Archives for the month of: July, 2019

Humans, each of us, are information foragers. We want to know anything that catches our attention, and we want it the same way a raccoon wants anything shiny.

Humans are hard-wired to learn, and we are quite eager for it and good at it until we enter a coercive classroom where education and schooling become conflated. When the free will in learning disappears, education becomes a mechanical, often unpleasant process, and we become that “generation of robots” of which Neill warned. The concern is that now we live with a generation of actual robots. To distinguish ourselves from artificial intelligence we need an education model that preserves essential human characteristics like curiosity and ingenuity. The good news is that we don’t need to teach kids to be curious and creative. They already are. We simply need to stop destroying these qualities through coercive schooling practices.

Worth repeating:

The concern is that now we live with a generation of actual robots. To distinguish ourselves from artificial intelligence we need an education model that preserves essential human characteristics like curiosity and ingenuity.

Source: Unschooling: Shifting from Force to Freedom in Education | Cato Unbound

Freedom triumphs over coercion.

If we view children as anything other than their own, we do err and commit grievous offense against them. Children are not our future. They are our present partners. Children are not our future workforce. They are their own. Your desires for their education and training may be good for you, yet counter to their own self and well being.

Government always moves to coerce and impose, falling to force over the least resistance. “Send the guys with guns!” they cry. Coercion is evil. Being afraid of how a child might use guided freedom is a sin. We owe our children more confidence. They have to learn for themselves anyway. Our efforts are mostly futile until they do it on their own.

Source: Freedom Triumphs Over Coercion | Cato Unbound

 

https://www.cato-unbound.org/2019/07/08/kerry-mcdonald/unschooling-shifting-force-freedom-education

 

This morning, we sang a hymn.

For some background, https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-this-is-my-song

For the beauty; watch. This one is not just for listening. Trust me, you will be glad you took the time and watched. Jean Sibelius – Finlandia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5zg_af9b8c

In school orchestra, we played that. (I was a second violin.)

A simple rendition of the hymn. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToddeYDefSE

The hymn:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a prayer that peace transcends in every place;
and yet I pray for my beloved country —
the reassurance of continued grace:
Lord, help us find our one-ness in the Savior,
in spite of differences of age and race.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms,
thy kingdom come, on earth, thy will be done;
let Christ be lifted up ’til all shall serve him,
and hearts united, learn to live as one:
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations,
myself I give thee — let thy will be done.

From http://prometheusli.com/musings/a_song_of_peace.htm

More beauty (and a different lyric), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p_Js05AA54

For good measure, another one to watch and enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lCnguTtsSQ Polytech Male Choir and the Helsinki Philharmonic

Worth something? It was to me.

Source: Apollo 11 in Real Time

I assume this will work from here. I assume it will be available for some time to come. Too cool.

Source: Losing the Class – The American Mind

Interesting read, speaking to the depths.

The current system is a dried-out tinder box.

Living the Truth

Humans need a few things to survive—air and water, food, shelter and sleep, for instance—and a few more things to thrive: companionship, pleasure, purpose, health and a little money come to mind, maybe also wisdom and beauty. This latter list is somewhat negotiable, at least for a time. We can think of times and places where one or another thing was in short supply. But long-term spiritual sustainability is another matter. Dostoevsky once defined a human as “the animal who can get used to anything,” and while I’m loath to disagree much with the author of The Brothers Karamazov, subsequent Russian history suggests that this adjustability has its limits.

Without air, a few minutes, without water, a few days, without food, a few weeks, without shelter, well, it depends on the weather, but maybe a few months, and sleep, well, it is scary to contemplate.

We need these things, but the others are more important to living life. We have spiritual needs. We die, even if we keep breathing, without spiritual sustenance.

Mr. Corbin picks “living in truth” to elaborate on. Not telling lies is easy if one practices. Telling the truth requires courage. It also requires humility to know one might be wrong. Still, it is our duty as honest individuals to stand against what we know is wrong.

 

Source: atomicarchive.com: Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb

Treasure trove.

Source: Los Alamos: Beginning of an era | The Manhattan Project | Historical Documents | atomicarchive.com

Ready reference.

At present, electric aircraft are nonsense.

Electric cars are better than petrol cars. However, for travel, gasoline allows us to drive for the duration of the bladder, perhaps four hours for a conscientious and deliberate driver, and then after a few minutes for relief, a snack, and a full fuel tank, one can do it again, and again, even more with multiple drivers. Not so electrics. Further, we must fill the fuel tank every few hours of driving, 10 minutes once per week for most of us. On the other hand, electric cars need to be charged at any significant stop. For a 25 minute commute to work, one must recharge every evening. There are engineering solutions, but they are expensive.

I expect cars will transition to electric over a few decades, perhaps 25 years, as soon as autonomous vehicles and traffic ways become common. Electric aircraft would probably join the municipal fleets, but flights requiring over a few minutes of air time are unlikely in any foreseeable future period.

The key to my supposition is interchangeability. Autonomous vehicles will be able to stop and transfer us to a freshly charged vehicle at typical rest/relief intervals. Not so with aircraft. As described in the article, we need batteries 50 times better if we expect to do the things imagined. For aircraft, practical is probably 100 times better, and lighter. Note the 1500 tonnes of batteries he suggests. For most commercial aircraft, take-off weight is less than 500 tonnes. That is the maximum weight for the aircraft, with passengers and cargo. It is simply not possible from an engineering or economic perspective. We will be flying with petroleum liquids for decades to come.

Source: The 4th Generation | Challenges of Electrified Aviation

My local state representative, Andy, shared an article by John, a former teacher turned legislator (by statute, not choice, a statute I’m not sure I support). Andy and John are in the minority party in Oklahoma. I seldom agree with the minority party, but I find myself supporting them almost as often as the majority party. I’m registered independent. I can’t even aline with the Libertarian Party. I think I’m about as Libertarian as anyone might be, but I can’t get into the Party aspects of it and some of the policies.

Anyway, in the article that John wrote, he said, “As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.”

I absolutely oppose such a course of action. It is abuse of power. It is abuse of children. Teaching is not a political act, at least not by honest people who only care about children learning and gaining mastery of tools to meet the challenges of life.

I replied with several comments on Andy’s Facebook page. I’m listing some.

Andy, it truly saddens me that you and Mr. Waldron advocate politicizing our government run classrooms. He decries partisan politics but advocates for indoctrinating our children in the policies of the Democratic Party. How do either of you justify that?

Andy promptly replied that he does not advocate that, but he didn’t explain why he shared the article. Perhaps I’ll ask specifically.

I also commented:

“As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.” There are no public resources. The only money government has was taken under threat of force from supposedly free individuals who earned their wages by the honest sweat of their own brows.

Why are my policies bad and yours good?

John replied:

I really don’t know where to begin. You apparently believe there should be no taxes for schools, or I suppose roads, national security or public health. I don’t think we can bridge that gap over facebook. Perhaps you would like to meet face to face? I promise to read up on Bastiat to prepare for our discussion.

His reference to Bastiat might stem from the fact I’ve posted a few items about Bastiat recently, and I invited Andy and my local senator, Rob, to comment. So, a couple of my Facebook shares about Bastiat showed on Andy’s page just below Andy’s shared article.

I replied to John that he assumes too much.

I appreciate Andy’s comment:

I absolutely do *not* advocate for politicizing classrooms. Teachers should teach students how to think for themselves — not *what* to think.

Not all parents are like you. There are tens of thousands of kids in this state who don’t even live with their parents. They are institutionalized, shuffled in foster care, living with distant relatives, etc. 

What of them?

To which I replied:

Them, I won’t forget. I do not advocate for no government school, just no government coercion. I want less government because I see the net result of more government as causing more harm than good. Less government might find us a sweet spot where we seldom complain of it, or the other political party. Less is often more.

I don’t believe government schools will be driven out by school choice. I don’t like vouchers, and Epic is a rotten taste in my mouth at the moment. I’ve never supported the schemes and plans for choice. The plans all seem to have too many flaws. Government money invariably leads to waste, fraud, and abuse, and giving government money to private parties has the most likelihood of graft and selfish ambition ensuring waste, fraud, and abuse, and good intentions too often have bad side effects.

End truancy laws, and let parents be in charge of their own children with full responsibility. Most parents will step up. It is government as fallback that is the root of most of the deficiencies that lead to so many parents being in tough circumstances. It isn’t a perfect world. Life really is suffering, and government cannot fix that. Democratic Party policies cannot fix it. GOP policies cannot fix it. Advocacy groups of whatever stripe cannot fix it. Only personal responsibility can fix it. Be the change you want to see in the world. DON’T write a law pretending the State can fix it. Don’t assume sending the guys with guns will set all to rights.

How long will we keep screaming that more money will fix the schools or the police? It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It isn’t a matter of policy. It is a matter of misplaced responsibility and accountability. The State is not accountable. The State cannot be held accountable. The State can only be limited. When the power of the State is too limited for power-seekers to abuse it, government will stop being abusive. Then out-of-balance party politics won’t be so corrupting. Government is the problem, not balance. We have to have some authority, but we have gone much too far, especially in government enforcement of schooling.

If government schooling is so good, why can’t it be given the chance to fend for itself? I believe enough people will demand it for it to continue. I think there is ample justification for our current system until we have something clearly better. (I don’t see anything clearly better taking over in our lifetimes.) I don’t want rid of government-funded public schools. I want rid of coercive laws that make mothers feel powerless to fight for their children. I want Momma to be able to stand up for her child for herself, not dependent upon support from government and teachers’ unions.

Do you not understand that parents with children who have problems in the schools feel powerless? It is not because of lack of programs. It is because the parents have no alternatives. That is the fault of truancy laws and current government policies, policies mostly advocated by both major parties. (I again emphasize it is NOT a party problem.)

Literacy rates [in North America] were highest before government schools and truancy laws. Government schools have not helped. How many copies of Common Sense sold? How many were pirated and copied by anyone with the wherewithal? It seems to me too many had (and have) motive to exaggerate the numbers, but the pamphlet was not light reading, and it was widely read, and widely read aloud. There is no doubt the written word and civic responsibility were strong in our land long before any of our modern conventions. “Knowledge is power.” What parent doesn’t know that? What parent conscientiously deprives offspring of any and all tools that might equip them for the trials of life?

The point isn’t schooling. The point isn’t even education. The point is learning and mastering tools for living meaningful lives. The goal of every parent is helping children achieve their potential, or at least to do better. Each generation wants the next generation to do better. Our government-enforced schools are thwarting that now. Our government at all levels works at cross purposes to all that free citizens try to accomplish, and it applies to citizens of all ages.

We err when we consider children as less than citizens. Every individual at every stage of life is self-sovereign. We are all partners. Yes, children are childish, and we parents have extra responsibilities, but it is a partnership. It is not a dictatorship where the parent rules. It is a gradual turning over of responsibility to the child at each stage of maturity.

Obviously, I’ve grown too verbose. I hope there is something in this that gives you a bit of insight into my perspective.

I support school choice, but I haven’t found any programs or laws for choice that I can back. Such programs still depend on government authority and threat of force no matter how it is set up. I want freedom of choice, not programs for choice. Children learn if we let them. A gentle guiding hand can accomplish wonders in a child’s own learning.

Constitutionally outlaw truancy laws.

I added:

The key challenge to choice is leaving the choice to the individual. When an authority dictates, or simply endorses, the authority is responsible. No bureaucrat can satisfactorily be held accountable under all but the most extreme situations of criminality. We have the wherewithal now in our digital age to hold everyone individually accountable by reputation. The systems are immature and flawed, but I doubt most individual-based review systems are more error-prone than our bureaucracies.

Leave choices to the individuals. Don’t rule by law. Law is power. Power corrupts. There are no exceptions. Knowledge is the only power I’m eager to leave unfettered.

Andy and John haven’t had time to reply more.

John’s article listed significant credentials for him. I suggest John Taylor Gatto had more credentials and a more fascinating story.

https://www.johntaylorgatto.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

https://fee.org/articles/john-taylor-gatto-1935-2018-remembering-americas-most-courageous-teacher/

https://www.naturalchild.org/articles/guest/john_gatto.html

For those who hold to authoritarian views and formal organization and lesson planning by “experts” I suggest looking into the work of Sugata Mitra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugata_Mitra

http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/

His TED talks are easy to find, and here is a recent article:

https://universe.byu.edu/2019/03/26/physicist-encourages-change-in-the-use-of-technology-in-education/

Personally, I advocate for homeschooling without rigid standards. Reading aloud to a child from the earliest age, and routinely, is the most effective thing we can do for children. There really aren’t any hard and fast rules for what a person needs to know now. We need to know how to read, but living the example as adults is far better than a schoolroom. There isn’t much else we need to know to get along in the world because of the ease of use of technology.

Decry tech and screens all you want, but that is our world now. We are not going back. I have access to anything I want to study, anything. A screen and internet access extends my reach to anything I might need. Children will learn all they need if we just guide a little and let them learn. They will learn to love the classics because that is why they are classics, because we love them. The same goes for anything they need. They will want it, and if we don’t hinder them, they will learn it. They will master the tools they need to reach their potential and to be assets to partners, families, communities, and society at large.

For further reading, go to FEE.org , and I especially recommend Kerry McDonald, https://fee.org/people/kerry-mcdonald/

I assert wind power is a scam and solar has its place, which isn’t on the grid. However, it is worse than that. Wind doesn’t stand a chance without finance shenanigans played with tax credits and mastered by the Wizard of Omaha. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!)

The article clearly explains a recent example. It is a scam, and the media have bought into it hook, line, and sinker.

Source: “New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear” Until You Do the Math | Watts Up With That?

You have to be a monster more vile than Thanos to try to impose “green.” We will burn fossil fuels until we go nuclear because most people just aren’t that evil. Wind and solar are causing grave harm. More wind, more solar, more “green” policies and taxes, more harm. Are you proud to cause harm to your neighbor? Can you live with yourself for depriving the least among us?

 

Bastiat served the last two years of his life in France’s Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, where he worked tirelessly to convince fellow members of the merits of freedom and free markets. They proved to be his toughest audience. Most were far more interested in selfish and ephemeral satisfactions (such as power, money, reelection, and the dispensing of favors to friends) than in eternal truths.

He could be devilishly brilliant in his denunciations of his colleagues with political power who presumed to plan the control the lives of others, as in this admonition:

Ah, you miserable creatures! You who think that you are so great! You who judge humanity to be so small! You who wish to reform everything! Why don’t you reform yourselves? That task would be sufficient enough.

Or in this one, my personal favorite:

If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?

Bastiat, worth keeping.

Source: Frédéric Bastiat: Liberty’s Masterful Storyteller – Foundation for Economic Education

Bastiat thought the modern bureaucratic and regulatory State of his day was based on a mixture of outright violence and coercion on the one hand, and trickery and fallacies (sophisms) on the other. The violence and coercion came from the taxes, tariffs, and regulations, which were imposed on taxpayers, traders, and producers; the ideological dimension that maintained the current class of plunderers came from a new set of “political” and “economic sophisms” that confused, misled, and tricked a new generation of “dupes” into supporting the system. The science of political economy, according to Bastiat, was to be the means by which the economic sophisms of the present would be exposed, rebutted, and finally overturned, thus depriving the current plundering class of its livelihood and power.

Sadly true in 1850, it is still true, even more so. Can science and wisdom free us from the current plundering class (which includes the young Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was tending bar (with a degree from Boston College) when she ran for Congress; how long before she is a US-1%er)?

I don’t think there is enough wisdom. Some blame schools. I blame government (which runs the schools, partly with the intent to make conformist, rulable voters).

Fundamentally a law is the threat to send guys with guns if you act in disharmony with the law. All laws are coercive. Coercion is evil. Therefore, the only rational justification for a law is that it is preventing a far graver evil. Coercing children to government schools (or indoctrination centers, or prisons) is evil and unjustifiable. Schooling thwarts learning. Children will learn if we let them. Compulsory government schooling is thus doubly evil.

What will free us from the state is technology. Technology will provide a more secure means for protecting individual freedoms, and when that is attainable by the majority, “majority rule” will be no more.

Source: Frédéric Bastiat: Liberty’s Masterful Storyteller – Foundation for Economic Education

 

Source: Climate Change Debate Education

Source: Total US Energy Flows 2018 (PDF)

Think of it this way, with fossil fuels, our society and our people use energy to a solid B on a normal grading scale. Adding hydroelectric and nuclear, we are an easy A. In 50 more years, with trillions more wasted on wind and solar, that will still be true.

We could, of course, push for advanced nuclear solutions, and in 50 years, we could half the fossil fuels and generate most of our power from fission.

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