Odds and Ends

Wither the Blog?

OMG, so much happening in the world and I’m not writing about it! Ukraine. Jan. 6. School ruckuses. Trucker ruckuses. But Covid is done, or so it seems. Actually, I’ve been taking a writing class because I want to write a book. I’ve never subjected my writing to such scrutiny before, so I’m a bit traumatized. But I have submitted my last assignment, so I can clear my head and think about the real world again. Weight lifted!

Green

“Green is such a tricky color.” I’ve no idea why that one quote from the movie Gosford Park sticks with me. I remember few details of any movies. But the good news is that the myriad shades of green that reveal themselves in the gradual progression of spring are happening now if you go outside. Bulbs are peeking through the ground. Buds are swelling. I’m so ready! 

Birdsong

Yes, birds are coming to our balcony! They’ll be pairing up soon, and part of that pairing process is the most wonderful music of all. My hearing is on the decline, but I can still hear our birds, even over the roar of traffic, sirens, the backing-up beeps of trucks at loading docks, and car alarms that forget to stop when the thief runs away. God bless the birds!

Too Many Asians

I’ve been promoting the film Try Harder to all my friends and neighbors. But people are missing one of its messages, the one that troubles me. Cities that have selective high schools for high achieving students are finding them filled with highly motivated Asian students. Especially since the BLM protests of 2020 and the subsequent dominance of the Equity narrative, school districts are trying to even out the demographics of these schools. They are abandoning tests that screen applicants in favor of lotteries and other strategies for choosing who gets into public high schools that offer private school quality to motivated students who otherwise could not afford this opportunity.

In my humble opinion, it’s one thing to worry about kids who are currently not meeting the admission criterion, but it’s another thing to see so many Asian kids succeeding and think, “We can’t have that!” Why can’t we have that? If these are the kids who are studying hard when others aren’t, perhaps we should look at their family support, their study habits, their behavior in class, and help other kids who really crave academic success adopt their strategies. Shoving them aside is not good for us any more than it’s good for them. 

Some friends have commented that they wouldn’t want their kids to be subject to so much pressure. OK, that’s fine. Because no one has to apply to selective high schools. That could well be why the demographics are so unbalanced. But if the lotteries and other strategies designed to bring “equity” to these schools result in lower academic standards in their classes, then equity does not benefit society – or the students admitted under new standards. Again, IMHO.

Last minute update: San Francisco just recalled three school board members. Asians were the most frequent voters. Changing Lowell HS to a lottery admission strategy was one issue that motivated the recall campaign.

Suggested reading: The Cult of Smart by Freddie deBoer

Ukraine

Seriously, do you trust Putin? I hear people saying they don’t want war; this all must be America’s fault; why don’t we just promise we won’t allow Ukraine into NATO, and so on. I don’t hear people saying that Putin is crafty, manipulative, and out for himself and the glory of his bank account and the Russian Empire. As near as I can tell, Ukraine is not in NATO. Ukraine is not on a path to NATO membership. But Ukraine is a free country and is free to desire neutrality, or NATO membership, or aligning with the West, to being reincorporated into the Russian Empire. And I don’t trust Putin. Distrust “the West” all you want, but please, don’t trust Putin.

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