I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
March 06, 2013 - 11:52 a.m.
Something that never happens happened yesterday. I finished grading a test the day I gave it. I did it in one sitting. It wasn't a short test, 22 questions, but each question was straightforward and most of the answers short. They were all simplifying radicals, factoring, multiplying, or dividing polynomials or operations with rational expressions. The median grade was a 63. Not good but not a disaster. Someone got a hundred and there were three grades in the 90s. The girl that was standing super close to me got the second highest grade, I was relieved to find that she just doesn't have a sense of personal space and wasn't trying to get a good grade. There were some odd statistics; three of the top four and six of the top grades were by women. On the other hand so were three of the bottom four. The women were clustered at the tails of the distribution. It's the kind of thing that is tempting but foolish to explain. I teach lots of classes I give lots of tests, this will happen by pure chance sometimes. Trying to explain that sort of thing is more a test of your prejudices than a model of reality. I tried unsuccessfully to get the worst students to drop the class in my other class. I'll try it again here. Someone who got an 8 is just wasting his or her time. I recommend dropping to anyone that gets below a 40, strongly recommend it for anyone under a 30 and say that anyone who got less than 20 needs a great reason to stay enrolled. I offer a WP, withdraw passing. Some people need the credits to stay on financial aid.
I managed to have an entire day without health issues. I hate having to stay on prednisone but I'm afraid I have to. I can't keep having the damage to my intestine grow.
I think I'm going to finally write about something that I'll catch flack for, fracking. I'm not against it. No that isn't strong enough. I'm for it, with caveats. The anti-fracking movement is a meme, it spreads socially but is not based on facts. It is a lot like the anti-Kony meme. That was all over the place but way behind the times. Yes he was a horror but one of many and was no longer even operating in the country everyone was talking about. Yet people became obsessed with him because well everyone was obsessed with him. It wasn't based on an assessment of who the most dangerous warlords in Africa were.
Does fracking have dangers? Yes, nothing is pure good. It can contaminate ground water. That's why it has to be regulated. Extraction companies cannot be trusted to do the right thing. There are places which are too vulnerable to risk it like the New York City watershed that supplies the water for millions of people. Someone asked me but what if it contaminated someone's well? Is that OK? And it isn't a good thing but we live with that kind of risk all the time, A chemical or oil truck and get in an accident and do that. Actually the risk of the truck running someone over is probably greater. So should we ban all trucks? Then we should ban all cars. Who is for that? Raise your hand, they kill 10,000 people every year. We live with risks. I've heard people in one sentence talk about the dangers of strip mining and global warming then in then throw in fracking. Fracking has already stopped lots of strip mining as plants have switched to cleaner natural gas. It doesn't create soot that causes asthma and lung disease and emits only half the carbon dioxide as coal. It has had a tremendous impact on the amount of coal mining. That's a good thing.
Is it as safe and clean as solar or wind? No but they are not able to economically fill our energy needs yet. Fracking we can do now and get immediate results. We are getting immediate results. New York's governor Andrew Cuomo has been getting it almost exactly right. He isn't letting them frack in the most sensitive areas. He is keeping a regulatory eye on the industry. And yes money does matter. Instead of money flowing out of the state to buy energy we are producing it right here.
That is what compromise looks like. Fracking isn't bad because it is fracking any more than taxes are bad because they are taxes. Different needs most be balanced and things taken on a case by case basis. And yes we will make mistakes. But if you keep an open mind they won't all be in the same direction.
I made the analogy with taxes and it's a good one but it isn't perfect. The anti-tax people wield tremendous power. It's almost impossible to raise taxes. They consider it a major loss when a temporary tax cut was made permanent for 99% of the population instead of 100%. While the best the anti-fracking forces can do is lead to what I consider the right thing, at least here. I'm not as confident in other jurisdictions.
If I'm going to stray from the left's party line it will almost always be on technical issues that I know something about. Usually scientific but sometimes economic. I just read where the left has moved to my take on trade and now looks favorably on it. Economists for the most part always have. But now the left is more for it than the right. No one has a good explanation why. It might be that Obama has done a good job on selling it just as his switch on same sex marriage swayed the African American community.
I'll probably be more fun tomorrow. I'll try and write down the fun things I think about so I remember to write about them.
Annoying People - September 03, 2016
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