Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ditching The Grade

No more grades?
“The grading system is pretty broken,” says Kate Reeser, Director at San Domenico School in San Anselmo.

She and other administrators there are exploring a new school of thought when it comes to grading. They want to do away with the concept of letter grades entirely.

“It’s about gaming the system, students no longer care about learning the information it’s about getting the A,” says her Cecily Stock who heads the school.

San Domenico is one of more than 100 schools across the country participating in the mastery transcript consortium. It is a new teaching model that aims to evaluate how well a student has ‘mastered’ a concept. Rather than receiving a letter grade, students will be given a review from their teacher.

“Instead of a B it would look like more of a narrative,” Says Reeser.
But what if your kid is still failing the narrative?

Babies Wanted

The welfare state is not good for kids:
Demographics are a concern across the developed world, of course. But they are particularly problematic for countries with a generous welfare state, since they endanger its long-term survival.

For Heidi Schauman, the statistics are "frightening."

"They show how fast our society is changing, and we don't have solutions ready to stop the development," the Aktia Bank chief economist said in a telephone interview in Helsinki. "We have a large public sector and the system needs taxpayers in the future."

To do that, the fertility rate should equal two per woman, Schauman says. It was projected at 1.57 in 2016, according to Statistics Finland.
Who wants to buy another generation?

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Challenge

Hillary goes there:
Clinton stated that she believes the Russian government influenced the election in favor of Trump, and that this could make the outcome illegitimate.

“[Trump knew] they were trying to do whatever they could to discredit me with emails, so there’s obviously a trail there… There’s no doubt they influenced the election: We now know more about how they did that,” Clinton said in the interview.

However, Clinton went on to add that she does not think there is a “mechanism” in place to officially overturn the election results.

“There are scholars, academics, who have arguments that [the election should be challenged], but I don’t think they’re on strong ground. But people are making those arguments. I just don’t think we have a mechanism,” she concluded.
Or any basis in fact...

SNAP Inspection

Food stamps have fallen fast:
Food stamp usage has been on a steady decline since Donald Trump began his presidency in January 2017, with the latest data showing that SNAP enrollment decreased by more than 1.3 million, or 3.23 percent, since the beginning of his term in office.

A closer look at the data shows that food stamp usage has been consistently decreasing each month since January 2017.

Here is the breakdown of how many people dropped off the food stamp rolls each month of 2017:

January to February- 408,956
February to March- 95,152
March to April- 521,295
April to May- 176,527
May to June- 178,648
The most significant drops in enrollment took place from January to February and March to April.
It's like people don't need them anymore, or something...

Tapping In

No, Trump wasn't paranoid:
The report said the secret court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act had authorized a surveillance warrant against Manafort for an investigation that began in 2014, looking into his firm, the Podesta Group, and another firm’s lobbying work for Ukraine’s pro-Russian former ruling party.

“The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence,” a source told CNN.

However, the FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended early into this year. The report notably does not say when the new warrant was obtained. Manafort joined the Trump campaign as its chairman in May 2016.

The new warrant was “part of the FBI’s efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives,” according to the report.

The report notes, “such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials” — but doesn’t specify which top Justice Department and FBI officials had approved it.
Did it matter? They were literally all out to get him...

Cotton Pickin' Moment

Cotton-the other white cloth?
Now perhaps these people didn’t get a proper high school economics education, so I’ll break it down quickly.

Cotton rules the economy.

It has for centuries. We fought a war about it. The Antebellum South exported lots of things, namely cotton, tobacco, and indigo. It’s true, these products were largely cultivated dependent on slavery, which was eradicated after the Civil War.

A hundred-some-odd years later, though, and the South still exports these things. Without slaves. Do you know how many things are made of cotton nowadays? You can’t go five minutes without coming into contact with something made of cotton. Most of our clothes are cotton byproducts. Bedsheets, rugs, coffee filters, even some fire hoses are made of cotton.

Is Daniell Rider perhaps suggesting we let houses burn down because fire hoses are racist?
Clothing is racist!

Making Plans With Nigel

For those who really need help:
The robot named ‘Nigel’ uses artificial intelligence (AI) to become aware of its user’s life and utilise the information by offering advice to user’s including how to vote.

Robot developed that helps you vote, AI taken too far?
Mounir Shita hopes Nigel will be able to assist with voting by next year.
Unlike other AI robots Nigel programmes itself as it goes, rather than teach itself how to perform and effectively carry out tasks. It works solely on how the user is themselves, for example if they offer traits of a left wing supporter he will adapt to that life style.

However, Nigel will offer alternative advice if it thinks that certain aspects of the user ‘don’t add up’ based on different algorithms from its system, prompting them to make a different decision. The robot is described as the first human like artificial intelligence to date.
Nigel knows better?

Deadline Time

The quest to replace Obamacare continues:
Under the plan, Obamacare money that pays for an expansion of Medicaid and that subsidizes coverage for many of those who buy insurance on the exchanges would be pooled and instead given to states as block grants. The states would tailor the money to their own health care plans.
The bill would immediately repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring people to get coverage or pay a tax and its rule requiring large employers to provide coverage or face crippling penalties. It also scraps the 2010 law’s tax on medical device sales.
There are “people coming out regularly and saying they’re for it, either privately or publicly,” Mr. Cassidy said.
But Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, announced Friday that he is staunchly opposed to the bill, lengthening the odds of success as his party continues to struggle with its seven-year promise to scrap the Affordable Care Act.
AARP, an influential lobby for older Americans, also said it opposes the bill, enthusing Obamacare supporters.
Senate Republicans must act by the end of the month under the 2017 budget to help avoid a Democratic filibuster.
Can they fit it into their lack of a schedule?

Welcome To Softball Dome

Do not question the Queen:
Clinton was on the show last Wednesday promoting her book “What Happened,” with conservative Bila calling her “tone deaf” and asking the former presidential candidate a tough question.

“To be fair, it hasn’t just been Republicans who have taken issue with the writing of this book. Some Democrats have come out as well,” Bila said to Clinton. “Former campaign surrogates of yours, former fundraisers and said, ‘This book puts us in the past and we wanna move forward, we wanna figure out where to take this party, how to succeed in the future. And this places us in the past.’ How do you respond to Democrats also coming out in criticism of you writing this?”

“I think they first should read the book,” Clinton answered.

“There was a lot of staff who were upset about how that interview was handled,” says the source, speculating that “The View” wants the former secretary of state to appear on the show multiple times. “They had a lot to say to Jedediah about calming things down.”
Too much excitement for them?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reform When?

Whatever happened to tax reform?
As with healthcare, Republicans have been talking about tax reform for years. Think tanks, former presidential candidates, and even congressional GOP plans released in the recent past should have been good starting points so that tax reform could hit the ground running.

But here we are, eight months into Trump's presidency, and congressional leaders appear only now to be waking up and starting from scratch.

It is to be hoped that GOP leaders have learned from their mistakes in the Obamacare repeal debacle and are plotting a different legislative approach for tax reform. Their repeal and replace bills were largely negotiated in secret and sent directly to the chamber floors rather than deliberated in committee. That lack of transparency was, justifiably, a major factor in the public's distaste for the bills. You can't win over public opinion if you don't go out and sell the details. Sell them?! Goodness, the GOP hardly even allowed them to be visible.

It's concerning that a "big six" group of negotiators from Congress and the administration have done most of the work so far on tax reform. There is the apparent confusion even within that group about how much detail will be released in the "outline" on Sept. 25. Congress and the administration should discuss these things, but the fruit of their discussions should be only the start of a transparent process open to input from the whole GOP conference.

The time is now for tax reform. Successfully getting tax reform passed is crucial for the long-term political future of the Republican Party and the economy. As the Obamacare debacle showed, legislating is harder than it looks. That's especially true if you don't learn anything from your own failures.
People can tell when you're not serious. Republicans, be warned...

Know Your What?

What people don't know can hurt them:
39 percent “strongly” or “somewhat favored” congressional prohibitions on “news media [reporting] on any issue of national security without first getting government approval.” 49 percent “strongly” or “somewhat opposed” such a measure.

26 percent could not name any of the three branches of the federal government; consistent with previous years’ polls of the same question: 21 percent in 2016; 22 percent in 2015; 25 percent in 2014; 24 percent in 2013; 22 percent in 2011.

26 percent could name all three branches of federal governance; down from previous years’ polls of the same question: 26 percent in 2016; 31 percent in 2015; 26 percent in 2014; 28 percent in 2013; 38 percent in 2011.
Ignorance is bliss for those exploiting it...

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Still His Castle

Asset forfeiture takes a hit:
Asset forfeiture is the controversial law enforcement practice that allows police to seize property and assets – including cars, homes and bank accounts – from individuals suspected of crime or illegal activity, regardless of whether there’s a conviction. Critics and civil liberties groups have blasted the practice, arguing that it places an unfair burden on the suspect and encourages law enforcement corruption.

Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) banded together in introducing an amendment to the 2018 federal government spending package. The amendment was approved through voice vote on the House floor Tuesday.

The Obama administration in January 2015 implemented measures that limited the Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture practices, but Sessions in July directed his agency to reverse course, calling asset forfeiture an effective tool in reducing crime in certain circumstances. Amendment 126 bars the administration from using appropriated funds to eliminate the Obama-era restrictions. The Obama-era measures specifically targeted so-called equitable sharing, a process by which local officials can circumvent state law and work with federal officials in confiscating property.

“This practice is outrageous,” Amash, who led the amendment, said on the House floor during debate. “It supplants the authority of states to regulate their own law enforcement, and it further mires the federal government in unconstitutional asset forfeitures.”
Theft is still theft...

Just The Sports, Please

So now ESPN has apparently decided that too much politics is bad for business:
“ESPN is not a political organization. Where sports and politics intersect, no one is told what view they must express.”

“We have issues of significant debate in our country at this time. Our employees are citizens and appropriately want to participate in the public discussion. That can create a conflict for our public facing talent between their work and their personal points of view. Given this reality, we have social media policies which require people to understand that social platforms are public and their comments on them will reflect on ESPN. At a minimum, comments should not be inflammatory or personal.”
I guess some people didn't get the memo...

Taking A Meeting

Hillary Clinton tries to explain herself:
Clinton, shaking her head, said:

“Judy, I just don’t buy that — I honestly reject that premise partly because there’s a chain-of-command in the Justice Department.”
“The optics looked bad, I admit that.”
“What we know happened: The investigation was getting nowhere, there was nothing to find. And [Comey] was in a position of having to accept the evidence that there was no case.”
“I think what he did, against the advice of people around him in the FBI and the Justice Department, was in large measure due to political pressures that he was under from people that he had worked with before.”
“If you’re a prosecutor or FBI director, if there’s no case there’s no case. And instead, he had a press conference and really went after not just me, but the entire state department.”
“[The press conference] was a breech of professional ethics and responsibility and rejection of protocols in the Justice Department.”
“What really was costly, and what I believe is the proximate cause of my defeat, was [Comey’s] Oct. 28 letter, which has never been adequately explained or defended.”
She did better with the election...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Curse Of D.C.

Well, most of Washington society is already a cult:
For nearly 50 years, the entire social and political world of DC revolved around this couple. Bradlee and Quinn were the New Camelot (his career took off in large part because of his friendship with John F. Kennedy), the Gatekeepers of who was in and who was out, the Elite Deciders among our Ruling Class with the extraordinary power of the Washington Post, and by extension the rest of the mainstream media, to abuse and weaponize their will against the rest of us.

Well, to put it as bluntly as possible, we are now learning that the Queen of Camelot is an occultist, a witch of sorts who honestly believes (according to her own new memoir) that she murdered three innocent people through the dark art of the hex: a young woman who committed suicide after flirting with Quinn’s boyfriend; a magazine editor who published an unflattering profile of her, who decades later died of cancer; a psychic who died of a cerebral hemorrhage before the end of the year after telling Quinn something she did not want to hear.

The anecdote about the magazine story, published in 1973, and her son, who was born in 1982, informs us that Quinn, who was born in 1941, practiced the occult in the most demonic ways imaginable well into adulthood.
That might explain a few things about Washington...

Faked But Flagged

The line between real and fake news continues to blur:
The study, entitled “Assessing the Effect of ‘Disputed’ Warnings and Source Salience on Perceptions of Fake News Accuracy,” put 24 news stories from 2016-2017 in front of 7,500 participants. Half of the stories presented were true, and half were fabricated. Those involved in the study were asked to rate the accuracy of a random selection of 12 of the headlines. The study was further divided into groups. In the first, the stories were presented as-is. In the second, fake news was tagged as “disputed.”

The results were marginal, at best. With false stories flagged, users who support President Trump were only 1.2% more likely to correctly gauge whether or not a story presented was factual. Supporters of Hillary Clinton were slightly more trusting, with an increase of 4.3% over the unflagged group.

It appears Trump supporters were generally less inclined to trust a headline in general — whether or not it has been checked by a third party. This skepticism is unsurprising in a climate that has shown consistent aggression toward those who have supported the POTUS, both before and after the election. In point of fact, only about 15% of Trump voters have any trust in the media at all, according to a recent Edelman poll.
Why trust what can't be verified?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Price Of Working For Her

Hillary's lawyers may be in trouble:
The ruling came after Ty Clevenger, an attorney in New York City, filed the complaint. He recently was denied files from the FBI related to Clinton’s email investigation, due to what the bureau called a lack of public interest.

Clevenger argued that the lawyers should be investigated for wrongdoing by destroying evidence, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Harris said Clevenger’s appeal to have the lawyers investigated “appears to have merit,” the Times reported.
What did they delete, and when did they delete it?

Exiling All The Lawyers

White House lawyers suddenly realize they're working for a conservative administration:
The article notes that the Trump administration has been particularly receptive to input from social conservative and religious groups, quoting a number of leaders within such organizations as celebrating their newfound access to the White House.

Many of the disenchanted lawyers are reportedly concerned about the administration’s elimination of specific protections for the LGBTQ community — specifically, the DOJ’s removal of references to LGBTQ youth from a description of a federal program aimed at preventing child sex trafficking.

The article cites increased spending by groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, to demonstrate the recent wave of conservative enthusiasm.
One man's enthusiasm is another's sad time...

Crashing The Ceiling

Mitch McConnell gives in:
Mr. McConnell said that he insisted the newly passed legislation preserve Treasury’s ability to apply ‘extraordinary measures’ and shift money within government accounts to pay off debt and extend federal borrowing power.

That will delay the need for another increase in the debt limit well beyond the December deadline that Democrats have been trumpeting as their big moment of leverage. And Mr. McConnell said he did so over the objections of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader and aforementioned counterpart.

In fact, Mr. McConnell said, the debt limit will not have to be increased until well into 2018, taking that volatile subject off the table for the December spending talks, and eliminating the Democrats’ most dangerous bargaining chip in the first round of negotiations.
When you can get them to listen, you can get results...

Don't Eat Me

Are vegans killing their food?
Vegetarians and vegans often cite cruelty to animals as a reason for their lifestyle choice not to eat meat or to avoid animal products altogether. But a 2014 study from the University of Missouri found that thale cress, which is closely related to broccoli, kale and mustard greens, can distinguish between the vibrations from normal stimuli in the environment and an invasive predator.

The thale cress reacted to being munched by caterpillars by producing an extra boost of the mildly toxic mustard oils in its leaves; however, wind noise didn’t produce the same toxic injection.

“Vegetarians and vegans need to pay heed,” Keith said.

“I know,” Doc countered. “It makes me want to eat vegetables more now that there’s suffering involved.”

A University of Missouri researcher involved in the study compared their findings to previous research that has shown that plants respond to musical vibrations.
Please don't eat the salad?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Clown Shoes

Clown lives matter?
It, about a group of misfit kids who band together to battle an amorphous killer spirit that frequently takes the guise of "Pennywise" the clown, tapped into something primal among moviegoers who, after spending all summer avoiding the cinema, crept back into theaters to experience the murderous carnival act first hand.

In Canada, though, non-murderous clowns banded together for a clown protest march outside a number of theaters showing the thriller, because, they say, clowns deserve to be treated with all the respect owed to a profession full of accomplished balloon-animal makers and jugglers.

"We feel that this has done great harm in the business of clowning and for clowns," an entertainer who goes by the name Dottie The Clown told Vice News. "A number of clown clubs have actually folded due to the negativity surrounding it."

"You need to remember that clowns are people too."
Even the evil ones?

Huff And Puff

The Huffington Post goes low:
The post, written by Dexter Rogers, states, “… the world has been seriously duped into believing the terrorists ascended from abroad when actuality they were born and bred on American soil.”

The article quickly goes on to accuse Bush and the U.S. government of committing an inside job on 9/11.

“Bush managed to ride off into the sunset after destroying this country by socially engineering people that 9/11 was perpetrated by outsiders when it was an inside job by the American government,” Rogers says.

He expounds on his theories, stating, “Considering how the three towers collapsed many believe they were blown up demolition style. If you all remember, Tower No.7 fell and it was never hit. Also, where is the debris from the plane that supposedly hit the Pentagon?”

The post was published on HuffPost’s contributor section, which allows individuals to write stories and publish to HuffPost without being staff members.
Never let history get in the way of lunatic revisionism...

Evil Steve?

How to make someone look bad:
“It seems like 60 minutes would like you to listen less and look more at Steve Bannon. By subtly tweaking the color of the video, they make him look like a bleary-eyed drunk. I show you how they did it,” writes Duke on the video’s YouTube page.

Peter Duke has photographed Milo Yiannopoulos, Scott Adams and James O’Keefe.

In the video, Duke explains how CBS color adjusted Bannon’s shots to make his eyes and lips red by increasing the level of saturation. This results in curtains that are a brighter orange behind Bannon than they are in Charlie Rose’s shot. Rose’s shot was made “cooler,” to make the host’s make-up more subtle.

Duke then adjusted the interview’s lighting, removing Bannon’s redness and Rose’s “coolness.”

The result is a natural looking Bannon.
Sometimes, 60 Minutes, the evil is you...

What Really Happened

She's not leaving anyone out:
"I went from 26 points ahead to 13 points ahead, and I needed about 18 points in order to be sure to win Pennsylvania," Clinton said of the impact of Comey's notorious letter explaining he was re-opening the investigation. "I watched how analysts who I have a great deal of respect for, like Nate Silver, burrowed into all the data and said that 'but for that Comey letter, she would have won.'"
"So it was very personal to me," she said in an interview with CBS's Jane Pauley. "I think my general election prospects were badly damaged because of that, so that even though I was starting to come back, it was not enough time to overcome it."
Clinton also rattled off Russia, Wikileaks, and even fake news as other culprits in her failed presidential run.
"But even though [the Comey letter] was the primary blow to my campaign at the very end, it has to be looked at in context -- with the Russians weaponizing information, negative stories about me; this whole Wikileaks beginning to leak in early October of John Podesta's emails -- which if you read them all were, they're pretty anodyne, but they were taken out of context; stories were made up about them."
Clinton then cited a recent story about Facebook accepting advertising from a Russian firm as another reason for her loss.
"We now know that Facebook was taking money from Russian companies to run negative stories about me," she continued. "If you look at all of this, yes, it affected me and my campaign. But I am more concerned now going forward that we haven't come to grips with what it means for future elections."
What happens when she runs out of people to blame?

Ditching The Grade

No more grades? “The grading system is pretty broken,” says Kate Reeser, Director at San Domenico School in San Anselmo. She and other adm...