Thursday, December 1, 2011

Irony Dies

According to the NYT, Republicans think that Americans are dumber than dirt:
In addition, Senate Republican leaders would go after “millionaires and billionaires,” not by raising their taxes but by making them ineligible for unemployment compensation and food stamps and increasing their Medicare premiums. Democrats said that this part of the Republican proposal was not serious, pointing out that high earners were already ineligible to receive food stamps.
The world is really horrid, although the majority of people, as opposed to sociopaths, who live in are pretty pleasant most of the time. Things like this, however, force us all to recognize that the sociopaths are in charge of the world and they would just as soon as not launch some sort of killing spree.


The Headless Horseman

I've mentioned on more than one occasion that one of the real problems of higher education is  bloated and over-paid administrations. From Marc Bousquet comes the news that some high schools are doing away with their administrations in an attempt to democratize school governance. This tactic and/or strategy needs to be implemented more widely.

It's not just that administrators are grossly overpaid, have used their power to increase the number of administrators at the expense of educators, and generally louse up the joint; it's that they are more interested in showing the necessity of administration by introducing all manner of badly thought ought blueprints for the future, which don't work and cause the rest of endless agony. It's also that they are just so damned bad at administering. Seriously, I know of various ad hoc faculty who are waiting to find out if they will teach next semester when their current semester ends in three weeks because the administrator hasn't contacted them. Even worse, when asked directly when it might please the king do deign and tell his vassals when he and or she will make the decision no definite answer is forth coming.

This state of uncertainty, as you might imagine, means that morale is low as the semester draws to a close and that there will be only limited time to prepare for next semester's courses. Indeed, the deadline, so I am told, for ordering next semester's books was November 1.

Think about that if you would.

This situation and others like it are whats missing in the discussion of educational reform: The very real harm caused by increasing the power and authority of administrators over educators. If Arne Duncan and President Obama want to do something positive, as opposed to doing something because something needs to be done, they should work on re-balancing the power differential between administrators and educators.

I said this before and I'll say it again, all you educational reformer professionals tell us how you  plan on giving educators as educators a seat at the table when the discussion turns to reforming schools? Until administrators and know-nothing do-gooders, like Bill Gates, are forced to include educators in the process of reform, nothing beneficial is going to come of it.

Haven't They Got BetterThings To Do?

From StatCounter comes this bit of oddity. Granted who ever it was didn't stick around long.

Visitor Analysis & System Spec
Referring URL:
Host Name:
Browser:IE 8.0
IP Address: — [Label IP Address] Operating System:WinXP
Location:Washington, District Of Columbia, United States Resolution:1680x1050
Returning Visits:0 Javascript:Enabled
Visit Length:0 seconds ISP:Executive Office Of The President Usa


Year and years ago, I had several dozens of box sets of John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, and
Conan and the rest of that clapish trapish stuffish. Recently, I discovered that great masses of it is available for free on the Kindle.  So I decided to read some of the Mars series.  Man o man are they bad; badly written idiotically plotted, and just generally weird in their racial, gender, and cultural politics. Now today I find that

It will be, of course, worse than Dune; but still, I swear, somebody needs to hire me as a cultural weather vane.

Undiplomatic German

I'm not saying he's right but Marc Pitzke  makes an interesting case in one of Germany's leading magazines:
Africa is a country. In Libya, the Taliban reigns. Muslims are terrorists; most immigrants are criminal; all Occupy protesters are dirty. And women who feel sexually harassed -- well, they shouldn't make such a big deal about it

Welcome to the wonderful world of the US Republicans. Or rather, to the twisted world of what they call their presidential campaigns. For months now, they've been traipsing around the country with their traveling circus, from one debate to the next, one scandal to another, putting themselves forward for what's still the most powerful job in the world.

As it turns out, there are no limits to how far they will stoop.

It's true that on the road to the White House all sorts of things can happen, and usually do. No campaign can avoid its share of slip-ups, blunders and embarrassments. Yet this time around, it's just not that funny anymore. In fact, it's utterly horrifying.

It's horrifying because these eight so-called, would-be candidates are eagerly ruining not only their own reputations and that of their party, the party of Lincoln lore. Worse: They're ruining the reputation of the United States.

If I recall correctly John Danforth had a quite a bit to do with foisting Clarence Thomas onto the Supreme Court. Still, this echos our friends in Berlin:
DANFORTH: What have been the big applause lines in these debates? Well, a statement that the governor of Texas is responsible for killing 234 people on death row. Or that we favor torture. Or that we’re creating a fence on the Mexican border that electrocutes people when they try to cross it. Or when people show up at the emergency room at hospitals and they’re not insured don’t treat them. And that, I mean these are the big applause lines, people just hoop and holler when they hear all that. [...]
It doesn’t have anything to do with the republican party that I was a part of. This is just totally different. And all of these people who are saying this, y’know, and claiming that, y’know, they’re for all this stuff, they also sort of ostentatiously say, “Oh, we’re very religious people. We really, we’re just very pious, Christian people.” They were for torture, and electrocution of the people on along the border and all of that. That doesn’t have anything to do with, is contrary to the Christianity that I understand.
Obama disappoints, as it were but better him then the anyone running as a Republican. And I include Jon Huntsman in that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fascist or Authoritarian? Who Cares.

Mike Bloomberg great American fascist or authoritarian crows that
I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world  I have my own State Department, much to Foggy Bottom’s annoyance. We have the United Nations in New York, and so we have an entree into the diplomatic world that Washington does not have.
 Having made a bunch of money doing god knows what, the little twit has overturned constitutional amendments design to make his dominance of NYC politics impossible, he now trumpets his control over the police who, recent events have shown, he can use to end the peaceable exercise of the First Amendment rights to assemble for the purpose of redressing grievances.

Market's Don't Exist

Paul Krugman wonders why the "markets went wild" on what he thinks is a "nonevent." The answer is that the markets didn't, because they don't exist. A bunch of people who, recent events have proved, ought not be allowed around sharp objects took the opportunity of a something or another happening to try and make more money actually took the opportunity of something or another happening to make more money. Economics isn't a science and, even more so, investment in stock markets isn't based on science; it's based on, let's call it, the Madoff principle of cheating someone else so that a smaller circle of people can make money by shuffling bits of paper around. Time for a change.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Now I Understand

Herman Cain, whose intellectual negligibility is as boundless as he ego, was fine corporate whatchamacallit; however, as has become abundantly clear  he knows next to nothing about everything other than making a buck. I was, consequently, shocked to find that he
joined the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank and became its chairman in 1995 and 1996—the most impressive item on his résumé.
I really do think that this fact explains the idiocy of creating an economic system in which failure is rewarded and hard work punished. A bunch of dunderheads took over the government and gave their dunderheaded pals a bunch of money so that they could all enjoy the dunderhead christmas.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Biking Bots

Recently I drew attention to robotic snakes and spiders, which -- should science fiction movies predict the future -- will lead to all manner of mayhem. Today, I want to mention that robot makers want robots to enjoy the rude good health of your average cyclist:

 So now solar  powered robots will be able to survive the loss of man made power and ride their cycles from city to city while enslaving the remaining humans who will be forced to construct nuclear power plants because robots are immune to the environmental damage those mechanical monstrosities cause. Hurray scienctist types.