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Mathematically Correct


In browsing through some decade-old newspaper clippings, I came across one that discussed the infamous 1997 decision by the California Academic Standards Commission to turn down an offer by a group of three scientists who had won the Nobel prize in chemistry (and one of whom the Nobel committee described as “one of the most creative research workers of our age”) to write the state’s new science curriculum for free. In trying to find references to this online, I came across an interesting online group–Mathematically Correct, which according to David Gelernter of the NY Post, “fights the Establishment on behalf of sanity and quality in math education.”

The group᾵s details of the 1997 science curriculum war is well worth reading, but you should also read their report on the National Center on Education and the Economy, How the NCEE Redefines K-12 Math, which Mathematically Correct describes as shallow, focuses on the use of calculators, and does not include any Ᾰtasks involving large numbers, negative numbers, prime numbers, operations with fractions, or operations with decimals.Ᾱ

Who Killed General Motors?


The saying used to be “What’s good for the General is good for the U.S.”, but the dramatic decline in General Motor’s fortunes over the past couple of years bears revisiting this phrase, and make sure that whatever has befallen GM doesn’t do the same to the entire rest of the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Those who are concerned about this should read a recent editorial by Pat Buchanan, Who killed General Motors? that was published in newspapers around the country.

Cougars Wiping Out Sierra Bighorn Sheep


A reminder of yesterday’s news: A 1998 Chronicle article pointed out that the Proposition 117 protection for mountain lions was allowing them to decimate the remains of the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep population.

CA’s $3B Stem Cell Law has Little Oversight


Proposition 71, passed by California voters last year, turns out to use unusual financing that will take money from promised research funds and spend it on interest payments, prevents any changes from being made to the law for 3 years, and the oversight board’s meetings can be immune from California’s open meeting laws.

For the whole scoop, read the SF Chronicle’s article from December Prop. 71’s fine print contains surprises.

Coastal Commission Blocks Devil’s Slide Tunnel


Progress on the $275 million, 4,000-foot twin-bore tunnel approved by San Mateo County voters way back in 1996, and supposed to begin construction this fall, has been blocked by the California Coastal Commission over the transfer of a small parcel of land.

Approved by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in May, the Commission filed an appeal in late July to block the project. Caltrans’ promise to transfer the Martini Creek Devil’s Slide property to California State Parks after construction is completed is not good enough—they want the transfer written into law before giving their final blessing to the project.

More details can be found in this article from the San Mateo Times: Devil’s Slide tunnel tossed a curve ball. State Senator Bryon Sher is the author of the legislation, SB 792.

D.C. Schools Cutting in Wrong Place


Today’s edition of includes a story on the job cuts in the D.C. public schools. The story leads with the fact that 545 teachers and 226 others will be losing their jobs, but the really interesting details are in the last several paragraphs.

According to the article, the school has 65,099 students, 14,058 total employees (1 non-teaching employee for every 7.52 students), and 5,400 teachers (1 teacher for every 12.06 students). Teachers make up barely a third of the school system’s employees, and the student to teacher ratio is worse than the non-teaching employee ratio to students!

Logging Blamed for Wildfires?


Looking through my newspaper clippings, I came across an LA Times article from 2002 citing a University of Idaho fire ecologist, claiming a link between heavy logging and an increase of big-burn forest fires. I ’m not sure of the validity of the claims in the article, but the accompanying charts of logging and fires from 1945 to 1995 are interesting in and of themselves.

Drunk on Hydrogen


In the RANT, physics teacher Dom Crea gives his perspective on the energy efficiency in a hydrogen economy.

Libiot and Conservadum defined


Recently, a listener to Dr. Bill’s show came up with some clever definitions for stupid liberals and conservatives. Libiot is a contraction of liberal and idiot, while conservadum is a contraction of conservative and dummy. The full definitions of Libiot and Conservadum have been added to the Pushback Glossary.

20% of Calif. high-school seniors won’t graduate


The AP is reporting that A fifth of California’s high school students expected to graduate in 2004 won’t receive their diplomas because they have not taken all the math classes they need in order to pass the mandated tests.

So why are the politicians and administrators and school boards responsible for this mess allowed to remain in power, and cover their asses by delaying the requirement for another three years?