Thursday, August 13, 2020

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

Online Learning Cheats Poor Students

I don't know if it "cheats" them, but it's certainly not working out.

At LAT, "A generation left behind? Online learning cheats poor students, Times survey finds":

Maria Viego and Cooper Glynn were thriving at their elementary schools. Maria, 10, adored the special certificates she earned volunteering to read to second-graders. Cooper, 9, loved being with his friends and how his teacher incorporated the video game Minecraft into lessons.

But when their campuses shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, their experiences diverged dramatically.

Maria is a student in the Coachella Valley Unified School District, where 90% of the children are from low-income families. She didn’t have a computer, so she and her mother tried using a cellphone to access her online class, but the connection kept dropping, and they gave up after a week. She did worksheets until June, when she at last received a computer, but struggled to understand the work. Now, as school starts again online, she has told her mother she’s frustrated and worried.

“She says she feels like she’s going to stay behind,” said her mother, Felicia Gonzalez, who has been battling COVID-19.

Cooper, who attends school in the Las Virgenes Unified School District, where just 12% of students are from low-income families, had a district-issued computer and good internet access at home. His school shut down on a Friday, and by the following Wednesday it was up and running virtually. There were agendas and assignments online and Google hangouts with teachers, said his mother, Megan Glynn. While Cooper would prefer to be back on campus, Glynn believes that he and his siblings will be fine academically even with school continuing online.

“I feel fully confident in the education they’ll receive,” she said.

The contrasting realities of these two students reflect the educational inequities that children have experienced since schools closed — and that many will continue to face in the fall as distance learning resumes for 97% of the state’s public school students.

A Los Angeles Times survey of 45 Southern California school districts found profound differences in distance learning among children attending school districts in high-poverty communities, like Maria’s in Coachella Valley, and those in more affluent ones, like Cooper’s in Las Virgenes, which serves Calabasas and nearby areas.

These inequities threaten to exacerbate wide and persistent disparities in public education that shortchange students of color and those from low-income families, resulting in potentially lasting harm to a generation of children.

“The longer this goes on, the longer the pendulum swings to where this could be a generation that’s really left behind,” said Beth Tarasawa, who studies educational equity issues at the not-for-profit educational research group NWEA...

Professors Fear COVID-19 as College Campuses Reopen

I'm going to be 59 next month, and while I'm not afraid to teach in person, I'd prefer not to have to with classrooms full of sniffling mask-wearing students supposedly "socially-distanced" in neat, wide-spaced rows and columns.

And I've read of all the safety precautions, hand-washing stations inside the classroom, temperature checks, extra-aggressive cleaning and disinfecting of spaces and surfaces, etc. The truth is, the virus is not contained socially, around the country, and it's going to see a resurgence coming out of the school reopenings. Just look the photos from the Georgia high school, and now the outbreak there, and you can see what's likely to happen.

In any case, at LAT, "‘I can’t teach when I’m dead.’ Professors fear COVID-19 as college campuses open":
When masked students walk back into his Northern Arizona University lab room at the end of the month, Tad Theimer will face them from behind a Plexiglas face shield while holding an infrared thermometer to their foreheads. As they examine bat skulls under microscopes, the biology professor will open windows and doors, hoping to drive out exhaled aerosols that could spread coronavirus.

But as one of hundreds of professors who will be back on campus along with 20,000 students in one of the states hit worst by the pandemic, Theimer is also torn on whether to enter his classroom at all.

“I want to teach and it’s best done in person,” said Theimer, 62, who has been a professor on the Flagstaff campus for two decades. “I want businesses, which need our students, to survive in town. But if I see people not following health protocols at the university, I’m going remote and I’m not seeking any permission. They can fire me if they don’t like it.”

Campuses are taking on a patchwork of safety measures and shifting reopening plans this month as millions of students return to colleges and universities. Some, like Northern Arizona University, have already opened for a trial run of online classes before students show up in person. Others, like Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and Princeton University in New Jersey, have at the last minute nixed plans for reopening to opt for fully online fall semesters. Many California colleges and universities will be online only, with largely empty lecture halls, while the majority of schools in the nation plan to offer a hybrid of the options.

Absent federal guidance, many of the decisions result from growing pressure from professors like Theimer, who recently went public with a letter to his university president demanding that students be disinvited from campus. At several universities, including large public schools in Texas, Florida and North Carolina, teachers have resisted administrations that push to pack the classrooms and dorms that produce tuition and housing revenues. Many have resisted through unions or faculty associations.

Students have joined, too, like the dozens in Atlanta at the University of Georgia who joined faculty to stage a “die-in” in front of the president’s office this week with signs that said “R.I.P. campus safety” and “I can’t teach when I’m dead.” The campus requires first-year students to live in dorms for its Aug. 20 kickoff to the fall semester, which will take place partially on-campus.

It was a similar story at the City Colleges of Chicago, where faculty followed last week’s reopening by threatening to strike if they don’t see safety improvements.

“The whole situation is unprecedented,” said Irene Mulvey, a math professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut and president of the American Assn. of University Professors, a teachers’ union with hundreds of college chapters. “Professors know best what’s happening on the ground and they are in many cases pushing to have a say. And in the case of some university administrations, there seems to be a kind of magical thinking that people will behave perfectly in following every health measure and precaution during openings.”

Colleges have tried to reassure professors and students by staggering dorm move-in dates, painting arrows and social distancing dots in hallways, limiting classroom sizes, enforcing mask mandates and installing hand sanitizing stations across campuses. They’ve designated quarantine housing and some, like UC Berkeley, have the limited number of students living on campus take a coronavirus test within a day of arrival in addition to regularly scheduled tests teach month.

But with the average American campus having more than 6,000 undergraduates, many professors have said the safety precautions will be too hard to enforce, especially at schools where most students live in dorms and off-campus apartments...

Monday, August 10, 2020

Claudia Romani

See, "Claudia Romani Nipple Pops Out While Lying on the Sand."

Tactical Military Belt for Concealed Carry

At Amazon, GRIP6 WorkBelt- Tactical Belt Military Belt for EDC Concealed Carry Utility Belt.

And, GRIP6 Canvas Belts for Men & Women- Ultralight Series Nylon Belt.

BONUS: U.S. Army Hand-to-Hand Combat (U.S. Army Survival).

Sunday, August 9, 2020

California's Grim Coronavirus Milestone

My wife was ectastic with Gov. Newsom's early response to the pandemic, especially his decision to lock down the state, the first such policy across the U.S.

Now he's not looking so spectacular.

On Twitter:

Interview with Adam Tooze

I love this guy's work, but I had no idea he was truly a fanatical leftist, especially about this "climate change" stuff, but it's a compelling discussion.

At New York Mag, "A Historian of Economic Crisis on the World After COVID-19":

While we’re on the subject of the great powers’ mutual delirium: In a recent essay on the U.S.-China relationship, you suggest that the present tensions with China are fueled less by “social and economic interests” than by a long-standing ideological rivalry and its attendant national-security implications – and that, in fact, the rise of Communist China indicates that the Cold War never actually ended. But it seems to me that the ideological and national-security stakes of the U.S.-China conflict are much lower than those of the conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. There aren’t many radicals launching insurgencies in South America in the name of Xi Jinping Thought or sympathizers of the CCP in the upper ranks of America’s labor unions. The Chinese regime is not calling for an international workers’ revolution; to the contrary, it wages vicious campaigns of suppression against domestic labor unions in order to maintain a grossly inequitable income distribution. So, I don’t see China posing a plausible threat to the American homeland or America’s capitalist regime. But it does threaten our share of global GDP and privileged position in international value chains.

So I would happily concede that the Chinese Communist Party, in its current form, is not the same as, say, the Khrushchev-era Soviet Union. But I think I would insist on three things. First, the leadership of that party emphatically interprets, presents, and thinks about (as far as we’re able to tell from the outside) its situation, problems, and strategies in terms of the continuous elaboration of the Marxist cannon. The historian Stephen Kotkin makes this argument about Stalin — that, while he was no one’s idea of a good Marxist, you really can’t understand him unless you understand the twisted, weird, stunted version of Marxism that made the guy tick. And I think that’s true about the current Chinese leadership, too.

It isn’t a global revolutionary movement anymore. But they are self-consciously the descendants of that project. And as such, their worldview is fundamentally alien to — and distinct from — that of Europe or the United States or anyone else participating in the liberal project. There is indeed a huge gap in our understanding of what the state is for, what the rule of law does — how it does and does not constrain things. And that is a difference that matters.

And then the third thing I would say is that, though it is true they are not a revolutionary project in the sense of Cuba in the 1970s — or China itself in the 1960s — the contemporary Chinese Communist Party is de facto more transformative of the circumstances of the global political economy than those revolutionary projects, and transformative in ways that America is quite right to perceive as threats to its hegemony.

Relatedly, while I recognize the force of the recasting you’ve just offered, I think you have to reckon with the autonomous significance of the American security state, which is separate from the general American interest in global GDP share or something like that.

There was a moment — and it didn’t happen under Trump; it happened when Hillary Clinton was secretary of State — when that part of the American government machine that thinks in terms of F-35s and atomic weapons and nuclear fleets shifted its focus toward China. And that constitutes a source of conflict that is not reducible to economics. It draws on the conception of the economy as a national resource base, and is of course entangled with particular companies in the military-industrial complex, but it is distinct nevertheless.

There are competing factions within the American state apparatus. And who gets to call the shots in a domain of policy at a given point of time can shift. And I would insist there’s been a decisive lurch toward the dominance of national security on China policy.

I think it’s quite reasonable to say that, coming out of World War II, American business was essentially integrated into the American government. It’s not fatuous to imagine that much of the Marshall Plan was directly organized around securing markets for certain sorts of American businesses, which were basically running the government at the time. But that’s an effect of a particular type of articulation, which comes and goes with time. With regard to China right now, there is a remarkable discrepancy between the corporate planning of the companies that dominate the S&P 500 and the American security Establishment...

Saving TikTok


Anne de Paula


California to Empty Prisons, Dump Convicted Murderers on the Streets

Of course the Times picks the most appealing, sympathetic convict they could find to profile.

This will not turn out well.

See, "California is releasing some murderers due to COVID-19. Some say it should free more":

Terebea Williams was 22 when she shot her boyfriend, drove 750 miles with him bleeding in the trunk of his own car and then dragged him into a Northern California motel, tied him to a chair and left him to die.

Convicted of murder, carjacking and kidnapping, Williams went on to earn a college degree during her 19 years in prison, where she also mentored younger inmates and was lauded by administrators for her “exceptional conduct” while incarcerated.

The contrasting portraits of Williams as stone-cold killer and rehabilitated model prisoner highlight the difficulties in a plan to release thousands of California inmates to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has killed at least 52 of those incarcerated and sickened more than 8,700 others.

This spring, the state expedited the release of 3,500 inmates because of the coronavirus, and in July it freed 2,345 others early. Thousands more are eligible for release, including at least 6,500 deemed to be at high risk because of medical conditions that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Although Gov. Gavin Newsom and corrections officials have focused on freeing nonviolent offenders, they also are letting out people who, like Williams, have committed violent crimes but have serious medical conditions.

Williams, 44, walked out of a women’s prison in Chowchilla, Calif., on July 29, lopping decades off her 84-years-to-life sentence for killing Kevin “John” Ruska Jr., who died of infection from a gunshot wound to the gut.

Some prisoners’ rights advocates say Williams exemplifies the type of inmate who should be released — one who has already served a lengthy sentence, poses a low risk of reoffending and is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Some are also pushing to expand the criteria for early releases to include similar types of inmates now serving life without parole for murder.

But in Williams’ case and others, officials have drawn the ire of prosecutors, victims’ rights advocates and family members amid questions about which and how many inmates are being released — and whether it is being done with enough transparency to protect the public.

“The governor of California, Terebea’s public defender and the politicians of California have used COVID to allow this cold, calculated, lying, unremorseful murderer out of jail 65 years early, without giving the victim, Johnny, a voice,” said Ruska’s cousin, Karri Phillips...
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