Edumacation – We Don’t Haz It

How ignorant are Americans?

When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.


Nothing I haven’t been repeating and commenting on since I started this blog.

And these people VOTE.


I’ve not been blogging all that much recently, and what I have been doing is “all linky, no thinky” stuff.  There has been, obviously, a lot to write about, but for various reasons I won’t go into here, I haven’t felt the urge necessary to sit, think, and write.

Sorry about that.  I know that a lot of people come by here looking for free ice cream, and I haven’t been delivering.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ve not been paying attention. I currently have a list of no less than 31 links to stuff under the heading of “topics for blog posts,” and probably half of those are for one single überpost.

Part of me doesn’t have the urge, but some other part does.

I’ve got some errands to run today, and some other things to take care of, but I thought I’d throw up a couple of things just to keep your attention.  First up, the Quote of the Day from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, commenting on the book Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America by Walter Olson:

Every year I hire as law clerks some of the best and brightest law students in the country, and spend a year wringing out of them all the wrong-headed ideas their law professors taught them. Now I know why.

My stack of books hasn’t gotten significantly shorter (I keep adding to it), but this one may need to go on it.  If you’re interested, here’s a podcast with the author of the book.

Second,  the subject of our failed education system comes up again in a piece at Shrinkwrapped, Oh No, Are Kidz Can’t Lurn. I’ve covered this topic before (most recently here) – colleges forced to mandate “remedial” classes for incoming freshmen who are completely unprepared for the academic demands of a university. It used to be that a high school diploma meant you were ready to enter the workforce. Now all it means is that you attended enough classes to not be kicked out for truancy. (Do they still do that? Kick out students for truancy?)

The City University of New York has found that three-quarters of incoming freshmen are unprepared. That’s 75% of the successful graduates of primary and secondary school systems.  At least in Arizona it’s only a third.

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  Then put Dr. Sugata Mitra in charge of rebuilding.

And finally, a word about “unintended consequences.”  Hybrid cars that require batteries made from materials mined in remote locations without environmental restriction; fluorescent lightbulbs that contain toxic mercury, don’t last anywhere near as long as advertised, and require hazmat disposal; “low-flow” toilets that use only one gallon per flush, but have to be flushed three or four times if you want the bowl clean for the next use.  Well, the New York Times has discovered the concept now, and in an opinion piece by John Tierney uses “the rebound effect” to lobby for higher taxes rather than “energy efficiency”  mandates.

I think he must be a fan of Cass Sunstein and his “Nudge” theory of behavior modification through taxation. Regardless, it was an interesting thing to see in the NYT, the admission:

“Efficiency mandates have become feel-good mantras that politicians invoke,” Mr. (Sam) Kazman (of the Competitive Enterprise Institute) said. “The results of these mandates have ranged from costly fiascos, such as once-dependable top-loading washers that no longer wash, to higher fatalities in cars downsized by fuel-efficiency rules. If the technologies were so good, they wouldn’t need to be imposed on us by law.”

No matter what laws are enacted, people are going to find ways to use energy more efficiently — that’s the story of civilization. But don’t count on them using less energy, no matter how dirty their clothes get.

Not quite another QotD, but close.

Quote of the Day – Tactical Facepalm Edition

Another one from MaxedOutMama. She’s been spending some time over at Democratic Underground and, well, let her say it:

I have just realized that it is hopeless. These are not the people who flunked algebra, geology, long division and biology. These are the people who flunked algebra, geology, long division and biology, and attempted to burn down the school as revenge, failed, and are now attempting to expunge those ways of thinking from the known universe.

As I’ve noted previously, I spent some eight months there myself before being ceremoniously kicked off by “Skinner” who is apparently one of if not the founder.

But I’d figured out what MOM figured out long before then. I’ve not been back. As Robert Heinlein said of visiting the Soviet Union, “Once is educational. Twice is masochism.”

But by all means, RTWT. Beverage alert, however, especially if you’re an engineer type. And the demotivator at the bottom of the post is worth the trip itself.

Unrelated, MaxedOutMama has been keeping track of the goings-on at Japan’s current nuclear disaster site.  Start at the top and scroll down for a pretty good synopsis of what is known to date.  It’s not Chernobyl, but it’s worse than Three Mile Island by quite a stretch.

Can we PLEASE start talking about Thorium-powered reactors now?

Quote of the Day – Simple Economics Edition

Joe Huffman from Saturday:

It is predicted the Federal budget deficit will reach $1.65 trillion this year with a $14.1 trillion debt and about $2.1 trillion in income. Yet the House cannot reach agreement on spending cuts. The House Republicans want to only cut $60 billion in spending and the Democrats only want to cut spending $6.5 billion. If you were to scale this down into numbers people might be able to relate to it would look like the following.

If your family income were $50,000 then:

•Family debt is $335,700
•Family deficit is $39,300 (spending is $89,300/year)
•The head of household wants to cut $1,430 in yearly spending
•The spouse wants to cut $154.80 in yearly spending
The children should cut up the credit cards and sell everything that isn’t the bare minimum needed for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and communication. If the debt still isn’t being paid down they should consider selling their parents organs.—Joe

Quote of the Day – “WORD!” Edition

The purpose of the armed forces is to kill people and break their stuff. This isn’t the frickin’ Peace Corps we’re running here, it is a warfighting machine. Much like the Los Angeles Lakers, it doesn’t get its score at the end of the game graded on a curve based on how well it reflects “the racial, ethnic and gender mix” of America.

Tam, commenting on the erroneous conclusion of a recent report on the current  ethnic mix of officers in the US military

Match Report – Light Turnout

Well, we held the 10th monthly Bowling Pin match at Tucson Rifle Club today (we took last September off while I traveled to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous).  Today’s turnout was light, only six people besides me came to shoot, but we still had a lot of fun.  Because of the light turnout, we only ran two tables instead of three.  The match started at just after 9:00AM and ran until about 12:30.  I forgot my CCI Mini-Mag .22 ammo, but Larry Boykin let me shoot his Federal stuff, and it worked fine.  I also brought my S&W M25 Mountain Gun chambered in .45LC and my Browning Hi Power.

When I hit the pins with the M25, they left the table.  With extreme prejudice.

I really need to practice shooting that gun double-action.  If you want to win, you can’t miss twice.  Reloads are slow.

Shooting borrowed ammo, I did manage to win the .22 class. Bill Tab won centerfire with his Kimber Classic Stainless beating me with my Hi Power in the last two rounds, but each of us had to beat last month’s winner  Jim Burnett to get there.  He’s a tough competitor with both his Clark Custom 1911 pin gun and his bone-stock Beretta 92.  Jim took home the $17 from the drawing at the end of the match, though and he took second in .22.

Hopefully we’ll have more turnout next month, Sunday April 10.  The match will begin at the normally scheduled time – first rounds downrange at 8:00AM, not 9:00.  It’s already starting to warm up.  And I’ll be bringing three tables again, to help speed things along.  Hope to see you there!