a bar fight with a Kzinti . . .

Star Trek Discovery: The Voyages of the Marie Curie, Episode One, Chapter One

This was actually the first segment of this work that I finished.  The illustrations are cruder than I am happy with, but I am satisfied with the storyline, and decided not to go back and revise it. In this chapter we meet Lieutenant Commander Mitena Haro:

A thought for independents, libertarians, and Castle Republicans in Delaware in Election 2012 . . . .

Mitt Romney cannot win Delaware's three electoral votes. So maybe it's time to think about a more creative way to waste your vote . . . . It's pretty simple math: 2008:  Obama 62% McCain 37% 2004:  Kerry 53% Bush 46% 2000:  Gore 55% Bush 42% 1996:  Clinton 52% Dole 37% Perot 11% 1992:  Clinton 42% Bush 36% Perot 22% The very best that a GOP Presidential candidate has done in Delaware over the past five elections is to get within 6%--and that hasn't been done since 1992.  Pretty much every organization doing predictions places Delaware in the "safe" column for President Obama. Not the least reason for expecting the President to capture at least 58-60% of the vote again this year is the state of dissarray in the Delaware GOP. As kavips recently put  it, in Delaware if you want your vote to count toward the Electoral College results, you need to switch your registration to Democrat. On the other hand, the strong Perot finishes in 1992 and 19

As he gets closer to the Libertarian nomination, Gary Johnson discovers . . .

. . . that the criticisms of a candidate don't have to make sense, they only have to fill up a news column. Thomas Mullen, writing in the Washington Times Community pages , thinks Johnson is not really a libertarian, and that the Libertarian Party's . . .  chief benefit has always been that it nominated candidates that libertarians could actually believe in, even if they weren’t going to win.  I'd quote more, but Mullen is downright surly about threatening people who might reprint his words. Anyway, Johnson's not enough of a purist for him, because even though he would cut the defense budget by over 40%, the former two-time New Mexico Governor won't actually make campaign statements forever explicitly ruling out the idea that he might someday under some circumstances actually use military force somewhere in the world. Meanwhile, in the Las-Crucas Sun-News, Walter Rubel laments that Johnson didn't get enough done during his two terms (other than leav

With a little help from my friends . . . .

Took a break from posting much of anything for most of yesterday because (pretty much the only important thing) we discovered that my twins' favorite uncle had to be rushed to the hospital when he collapsed, and was diagnosed with Stage 4 abdominal cancer. Puts things in more perspective for you. But Dana Garrett makes me smile by sending me the link to this cartoon about the varieties of Libertarians. John Young pointed out to me that CSD school board candidate Shirley Saffer has in fact denounced the anti-Val Harris hate site. Mrs. Saffer's statement is here ; the only truly odd thing about it is Mrs. Saffer's apparent penchant for writing in the third person, but--hey--we all have our quirks, and given that Mrs. Saffer has done the right thing, who am I to throw participles?  Perhaps Ms. Harris will get the idea. Thanks also to John for a really nice shout-out on Transparent Christina . Kilroy and I are going through a really rocky time in our relationship, h

Comment rescue: how do we end Delaware's Education Civil War?

Coolspringer's comment deserves greater play (re:  The Delaware Education Civil War ): And do we stop sniping, get more people to move from following (passively and/or aggressively) to really thinking, and start seeing productive conversations that then lead to workable policies that function and get followed...? That's a lot of change. But, I'm a pragmatic idealist...there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. If I had the answer to this one, I'd be one hell of a lot more influential than I am. But I do have some ideas that might lead to a discussion of how to begin a process that might lead to the start of an initial dialogue about public education. (Contest of the week:  count how many qualifiers I could fit into that last sentence.) Here are three modest suggestions:

I have always wondered about this: does diversity training work?

Leaving aside whether or not one agrees with the concept  of diversity training, does it actually work? Is there research-based evidence that diversity training makes people more tolerant of cultural, religious, gender-based (etc. etc.) differences? A strong body of emerging research is starting to suggest that diversity training as it is currently practiced in the United States actually reinforces existing prejudices rather than reducing them. Which, if it is correct, would explain a lot. h/t

Gary Johnson, Libertarian, is looking more like my candidate

I've experienced profound disappointments with "Libertarian" candidates in the past, from Ron Paul to Bob Barr. Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico, is looking a lot better. I've already blogged about his principles in refusing the appear on stage with what he considered to be a Tea Party extremist, and his criticism of Mayor Bloomberg's unconstitutional "Stop and Frisk" policy. Today, let's take a look at some Gary Johnson answers in an interview reported by The Daily Caller: On abortion rights: “I leave abortion to the woman,” he said. “I just fundamentally end there.” When it comes to abortion, Johnson said, “I absolutely support a woman’s right to choose.” And on the question of whether a man should have a say in it, Johnson replied, “When it comes to that bottom line decision, no.” However, the former New Mexico governor said he’s for restricting public funding of abortion because “it’s libertarian” for

John Kowalko shoots from the hip . . . and gets it wrong

You can visit Transparent Christina to view a copy of the letter that John Kowalko has dispatched to the National PTA, complaining about the Delaware PTA's school board candidate survey, and accusing DE PTA President Yvonne Johnson of attempting to interfere in the Red Clay School Board election. In this letter, Mr. Kowalko portrays himself as the defender of the apolitical status of school board elections in Delaware, and is shocked to discover that the Delaware PTA has a position of education-related issues. In reality, the letter is a thin tissue of political self-interest on Mr. Kowalko's part, cynically filled with half-truths, inaccuracies, and misrepresentations. He should be embarrassed to have written it , but I suspect that in the politically charged Delaware Education civil war that's way too much to ask for. So we'll have to do it for him.

Gary Johnson: Challenging "Stop and Frisk"

These days you cannot actually find a presidential candidate willing to defend American civil liberties, at least not in the two major parties. Possibly that's why the ACLU lists Libertarian Gary Johnson (two-time governor of New Mexico) as the best presidential candidate for protecting civil liberties. Here's Johnson on Mayor Bloomberg's Arizona/TSA-like "Stop and Frisk" policy in New York City: In a statement released in New York, the two-term New Mexico governor said, “Last year, almost 700,000 people on the streets of the city were stopped and subjected to TSA-style invasions of their privacy and fundamental civil liberty.  87% of those people were black or Latino.  But these folks weren’t trying to get on airplanes; they were walking down the street.  “The America we need to reclaim is a place where you can leave your home and not fear being stopped by the police and patted down because of the way you look." Said Johnson, “I think this stop-and

Ah the winds of Arab Spring in Egypt: Is that necrophilia I smell on the breeze?

Yes, I believe it is. From The Daily Mail : Egyptian husbands will soon be legally allowed to have sex with their dead wives - for up to six hours after their death. The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament. It will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment.

Bank of America sues itself . . .

. . . which is less amazing than the fact that this apparently happens all the time. From Overlawyered : A story about Bank of America suing itself in a foreclosure action got a bit of publicity recently, from sources like Credit Slips blogger and lawprof Alan White, but the snark was misplaced,  says Kevin Funnell . Banks serve in various capacities in the real estate context and that makes such situations inevitable: “The bank is agent for the owner of the first lien loan and is also the owner, in its individual capacity, of the second lien loan. It has to name itself. This is ‘Foreclosure 101.’”

Best used car ad . . . ever

Morning round-up of the local and the just plain bizarre

The Delaware DREAM act is back in the news now.  It's controversial, and it is one of the few areas I disgree with my own university.  Delaware State University needs a plan to help high-performing undocumented students like both UD and Del Tech have. Bullying in Brandywine School District remains in the news, as the brutal video of a 7-year-old being beaten by an 11-year-old on a school bus goes viral.  Unfortunately, the News Journal uses a misleading headline that suggests the school district has taken far more sweeping corrective action than has actually been the case. There is a non-event, sort of protest (that only draws five people) at Lewis Elementary School in Red Clay. The Wilmington City Council rediscovers due process.   Sort of. And in national news, President Obama and the Agriculture Department introduce legislation to tell farm parents what chores they may and may not assign to their own children .  Seriously. But in international news, the Prime Ministe

Smear tactics and school board campaigns: part 2 . . .

. . . in which we learn that negative campaigning in the Delaware Education Civil War has now become the classless norm for all sides . . . You will recall that yesterday I went into great detail on the character assassination of Valene Harris, candidate for Christina School Board. Today, Voices 4 Delaware Education PAC's mailer in support of Ms. Harris started hitting mailboxes: To be clear:  I think the flier is going to end up costing Ms. Harris votes (although you never know), but I also think that the publication of such a flier was inevitable.  More on that in a moment.

My new career with CSI is assured . . . for only $495 online

And for an additional fifty bucks, they'll send me a white lab coat.

Smear Tactics and School Board Campaigns

The Delaware Civil War over education continues, and the evidence suggests we have reached the point where any civility (or common sense) has left the building. The case for the prosecution, a garbage hate site called: Vote No on Val Harris 4 Christina School Board Now, for truth in advertising purposes, I think I have met Ms. Harris once, with a large group of other people in an event at Delaware State University, hosted by our President, Dr. Harry Williams.  I have no idea about what she believes, who is funding her campaign, or exactly what she's done to so aggravate one WEEGEESQEEGEE to engage in this type of tactics. What I do know is that this blog engages in character assassination, pure, simple, and vomitously vile.

Something to keep in mind: the impact of negative campaigning

Politicians "know" that negative campaigning "works," although they publicly deplore its "necessity." But, as Steve Pearlstein (via The Monkey Cage ) points out, the effect of negative campaigning is probably somewhat of a mixed bag: There is a vigorous academic debate over whether negative advertising depresses or increases voter turnout. I suspect it does both, depressing turnout among moderates and independents while stimulating it at the ideological extremes. In that process, what has changed is the composition of the turnout rather than its overall level. In large-scale elections, Pearlstein notes, My guess is that if negative advertising demobilizes the middle but mobilizes the extremes, it does so mainly at the margins. But what about campaigns in which there are nothing but . . . margins. In the average Red Clay School Board race, in a good year, maybe 2% of eligible voters turn out.  In most other districts around the State that turn

The Delaware education civil war . . . complete with victims

There are too many "sides" in Delaware public education. Part of the reason is that there is no consensus surrounding exactly what the mission of public education in  Delaware was, is, or will be.  Are we creating entry-level employees for our corporations?  Prepared college freshmen?  Better American citizens?  Literate individuals?  Are we using the schools to lift up an entire generation of the downtrodden children and their families.  There is no consensus, and all too many people willing to say, "Yes.  All of the above." Part of the reason is that we have tied ourselves in knots for two decades trying to figure out how to measure our success in doing . . . whatever it is we are doing (if we only agreed).  Performance Assessment.  Authentic Assessment.  Assessment drives instruction.  High-stakes testing.  DSTP.  NAEP. DCAS.  DPAS.  DPAS 2.  NCLB.  RTTT.  Teacher work samples.  Data coaches.  Teachers drive instruction.  Data drives instruction.  The General

Star Trek Discovery: A Fan Production

OK many of you know (certainly Hube) that I am not only a longterm SF fan (and wannabe author), but also a longtime diehard Star Trek fan. It's a hobby. I don't have the resources or the talent necessary to deal with fan films or audio productions, but when I started playing with it I wanted to have a visual aspect, and to do something new. So working with the massive photo-archives available at Trek Core , I started playing with the idea of using modified, re-purposed images to create a comic-like experience. This opening section (which will appear over the next several weeks in six parts--a prologue and five chapters) represents the introductory attempt to create a new set of adventures based on a Saber-class vessel , the Marie Curie , which is a science-research ship which (or there wouldn't be any story) contrives, of course, to fall continually into trouble. A number of minor figures from the Next Generation era have roles in this series, including Moriarty

Are we actually teaching evolution in Delaware classrooms?

Recently I posted on the fact that, in Biology classes across the nation, evolution is taught as a major staple of science and the scientific method in only 28% of American classrooms . Given that in Delaware we have a large constituency of folks who are aggressively creationist , and who even managed to push a creationist candidate onto the ballot for US Senate two years ago , it is appropriate to look at what the Delaware Science Standards actually say is supposed to be taught in our schools. I quote the high-school science standards (#7, which you can download here ), focusing on those elements deemed essential  in the document:

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson hits 6% in national poll

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, whose campaign never caught fire in the early GOP primaries, is pursuing the Libertarian Party nomination. I know, I know, you're thinking Bob Barr all over again. But Johnson, while considerably more libertarian (though you can always find some libertarians to say that other libertarians aren't really libertarian) than either Obama or Romney, is an actual two-term governor whose positions are considerably more developed (one might say, "more mainstream") than prior libertarian candidates. See them here . What's interesting is not so much that recent poll reported by Hot Air shows: Obama 47% Romeny 42% Johnson 6% . . . because we can all generally depend on 5/6 of that early libertarian leaning to disappear as voting nears.  Right now he's probably the surrogate for "neither" rather than really collecting votes based on his record or what he stands for, because I doubt that 6% of the likely v

Steve Ditko's "The Question"

I have been working on some projects involving the old Charlton Comics , which was best described as my "guilty pleasure" when not spending money on Marvel or DC as a kid. More about my Charlton projects later.  Today I am interested in highlighting the fact that the single most Libertarian superhero ever was Steve Ditko's "The Question." And not Libertarian, but hardline Ayn Randist, which Ditko himself was to a large extent. The Question was crusading TV journalist Vic Sage, who use a synthetic skin mask and a morphing gas developed by Dr. Aristotle Rodor, to fight big-city crime.   He was a Ditko labor-of-love that appeared once in Mysterious Suspense but was mostly a secondary feature behind the Blue Beetle, which Ditko also drew. A few years after the original run, the equally legendary Alex Toth contributed one Question story to Charlton Spotlight.  DC bought the Question with other Charlton heroes, and he had a short run for them in the 1

10 rules to the "War on Terror"

Jacob Hornberger is an unremitting critic of militarism and American expansionism, but the points he makes in this post are worth thinking about, especially if you are a believer in American Exceptionalism. Here's one that really struck me: 4. No foreign regime or foreign citizen is permitted to resist or oppose with force a U.S. invasion or occupation of their country. Anyone who resists the invasion or occupation will be taken captive but will not be treated as a standard prisoner of war. Instead, the resister, whether he wears a uniform or not, will be considered to be a terrorist, thereby being subjected to indefinite incarceration, torture, and possibly execution. The resister can also be prosecuted for terrorism before a kangaroo military tribunal. If, on the other hand, U.S. soldiers are taken captive, the captor must treat such soldiers under the principles of the Geneva Convention and must also release such soldiers immediately given that taking them captive is consid

CSW and NCS entrance policies: a comparison and a reponse

Not because it will satisfy Hube--who is, strangely enough going on his "feelings" in his last comment on my post about the NCS--but because it is a legitimate question. . . . What is the difference between Newark Charter School and Charter School of Wilmington with reference to their entrance requirements, and have I personally been a hypocrite by criticizing NCS while my own children attend CSW? Seriatem 1.  I have never made any secret about which school my kids attend, just like I haven't ever made any secret about who I am when I am blogging.  So the question is legitimate, but implying that I'm hiding something is disingenuous.

Stupid Comics . . . what to do if it rains this afternoon

A couple months ago I found Stupid Comics and slowly worked my way through the entries. It is literally a temple of praise for the idiotic in classic comics. The romance comics section is one of my favorites. Try DC Comics Eating Disorder Clinic/Charlton Art Swipe File for a starter. If you like that, try Bible-Thumpin' Betty for a look at creationism in Archie Comics.

Political foresight . . . and bananas

From an Economist blog via the Liberty Papers : To say that most American political discourse takes place at the intellectual level of baboons would be an insult to baboons. Baboons are capable of handling two-factor reasoning problems: if I eat all the bananas now, I’ll have none left for later; better eat enough to quell my hunger now, but leave some for later. In contrast, political discourse generally takes place at the one-factor level that could be handled by, say, flatworms: Banana yummy! Hunger bad!

Because there is no longer any such thing as history . . .

. . . you can now go on Google and discover that . . . Abraham Lincoln was a . . . gay . . . black . . . muslim . And people take this stuff really seriously. Personally I'd rather go with Abe Lincoln . . . Vampire Hunter . What?  That was the wrong picture?  Sorry.  Just trying shamelessly to keep your attention on a slow day.

Newark Charter School, diversity, and lotteries, or . . .

. . . explaining why we want to keep those people out. Warning:  this post is going to piss a lot of people off, because I'm going to stop beating around the bush and address a very difficult topic directly. Over at Kilroy's there is a lot of discussion about how NCS might use its lottery system to diversify its student body. Here was my suggestion: Hold an opt-out rather than an opt-in lottery. All CSD students in 5 mile radius automatically entered, and if they win a slot must confirm in two weeks or the slot moves down the list. Now obviously in two sentences I laid out a suggestion, not a full operational program with the details of how people would be notified, etc. etc.  But my point is that if a public good (taxpayer funded education at what its advocates contend is one of the best schools in the nation) is going to be distributed via a geography-bounded lottery, then we need to take steps to insure that all children have equal access to the chance of winning

Transparent Christina discovers that the sun actually rises in the East . . .

. . . which is about as astounding as John Young's abrupt realization that @RodelDE and Delaware PTA cozy up to shape school board elections. #netDE John, like Louie, the Vichy French inspector in Casablanca, is astounded to discover that there is gambling at Rick's--that the DE PTA would speak favorably of Rodel, or Innovative Schools, Voices 4 Delaware Education, or Edison. . . . John, this ain't a great new discovery, son.  The Delaware PTA has been working with Rodel and Vision 2015 and Governor Markell and all those folks for, like, years. They've been carefully hiding evidence of this dastardly conspiracy . . . on the DE PTA Facebook page!!!  How clever.  Nobody would look there. And, of course, they neglected to phrase their questions to school board candidates like you wanted them, and instead asked questions that related to the concerns and interests of their members.  Kinda like the dastardly pandora did at Delawareliberal, or the WNJ did with it

President Obama's ever-enlarging police state . . .

Yep, civil liberties are in good hands these days . . . . . . the hands that are groping your crotch in airports are coming to a bus, train, or highway near you, and Janet Napolitano sez if you don't like it just stay home .... From the Guardian Ever since 2010, when the Transportation Security Administration started  requiring that travelers in American airports submit to sexually intrusive gropings  based on the apparent anti-terrorism principle that "If we can't feel your nipples, they  must  be a bomb", the agency's craven apologists have shouted down all constitutional or  human rights objections with the mantra "If you don't like it, don't fly!" This callous disregard for travelers' rights merely paraphrases the words of Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano, who shares, with the president, ultimate responsibility for all TSA travesties since 2009. In November 2010, with the groping policy only a few weeks old, Napolitan

The balloon will be absorbing you for a quick return to the village very soon

I remember Patrick McGoohan in "The Prisoner." And I remember thinking, that could never happen here. . . . Of course I was wrong: The Republican House of Representatives may soon follow the Democratic Senate and give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport on mere suspicion of owing taxes. There's no place like home, comrade. 'America, Love It Or Leave It" might be an obsolete slogan if the "bipartisan transportation bill" that just passed the Senate is approved by the House and becomes law. Contained within the suspiciously titled "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act," or "MAP 21," is a provision that gives the Internal Revenue Service the power to keep U.S. citizens from leaving the country if it finds that they owe $50,000 or more in unpaid taxes — no court ruling necessary. It is hard to imagine any law more reminiscent of the Soviet Union that America toppled, or its Eastern Bloc slave satell

While everybody's worried about Iran's potential nukes . . .

. . . it would be important to note that the five nations in the world with the most nuclear warheads will soon be . . . . 1.  United States 2.  Russia 3.  China 4.  France . . . and . . . Pakistan has nearly doubled its nuclear arsenal to more than 100 weapons and appears on track to soon surpass Britain as the world's fifth largest nuclear power.  Wonder if Kilroy thinks we should bomb them, too?

Cheeseburgers as the pinnacle of civilization?

Not exactly, but close, as Waldo Jaquith observes: Further reflection revealed that it’s quite impractical—nearly impossible—to make a cheeseburger from scratch.  Tomatoes are in season in the late summer .  Lettuce is in season in spring and fall .  Large mammals are slaughtered in early winter . The process of making such a burger would take nearly a year, and would inherently involve omitting some core cheeseburger ingredients. It would be wildly expensive—requiring a trio of cows—and demand many acres of land. There’s just no sense in it. A cheeseburger cannot exist outside of a highly developed, post-agrarian society. It requires a complex interaction between a handful of vendors—in all likelihood, a couple of dozen—and the ability to ship ingredients vast distances while keeping them fresh. The cheeseburger couldn’t have existed until nearly a century ago as, indeed,  it did not .

Life (and death and death and death) in a North Korean labor camp

There has only been one successful escape on record from a North Korean labor camp. This remarkable and almost inconceivably painful narrative comes from that single individual. Here is a brief excerpt, from Voluntary Xchange .  Do not visit the link and read more if you are at all depressed.  On the other hand, you should know this: One day in June 1989, Shin's teacher, a guard who wore a uniform and a pistol on his hip, sprang a surprise search of the six-year-olds. When it was over, he held five kernels of corn. They all belonged to a slight girl Shin remembers as exceptionally pretty. The teacher ordered the girl to the front of the class and told her to kneel. Swinging his wooden pointer, he struck her on the head again and again. As Shin and his classmates watched in silence, lumps puffed up on her skull, blood leaked from her nose and she toppled over on to the concrete floor. Shin and his classmates carried her home. Later that night, she died. On a hillside near

Misunderstanding the point of unions . . . .

The New York Times has a story up regarding all the teachers who have committed gross misconduct in the classroom, but who have--by the hook and crook of unions and arbitrators, it would seem--been allowed to keep teaching: A health teacher at a high school in Manhattan, joking about life for homosexuals in prison, forced a male student to bend over a desk, lined up behind him to simulate a sex act, then quipped, according to an  Education Department  investigative report, “I’ll show you what’s gay.” A high school science teacher in the Bronx who had already been warned about touching female students brushed his lower body against one student’s leg during a lab exercise, coming so close that she told investigators she could feel his genitals through his pants. And a math teacher at a high school in the Bronx, investigators said, sent text messages to and called one of his female students nearly 50 times in a four-week period and, over the winter holidays, parked himself at

Surprise, surprise! Administration not accurate on the Buffett Rule . . .

According to : In their zeal to pass the “Buffett Rule,” President Obama and Vice President Biden leave the false impression that many, if not most, millionaires (people who earn $1 million or more a year) are paying a lower tax rate than the middle class. The fact is that even without the Buffett Rule “more than 99 percent of millionaires will pay” a higher tax rate than those in the very middle of the income range in fiscal year 2015, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. So, gee, now that we know that, of course everyone will stop grandstanding about the stupidest plan since Hermann Cain's 9-9-9 now-I-cheat-on-my-wife economic plan, right? Yeah.  Sure. Oh, and the Annenberg Foundation also discovered that they've been distorting how much money it would shave off the deficit, too. Who'd a thunk it?

Absurd advice for parents with school children . . .

. . . courtesy of . I'm all for sitting down and eating as a family.  We do it in my house every single night.  The oldest person home, whether 55, or 30, or 16, is expected to have dinner on the table, and everyone in the house will sit down and discuss their day. In that I am in complete agreement with this article: Families who chow together bond better than those who eat at separate times and spaces. Sitting around the table -- or even just grating carrots in the kitchen -- encourages kids and parents to relax and share what's on their mind (keep the TV off!). The benefits of this quality mealtime are long-lasting: Kids from families who dine together frequently are 31 percent less likely to smoke, drink, or do drugs later on as teenagers, according to a study of 2,000 youngsters by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. However, this next part threw me for a loop: If your schedule doesn't allow for family din

I've always said that corporations were tax-farmers for the State. . . .

. . . but this is more than I suspected. Many libertarians take issue with the fact that I personally fear/dislike/disdain BIG CORP as much as BIG GOVT and see both as potentially dangerous to human freedom. This, however, is mind-numbing. Apparently, the States are now allowing many corporations just to keep the State income taxes that their workers have withheld from their paychecks.  Nothing like cutting out the middle man when handing out corporate welfare, is there? From David Cay Johnston at Reuters : Across the United States more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers – and are keeping the money with the states’ approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday. The report from Good Jobs First, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog organization funded by Ford, Surdna and other major foundations, identifies 16 states that let companies divert some or all of the state income taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks

John Scalzi's rules for conducting a political argument on blogs

If you don't know, John Scalzi is a really significant SF writer, whose blog Whatever is easily among the top 100 in the country. His take: 1. One is entitled to one’s own opinions, but not one’s own facts. Commensurately, anecdote may be fact (it happened to you), but anecdote is usually a poor platform for general assertions, since one’s own experience is often not a general experience. 2. If you make an assertion that implies a factual basis, it is entirely proper that others may ask you to back up these assertions with facts, or at least data, beyond the anecdotal. 3. If you cannot bolster said assertion with facts, or at least data, beyond the anecdotal, you have to accept that others may not find your general argument persuasive. 4. This dynamic of people asking for facts, or at least data, beyond the anecdotal, is in itself non-partisan; implications otherwise are a form of ad hominem argument which is generally not relevant to the discussion at hand. 5. If yo

The education achievement gap and income. . . .

Sean Reardon has done the nationwide research on the extent to which the achievement gap in education has widened based on differences in income. Here's the abstract (with some key points highlighted): In this chapter I examine whether and how the relationship between family socioeconomic characteristics and academic achievement has changed during the last fifty years. In particular, I investigate the extent to which the rising income inequality of the last four decades has been paralleled by a similar increase in the income achievement gradient. As the income gap between high- and low-income families has widened, has the achievement gap between children in high- and low-income families also widened? The answer, in brief, is yes. The achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is roughly 30 to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty-five years earlier. In fact, it appears that the income achievement gap has been gr

You'll have to find the money clause here yourself . . .

. . . because I'm not going to put it in bold print or anything for you. For years the Southern Poverty Law Center has been issuing alerts about "hate groups" in the US that have been used fairly uncritically in the mass media. Now, in an upcoming edition of Social Scienc es Quarterly,  Stephan J. Goetz,  Anil Rupasingha, and  Scott Loveridge point out that the SPLC methodology leaves, ah, a bit to be desired. The abstract: Objective The recent surge in hate group activity is a concern to many citizens and policymakers. We examine the roles of socioeconomic factors measured at the county level that are hypothesized to account for the presence of such groups, including social capital and religious affiliations. Methods We estimate a Poisson regression model using counts of hate groups provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center for each of the over 3,000 U.S. counties. Our regressors include a wider set of variables than has been considere