Maryland Tested Kids on Material It No Longer Teaches, Guess What Happened?
Um, they didn't score so well. Duh. But what I find troubling about this is the following quote, originally posted here:
"Students’ scores had been steadily inching up until 2013, when there were sharp declines in reading and math scores, a slide that continued this year."So, I guess they aren't teaching reading and math any more. I don't know, but it seems to me that this is, perhaps, somebody trying to blame declining reading and math scores on common core testing. If our education system were doing its job, then it wouldn't matter what questions were on the test; our educators would be teaching the subjects, and if they were doing a good job of it, the test results would reflect that. Instead, it seems they are teaching the test. Not a good idea at all. If I were hiring someone, I wouldn't care how they did on any test. I don't really care how the local schools do on any core testing. What I care about is that kids know less and less about the subjects they are taking, while learning more and more about how to get a good test score. Well, it probably won't take educators long to figure out how to teach the new tests well enough so that students can get really good scores so that everyone can feel good about how much they know.
States that workers want to escape from the most
This headline assumes, probably wrongly, that if an individual looks for a job in a different state, then they are trying to "escape" from their current state of residence. Of course, there could be lots of other explanations for people looking outside of their current state. Maybe they just want a change of scenery. Or, maybe, as in the case of Washington, D.C., their states are so small that it is less of a commute to go out of state than it is to try to stay in state. Or, perhaps, it's more to do with how a state is changing, as might be the case with North Dakota. I don't know, but I suspect that there has been a large influx of oil workers there, while people who already live there might be looking to cash in on the oil boom before it goes bust. I would be. It might have been more informative if this article had addressed the net effect of people looking for work in a particular state versus those who are looking to leave. But that didn't happen.
NASA scientists say they're closer than ever to finding life beyond Earth
This is just plain silly. One doesn't have to be a scientist to arrive at the conclusion that we are, with every day that passes by, closer to finding life beyond Earth. That is, of course, assuming that there will be a day when we actually do find life beyond Earth.
"But as the space telescopes launched by NASA get bigger and bigger, the odds of finding life will get better and better."Yeah, if, and only if, there is life to be found, something that is, as yet, unknown. But even if there is life out there somewhere, how will we know if we have found it? It may not be anything at all like life here.
77% in developed world are happy but wish life was simpler, says poll
I'm getting just a little bit tired of headlines saying how happy we all say we are. I don't think that's true at all. Following a link provided in the article itself, provided me with exactly what I thought was the truth about how happy we are.
"The use of antidepressants has surged across the rich world over the past decade, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, raising concerns among doctors that pills are being overprescribed."So, we're increasingly happy, but we also take increasing amounts of antidepressants. Awesome. The thing is, people don't think they are inherently unhappy just because they're taking antidepressants. For example, I listened to an individual taking Zoloft, which was originally prescribed to treat a skin disorder. Of course, the skin disorder was probably linked to some psychological issues, but never mind the details. The problem is that Zoloft treats the symptoms, but doesn't deal with the underlying problem. But at least this one individual has no interest in treating the real problem; they are "happy" to take increasing amounts of Zoloft to control their skin condition, as well as manage their anger. It's a friggin' miracle cure, well, as long as you're willing to take the pill for the rest of your life. Of course, it's entirely possible that this same person could experience the same benefit from some other drug, like alcohol, but somehow that would be different, since alcohol is available without a prescription. I don't really see the fundamental difference between the two. They both make people "happy."
The second part of the article says that the majority of people wish their lives were simpler. These same people insist that technology is the solution. I had to laugh at that. Technological advances do everything but simplify one's life. I have yet to see a single example of how technology advances have simplified anything for individuals. If you have one, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.
A third part of the linked article talks about how people feel about globalization:
"People in emerging economic powers overwhelmingly agreed that globalisation was good for them (China 81%, India 71%, Brazil 68%). But in the richest nations there was a very different view: in France, only 24% of people approved of globalisation, a rate that inched up to 37% in the US and 41% in Britain."Not terribly surprising. The places where the masses see the greatest benefits of globalization, i.e. emerging economies, is where people think globalization is good for them. At least their view of the world matches with their actions. In the "richest" nations, people are less inclined to feel that way, and yet, nobody wants to cut off the supply of cheap imports. Rich countries, it seems, want to have their cake and eat it too. They seem to want to buy cheap stuff produced from the sweat of cheap labor elsewhere, and then get paid for relatively nothing in order to buy that cheap stuff. I don't see any way that this can turn out anything but bad, although it may take a long time for that to happen.
The 'Biggest Fiscal Development' Of The Last 3 Decades Is The Stunning Slow Down In Healthcare Spending
Okay, this is probably one of the most misleading headlines ever. First, the headline doesn't mention that the article is talking about federal spending, although I suppose that could be inferred from the use of the word "fiscal," even though fiscal doesn't just mean government. Speaking of inferring, though, I would not infer that the article was really about the slow down in the growth of federal spending, which is slowing, while the actual spending is still growing.
Still, it seems as if a slowdown in the growth of spending must be a good thing, right? Perhaps, but it isn't really good news at all. According to the article:
"The CBO's new projections say federal spending on major healthcare programs — Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and federal subsidies for people buying insurance on the new Obamacare-established exchanges — will rise from about 4.9% of GDP this year to about 7.5% in 2035. The latter number is 2.2 percentage points lower than the CBO projected five years ago."So, it's still growing at a rate faster then GDP growth, and that is still expected to continue. All I can say about that is that people need to get way more productive than they supposedly are getting. Of course, that in itself doesn't mean anything because if we become more productive, then healthcare costs will rise in direct proportion. So really, this appears to be bad news, actually. The slowing rise in healthcare costs is more a reflection of the slowing growth in GDP than anything good. Of course, the article states that "experts" agree that Obamacare has contributed to this decrease, presumably because of the correlation of the slowdown in growth of medical care expenses and the rollout of Obamacare. But, correlation does not equal causation, as I always say. But if it does, then why on earth doesn't anyone else think that the healthcare expense trend has more to do with the weak economic growth we've been experiencing? After all, there's some correlation there too.
Millennials Don’t Know What "Socialism" Means
No, they don't. But, is the headline fair? No, it isn't. I have to wonder how well other generations would have fared when they were young and foolish. I suspect not so differently. I do have to say, though, that this new generation acts in a more overconfident way than previous generations, but that could be my own bias being that I'm from a previous, and clearly better, generation. I do know I was overconfident when I was young; I thought I knew a lot more than I really did. But, it also seems that I was more willing to listen when I was younger. Millennials in general seem to be much more closed-minded than their predecessors, which I think is a bad thing. That is, of course, unless one of their friends thinks of something, in which case, they'll gladly ditch their previous notions of the world. I've lost count of the times that I've said something about the world repeatedly and been argued with, only to be told later, "I just figured out…" or, "I learned…" because a friend told them the same thing that I've been saying for years. Well, perhaps it doesn't much matter; at least they eventually learned something, even if it wasn't from me.
New York Tries to Regulate Bitcoin Businesses Right Out of the State
I'm no expert on bitcoins, but I do know a thing or two about finance and economics, which doesn't really mean anything when it comes to virtual currencies. At this point, I'm not sure I would even classify Bitcoins as a currency. It's more like a commodity, and not a very useful one in everyday life since to spend Bitcoins, you need to find someone who will accept them in payment for something else, like bartering. And the purpose of a currency is to create an efficiency in the market where buyers don't have to spend time looking for sellers who will accept what they have to trade. And it seems that every transaction has to take into account the exchange value of the bitcoins into some other, more traditional currency. I mean, how many bitcoins should I be willing to spend to buy, say, a car? I don't know unless I know how many dollars I would spend on that car, and how many dollars I can get for my bitcoins.
But, let's just consider for a moment a world in which virtual currencies are the only currencies. I use the plural since if bitcoins became that popular in use then someone else, probably lots of someone elses, would devise their own virtual currency. From a market perspective, this might not be so bad since it would introduce competition where there doesn't seem to be much competition at all at the moment. The system that is more secure, more anonymous, and more widely accepted wins. But then, we aren't that much better off if there are a lot of choices for which currency to use. Choices are normally considered good, but probably not so much when it comes to currency.
Anonymous transactions sound great, from an individual standpoint, since it may allow for tax free purchases, and even income tax free paychecks. I'm all for tax cuts. But, how does the government keep running? Some people might think that it would be great if they didn't, or that it certainly wouldn't hurt much. But, I suspect that there might be at least some good to keeping the government intact. I'm just not going to go that far into it here.
In the end, bitcoin isn't really all that much different from gold, or some other commodity or currency for that matter that depends on someone else giving me at least the same value for whatever I'm giving them. There is no "intrinsic value" to bitcoins just like there isn't an intrinsic value to any other currency. It's value lies in the belief that someone else will give me a bitcoin of value for my bitcoin. It is, in effect, fiat money, much like the dollar. The only difference is that the government isn't in control of the supply. Instead, it's business people who control it. That somehow doesn't make me feel particularly good about it.
So, while I'm not a big fan of bitcoins, I'll be watching for new developments, for sure. I really expect that government regulation is inevitable. I don't care so much about that, though. I just wish the government would butt out of my everyday life.