Friday, February 12, 2016

Zero Sum

No more zeroes:
The Greenville County School Board believes that a zero is “too destructive” and that this new policy will allow students a fair chance to bounce back from a low grade.

Some parents do not share the beliefs of the school board.

“The child doesn’t deserve a 60,” Greenville Co. parent Laurie Knapp told FOX Carolina. “They need to be prompted to get their grades up, and like I said be held accountable.”

The school board maintains that being held accountable does not have to involve receiving a zero grade, claiming that studies show students are more motivated in school when not faced with the possibility of receiving a zero.

“The idea that we’re not putting zeroes in the grade book or not putting grades below 61 has been really a positive thing for children,” says Principal Karen Knapp of Sevier Middle School, which is already implementing the policy.
It means their feelings won't get hurt...

Truth In Broadcasting

The right to be censored?
Look, throughout the history of radio and broadcasting, from Orson Welles to Howard Stern, people have stood up for the right to say and the right to argue and the right to make points. And people have lost their jobs, and opportunities, and they’ve been chastised for that. And they sacrificed. Throughout the history of broadcasting, you have these people. And I have no right to accept censorship. I’ve never been censored. In 35 years, I’ve never been censored, and I shouldn’t have been censored for this. And I have no right to accept censorship based on what broadcasting is. And nor should you accept censorship, ever. You should make sure that the people on the radio are telling you the truth as they see it. Now, you’re gonna argue with them and you can disagree with them, but don’t let the program director there, don’t let the general manager, don’t let some clown in New York tell them what to say, and then you think it’s their opinion, or what not to say. That’s what happened here, and I’m not accepting it. So, demand the truth. We’ll see how they feel about the truth, trust me, if I’m on the air tomorrow morning.
They can't handle the truth!

The Transformative Man

He can change, people:

They Heart Socialism

Today's kids like their socialism:
Less than two decades after socialism seemed to have been confined to the dust-heap of history, another generation may have to learn hard lessons.

The survey, taken at the end of January, found that 43 percent of Americans under 30 had a favorable view of socialism. Less than a third of millennials had a favorable view of capitalism. No other age or ethnic demographic preferred socialism over capitalism.

Seniors, unsurprisingly, had the most favorable view of capitalism. Just 23 percent of Americans older than 65 had a positive view of socialism. Sixty-three percent of seniors, though, had a favorable view of capitalism.

Seniors, after all, experienced the long-standing intellectual battle between capitalism and socialism played out in real life. They witnessed a post-war economic euphoria grind down into a socialist malaise, only to be reinvigorated by a global embrace of disruptive technology, deregulation, and global trade.
The kids will learn...

The Delegate League

Could Hillary win no matter what?
Today, Clinton or Sanders will need to win 2,382 votes on the convention floor to be named the party nominee. As noted, Clinton has a big lead in superdelegates, meaning she’s got a wide lead at the moment, despite winning Iowa by only a whisker and losing big in the Granite State.

This has outraged many Sanders supporters and amused some Republican pundits, who say it undermines the Democratic charge that requiring identification at the polls disenfranchises voters.

“All those Democrats voting in New Hampshire may not have had as much impact on the process as they thought they did,” writes Jim Geraghty at the right-leaning National Review.

In the past, however, superdelegates haven’t overturned primary and caucus results. This became an issue in 2008, when Barack Obama’s slim lead in pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses seemed threatened by Clinton’s superdelegate supporters.

But unlike pledged delegates chosen by voters, superdelegates aren’t bound by rules to vote for anybody. Those who currently support Clinton have endorsed her, but endorsements aren’t forever, particularly if the endorsee is struggling.
The Convention would be quite interesting if they do...

Anger Brain Management

Literally take a pill:
An 'anger pill' that could even calm down ‘The Incredible Hulk’ may be on the horizon after scientists identified the rage centre of the brain.

Violent outbursts like those depicted by the movie superhero happen when neurons that control anxiety break down.

The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs to treat people who struggle to keep a lid on their temper, replacing anger management classes.

Experiments on male mice found chemical changes in the lateral septum (LS) which lies in the middle of the brain made them attack peers without warning.

The finding may lead to better understanding of aggression in other animals, including humans.
Hulk feeling mellow?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wave Riders

Somewhere, Einstein is smiling:
The discovery confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. Gravitation waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained from elsewhere.

Not only have they fascinated scientists, but found their way into pop culture -- namely through movies such as "Back to the Future," where the space-time continuum was used as a medium for the DeLorean time machine to go back in time. It also was featured in the "Terminator" series.

Their existence was first demonstrated in the 1970s and 1980s by Joseph Taylor, Jr., and colleagues. In 1974, Taylor and Russell Hulse discovered a binary system composed of a pulsar in orbit around a neutron star. Taylor and Joel M. Weisberg in 1982 found that the orbit of the pulsar was slowly shrinking over time because of the release of energy in the form of gravitational waves. For discovering the pulsar and showing that it would make possible this particular gravitational wave measurement, Hulse and Taylor were awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Flux capacitors for everyone!

Progress Or Perish

Did the fear of god help humans advance?
“Throughout the years, there’s been an increasing awareness of how human social complexity is remarkably unprecedented in the animal kingdom,” said lead author Benjamin Purzycki, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia. “So we’ve got to come up with some satisfactory way of explaining how it’s all possible that we can have remarkably complex societies interact with each other but have quite a fair amount of in-group cooperation and coordination as well.”

Scientists have increasingly found a connection between the type of religion these societies have and their ability to expand, Purzycki said. It's part of a growing field of research called evolutionary research studies, which looks in part at the way human societies and human belief systems have co-evolved, and how religious beliefs can bring adaptive advantages.

“For quite a few decades, cultural anthropologists have repeatedly observed in a variety of ways that there’s this relationship between the kinds of deities or religious systems that cultures have, and their degree of social complexity,” he said.
Thou shalt not stagnate...

Blame It On The Obamacare

They know who to blame:
"Congress, as I noted in my testimony, has underfunded … the Affordable Care Act," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. "That does not remove the statutory mandate we have that we have to implement the act."

Koskinen delivered his remarks in response to a question from Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., who pointed out that Congress had "increased funding specifically for taxpayer services" in 2014 and 2016.

Koskinen said it didn't matter where Congress intended the money to go, explaining the agency had pulled funding for customer service and cybersecurity in order to ensure compliance with the ACA.

"As I said two years ago, at the continued level of underfunding, the things that were going to suffer were going to be enforcement, taxpayer service, and ultimately … information technology," Koskinen said.
Obamacare ate their competence?

Great Recession II?

Should we be worried?
History never repeats itself exactly, but the last time a recession was met by pure, unadulterated populism was in the Thirties, when the Americans turned a stock market crash and a series of monetary policy blunders into a depression. President Herbert Hoover signed into law the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, dreamt up by two economically illiterate Republican senators, slapping massive taxes on the imports of 20,000 goods and triggering a global trade war. It was perhaps the most economically destructive piece of legislation ever devised, and it took until the Nineties before the damage was finally erased.

That is why we must all hope that the turmoil of recent days in the financial markets, and the increasingly worrying economic news, will turn out to be a false alarm. It would certainly be ridiculously premature, at this stage, to call a recession, let alone a financial crisis. But at the very least we are seeing a major dose of the “dangerous cocktail of new threats” rightly identified at the turn of the year by George Osborne, a development which will have political repercussions even if the economy eventually muddles through.
The fear of a "cure" might be worse than the disease...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Clean As A Whistle

The Obama administration, scandal free? Not really:
Fast and Furious. The IRS scandal. The $2 billion spent building The Veterans Administration letting veterans die waiting for care. The Office of Personnel Management hacking. Lying about Bowe Berghdahl. “Companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter, more prosperous future.”

Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter.”

The NSA and Edward Snowden.

The stimulus “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.”
But aside from that, how did he do?

Red Bull Gives You Protests

So the Black Lives Matter movement has decided to take on...winter sports:
The Red Bull Crashed Ice event attracts tens of thousands of winter sports enthusiasts who get together to drink and watch athletes take on physical challenges. These aren't pushovers. It will be interesting to see how they react to Black Lives Matter agitators attempting to shut down their event.
They do seem to pick targets that can't fight back...

The New Hampshire Message

the establishment loses big in the Granite State:
Hillary lost among voters of every age group up to 65 and over; she got cleaned by an 85 percent to 14 percent margin among young voters. She lost with every income bracket except those earning over $200,000. She lost among men; she lost among women. There will be plenty of women in hell for failing to vote Hillary tonight. Voters who worried most about honesty voted for Sanders by a margin of 91 percent to 5 percent for Hillary; for which candidate cares more about people like them, they said Sanders by an 82 percent to 17 percent margin.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump destroyed the competition. He more than doubled the second-place finisher, Ohio Governor and black belt fruit ninja John Kasich, winning 35 percent of the vote to Kasich’s 16 percent. Senator Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)97%, whom the establishment despises, finished a surprising third with 12 percent of the vote, despite spending well under $1 million in the state in television advertising. Cruz actually won about the same percentage as fourth-place finisher Jeb! Bush, who spent $35 million on television advertising in the state.
The voters speak, media pundits and family dynasties hardest hit...

Order From The Court

President Obama's carbon plan is put on hold:
The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations “an unprecedented power grab.”

By temporarily freezing the rule the high court’s order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.

The court’s four liberal justices said they would have denied the request.

The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030.

Appellate arguments are set to begin June 2.

The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Administration by September or seek an extension.

Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned.

Implementation of the rules is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last month. The Obama administration and environmental groups also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.
While killing off all the existing ones...

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Passing The Costs On To You

President Obama's final budget goes for broke:
The White House “fact sheet” asserts that $2.9 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years would come from the tax hikes and savings incurred by Obamacare.

The tax hikes include increasing the top rate on capital gains, creating a new fee on banks, implementing the “Buffett Rule,” which would require millionaires to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, and establishing a $10 per barrel tax on oil to raise $300 billion to spend on green energy and mass transit.

The proposal comes after the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated soaring deficits and debt for the next decade.

“The budget proposes a number of reforms — including a detailed international tax reform plan — that would modernize the business tax code to make it fairer and more efficient, and to create jobs,” the White House news release says. “The Budget also finishes the job the past two bipartisan agreements started by preventing the return of harmful sequestration funding levels in 2018 and beyond, replacing the savings by closing tax loopholes and reforming tax expenditures, and with smart spending reforms.”
If these are reforms, I'd hate to see what unreformed looks like...

Tired Of Waiting For You

No more delays, Mrs. Clinton:
Judge Rudolph Contreras said the government is taking an “unreasonably long” time processing the messages and is already more than a week overdue on making them all public — and said he didn’t like being told speeding up could hurt national security.

“Government has me between a rock and a hard place,” he said.

The judge said he will order at least some emails to be released by Feb. 18, and showed little patience with the department’s delays.

“To state the obvious, these documents have a lot of interest and the timing is important,” Judge Contreras said.
The foot dragging ends now...

Polar Responders

The Obama administration wants to save the arctic:
The biggest piece of its climate spending proposal comes from a $2 billion fund to help coastal communities deal with sea-level rise. Of that, $400 million will be allocated over 10 years "to cover the unique circumstances confronting vulnerable Alaskan communities, including relocation expenses for Alaska Native villages threatened by rising seas, coastal erosion, and storm surges," according to a White House fact sheet issued ahead of the main budget release.

The request also proposed $900 million to the Interior Department's budget to beef up a land conservation program it runs to respond to climate change.

The budget proposes "full funding" for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or LWCF. The White House pointed out that the amount of funding is "equal to the oil and gas receipts deposited in the LWCF each year."
Yes, but you can actually do something useful with oil and gas reserves...

Safe Tweet Space

Twitter wants you to be safe:
To ensure people can continue to express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies. With hundreds of millions of Tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power…
That’s why we are announcing the formation of the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, a new and foundational part of our strategy to ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter.
I thought they said they were supporting freedom of expression, not the other way around...

Angry Government Union Man

The leader of the government workers' union is not a fan of these Republicans:
For J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the stakes could not be higher this year, however.

“God help us all,” Cox told reporters on Monday of the possibility of a Republican winning the White House to succeed President Obama. “This country will be in a serious, serious situation.”


“There is not a Republican candidate that’s running that hasn’t said they would annihilate federal employee unions and virtually every union in the country,” Cox said.

The firebrand leader cited Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s legislation to ease the firing of employees at the Veterans Affairs Department, Donald Trump’s experience in the private sector and Cruz’s general anti-government rhetoric as evidence of the Republican field’s anti-federal workforce policies.
Who else is going to hire the incompetent and the lazy, if not government?

Pooping On Political Correctness

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog versus college students:

Monday, February 08, 2016

Last Of The Big Budget Spenders

What if Obama presented a budget and nobody cared?
Even as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders quarrel over who’s a “progressive” and who’s not, the president will propose a sweepingly progressive policy agenda that includes a $10-a-barrel oil tax, an expensive Medicaid expansion, a $4 billion initiative to promote computer science in public schools and the first down payment on a “moon shot” research initiative to cure cancer led by Vice President Joe Biden.

Never mind that Congress, in a break with tradition, said it won’t even hold hearings on this year’s budget request. That’s because the request “will continue to focus on new spending proposals” instead of tackling “our $19 trillion in debt,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said last week. Complete details on proposed total spending, projected deficits and other information will be released Tuesday morning.

Given Congress’ sight-unseen dismissal, the president’s go-for-broke strategy makes sense, said Peter Orszag, who was White House budget director during Obama’s first term and director of the Congressional Budget Office before that.

“If the document is legislatively irrelevant,” Orszag said, “you might as well use it to expand the policy dialogue and lay out sensible proposals even if they will not become law this year or next.” This year’s budget proposal “lays the groundwork for Democrats to refine and embrace a more ambitious legislative agenda over time.”
Too bad even they don't seem that interested...

Campaign Of Confusion

Young women aren't that into her:
“[Hillary is] confused about what feminism means, she thinks feminism just means female empowerment only, it means a lot more than that,” said Ainsley-Aude Croteau, 24, of Durham, New Hampshire. “Feminism is gender equality, I think she’s trying to appeal to young women voters by shouting feminism in our faces, but were not one-track-minded people.”
Croteau was one of nearly a dozen women interviewed by The Daily Beast who attended the Sanders rally on Sunday afternoon in a community college gymnasium. They were all genuinely perplexed by the idea that Clinton deserved their support solely based on her gender.
It's what liberals expect...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Red Lites

Surprise, surprise:
More than four in 10 Democrats say they have a favorable opinion of socialism, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults released in January by data and research firm YouGov; this percentage is nearly identical to what the researchers found in May of last year. Meanwhile, only about one in three say they have an unfavorable opinion of the ideology.

Among Republicans, those numbers look significantly different: Just 17% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of socialism, while 71% have an unfavorable opinion of it. And for the most part — no matter what the party — it is young people who are most in favor of socialism. Fully 49% of people ages 18 to 29 have a favorable opinion of socialism, compared with just 23% of those 65 and up.
They'll learn...

Don't Feel The Bern

Where do libertarians go after Rand Paul? Not to Sanders:
The “free health care, free day care, free college tuition” line is exactly why Paul’s libertarian supporters shouldn’t be jumping on the Sanders train. I’ve already written why Sanders’ “free college tuition” proposal is a load of crap because the Swedish model he based it on doesn’t exist. Sanders is also pushing government spending which could end up costing $18T by focusing on punishing the rich, which Emily Zanotti at The American Spectator pointed out doesn’t work because it thinks “the rich” won’t leave the U.S. to save money like they did in France. The only way Sanders’ “tax the rich” scheme might work is if the government sends cops or bureaucrats to every millionaire’s home and business to tell them when and where they can transfer money (and no Rand Paul fan should be interested in that). Reason has also written why Sanders’ proposals would probably destroy the U.S. economy. There’s also the fact Sanders is completely hypocritical when it comes to super PACs. He’s trumpeted the fact he doesn’t have a super PAC on his website, and wants to get rid of the Citizens United decision, but The New York Times pointed out Sanders is actually benefiting from Citizens United because of how many unions are donating to him.
He's no libertarian. Neither is the GOP establishment, but at least they're honest about it.

That Hellbound Campaign

"You're all going to Hell!"


Their PACS are better than your PACS:

Deck Chairs

They're still both sinking:

On Internet, Twitter Feeds You

Twitter attempts to take control:
According to Buzzfeed, the latest, radical alteration to Twitter’s user experience could come as early as next week, although the online outlet did not confirm whether the new system would be mandatory.

The news has led to the greatest backlash from Twitter’s userbase this year. #RIPTwitter has been trending internationally all day, with close to a million tweets on the hashtag. Celebrities and users from across the political spectrum are adding their voices to the online protest, and a petition urging Twtter to change course is quickly gathering steam. Troublingly for Twitter, it doesn’t look like the controversy will fade anytime soon.
Let them eat feeds?

Saturday, February 06, 2016

What If He Wins?

Could Sanders get America to feel the Bern?
Sanders as president would be left with two main options: reduce his goals to aim for more incremental progress, or adopt a defensive approach to keep Obama’s policies from being rolled back—exactly what he has condemned in Hillary Clinton’s approach to governance. And while Sanders has been a more effective lawmaker than Cruz (or Rubio, for that matter, as demonstrated by Rick Santorum’s embarrassing failure on Morning Joe to find one accomplishment for his endorsee) there is little evidence that he has or could build the kinds of relationships with other members of Congress, or find ways to move the now humongous boulder up the hill (or Hill) of a thoroughly dysfunctional governing process. And, of course, he would face the deep disappointment of the activists he has inspired.
In other words, he most likely couldn't do worse than Obama-but he wouldn't do better, either.

Teachers Of Men

China is looking for a few good teachers:
Education officials across China are aggressively recruiting male teachers, as the Chinese news media warns of a need to “salvage masculinity in schools.” The call for more male-oriented education has prompted a broader debate about gender equality and social identity at a time when the country’s leaders are seeking to make the labor market more meritocratic.

It also reflects a general anxiety about boys in Chinese society. While boys outnumber girls as a result of the longstanding one-child policy and a cultural preference for sons, they consistently lag in academic performance. Some parents worry about their sons’ prospects in an uncertain economy, so they are putting their hopes in male role models who they believe impart lessons on assertiveness, courage and sacrifice.

The view that there is an overabundance of female teachers that has had a negative effect on boys has, perhaps predictably, led to a backlash. Parents have accused schools of propagating rigid concepts of masculinity and gender norms, and female educators have denounced efforts to attract more male teachers with lavish perks as sexist.
As opposed to the way boys are treated by feminists in the West...