SOCK-IT-TO-YA

We had planned to not write about this one, dearly hoping it would quietly fade away. That was never going to happen, however, and, having made The Washington Post and the like, there’s now no purpose in not writing about it.

A few days ago, an American schoolteacher went through what was apparently her standard trigonometry routine, donning a fake Indian headdress and chanting SOHCAHTOA as a war dance, or whatever. Yes, the schoolteacher is from another era and, quite possibly, another planet. This year, however, a Native American kid in the class filmed her and then gave permission for the video to be posted on Instagram, where it appeared complete with a campaign speech, and school name and contacts. The snowball then did what snowballs do, the teacher has been suspended and so forth.

It is interesting times when a member of the Hitlerjugend is almost universally portrayed as the victim.

RatS 15: Taibbi – Afghanistan: We Never Learn

Matt Taibbi has written the obvious but excellent article on American incompetence and mendacity in regard to Afghanistan:

Every image coming out of Afghanistan this past weekend was an advertisement for the incompetence, arrogance, and double-dealing nature of American foreign policy leaders. Scenes of military dogs being evacuated while our troops fire weapons in the air to disperse humans desperate for a seat out of the country will force every theoretical future ally to think twice about partnering with us …

The pattern is always the same. We go to places we’re not welcome, tell the public a confounding political problem can be solved militarily, and lie about our motives in occupying the country to boot. Then we pick a local civilian political authority to back that inevitably proves to be corrupt and repressive, increasing local antagonism toward the American presence.

Read the whole thing. And then scream.

Continue reading “RatS 15: Taibbi – Afghanistan: We Never Learn”

Maths Experts Do Not Reaffirm Support For Curriculum Changes

A few weeks ago, the Sydney Morning Herald published a report by Lisa Visentin and Anna Prytz, with the pithy title,

Maths experts reaffirm support for curriculum changes as leading group sounds alarm

The “leading group” refers to AMSI, which indeed sounded the alarm, calling for a halt of ACARA’s review of the mathematics curriculum. The claim, however, that “maths experts” reaffirmed support for the curriculum changes is, in a word, bullshit. Obviously AMSI did not do so, but also, to a reasonable approximation, no one did.

Continue reading “Maths Experts Do Not Reaffirm Support For Curriculum Changes”

RatS 11: Taibbi and The Miserableness of Documenting Censorship

We link a lot to Matt Taibbi. He is smart, he cares (mostly) about  the right things, and he is beholden to no one. Which means that, with the polarising idiocy of our times, Taibbi is hated by pretty much everyone. It’s always a good bet to judge a man by his enemies.

Taibbi has an on-going series, Meet the Censored, to which we link whenever he has a new post. Now, Taibbi has written about that series, and the difficulty bringing people on with what the series is really about. If for example, you were cheering when Trump was kicked off Twitter, you might want to think again. Having thought again, you’re probably still fine to cheer Trump being kicked off Twitter, and maybe that’s ok, but it is not a gimme.

Here is Taibbi’s post on the issue:

On the Miserable Necessity of Doing Censorship Stories in Pairs

 

 

Richmond, Drugs and the Injection of Bullshit

Just a word about Richmond West Primary School, which has been in the Melbourne news for all the wrong reasons in the last couple days. What follows is obviously our point of view, and is not intended to represent the School or any other person.

Our daughters go to RWPS and, with the caveat that all primary schools are screwed up by the Australian Curriculum and modern education nitwittism, we and our daughters love the school. We commute very non-trivially for our daughters to go there. In particular, we have regarded the school as perfectly safe.

Notoriously, RWPS is next door to the North Richmond Community Health Centre, which houses Richmond’s safe injecting room. The injecting room is there because the drugs and the druggies are there. It was a dodgy area long before the injecting room, and it still is, although if anything our understanding and perception is that it’s probably less so. One is watchful, and it is not unusual to see a down-and-outer, drugged or otherwise. But before this week, for four years, we did not see or hear of anything remotely extreme or threatening near the school. What our daughters have experienced more than anything is lessons in empathy, to think compassionately about people who are doing it much tougher than themselves.

The incidents at RWPS this week were obviously much more serious. What is not obvious, however, is what exactly the incidents were, or whether they carry any deeper meaning. The incidents do not appear in any way linked, and we’ve read nothing to suggest that they’re in any way linked to the injecting room. We’ve seen nothing to suggest that such incidents are likely to recur. It is natural to question what is going; two such incidents in a week demands it. But it should be kept in mind that perhaps nothing is going on, that, accepting the area is dodgy, the incidents may have been coincidental and rare.

What doesn’t help is shopping misinformation and fear-mongering, in particular by shit-stirring Murdoch stooges and their fellow travellers. We’ll be reading and looking to find out more. But, we won’t be reading nasty, populist fuckers, and we suggest others avoid this as well.

UPDATE (24/03/21)

And more populist bullshit today. Fuck Tom Cowie and fuck David Estcourt and fuck Anthony Piovesan, and fuck you TV vultures around when school lets out. All of you, either you have no fucking clue, or you’re lying through your fucking teeth.

UPDATE (29/03/21)

And further “Fuck you”s, to the Age’s Rachel Eddie and ABC’s Zalika Rizmal. And a special “Fuck you” to pompous Liberal toad, Matthew Bach.

RatS 8: Donald McNeil Has His Say

Last month, science writer Donald McNeil got shoved out of the New York Times. McNeil has waited until he was formally out of the Times to have his say. Now, he has done so. The whole thing is insane.

Part One: Introduction

Part Two: What Happened January 28?

Part Three: What Happened in the 2019 Investigation?

Part Four: What Happened in Peru?

RatS 6: Bipolar Opposites

We’ve never paid particular attention to Scott Alexander (pseudonym) and his blog, Slate Star Codex (now Astral Codex Ten). Long ago, we ran into a few SSC posts and our very vague memory is that we liked them. Then, while reading more on the New York Times‘s crucifying of Donald McNeil, we came across the Times‘s smelly article on SSC, including the gratuitous and sleazy outing of Alexander.* We explored a little, including reading this thoughtful critique of SSC. Still, we didn’t, and don’t, look to have an opinion on SSC, or on the “rationalism” in which it is supposedly immersed. (We did however, come to the opinion, that the New York Times has lost its collective fucking mind.)

A couple days ago, however, and completely by chance, we ran into an old, 2014 post on SSC. Alexander is a psychiatrist, and this post was on his long and futile attempt to conduct a study of a screening test for bipolar disorder, a test that Alexander suspected was of limited worth and knew was being widely misused. From the introduction to Alexander’s saga:

You ask patients a bunch of things like “Do you ever feel really happy, then really sad?”. If they say ‘yes’ to enough of these questions, you start to worry.

Some psychiatrists love this test. I hate it. Patients will say “Yes, that absolutely describes me!” and someone will diagnose them with bipolar disorder. Then if you ask what they meant, they’d say something like “Once my local football team made it to the Super Bowl and I was really happy, but then they lost and I was really sad.” I don’t even want to tell you how many people get diagnosed bipolar because of stuff like this.

Alexander’s post struck a particularly strong chord. Our father was a clinical psychologist, and he saw the worst. The whole Cuckoo’s Nest thing. More importantly, he didn’t think the not-worst was generally all that much better. In general, he regarded his psychologist and, especially, psychiatrist colleagues as arrogant, narrow-minded, drug-pushing quacks. Alexander’s story is from a different angle, but it fits right in.

Alexander’s post is alternately hilarious and horrifying. Read it. And then scream.

 

*) The kind of thing that a toady like James Massola would do.