Rice Bowl Breaking Contest

There is a big push locally by (primarily) art teachers to save their school art programs.

This is just another Rice Bowl seeking to be the last one broken.

Art joins libraries, parks and high-speed rail in trying to be just one rung higher on the cut list — similar to the joke about the two men running from an enraged bear, where one man says “can you run faster than the bear?” and the other says, “I only have to run faster than YOU!”

Should public school sports be the Abou Ben Adhem (whose name leads all the rest)? I argue so, because there are available private alternatives like Little League, Pop Warner, Youth Soccer, etc. — but until the Rice Bowl Owners currently threatened have the courage to support naming WHICH Rice Bowl should be first broken, then it is the call of the administration.

Step up, “arts community” and tell us who should be cut first, before your Rice Bowl is broken.

Natural Gas?

There is a new but big push for natural gas as a fuel alternative.

Now I’ll admit that when I was involved with natural gas as the automotive alternative fuel back in the early 70s, it was a good possibility that never got off the ground. (I was the Air Pollution Officer for the 11th Naval District, as a secondary duty.)

If you were in San Diego in the early 70s, you may have see the GSA (General Services Administration) federal automobiles running around the county, for years as a test – although they were only distinguishable if you noted the small vents on the top. Vents were there because we were using liquefied natural gas (LNG), stored in the trunks of the cars in a “thermos bottle” at MINUS 270 degrees! The gas naturally expanded and had to be vented because the LNG heated and expanded about 1% — 3%  of the contents a day.

(You could tell who was driving the cars because of their singed eyebrows…they got into their car first thing in the morning, lit up a cigarette, and…)

In those days it cost about $300 (1972 prices) to place a kit on a car to convert it to LNG.

It was a viable alternative, with just a little loss of available power to the rear wheels – but you had to consider it mostly for commercial fleets because of the natural loss through expansion.

Certainly, technology has improved so perhaps the leakage is much better.

The new system, I am told, is CNG – compressed natural gas – but that is gas held under GREAT pressure (instead of temperature) so it is compressed sufficiently to fit a reasonable amount in what once was your trunk. The problem with CNG is that such potential “bombs” are banned in many of the tunnels…

Still, it is a real potential because it uses our current reciprocating engines and the US has natural gas to spare! Of course there would no longer be room in the trunk to hold your golf clubs, but…

Quick Hits

Does anyone know if the ACLU, which presumes to protect the rights under the Constitution, ever protects the rights under the 2nd Amendment or the 10th Amendment?

Here in San Diego County, the nightly local news was filled for days with the story of a landscaper at a community college, and the spokesman of a local Tea Party, who was accused of a violent rape on Fiesta Island. The accuser noted something about him that caused the police to check the video of a nearby store, and with that tape the accuser identified the man.

He lost his job, his upcoming marriage was delayed, and he was roundly condemned for days, while he denied the accusation. During the next few weeks the woman’s friends leaked the information that the accuser had texted to them information that brought the rape into question

Today, on page B5, the charges were dropped and the accuser admitted that the charges were not true. Where does the accused go to get his reputation back?

The California High-Speed train has just about zero chance of actually being built, in spite of the tens of millions of dollars already spent. The Brown administration is just about the sole supporter, and they primarily so they can still appoint cronies to paid positions up until the day the thing completely collapses.

It appears the latest obstacle to the building of the line to nowhere is the environmentalists. They are demanding a full Environmental Impact Report, which would delay the construction beyond its legally required construction date.

You take good news where you find it.

Filed Under “Editor’s Choice”: The morning paper today had more than a dozen column inches on the subject of an “Occupy Education” at Palomar College.

There were exactly 12 people who attended the rally, according to both the article and the accompanying photograph.

How do an ad hoc group of exactly a dozen people with no coherent message get press coverage?

“In the hallmark fashion of the Occupy movement, which has declined to stake out policy positions or narrow its focus, the discussion Thursday ranged from higher education to the war in Iraq, terrorism, genetically modified crops, and the ethics of mega-corporations including Monsanto and McDonald’s.

“The banks and major corporations are bleeding the people, not only of this country, but around the world, dry,” David said


Read more: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/san-marcos/san-marcos-occupy-education-protestors-gather-at-palomar-college/article_a022d90e-e40d-5b1b-929a-f123eb5d4393.html#ixzz1qci6zxWQ

I will see a lot more than a dozen people at our Saturday Faire in my tiny community, buying plants, used books, fruit and preserves

Wonder if we can get the newspaper to cover that event?

Layoff of Teachers

While I have published this proposal before, it remains germane to the discussion of how we lay off teachers, because the current system is designed around wrinkles (seniority), leaving us with keeping some bad teachers and laying off some good teachers.  All of this, we are told, because there is no way to reasonably decide who is a “good” teacher, and who is a “bad” one.

This is my proposal.

Teachers should be ranked on a ladder with no two ladder rungs equal by fellow teachers, and administration. Everyone doing the ranking must have someone at the top and someone at the bottom, and no two on the same step.

(This was the methodology of finding out if Annapolis Midshipmen had “aptitude for the service,” and of course, like teachers, it was assumed that anyone capable of Annapolis was already “qualified” to serve as a Naval Officer – but the service had to find out who was “more qualified” – or more importantly, less qualified. No matter how well qualified the pool, not EVERYONE is “best.”)

Anyone falling in the bottom 10% for two consecutive years of the teacher pool should be warned. If a teacher falls into the bottom rankings for three consecutive years, or any three out of five years they should be automatically fired.

The question then comes: Who ranks, and what weight should be given the ranking of fellow teachers, administrators, and parent/students. Parent/students should probably only have a say in the top high school grades. My opinion is that administrators should have 60% weight, fellow teachers 40% weight. (At the high school level the parents/students weight should be 10%, taken equally from administrators and fellow teachers.

I admit that it is possible to “game the system” by teachers coordinating the ranking of fellow teachers in order to keep bad teachers out of the bottom, if a teacher is threatened by firing, but that is more made more difficult because it is hard to keep major conspiracies quiet. Too many people involved.

My opinion is that teachers are less likely to do this if the rankings are seriously confidential, because I believe many teachers REALLY want to get rid of bad teachers, and if it is kept confidential the union will not be able to influence the outcome.

These rankings should be 35% of the final annual teacher total grade, with an analysis similar to the LA Times “Value Added” analysis also equal to 35%, and in-class evaluations equal to 30%.

Using this system, we should be able within three years to evaluate the quality of a teacher to the point where we can at least identify the top 10% of the teachers for extra pay, and a significant portion of the bottom 10% for layoffs.

You can argue the numbers. You can argue the percentages. You can argue the entire methodology if you wish and change it as you please, but there are two absolute requirements in my mind: Telling the parents and taxpayers what system you are using and firing the bottom 10% of poor performing teachers after a SHORT period of remediation.


“Failure To Launch”

One of the popular items in the ObamaCare bill is the part that permits those age 26 to stay on their parents insurance.

Talk about “Failure to Launch!”

On the one hand we have lowered the age to vote to 18, claiming that those are “adults” who are old enough to serve and die for their country and therefore old enough to have representation in the halls of Congress. Somehow those same adults are not old enough to make decisions about and buy their healthcare.

Perhaps this generation has homo sapiens different from my (very old) generation, but by 26 I had graduated High School, spent a year at Trinity University (math major), completed Navy Boot Camp, deployed to Korea on a Destroyer Escort (three battle stars), returned to the US and deployed across the North Atlantic to Italy in the Winter as helmsman on a WWII LST, entered and graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis (Engineering), married, become the communications Officer on a Communications Flagship, deployed to Asia, and graduated from Submarine school in New London.

And, this generation is happy to stay on Mommy’s insurance policy.

The mind boggles!

My, and I suspect your generation had vastly different outlook on life and work. And I’ll bet that you didn’t WANT to stay on Mommy’s insurance!

This generation seems happy to sty on Mommy’s couch!




San Diego Politics

In San Diego, state legislator Nathan Fletcher has left the Republican Party and declared himself an Independent.

All that really means is that he acknowledges he can’t beat Carl Demaio. Since Fletcher has been a Republican for 20 years, it will be interesting he will change his mind again when he must run for reelection to his Sacramento seat and he has even higher ambitions.


An Early Decision?

It looks as if the Supreme Court will come down on ideological lines in the ObamaCare case.

This is the best case to be made for voting Republican in this next election.

The past two Obama nominations to the Supreme Court were liberal, but it was no harm no foul because those two replaced liberal Justices, but the next prospective Justice who may resign could be Justice Ginsberg. It would REALLY help if we could replace a liberal Justice with a conservative Justice because Justice Kennedy is not reliably conservative.

We can only hope he is in this case, but I am not going to count any chickens until the ruling is made. Although the ruling is due in June, the Court could make an exception if the ruling is to throw the whole thing out because the states are moving along and instituting some of the provisions, and waiting longer just means more pain in dismantling.

Recognizing the 10th Amendment

I continue to be amazed to listen to otherwise informed people talk about the mandate provision of the Obamacare law, and conflate it with the Romneycare law.

It’s as if they never heard of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

Our Founders designed the Constitution to limit the powers of the federal government – that is the purpose of the Constitution. It enumerates the powers that the feds have and assigns ALL OTHER RESPONSIBILITY to the states and to the people with the 10th Amendment.

That is why, from the beginning such otherwise important things as marriage laws, criminal acts, and education – huge and important entities, all – are NOT federal responsibilities. They are NOT in the Constitution, therefore are venues of the various states.

Now, admittedly the Supreme Court has tinkered with the Constitution by s t r e t c h I n g the wording of the Constitution past its elastic limits. The MOST egregious was Wickard v Filburn  317 U.S. 111 (1942), about which I have published columns for, literally 30 years.

The limits placed on free speech after the First Amendment says, ”There shall be no…” begs the question “what part of “no” do you not understand?”

But the abortion ruling was perhaps even worse – and I favor a woman’s right to have an abortion, but it is NOT in the Constitution, and should be a state issue.

This current Obamacare kerfuffle would be the most dangerous example of destroying the Constitution thus far, moving the Commerce Clause well past Wickard v Filburn. I did not think that was possible, but liberals always surprise me.

Personally, I do not know how this can be anything but a 9-0 decision, but liberals apparently see no limit to federal power. The conservative justices are asking if this passes, where are the limits to federal power and they are right to ask that question.

The general feeling is that the Court will rule 5-4 against Obmacare, at least in the obviously unconstitutional mandate provision.

My question to liberals is, why is it not 9-0?

Go Deep! (Go VERY Deep!)

As a former submariner (Qualified for Command of Submarines), I am particularly impressed with the Hollywood producer and Director James Cameron’s descent into the Marianas Trench. It took him two hours to descend the 35,756 feet  — deeper than Mt. Everest is tall by a long way, and the trench is longer than 120 Grand Canyons.

Cameron directed Titanic and Avatar, and is an experienced deep sea diver with more than 70 deep dives.

Back in “the day” (1960) a special device — hardly a “submarine” — spent 20 minutes on the bottom of that “Trench,” but Cameron spent six hours, and he saw and photographed sea creatures.

I served in submarines built in WWII, whose rated depth was a mere 412 feet, and at least each year we had to test the submarine to that depth, amid creaks, groans, breaking pipes and leaking seams.

Cameron had to surface three hours early because of a depth induced series of problems – fortunately, not a hull problem because at that depth his submarine would be a ball the size of a softball and he would be the liquid center.

My admiration for anyone going to 35,756 feet is HUGE. The AP tells me that the pressure there is equal to three SUV on your toe!


(I’ll attach a section of the horizontally split hull, whose defect had been in our hull since the submarine had been built but was only found more than 20 years after it was built, when more accurate X-Ray equipment was available. I was Engineering Officer of that submarine, the U.S.S. Ronquil (SS 396), and the section found faulty by the overhaul facility was the size of a double-door refrigerator. Had it failed, all hands would have been lost. We have no idea how many WWII submarines had similar defects and were lost when a nearby depth charge destroyed a submarine that should have survived. In this case, I split the section in half with a strike on a screwdriver with a hammer.)

Robots and Drones Taking Over

Amazon,com is buying a corporation called KIVA that makes robots, and Amazon will use robots to stock their massive warehouses. Previously, Amazon had simply been a customer, but decided to buy the company for $775 Million.

This is just a continuation of the industrial revolution, but it’s rapidity of increase with robots (drones are just non-autonomous robots but they will soon be autonomous), it is going to have a major impact on employment.

Amazon says the robots will not replace product stockers, at least immediately, because the robots will initially be used to stock difficult places.

Anyone who thinks that is the ultimate goal are simply whistling past the graveyard. Automation and disintermediation are unstoppable forces. Of course someone must build the robots, but that takes skills not widely taught.

On that subject, Universities are beginning to have degree programs in the design, building and piloting of drones. Who would’a thunk?

Think of the changes necessary in K-12 education with automation rapidly replacing worker — workers who require clean, lighted and heated environments and work limited hours while needing healthcare, vacations, sick time.

The initial Industrial Revolution had a steep slope in the replacement of workers, and that caused massive disruption in society. e then went through a leavening process where we stabilized the replacement of workers, but it looks as if we will soon see a steep slope of replacement again.

Unions will not be happy.