THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 410 April 17 - 23, 2006
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April 17, 2008
The Republic, RIP
I am getting my taxes out but there is thought provoking stuff about education in the morning papers. I'll get to that after my walk.
Two state senators seeking information on the temporary workers who grade parts of Florida's high-stakes school exams are fuming after being told it is a "trade secret."
Senate Democratic leader Les Miller Jr. of Tampa and Sen. Walter G. "Skip" Campbell Jr. (D-Tamarac) requested the names and qualifications of test graders after learning they were being recruited in Central Florida for $10-an-hour jobs.
A letter issued last week by the state Department of Education informed the senators that CTB/McGraw-Hill, which administers the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test under state contract, considered the information a trade secret exempt from public disclosure. <snip>
and think on the consequences here. For example,
Critics say a background in education, more training in assessment test scoring and perhaps an advanced degree should be required.Contemplate what is being said here: a degree in physics isn't useful for grading examinations in physics. What you need is a degree in teaching and education. A degree in mathematics doesn't qualify you to grade mathematics papers. You need to have sat through four years of Education College Mickey Mouse, not only to teach anything, but to grade examinations in the subject.
If the country wants to make war on national enemies, it might consider the teachers unions as a beginning.
"If a foreign nation had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightly consider it an act of war."
That from 1983. It has got worse since. When they proclaim me emperor, my first move will be to abolish teacher unions; my second will be to abolish federal aid to education and return both finances and control of schools to local districts; my third will be to tell the Armed Services that part of their mission is to set up and run schools on base for their own children and make those schools examples for the world.
Some years ago the Reverend Moon's Unification Church bought the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. At the time I was asked for advice on how they might improve the University. You must understand, Moon paid for this, but his advisory committee was drawn from some of the independent organizations, including the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, which he funded but which were governed by independent boards who had few or no Unification Church members. Charles Sheffield and I were part of that, as were many others with no connection with the Unification Church. In any event, they asked for my advice on what to do to make Bridgeport a great university.
I had a number of suggestions, but my principal suggestion was that they form a University School, K-8, to take in local pupils as well as the children of faculty, with the goal of teaching every child in the school to read by the end of first grade, and a number of other such goals. Teachers who could not meet the results standard would be dismissed; those that did would be the advisory board for the University's College of Education. The Principal of the school and its governing board would be independently appointed; we had a list of distinguished candidates for Board Members with perhaps the least distinguished being me.
Needless to say the project did not go forward, not because Moon's people wouldn't pay for it -- they thought it was a good idea -- but because the faculty didn't agree. Now I understand the misgivings of the University of Bridgeport faculty at finding their University had been bought by the Unification people and they were now being addressed by right wing madmen like Pournelle; but I did find that much of their opposition was ritual, and many of them registered their opposition to any changes before they were told what changes were suggested.
The Education Department did not seem at all interested in setting up a demonstration school. Perhaps they feared contamination by association, but given the abysmal state of the Bridgeport public school in the areas near the University, it did not seem to me that it could do any harm to start a school dedicated to results rather than credentials. The notion was to start with first grade and add a grade each year, so that after 8 years you would have a school in which essentially every child could read and would be familiar with basic science, arithmetic (with mandatory memorization of the addition and multiplication tables), and some basic history and civics. No "social science" or "fuzzy math" or such.
In any event, nothing came of any of this, and in fact the only serious discussions took place among the people Moon went to for advice, not among the University people. I find that sad.
My thought in suggesting a University of Bridgeport school that took in the local pupils (the University is very much in an inner city area) was that demonstrating success might have some impact on at least some of the more thoughtful professors of education. I still think something of this sort could be done if a university and a philanthropist were to cooperate. All kids can learn to read in first grade, with very few exceptions. A good education can be given in schools with few resources: witness Capleville, where I came from, 2 grades to a room, 30 or so pupils per grade, teachers with 2 year Associate of Arts degrees; no frills, but every doggone one of the kids, mostly farm children, could read, recite some poetry, and knew the addition and times tables.
|This week:||Tuesday, April
Got my taxes out on time, Michael is here to help clean up. Throwing away stuff, and that's taking up time. Tomorrow Niven and I head for the desert, so there won't be much tomorrow. I'll try to do a short essay tonight. After Thursday it's likely to be all space all the time.
We are going to the Space Access Society meeting in Phoenix over this weekend. You can find about more about this on this site or on the Space Access Society site.
Niven and I will be off to Phoenix shortly.
Safe in phoenix. No high Speed Connect except in Lobby wireless. Using pen & Lisabetta. Standing up to do it. Works but not well...
Spent most of the evening in a good old fashioned bull session catching up with what's going on in rockets and space. Conference starts today.
Long walk this morning. Catching up. The wireless works well in the Lobby but not in the Breakfast room. There are the remains of a good Best Western Hotel about the Grace Inn in Phoenix, but it reminds me of other such places, good staff, facilities decaying as they contemplate tearing it down and building something else. The real estate is worth more than the facility. This is all guesswork of course; what I know is that they are using deferred maintenance on most of the facilities, and a lot of the stuff doesn't work, and they have not modernized anything for some time.
Still not a bad place for a bunch of desert rat space types...
The Content of their Characters:
Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/12/us/12genes.html
The DNA Age By AMY HARMON
Alan Moldawer's adopted twins, Matt and Andrew, had always thought of themselves as white. But when it came time for them to apply to college last year, Mr. Moldawer thought it might be worth investigating the origins of their slightly tan-tinted skin, with a new DNA kit that he had heard could determine an individual's genetic ancestry.
The results, designating the boys 9 percent Native American and 11 percent northern African, arrived too late for the admissions process. But Mr. Moldawer, a business executive in Silver Spring, Md., says they could be useful in obtaining financial aid.
"Naturally when you're applying to college you're looking at how your genetic status might help you," said Mr. Moldawer, who knows that the twins' birth parents are white, but has little information about their extended family. "I have three kids going now, and you can bet that any advantage we can take we will."<snip>
You betchum, Red Rider... Long live integration.
84, died doing what he loved. Much worse ways to go.
Another photo on the wall at Pancho's.
April 21, 2006
Continuing at Space Access. We're all here. Esther Dyson is just in front of me, and we share Electrons. I am working with the TabletPC and a pen, so bear with me.
I got in a bit late. John Cormack is telling us how he is learning that rockets are just plumbing.
Blowdown to orbit! Nickels and dimes to orbit. "With SSTO all you have is nickels and dimes," so you have to watch them. Simplicity. Take performance hits for making it simpler, cheaper, and more reliable. A reasonable design view. I recall looking at blowdown to orbit a long time ago. I didn't think it would work but that was then. If you can get to orbit with anything at all, you can start to work on payloads later. The great thing for now is to get the mass fraction.
Carmack is also taking about customers and profits for his Armadillo Aerospace system. I suspect he is mistaken but I hope he is not. I hope that a lot.
He is also looking at Monopropellants in the name of simplicity. Learn as you go. On to orbit. The Edison approach?
For instance: frozen powdered kerosene & LOX.
At comment time XCOR's Jeff Greuson says high energy monopropellants usually Kill you. Carmack is taking precautions and has learned as he has gone along, but for the rest of you, Do not do this at home. You are warned. High energy monopropellants (better known as high explosives) generally find ways to go off all at once. Amateurs beware. Here endeth the Lesson from Greason.
Let me add my view: monopropellants are unstable, and find New ways to blow up. Often. Usually. Beware.
Carmack continues: He is spending under half a million a year for Armadillo. They're having a lot of fun.
They have not yet had a real Catastrophic failure.
Another comment from the audience:
"There are solutions to pump problems if you Work on it for more Than a few weeks."
That would have been my conclusions but I do not want to discourage Carmack from experimenting so long as he doesn't blow himself up.
Rocketplane XP design _ more another time. Space tourism with a vengeance. How many will pay to take a ride to space? And how many will pay how much? There are some who can spend a hundred grand on a ticket; how many who can do that will? There is a demand curve here. Clearly many of us would pay a few hundred dollars. Fewer would pay a few thousands, and fewer still a few tens of thousands. How big is the market and what share must you have to be profitable? I don't know the answer. It looks as if we may find out.
April 22, 2006
Home. We left Phoenix this afternoon, and got about five hours' work done on the road. You'll love some of the scenes we blocked out. I was also impressed with Niven's Lexus GPS guidance and instruction system. We took his car since there wouldn't be any off-road on this trip, and it was very nice.
Mr. Jeff Kerry, I have your subscription but I do not have your email address.
April 23, 2006
Home safe, good night's sleep. I need to start work on the scenes Niven and I blocked out.
--- Roland Dobbins
is important, and worth reading all the way through to the end. Note the policy recommendations. Then think what will be required to implement this policy. I would add the recruiting of a constabulary army, and of course the establishment of an American Residency. Now come up with alternative policies and plans.
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