Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Bill Nye, the Not-So-Science Guy

March 9, 2017

Maybe my title is a bit inflammatory.  While I was a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I did not have cable.  Therefore, I was unacquainted with Bill Nye, The Science Guy until I was much older.  Thankfully, I do not have an attachment to this celebrity.  Overall, I do respect what he did by making science cool for many kids, and I have heard he has a mechanical engineering degree, which is no picnic to earn.

Always an advocate of carbon controls, a video he made has become quite popular on Facebook, and it warranted a response.  His video is found here:
Billy Nye’s Call To Action

I posted a response that outlines a few problems I have with his video:

1. Science is never “settled.” If your old “fact” doesn’t stand up to new data, you might just learn something new.

2. Plus or minus 2% is misleading. If you are talking about a 2% error bar on a 0.5% detected change, yes, it might mean that the effect is not happening.

3. In terms of energy balance, yes, there is plenty of energy across the US to power everything. And if you could do 100% energy conversion, and tell Newton’s laws to take a hike, we could power the country this way. Maybe we could some day (even Newton’s laws can be tested), but not today. Then, if we did generate it, that is only part of the problem. Storage and smart transmission are bigger problems.

4. Not everyone who asks questions is a climate denier. I am not a denier, but I expect sound science, not science based on an expected outcome. I expect error propagation and instrumentation error reported, just like I would for other scientific publications. These are almost always lacking. This doesn’t make me a denier.

5. No, Bill, free market and taxes are not compatible. A free market is not controlled by which technologies are taxed and which are not.

I expect as the “March For Science” approaches, we will see more of this garbage, as most people have no idea what is science and what is not.

Thank you for reading my post.

Scholarship

March 3, 2017

I received an email about a scholarship opportunity to forward to our students.  It was worth a few thousand dollars and required an essay, transcript and a few letters of recommendation.

I knew quite a few students who could use the money, and were worthy of a scholarship of this size.  Hard working, capable students.

However, as I continued reading the requirements I saw that none of these students qualified.  Was there a minimum GPA?  Sure, yet all of the students I could name met this requirement.

Instead, the students that come to mind were eliminated because they were not Hispanic.

Morally speaking, an individual or an organization should be allowed to give money to whomever they choose, regardless of whatever stupid reason they choose.  However, you have to wonder about someone who is willing to give money to someone based on their bloodwork and heritage.

I deleted this email.  This organization will not receive my support.  If they wish to choose their candidates based on non-essentials such as race, my students are too good to be involved in such an organization.

Thank you for reading my post.

The State of Education

February 10, 2017

At the local, state and federal levels, I think everyone in education is freaking out over the new president.  Between the executive orders and the budget cuts, the fear is that many programs are on the chopping block.

There are so many little grants to help the students, and some of them actually do.
Some of the programs benefit students, but is that important?

It is a little calloused, I realize, but I have been watching the waste in the schools for some time.  One school buys all of the students back packs filled with school supplies each school year.  At first glance, this seems like a great idea.  Students who may come from financially disadvantaged homes will now have school supplies at no cost. Yet, by week 2, the pencils are all broken, the paper turned to spit wads, and the  calculators missing.  The backpacks end up being left in the hallways.  By week 3, it’s all gone.

I have been a tutor for quite some time.  As a tutor, I can hep the students on their math homework.  Instead, most kids don’t bother to ask for help.  They don’t keep their old tests to study what was missed, they often skip their homework.

The best thing about these budget cuts is that students will have to learn to be more independent and responsible for their own education.

Students will have to keep track of their pencil, or they won’t have one.  Students will need to learn to take advantage of the opportunities they get- as they will have fewer of them.

 

Corruption in Universities

May 19, 2016

I am not yet prepared to discuss the name of my university- the one where I work.  However, it has come to my attention that it is incredibly corrupt. I have seen hints of it in the past, but I saw it for the first time personally the other day.

On Monday, I received notice that I no longer had an office.  Or a lab.  All in all, our department lost around 80% of its space during a Friday meeting.  I received an angry email asking why there was still stuff in these spaces.  We were supposed to leave these spaces in 2017 when another department is scheduled to move, but suddenly, we don’t have them anymore.  An hour later, I got an email threatening to “surplus” everything that was left.

Could it be retaliation?

Two years ago, we had a professor who caught a certain administrator’s daughter cheating (again).  This professor (who won professor of the year that year) was planning to fail this student.   However, he was untenured, and was denied tenure instead.

This year, that same administrator was running for the position of president, as the current president planned to retire. At least one professor from our department was on the search committee.  He was not selected (there were some REALLY good candidates), and now, in spite of increased enrollment, we lose space.

Now, I head to work to tell high school students to study hard and do well in school so that, what?  If they have a relative working at the National Labs, they get a free pass, but otherwise, there are no jobs?  Many of our graduates have no jobs- and they have engineering degrees!

Intel is laying off even more people than initially announced.  It was the biggest private employer of technical folks in the state.  Instead, they are disguising how many people are gone- in addition to the layoffs, they have forced quite a few into retirement.

It’s all a fraud.  All of it.  Education, schooling, college. It’s really just welfare for PhD’s.  I’m currently using my master’s dipoma in engineering as a door mat, as it is from this university.  It’s worth more as a door mat than as a diploma.

I want it all to crash down so that it can be rebuilt.  It just involves displacing 500 years of inbreeding and the meth that plague this state.

I don’t think that will happen.  Perhaps the only honest path for me, rather than lying to students about jobs and futures and potential is to quit and work an honest, real, fast-food job.

Letters of Recommendation

May 13, 2016

I recently read an article about a professor who agreed to give a letter of recommendation to a student, only to turn around and deny the letter at a later date.  This happens often; a student was productive, but then fell by the wayside later on, and the letter would no longer  be representative of the student’s performance.  However, in the case of this article, the professor learned that the student was getting a concealed carry permit. You can read her cowardly essay here, if you can stomach her whining.

I’m not saying the professor has to write a letter of recommendation.  Nobody can force a professor to write one.  Besides, who wants a letter of recommendation that was written by coersion instead of genuine approval?   However, I would like to call attention to several things:

1.  If you said you would write a letter, then change your mind, you owe the student an explanation.  You deserve for them to be angry at you, especially if he or she was counting on that letter for admission to graduate school or for a job recommendation.
2.  If you are willing to rescind such an offer on political basis, you should consider how a student’s politics affect your interactions with them.  Are you grading fairly?  Are you answering his or her questions?  If you are not, fix it.  Or perhaps pursue another career.

The liberal press has eaten this story up.  They mention this professor’s bravery in the matter.  I wonder what they’d say if a professor refused to write a letter of recommendation on other political bases, besides one they supported. Perhaps instead, a professor decided to retract an offer to write a letter for a student who had an abortion.  Or perhaps one who participated in the Occupy Wallstreet movement.  Would that professor be considered brave?

Both of those examples are examples of professors who are cowards.  As a professor, your job is to objectively grade and recommend students into the real world.  If you are incapable of doing so, you are not brave.  You are a fraud.

Non-Objective Writing

April 15, 2016

I have had the misfortune of reading Virginia Woolf and James Joyce this past week for an sophomore level English Literature class.

First, let me state that I am NOT in favor of censorship, as James Joyce’s work was censored at one time, and I am totally opposed to that.

Unfortunately, as a proponent for free speech, sometimes I am left to defend the vilest folks.  Instead, tonight, I will briefly discuss how much I hate non-objective writing, not from the point of view of banning it, but from the problems in reading it.

James Joyce’s Ulysses has one section titled, Penelope.  It is an eight-page, vulgar, run-on sentence.  This is regarded as an amazing literary masterpiece.

I’m not offended by vulgarity.  I’m a former night-shift truck stop cashier.  However, Joyce rambles on like a 12 year old who learned a new set of dirty words or found a new porn magazine.

I’m not offended by bad writing.  However, Joyce has one run-on sentence. FOR EIGHT PAGES.

Literary critics like Joyce because they believe that if they, “can’t understand it, it must be deep.”   This allows all manner of nonsense to be passed off as art.  By that definition, a drunk mumbles an unintelligible phrase, and it will pass as art.

By denying the connection between reality and art, the lazy artist can demand the same treatment as the productive, objective artist.  He or she can puke on a canvas and demand that it be treated as Mona Lisa, and if you don’t see the connection, it must be deep.

I read James Joyce in an anthology that also contained such works as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Compare these two, and you’ll see that one is art, and one is garbage.

Thank you for reading my post.

The Racism of White Privilege

February 12, 2016

I am so sick of hearing about “privilege.”  And, of course, nobody cares, because I am a fat, white, cis-gendered, straight guy from a nuclear family.

The notion of privilege is rooted in determinism; where one’s entire being is set in stone by their birth conditions or conditions out of his or her control.   It is to give up on the idea that one controls his or her own future, and says to this person that to try to change one’s circumstances is useless.

Advocates of “privilege” point to mounds of statistics where all manner of people are divided into non-essentials (race, gender, sexuality, birth circumstances, etc.) and the economic and society status of each group.

This is detrimental to those of the “underprivileged” group.  It preaches the clear message that there is no escape; no matter how hard you work, it will never be as good as having been born differently.  Why work to improve your circumstances?  It won’t matter anyhow.  Furthermore, it teaches the underprivileged group to devalue the privileged group, increasing the social divide between these groups.

It is also detrimental to those of the “privileged” group.  First, it is detrimental because even the privileged group did not decide their birth circumstances.  A white person can no more “decide” to be white than a black person can “decide” to be black.  Second, it degrades those who are perceived as privileged, but perhaps aren’t.

Those advocates can say that the value of a person is not to be judged by non-essentials.  Great, I agree.  However, in the very next breath, the mention of “privilege” says, “because you are (white, straight, cis-gendered, male, etc.), you have it easier, and I can tell this because of non-essentials.”

On the surface, I am of the most privileged class.  My parents helped me afford college.  I was never hungry.  I was fortunate.  However, I have never NOT held a job.  I have worked multiple jobs at a time since I had my first work permit.  During my college days, I often went to school full time during the day, and then worked full time during the nights and weekends.  I didn’t have a cell phone until I graduated college in 2005.  Every internship and every opportunity was one that I made.  Yes, I made them.  They did not exist before I showed up and made it work.  I fell asleep with a textbook on my chest almost every single night starting my sophomore year.  I never cheated on a single assignment; every F was mine, as was every A.  Most of my lunch breaks at work were spent writing essays or working through math or physics problems.   I went to only a handful of football games (even though my school had a very good football team) and only a few parties.  I don’t drink, and never have.

And for all my hard work, all of the countless hours awake, all of the assignments, time spent studying, the balancing of jobs and work- is all lost every time someone brings up my race, gender, family background or some other nonessential.  It’s a way of dismissing the effort I’ve put into making my life the way it is.

Is it fair to assume that classes are magically easier because a person is Asian?  Isn’t that just an ugly stereotype?  Why then, is it acceptable to assume that because I am white, that college was easy?  Why then, is it acceptable to assume that if I get lower grades than an “underprivileged” counterpart, that I must be lazy?

This is also not to downplay what work an underprivileged student experiences.  I have known plenty of single mothers who work miracles every day to succeed at college while raising their children.  I know plenty of people from varying ethnic backgrounds who had neither the resources nor the mentors to succeed at college- and did anyway.

All I am asking is the recognition that each person is an individual, complete with their own struggles and hardships.  Instead of pointing the finger at “who has it easiest,” why don’t we instead work together to understand what struggles we each have?  Instead of demanding that the “privileged” service the “underprivileged” or vice versa, why don’t we spend our time dealing with what is possible in each others’ lives and how to make it so?

Thank you for reading my post.

Landmark Education

February 5, 2014

I recently attended several Landmark Education events (Forum, Advanced Course), and found them to be incredibly useful. They are a leadership/lifestyle/etc type seminar event that helps you see things from a different perspective.

Why I am telling you this? I have not posted on here in recent history. This was partially due to the time commitment involved with Landmark, and partially due to the nature in which I wrote this blog.

I wrote in here when I was angry about political issues. And, rightfully so. There are plenty of people out there who want to take your rights away, and you should be willing to fight.

However, I have taken the approach recently that perhaps some people out there do not know that they are advocating stripping your rights. Instead, I am going to use this blog to educate people about rights. I will post about the same issues I always did, except I hope to do so a little less “rant-y” and a little more informative.

It’s not worth it for me to have a heart attack because someone else is flapping their mouth hole about what they want to do with my rights.

It is worth it to fight when they actually try to take them away.

Landmark gave me the tools to understand and question myself. By doing so, I know who I am fighting for. If you don’t question yourself and question your stances, you are no different than any other flapping jaw out there, including the ones who want to take your rights.

In other words, if you do not understand the nature of you, the nature of a human creature and the nature of rights, how can you say that you deserve rights? Most of us have a basic understanding of this- but do question it and figure out those answers.

The Statist Mind and Education

September 3, 2013

If you weeded through the news about Syria, you might have caught a story like this. In essence, Obama wants to find a way to lower college costs, and is developing a rating system for funding.

On the surface, this might not bother you. If not, read it again and notice this line, “outlined plan to institute a rating system to measure metrics such as graduation rates…”

Under such a system, funding would come from what percentage of students graduate in a set amount of time. This is already happening at the state level in many states- and it is frightening.

The problem with a system that promotes graduation rates over everything else is that the pressure is on professors to pass as many students as possible. Don’t fail anyone, or reduce the number of people failing. Cater to the students to keep them in the school, regardless of whether or not these students should be in college at all.

One can hope the proponents of this system are simply naive, thinking that professors will be able to reach more people, and graduate more scientists, doctors and engineers. One would have to be incredibly naive to think that this would not result in grade inflation.

Why does grade inflation matter? Does it matter that a professor bumps a few “F” grades to a “D” so that a few students can graduate? Does it matter if the quality of education decreases, if it means that the quantity of graduates is higher?

Ask yourself that question the next time you hear of an industrial disaster, such as the BP American Refinery Explosion. Ask yourself if the answer to this problem is MORE engineers, or BETTER engineers. Ask yourself if it is more important that we not damage anyone’s self esteem by failing them, or more important that we do not have factories exploding.

Why the statist mind would prefer MORE engineers lies deep within their philosophy, and manifests itself in many ways. The statist mind views everyone as a cog. If we have more cogs, we have more cogs. To them, engineering work, medical work, scientific work- that’s all just training. It’s not a mindset, it’s environment. If we take a subset of 30 people, we can train all of them to be engineers or janitors. It doesn’t matter. They fail to recognize a creative human mind, capable of creating new things or solving difficult problems.

You can hear this in their chants:

They talk of wage differences between the rich and poor. Ultimately, they want a janitor to make the same amount of money as a doctor. After all, it’s all in their training, not in their ability.

They talk of needing more doctors to implement Obamacare (and claiming they aren’t retiring as it becomes reality). Their solution- get more people through medschool. Which people? Any. It doesn’t matter who. Just get some people wearing stethoscopes and white coats. Then they are doctors, right?

They talk of certain groups of people never “being given a chance” to invent, create, or run a business. They miss that it takes a creative mind to invent, create or run a business- and that (typically) nothing was given to them.

The most extreme will even talk of “everything has already been invented.” The first time I saw this was in a very old newspaper clipping, perhaps 1880s. Since then, we’ve developed refrigeration, radio communication (including TV), automobiles, computers, the atomic model, vaccines, and a million other things you can name. They miss that it took a creative mind- a special kind of mind- to envision what had not existed.

Do you want to know why a high school diploma is worthless today? Because you’ve taken all achievement from it. Everyone gets it. Do you want to know why suicides are up, in spite of efforts to stop “damaging” self-esteem? You’ve taken away achievement, which is the only thing which self-esteem can be built.

Destroy achievement, destroy America.