Four Things and they’re All Important

Several things today starting with Governor Kristi Noem on reopening schools.

Doing governance as it should be done.


Rachel Bovard at The Federalist has some thoughts about Big Tech and Monopolies.

Conservatives have alleged for years that these companies exhibit a bias against conservative points of view despite the fact that entities like Facebook and Google constitute a “global town square” and see themselves as key facilitators of free expression. This allegation has only grown louder as conservative members of Congress were shadow-banned. […]

In a January field hearing, the antitrust subcommittee heard testimony from small tech businesses who recounted in detail how Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon were “wielding their massive footprints as weapons, allegedly copying smaller competitors’s features or tweaking their algorithms in ways that put new companies at a costly disadvantage.” Or, in the words of Patrick Spence, head of the speaker company Sonos, the platforms “leverage dominance in one market to conquer or destroy adjacent markets, especially markets that may one day pose a threat to their dominance.”

Amazon, in particular, is dealing with discrepancies between what they told Congress — that they do not use third-party sales data to set prices for Amazon-branded products — and what their employees told the Wall Street Journal. Amazon is also facing allegations that they met with startups about investing, only to swipe other companies’ ideas for their own product lines.

Google has faced allegations that it self-preferences its search results, demoting non-Google results even when the information contained therein was more relevant to an individual’s search. The Wall Street Journal reported that Google has altered its search algorithm on behalf of big businesses like eBay while modifying search results for terms like “abortion” and “immigration.”

None of this would matter so much if these companies didn’t wield such unprecedented amounts of power. But when Google constitutes 92 percent of worldwide internet searches, the opaque, unaccountable ways the company decides to filter information has tremendous consequences for business, human behavior, and independent thought.

Conservatives are rightly skeptical of government interference in the marketplace. But violations of existing antitrust law in the form of anticompetitive behavior isn’t regulation, it’s law enforcement. As the supposed champions of small entrepreneurs, conservatives should want to ensure that the field of commerce and innovation is fair and equally accessible.

Many on the political right have said for years that people unhappy with social media platforms should just “build their own.” So shouldn’t those same people want to make sure they still can?

The Threat to Individual Privacy

As an industry that makes money from the commoditization of hyper-individualized data, Big Tech knows more about us than any industry in human history. Indeed, Big Tech’s business model is based on knowing where we go (physically and virtually), what we say in our emails and text messages, what we buy, and even what our voices sound like.

This presents huge policy ramifications around what is “ours” and what is “theirs.” Do human beings have a property right to their data trail? Should there be limits on the type of data companies collect, what Big Tech can do with our data, or who they can share it with?

Consider that under a provision of HIPAA, hospital chains have shared the names, dates of birth, and medical histories of up to 50 million Americans with Google without the knowledge or consent of the patients or doctors. Google won’t say what they’re doing with the data, or the data they’ve recently acquired on 28 million users of Fitbit. In this bizarre legal landscape, Google has a right to your medical record, but you don’t.

These companies are also serial violators of individual privacy, despite presenting themselves as the opposite. Google reads our emails. Facebook reads our texts. Google still tracks the location of users who turn off geolocation services.

There quite a lot more and you should read and understand what she is saying.

Here is my take: I’m basically libertarian on economic policy, which most of you know BUT and its a big but: When the founder’s set up our government they endowed it with checks and balances against any branch becoming all-powerful. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 28:

Power being almost always the rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government. The people, by throwing themselves into either scale, will infallibly make it preponderate. If their rights are invaded by either, they can make use of the other as the instrument of redress. How wise will it be in them by cherishing the union to preserve to themselves an advantage which can never be too highly prized!

This has worked reasonably well over the years, but as business grew so large it became a power center in its own right, as we see now in Big Tech, where Google, for instance, will not cooperate with the US Department of Defense but is readily willing to work with the Chinese military. There are plenty of other examples. So, it seems that the government must be the check on unchecked business, because no other entity is large enough to do so, especially including other businesses. Here too it is as Madison said in Federalist 51

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.


Via CNN:

Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate and former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, has died from coronavirus, according to an obituary sent from his verified Twitter account and Newsmax, where he was launching a television show.

May he rest in peace having fought the good fight.


And finally, Sgt Joe Friday has some words for Antifa and Black Live matters that ring as true today as they did when written in 1968.

 

 

Knocking on my brain.

Years ago, while reading the Bible, I came across Isaiah 45:7. In that verse, God refers to the evil He creates. (KJV). It didn’t strike me any particular way at the time as I was caught up in the chapter and gist of its intent. For some reason, “The evil I do” got locked in my head. But I was younger then, working, mom, housewife – you know the drill – so I never did any research on it.

Retired now and having all the time in the world, when this verse came knocking on my brain again, I put other stuff down and decided to do some research. We all know God cannot ‘do’ evil, so what the heck is He talking about?

I pulled out of my bookshelves three Bibles; the Amplified Bible (very Protestant but a great concordance), a family Bible printed in 1940 (which is before ‘they’ stated taking verses out of the Bible and making other changes), and the King James Study Bible. The 1940 Bible uses the word ‘calamity’ in the place of the word ‘evil’. So I looked up calamity and the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined it as “a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering”. So my thought process is – God creates ‘evil’ weather? Calamitous weather? Hmmm.

Then I looked up what causes hurricanes – a good question for Floridians and folks living in the Gulf States. This is what I found:

The three main components critical to the formation of a hurricane are warm water, moist warm air, and light upper winds. A hurricane begins when large masses of warm water and moist warm air come in contact with cooler air. This collision prompts the warm water vapor to cool down very fast and condense, eventually forming dense storm clouds and emptying out as heavy rain. During the condensation process, latent heat is emitted. This latent heat warms the cold air above, causing it to rise and pave the way for warmer and more humid air coming up from below, causing a cycle.

As the process continues, more warm air is attracted to the mounting storm, and more heat is moved from the ocean’s surface to the atmosphere. The constant heat exchange leads to a development in wind patterns that spin around a relatively calm center, similar to water spinning down a drain. If the conditions remain the same, meaning that there is enough fuel for the storm to continue developing, the rotating storm becomes even more powerful, eventually becoming a hurricane. As the hurricane continues to strengthen, an opening at the center known as the “eye” will form.  (from Science ABC – online)

That was simple enough even I could understand it. Then ‘tornados’ came to mind and my research showed me this: “

What Causes a Tornado? / How do Tornadoes Form?

A lot of people wonder: “How do tornadoes form?” These severe weather events typically stem from thunderstorms, although they don’t have to.

Wind shear is one of the most critical components for the formation of a tornado. Wind shear is the change of direction and speed of the wind with height. This can create a horizontal spinning effect within a storm cell. The rotating air of an updraft meets the rotating air of a downdraft and creates that iconic and scary funnel cloud you’re probably used to seeing.

Typically, this combination of winds can happen when moist, warm air meets cool, dry air. When these air masses meet, they create instability in the atmosphere, which allows wind to change direction, move faster, get higher, and start that rotation we mentioned above.” (from earthnetworks.com)

Finally, I went to my priest, Fr. Ellis, and asked him bluntly – do storms and tornadoes and natural disasters just happen or are they God-directed. Was God mad at New Orleans and so Katrina hit? His response was, “My personal belief is nothing can happen, good or bad, in the universe without GOD in full control, therefore nothing happens without God’s permission and its ultimate purpose, like in New Orleans, is the mystery. It’s raining now and just imagine if it was controlled by one angry 😤 person…”

All this research brings me to this; God created everything. Yes, the secular people and scientists will tell us these are normal, explainable occurrences. It’s true, through science, we have greatly improved our knowledge and understanding of them. But one has to wonder – is it chance only? Or is Someone trying to tell us something?

I suspect it will continue to knock on my brain.

An Education in Fraud

Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage Mag.

The Los Angeles Unified School District spends $18,788 per student. Its goal is to up that spending to $20,000. The mammoth LA school district is 7th in urban spending and has around half a million students. And the costs only went up after a United Teachers strike extracted a 6 percent raise.

Last year, LAUSD approved a $7.8 billion budget.

Governor Newsom demanded federal aid during the coronavirus and proposed moving over $4 billion in federal pandemic relief to the non-functioning schools.

“Cuts to funding at schools will forever impact the lives of children,” Superintendent Austin Beutner warned. “The harm children are facing is just as real a threat to them as is the coronavirus.”

Apparently cutting the budgets of closed schools is just as lethal as a pandemic.

“The notion that schools can continue to operate safely in the fall with a decreased state budget is not realistic,” deputy superintendent Megan Reilly complained after a proposed 7% budget cut.

This is what passes for sense in school administration.

It’s bad enough when taxpayers and parents were stuck with billion-dollar bills when there were at least functioning schools. Now struggling families are paying a fortune to subsidize Democrat activists who make their own schedules and might condescend to spend a few hours handing out class projects.

Don’t ask them to turn on their video or actually monitor the students they’re “teaching”.

“If schools aren’t going to reopen, we’re not suggesting pulling funding from education, but instead allowing families … take that money and figure out where their kids can get educated if their schools are going to refuse to open,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested.

That suggestion has been met with howls of outrage from the teachers’ unions. How dare the country’s top education official suggest that education funding should be used to teach children.

They apparently missed that class at Screw U that taught the rest of us that there is no free lunch, somebody pays for it all. In this case, the taxpayer, and taxpayers, black, white, and Hispanic, are voting with their feet to get out of these places just as quick as they can. Why? Gee, I don’t know, maybe they’d like to get something for all that tax money, like an education for their kids.

Parents have the right to pull that money from school districts and use it to educate their children.

That can mean finding private schools that are willing to open up for in-person learning, it can mean competitive distance learning at private and public schools around the country, or it can mean homeschooling through pods. Or any learning that meets curriculum requirements.

The public education system was broken badly before. Now it effectively doesn’t exist.

The system, at every level from elementary through college, has shed what few standards it had, while maintaining ridiculously inflated expenses of tens of thousands per student for teaching zoom classes.

Competitive alternatives could easily offer individual students more instruction time, more access to teachers, and more personalized instruction for a fraction of the money that is being spent today.

School districts react hysterically to both budget cuts and proposals to reopen. But they can’t have it both ways. They protest that the infrastructure must be maintained, even as they insist that they have no idea when they’re going to be able to use it again. They argue that, unlike every other profession, it’s vital to keep teachers employed, even when they’re really not doing anything useful.

My opinion? the average big-city school and teacher is worth just as little as his blood-sucking cousin the malaria-carrying mosquito, and should be treated the exact same way.

What they are doing as teachers and school districts has a name. That name is fraud. Since a lot of it is Federal taxpayer’s money, maybe the US attorney’s could take a few minutes and indict the obvious guilty ones, maybe some of the rest might straighten up and fly a bit less crooked, straight is probably out of the question.

Ok, Kids …

Put the books away. Reach over and turn off the news. Comfy? Why not go get something to drink, maybe a snack – and then come and sit with me.

I once lived in Pennsylvania for several years. I never heard of this place when I lived there or I certainly would have scheduled a trip. I stumbled across information about this place, many years ago now, and I take a look every now and then just to keep up with any additions.

It was Halloween season when I happened on this place on YouTube. The video had some catchy, typically Halloween-ish title and so I viewed it. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Trigger warning – no, not the snowflake kind, the stomach kind. Some of these things bring out our natural gag reflex at the same time completely capturing our imagination and wonder. What a brilliant concept this place was and I’m so glad it has withstood the passage of time and that it is even more popular today.

Oh; in case you’re wanting more – and want to laugh, too – look up this place and choose any video that mentions Mike Rowe in the title. He’s a natural, low-key comedian and he cracks me up; add that to the displays here and it’s a match made in heaven.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I introduce you to the Mutter Museum.

Generational Destruction and Teacher’s Unions

Bookworm has some thoughts on keeping schools closed due to union pressures. I think she’s spot on. Let’s have a look.

1. President Trump wants to open the schools, so leftists reflexively oppose opening them.

2. Leftists think they can leverage school re-openings for political extortion. The Los Angeles teachers’ union is demanding, among many other things, that the city de-fund charter schools (their competition), raise taxes on the wealthy, and shrink class sizes by 50%. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a teachers’ union is insisting that they won’t return to the classroom unless the state implemented universal healthcare for citizens and illegal aliens alike.

3. Having children at home puts enormous pressure on families. Single mothers can’t work at all. Two-parent families may be seeing their income shrink by 50%. This creates two possible responses:

The people who are mad with fear about the virus are also the people who think that Biden can actually make it all better.

Possible in 2020 America, but it’s also an indictment of the education these so-called adults received. No president can really do very much short term about the schools. Of course, calling off the Democratic dogs might be another matter. Or there is this:

Then there are the people who know this is all a con, intended to pressure people into voting for Biden. The way the con works is that, once Biden wins, the whole virus madness will end as swiftly as it did during the Black Lives Matter protests. These people want to vote for Trump, but they believe a vote for Biden is the only way to end this Democrat extortion.

Which ties back to my comment on the first option. It also brings to mind a bit of Kipling:

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: –
“We invaded you last night – we are quite prepared to fight,
 Unless you pay us cash to go away.”And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: –
“Though we know we should defeat you,
we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
 But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
 You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
 For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
 No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
 And the nation that plays it is lost!”

Anybody think teacher’s unions are any different?

Then there is the other side:

1. There’s nothing conservatives want more than to see the end of public schools. Students stuck in bad districts don’t get educated at all and students in all districts are subject to non-stop leftist indoctrination. Additionally, the teachers’ unions are consistently the largest Democrat donors in most elections. […]

2. Keeping kids out of school is really bad for them. We know that, unless they’re terribly immune-compromised or weak in other ways, the virus is a mere nothing to them. Keeping them out of school won’t save their lives.

However, long-distance education is nothing fish nor fowl. It’s not homeschooling, which has a separate dynamic that’s very focused on the individual. Instead, it’s drone schooling, […]

Another problem is that children need to socialize. Not only are they being kept from school, but they’re also not even supposed to see other children under this paranoid regime. […]

Lastly, children need to develop their immune systems. By protecting them from the one virus, we’re preventing them from exposure to all the other things that their body needs if it’s to educate the immune system to protect them throughout their lives. […]

A hearty YUP to all five, and probably another dozen neither Book nor I thought of. It’s the worst of all possible non-answers to a non-existent problem. Why exactly should we allow teachers (and their unions) who have time and again proved that they care less than nothing about anybody but themselves and their political power to completely ruin another generation of our children?

I can’t stop thinking about that woman in Arizona who threw her toddler out the window to save it. She was already on fire and might have saved herself by jumping after the baby. She didn’t, though. Instead, she stayed in the apartment, burning to death, to make sure that her 8-year-old daughter survived (which the girl did). Would that mother be so afraid of a virus that she would willingly destroy her children’s education and socialization? (And again, that’s assuming there are such benefits from modern public school education.)

It’s an excellent point and those responsible should be thinking long and hard about it.

Read her full post (linked above). It’s the most common sense I’ve seen on the topic.

Education: A Developing Consensus

From Mick Hume at The Spectator:

Over a year ago, Brendan O’Neill introduced Spectator readers to this new breed of super-squeamish, censorious student. The Stepford students, as Brendan called them, might ‘look like students, dress like students, smell like students. But their student brains have been replaced by brains bereft of critical faculties and programmed to conform.’

Since Brendan’s piece came out, things have got worse. Some Cambridge undergraduates set up a website ironically called the Stepford Student, intending to show that they didn’t fit the stereotype. Before too long they surrendered and closed it down — because of protests from real Stepford students outraged by tongue-in-cheek articles such as ‘Am I only a feminist to get laid?’ which showed a ‘flippant and harmful attitude towards feminism’. Feminism is never a laughing matter and flippancy equals heresy.

Sloan Rachmuth and Katie Jensen in The Federalist:

New York City is one of many school systems in the United States set to roll out Black Lives Matter (BLM)-themed lesson plans this fall. According to the NYC Department of Education, teachers will delve into “systemic racism,” police brutality, and white privilege in their classrooms.

North Carolina’s largest school system in Wake County launched a website this summer that provides BLM lessons for teachers to use in classrooms and for parents to use at home. The website, created by the school system’s Office of Equity Affairs, encourages teachers to “address the injustices that exist beyond education by the conversations we have with others, by speaking up when we see hate, by supporting efforts that oppose racism and oppression, and by directly engaging in advocacy work.”

Encouraging people to identify and condemn racism is an undeniably laudable undertaking by these school administrators. That’s not what’s really happening, however. By bringing BLM into the classroom, activist educators are allowing the most radically divisive movement in modern American history to warp children’s worldviews.

And many more in my files, reaching back to when this blog started in 2011. So why now? Because we have an opportunity.

Back in 2013 Goeffrey Sales, formerly reputed to be one of the best Headmasters in Britain, now retired, and a friend of mine wrote on AATW (and reposted here):

I taught in boys’ schools for 40 years, some of them boarding schools where we had our problems with what we used to call ‘the usual’. Young men are a lusty lot, and if you don’t civilise the little so and sos, and even if you do, their hormones will run riot, and if they don’t have a lass near by, they’ll find a substitute. There were those who counselled turning a Nelsonian eye; I dissented. Not only was it illegal (as it still is under 18), it ran the risk of letting them think that we approved of it.

Was some poor lad hard done by? No more than some lad at a mixed sex school was was told he couldn’t misbehave with the lasses. Whatever the nut-doctors say, children like simple rules; the more complex they are, the easier it is for them if you keep it simple.

Of course, in all adolescents, hormones run wild; if you don’t stop the little darlings, so will they. Make it clear that infractions of the rules will be punished, and most of them get the message. It makes it easier to deal with those who can’t or won’t, because most children will. The single worst thing which happened over my time in teaching was the decline in confidence amongst the adults. I’m a peaceable man, but would be prepared to take a gun to educationalists who tell us that the children need understanding. To the devil with that, they need boundaries, and they need to understand they are not the centre of the universe. Once that is established, you will get somewhere.

So, telling adolescents that it is fine to do what you like as long as you ‘love; someone, is precisely the wrong message.  We used to hear a lot about repression. We could do with more repression and less license.

That would be a damned good start, and remember, that was in 2013. So what now? How about this from my buddy Mike at makeaneffort:

Keep the Public Schools Closed.

Forever.

One of the best things we can for this Amazing, Glorious, Miracle of Self Government is to keep the Schools Closed permanently. When you hear Leftists lament that we cannot afford to have our children out of their control for one minute longer, it should be a cause for pause.

I would offer the best thing you can do for your children, and the rest of us, is to keep them at home and away from our Institutes of Indoctrination. I’m willing to concede that some of you may not be proficient at certain subjects, but what you do know is more than your kids get at school. If you’re not aware, there are actually classes for ADULTS called “Adulting”. These classes teach your ADULT children how to do things like buy groceries, change a tire, tie a tie, cook and egg, balance a check book, wash the dishes, do laundry, mow the lawn, bathe… etc, etc. It’s an indictment of all of us. Keeping them home would, at a minimum, teach them how a home is run. It would also save us from having to deprogram them before they turn into (oddly obese or oddly still skateboarding) Bomb Throwers for Marxists. It’s a Win-Win!

I think he’s probably right, and so do others. like Scott Shepard at The Federalist:

If we’re going to defund major American institutions, the place to start is not the police but higher education. America’s colleges and universities have largely abandoned their genuine mission in favor of polemics and proselytization, while slamming the door to viewpoint diversity and open debate. All this they provide at tremendous expense to taxpayers as well as ideological and financial ruin to the nation’s young people.

Higher education must be significantly reconstructed. We must eliminate systems of viewpoint discrimination, stop the erasure of legitimate taxpayer interests, and end the economic disenfranchisement of America’s youth brought about by saddling them with mountainous debt to maintain administrative and tenured-professorial privilege.

Higher education should teach both subject matter and ways of thinking. It should challenge students’ preconceptions while allowing them vigorously to debate difficult issues. Students should graduate ready to earn their livings and to participate thoughtfully in our citizen government.

Modern universities — especially in the humanities, social sciences, and law — provide few such benefits. Rather, they have become factories of coddling, cajoling, and oppressing.

Yup, they have. Philip Carl Salzman chimes in at PJ Media with this:

Our universities have nurtured and foisted on America and Canada an extreme radicalism that vilifies American and Canadian history, society, and culture. This radicalism stems in the first instance from identity grievance studies programs, such as feminist and gender studies, gay and queer studies, black studies, Hispanic and Chicano studies, indigenous studies, and ethnic studies, which have adopted marxist theories popular in sociology and political science.

This far left ideology has diffused throughout the soft subjects of the social sciences, humanities, education, social work, and law. Far left radicalism has been adopted with enthusiasm by administrators and imposed on any laggard or dissenting students and professors by the many “diversity and inclusion” commissars whose salaries could have funded many scholarships and professorships in STEM fields.

But nobody makes it clearer than The Colonel at Townhall:

Never let a good crisis go to waste, which in the current crisis means we must use the fact that our universities have shown themselves to be petri dishes swimming with anti-American ideologies, combined with pre-existing trends, to lance this particular cultural boil.

Let’s be clear: Academia today is a pack of rabid reds, and we need to put it down like Old Yeller. And academia itself has loaded up the 12 gauge.

They will say that we oppose academia because we are stupid Neanderthals, just like Trump is (That’s Lie #2 in my new book!). No. We would be stupid to let this undead institution on. This entire wokeness idiocy is the result of hack academics peddling half-baked theories that justify the consolidation of elite power at the expense of those of us who don’t live on the diploma dole. The bizarre language – “We must struggle to decolonialize the cisnormative paradigm to purge the structural racism caused by the male gaze and amplify whiny, entitled voices” – and the performance art aspects of the media-friendly insurrection – notice how they only get frisky in jurisdictions where they can count on the pinko mayor to hold back the constables and on the local DA to merely slap their wrists? – is all a direct result of indoctrination in the colleges that we normal people support.

Why should we do that? We have no moral obligation to subsidize a generation of brats.

What have we got to lose, other than the chains they want to fix on us. It’s probably the best opportunity we are ever going to have. Read the links, and this was only a smattering of what I have seen even in the last month.

The time for talk about this problem ended at least a decade ago. It’s time to shut it down.

 

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