This just floated across my Facebook feed, and seemed appropriate for the season. Happymerry Holidayschristmaskwanzaasolsticenewyear!
WordPress has gotten, really, _really_ slow for me on this site, both on the outward-facing public side, and on the backend. I’m wondering if it might be a side effect of years and years of blogging (building up a total of almost 6,500 posts and almost 13,000 comments), plus trying various plugins here and there that probably often added extra fields to the database. I’m very tempted to do a full nuke-and-pave, exporting all the entries, building a brand-new WordPress install from the ground up, and then re-importing everything, but I worry about breaking all sorts of links (incoming, internal, and images) that I’d likely never have time to go back through and fix. At what point does the hassle of rebuilding stop outweighing the annoyance of a slow website?
Filed under “yes, even I can have unpopular opinions”: I’m very concerned about where the money to fund I-1351’s directives is going to come from. We live in a state where voters refuse to put money into the system (we couldn’t even pass a minuscule sales tax on candy bars and soda to fund various services), but demand that the system provide services that cost money. This is going to cost billions in hiring teachers, constructing classrooms, and lots of other associated costs, and we have no idea where that money is going to come from (but we’re by-golly determined not to pay for it ourselves!).
And according to this article (by fivethirtyeight, which started as a political statistical analysis site and has branched out into applying statistical analyses to all sorts of other things), it’s really not even clear that smaller class sizes will make that much of a difference compared to other possible expenditures such as hiring/training better teachers, giving raises, or putting money into new/better texts, supplies, and technology.
Class-size reductions make sense intuitively — in smaller classes, kids get more attention, distractions are reduced and working conditions are improved. Many economists and education policy experts say, though, that this isn’t a case where the common-sense fix is guaranteed to be the best fix. Many of the studies on class size are inconclusive, and even those who support cutting class size in theory are dubious about whether I-1351 is the best or most cost-effective way to improve public education in Washington.
[…] Attempts to implement large-scale class-reduction policies have yielded less encouraging results. In 2002, Florida voters approved a ballot initiative like I-1351 that amended the state constitution to include caps on class sizes in all grades. An analysis of data from Florida conducted by Matt Chingos, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Education Policy found no differences between students who were new to a small classroom and those who had already been in one.
[…] “Reducing class size is one of the most expensive things you can do in education,” Chingos said. “Even if it does have a substantial positive effect, it still might not be the best use of limited resources.” He said that in some cases, raising teacher salaries could be a more effective use of funds. “Really the lesson is that you want to build in flexibility,” he said. “Different school districts have different needs. It’s very far from one-size-fits-all.”
Eric Hanushek, an economist at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said that I-1351 could have the unintended effect of reducing teacher quality. “This isn’t about hiring high-quality teachers, it’s about hiring more teachers, and that means we’re going to see a lot more inexperienced teachers in the classroom,” he said.
Some education advocates in Washington state are concerned that the class-size mandate will siphon funds from other policies. […] Practically speaking, the state government has only so much money to spend. I-1351’s biggest flaw might be its failure to acknowledge this reality.
At this point, I (and many other people I talk to in higher education) are very worried that without a funding source, the state is going to end up pulling even more money out of the already hard-hit higher education system, damaging it further in the name of improving the K-12 education system.
Everyone agrees that better education — across the board — is important. But, jeez. It’s not magic. There needs to be a way to pay for it.
So, the first full trailer (following the teaser from a couple months ago that was almost entirely clips from prior Pixar films) for Pixar’s next film showed up today. I’d been cautiously optimistic about this one, hoping for a change from the past, but after watching the trailer…I have concerns.
On the pro side, the main character is a little girl, something that’s been lacking in Pixar films until now, and the general concept looks like a very interesting one.
However, some things jumped out at me.
Stereotypes: Mom is caring, nurturing and interested in her daughter’s day, while dad is absentmindedly dreaming about sports and has to be prompted to show interest in his daughter. When prompted to actually interact with his family, his first thoughts are right in line with very typical male stereotypes: my wife wants my attention, so I must be in trouble; did I forget the garbage or leave the toilet seat up?
This leads directly to what to me is problematic language: “What is it, woman?!” Just…ugh.
Odd choices: When the promo material released so far highlighted the emotion characters inside the girl’s head, there was a nice 3-to-2 mix of feminine to masculine characters. However, all of the mom’s emotion characters are definitely feminine, and the dad’s are definitely all masculinized (with pornstaches, no less). Why do their characters get uniformly gendered while the girl’s are a mix? I suppose it could be commentary on gender being still somewhat unformed in a pre-pubescent child and settling later in life, but that seems a bit much to expect of a Pixar film.
I had hopes, Pixar, and they weren’t even that high. And yet, I don’t think you’re living up to them.
Lo-Fidelity All Stars’ “Battle Flag” is one of the few times when I’ve heard a group release a de-profanitized radio-friendly edit of a track that I actually prefer to the original uncensored version. Not that I have any problems with the uncensored version, but rather than simply mask out the profanity with silence, beeps, or word substitutions, they use a drawn-out stutter effect on the words immediately preceding or following the censored word. Not only is it a neat sounding effect on its own, but it’s an effect that they use elsewhere in the song as well, so it doesn’t stick out as much due to only appearing when they’re removing words.
Plus, it’s a pretty cool song, whichever version pops up. Good sound, heavy beats, some organ riffing, and a nice slow-ish tempo that works really well on a dance floor.
For comparison purposes…
Last Christmas, Prairie got me the 50th anniversary James Bond collection, and over the year, we worked our way through the entire canon, all the way through Skyfall. On the whole, Bond movies are a lot of mindless fun (some more mindless than others, to be sure), but boy does the quality vary. At the end, we were glad that we undertook this project after Skyfall was released, because it ended up meaning we went out on a high note.
We hadn’t been terribly impressed with the first two Daniel Craig films — Casino Royale took Bond too far to the modern, gritty style, and devolved into a nonsensical mess by the end; Quantum of Solace…well, I barely even remember what that one was even about — but we both felt that Skyfall was easily the best Bond film since Goldfinger (or, arguably, The Thomas Crown Affair). It was the first one in years that felt actually felt like a “real” Bond movie (that is, the Connery era) in the modern era: exciting action pieces, neat spy games, and an undercurrent of humor. Realistic without having to be ultra-violent or ultra-serious, and recognizing the inherent silliness of the spy genre without playing so far to that side that it devolves into farce (the Moore era).
So finding this quote from a two-year-old interview with Craig impressed me. It sounds to me like he and the team behind Skyfall had some of the same thoughts…
I think we set a good tone [in Skyfall], I think we set a real tone, but I am happy for fucking exploding volcano lairs. Obviously I am joking but what I love and what I really wanted to achieve with Skyfall was a level of fantasy, it’s one of the less violent ones, there’s less blood, and people aren’t dying in a horrible way, and it feels like much more of a family movie, and they should be family movies. I don’t want to go ludicrous and we’ve got to keep them in reality, but Christ almighty, the world’s fucking weird and there’s plenty we can start mining and taking out. If Blofeld turned up again, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Given the recent announcement that the next film is titled SPECTRE, this does sound promising indeed.
14- took my dads car to a party. Pulled over for running a stop sign, had a shotgun in backseat (hunting) "Get home safe" #CrimingWhileWhite
— Mrs. Eric Berry (@Miss_Facetious) December 4, 2014
Those police asked where I live. When I pointed behind me at my house where they had called me from they said "no, really" #alivewhileblack
— الشريف M. Ömer (@KTownsVeryOwn) December 4, 2014
At 13 I stole a car with my friends & drove it 2wks before we got busted. Only one charged was black. #CrimingWhileWhite
— Cecily Kellogg (@Cecilyk) December 4, 2014
Walking to library. Campus security stops me and asks for ID. Several times. Claims I don't "look" like a law student. #AliveWhileBlack
— GrooveSDC (@GrooveSDC) December 4, 2014
Age 17: I bought gas but forgot to pay; an hour later I came back and they said they told the cops two black men did it. #CrimingWhileWhite
— Jacob Harold (@jacobcharold) December 4, 2014
Stopped b/c child "did not look like he shld be w/me"Asked to prove my light-skinned nephew was not being kidnapped #alivewhileblack
— karla holloway (@ProfHolloway) December 4, 2014
Drug use, vandalism of govt property, running fake ID mill, theft, sale of stolen property — all before I was 20 #CrimingWhileWhite
— Tim Wise (@timjacobwise) December 4, 2014
was robbed at knife point in Charlotte. When the police came, told them what was taken, they asked "Why wld u have a pager" #alivewhileblack
— J I Λ (@missjia) December 4, 2014
Party busted, ran from Indiana cop. He caught me, furious: "if you were black I'd-a shot you." Cuffed, lectured, let go. #CrimingWhileWhite
— Andy Cobb (@AndyCobb) December 4, 2014
17 y/o – Drove to Kroger to get mom Nyquil. Pulled over unexplained. Asked why I was in my neighborhood. 4 backup cop cars. #AliveWhileBlack
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) December 4, 2014
LISTEN: If you ever wondered what you would do if you were alive in the Civil Rights Movement, NOW IS THE TIME to find out. NOW. RIGHT NOW
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) December 3, 2014
Absolutely excellent interview with Chris Rock covering mostly comedy, politics, and the intersections between the two. The whole thing is worth reading, but this section I thought was particularly good:
What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?
I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.
Well, that would be much more revealing.
Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before
Right. It’s ridiculous.
So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.
It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?
Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.
The Washington Post has some additional commentary springboarding off of Rock’s interview, with some very interesting poll results looking at changes in racial attitudes over time. On the one hand, there has been a lot of improvement over the years. On the other hand, though, we still have a long way to go.
In 1972, for instance, nearly two-thirds of whites said homeowners should be able to discriminate against blacks when selling their homes. That number fell to 28 percent by 2008.
Fully one quarter of whites said they would oppose [a family member’s interracial] marriage in 2008, the same year America elected the son of a white mother and a black father to the highest office in the land.
More than four-in-ten white Americans still say whites are more hardworking than blacks, and one-in-five say whites are more intelligent. Similarly, a majority of whites say that lack of willpower among blacks is driving racial inequality, and one-in-ten say that blacks are poor simply because of a lesser ability to learn.
I believe racism is my problem. My problem. I claim it. It is not my problem because I am guilty. It is my problem because I am responsible. I didn’t create racism. It’s not my fault. But if I do nothing, I become a part of it. And it is not something I want to be a part of. I can make that decision. You can make that decision. We can all make that decision.
I know that it can be hard as a white person to read and talk about racism. It’s hard for everyone to read and talk about racism, because it is an ugly thing. When we confront racism, we commit to staring into the face of something both repellant and familiar. It’s hard for all of us, but what I know most about is what it’s like to be white and I can understand the temptation of defensiveness for us white folks. Of resentment. Of feeling accused. I understand the lure of clinging to all the ways in which you, too, don’t have it so good. I am more than familiar with the temptation to demonstrate your own oppression.
But it’s time to grow up. Children make excuses. Children engage in competitions to one-up each other. You’re not a child anymore. It’s time to do better.