Why I Support the Concept of Common Core

Let me tell you why I support at least the concept of Common Core. I want national standards, because I lived the problem on no standards.

Now I admit that the implementation of those standards has left a lot to be desire.

I graduated from a tiny school in Texas, and I was fairy smart. I went to Trinity University as a Math Major. I went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and found out that I was among men (and they were all men at that time) whose slide rule (if you are old enough to remember those) I was not qualified to carry!

The only way that the academies get geographical representation, is to let Congress Critters appoint four nominations in each academy at any one time — or else every Cadet or Midshipman would come from Massachusetts. No one from MISSISSIPPI, Louisiana, California or Hawaii could ever enter an Academy!

There are certain common pieces of knowledge that all educated people need to know. As a Professor of Computer Science, I was dismayed by the lack of knowledge of my students, so I devised my own “Common Knowledge” test 88 questions) on which my wife and Editor each scored 77 correct.

The test was administered only to those who wished to take it, and one would think that would be those who thought they could do well. The AVERAGE was SEVEN! The HIGHEST, was TWELVE!

I support, not cookie cutters, but everyone knowing the basics. How we get there can be under local control, but Common Core was devised by STATES, not the federal government as some would infer. Yes, the Feds have tried to co-opt those standards, but they did not write them!

The Fear of AI

The advances since I wrote one of the Navy’s first Artificial Intelligence programs — probably the very first such program — have been exponential.

Today, my program would only qualify as “weighted values” program, because it had no Feedback Loop or an AI Engine (Inference Engine). It was designed to take all of the usual data — training, armament, fuel load, overhaul schedule, etc. and tell a Destroyer Squadron Commander which ship to deploy on short notice if one of his ships had a problem in Vietnam. (As if he didn’t already know, intuitively!)

By the time I was a Core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science teaching Artificial Intelligence, the craft had vaulted into something special, like a program at La Guardian Airport the told Controllers which runways to close or open as storms rolled across that huge airport, I real time.

Modern AI is so much better still, and people like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins, and Elon Musk are expressing concern about the future of AI. They have a much better view of the situation, and they would say problem, and I have no opinion on their opinion but I just think it is inevitable.

If it is inevitable — and it is like nuclear proliferation and cloning, in fact all technology. Once identified and developed it will proliferate. My concern is much less technology, which is the concern of the above mention scions of technology, than the social impact which is much more immediate — the rapid loss of jobs and the potential for social unrest the could result.

A hotel in Japan has announced that upon opening, 90 % of employees will be Robots. Said Robots will check in the guests, take bags to the room, clean the rooms, deliver the Room Service meals…the hotel hopes to exceed the reported 90%. Here at home, hospitals are using food and medicine by Robots.

As this replacement of workers increases in an effort to get labor costs under control, a modern approximation of the Luddites will appear, in the form of Labor Unions trying to protect wages and benefits. At some point in each industry, the increasing manual labor cost curve crosses the decreasing Robot cost curve.

Workers usually equate their wages with their labor cost, but, depending on the business, total labor costs can be 140% of the wages. Medical benefits, retirement, replacements for sick leave and vacations, Workman’s Comp….the list of costs in addition to the wages just keep adding up.

Before we get to the fear about AI taking over the world, we may have awful social unrest as governments wrestle with fewer workers supporting growing unemployed.as I have remarked before, the Greeks had their own Robots — called “slaves” and few people actually worked, so they gathered at the Forum to discuss whatever Greeks discussed. (They then repaired to some neighbors home, where they lay on couches and drank wine mixed with water and were entertained by women of suspect repute. Actually they were more like Geisha. Who were more conversationalists than prostitutes…though some may have been both.)

Sounds like a winner to me!

Post Election

My own measure of the elections, was the Governor races — particularly in Maryland and Wisconsin.

I lived in Maryland (if you can call being a Midshipman is “living”), and I knew that Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 2-1. It was almost impossible for a Republican to win ANYTHING, but the Governorship went to a Republican.

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker has been in a perpetual candidacy since he has won three elections in just two years, against heavy, almost overpowering union opposition in a strong union state. Who can forget the occupation of the Capitol Building by union sympathizers for weeks! Scott Walker defeats union opposition three consecutive times is nothing short of a political miracle and sets him up for a presidential run.

And, a Republican won the Governorship of Massachusetts!


In fact there are only 15 Democrat Governors! State houses are where the ground game for the next election is devised and run!

The election demonstrated The Incredible Shrinking President! He doesn’t care — regardless of what the Republicans do, the president can fly off to exotic places, attend galas at the White House and play every golf course in the Western World — all with impunity. In fact the president can grant  some limited amnesty to millions of illegal aliens knowing that the president can argue that does not constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors” but just a political act. Republicans might be loathe to take Obama to impeachment.

I can’t predict what the president will do, or what the Democrats or the elected Republicans will do, but all will jockey to try — to different degrees —  to get as much done without angering the electorate for the 2016 presidential election. The wild card is Obama, who is assured of hundreds of millions in income through speeches and books ( not to mention international adoration) — even a UN presidency that escaped Clinton only because a soiled blue dress would have been a huge snicker factor.

I am really happy with most of what happened — so happy that I included MSNBC in my election night channel surfing.

The Fate of Hong Kong

Is history repeating itself in Hong Kong? (Of course the short answer is: It always does!)

In 168 B.C. (Or was it 186?…it is not worth looking up) — at the end of the Romans Third Macedonian War, the Romans first ruled Greece with a Velvet Glove, but tiring of the Greeks demand for “Freedom” and “Democracy” the Roman Army returned to enslave many Greeks, destroyed the walls of 70 cities to alert them that they were defenseless, and destroyed and sacked the artistic city of Corinth, and ruled with an Iron Fist.

The destruction Of Hong Kong is unlikely to take place, and even the enslavement….we have become far too civilized, perhaps to our undoing. You see those highly prized house slaves who were highly educated Greek intellectuals — over two centuries the Greeks changed Roman art, education, music, architecture…almost everything.

The Greeks in Greece were even less well off than the slaves. The Greeks fell upon their Italians neighbors who lived in Greece, and killed 80,000 of them and the Romans retaliated by sacking Athens and killing perhaps hundreds of thousands of Greeks, and establishing colonies of Roman troops in Greece.

Let’s hope the Hong Kong situation turns out well. It was my choice in my youth in case I had to flee. I look Hong Kong — at least the Hong Kong of old. My wife and I enjoyed several weeks there, and I pulled several tours of Liberty there.

Love Hong Kong.When I was there, it had pure Capitalism — no state welfare at all, but no one starved. Families and charities took care of those who could not work. I am certain that my custom made shoes were cut by a seven year old and sewn on a home sewing machine by a woman 85 because that was the norm. And, yes, my ultra-liberal shipmates who supported child labor laws bought tons of shoes knowing the situation — just as union members shop today at WalMart.

Quick Hits

David Plouffe is a Washington Rainmaker, so politically connected that it is likely that if he called President Obama on the back channel line, Obama will answer. David Plouffe is REALLY connected!

Uber has hired away from the administration, and just for good measure, Uber hired away a guy who sat in the inner circle of Rham Emanuel’s Chicago administration to help in Chicago, and just for good measure, Rudy Giuliani has been hired.

There is a great article in POITICO, and the analysis is that Uber has gone into cities, set up and dared anyone to stop them, claiming that as a new technology they should not be held to laws designed for ancient technologies.

The article notes that taxi cab owners and taxi driver unions have a presence in Sacramento politics developed over the years amounting to $3,500 for every $1 donated by Uber and LyFt. Obviously, Uber has decided on a political counterattack using name brand political operatives.


I understand that teachers want to disassociate themselves from their unions. In truth it is difficult for a single teacher to have much effect when there are 300,000 teachers in various teacher unions. However, every union responds to large reform movements, and I know there is one in LA BUT IF THERE IS ONE HERE IT IS TINY.

On the local level, teacher unions are the major donor to the election of the majority of School Boards, making those elected members beholden to the local union in negotiations. Thereby the union is represented on both sides of the negotiable table!

FDR was right. Government employees should not be permitted to unionize!


Every time I enter a debate with teachers (more often they idetify themselves as teachers, but they are also Union organizers or union exceutives) I here that theer and many reasons that Massachusetts students do better than us on rankings by the US Department of Educaation.

Yes, there are many variables: Massachusetts is at another longitude and longitude, they are in another time zone, they speak a different dialect of English, they have Plymouth Rock…

If you are going to blame non-English speakers, then let’s look at that. Administrators and teacher unions have always objected to identifying non-English Language Speakers, have always refused to segregate NSL speakers until they are proficient, and there are cases in recent history where in border communities in both California and Arizona where school districts where districts sent buses to the border to pick up Mexicans — all because schools get paid by occupied seats.

Teachers cannot support a Governor who INVITES ILLEGAL ALIENS to come to the state, objects to identifying them, will not segregate them, and then complain that our education suffers from Non-English Speaking students!

Talk about killing your parents and then throwing yourself on the mercy of the Court because you are an orphan….

Let’s Not Make The Same Mistake, Again!

Perhaps you remember ACT 10 in Wisconsin, but if you don’t I’ll just bet you remember the thousands of teachers who occupied the Capitol of the State of Wisconsin, and a horde of Democrat Legislators fled across the border to a neighboring state to keep the legislature from having a quorum to pass ACT 10.

The ACT 10 was a bill, offered by newly elected (and embattled) Governor Scott Walker, and the act would, most importantly, make union dues no longer automatically collected by the state, and make unions hold annual elections for re-certification. Unions hate to have re-certification annually.

In a liberal state, or at least in the liberal Capitol of the state where the University of Wisconsin, Madison holds power, these anti-union actions were not just vehemently, but violently fought.

Eventually, the Legislators returned from their motel room exile, the ACT 10 bill passed, and the subject moved to the Courts, led by the Madison Teachers, Inc. and the lawsuit was originally brought by Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61, AFL-CIO.

Initially, their challenge was upheld by a District Judge.

ACT 10 has just been completely upheld by the State Supreme Court by a 5-2 decision, and a liberal Judge wrote the decision.

It is a great day in America.

And now you know why Governor Scott Walker is my first choice for president. He has the management experience as a Governor, and the skill in drafting legislation that other more well-known candidates — like the very popular Dr. Ben Carson — simply do not have.

We have seen what happens when a very popular candidate without management experience becomes president. Let’s not make THAT mistake, again.

Mini Quick Hits

There is a battle in San Diego, and if not in your city today it will be soon, and it is about taxis.
In San Diego it revolves about the age of the taxis, which some committee wishes to limit to less than 10 years.

Arghhhhh! At the same time, San Diego has banned Uber from making pickups at the San Diego Airport!

Solution: Free Uber (and its competitors LyFT and Sidecar) from the restriction, and competition from the newer and better cared for cars will drive the taxi owners and operators to get better!
Competition is good. It makes everyone better, and in every city taxis are one thing that desperately need to be better.

Taxi owners, whose association or union have long been heard in the halls of every city, are trying to get Uber to conform to the ancient rules for taxis. They are NOT taxis.
I have reduced my comments on the war between Israel and Hamas, in which Palestinians get caught in the middle — as happens in every war — because war is intractable in that area.

It SHOULD end only when the Israeli Army reaches the Egyptian border, because that will at least delay the time they have to do it again. That is why we demanded Unconditional Surrender in WWII from both the Germans and the Japanese.

You can tell what happens when we leave before finishing the job: The North Koreans continue to threaten us, causing us to keep thousands of troops for 50 years on the border; causing the Communist North Vietnamese to occupy South Vietnam for 30+ years and kill a MILLION Cambodians; causing ISIS to occupy half of Iraq; and will cause the Taliban to occupy Afghanistan and subjugate millions of women back to the Stone Age.

The Israelis suffer the same way. They have beaten Arab Armies to a fare-the-well, several times, but since they were humane and never occupied the territories, they must do it again and again.

Gaza is a small area. Level it to the Stone Age. Finish the job. I tire of hearing the body count of children in Gaza — we killed a thousand times more children in one day fire-bombing Tokyo, and no radio commentator did a statistic of how many children died compared to the number of Airmen who died in the raid.

Quick Hits

The California Superior Judge who ruled against tenure will have to live a lng time to see tenure die! Tenure was not an option at my private San Diego university. I never heard any full-time or part-time professor complain about not having tenure. Everyone accepted that they were at-will employees, and had to perform at a high level or be replaced. There were always replacements available, and we knew that.

In computer science in San Diego, we had to be retrained every day — particularly when many of our students were working for high-tech companies, often in R&D.

I can understand why K-12 teachers want tenure — actually “permanent employment” — it takes much of the pressure off daily performance, but that is not a good thing…and possibly why our students rank 46th (on average) in the US Department of Education “National Report Card.”


Governor Brown is pushing the State Legislature to pass a bill that will offer some unspecified quick benefits to get the Tesla Gigafactory to locate in California.

You will recall that Elon Musk has proposed a huge factory ($5 Billion construction and 6,500 jobs) to several states, including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Musk also said California was still in the running but a long-shot.

The question is, what is it about Tesla that is so different from all the other companies that California is losing without a whimper?

I suggest that Tesla is either one too many, or perhaps too visible to lose. I doubt that Brown would go against the environmental movement. Perhaps he is just cherry-picking.


The border problem in Texas, with floods of children as young as 5 years old crossing unaccompanied, is an unexpected problem that tugs on heart-strings in a way that workers do not.

What do we do now? Many arrive with a note of where their parents are for being joined with those parents — who themselves may be “illegal.”

It’s a mess. A growing mess. It is not easily solved and it is a result of our ambivalent policy. While everyone debates the subject, the very lengthy Texas border is almost unguarded. Yes, the announced policy is that only those children who were here pre-2008, but that nuance has been lost in Central American media.

Here, on the San Diego area we don’t have that problem, because we have at least two and sometimes three fences, with sand in between.

Texas has the Rio Grande River, which is little more than a mud hole. Their Border Patrol is overwhelmed.

This is written Saturday night — I can only hope that by morning a heavy air strike will send the well-mechanized assault on the government of Iraq will be out in the open. Many of their troop transports are seized from the Iraqi troops who have thrown down their weapons and fled.

The ISIS troops coming over the borders from Syria are moving quickly. Only boots on the ground can stop the ISIS but air strikes can slow their progress, and with air cover PERHAPS the Iraqi Army can regroup sufficiently to counterattack.

The loss of Syria, because we didn’t react quickly enough, is coming back to haunt us. Failing to react quickly in many areas is coming back to haunt us.

Incompetence, and incompetence compounded.

The president is enjoying his perks — golf, vacations, flights…lots of flights. He is disengaged.

No one is minding the store!

GREAT Judicial Ruling!

The ruling today by a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge (Judge Rolf M. Treu) MAY be the beginning of the end for teacher union rules — rules that the Judge says make teacher tenure too easy to get, incompetent teacher firing too hard to get, and post and bid system of school placement gives the least competent teachers to inner-city schools.

The Judge said that the nine students who had sued were completely justified (Vergara v. California) in their arguments, that their attorneys were correct in every argument, and that the union attorneys were wrong!

Since the teacher unions are the most powerful in this state’s politics, and the most powerful across the nation, this case is far from over. The case will be appealed, appealed and appealed — and that means long delays even if the union loses.

But, it’s a start! (And long overdue!)

Incompetence is the Norm in Unions

The Shinseki resignation solves nothing of the VA problem, because he was not the problem.

It was good that he resigned, and it would be better if he had been fired. That he was not fired just demonstrates that Obama can’t make timely decisions.

But we knew that.

Shinseki had demonstrated that being a wounded veteran, and a flawed analyst of the Bush policy in Iraq is not a management resume. The VA problem is so wide and so deep that only criminal indictments of those discovered to have “cooked the books” can demonstrate to the veteran community that the seriousness of the situation is recognized.

Unfortunately, what we are about to discover is that incipience is not a offence for which you can be fired under Civil Service union rules. That may be the real take-away for this fiasco — union rules for civil service are as protective as are union rules for California teachers.

Incompetence becomes the norm.