Alabama Education

For heaven’s sake , let us sit upon the ground. And tell sad stories of the death of kings

I find it somewhat bemusing that the Alibam Council of Thieves aka the Alibam Legislature has taken up the matter of the “Common Core.” Here I thought all they had time to spend on was restricting the free will of women.

Evidently the complaint is that Alibam children are not being taught well (or are not learning well, which is the mirror image,) and the way to fix this is to disconnect from the standards and testing of such.

I have to admit that I don’t know enough about the discipline to have a knowledgeable opinion but I do know that when I was a child in primary schule, I had no problem with reading. But there were lots of kids who did. Which may or may not have anything to do with the teacher. Some kids are just stupid. 

And, yes, I know that attitude is anathema in modern society. But I have lived in Alibam much of my life and I can tell you that everyone in the state has some degree of stupid and some are consumed with it. 

Getting back to the council of thieves, it seems that the legislation is stalled in the lower house because some legislators are concerned that the instrumentality of the “Common Core” is useful. 

This is the part that is bemusing.

We have a debate in the Council of Thieves over whether hiding the stupidity of Alibam children or the schule bureaucracy is more important. 

Since the former is common knowledge, at least among the lesser stupid of Alibam’s citizens and the bureaucracy  of the schules is well known to be of greatest importance in the schule system (actual learning isn’t on the list so far as I can determine,) all I can do is hope I don’t bruise my ribs too badly rolling on the floor, laughing.

And the Thieves of the Council wonder why we are almost always dead last?

High Failure

This morning, amidst hawgin’ tabs and wading the swamp of eMail, I ran across a New Yawk Times article [Link] entitled “High School Doesn’t Have to Be Boring.” I have to admit to reading the article mostly because when I went through high schule more than fifty years ago, it was boring. And my subsequent observations via my daughter (and the children of colleagues) and Adopt-A-Physicist have been that the situation has deteriorated. So I read the article.

The authors report that innovation seems to be a failure and that the fight against boredom only seems to be working in the extra-curricular activities. 

This fits with my experience. Then (and now) the core courses were overstructured with over-detailed syllibi and the advanced courses were too important to college admission to not be grade make-or-break. So no learning, just cramming in either venue.

I hate to say this fits my prejudices, because it does. When I went through high schule, the good teachers were the ones with real degrees and no certification. I was fortunate to capture a passing window before these teachers were ejected after five years for not obtaining certification. Nowadays, teacher certification is fundamental, as crucial as being admitted to the priesthood is for pedophiles, and perhaps with comparable results. 

The authors claim that the real excitement, and hence learning, is in the extra-curricular activities. I note but do not accept unquestioningly. Most of the extra-curricular activities are rubbish, things like singing and acting and such. I am also skeptical. We had extra-curricular activities when I was in high schule and while they were less structured, they were equally vacant of anything to learn. If anything, they were so vacant of structure that learning was more about what not to do – participate in extracurricular activities.

I have to admit that my extra-curricular activities were science and the like. The total content of the club’s activities was an annual expedition to the atomic energy museum at Oak Ridge. And we were located in one of the foremost science towns in Amerika! This is where I became convinced that Chicken Man was right when he said good students are successful in spite of bad teachers. Extra-curricular sponsors – teachers – were baby sitters, not educators.

I can’t address the fru-fru extra-curricular activities. They were all either flaming Extrovert or deep in-crowd. Or both. Much as I would have liked to learn how to draw, putting up with the whole artist angst shtick was a repellant comparable to a negative gravitational singularity. 

As a result, I have to admit that I am skeptical of this article. Nowhere does it address the Extro-Intro abyss that emerges in High Schule like acne and hickeys. And that lack is damning. Too much of public education is tromping Intro teens into the cess pool of society, to either fail or become STEM NERDs and be a caste apart for life. 

I ain’t convinced high schules can be saved. Nor humanity.

But I still have hope. After all, college works. Or at least, it worked when I went. Not sure about today. College graduates today seem as ignorant and warped as high schule grads – not STEM NERDs – did and still do. Perhaps that’s the way of humanity? The cool kids become troglodytes who are the parasites of the STEM NERDs? And we run just as hard as we cam, we STEM NERDs, to keep society from self-destructing in the greed of POLs and the antipathy of EXTRO BOGs? 

Divine Unpresence

His Awfulness, the Vice Tyrant, the Black Pence, came to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill yesterday to spread chill and awe among the peasants.

I got to watch him on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver.

Two things impressed me: first, he is the best argument I have seen yet that the deity does not exist; and two, what a Schmuck!

Shameful Comparison 2

I was awaken, relatively speaking, to the autarchic nature of our politicians this morning.

Was working on preparing to break my fast when WAFF [Link] – FD SCP had the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver engaged – showed a tweet from Congress Critter “Mo” Brooks.[Link] Nasty bit of rhetoric. Basically condemned democrats to Tartarus. Amazed me that FCC rules would permit such vileness.

Rather makes one wonder if this Shmuck is fit to hold office. 


Cinema Consideration

On weekends, I read TIME magazine. I have been doing this since I was in graduate schule, not because I necessarily agree or enjoy reading it, but because I don’t. 

While in grad schule, TIME provided a compact way to get a viewpoint on current events that were almost completely alien to my existence. I got plenty of “conservative” viewpoint from my Alibam co-workers during the working day which consumed some fifty-five to sixty hours a week, more when travel was involved. And NO, the pay quit after forty hours. In those days Alibam was transitioning from Democrud to Repulsian parteis, but the politics stayed the same. So TIME gave me a bit of counterpoint to complaints of the evils of the rest-of-Amerika.

The rest of my day was dedicated to grad work: classes; research, seminars; and exams. And somehow I usually managed to shoehorn in five hours or so for sleep. 

Once I got kicked out of the graduate womb, aka graduation, I continued to read TIME to help re-enter “normal” life. Mostly I used it to pick movies. In those days TIME had a five star rating system and I found that only movies with scores of either one-star or five-stars were worth attention span. 

Today, I reflected on how FD SCP and I have not been to a cinematic palace since the daughter was twelve and refused to spend the summer vacation with her maternal grandparents. Prior to that we got to see movies in theaters during the summer when the daughter wasn’t around to refuse to be baby sat.

In those days we generally watched whatever FD SCP wanted to. I found her selection process was little worse than the TIME formula.

Nowadays, the last few decades, we watch movies on television. Hence when I read a TIME article just now about how OSCAR awards are decided – political as with all awards, but carefully hidden – I came to consider why we haven’t gone to cinemas since the duaghter left for college. My hypothesis is suspension of disbelief. 

Back when I was in High Schule and College, I had to watch lots of “educational” films. I even worked a couple of years as a student projectionist for such. These films were generally made by people who knew the subject and disdained art considerations. They were both enjoyable and edifying although after the third showing a bit nagging.

The movies shown in theater should, to me, be entertaining. I need to suspend my disbelief and find some merit, either emotional or intellectual, in the film. Starting about twenty or so years ago, that criterion began to grow. For one thing, the acting deteriorated. It ceased to be believable. The plot became simplistic and boring. And the visual effects became detrimental. 

So now I can read TIME and know without doubt that any film they mention – positive or negative – is to be avoided. 

Sand Castles

I noticed this morning that they (whoever that is,) are making another attempt to make a movie of Frank Herbert’s “DUNE.” [Link]

Let me start by saying that I am lukewarm on Herbert’s work. It ranks alongside Captain Future and Doc Savage.

In SY 66/67, I was a Freshman at the Campus of the Black Warrior. The reading assignments passed out in my Freshman Syntax/Literature classes were unengaging and banal. I especially remember having to read John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace” and having nothing of the novel adhere to my mind.

Sadly and happily, that SY was replete with some good literature. Tolkien was making a come back, Frank Herbert had just written “DUNE,” and Robert Heinlein had produced “Stranger in a Strange Land.” I forget which one of Tolkien’s books I read but it was at least 10 dB better than Knowles’ outhouse material. The characters were much more identifiable and the plot was engaging. Herbert’s “DUNE” was better yet, maybe by 3 dB although the mysticism and arrant social stupidity was disgusting. But for a Southron boy struggling with the post-apocalyptic morass of the modern Sowth just after the centennial of the Great Sepuku and the everpresent Inquisition of the Vietnam “War,” the tale of a dis-associated kid cast among fatalistic nomads by a self-consuming society was a mirror.

Sadly for “DUNE,” SISL was 15 dB better because it offered the same core story with hope and promise rather than sad desperation. And the writing was considerably better. Heinlein displayed that mastery that lifted him above average pulp writer.

All of this, of course, was ignored, except for anathematic criticism and rejection, by the university’s literature professors. Which made it all that attractive to dis-social Introvert NERDs who endured syntax/literature courses so they could get to real courses on maths and science.

I have to admit that over the years I have returned to these early discoveries. I had read science fiction prior to college, but it was limited to ACE double book bought at the family drug store on the rare occasions I could wrangle a visit there and the banal socially-acceptable slime mold SF at the Huntsville Carnegie Library. In retrospect, I didn’t know how good it was until I beheld its “successors” and their decrepitude. Apparently most librarians are as SF blind as literature professors. And I have a permanent soft spot for librarians.

Anyway, I have read several of Tolkien’s Ring books over the years, most at the urging of my colleague Total Angular Momentum Magnetic Inductance, and found them a very Oxfordian view of Racism, which led me to discover why Racism was a farce and a cancer. I have read “DUNE” several times and each time found it lacking. I tried some of the derivatives and abandoned them quickly. SISL has been visited almost thirty times over the years, always with satisfaction and discovery. Somehow Heinlein achieves the idea entropy of poetry in prose.

But returning to the movie. The original DUNE movie was better than “The Black Hole,” which is the only movie I have been thrown out of, for uncontrollable laughing – it was that bad in its physical underpinnings. But sitting through the DUNE movie was only possible by paying strict accounting to the deviations from the book. And subsequent attempts to view the movie have failed within ten minutes. 

So why is a second try going to be made?

I find it indicative that no one has tried to make a movie of SISL. The conjecture arising is that truly good science fiction cannot be movieized. 

Kudo Korner

Our kudos for Stupid Statement of the Day goes to elected official Kelli Butler [Link] for

“I just don’t think there’s necessarily the science to back up those claims.”

which demonstrates that irrespective of political affiliation, politicals have the mental abilities of pond scum.

We may only hope this person has good hygiene so only the though atmosphere stinks.

Like their thoughts and knowledge do.