08 December 2022

Last of the Holiday Leftovers

Time to clean out the fridge preparing for New Year's festive meals. I've had enough leftover Albuquerque boiled turkey (after turkey day) for a while anyway.

  • After watching more football on TV at early morning hours than is really good for me for the last three weeks, it's clear what is holding back US football (real football, in which all players are expected to put foot to ball): Incompetent broadcasting that suppresses understanding. Many of the individuals involved are perfectly competent, but don't have the complete picture, or even anything close to it. Consider the Fox stadium and studio announcing teams: Not one high-level manager, coach, or official; exactly one World Cup winner… women's cup-winner Ally Wagner, reduced to playing second voice on some stadium broadcasts with Lt Obvious (who, when he grows up, wants to become Capt Obvious and do second-voice commentary for NY Red Bulls if the current Capt Obvious ever retires), and otherwise no even semifinalists; platitudes and conventionality (such as never noting that a "modern" defence has no fullbacks — just deep-lying wide midfielders of minimal competence in the tackle — and what that does to the rest of the team and approach and skill sets). The less said about the generally imperceptive comments and commentary itself — which, when it has a focus at all, entirely forgets that this is a team sport — the better. This is compounded by use of a single master camera that in most shots cuts off about eight meters of the near side of the pitch in favor of the first eight rows of spectators at the top of the screen.

    There's only one way to put it, here in early December: You've failed the Final exam, Fox Sports.

  • Over There, yet another report of low author compensation has made some leaders of authors' organizations — presuming that isn't an oxymoron — take notice of the gender, race, and class issues that raises. Or lowers. It's almost as if there's only one way to create wealth and advance society.

    Those who continue to claim that it's "financially necessary" for someone to (after following everything to its origin point) buy out Shari Redstone's inherited interest — an interest resulting from a decades-ago leveraged purchase at above-market finance costs — should ponder all three of those items together. And per a recent news conference with the CEO, that's still "Paramount"'s intention… still absent any serious acknowledgement of the money's destination.

  • One might also ponder costs of living. And although some of the examples herein are, indeed, pretty ridiculous (really, now: tennis balls as a measure of a location's cost? pipe tobacco?), it's the methodology that paints the most-fascinating/disturbing picture: Colonial privilege. One of Orwell's letters remarks on how the finely-shaped haunches of animals he saw in Burma (they didn't call it Myanmar then…) in the 1920s called for roasting and being served with mint sauce, in the fashion of an upper-middle-class English Sunday dinner… and not in a far-tastier curry (better adapted to the actual flavor of the meat) that wastes far less of the animal. Oops, I forgot about making sausages with the rest, although that also rather presumes importing home-country methods and flavorings to the colonies; I think bangers and mash will be just a bit out of place.

    Putting this link sausage on the same platter as the preceding one is guaranteed to cause intellectual indigestion. Which is exactly why I did it.

  • In a perhaps unintentional preview of how things are likely to go in other matters, the Drumpf Organization is now a convicted felon and tax evader after "the company’s defense was replete with similar bungling and clunky theatrics" to Drumpf's defense at his second impeachment trial (before a jury — the US Senate — not smart enough to understand a prosecutor's request to indict a ham sandwich as violating kashrut). More interesting will be the collateral consequences of a felony tax-evasion conviction: Early calling of loans (under standard, essentially nonnegotiable terms in many non-security-issuing large commercial-real-property-related loans); potential bar actions against senior officers preventing them from serving as officers or directors; vulnerability to future audits and enforcement actions; shame and disgrace (sorry, requires both a conscience and respect for others' values and opinions, and of the Drumpfs only Mary has demonstrated that).

    The kinds of shenanigans with records at the core of the case will also prove… interesting… regarding "recordkeeping" around certain classified documents. And this sort of "prior bad act" is admissible evidence to show a pattern not of intent, but of habit and ordinary business conduct. So is anyone surprised that more questionable documents have shown up? Found by his own team? (Not to mention searched for presuming accurate and undamaged packaging proclaiming classification, by people who — if, as is highly unlikely, they have appropriate clearances — absolutely do not have a need to know the content?)

  • If a whistle blows in the forest, and nobody wants to hear it, does it really make a meaningful sound?
  • Speaking of forests, and overconcentration on individual parts thereof, there's a remarkably nearsighted opinion piece at The Hill suggesting a return to "rigorous" standards in American education as a purported cure for poor performance in specific parts of the post-high-school experience. I'll never deny that we don't teach writing well — as the Eleventh Circuit struggled with a couple days ago, while being too genteel to criticize legislative-branch utter incompetence (PDF) — however, Ms Matthew isn't only losing sight of the forest for the trees, but the trees for the twigs. In no particular order:

    • Until American education stops spending money on new athletic facilities dedicated to interscholastic competition (and providing virtually no health or other benefit to 90%+ of the students) instead of libraries and laboratories of all kinds, "rigorous classrooms" simply will not matter.
    • And those "rigorous classrooms" will be exposed as frauds by every student whose talent lies in math… instead of English as a second (or third or fourth) language.
    • Until the academic quality of teachers matches that in 1937 (which would be difficult, seeing as how (a) women can get honors college degrees and do something other than teaching and nursing now, and (b) we now admit that we have to educate those who don't look Just Like Us), the smart kids will still sneer at the teachers, questioning why they should be taught by teachers who have greater experience but less raw capability than they do. I still shudder at having had to correct a purported for-seniors-college-prep-course teacher's entire demonstration of how eclipses occur because he used circular orbits… and then see that replicated on the Friday pop quiz…
    • Not to mention the lurking continued dominance of Manifest Destiny throughout the curriculum, and in particular the purported canon. Anyone who actually applies that proposed "rigorous education" to some of the canon will acknowledge that Twain was too easy on Cooper… and will be able to state why, and perhaps a bit about what should be studied instead.
    • We've learned an awful lot about learning since granny's day in Philadelphia schools. One of those things — seldom reflected in the hyperefficient metrics imposed on education by cost/benefit analysis — is that mere repetition-with-variations results in habitual reactions that transfer rather poorly to changed contexts. If there is one thing that the past nine decades have demonstrated, it is that context is constantly changing… even as to those capitalization and punctuation rules (consider, for example, the proper capitalization of the first word following a colon — the accepted rules have changed since 1935, even just on the eastern seaboard of the US).
    • And for all of the undeniable and undoubted deficits in writing and basic mathematics, today's public-school graduate knows a great deal more about some other subjects. Many can code; even more can go beyond spelling "Myanmar" to saying a coherent sentence — perhaps in excrutiatingly-correct upper-middle-class grammar, but more likely with a native-language accent — about what it is, which I suspect granny couldn't have in 1937 Philadelphia (notwithstanding the name change).
    • <SARCASM> Besides, more "rigor" in the classroom won't prepare high school graduates for good factory jobs that will satisfy the Secretary of Education we had recently (who, one might add, never earned a graduate degree). For those jobs, we need more rigor in metal shop. And, for that matter, a workplace/factory in a decade that looks like the workplace/factory those setting education policy were familiar with two decades ago. </SARCASM> Which very much begs the question of how and when we identify the "appropriate" track, for whom, by whom… and whether the foresight with which we do so has any accuracy. In 1937 Philadelphia, would you have predicted that half a century later the consensus best "family car" available in America would have been designed and built in Japan… and that a couple decades after that a first-generation smartphone would have greater capability to land a spacecraft on the moon than the entire Apollo apparatus?

    Ms Matthews, you get a C+ for this essay: The punctuation and verb-subject agreement were correct, but the analysis was deficient. Vapidity inside good grammar is still vapid. Romanes eunt domum! Your essay failed to account even for all of the evidence it did discuss, and reflected failure to do any research, or to understand the distinction between "anecdote" and "verifiable, replicable evidence sufficient to support a policy statement."

  • Dear Karen:

    (Yes, you, Karen, in your Audi A8.) You were unusually oblivious and entitled yesterday afternoon. Trying to parallel park — not all that successfully, on the wrong side of the street — so that your car is not just in front of the yellow curb, but blocking someone's driveway, is pretty oblivious. It's even more oblivious when the person whose driveway you're preparing to block is actually getting into his car in that driveway, getting ready to leave, while you're doing the bad parking job. The confirmation of your name, though, came after getting your attention required the blocked-in driver to wave several times, increasingly wildly, and then yell… and you accused him of being "aggressive" when he was trying to get to a medical appointment (while you presumably visited Karens' Bruncherie). This would have been the third time in the last year and a half that entitled parking shenanigans had prevented him from making an appointment.

    Karen, I'm afraid you're an undesireable. Bugger off and never come back. Or at least don't come back while your sense of entitlement continues to block your sightlines in your luxury sedan (it wasn't a never-been-off-road luxury SUV — this time; you've probably got a pristine-white-like-your-skin BMW SUV or Land Rover in the garage at home, because you sure as hell drove like it).