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Friday, May 31, 2013

Conspiracy Theory Becomes Conspiracy Fact - Move Along Citizen, Nothing To See Here...

We learn basic pieties in public school, and they are not to be questioned or debated.  Most of them are wrong.

One of the standard bearers of the Fact Free Parade that is High School History (oops - Social Studies) is the fact that the Gulf of Tonkin Incident caused the outbreak of the Vietnam War.  There have been rumblings from the beginning that it was a hoax, that there was no attack, but these voices have been shouted down - yelled at and called "conspiracy theorists", and not to be discussed in serious venues with serious people.

With the advent of the internet, it turns out that the Conspiracy Kooks were right after all.

The two 'events', on August 2nd 1964 and August 4th, 1964 were, and are by many, seen as the belligerent acts by North Vietnam that warranted an escalation of troops, and eventually a war.  The August 2nd event turns out to have been American boats firing first, initiating conflict.  The August 4th incident never happened - it was created out of whole cloth.  Looking back, we see the repeated pattern of an 'event' used to justify war - an event so flimsy that it is baffling in hindsight to see that people bought it.  Not everyone did, but those people were maligned by the establishment, at great cost to their careers.  58,000 American deaths, and possibly millions of Vietnamese deaths rest on a 'cause' that, in effect, never happened.

"It is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2."

Before his death, Robert McNamara admitted that the event never happened.  Perhaps he had a guilty conscience, perhaps he needed closure.  What is more noteworthy, is that in the award winning documentary, Fog of War, he admitted as such.  The reaction?  There was no reaction.  This should have been front page headlines on every paper in the country.  What you should realize by now is that the Narrative had been written, and the Establishment Media is playing a role in that narrative.  The fact that the country was steamrolled into war by a false event should no longer shock you.  What should make you sit up wake from your slumber is the ease with which our overlords are willing to sacrifice lives for their ends.

If the cost is scores of thousands of deaths, so be it.  The Managers of Society demand that you, the high schooler, keep the script going - no matter the facts:

"The war made possible for us the solution of a whole series of problems that  could never have been solved in normal times." - - Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." - - Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff, Obama administration.

EDIT - Here's Jesse Ventura explaining the above phenomena to ratings challenged Piers Morgan.  The fun begins around 7:00.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Matt Taibbi Gets Social Security Wrong - Very Wrong

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone.  He is a card carrying Leftist, but I read his stuff anyway.  He is in the top five on the ZPP (Zingers Per Page) hall of fame.  I wouldn't want to be the target of his wrath, he has a way with words that keeps me coming back for more.  Few can verbally disembowel in the way that Taibbi can.  For the last few years he's been targeting the Unholy Wall Street / Government Alliance, so he's had a lot of practice and material on which to practice his craft.

This is why I was so surprised to see him completely wrong in his latest column about the Government Ponzi Scheme known as Social Security: "After spending much of the past decade borrowing from, among other places, the Social Security trust fund to pay for massive tax cuts and bank bailouts, America's wealthy are now turning around and demanding both $5.7 trillion in new tax breaks and significant cuts to things like Social Security, which incidentally is self-funding and running a huge surplus."

A "huge surplus"?  I understand it's politically correct to defend, at all costs, the Sacred Cow that is Social Security, but the program was doomed from the start.  The people who stated as such, John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, Albert J. Nock et al. have been wiped from the history books, erased in a sense, from the record.  Even a free spirit and fearless and independent minded person like Taibbi is either not allowed, or not able to deviate from the establishment path.  The Bewildered Herd as well, has been conditioned to, in lockstep, repeat the mantra that 'social security is running a surplus'.  They do this because they have been told to do so by the Establishment Media and Politicians.

It's time for Reality Therapy.  Mr. Taibbi, you're uncharacteristically very wrong.

Social Security is bankrupt.  How do I know this?  The people who run the program - the Trustees, say so.  Here's the link to the 2012 Annual Report:

The trustees of the report tell us it is running a deficit: "In 2011, Social Security's cost continued to exceed both the program's tax income and its non-interest income, a trend that the Trustees project to continue throughout the short-range period and beyond. The 2011 deficit of tax income relative to cost was $148 billion, and the projected 2012 deficit is $165 billion." (Page 2)

Here is the key phraseology from page 10: "Annual OASDI cost exceeded non-interest income in 2010 for the first time since 1983. The Trustees project that cost will continue to exceed non-interest income throughout the 75-year valuation period."

Did you get that? Without interest payments from the government, the trust fund will be in negative cash flow for the next 75 years.  The Trustees say there is no immediate problem for the trust fund, as long as the government keeps paying interest. But there is a problem.  The payments are already coming from the government now.  This is the right hand of the Federal Gov't paying the left hand.  If you ran your business or finances like this you'd be behind bars.  The 'interest' on the non-marketable IOU's are being paid for by government fiat.  With 'fiat' currency as well.  But wait, there's more:

There will eventually be this problem:  "Nevertheless, total trust fund income, including interest income, is more than is necessary to cover costs through 2020, so trust fund assets continue to grow. Beginning in 2021, cost exceeds total income and combined OASI and DI Trust Fund assets diminish until they become exhausted in 2033" (page 10).

Did you get that? Exhausted. That is bureacratese for "bankrupt."

Then what will happen? The Social Security Administration will cut the promised benefits.  "After trust fund exhaustion, continuing income is sufficient to support expenditures at a level of 75 percent of program cost for the rest of 2033, declining to 73 percent for 2086" (pages 10-11).

I am in agreement with Gary North when he states:  "This means that the promises made to those who paid into the system will be defaulted on. The program will be unable to meet its obligations."

I am also in full agreement with Kyle Bass:

"Very few participants are aware of the enormity and severity of the problems the developed world faces. Those that are aware are frantically trying to come up with the next solution to the debt problems. In our opinion (which hasn't changed since 2008), the only long-term solution is to continue to expand program after program until the only path left is a full restructuring (read: default) of most sovereign debts of the developed nations of the world. . . ."

I find it entertaining to see someone like Taibbi get something so catastrophically wrong. Anyone who says that Social Security is solvent is either an economic ignoramus, or drastically ill-informed.  What do they know that the Trustees of the fund itself do not?  Just because someone writes for a major newsmagazine, and has a following and a way with words, does not confer upon that person the authority to state untruths.  Mr. Taibbi should know better.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Let's Raise Entrepreneurs

Cameron Herold had all the signs of a child who could not learn.  He writes about how he was not overly successful in school, he had a hard time paying attention, was dyslexic, and was considered "ADD".  What he was good at was finding ways to be creative, and turning those creative ideas into money.  He sold hangers back to the cleaners for pennies.  After a few thousand hangers, the pennies added up.  He sold comic books to other children - and charged the rich kids more.

Basically what Mr. Herold did was what I recommend to all of my students when they ask me about jobs: "find or create a product or service that people want and sell it to them".  Usually it is babysitting services for the girls or lawn care / snow shoveling / dog walking for the boys.  On the lengthy list of things we don't teach our young people is what successful entrepreneurs do, and have done to be successful.

Mr. Herold has some great ideas about how to teach entrepreneurship and creativity.  All of his suggestions have only one cost to you - - time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Universal Education

"Schools train individuals to respond as a mass.  Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete.  A successful mass production economy requires such a clientele.  Small business and small farm economies, like those of the Amish, require individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and universal participation.  Our own economy requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, family-less, friendless, godless and obedient people who believe the difference between Coke and Pepsi is a subject worth arguing about" - - John Taylor Gatto, 'Universal Education' - from A Different Kind of Teacher

As we get close to the end of the hear the Herd mentality is reaching a fever pitch.  The yearly ritual, Lottery - like, is starting.  A battery of exams, mostly useless and at times wholly fraudulent, is getting closer.  The artificial fear of "what happens if you fail the final or the Regents" has begun in full force.  It is more difficult this year as the specter of The State is bearing down even harder.  Rather that recognize that The State has run the Education Train off of the rails, and eliminated any thought and rigor from the public school system, the teachers are playing their roles in the Kabuki theater of the End of the Year Exam Follies.

Students are gravitating to me and the other teachers looking for approval, waiting for the positive signs from a person they'd never met until September 2012.  A student in my afternoon class constantly asks if he's 'doing good' - as if my opinion, in the scheme of his life, matters.  The top down, iron fist methodology of what passes for schooling these days is even more inflexible and soulless.  Our final exams will apparently be a pool of all of our efforts, approved from above, and disseminated so that a uniform exam will be given to all 9th graders.  The fact that I have a student who is new to the United States from the West Indies - in the same class with a Mexican student whose first language is Spanish, mixed in with a transfer from Queens who has never enjoyed her new school.  One size fits all, says a system that preaches 'equality' and 'tolerance' and 'multiculturalism' and 'diversity'.  The irony has reached farcical levels.

The meaninglessness and the faux importance of it all is manifest in the results of the 'successful mass production economy' about which Gatto speaks.  My students all are into mostly the same fads, have the same hairstyles, listen to the same kind of music, and use the same slang.  The fact that they are all worried about the same end of the year 'exams' is only a small piece of the puzzle, but one that sells lots of Coke and Pepsi.  The argument now isn't about soda however - the meaningless question I get a lot is about Jay Z.  Because I'm seen as the 'conspiracy theory' teacher, I get asked if Jay Z and Beyonce' are part of the Illuminati.  The Illuminati is an historical topic that has many layers and requires many allusions, but the Power Elite have done a masterful job at getting the wrong question asked and debated - a fake question.  How appropriate.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Be Afraid - the NY Times Refuses to Quit

The NY Times has as shrill headline on the front page today about the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere:  "Heat Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears."  The Global Warming / Climate Change issue has been one of the more divisive topics over the past 2 decades.  I find it almost to the point of hilarity that the NY Times places headlines like this on its front page in a serious manner despite:

Al Gore, the patron saint of the Global Warming movement, flies around the world in a private jet, has large homes that spew out inordinate amounts of CO2, and owns a zinc mine.  To add insult to injury, he has a massive stake in Occidental Petroleum.  The Onion couldn't do a better job at creating a farcical situation and putting it out there for all to see.  Here is his latest quote, pertaining to you of course, but not to him: "So please, take this day and the milestone it represents to reflect on the fragility of our civilization and and the planetary ecosystem on which it depends. Rededicate yourself to the task of saving our future. Talk to your neighbors, call your legislator, let your voice be heard. We must take immediate action to solve this crisis. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Now."  I think the Emperor has no clothes - the ability of the Public to be swindled by this hypocritical huckster (as well as others) obviously knows no bounds.  We teach our young people to lead by example, but we are strangely willing to ignore that from figures of authority.

The Science is Settled.  Think about this.  What chapter of science is ever settled?  A gigantic topic, and one worth study, is modern man's effect on our planet.  There are many ways to measure such a thing, and many years through which to sift records.  How can such a massive topic be 'settled'?  This statement was the one that got me to stop simply believing the Mainstream Media Party Line.  I had a wonderful science teacher at JHS 167 named Ms. Goldstein who drilled into us that there are always fields of study to explore, and further paths to go down in science.  Any time I hear that there is nothing more to discuss, I begin to question the motivation behind such rhetoric.  Another bit of rhetoric is the "climate change denier" ad hominem attack.  Tying the phraseology of those who deny the Jewish Holocaust of the WWII era to those who question other opinions is a cloddish way to stifle debate, as well as being logically fallacious.

Only Non Science People Deny Climate Change.  Really?  I had this exchange on the Sociological Petri Dish otherwise known as Facebook with someone who was incredulous simply because my opinion is different.  Here is the original image with the comments:
"Stop the ignorance! Climate Change IS occurring! There should not be a debate about climate change when experts clearly say its occurring."

ME: "Climate Change" is a total hoax. The climate is always changing. CO2 had never driven climate, how can it suddenly be a factor now? Even the BBC (hardly a 'right wing' venue) had a documentary on it called "The Great Global Warming Swindle". C'mon, what's happened to you? Oh yes, and the fix is to PAY A TAX to the United Nations. How convenient. lol pay up dude.
KMCO2 and temp have always been direct proportional, today CO2 is at its highest levels ever in history, of course it drives climate its a greenhouse gas. Im pretty sure that BBC document were full of NON-SCIENCE degree people, its not about the politics when it comes to something that is not a hoax and research clearly shows that climate change is real.
ME: Your assumptions are embarrassing, and your ability to be swayed by others is baffling. The "non science" people in the documentary were from MIT, the University of Ottawa, and the co-founder of Greenpeace. BTW, the climate is always 'changing'. It is your responsibility to check both sides of an issue. Yes, I typed MIT. Perhaps you should check things out. I wouldn't recommend something that I didn't was worth your time. If it were 'political' and not science based I wouldn't waste your time.
KMwow so basically your saying that i am waisting my time here in college researching and studying climate change? i don't understand why your not believing the actual scientists who actually study this for a living. your saying that all of the extreme weather events that have recently occurred are normal? superstore sandy was just a coincidence? the year 2012 being the warmest year on record? the blizzard in the midwest that occurred just last week? more extreme drought around the world? more wildfires?
ME: Which one is it? Climate change or Global Warming? And I said none of those things. Those are all straw man arguments. You build up a fake construct in order to tear it down. I never told yo what to study. I said Global Warming was a hoax, and CO2, which is less than 1% of our atmosphere, has never been a driver of climate. Where did I get that from? From the MIT scientist who said it in the piece of proof I provided. If you can obliterate the SCIENTISTS who made those statements, check what I provided and prove them and me wrong. I'm an analytical well read person. I don't come at you with my emotions on a scientific issue, and I don't speak on issues where I haven't done my own research. You knock down the MIT people, and we'll talk - until then I recommend you look at all sides of the issues you study. You have too high quality a mind to waste it on partisan foolishness.

This is my favorite part of the exchange, and it shows the utter inability of our young people to see the forest from the trees: "Im pretty sure that BBC document were full of NON-SCIENCE degree people, its not about the politics when it comes to something that is not a hoax and research clearly shows that climate change is real." - This was written without irony, as the image has the Obama campaign "O" at the bottom. In addition, the unwatched BBC documentary contains ONLY scientists, from the US, Canada, the UK and Japan.  The willingness to assume these things, sight unseen, is what passes for 'analysis' today.  KM is a college student studying weather and atmosphere and climate.  

Further links:
Watts Up With That? - a repository of science based questions about the Global Warming / Climate Change (which one again?) debate.
Dr Richard Lindzen, MIT. "we're talking of a few tenths of a degree change in temperature. None of it in the last eight years, by the way. And if we had warming, it should be accomplished by less storminess. But because the temperature itself is so unspectacular, we have developed all sorts of fear of prospect scenarios -- of flooding, of plague, of increased storminess when the physics says we should see less."
The work of James Delingpole is worth a look.  His experiences show that diversity of opinion is not part of the Power Elite's Mainstream Debate.
Climategate - hacked emails show the lengths the people at one of the major universities were willing to go in order to fake results to keep the narrative alive.  The establishment's reaction to Climategate is worth it.  "Nothing to see here" says TPTB.

Here is the BBC documentary - judge for yourself.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Parent Update 050713

This is the update I sent my parents and students today on my online web grading system:

We are in the middle of Marking Period 4. The English classes just finished '12 Angry Men'. Ask your child what the play was like - have him explain what the concepts were that we discussed. The class notes are a good resource for tying in the concepts and ideas. There was a connection between the Milgram Obedience to Authority experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment and the play itself. The idea was to show how Groupthink and ad verecundiam (the latin term for Fallacy of Authority) can be dangerous. Having your child verbalize this idea would be a good way to help his Active Literacy skills. Going forward we will watch "A Few Good Men" and analyze the themes of the movie and the connection it has to "12 Angry Men".

There are some links I've come across and some books that might help in these times of troubled schools and dumbed down education. I see what my children get at 'school' and most of the times I have to augment the history and the English classes, as well as de-program the effects of the textbook propaganda. I realize how that sounds, but I've spoken to many parents of late who are seeing the same thing. Let me share some of the resources that I've come across as of late:

Books: 1) What Smart Students Know - by Adam Robinson. Robinson is one of the co-founders of the Princeton Review. He explains how 'school' and much of what it does is something of a random game that fits the style of only a few students. Worth it for a strategy book for education, and rife with great quotes. Robinson sold his share of the Princeton Review in the '80's for millions and now speaks and writes. 2) Weapons of Mass Instruction - By John Taylor Gatto. Gatto uses his knowledge of the history of school to explain how people, modern day and in the past, have used their innate intelligence to live full lives. The book is rich in showing the wealth and experience or people who have 'written their own script', rather than followed others' ideas for them. Gatto's work is always worthwhile, and there are many youtube videos of his that are quite interesting.

Video: This latest video I showed my Strategic Reading classes. It is not only inspirational, it might change the course of schools in general.

Article: The One Laptop Per Child project is fascinating. This article at Technology Review explains how children in wretched conditions in Ethiopia were able to learn, on their own, how to hack the tablets they had been given. The ability of people to learn, when unshackled, is astounding. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rethinking School

"This is a great speech -- a model of how to give a speech. Its message is also almost beyond belief. A new age is dawning." - - Gary North

Mitra talks about learning in the most difficult places - the slums of India and the heights of the Himalayas.  His message is beyond the comprehension of those who populate and believe in static world of the 'schools':  people can and will learn with the power of curiousity and encouragement.  JT Gatto has written and spoken of such things for two decades.  The home school movement and the hard core libertarians and anarchists have been receptive to his message, but his effect on the mainstream has been exactly zero.

What Mitra doesn't mention - he only alludes to - is that this is the free market at work.  The army of bureaucrats and managers present in his talk: zero.

As of this writing the video has only 6278 views.  As the speed of information continues to increase, ideas such as these, which are mostly common sense, will propagate.  How necessary is the State to education?  Not at all.  What is now in the realm of propaganda - the idea that the Government MUST manage schools - will become more widespread as prices for laptops, tablets, solar panels and granny time falls.  As the price falls, more will be demanded by people who crave learning and knowledge - children.

"The #1 engine of government propaganda is about to go off the tracks."

I think this is correct.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cover Letter

I am writing this, and you are reading this because of a woman who we will never meet and is probably no longer alive.  This nameless woman permanently altered the course of my life. My father was born in what is now Spanish Harlem.  His Italian immigrant parents were near destitute – to the point that they placed him in an orphanage (he had parents mind you) so they could feed his younger and less capable brothers.  As he bounced between varying caregivers, a teacher in his middle school noticed him.  This 8th grade teacher told him that he was smart, and a little different than the other students, and got him signed up for the Specialized High School Achievement Test.  He got into Stuyvesant High School (class of 1953), followed by CCNY, University of Iowa, and, eventually, Columbia University for his PhD.  It was the initial leap to Stuyvesant HS that made all the difference.  Without that, none of the following actions would have happened.

What this woman did exemplifies the power of good teachers and good schools.  She took a poor student in the ‘bad’ neighborhood and reached out and radically changed his life.  As my father died when I was very young I never got the chance to ask him who this person was, but she was apparently astute, aware and awake to her mission.  She was a professional – in the sense that she provided rigor in the classroom, and saw it as necessary to raise as many deserving and capable young students as possible.  The fact that she was in one of the least affluent areas was irrelevant – it is ones capabilities can carry a person far, and it was her duty to see to it that the great equalizer, education, her purview, was fostered and handled correctly.

I wonder how this person would operate in today’s educational world.  Today we seem to have forgotten about the hard and fast truths of yesteryear.  About every five years or so there is an article in the Organ of the Establishment, the New York Times, about how it is time to re-think, close down, or offer open enrollment to the Specialized High Schools.  Why?  They don’t have the requisite ‘diversity’ that the Thought Controllers at the NY Times deem appropriate.  History is to be ignored by the Educational Establishment: the dismantling of the free, yet superb school that was CCNY as well as what happened to Dunbar HS in Washington DC are realities to be dismissed.  Merit based institutions like the Specialized High Schools are targets in today’s world, an unthinkable concept 60 years ago. 

Now we send our young people through a battery of State Exams, testing them into oblivion.  For what are we testing and why?  Is it the low functioning youth of today – a group of young people who have no idea when WWII took place, or what the Bill of Rights is, or who Odysseus was?  Why is the entity that has sent a once proud public education system off of a cliff is now given credence to “fix” what they broke?  To add insult to injury, their ‘fix’ is to create serial high stakes exams and place the fate of the school and the staff on the performance on these ‘tests’.  Any reputable college admissions counselor will tell you that the standardized tests are almost meaningless – yet that is the course of repair chosen by the Educrats.  It is my personal belief that the SAT and ACT are still used simply because the institutions are unwilling to upset the apple cart.

So what do we do now?  As we’ve lost our way so badly, how can the damage be repaired?  The road ahead involves re-thinking schools.  The use of technology is paramount.  As of this writing I write, in chalk, on a chalkboard and the Power Elite at my school demand to see an “Aim” and a “Do Now”.  One of my bosses showed us a video of students in Singapore using their phones and twitter to see who could get and send the correct answer to a physics problem the fastest, oblivious to the obvious irony that we do not allow cellphones in class.  We seem to be afraid of rigor while we embrace Educational Gobbledygook.  The “Core Content State Standards” – the initiative that Very Important People seem to be serious about – contains reams of jargon without mentioning the trivium or even active or passive literacy in the ELA standards. 

Let’s unshackle our students from High Stakes Testing.  All these seem to do is increase anxiety while affecting nothing with regard to future performance.  Students should be free to use technology in and out of class to complete serial projects – everything from History / Literature projects and Science / Math projects that have a natural harmony that is difficult to reproduce in class.

“Think outside of the box” is one of the current catchphrases in the Educational Business.  Let’s actually do it.


Kenny Hignite link:
What Happened to Dunbar HS?