Friday, 21 September 2012

Just Some Observations over Education

Do most high school kids (fifteen to eighteen) need trigonometry?  No.

Do most high school kids (fifteen to eighteen) need calculus?  No.

Do most high school kids (fifteen to eighteen) need biology?  No.

Do most high school kids (fifteen to eighteen) need chemistry?  No.

Do most high school kids (fifteen to eighteen) need geometry?  No.

Do most high school kids (fifteen to eighteen) need English literature, Shakespeare, or Hemingway?  No.

The truth is....somewhere around age fourteen....you can split off a class of twenty-five students.  Fifteen of them need maybe one more year of real education, and you'd be best to put the fifteen kids into job training type areas (carpentry, mechanics, office administration, road construction, etc) after that point.

The remaining ten?  They are the ones that need more intensive classes.  You are simply wasting teachers, man-hours, and the energy of kids....on topics of no value for the bulk of the group.

Forget these fancy summits that you hear about where four hundred educational experts meet and want to help every single student get a vast amount of education, which might be mostly worthless.  

We could release 200k teachers across the nation from their jobs.....and put them back into private jobs, if we were simply thinking about reality.

The Times

Yeah, well....it is true.

For the famous Abu Ghraib prison episode from eight years ago....the New York Times featured the story on the front page forty-seven times, and thirty-two days were consecutive days.

For the killing of the American ambassador in Libya?  Yeah, it was featured on page one....two days after the event, and has not been on the front page since that day.

Yeah, that's pretty much the whole story.  They just can't squeeze more "big" impact out of the story....unlike the Abu Ghraib prison episode.  Investigative analysis?  Well....yeah.....zero.  They can't even find some guy on the street of Libya to add commentary to the ambassador story.

Well....yeah....folks do wonder why subscriptions are lower than a decade ago and why folks just don't read newspapers much anymore.

Well....yeah....folks, if given a choice.....probably would pick up a USA Today Newspaper quicker, than the New York Times.

The Problem with TV News

Sometime around 2002, I was sitting and watching a CNN International News piece.....and started laughing.  I don't remember the topic, but the obvious angle of telling the story was as far to the left as you could possibly get.  Over the next couple of months....I started to observe more of these odd variations of stories.  As time went by.....I noted the same practices with CBS, NBC, and ABC.  It was like first-year university students running some network news organization....at least in my mind.

Over the last decade, I've become kind of settled on my news.  I'll use Fox News for the most part....blend in a bit of CNN....a small dose of MSNBC, and just a bit of the business channel.  The big-three networks?  Nothing.  I might accidentally catch five minutes here and there every six months, but it doesn't amount to anything.

I've come to the opinion that most investigative reporting by the big-three networks.....have been dismantled since 2009.  They sent their guys off with limiting factors....hit on universities, Senators, Representatives, the NCAA, TV stars, etc....you just can't go and say anything negative about the US government itself.

The logic put out on the table during on-the-air TV discussions?  It amounts to something that you'd often expect out of a 16-year old kid.  The questions?  After you've seen softball type questions thrown at one person and blazing fastballs thrown at another....you just hit the channel button and go onto another network.  The trust is gone.

It's gotten to the point now where I turn the TV on at 4:30AM and try to watch the local news.  For some odd reason....my local stations....here in the Arlington, VA area....spend about seven minutes every half an hour....on national news topics.  You can guess the lean factor here....with it mostly being a view of some half-wit first-year university student, and they try to give you this facial expression of "just believe me as I tell you this story".  So I tend to hit the mute button or switch channels a good bit at 4:30AM.

If I do stick around till 7AM.....there's the Today Show which starts up, and there's always laughs here because Matt Lauer and the gang mostly act like high school kids in an attempt to tell some news story.  Oddly enough, there could be a major story which has been going on for two days, but they've finally decided to lead off and finally mention the story for the first time.  Course, the view is somewhat slanted, and you end up with half the information being of no value in grasping the impact of the story.

The sad thing is that Paul Harvey has been gone for over three years now, and there is no absolute four-star place to get the basic news as you'd desire it.

Lately, I've come to note that most of the big-three network guys are now complaining about viewership. They've actually come to notice a loss in viewers....thus a loss in profits.  They'd like to recover those viewers.  So far.....that hasn't happened.  Even CNN has lost a vast number of viewers.  Hardly anyone watches this Piers guy do his nightly interviews, and I suspect that they could relieve him with some NFL football coach to run the show and more viewers more actually drift back to the network.

A couple of days ago....I watched the Piers dude interview Jesse Ventura....former wrestler and governor of Minnesota.  About eleven minutes into the show....I had to flip the channel. It was unbearable.  Jesse ends up saying one remarkable and insightful thing....for every six comments he makes.  The other five comments are what you'd expect from some nutcase.  It was painful to watch Jesse.  It was even more painful to watch Piers.  That was the first time in four months that I'd watched Piers, and I kinda doubt I will be back anytime soon.

So my expectations are rather low on TV news.  You might actually get a decent bit of news off the state channel in Uruguay that is better than anything that the big-three offer.  Considering how much they spent for their version......that's kinda sad.

Trying to Make Sense

It's hard to make sense in this vast world.

First, we found out today that the State Department sent some guy into Pakistan with $70k in cash.....to find open TV commerical moments, and advertise this piece where the US "agrees" that the lousy anti-Islam video produced in California offends us as well.  You can imagine Husna, a mild-mannered Pakistani gal sitting there doing the dishes....when this thirty second ad comes on.....explaining how America hates the anti-Islam video too.  How far does $70k go in the Pakistani TV world?  Well....the State Department isn't explaining that part of the deal.  I'm thinking you probably can buy forty spots in the prime-time period with that...in the midst of the Pakistani airing of Knight Rider or Baywatch.

Second, someone is reporting Monica (of Bill fame)....is trying to peddle a book on her affair with Bill.  Comments indicate that she wants the big money and is going to admit spoke greatly of threesomes, sex toys, and some really negative commentary over Hillary.  This is all supposed to be worth $12 million on the book market.  Frankly, I do't kow what idiot would care about this....and pay $15 for a Monica book.

Third, sixteen Amish guys and women were convicted today of hate-crimes.  The issue?  Forced hair and beard cuts.  This was some radical group....up in the Ohio area....that felt their brothers and sisters in the local community were straying too far from "standard".  They likely will get some jail time...the more extreme cases will go up to the ten-year period apparently.  Hard to say what happens after they get released.  I kinda doubt that the jail system has ever had a case like this and Amish guys in jail might be something of a change.

Fourth and final....."Newman" from Seinfeld (Wayne Knight) has been hired to play Santa Claus in some New York City play.  Having watched Newman so many times.....it's hard to imagine the guy being Santa. To be honest, I have him permanently etched into my mind as a postal guy, period.