Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Cruising the Web

If North Korea is threatening now over sanctions, just imagine how it would attempt to blackmail/threaten countries if it had a fully functioning missile system.

I guess Trump needed to go on vacation so he'd have enough time to get in a tweetstorm against Connecticut senator Blumenthal's lies about serving in Vietnam. Of course, Trump has never, ever, ever lied about his own record.

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One University of Georgia professor has decided that he needs to reduce the tension that his students feel.
A University of Georgia professor has adopted a “stress reduction policy” that will allow students to select their own grades if they “feel unduly stressed” by the ones they earned.

According to online course syllabi for two of Dr. Richard Watson’s fall business courses, he has introduced the policy because “emotional reactions to stressful situations can have profound consequences for all involved.”

As such, if students feel “unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course,” they can “email the instructor indicating what grade [they] think is appropriate, and it will be so changed” with “no explanation” being required.

“If in a group meeting, you feel stressed by your group’s dynamics, you should leave the meeting immediately and need offer no explanation to the group members,” the policy adds, saying such students can “discontinue all further group work” with their remaining grade being “based totally on non-group work.”

Similarly, when it comes to “tests and exams” for Watson’s “Data Management” and “Energy Informatics” courses, all will be “open book and open notes” and “designed to assess low level mastery of the course material.”

Finally, for in-class presentations, Watson will allow “only positive comments” to be made, while “comments designed to improve future presentations will be communicated by email.”

Watson, notably, does concede that “while this policy might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material,” those outcomes are ultimately a student’s “responsibility,” though he promises to “provide every opportunity for [students] to gain high level mastery.”
Gee, all that stress reduction will do great things to prepare these students for jobs in the real business world! Since when did "stress reduction" become a major goal of college classes? The professor should ask himself if his assignments and assessments are valid and valuable for his students. If they are, then he should have the confidence and respect to ask his students to perform them.

Here's an intriguing question:
Suppose US colleges and universities instituted an admission plan like our current immigration policy. How might this work? Let’s take Harvard University as an example. Harvard College admits 2000 undergraduates each year, enrolling just over 80 percent of those. Out of a pool of 40,000 applicants. Why don’t they accept everyone who wants to attend? Why select only 5 percent of those who want to attend Harvard? That’s not fair.

After all, Harvard has an endowment of over $37 billion. If Harvard were a country and its endowment were its GDP, it would rank 96th among all countries in the world, ahead of Paraguay, El Salvador, Estonia and Iceland. An endowment of that size could easily support additional housing and teachers so that all of Jim Acosta’s “huddled masses learning to breathe free” who want to attend Harvard could do so.

Same for all the Ivy League schools, with similarly large endowments. What about 800 or so US colleges and universities with a combined endowment of $515 billion, which as a single country would be ranked 23rd in the world in terms of GDP, ahead of Sweden, Poland, Belgium and Austria. Why can they afford to admit all students, just as America is supposed to do with all immigrants?

But no. Colleges have admissions requirements. In other words, their admission is skill-based with a point system reflecting grades, SAT scores, extracurricular activities, accomplishments, recommendations and a language proficiency test in the form of one or more essays. Suppose colleges waived all such requirements and opened their classrooms to any and all who wanted to attend?

Jay Caruso at Red State has found a remarkably prescient comment that William F. Buckley wrote about Donald Trump 16 years ago.
ook for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line....

In the final analysis, just as the king might look down with terminal disdain upon a courtier whose hypocrisy repelled him, so we have no substitute for relying on the voter to exercise a quiet veto when it becomes more necessary to discourage cynical demagogy, than to advance free health for the kids. That can come later, in another venue; the resistance to a corrupting demagogy should take first priority.

So what else can Trump offer us? Well to begin with, a self-financed campaign. Does it follow that all who finance their own campaigns are narcissists? At this writing Steve Forbes has spent $63 million in pursuit of the Republican nomination. Forbes is an evangelist, not an exhibitionist. In his long and sober private career, Steve Forbes never bought a casino, and if he had done so, he would not have called it Forbes’s Funhouse. His motivations are discernibly selfless. . .
Buckley nailed Trump's character. The guy hasn't changed. People thought that Trump might change once he was sworn in and realized the solemnity of the office he now holds. Sadly, that hasn't happened. He's the same person he has always been. And all those people working for and with him who are hoping that he'll settle down and limit his distracting and insulting tweets should just give in. The guy is too old to change now.

Is anyone shocked that this effort to change the image of the swastika failed?
A US clothing company has come under fire after T-shirts appeared online featuring swastikas in a move aimed at reclaiming the symbol as one of "love".

The attempt to rebrand the Nazi emblem as a symbol of "peace" was criticised on social media as the public refused to support the campaign.

Days after the design appeared, it was replaced with an "anti-swastika" print.

The swastika is an ancient symbol said to have represented good fortune in almost every culture in the world.
YEah, I can't see a big demand for T shirts with swastikas on them.

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Kyle Smith eviscerate
s Al Franken's new book with the ultimate insult - that Franken just isn't that funny.
Franken takes this limp stick of comedy celery and tries to make a buffet out of it, returning to the mild-imprecation-and-superscript gag again and again and again. The first time he comes up with anything funny, we’re on page 294, and Cruz is again the (big, fat) target: He’s “the guy in your office who snitches to corporate about your March Madness pool and microwaves fish in the office kitchen. He’s the Dwight Schrute of the Senate.”

If there were 300 lines as good as that one, the book would actually count as a funny memoir rather than what it is, which is a work as clever as your average book of knock-knock jokes interrupted by the odd explanation of cloture votes or continuing resolutions. Some passages sound as if Franken began by asking, “Siri, what are some of the most boring political clich├ęs?” and transcribed the results. “We need to create more prosperity,” he writes, “and do it in a way where everybody gets to prosper. Which means we need to invest in our infrastructure, and in research and development, and in innovative technologies, and in our workforce, and, most of all, in our kids.” No, there is no punch line to follow. This is the kind of insomnia cure that turns up in ghostwritten political books that haven’t even been read by their purported authors, but writing is Franken’s profession. This is supposed to be a real book, not a lump of campaign cellulose.

You too can read the book, The General by C.S. Forester, that John Kelly rereads every time he gets a new job to remind himself of how dangerous incompetence can be.
C.S. Forester's 1936 novel 'The General' has never left Kelly's side since those young adult years, reading the book each time he's ever received a promotion in his esteemed career.

The feat is a testament to the incredible rigor he's applied in becoming 'a real professional,' as he put it in the 'The Leader's Bookshelf,' a collection of essays written by four-star generals about their favorite books....

That affinity for the written word, especially on 'military things,' steered him towards Forester's tome, about the perils of hubris, the pitfalls of patriotism and duty unaccompanied by critical thinking.

Kelly went through it once again after he was sworn in as chief of staff on Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal, to reacquaint himself 'of what to avoid as a leader.'

'The General' tells the fictional story of an unremarkable British soldier who rises to power mostly through dumb-luck and the incompetence of his superiors.

Set against the backdrop of World War I, he is eventually put in charge of 100,000 men... the majority of which meet their demise under his command.

Despite his incompetence, he's hailed as a hero on his arrival back to Britain.

The book is essentially a critique on the unexamined ethos of military culture at the time, marked by a reckless close-mindedness and stubborn pride. A blind-sense of patriotism in lieu of critical thinking that led, in Forester's mind, to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of British lives.

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Suddenly, the left has found the right
to refuse service to someone whose views they disagree with.
A boy whose letter to President Trump made national headlines last month reportedly wanted a pro-Trump cake for his birthday party, but his mother was unable to find a baker willing to fulfill the order.

At the July 26 White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a letter from a boy named Dylan who said Mr. Trump was his favorite president. When she later released the letter publicly, the boy’s last name was blacked out. The only identifying clue was that everyone called him “Pickle.”

The media scrambled to verify the letter’s authenticity, and the next day, The Washington Post confirmed it was sent by 9-year-old Dylan Harbin of California.

The Post reported that, when Dylan asked for a “Donald Trump cake” for his birthday, his mother “made him one herself, because she couldn’t find a bakery willing and able to do it.”

Michael P. Farris is president, CEO and general counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal group defending Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who was sued by a gay couple for declining to make their same-sex wedding cake.

Mr. Farris wondered why bakers are allowed to decline to make birthday cakes supporting Mr. Trump, but not wedding cakes supporting same-sex marriage.
Expect to see examples like this when the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is argued before the Supreme Court this Fall.