Just for fun

A website of “the 15 most awful pregnancy photos ever.”  Jaw-dropping awful and funny.  Clearly, some people clearly lose any semblance of sense once they are pregnant.  Definitely worth checking out.  Here’s a taste.

worst pregnancy photos ever 4 The Top 15 Most Awful Pregnancy Photos Ever

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One good teacher reform

So, as a general rule, the Republicans in the NC General Assembly have been disastrous for public education.  This letter in today’s N&O goes through the litany and is pretty much right:

A more thorough undermining of public education could scarcely be imagined than what is proposed: lifting the cap on class sizes, eliminating teacher assistants, denying teachers who pursue master’s degrees a raise, subjecting public but not private schools to punitive grading systems, giving away millions of taxpayer dollars in vouchers to be used at private schools and more.

Make no mistake” The goal of these initiatives is not to improve public education. It is to destroy it by starving it, demoralizing and demonizing it and to push as many paying customers as possible over to private schools. Is this what we want? After decades of investing in public education, will we stand idly by while our misguided leaders dismantle our public schools?

AMY WOMBLE, CARY

I agree.  On all but one thing.  We should not actually be paying teachers more for earning master’s degrees.  The reason that teachers earn master’s degrees is to get a raise.  Sadly, there’s zero evidence that a Masters actually contributes to one being a better teacher.  Thus, it really does not make any sense for a state to incentivize it.  It would presumably make more sense to simply raise all teachers’ salaries a modest amount by taking away the pay raises for a masters.  Of course, what really makes sense is to figure out what qualifications (aside from testing our students to death) truly indicate better teacher quality and reward those.  Alas, that’s proven really hard.

So, in general, I trust the NC legislators on education about as far as I can throw them, but I am glad to see the state will no longer be incentivizing degrees for teachers that don’t actually do anything to help them in the classroom.  Of course, I don’t actually trust them to spend the savings wisely.

Photo of the day

So, we got some modest flooding in the area yesterday from Tropical Storm Andrea (amazing to me that it was still a “tropical storm” the whole time it passed nearly overhead and there was hardly any wind– just 5 inches of rain in only a few hours).  Anyway, if you want to see real flooding, central Europe has been walloped, as seen in this In Focus gallery.

The marketplace is flooded by the Elbe River in the city of Wehlen, Germany, on June 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

5000

I somehow missed noticing that I wrote my 5000th blog post earlier this week (it was this one).   Wow.  That’s a lot.   Good for me.  Just thought I’d take notice of it.  Here’s to another 5000.

If you’re curious, here’s my first post, from almost exactly 7 years ago (not coincidentally, right after I got tenure).

Self-shooting gun

Perhaps you heard about the “smartrifle” that decides when to shoot for you.  I love Slate’s Justin Peters‘ take on this:

So you’ve got the urge to send some rounds downrange, but you can’t shoot and don’t want to take the time to learn? Well, have I got the weapon for you! Meet the brand-new TrackingPoint weapons system, a so-called smart rifle that uses advanced sensing and imaging technology to turn any wealthy dilettante into an expert sharpshooter. Here’s NPR’s Matthew Dewey:

The rifle’s scope features a sophisticated color graphics display. The shooter locks a laser on the target by pushing a small button by the trigger. It’s like a video game. But here’s where it’s different: You pull the trigger but the gun decides when to shoot. It fires only when the weapon has been pointed in exactly the right place, taking into account dozens of variables, including wind, shake and distance to the target…

I have nothing but disdain for the TrackingPoint, which exemplifies everything I hate about a gun culture that is quick to put firearms in the hands of people who neither respect nor know how to use them, and that treats proficiency as a product to be purchased instead of a skill to be earned…

While the TrackingPoint technology has definite military applications, I can’t think of any real civilian use for it. In a sense, the TrackingPoint is just a really advanced scope. But even the best scope doesn’t fire the gun for you. Any self-respecting hunter ought to be disgusted by something that promises to turn every hunt into a canned hunt. Despite the manufacturer’s claims, TrackingPoint really isn’t suited for target shooting—where’s the fun in shooting at a target that you know you’re going to hit? It’s overkill for self-defense; the only way you would feel like you were in imminent danger from someone standing 500 yards away is if that person also had a TrackingPoint. Who would actually use this weapons system?

Aspiring snipers, maybe? …

But a half-good automated long-range rifle is still more of a long-range rifle than any civilian needs. This thing is legal now, but let’s hope it isn’t for long.

Absolutely.  Of course, the second amendment was clearly meant to protect the right of any American to use the most high-grade, military technology so long as it is a gun.

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