February 2018, Part 3

Jim Miller on Politics

Pseudo-Random Thoughts

More Evidence that we need to improve our math education.
A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., about a mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student’s homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office.

On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign.
Note that these were high school students.
- 12:50 PM, 23 February 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Bill Bramhall's pencils, Joel Pett's Putin, and Jack Ohman's campaign headquarters.
- 9:45 AM, 23 February 2018   [link]

Too Funny Not To Pass On:  Erik Lacitis checks out a Seattle news tip.
A story about the times we live in, and assumptions we can make in our current political climate.

The news tip a few days ago said:

“Hi.  Suddenly there is a Confederate flag flying in front of a house in my Greenwood neighborhood.  It is at the north-east corner of 92nd and Palatine, just a block west of 92nd and Greenwood Ave N.  I would love to know what this ‘means’ … but of course don’t want to knock on their door.  Maybe others in the area are flying the flag?  Maybe it’s a story?  Thank you.”

It was from Rebecca Morris, who is an author of The New York Times best-seller true-crime books.
You can see a picture of the flag she saw, here, and a picture of the flag she thought she saw, here.

It is a story, just not the one Morris thought.

If you read the whole article, you'll learn that she isn't the first to make that mistake.
- 8:18 PM, 22 February 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  A pair of columns by Stephen Glover.

In the first, "The BBC's dereliction of duty", he criticizes the BBC for their reluctance to cover the Corbyn/Communist spy story.
The BBC’s refusal to report either the allegations against Corbyn, or the unequivocal denials of his aides, amounts to a dereliction of duty.  It recalls the political bias it showed in the early Blair years until – following the manifest half-truths of the Iraq War – some even-handedness was restored.
In the second, "When the mask slips, Corbyn neither thinks nor talks like a democratic politician", Glover argues that Corbyn's reply to the allegations is, unintentionally, revealing.
Corbyn builds up slowly, dismissing Sarkocy as a fantasist, and deriding his 'ridiculous smears', without (as usual) tackling any of his specific allegations.  It is when he turns his attention to newspapers that he says something inadvertently revealing:   'A free Press is essential for democracy and we don't want to close it down. We want to open it up.'

We don't want to close it down.  In denying something which had never occurred to most people — that Corbyn's Labour Party might actually shut down independent newspapers — he manages to introduce the novel and scary thought that this is exactly what it might do.
If you think Glover is going too far, consider this:  All through his political career, Corbyn has admired nations that do not have freedom of the press.

Should Americans care about these issues?  Yes.

Our news organizations often follow the BBC, covering the stories the BBC covers, and ignoring the stories the BBC ignores.

More important, there is a real chance that Corbyn will become prime minister.   Among other things, that would give him, and his far-left team, access to all the Five Eyes secrets.

(Stephen Glover)
- 10:16 AM, 22 February 2018   [link]

Marvel Fans Will Like the current "Pepper . . . and Salt" cartoon.
- 7:38 AM, 22 February 2018   [link]

How Large Is The US School Shootings Problem?  Last weekend's Wall Street Journal has an answer.
Since 1990, more than 150 children and adults have been killed in shootings at American elementary, middle and high schools
That's about six deaths per year.

Even a single death is one too many, which should go without saying, but doesn't.
- 2:22 PM, 21 February 2018   [link]

What Do "Locals" Call Boko Haram?  According to archaeologist Scott MacEachern, "slave raiders".
Although widely understood as the Islamist terrorists that they are, Boko Haram insurgents in the borderlands between Cameroon and Nigeria are also slave raiders — at least that’s what many local residents call them.  And there’s good reason to use that term.  In many striking ways, Boko Haram’s raids for “wives” parallel the slave raids of a century ago.
The British colonialists ended slavery in Nigeria more than a century ago — but that didn't make everyone there accept that change.

(MacEachern doesn't say anything about Boko Haram's logistics, a subject that has fascinated me ever since the terrorist group appeared, but he does give us some insight into the motivations of its followers.

Boko Haram)
- 10:04 AM, 21 February 2018   [link]

There May Be Temporary Breaks in the robot apocalypse.
- 9:02 AM, 21 February 2018   [link]

Secretary of State For Exiting the European Union David Davis Used A Vivid Phrase To Describe Britain After The Nation Leaves The European Union:  Possibly too vivid.
For those worried what post-Brexit Britain might look like, we've been reassured there will be plenty of food, water and no fighting.

Britain will not be "plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction", the Brexit Secretary said.

The Mad Max franchise is set in a future Australia where society has collapsed because of war and a shortage of resources.
A few adventurous young men might find such a place attractive, but most of us wouldn't.

By making that comparison, Davis will have inspired others to think dark thoughts about post-Brexit prospects.

(David Davis)
- 4:17 PM, 20 February 2018   [link]

"1 K-12 Reporter For 7.7 Million People"  The area is wealthy enough, but somehow that's all they can afford.
Only two full-time K-12 education reporters cover the San Francisco Bay Area for the major newspapers, I wrote on The Grade a few weeks ago.  There are about 7.7 million people in the nine-county Bay Area, about a quarter of California’s public schools.

Now, there’s one K-12 reporter left, Jill Tucker at the San Francisco Chronicle.  My former colleague Sharon Noguchi, one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever known, has left the San Jose Mercury News as part of a wave of buy-outs and layoffs at the Bay Area Newspaper Group (BANG).
As you know, unless you are completely new to this site, I have made a few criticisms of our newspapers over the years — but that is because I recognize that they are essential to our democracy, not because I want to see them continue to wither away.

Consider just how hard it will be for the ordinary parent in the Bay Area to find out even the basics about their local schools, without the stories those missing reporters once wrote.

In this area, the Gates Foundation is subsidizing coverage of the local schools at the Seattle Times.  I can't say that their joint work has been brilliant so far, but I'm still glad to see that they are making the effort.

Perhaps we need more such efforts, nationally.

(If you are at all interested in education issues, you should be reading Joanne Jacobs' site regularly.  Here's another sample of her work to show you what you may have been missing.)
- 3:45 PM, 20 February 2018   [link]

Jeremy Corbyn's Meetings With A Communist Spy:  And his possible collaboration with the Soviet dictatorship.

According to Emily Thornberry, a member of his Shadow Cabinet, that just makes him a "proper internationalist".

She's right about the "internationalist", but many will disagree about the "proper".

(Last I looked, the BBC had given this explosive story almost no coverage.

Emily Thornberry)
- 9:28 AM, 20 February 2018   [link]

Worth Reading:  Blake Hounshell's analysis, "Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic".

Hounshell is not skeptical about Russian interference, but he is skeptical about whether Trump colluded, secretly, with the Russians.
So what am I still skeptical about?

I keep coming back [to] the slapdash nature of Trump’s 2016 operation, and the chaos and dysfunction that everyone who covered that campaign saw play out each day.  Like the Trump White House, the Trump campaign was a viper’s nest of incompetence and intrigue,  with aides leaking viciously against one another almost daily.  So much damaging information poured out of Trump Tower that it’s hard to believe a conspiracy to collude with Moscow to win the election never went public.  If there was such a conspiracy, it must have been a very closely guarded secret.
(During the primary campaign former Florida governor Jeb Bush warned voters that a Trump administration would be "chaotic".  Trumpistas will never forgive Bush for being right about that.)

On the other hand, as Hounshell also says, Trump keeps acting as if he is guilty, a point made at greater length by John Ziegler.

For now, Hounshell and Ziegler are both willing to wait for the Mueller investigation to uncover the facts, whatever they may be.

As am I.

(There is another possibility that neither man considers:  One or more of the people in Trump's campaign may have made a secret agreement with the Russians — without telling Trump.)
- 9:09 AM, 20 February 2018   [link]

It Occurs To Me That You Can See This Cartoon Politically:  But you don't have to.
- 8:19 AM, 20 February 2018   [link]

Is Today's Federal Holiday President's Day, Presidents' Day, Or Presidents Day?  No.

It's Washington's Birthday.  But, depending on the state, it may also have other names.  In Arkansas, for instance, it is also Daisy Gatson Bates day.

(When was Washington born?  If you go by the dates used when he was born, 11 February 1731; if you go by the official dates established in 1750, 22 February 1732.  Here's an explanation, if you need one.)

Recycled from 2015.
- 10:21 AM, 19 February 2018   [link]

You Have To Give Putin's Gang Credit For Humor:  Two of the three organizations devoted to sowing discord in the United States during the 2016 election — have "Concord" in their names.
- 2:39 PM, 18 February 2018   [link]

Smart Police Adapt Their Tactics to their suspects.
- 2:29 PM, 18 February 2018   [link]

The South Koreans Are Being Great Hosts at the Olympics.
GANGNEUNG, South Korea—In December, a girls’ high school here put out a rallying call for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics:  Would any of the students like to become a White Friend?

Baek Yoon-joo, 19 years old, rose up.  The White Friends crew, made up of South Korean volunteers of all ages pack the stands for unpopular winter sports and root for foreign athletes who lack a sizable hometown following.
Now that is thoughtful — and I imagine the TV networks like it, too.
- 9:22 AM, 17 February 2018   [link]

This Week's Collection Of Cartoons from Politico.

My favorites:  Pat Bagley's wolf, Nate Beeler's portraits, Michael Ramirez's parade, and Bill Bramhall's synchronized clapping.
- 8:59 AM, 17 February 2018   [link]