YouTube? Debate? Madhouse & And Next Big Blogging Thing

I did not watch the now (in)famous CNN YouTube Debate. I’ve seen several of the shorts of what people thought were particularly bad and good moments of the debate, and I cannot shake the feeling that this attempt at de-scripting what is traditionally a very scripted process was little more than one more attempt at political theatre. It was a meeting of the Reality TV-obsessed culture with American politics. And as with Reality TV, the attempt at bringing meaning and significance failed astoundingly.

Who in their right minds thinks that CNN had any goals of balance in the selecting of the questions aired on this debate? [cricket noises]

Who thinks that when choosing the video questions for the Republican candidates they will include even half the number of softball fluff piece questions as they did for the Democrats? [cricket noises]

I don’t believe that Mr. Romney’s argument that this violates presidential decorum is particularly effective, there are ways a populist debate could be held that would not only honor the level of this office but also present the American people, and not just the egocentric snowmen and sock puppets, a chance to submit real questions.

The main stream media have abdicated the throne of impartial honesty and it would seem that taken as a whole, the blogging community has begun to usurp the joining throne of popular trust. What we should have are debates online, either video or written, where the top five blogs from either sector of the political continuum mediate questions and host the forum. The bloggers would be responsible for the content of the questions. We already know where each of the bloggers stand based on their history. There is no lying veil of impartiality, instead there are no unknowns. We know who and what they are. We judge their questions based on what they’ve said in the past. This will result in a much more accurate and honest question system.

There is no such thing as impartiality today. CNN is the joke of the Honesty Dept. I don’t blame any candidate who refuses to walk on to that particular stage. But we still need debate. The form and the structure of a debate are useful for comparing differing viewpoints.

I don’t believe that bloggers hold enough power to be able to make a major national occurrence of this  yet. Maybe next cycle. But either way, we need to start planning now.

This Passes For Math?

Tens of thousands of high school seniors are failing minimum graduation standards. Many cannot read their own diplomas. The academic achievement of U.S. children is falling below the achievement of children in many other developed nations. This holds many implications with the rise of the global economy. As more capable and talented workforces rise in other countries, designers, manufacturers and producers will move to utilize them, decreasing opportunities, jobs and the standard of living for those here in the U.S.The solution is not to oppose trade, impose tariffs, or artificially make the U.S. workforce more competitive. To do so is a disfavor to U.S. ingenuity and genius because it fosters mediocrity.

U.S. workers are better than that and do not need help competing on a global scale.The best we can do is educate the workforce, but we are not doing this. Watch this video and see what passes for math in Washington state. Ever heard of the Lattice Method, the Partial Products method, or Cluster Problems method of double-digit multiplication? Neither have I and, after watching this video, neither do I want to hear it again.

M. J. McDermott shows of examples of TERC and Everyday Math problems. (Link HERE.)

Why I Fired Professor Churchill

Hank Brown, President of University of Colorado has fired Ward Churchill. Churchill is the hack who called the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns”, quite the soul of class there, Mr Churchill.

You can read the story from President Brown’s perspective on the Wall Street Journal site today.

You can see that it was found that Mr. Churchill was not punished for his egregious statements, but for what the committees found concerning his academic publication record:

The panels found that Mr. Churchill rewrote history to fit his own theories. When confronted, he asserted he was not responsible. According to one report, “Professor Churchill has, on more than one occasion, claimed that certain acts that appear to have been his were instead the responsibility of some other actor: his editor or publisher, his assistant, or his former wife and collaborator.” The report goes on to note that “we have come to see these claims as emblems of a recurrent refusal to take responsibility for errors . . . and a willingness to blame others for his troubles.”

He was not fired for his words because they were protect speech, but they are evidence of a mind twisted by evil thoughts. I’m torn over the free speech issue though.

I think I agree that he should not be fired for his words based on the fact that technically he’s an employee of the government, being a state school professor. But for private citizens working at private schools I would support his being kicked out on his can based on his words alone. This brings up a thought though: Should the government even be in the field of higher education? Or even education at all? If the government cannot fire those who would abuse their positions spouting nonsense and harmful evil words with equal impunity, why should we trust them to be able to protect the minds of the new generations?

What do you think?

Stop The Faucet? “Uh, Tell That To God.”

Water conservation has intrigued me for a while. It all began when I asked a colleague why she chose to become a vegetarian. Now I have numbers of friends who are vegetarians, one who even thrived as he went through boot camp. I respect them and have eaten with them countless times. I was simply curious about this colleague’s rational.

“Well,” she said, “What would [this state] look like if we used all the water used to produce beef to water the landscape. It would be so much greener.”

What?!?! How the heck would that work? How would you transport the water? How effective would a state-wide watering campaign be? How would you ensure that no more than 50 percent of the water evaporated before it soaked into the ground? (The best way is to mimic western Washington state’s system; 200+ days a year of rain.)

Further, I thought, trying to comprehend the silliness, “Isn’t water kind of like a renewable resource? There’s no more and no less of it on the earth. It’s just in a different form or location.”

And she seriously defended her reasoning.

That reminded me, what are the values of watering bans? In Texas, where it rains less than 100 days a year and there are few resources in which to store water, controls may be necessary. Even in California, limits may be necessary when the snow pack is low or in Southern California, which gets its water from the Colorado River.

But are they necessary in Washington state and Oregon where it rains more than the sun shines. When utility districts in these states encourage water conservation despite the surplus, the only response can be, “Uh, tell that to God.”

All that to say, this forum sounds interesting.



BOSTONEven though the Commonwealth is blessed with adequate rainfall and full reservoirs, many towns* greet summer with watering bans and other draconian conservation tactics that seem better suited to the desert Southwest. Why? Economists Sheila Olmstead and Robert Stavins, in their new Pioneer Institute study Managing Water Demand, argue that heavy-handed, punitive restrictions on water use are not only expensive, but often ineffective.

The Moral Perspective On Global Warming

Over at the Acton Institute’s Power Blog, Jordan J. Ballor discussed the moral aspects of global warming and his thoughts are intriguing. In The Moral Calculus of Climate Change, he discusses why humans are blamed for global warming when the sun is the source of the heat. Because people are the only moral force in the equation. The sun, the earth, CO2, and a myriad of other objects are amoral objects. Humans are the only force in the equation with a moral aspect.

Hence the equating of pollution with sin.

“[O]nly a finite number of causes [for global warming], perhaps in most cases a single cause, can have any moral relevance. For a cause to be a moral cause, it has to have be related to a moral agent. So, for instance, if the earth is warming, one of the contributing causes is the energy output of the sun. Since the sun isn’t a moral agent (as far as I know), solar activity isn’t a moral cause of climate change.

“But if human activity is changing the makeup of the earth’s atmosphere so that it retains relatively more of the solar output of energy, that’s a cause that has moral relevance. Even though the sun’s activity is a prior cause (both logically and temporally) to any human activity, only human activity has any moral bearing. This might be a major reason why folks in not only policy circles, but also in more popular discourse, tend to focus on what humans are or are not doing that is affecting the climate.”

Definitely a good read.