Barbara Boxer

California Roundup: Teachers Union Warns of Technopocalypse Under New Obama Admin. Testing Plan

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At last, a teacher who cares.

* Meg Whitman proves that a smart person can always get out of jury duty, is dismissed after five-hour ordeal.

* When kids don't have to fill in circles with a number 2 pencil, the terrorists have won: With a big bribe from D.C., California joins the group of states participating in two new programs to upgrade standardized testing. But wait! It may not be all bad. The new tests will use advanced positronics to generate ranges of questions that change according to student answers. The L.A. Times' Howard Blume and Jason Song quote a United Teachers Los Angeles representative denouncing these "educational weapons" that will also feature (in higher-level  tests) a quiz in which students use state of the art "search engines" to gather data from interconnected electronic brains and "extract the information necessary to write a brief research paper in response to a prompt."

* Don't push Barbara Boxer cause she's close to the edge: At the Wall Street Journal, John Fund says the Democratic junior senator is in a kill-or-be-killed contest with Republican challenger Carly Fiorina. (Up to this point, Boxer has lucked into elections that pitted her against a series of Glass Joes.) At Politico, Republican Michael Rosen says, "Boxer will lose, not because Fiorina is an impressive candidate (although she certainly is), but because voters — even in liberal California — have grown disaffected with ideological, partisan insiders with minimal accomplishments to their name." Wishful thinking? New SurveyUSA poll has Fiorina ahead by two. 

* Same poll has the No-On-19 vote growing. While the legalize-and-tax ballot initiative still leads in polls, the pressure from the state's discredited but enduring institutions is building. "Queen of California" Sen. Dianne Feinstein is leading the opposition. Barely coherent editorial screeds like this one keep coming out. Everybody else still treats Prop. 19 as a big joke.

* It only matters who counts the votes: Democratic incumbents are ponying up for Proposition 27, which would dismantle the recently created redistricting commission and give the job of drawing legislative districts back to the Democrats in the legislature. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers developer Haim Saban also among big Prop. 27 donors.

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  1. I don’t care if Fiorina bankrupted HP and ordered all of her employees’ kittens euthanized. She has got to better than Boxer. Anything to see Boxer out of public life.

    1. Fiorina donkey-punched a kitty once, and she wasn’t having sex with it, but I’d still vote for her over Boxer.

  2. Boxer is terrible, but why in the world would the GOP pick Fiorina? Of all the people in California they said “Hmmm, what we need is a person’s whose accomplishments in life amount to having a vagina and running a large company into the ground…” WTF?

    1. What are you suggesting?

    2. We have a president whose accomplishments are being half black and failing as a community organizer. So why not? Fiorina did something right to get the job running HP. It is not like she won a drawing or something.

      Seriously, the President’s supporters still tout his law school resume as reasons to make him President. I don’t think any Democrat who voted for Obama or claimed he was qualified to be President can ever comment on the qualifications of a candidate again.

      1. John
        There are many institutions in life in which one can make varying levels of success. For example, I would think a person who becomes an officer in the military is a success. Or a person who makes upper management in business. Likewise, yes, I do think a law degree from Harvard University is an indicator of success. You’ve got some irrational academe hate, we all understand that, but you should probably get over that.

        And we’ve gone over this: Obama’s on-paper credentials are about the same as Abe Lincoln’s. Of course, I would have not chosen either one if the choice were mine…

        1. I think becoming President of a multi-billion dollar corporation is a pretty good marker of success. Look at it this way, no one knows or cares where Fiorina went to college. That is because she has accomplished something in life. In contrast the first sentence out of any Obama defender’s mouth is “he was editor of Harvard Law Review”. That pretty much says it all.

          It is not that I think Fiorina is some kind of genius. It is just the hypocrisy of someone who thinks someone with a resume as thin as Obama is qualified to be President then claiming that Fiorina is not qualified to be a Senator.

          1. But John, she crashed and burned in her big accomplishment. If Obama had burned down the Harvard Law Review offices then you would have an analogy.

            1. When your signal accomplishment is also your biggest failure, that’s kind of a negating factor…

              1. But look, I myself said here on H&R that Obama was way too inexperienced to be nominated, way back when he was running. In fact, I think my exact words were “If he were white he’d be John Edwards!”

              2. Having done nothing with your entire life beyond go to school, vote present, and fail in various small time community organizing activity, is a lot worse than going all the way to the top of the corporate ladder and running a huge corporation.

                1. “and running a huge corporation…almost into the ground.”

                  FTFY

                  1. You might want to keep in mind that Fiorina engineered the Compaq acquisition, which has subsequently turned out quite nicely for HP. And while I’m not a big fan of offshoring, that’s exactly what their competitors are doing. Realistically, HP needed to do the same thing to stay competitive.

                    Saying she nearly ran HP into the ground is not a little misleading.

              3. exackery, see: Administration, Current for further reference…

            2. “But John, she crashed and burned in her big accomplishment. If Obama had burned down the Harvard Law Review offices then you would have an analogy.”

              But Obama has no accomplishments. Do you honestly think being editor of a law review is the equivalent of being the head of a multi billion dollar corporation? Harvard has an editor every year. Do you think those guys should all be President?

              Obama never crashed and burned in a public way because before he became President he was never given a job that was important enough that failure mattered.

              1. I think being editor of the HU law review is a better accomplishment than poorly running a big company, yes.

                I think it’s a much lesser accomplishment than successfully running one…

                1. “I think being editor of the HU law review is a better accomplishment than poorly running a big company, yes.”

                  Then you are dumber than Obama. They don’t give away CEO jobs. You have to do a great job at other lower jobs before they give you one. The fact that HP hired her means that she did a hell of a job at her previous jobs. HP was a bad fit for her. And her ideas about the company turned out to be wrong. But that happens. Sometimes smart competent people are wrong about things. Sometimes people who are great executives at one company are disasters at others. That is just how life works. By your standard anyone who is ever unsuccessful at any job, is automatically a life time failure not suited for another job of importance again. And that is just unmitigated bullshit and disproved by about a million examples throughout history of people who failed in big jobs only to go on to great success in others.

                  1. John
                    By your logic had he survived Gen. Custer would have made a good candidate. I mean, you don’t get to be a general without a record of some accomplishments…

                    You continue to miss the picture here: I’m saying it is better to have mediocre accomplishments than to have a huge failure.

                    1. “By your logic had he survived Gen. Custer would have made a good candidate. I mean, you don’t get to be a general without a record of some accomplishments…”

                      Do you know anything? Seriously, do you know anything about history? McArther was responsible as Army Chief of Staff for turning tanks lose on war bonus protesters. He went on later to do quite well. Churchill was responsible for Galipoli in World War I. Somehow he still did okay as an executive. Bill Clinton was such a fuck up as a first time governor, they ran him out of office. The list goes on and one.

                      Really, do you read at all? Do you know anything about history?

                    2. So Custer for Prez, eh John?

                      Good Lord!

                    3. “So Custer for Prez, eh John?

                      Good Lord!”

                      Why do I waste my time giving you the time of day you dishonest hack. You know the argument. It has nothing to do with Custer. It has to do with whether people who failed at one big job don’t go on to great success later. And you have no response to my examples. So you just say something stupid and dishonest and avoid the point.

                      You are the most disingenuous person on here. Why does anyone bother with you?

                    4. Don’t get your panties in a wad John…

                      ” It has to do with whether people who failed at one big job don’t go on to great success later.”

                      So we should give Obama a second term?

                    5. No it means that Obama might do better at a different job. Fiorina isn’t running to be CEO of Itel.

                    6. Sorry John, but when someone tells me they deserve my vote because of their experience in business and the last notable thing they did in business was a near comical disaster, I’m going to discount their experience as a plus factor. If she didn’t have an R after her name you would likely do the same.

                    7. But you will vote instead for someone who has no record of accomplishment whatsoever after college for the most important job in the world. Yeah that makes sense.

                      I don’t know that Fiorina will be a good Senator. It depends on what she is saying. But at the same time, I am not going to say her experience at HP should disqualify her. And certainly, she has accomplished a lot more in life than obama ever had before he ran for President.

                      The point is not that Fiorina is going to be a good Senator. The point is that you are an amazing hack and hypocrite for defending Obama’s non existent credentials and then attacking Fiorina’s.

                    8. Uhm, Custer was an officer in the military, so by your own words that makes him a success…

                    9. Why not? A corpse would be better than anybody currently thinking of being in the Oval Office

                2. You are just being Joe here. Defending Obama’s credentials is truly defending the indefensible. Being editor of Harvard Law Review means something until you get a real job. Then it is your real job that matters. Obama never had a real job before being elected. Thus, nitwits like you cling to his college resume.

                  1. I find his college resume to be an indicator of some accomplishments, yes. I’ve said I preferred other candidates during the primary, in no small part because of Obama’s relative inexperience. But what I am saying is that choosing someone whose most famous moment was a colossal failure is pretty dumb, imo even dumber than picking someone with mediocre accomplishments.

                    1. No you are just being an idiot who won’t admit that anything on team blue is ever amiss. Just because Fiorina wasn’t a good CEO of HP, doesn’t mean she would be a good CEO somewhere else, or that she didn’t accomplish a lot before that, or that she wouldn’t be a good Senator.

                      Only an idiot hack troll would claim otherwise.

                    2. Good lord John, take a breath. Look at my original post. Now, if you were the CA GOP, would you pick a woman whose greatest accomplishment ended in failure? Why not one with a string of successes? You really would pick the former and say “well, maybe she’s a Churchill!” WTF?

                  2. “Thus, nitwits like you cling to his college resume.”

                    Well, it’s all they’ve got. He refuses to release his transcripts.

                    No mystery why.

                3. “I think being editor of the HU law review is a better accomplishment than poorly running a big company, yes.”

                  And you’d be wrong. There are a host of reasons why a large corporation can fail. Just the government changing the tax laws can do it. And when did HP get driven into the ground? It still exists. It’s definitely improved since her departure, but again, to pin it all on just one person, even if it is the CEO, is to show a glaring lack of understanding how businesses operate.

                4. Perhaps if he had published something you might have a point. I’m inclined to believe white guilt helped put him in that position too.

              2. Better to run a company into the ground that the whole fucking US economy.

                1. MNG,

                  I’m really neither here nor there on your discussion with John. I just don’t really care to examine the situation in that amount of detail because it ultimately means very little.

                  I’ve heard stories in the engineering world of engineering leaving a nice job with a big company to go start their own business. Their business fails and the big company will immediately hire them back if they wish because they were willing to risk their own money, fortune, and economic security to try to make a business work and they learned dozens of important lessons that no one else in the company has been exposed to. Those lessons were learned at great personal expense and will not be forgotten.

                  Engineers who have a perfect 4.0 can have trouble finding jobs because the companies know that reality is difference from school, that reality is probably going to make an engineer fail when school couldn’t, and the student who has a 4.0 has never had to deal with failure. Furthermore, it’s also likely that to get a 4.0 he was incredibly anti-social, has few social skills, and will make the work place awkward. But there are exceptions.

                  I would choose the person who has had the real world experience and failed over the person who succeeded in academia merely because the consequences for failing in the real world are dire and very punishing.

              3. Obama never crashed and burned in a public way before now because…

                Sorry, had to fix that.

            3. We have a state with problems that exceed the sorry state of affairs of this country after thirty years of disastrous Republican policies, which we now know culminated in the election of the irrationally despised Barack Obama. (The first in California actually began with Proposition 13 in 1978, where in order to correct an actual wrong, wrought unintended havoc.)

              On one side, we have candidate Boxer, with a record of voting for the best interests of Californians. (One major exception is NAFTA, which was deplorable and renders her rightly vulnerable in a time of historically high unemployment.)

              On the other hand, we have an empty suit and highly partisan hack?a Stepford politician who monotonously recites the same failed policies like George W. Bush in a pantsuit. Running a state “like a corporation,” is the same race-to-the-bottom mentality that we’ve seen bankrupt the country. Corporations reward shareholders and unworthy executives with excessive compensation at the expense of workers and their communities.

              Yes, government needs to be held in check and accountable. But to hand oversight to the metastasis that is corporate America is to turn the national landscape into Walmart and Target and Applebees, with the boardroom serving as city hall and statehouse.

              And for those who so intensely dislike Obama for his “thin resume,” of “community organizing,” he leveraged this to lead a campaign that convince a legitimate majority over the illegitimate one of his predecessor to actually vote for him as POTUS. He ran a campaign against the likes of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, who had the same opportunity?if not advantage over?and he won! Now, I dislike him for very different reasons, (not the least of which is that he should have governed accordingly), but there is no comparison between him and Carly Fiorina. (At least until he is not re-elected to a second term, but then his predecessor wasn’t “re-elected, either).

              And finally, Ms. Fiorina is not an “impressive candidate.” She is another petty partison who will do and/or say and/or spend anything to get elected.

              1. Give me a break. The “unintended havoc” of Prop 13? Oh, if only California could have kept raising property taxes through the roof, forcing people out of their homes, we’d have no economic problems!

          2. If I read you correctly, you are saying that O’Bummer should be reelected, because he managed to be hired as president of the United States.

        2. So the Miller guy( West Pointer, lawyer -private and public sector, and judge) in Alaska, running for Senate, seems to be even more qualified for Senate than Mr. Obama was when he ran.

        3. “Obama’s on-paper credentials are about the same as Abe Lincoln’s”

          No way.

          Lincoln: Freed the slaves
          Obama: Enslaves the free.

          Distict difference

          1. His on-paper creds as a candidate. Iirc Lincoln served four terms in the IL House and one term in the US House before he ran for Prez. Obama served 7 years as a state senator and several as a US Senator. That’s pretty equivalent…

            See, Obama just needs a civil war to break out!

            1. You’re leaving out Lincoln’s successful law practice, for starters.

            2. You’re leaving out Lincoln’s successful law practice, for starters.

            3. His on-paper creds as a candidate. Iirc Lincoln served four terms in the IL House and one term in the US House before he ran for Prez. Obama served 7 years as a state senator and several as a US Senator. [italics added]

              Since when did less than one equal several?

              1. Several years J, not terms.

            4. Obama never served as a US Senator. He merely held the title while running for president.

        4. Having the CIA handle your entire life for you is no accomplishment.

        5. “Obama’s on-paper credentials are about the same as Abe Lincoln’s.”

          So you’re saying that by the time Obama is done with the U.S., we’ll be in a state of civil war?

          1. Hey now, by the time Abe was done we was out again. Or were just talking about the first term?

      2. “Fiorina did something right to get the job running HP.”

        Yeah, and then she failed miserably…That usually speaks poorly of a candidate in non-Bizarro World…

        1. At least she got the job. Like Obama would even have been considered for such a job before he ran for President.

          1. Obama got a job too, one Fiorina wants right now…US Senator. Then he got a promotion…

            1. “Then he got a promotion…”

              Because idiots like you voted for him. And he is now proving himself to be the empty suit that anyone who looked at his nonexistent adult resume predicted he would be.

              1. I voted against him in the primary, but for him in the election. I stand by my vote. He’s not much of a president, but I really think the nation would have been worse off had the GOP had another four years. It was particularly hard for me because I’ve long admired John McCain. Had he run in 2004 or 2000 he would have got my vote easily (well, maybe not 2000, I really liked Buchanan then).

                1. He was an unqualified idealistic hack. And he is going to be remembered as the Democrats’ Hoover. Obama is utterly discrediting liberalism for the next generation. If the Republicans fuck up in 2010 and 2012, there will be a third party and that will be the end of them. But absent a coup or hugely historic accident, thanks to Obama, you will not see another liberal Democratic government in your lifetime.

                  1. Dude, people were telling me that during the Clinton administration. Hell, they were telling me that in 1994!

                    We don’t know what the future holds, but I’m betting it’ll be different than you or anyone predicts…

                    1. Reality is a hard teacher. Lets see someone run on a big government Keynesian platform anytime in the future. In another 20 or thirty years there will be a new generation that might be stupid enough to buy into it. But no one around today is going to anymore after this.

                  2. But absent a coup or hugely historic accident, thanks to Obama, you will not see another liberal Democratic government in your lifetime.

                    I’ve heard that one before.

                2. “I voted against Obama before I voted for him”

    3. And she is running a Senate campaign isn’t she? If running a Presidential campaign qualifies you to be President, why doesn’t running a Senate campaign qualify you to be a Senator?

    4. “having a vagina”

      What a sexist pig comment, especially coming from a supposed liberal.

    5. “Hmmm, what we need is a person’s whose accomplishments in life amount to having a vagina and running a large company into the ground…” WTF?”

      Some people wanted to put Hillary Clinton in office on much the same grounds. Except she never ran a large company — into the ground or otherwise.

  3. If the legalization bill passes we will be treated to all kinds of wonderful rants by the ODCP folks. That would be so great…

    1. I won’t pass at least not the first time it is on the ballot. A lot of people who are pro-legalization won’t show up on election day. Also as the election gets closer people will change their minds about legalizing it.

      1. Are you implying the stoners will forget it’s election day?

        1. My experience is that most pot smokers don’t vote. Hopefully I’m wrong about this.

          1. This pot head will be the first in line to vote. 🙂

    2. But… but… federal law ALWAYS trumps state law!

      “But we want to change the drug laws in our state!”

      Too fucking bad… see above.

      “But our state should have the right to change our laws!”

      So… you’re now in favor of states’ rights, eh?

      “Uh, no, that’s racist.”

      Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  4. I’m all for robot teachers. In fact, I’d be willing to pay a lot for that.

  5. Everybody else still treats Prop. 19 as a big joke.

    That’s the way the president treats proposals to end prohibition.

  6. Meg Whitman proves that a smart person can always get out of jury duty, is dismissed after five-hour ordeal.

    I got out of jury duty in California — unintentionally — simply by answering that I couldn’t follow the judge’s instructions with respect to the law if I didn’t believe in them or it.

    But I wonder if you can get out by telling the judge something like: “I am going to flip a coin now. If it comes up heads, I will be amazingly biased in favor of the prosecution. If it comes up tails, I will be amazingly biased in favor of the defense.”

    What could the judge do but dismiss you?

    1. It would be funnier if you asked the judge “What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”

      1. I think it’s more likely the judge has asked that question before.

    2. The judge could stick you in jail for contempt of court. You’ve got to be plausibly unfit, not blatantly trying to get out of jury duty.

      1. I think if you make it clear you believe Jurors in criminal cases have the right to judge the law as well as the act, you will get excused. Hell, if most people said that the damn system would come to a standstill.

  7. “Don’t push Barbara Boxer cause she’s close to the edge”

    Thanks!

    1. I would think Boxer being close to an edge would be the main reason TO push her…

      1. +1000

    2. A child is born with no state of mind
      Blind to the ways of mankind
      God is smiling on you but he’s frowning too
      Because only God knows what you’ll go through
      You’ll grow in the ghetto, living second rate
      And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
      The places you’re playin’, where you stay
      Looks like one great big alley way
      You’ll admire all the number book takers
      Thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers
      Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
      And you wanna grow up to be just like them, huh,
      Smugglers, scrambles, burglars, gamblers
      Pickpockets, peddlers even panhandlers
      You say: “I’m cool, I’m no fool!”
      But then you wind up dropping out of high school
      Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
      Walking ’round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
      Turned stickup kid, look what you’ve done did
      Got sent up for a eight year bid
      Now your manhood is took and you’re a may tag
      Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
      Being used and abused to serve like hell
      Till one day you was found hung dead in a cell
      It was plain to see that your life was lost
      You was cold and your body swung back and forth
      But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
      Of how you lived so fast and died so young

      Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
      I’m trying not to lose my head
      It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under
      It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under

      http://www.lyricsfreak.com/g/g…..62225.html

      1. A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace,
        And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace,
        And achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar,
        Then taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour.
        And assessing points to nowhere, leading ev’ry single one.
        A dewdrop can exalt us like the music of the sun,
        And take away the plain in which we move,
        And choose the course you’re running.

        Down at the edge, round by the corner,
        Not right away, not right away.
        Close to the edge, down by a river,
        Not right away, not right away.

  8. Okay, who’s lying about Feinstein? As all liberaltarians know, TEAM BLUE favors legalization, which is why libertarians should jump in and accept statism in return for a little legal toke.

    1. After Team Blue marries, has kids, and moves their record collections into their basements to make spare bedrooms into nurseries, they pretend like they never inhaled before in their lives, and that Somebody Needs to Protect the Pweshus Childwun From Drugs.

    2. As opposed to the ‘non-statist TEAM RED’?

  9. If that “educational weapon” sounds like what I’m reading it to be (writing a parser to filter relevent educational material on the fly), that might be the first interesting thing an LA teacher has done since the 1960’s. Course, I can’t imagine they’d actually give someone anything that requires thought; it’s probably just Marxist educational theory lingo for fingerpainting.

  10. The new tests will use advanced positronics to generate ranges of questions that change according to student answers.

    Other than the brains in Asimov’s robots and a company rhat makes electrinic connectors, WTF doe positronics even fucking mean? I’ve got dictionaries and Google at my fingertips (Bing too, but who uses that?) and I haven’t a goddam clue.

    1. I wondered that as well.

    2. Quantum computing! Positrons will be used to generate the new questions!

    3. Well, it either involves anti-electrons or they’re using bullshit buzzwords to describe the computer aided testing where they ask a wide range of difficulty and narrow the range of the next batch based on the previous.

  11. The new tests will use advanced positronics [presumably, this] to generate ranges of questions that change according to student answers.

    That is, the more questions the student answers incorrectly, the easier the subsequent ones become.

    1. Finally got around to reading the link, to find that … my snarky presumption is *true*. 8-(

      1. That is, the snarky presumption beginning with “That is”. Out.

  12. It only matters who counts the votes: Democratic incumbents are ponying up for Proposition 27, which would dismantle the recently created redistricting commission and give the job of drawing legislative districts back to the Democrats in the legislature. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers developer Haim Saban also among big Prop. 27 donors.

    I’m certain the editorial board at the NY Times will be writing a strong editorial opposing these shenagigans.

    They’re already on record regarding this issue.

  13. September 3, 2010 4:00 A.M.

    August Diary
    Derb on Ron Paul, the mosque, Marmite, and more.

    Ron Paul for the mosque I got some nyah-nyah e-mail from readers after Ron Paul came out for the Ground Zero mosque. “How’d you like your hero now?” etc.

    For one thing, I don’t really have heroes, not in politics anyway. For another, Ron’s weakness has always been a too-strong adherence to ideological consistency. You can’t get past a certain point in politics without some small quantity of the fudge factor. From that point of view Ron isn’t operating so much in politics as in what Kingsley Amis (who was speaking of Enoch Powell at the time) called “some obscure branch of the truth-at-any-price business.”

    For another, in the case of the mosque, Ron seems not to have done his due diligence. He sounds ill-informed, talking about the mosque issue as if it’s entirely a matter of private-property rights. But if the money is being put up by foreign governments, how is the mosque private property? And since we don’t know who is putting up the money, but the funders of mosques and “Islamic cultural centers” have a long and slimy trail of duplicity in these matters, why should we not suppose the worst?

    And then Ron says: “The neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia . . . never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for their ill-conceived preventative wars.”

    Say what? Well nigh the first thing ?ber-neocon George W. Bush did after 9/11 was show up at a local mosque to make a gassy speech saying the attacks had nothing whatsoever to do with true Islam, which is a religion of peace, doncherknow? The people Ron calls “neo-conservatives” and the people who have been most shamelessly kissing up to the CAIR thugs, the slippery imams, and the shady Saudis this past nine years, look to me like the same people.

    And come to think of it, Ron does know how to fudge. When he was campaigning in 2008, he departed considerably from the libertarian True Faith on immigration, even going so far as to give a friendly interview to the immigration-restrictionist site VDARE, if I recall correctly.

    Well, perhaps Ron only fudges on the campaign trail. That would make him only nine times more honest than the average politician, versus my previous estimate of ten.

    Trendline Test Having been somewhat dismissive of libertarianism there, let me try to make up a bit. There are some follies in libertarianism, but some excellent good sense too.

    I’m a math geek, so my favorite chapter in Charles Murray’s book What It Means to Be a Libertarian is the one titled “The Trendline Test.” Murray shows us a marvelous way to illustrate the futility of most government action.

    What you do is, draw a graph of some social-progress indicator over time. Murray uses “Deaths Per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled” as an example, but the Trendline Test can be applied to any such indicator: poverty, health, education, and so on.

    Now see whether, by examining that graph, you can spot where the government took strong action to affect the indicator. In Murray’s example, the strong action was the imposition of the 55 mph speed limit in 1974. Did the fatalities graph thereupon take a sharp downward turn? Nope.

    Murray allows that there have been cases where government action made a positive difference. Mostly, though, as he says: “Among trendlines involving social indicators ? crime, the family, community, education, welfare ? deterioration has been the rule and improvement is the exception. Among trendlines involving safety and health by far the most common result is . . . nothing. Whatever was happening before the government got involved continued to happen after the government got involved.”

    I spotted a very striking illustration of this great truth in the August 21 issue of The Economist, page 31. The graph in this case is titled “China’s fertility rate, live births per woman.”

    I rest my case ? I mean, Charles Murray’s case.

    Eagle Scout A word of congratulation to our friends the Meagher family of Greenlawn, N.Y., whose son Brian made Eagle Scout this month. We attended the presentation ceremony, which was nicely done, and a timely reminder in this, the BSA’s centenary year, of how much good the organization does in that most challenging of all social endeavors, the civilizing of young males.

    The event also gives me a chance to expiate my guilt at having nursed uncharitable thoughts about the Boy Scouts in my own adolescence. Youth-training-wise, there were two games in town when I was a teen: the Boy Scouts and the Cadet Force (i.e., boy soldiers). There was a strong expectation that every boy should join one or the other. Boys who’d been in the Cub Scouts naturally gravitated to the Boy Scouts. Never much of a joiner, I’d missed out on Cub Scouts; and anyway the Cadets looked more exciting, with guns and stuff. So I yielded to expectations and became a cadet.

    Once committed to the Cadets, we of course got caught up in an ethos of rivalry with the Scouts. We thought they were juvenile, with their shorts and toggles and made-up code words and rituals. They thought we looked ridiculous in our army surplus uniforms (generally a couple of sizes too big), squeaking out orders at parade-ground drill and stamping our boots theatrically as we did about-face.

    Looking back, I’m not sure they were wrong. We all had fun in our own way, though, and kept out of trouble for a few years, and learned to take orders and carry out disagreeable tasks without complaining.

    (My 2004 review of Robert Baden-Powell’s book Scouting for Boys is here.)

    Iran’s new drone Li’l Squinty’s got himself a new toy: an unmanned drone bomber.

    My first reaction on seeing that picture was: “It’s a doodlebug!” Yes, I know, it’s a different beast, but it sure looks like a doodlebug.

    “Doodlebug” was the name given by the English to the V-1 unmanned flying bomb in World War II. Before my time, but I heard all about it from the older generation, on whom it made a great impression. The doodlebug had a very distinctive sound, so everyone knew when one was coming over. Then (everyone told us), in that heartlessly self-protective way that people get after a few years of war-weariness, you prayed that it would keep going. If the sound stopped, that meant it had run out of fuel and was falling, possibly on you. “Then you got under the table and waited for the crash.”

    Nearly ten thousand of the things fell on southern England in the last year of the war, causing around twice that number of casualties. That’s war. Squinty should know all about it ? he lived through the war with Iraq in the 1980s, which included heavy shelling and air attacks on Iranian cities. For us in the West, it’s all a remote memory. To remember hearing a doodlebug coming over, you need to be in your seventies at least.

    The experience of war doesn’t necessarily seem to make people less warlike; just more determined to get it right next time.

    Fat poets The question came up across the dinner table the other day: Can you name a fat poet? After a moment’s reflection I offered G. K. Chesterton. A fellow diner trumped me with Samuel Johnson. We pretty much ran out of names right about there, though. This doesn’t seem right. Surely there have been more fat poets than that?

    Get a Government Job, Series #19,846 Stephen Meister in America’s Newspaper of Record, August 24: “A shrinking group of private workers ? now numbering 107 million ? is paying the salaries and benefits of more than 22 million government workers. Thus, every five private-sector workers chip in to cover the costs of one government worker.”

    Maybe taxpayers should get cards with the name and picture of the government worker they’re sponsoring.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/o…..zaJ4klsIhO

    1. Cut and paste FAIL! I only meant to post this:

      Get a Government Job, Series #19,846 Stephen Meister in America’s Newspaper of Record, August 24: “A shrinking group of private workers ? now numbering 107 million ? is paying the salaries and benefits of more than 22 million government workers. Thus, every five private-sector workers chip in to cover the costs of one government worker.”

      Maybe taxpayers should get cards with the name and picture of the government worker they’re sponsoring.

      http://www.nypost.com/p/news/o…..zaJ4klsIhO

      My apologies.

      1. You’re grudgingly forgiven.

    2. Did not read wall of text. I suspect nobody else will.

      Feel free to continue flailing away though.

    3. TL:DR. It reads like a coming-out letter.

  14. I really am sorry, but to learn that every five private-sector workers chip in to cover the costs of one government worker is pretty shocking.

    1. Especially when one considers how we will soon have even fewer workers per dolee and public sector worker / retiree.

  15. “Queen of California” Sen. Dianne Feinstein is leading the opposition.

    Is this more of that liberaltarianism all the cool kids are talking about?

  16. It’s really hyperbole to say that Carly crashed and burned at HP. Lots of good companies stumbled around that time, and HP did better than most and worse than some. I find her spying on boardmembers to be the most troubling feature of her time at HP.

  17. Regarding Fiorina, she got the nom because she’s anti-abortion (dog-whistle to SoCons) and because she’s rich and willing to partially fund her own campaign.

  18. Boy, nothing entertains like a John and MNG slap-fight.

    Don’t you guys ever just get tired or just plain bored? I do.

    On a happier note, I will dance an impromptu dance of joy the day I hear the news that Congress’s dumbest bitch Boxer got voted out. She is so fucking stupid, the stupid just leaks out of her every pore. It hurts to watch her speak. Which is why I try to avoid it if possible.

    1. I use this method.
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    2. Is Boxer really dumber than Patty Murray? She’s the one who said, after 9/11, that bin Laden was popular in Afghanistan because he built day-care centers. You know, so all those Afghan moms had places to stash the kids before they drove off to their jobs.

    3. It is mildly entertaining… John and MNG’s constant cat fights that is…

  19. “educational weapons” that will also feature (in higher-level tests) a quiz in which students use state of the art “search engines” to gather data from interconnected electronic brains and “extract the information necessary to write a brief research paper in response to a prompt.”

    IOW, “Google this.” This *is* a joke, right?

    1. With “positronic” and “interconnected electronic brains,” I think we’re back in the ’50s….

  20. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is leading the opposition.

    Well duh! She’s a Democrat? What else did you expect.

    Any of you who still think Democrats are in favor of personal freedoms need a swift kick in the nuts. If you look at the Nolan chart, Republicans are to right and down, and Democrats to the bottom. The liberal quadrant on the left is all but uninhabited.

  21. I usually don’t resort to begging for anything but sex, but please for the love of Zeus get out there and support prop 19.

    It’s far from perfect, but it’s the most significant battle in the war against the war on drugs(WAWoD) that’s happened… ever!

    If only to see Obama have to deal directly with state’s rights and drug legalization… pleeeeeeze – Californians put down the bong and vote.

    1. Dave’s not here, man.

      1. Class? Claaaaass?! Claaaaaassssss! wake up.

  22. Interesting to note that the “incoherent editorial” linked from the Gilroy Dispatch (No To Prop19) had it’s content modified sometime between about 3pm EDT Sep 3 (when I first viewed it via the Hit&Run; cite) and now at 930pm EDT.

    To wit, they have added a couple extra paragraphs in response to what I can only speculate were smartly posted “Comments” and/or feedback they received following the first version which was released on Sep 2.

  23. Oh dear god. That’s the English robot from the city I used to teach at in Korea.

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