Quote of the Day – GeekWithA.45 Edition

From the comments to one of my older pieces on education that I have had reason to link to recently:

I’ve long held that the darkest truth I know is that men are enslave-able.

It is a detail of this fact that their bodies can be beaten and broken, molded into a twisted parody of their rightful glory. We rightfully hide far from our daily awareness, in a special place of screaming horror the fact that their minds can be warped into a place where gibberish replaces reason.

Humanity celebrates the man whose spirit triumphs over such abuse, who rises above the physical and mental infirmities imposed upon him to know and live his own mind and spirit, and desperately wants to believe that this is the norm, and not the exception.

Surrounded by proof to the contrary, we are thus presented with a painful dichotomy. What is man? Is it the transcendent, triumphant glory of spirit that strives against all adversaries on behalf of its own autonomy? Is our being entirely conditional upon the forces that mold and warp it, some occasional victories being contingent upon some lucky factor? (And what of the adversaries? Are they also not men?) Can we avoid splitting the camp of mankind, into those men who would rule only themselves, those are/will/can not be, and those who would rule others? How shall we regard the many flavors of Failed, who may have never even understood the need to lift a finger in their own defense, or who, having strived, failed of strength or endurance?

I submit that we can hold the Failed in compassion, but that compassion would be misplaced if applied to those who would Rule us.

High Unemployment? With Our Population?

I ran across an interesting article in the online trade magazine Automation.com, Educational System Limiting United States Manufacturing. Some excerpts:

Manufacturing automation has been doing the heavy lifting to improve productivity in the United States while the country’s educational systems continue to have disturbingly low productivity. After talking with management of many manufacturing companies, reviewing surveys and statistics, it is obvious to me that this situation is dramatically out of control.

The educational system in the United States is just not getting the job done. And this is a major constraint on finding people suitable for basic manufacturing jobs let alone people to work with the technology required for manufacturing to be competitive on world markets. Further, this is a severe limitation hampering United States companies from designing leadership automation systems and creating machines. Recent information illustrates that the U.S. education system cannot turn money alone into positive results – with billions of dollars pumped into education over 40 years. The “No Child Left Behind” initiatives are a decade old. An investment of over $80 billion in federal stimulus since 2009 that was intended to lift student performance quickly has resulted in no significant gain.

The Manufacturing Institute report, “Boiling point – The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing,” says that seventy-four percent of respondents indicated workforce shortages or skills deficiencies are having a significant impact on manufacturers’ ability to expand operations or improve productivity. These jobs require the most training, and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to fill with existing talent. Survey respondents punctuated the most serious skills deficiencies with existing employees.

  • Inadequate problem-solving skills – 52%
  • Lack of basic technical training (degree, industry certification or vocational training) – 43%
  • Inadequate basic employability skills (attendance timeliness, work ethic, etc.) – 40%
  • Inadequate technology/computer skills – 36%
  • Inadequate math skills – 30%
  • Inadequate reading/writing/communicating skills – 29%

Frankly, I’m surprised that the inadequate math and reading/writing/communication skills are as low down the totem pole as they are. I guess automation has gone a long way towards eliminating these skills as requirements for the workplace.

Drew Greenblatt, President & Owner, Marlin Steel, USA (www.marlinwire.com):

“It is dispiriting what’s going on with our system…we have high school graduates that don’t know how to read a tape measure, can’t do basic math, don’t know how to do simple geometry,” said Greenblatt. “They don’t know what a radius is, what a diameter is…but they have a high school degree. It is unacceptable, we should be furious because we are paying big bucks and not getting the quality.”

“I am on the executive board of the National Association of Manufacturers and they are starting a national program called Skills Certification,” said Greenblatt. “It is a national certification and if you pass the test it is a portable certificate that shows you have the basic competence to work in a factory. I think that will improve the stock of our employees…right now the diploma from a high school is not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

I am reminded of the valedictorian’s graduation speech I fisked in 2010, wherein she proclaimed that a college degree, not a high-school diploma was the “… paper document that certifies that I am capable of work.”

Bearing this in mind, it means that the total output of primary and secondary education in this country is a population unsuited for working in the industrialized world.

I think that may have been the only thing she got right in her whole speech.

The problems with the United States educational system is analogous to a dying business with investors that think throwing money at the problems will fix it. Unfortunately government money seems to mindlessly flow into education programs. I believe there are fundamental structural, process, and management problems with the educational system that need to be sorted out. It is unclear how this can happen with the layers of bureaucracy.

In short, it can’t. The layers of bureaucracy aren’t interested in fixing the problem.

But they are interested in keeping the money flowing.

It is a sad commentary on the education system when the National Association of Manufacturers resorts to a Skills Certification System since the educational system is ineffective. All we need now is for some educators to get involved and ruin this.

In 1972, the United Negro College Fund coined the phrase, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” This in a nutshell describes the problem for the majority of U.S. citizens due to the ineffective educational system.

Oh, it’s effective. Just not at producing educated people. That’s not its job.

Reengineering the U.S. educational system may be the most important challenge for manufacturing and the country. Government and bureaucracy continue to be an obstacle to meaningful change. There seems to be too many sacred cows. I was on a school board a number of years ago that was wresting with teacher quality. With my industry background, I suggested using statistical quality control analysis based on student outcomes. When I explained the concept of to them, I became a persona non grata (unwelcome person)!

Somehow we have to fix this problem or the United States will continue to fall behind the rest of the world.

Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

UPDATE:  At PJ Media, Has a Century of Progressive Education Turned Us Into Obedient Sheep? with reference to John Taylor Gatto and Ayn Rand’s The Comprachicos.

I Hope Mr. Completely and Keewee are OK

Homes evacuated after major landslide on Whidbey Island
At least 17 homes have been evacuated after a major landslide overnight on Whidbey Island.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said no one was hurt, but one home was destroyed by mud and debris when the slide happened in an area near Alderwood Street and South Fircrest Avenue just after 4 a.m.

“It’s a pretty massive slide,” he said.

Brown said a relief center for displaced residents has been established at a nearby community center.

It was not clear exactly what caused the slide, as there was no rain overnight in the area.

Check the link for pictures. For once the media didn’t exaggerate. It was a major slide.


We’ve all heard how China is “investing in green energy,” and if we don’t do the same and subsidize companies over here, we’re going to be left behind and be dependent on foreign technologies.  So $535M goes to Solyndra, and it’s down the tubes, not to mention:

Amonix ($5.9M)
Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3M)
Nordic Windpower ($16M)
Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20M)
Evergreen Solar ($25M)
Raser Technologies ($33m)
Beacon Power ($43M)
Range Fuels ($80M)
Ener1 ($118.5M)
A123 Systems ($279M)
Abound Solar ($400M)

This list is not complete, and there are many other “green energy” companies with government-guaranteed loans that are struggling, but I found this fascinating:

China’s Suntech in Bankruptcy Proceedings

It came as no surprise today when the photovoltaics manufacturer Suntech, the world market leader in recent years, filed for bankruptcy in China. The company was well known to be in serious financial trouble and has been under investigation for having spent the equivalent of almost US $700 million for bonds that probably are fraudulent, to provide financial collateral for solar projects in Germany. Last week Suntech forfeited on a US $541 million bond, and the company’s chairman, Shi Zhengrong (photo), a scientist widely admired the world over as an innovative entrepreneur, had to step down, as speculation centered on whether the Suntech’s municipal sponsor, the city of Wuxi, would step in to save it with some kind of bailout package.

The news, however expected, is nonetheless, stunning. In recent years, Suntech led the pack of low-cost Chinese PV makers who laid waste to commodity manufacturers in Europe and the United States, making life impossible for innovative startups like Solyndra in the U.S. and Germany’s Q-Cell, the world market leader when Suntech first emerged as a force to be contended with. But then there was sharp push-back from the United States and Europe, which imposed trade sanctions after their manufacturers complained the Chinese were “dumping” PV modules at below production costs. It now appears those complaints were well-founded, as the Chinese have run up huge debts that they cannot pay back, reportedly from selling their product at a loss. As the old joke goes, for only so long can you do that and make it up in volume.

Looked at another way, the Suntech collapse appears to be a case of a technology revolution devouring its own children. According to Keith Bradsher of The New York Times, who made his reputation as a technology and business correspondent covering the troubled U.S. auto industry, “China’s approach to renewable energy has proved ruinous, financially and in terms of trade relations with the United States and the European Union. State-owned banks have provided $18 billion in loans on easy terms to Chinese solar panel manufacturers, financing an increase of more than tenfold in production capacity from 2008 to 2012. This set off a 75 percent drop in panel prices during that period, which resulted in losses to Chinese companies of as much as $1 for every $3 in sales last year.”

Suntech itself is believed to owe its Chinese creditors upwards of $2 billion.

Read the whole thing.

Get this through your head: This is not CAPITALISM. This is what happens when governments try to INFLUENCE THE FREE MARKET.

Quote of the Day – Robb Wins Edition

The Winnah – from Sharp as a Marble:

Again, here’s a key illustration that these people think we’re too stupid to make the right choices, yet think the government (full of the same people who cannot make good choices) is up to the job after being chosen by the very same people that cannot make good choices.

We are being lorded over by people who cannot properly use Twitter, couldn’t boil water without a 12 page PowerPoint document and a governmentally Licensed Dihydrogen Monoxide Joule Application Specialist, or even have the most cursory comprehension of basic physics much less economics. They are not only stupid, they are dangerously so.

First runner up, however, goes to Tam:

I don’t have a problem with the idea that there are certain people who need to be dragged out behind the barn and Ol’ Yellered. The guy who shot up the theater in Colorado? Or what’s-his-face in Norway? That’s The Guy. He admits to being The Guy. Those guys are wasting precious oxygen that paramecia could be using to evolve.

If society wants to get all squeamish in those cases, then hand me the claw hammer and I’ll go in there and administer 28 ounces of Estwingazine intracranially and we’ll be done after you pass me that Handi-Wipe.

Some days picking just one is hard.

So I Bought Another Rifle

I decided to pull the trigger, so to speak, and purchased another Remington 700 – this time a .300 Winchester Magnum.  This one is also a 5R, but it has a 26″ fluted barrel and a Bell & Carlson stock.  All the metal is finished in black Cerakote.  It’ll be a couple of weeks before I have it in hand, but it looks a lot like this one:

 photo Rifle.jpg

 photo Stock.jpg

 photo Barrel.jpg
I’m no wimp, but when I go to the range, I like to SHOOT, and .300WM exceeds my shoulder capacity after ten five rounds, so I have to put a muzzle brake on it.  Looks like there’s plenty of meat at the end for threading.

What say the Hive?  Any recommendations for “Best Muzzle Brake for a .300 Win Mag”?

Oh, and my original 5R is going up for sale.  I’m only going to keep one .308, and that’s going to be the M25.

UPDATE:  Three nibbles on the .308 already!

UPDATE II – 3/29:  I’ve got a buyer!

Quote of the Day – Inside Higher Ed Edition

These sentences have absorbed and rewarded my attention for days on end. They are a masterpiece of evasion. The paragraph is, in its way, quite impressive. Every word of it is misleading, including “and” and “the.”

This is from a piece discussing a new 2010 book by discredited history professor Michael Bellesiles.  In particular, it refers to a paragraph in the promotional material for that book.

Seems that Bellesiles rubs off on his publishers, too.

The linked piece, “Amazing Disgrace,” is a pretty comprehensive review of the Arming America scandal, or as he terms it l’affaire Bellesiles, and worth your time.

Especially the last couple of paragraphs.

(h/t to Irons in the Fire for the link.)