Another Good Year

As some of you know, we have David take a standardized test every year so we can assess which areas of his education might need more attention. We have been proud to tell you that each year he has tested above his grade level. This year was no different. I’ll give you some highlights, but I should explain the terms first.

Each of the sections is scored separately and each score is assigned a grade equivalent. That grade equivalent means that David scored the same as the average student in that grade would have scored on the same exam.

His overall score had a grade equivalent of a junior in the third month. All of his individual scores were at grade level or above with all but one score being a grade equivalent of a sophomore or above.

His highest scores were in Social Studies, Science, Language Expression, Mathematics Computation, Spelling, Vocabulary, and Reading Comprehension. Of those subjects, I teach Math and Stefanie was responsible for the rest. Nicely done, Stef!

This year, the test acts as a warm up. The State of Oregon requires that we get David tested by a third party after his third, fifth, eighth, and tenth grade years. He’ll be doing that in June, so wish him luck.

Once again, though, David has proven that our choice to homeschool was the right one. He’s doing very well and we’re very proud of him.

Way to go, David!

Just A Slight Change

As you may know, I recently accepted a promotion to Software Development Manager that has put me in a position of being a front line manager to four developers as well as ScrumMaster for up to three Scrums at a time (you can read more about Scrum here). I knew my day to day life would be a little different, but I didn’t realize just how different until this week.

Here’s my meeting schedule for the week of April 25-29, 2005 (about a year ago) on the left and my schedule for the week of May 1-5, 2006 (this week) on the right. Notice any difference?

April 25-29 Schedule May 1-5 Schedule

I am enjoying the new job responsibilities, but sheesh!

Double Standard

I am continually annoyed (but not surprised) at how duplicitous the national press can be. When the Valerie Plame case started to come to light, they bellowed about how awful it was for anyone to leak sensitive information. They demanded an investigation. They wanted blood. Of course, nobody wanted to talk about how Plame wasn’t really an undercover agent or how she misused her post to send her husband on a research trip or how he flat out lied about his findings in the New York Times.

Then, when the press starts getting leaked information about the NSA monitoring program and the foreign prisons, they are happy to share classified information with the public. As a matter of fact, those writers were given Pulitzer prizes to reward them for leaking operational secrets that have surely compromised our intelligence gathering.

This Wall Street Journal editorial does a great job of laying out the embarrassing case of double standards. The writer nails it in the final paragraph:

As for some of our media colleagues, when they stop being honest chroniclers of events and start getting into bed with bureaucrats looking to take down elected political leaders, they shouldn’t be surprised if those leaders treat them like the partisans they have become.

The truth hurts.

Monkey Business

Careful who you equate yourself with, people may not be able to tell the difference. This article sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The summary:

According to the Project, “Today only members of the species Homo sapiens are considered part of the community of equals. The chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan are our species’s closest relatives. They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals.”

Notice that the group argues that because our DNA is so similar, we should treat these animals as equals. How does that argument apply to a fetus? Doesn’t it have DNA exactly the same as a human? Shouldn’t we give a fetus human rights, too?

Oh, wait, that doesn’t fit the way they want the world to be.

Follow the Money

I have to admit that I hate paying $3 a gallon for gas. What annoys me even more, though, is the presumption by so many (including the President!) that the price increase must be due to gouging. It seems to go unreported that the federal government is making much more on each gallon of gas than the oil companies are. Neil Cavuto of FoxNews pointed out the hypocrisy of Senator Schumer:

After all, oil companies’ profit works out to nine cents a gallon. Taxes total more like 40 cents a gallon.

But you don’t hear Schumer whining about the taxes. After all, that’s an easy source of revenue for a monotonous list of social programs whos failures are legendary. Better to keep funding them through taxes that are killing us, than demanding accountability due all of us.

Even more interesting was this graph which points out clearly that, if you adjust for inflation, gas prices are no worse than they have been for some decades. It’s the higher number that has everyone scared.

If you follow the money, you see that the high prices do more for the federal treasury than for big oil. It’s no surprise the politicians would rather deflect the obvious, though, and make you think it’s the oil companies’ fault. They wouldn’t want you to have any complaints about the federal cash flow.

Ouch, That Had To Hurt

Paul Thurrott is a fairly well known author in the Microsoft Windows community. He’s written quite a few books on various MS technologies in the past so he knows of which he speaks. That makes his recent article about Windows Vista all the more piercing in its analysis.

One of my favorite bits from the piece:

Since the euphoria of PDC 2003, Microsoft’s handling of Windows Vista has been abysmal. Promises have been made and forgotten, again and again. Features have come and gone. Heck, the entire project was literally restarted from scratch after it became obvious that the initial code base was a teetering, technological house of cards. Windows Vista, in other words, has been an utter disaster. And it’s not even out yet. What the heck went wrong?

And this one:

Shame on you, Microsoft. Shame on you, but not just for not doing better. We expect you to copy Apple, just as Apple (and Linux) in its turn copies you. But we do not and should not expect to be promised the world, only to be given a warmed over copy of Mac OS X Tiger in return. Windows Vista is a disappointment. There is no way to sugarcoat that very real truth.

Paul does need to keep up his work, though, so he tempers his anger by the end of the article. I think his insight is true, however. Especially the bit about Bill Gates being part of the problem. From all I’ve read and heard, he’s hardly the visionary and more just a ruthless nerd.

Some developers have been claiming that Vista will make OS X users leave the Mac. I would be shocked. Microsoft has never been able to grok that it’s not about the pretty colors and the size of your feature bulge. It’s about being smooth and natural to the user. Being so right that you don’t even think about what you’re doing anymore.

Microsoft reminds me of that guy at a party who is trying waay too hard. He’s convinced that he’s the hottest guy in the room, but in reality he’s a little loud, a little obnoxious, and kind of embarrassing to watch.

Worst President? Hardly

Drudge is reporting that Rolling Stone magazine is about to run a story calling President Bush the worst president in history. They apparently even got a historian to back up the charge.

This is either a sign of just how bad public education in this country has become or just another case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. The idea that George W. Bush is the worst president ever is laughable. While we can probably have thoughtful discussions about the worst Presidents of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, I believe it’s clear that Bush isn’t even the worst president of the last 50 years.

Is he worse than the stereotypical overspending good ol’ boy, Lyndon Johnson? I think not.
Is he worse than the paranoid control freak, Richard Nixon? Hardly.
Is he worse than the immoral, self-absorbed, compulsive liar, Bill Clinton? Ha!

Most of all, I think he’s light years ahead of the man I consider to be the worst president of the 20th century: Jimmy Carter. Double digit interest rates. Outrageous inflation. The source of the misery index. Carter wrung his hands and asked everyone to play nice while radical Islam set up shop in Iran. Inaction in 1979 and 1980 allowed these radicals to gain a foothold and a clear line can be drawn to the man who is today seeking nuclear weapons. The country was embarassed, weakened, and depressed as a result of four years of Carter. I don’t think they get any worse than that.

On the contrary, while Reagan has long been my clear favorite for best president ever, I think Bush is coming up quickly. The effects of a democratic Afghanistan and Iraq are bigger than most know and will have an effect on world events for decades to come.

Worst president? No. Lowest attempt to demonize the president? Unfortunately, it’s only one of many.

Rotisserie Baseball

So I did the draft for our rotisserie league on Tuesday night. Not my best draft, but I think I did okay. You can catch the current standings in our league here. I manage the Zephyrs. As of this writing I’m in first place!

So, highlights: I have a high RBI team going with Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, and David Ortiz. I got some cheap role players in Jose Lopez, Dan Johnson, Nick Swisher, and Mark Kotsay. I should also have better luck in the ERA and WHIP categories this year with Felix Hernandez, Curt Schilling, and Mike Mussina. That’s always been a downfall for me, so I’m looking forward to some good pitching.

You can click on each team name in the standings to see who manages the team and what players they have. After seeing Alex Rodriguez go for 39 and Vladimir Guerrero for 41, I fell pretty good that none of my players were over 22. That should bode well for building a good, inexpensive team for next year, too.

I feel like I’m channeling Billy Beane.

UPDATE: After a little fiddling, I figured out how to make our league’s standings show up on the left hand side of the blog. Thanks to WordPress Widgets!

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

As an engineer and fan of science, there’s nothing more obnoxious than when fact is subverted for the sake of politics or influence. I’m convinced of the truth of a created universe with a designer. However, when things are discovered that may seem to refute that, I don’t choose to suppress it. I would rather the data come out so it can be freely analyzed. I believe that the truth is more powerful than any other argument I can make. In fact, suppressing the truth goes against what Christ taught:

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” Proverbs 12:19

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

All that is to say that the actions described by the scientific community in this article by Richard Lindzen drive me mad. He sums up the problem about the global warming community well:

Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.

The fact that he teaches at MIT is only a bonus to this story.

Why Let the Facts Distract You?

While it can be shown that the average temperature of the globe has slowly increased, I have never been convinced that mankind is responsible for that increase. When the famous hockey-stick graph of global temperatures was promoted by the press, it seemed to be scientific proof that man is killing the planet.

That graph has now been rather thoroughly debunked as bad statistics. The idea stuck, though, and scientists everywhere are looking to prove that we’re the root of the problem. It’s proving to be a slippery goal, though, as they can’t seem to find the smoking gun.

There’s more evidence now that the earth itself and the plant life on the surface is spewing more greenhouse gasses into the air than humans are. And the argument that those gasses are the cause of the warming is still just a theory. This great article by Bob Carter in the Daily Telegraph is a clear summary of the state of knowledge that you probably haven’t heard.

The shock lede:

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

For seven years the average hasn’t moved? Have you heard that anywhere? All I hear is Al Gore waving his arms and telling us we’re doomed.

But, when I saw the graphs at the website for the Climate Research Unit the writer mentions, this observation is actually more significant to me:

[…]the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.

So, from WWI to WWII, the temperature was increasing rapidly. Then when the industrial output of the world ramped up during WWII, the averages flattened? How does that match up with the idea that it’s all our fault?

Those pushing the alarmism, though, wouldn’t do well to talk about these facts. It’s hard to be a scientist with an agenda when the facts don’t agree. I see this same kind of willful blindness in the creation/evolution debate, but that’s a whole other discussion.