Quotulatiousness

November 16, 2017

15 British Sweets Everyone Should Try – Anglophenia Ep 22

Filed under: Britain — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Anglophenia
Published on 7 Jan 2015

From Cadbury Flake to jelly babies, Siobhan Thompson shows us the British candies we should all try at least once.

October 25, 2017

The new “movie plot threat” – The Revenge of the Return of the Bride of the Sex Trafficking Mafia

Filed under: Law, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The rising moral panic over sex traffic gets a well-deserved takedown by Lenore Skenazy:

We are in the midst of a massive mommy moral panic. Across the country, mothers are writing breathless accounts on Facebook of how sex traffickers nearly snatched their children at Target/Ikea/the grocery store.

While at Sam’s Club, one such post explains, “a man came up to us and asked if the empty cart nearby was ours.…He was an African American with a shaved head.…It seemed like an innocent encounter.” Innocent, that is, until the mom and kids headed to Walmart and there was the guy again, “feverishly texting on his phone but not taking his eye off my daughter.”

It could only mean one thing, she wrote: “I have absolutely NO doubt that that man is a trafficker looking for young girls to steal and sell.”

And I have absolutely no doubt that she’s wrong. This is what security expert Bruce Schneier has dubbed a “movie plot threat” — a narrative that looks suspiciously like what you’d see at the Cineplex. The more “movie plot” a situation seems, the less likely it is to be real.

But it sells. A Facebook post by Diandra Toyos went wildly viral after she said she and her kids were followed by two men at Ikea. “I had a bad feeling,” she wrote. Fortunately, she “managed to lose them.”

Which, frankly, is what one does at Ikea, even with people one is trying not to lose. Nonetheless, the post ricocheted through the media. CBS told viewers that while experts found the scenario unlikely, “that doesn’t mean Toyos didn’t have reason to be concerned.”

Actually, it does.

October 17, 2017

QotD: The problem with modern education – an alien conspiracy?

Filed under: Education, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

So, what is going on?

Lots of things. Look, I’m a science fiction writer. It’s easy for me to say “There is a conspiracy by aliens, to make sure we never get to the stars. They infiltrated our education establishment and are destroying competence from within.

Except it’s not just education, and I don’t believe in aliens or that ALL of this is done on purpose.

But Sarah, you’ll say, some of it is, like Bill Ayers redesigning education as a means to bring about a biddable proletariat.

Oh, sure, that might have been how the dumbass conceived it. It’s not why it’s applied though. And dumbass? Yep. Bill Ayers, like most progressives is a clever fool who thinks society spins on words and theories, and not on basic “can do”. This is one of the reasons communist societies QUICKLY become hell on Earth. Because you can’t get rid of everyone who is competent without the rest of society collapsing. The ceiling doesn’t stay up when you remove the walls. People who’ve been educated beyond their competence don’t see that though.

Still, most people who APPLY his poisonous ideas aren’t frankly competent enough to know what they’re doing. No. They’re doing it for other reasons.

    Stupidity – the most powerful force on Earth.

    There are any number of people who’ll do whatever without thinking because someone in authority tells them not only that they should, but that “it’s the new way of doing things. All the smart people follow it.” And frankly they’re not competent enough to evaluate the “new way of doing things” so they settle for APPEARING smart.

    Rapid change.

    Even in the village, the teacher often floundered. They’d added pre-history to the curriculum, and she’d never studied it. So… her idea of pre-history was the Flintstones. I came home talking about cars made of stone (I wish I’d had a camera to take picture of dad’s face.) Mom and dad corrected it. NO BIG.

    If my kids are maleducated in the same way say, about computers, I can’t fix it. What’s more, I’m not alone. H*ll I found out the model of the atom I learned was superseded and that the physics I learned was not at all like what the kids learned (they thought I was nuts.) AND when Robert came home and told me “We’re sequencing DNA in lab. When you sequenced DNA–”

    No, it’s not a complete excuse, no matter what they tell you, but it is PART of it. Not in teachers not being able to keep up, but in parents or even grandparents no longer being able to fill in those deficiencies.

    The same applies to just about any type of work, btw, because the methods are so different now that the old codger who walked to the shop and corrected the new hires? He no longer can teach them anything.

    A belief in “natural” things and “natural” learning and that if it’s not fun, it’s not right. This apparently is the flowering of the student revolts in the sixties. It is certainly what is destroying marriage as an institution.

    You see, every marriage goes through rough patches. I probably have one of the happiest marriages in the world, but yeah, there were days, evenings, and sometimes entire months when I’d have traded the whole thing for ten cents and a pack of chewing gum. It’s just I knew it had been good and would be again.

    The same applies to learning. I don’t care how “gifted” you are at math or languages or even writing, you are not gifted enough to intuit the whole thing at our present level. NO MATTER HOW GIFTED YOU ARE, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO RECONSTITUTE AN ENTIRE SCIENCE OR ART WITHOUT LEARNING. And learning means some tedium, some memorizing and the inevitable patch that is difficult, even though everything else came easily.

    When the entire establishment goes over for “should be fun” you’re going to fail.

    Fear.

    People who are mal-educated and conscious of it don’t hire people who know more than they do. Okay, so some do, but not many and those people are exceptional. This is why the whole “The president can be a dumbass if he hires good advisors” always fails, as we have proof daily. People don’t want their subordinates to upstage them. Any of you who EVER corrected a boss knows exactly what I’m talking about.

    So, let’s imagine that this started with the student revolts (it started a little earlier, with the busy parents who came back from WWII not passing things on.)

    Those people hit the market place and hired people my generation who were LESS prepared than they were. They were AFRAID of being exposed. Then my generation hired people less prepared and then…

Sarah Hoyt, “The War On Competence”, According to Hoyt, 2016-03-04.

October 15, 2017

QotD: Developmental psychology

Filed under: Quotations, Science — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Developmental psychology describes how children go from helpless infants to reasonable adults. Although a lot of it has to do with sensorimotor skills like walking and talking, the really interesting stuff is cognitive development. Children start off as very buggy reasoners incapable of all but the most superficial forms of logic but gradually go on to develop new abilities and insights that allow them to navigate adult life.

Maybe the most famous of these is “theory of mind”, the ability to view things from other people’s perspective. In a classic demonstration, researchers show little Amy a Skittles bag and ask what she thinks is inside. She guesses Skittles, but the researchers open it and reveal it’s actually pennies. Then they close it up and invite little Brayden into the room. Then they ask Amy what Brayden thinks is inside. If Amy’s three years old or younger, she’ll usually say “pennies” – she knows that pennies are inside, so why shouldn’t Brayden know too? If she’s four or older, she’ll usually say “Skittles” – she realizes on a gut level that she and Brayden are separate minds and that Brayden will have his own perspective. Sometimes the same mistake can extend to preferences and beliefs. Wikipedia gives the example of a child saying “I like Sesame Street, so Daddy must like Sesame Street too.” This is another theory of mind failure grounded in an inability to separate self and environment.

Here’s another example which tentatively sounds like a self-environment failure. Young children really don’t get foreign languages. I got a little of this teaching English in Japan, and heard more of it from other people. The really young kids treated English like a cipher; everybody started out knowing things’ real (ie Japanese) names, but Americans insisted on converting them into their own special American-person code before talking about them. Kids would ask weird things like whether American parents would make an exception and speak Japanese to their kids who were too young to have learned English yet, or whether it was a zero-tolerance policy sort of thing and the families would just not communicate until the kids went to English school. And I made fun of them, but I also remember the first time I visited Paris I heard somebody talking to their dog, and for a split second I was like “Why would you expect your dog to know French?” before my brain kicked in and I was like “Duuhhhh….”

The infamous “magical thinking” which kids display until age 7 or so also involves confused self-environment boundaries. Maybe little Amy gets mad at Brayden and shouts “I HATE HIM” to her mother. The next day, Brayden falls off a step and skins his knee. Amy intuits a cause-and-effect relationship between her hatred and Brayden’s accident and feels guilty. She doesn’t realize that her hatred is internal to herself and can’t affect the world directly. Or kids displaying animism at this age, and expecting that the TV doesn’t work because it’s angry, or the car’s not starting because it’s tired.

Scott Alexander, “What Developmental Milestones Are You Missing?”, Slate Star Codex, 2015-11-03.

October 14, 2017

Boy Scouts to admit girls as members

Filed under: Humour, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

On Facebook, John Ringo explains why the Boy Scouts of America is opening its membership to girls:

The Boy Scouts will now admit girls.

https://www.history.com/news/boy-scouts-to-admit-girls-to-their-ranks

One of the main (mostly angry) responses (mostly by women) is ‘Why is this necessary?’

They apparently are either blind or haven’t kept up with changes in the Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts have eliminated almost all training and badges for ‘outdoorsy’ or essentially anything ‘unsafe’ (like, say, rafting.) No training in how to build a fire unless it’s already in a fire pit. (No training on how to build such a pit.) No training in, well, scouting, tracking, etc. They’ve basically cut everything ‘Scout’ about Girl Scouts and they’re now a full-on SJW front coupled with a fundraising group. God forbid you don’t make your cookie quota. ‘You want to hike? Hike your neighborhood and SELL MORE COOKIES!’

So the BSA basically felt so sorry for them they’re letting GRRRLS with COOTIES into the BSA! IKKY COOTIE GIRLS!

Both groups also have had a big fall-off in membership of late. So the Girl Scouts are flaming angry about it all. ‘How dare they steal our precious cookie tram… I mean precious girls?’

I’m guessing there’s going to be a big boost in Boy Scouts, though.

‘Fuck, yeah, dude! Woot! THERE’S GIRLS! Scouting just got AWESOME!’

‘Do they get to keep the skirts? Do they? Please tell me they’re keeping the skirts…’
🙂

(And, yes, I know they’re only in their own troops, work with me here…)

Boy and girl scouts saluting, American flag in background, circa 1960s. (Credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images)

BAHFest East 2017 – Jerry Wang: BLANKIE: Baby LAb for iNfant-Kindled innovatIon and Exploration

Filed under: Humour, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

BAHFest
Published on Sep 24, 2017

Watch Jerry propose an ambitious research program to “make big science with tiny people.” By leveraging the unique morphological and neurological capabilities of babies, he aims to advance the frontiers of science and engineering with giant baby steps.

BAHFest is the Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses, a celebration of well-researched, logically explained, and clearly wrong evolutionary theory. Additional information is available at http://bahfest.com/

September 23, 2017

Roger Scruton – On ‘Harry Potter’

Filed under: Books, Britain, Media, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Conservatism Archive
Published on Sep 4, 2017

September 4, 2017

The mental health crisis on campus

Filed under: Education, Health, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In Spiked, Naomi Firsht shares the concerns of Jonathan Haidt about the rise of mental health issues at US universities:

The heightened vulnerability of college students has had a chilling effect on discussion in the academic world, and Haidt sees this in his day-to-day experience on campus. “There is a rapidly spreading feeling that we are all walking on eggshells, both students and faculty. That we are now accountable, not for what we say, but for how anyone who hears it might take it. And if you have to speak, thinking about the worst reading that anyone could put on your words, that means you cannot be provocative, you cannot take risks, that means you will play it safe when you speak… This is what I’m seeing in my classes when topics related to race or gender come up – which we used to be able to talk about 10 years ago, but now it’s painful and there’s a lot of silence.”

This is disastrous for academic life, as Haidt points out: “A university cannot function if people will not put their ideas forth, will not contest ideas that they think are wrong, will not stand up for ideas that they think are right.”
He is keen to emphasise that this is not a right-left issue. “Several people on the left are noticing that college students are less effective politically as activists, as progressives, when they have this morality and this ethos with such heavy concept creep.”

Haidt believes there is a mental-health crisis on campus: “I have never seen such rapid increase in indicators of anxiety and depression as we have seen in the past few years”, he says. But his suggested approach is unlikely to find favour with student communities fond of Safe Spaces and therapeutic puppy-petting. “If you think about it as a mental-health crisis”, he explains, “then you might be tempted to say: we need more help, more counselling, more protection for those who are suffering from mental illness. But if you look at it that way you will miss the broader pattern, which is that for 20 to 30 years now, Americans have been systematically undermining the development of resilience or toughness of their children.” Referencing the work of Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-range Kids, he concludes: “We have made our children too safe to succeed.”

In his forthcoming book Misguided Minds: How Three Bad Ideas Are Leading Young People, Universities, and Democracies Toward Failure, Haidt claims that certain ideas are impairing students’ chances of success. Those ideas being: your feelings are always right; what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; and the world is divided into good people and bad people. “If we can teach those three ideas to college students”, he says, “we cannot guarantee they will fail, but we will minimise their odds at success”.

So how can we resolve the problem of vulnerability among young Americans? Haidt says part of the solution must begin in childhood and will require parents to give their children daily periods of “unsupervised time”. “We have to accept the fact that in that unsupervised time there will be name-calling, conflict and exclusion. And while it’s painful for parents to accept this, in the long-run it will give them children that are not suffering from such high rates of anxiety and depression.”

August 30, 2017

QotD: Democratic education

Filed under: Education, Quotations, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… a passage transcribed from one of Étienne Gilson’s public lectures in the early 1950s, and let it be said that a man in the Deep South who signs himself N.W. Flitcraft, found it first. (He is here.) Gilson has been one of my own “heroes,” or guiding lights, these last few decades:

    “If our school system exists, not in view of a chosen minority, but in view of all, its average level should answer the average level of the population as a whole. Hence the unavoidable consequence that the best gifted among the pupils will be discriminated against. Nor should we imagine that creative minds will multiply in direct proportion to the growth of the school population. The reverse is much more likely to happen. In aristocratic societies, genius has often found access to higher culture, even under adverse circumstances; in democratic societies, it will have no higher culture to which to gain access. Since equality in ignorance is easier to achieve than equality in learning, each and every teacher will have to equalize his class at the bottom level rather than at the top one, and the whole school system will spontaneously obey the same law. It is anti-democratic to teach all children what only some of them are able to learn. Nay, it is anti-democratic to teach what all children can learn by means of methods which only a minority of pupils are able to follow. Since, as has been said, democracy stands for equality, democratic societies have a duty to teach only what is accessible to all and to see to it that it be made accessible to all. The overwhelming weight of their school population is therefore bound to lower the centre of gravity in their school systems. The first peril for democracies, therefore, is to consider it their duty, in order to educate all citizens, to teach each of them less and less and in a less and less intelligent way.”

Pause, gentle, then read that through again, until committed to memory. I cannot think of a better single-paragraph explanation of how John Dewey’s “democratic vistas” sent us all to hell. Verily, I wish I’d been armed with that when asked, some forty-six years ago, why I was leaving school with only a Grade X education (plus, to be fair to me, nearly one full term of Grade XI). It explains everything, in less than three hundred words.

David Warren, “Democracy versus God”, Essays in Idleness, 2015-11-10.

August 24, 2017

Words & Numbers: Child Labor Was Wiped Out by Markets, Not Government

Filed under: Business, Economics, Government — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 23 Aug 2017

In 1938 the US government passed the Fair Labor Standards Act mandating a forty hour work week, establishing a minimum wage, and prohibiting child labor. Because of legislation like this, government is often credited for making the American work environment safer and more fair. Yet, as Antony Davies and James Harrigan demonstrate with historical data, market forces were already making things easier on the American worker long before the FLSA.

Learn More:
https://fee.org/articles/child_labor_was_wiped_out_by_markets_not_government
https://youtu.be/0zq-2cKENOc

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/sep/09/viral-image/does-8-hour-day-and-40-hour-come-henry-ford-or-lab/

https://fee.org/articles/child_labor_was_wiped_out_by_markets_not_government

Data:

http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/documents/CT1970p1-05.pdf
See page 170 for average weekly work hours.
See page 134 for child labor rates.

August 23, 2017

Playing with fire – James May Q&A Extras (Ep36) – Head Squeeze

Filed under: Humour, Science, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 30 Aug 2013

James May reminisces about his misspent youth playing with matches and debates the merits of using foam to put out flames from petrol.

August 17, 2017

Words & Numbers: The Illusion of School Choice

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Economics, Education — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 16 Aug 2017

In private schools, as in private enterprise in general, poor performance drives funding away by driving paying customers away. Yet in public schools, poor performance is used as an excuse for increased funding. With incentives like these, is it any wonder that public schools are failing our children so badly? Isn’t it time to inject some competition into the system?

Education for all is a worthy wish. So is food for all. But we don’t force poor people to eat state-produced food. Even food stamp recipients get to choose where to shop. Why shouldn’t beneficiaries of public education spending get to choose where to send their kids?

Our hosts James R. Harrigan and Antony Davies want to know…

June 29, 2017

Homeschooling is looking like a better option all the time

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Education, Health, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Susan Goldberg explains what some states are now asking primary school teachers to do in the way of monthly mental health evaluations of the kids they teach:

On paper it reads like a not-so-vague attempt to socially engineer your child’s behavior. In reality, teacher-led mental health assessments coming to a growing number of public schools are a bureaucratic nightmare. One that will no doubt further clog our nation’s public education system with increased paperwork and administrative costs while putting your child’s future at serious risk.

Thanks to Dr. Aida Cerundolo’s piece in The Wall Street Journal, we are beginning to understand the real-life ramifications of these dangerous educational ideas. Want the Cliffs Notes version? Head over to the excellent summation by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, detailing the ramifications of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a federal bill focused on the buzz-phrase “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL), the latest craze in public education. Schools in states that have ESSA legislation on the books can use the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) to fulfill ESSA paperwork requirements.

    …every month the teacher must answer 72 questions about each of the perhaps dozens of students in her class. She must assess whether the student “carr[ies] himself with confidence,” whatever that means for a 5-year-old, and whether he can “cope well with insults and mean comments.”

    … Dr. Cerundolo’s alarm at the imposition of DESSA is shared by at least some New Hampshire teachers. One of them contacted Ann Marie Banfield, Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire, to express her objections to completing the DESSA forms on her students. The teacher was especially troubled that the school neither sought parental consent nor even notified parents that their children were being screened by amateurs for mental-health issues. As the mother of public-school students, she worried that other teachers were completing this assessment on her children.

You read that right: if you live in an ESSA state, your child’s mental health will be assessed by a non-medical professional in a non-medical context. The paperwork will not be protected by HIPAA laws, which means that the school district can share a teacher’s assessment of your child’s mental health with literally anyone. Parents are not asked for permission before the DESSA is administered, nor do they have any say over where the records go once they are obtained.

I imagine that primary school teachers will be just overjoyed to take on yet another task for which they may have no formal training or aptitude, in addition to the piddling little details of actually teaching. Were you ever warned about youthful misbehaviour going on to your “permanent record”? Now, it’s not just the big ticket items that will follow your kids from now on in their school careers.

May 14, 2017

The earliest lesson in economics

Filed under: Economics, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Steve Kates posted this at Catallaxy Files, saying it was everything you need to know about public spending:

May 8, 2017

“… it’s inconceivable that a book called Fascism for Kids would ever be printed by a reputable publisher”

Filed under: Books, Education, History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jarrett Stepman reviews a new MIT translation of Communism for Kids:

In order to make the deadliest ideology of the 20th century palatable to young Americans, Communism for Kids is coming to a bookstore near you.

This newly released book from MIT Press “proposes a different kind of communism, one that is true to its ideals and free from authoritarianism.”

The death toll from communist regimes in the 20th century is well-documented. One study found that more people were killed under communism than homicide and genocide combined, and only 9 million more people were killed in World War I and World War II combined than under governments of this ideology.

Another study showed how the mass killings of civilians by their own governments took an immediate nosedive after the collapse of the Soviet Union and international communism.

According to the Amazon synopsis, the book weaves a fairy tale of “jealous princesses, fancy swords, displaced peasants, mean bosses, and tired workers.”

It is bewildering why MIT Press would publish a book that cutesies up the political creed that gave the world Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and many more of the world’s most prolific mass murderers. None of these brutal dictators are mentioned in the book, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Communism seemingly gets a pass to be reimagined as a sweet fable while it’s inconceivable that a book called Fascism for Kids would ever be printed by a reputable publisher.

[…]

This odd attempt to get kids into communism is unlikely to spawn a new generation of true believers on its own, but it does highlight the growing problem for younger Americans who are generally clueless about even recent history.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, a study from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that millennials in particular are stunningly ignorant about what occurred under the Soviet Union and other communist regimes just a generation ago.

One-third of millennials surveyed actually believe that more people were killed under former President George W. Bush than under Soviet dictator Stalin.

As suggested, a copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm would be a far more accurate and informative gift than this piece of whitewash.

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