Open Thread for Monday, October 24, 2016

Come on out to the debate at Richland Northeast.

Come on out to the debate at Richland Northeast.

You know how you can tell when it’s a really slow news day? This way: Look at what the major news outlets are leading with. If no two are leading with the same thing, and none of the ledes are particularly impressive, you know everybody’s scraping the bottom of the barrel. For instance, at this moment we have:

See what I mean? The State doesn’t really design its website around what I would call a lede, per se, but the story getting the biggest play at this moment is, USC freshman Felder assaulted victim and police officer, incident report says.

Which further proves my point.

So… since no one else can find any news out there, why don’t y’all just come on out to the Senate District 22 debate tonight? I’m pretty sure you’ll find that interesting. I’m about to head out to Richland Northeast High School momentarily…


42 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, October 24, 2016

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I would attend the forum, but alas, I am bespoke. I trust you will give us a full account of the battle afterwards.

    Since it’s an Open thread: the World Series starts tomorrow and for the first time since 1945 the Cubs will be playing in it.

    Who’s cheering for the Cubbies? The Indians have had their chances. I mean, they won the World Series back in ’48 and have been multiple times since then. (As recently as twice in the 90’s.)

    As a Gamecock fan who can relate to suffering a poor team, I’m hoping the Cubs take home the title.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s a toughie.

      As a baseball traditionalist, I SHOULD root for the Cubbies. But I’m sort of excited for Tribe, as well — probably because of “Major League.”

      I’m a weird kind of baseball fan. Baseball fiction means as much to me as the real thing. I can name the members of that fictional Indians team — Cerrano, Dorne, Willie Mays Hayes — but can’t name a single member of the real team.

      But in a day or two I’ll be able to name some of the real guys.

      I sort of ignore it all during the regular season — beyond snoozing in front of a game on a weekend afternoon now and then (I find the sounds and sights of baseball restful) — and watch the Series avidly. In my defense, this is partly because I only get the local broadcast channels, so there isn’t much baseball available to me until the series. For instance, I couldn’t find either the National or American league championships on my TV. Which is just as well, since I don’t believe those series should exist — you should win the pennant when you win the most games in the regular season.

      I DO subscribe to’ At Bat app on my iPad. But my use of that mainly consists of checking out the video when I get a notification telling me Big Papi has knocked another one out of Fenway…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        That’s a pretty fun app, actually. They’ve got this thing where you can follow an animated version of a game. From the catcher’s perspective, you watch the placement of each pitch as it occurs. At the same time, you can play the audio of the game.

        Yeah, it’s technology that would have seemed cool in 1940, but that’s what I like about it. Sort of retro-futuristic. Like Steampunk…

        1. Norm Ivey

          It’s called Augmented Reality (AR). It’s a tech capability that is looking for a home in education. There’s a few gimmicky approaches out there, but I’ve yet to see anything that’s ready to take off. There’s potential–imagine holding your tablet up at Gettysburg and being able to see Pickett’s charge. Or to be able to look inside an organism and see its internal structure.

          Mostly we get uses in sports (strike zone, ten yard marker) and Pokemon hunters.

          1. Doug Ross

            “There’s potential–imagine holding your tablet up at Gettysburg and being able to see Pickett’s charge. Or to be able to look inside an organism and see its internal structure.”

            Sounds like filmstrips from the classrooms of the 60’s.

            How are things working out with all the free laptops/Chomebooks/iPads that students have been given? Is there any evidence of improved learning in the form of higher test scores? That was a boondoggle with no return on investment ever identified.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Gee, and I thought I was the cranky old man here.

              Grandpa, screens in a classroom today are pretty much the equivalent of blackboards in the past. Or they should be, anyway.

              And before you say kids can use them to fool around with instead of learning, have you ever heard of spitballs, or paper airplanes?

            2. Norm Ivey

              I’m not talking about simply a video you watch on your screen. You are physically at Gettysburg, and whatever direction you aim your tablet, you can the battle overlaid on the actual scene itself. It’s a different experience.

              Things are going well with our 1:1 computing. As in all things, some teachers and students utilize them better than others. One of the greatest benefits is the ability of teachers and students to communicate outside of the brick and mortar building and outside of school hours. Students regularly reach out digitally to their teachers for assistance, and most teachers are happy to provide it. We have classes who have collaborated with unseen students in other schools. We have classes in which students have created videos and presentations to demonstrate their learning in ways that were inconceivable 15 years ago. They have access to knowledge bases that are far superior to any textbook that I’ve ever used. Our kids are learning more–albeit differently–than you and I did at their age.

              I won’t get into a back and forth with you about test scores. We could each find data that supports our agenda. Education isn’t about test scores. Education is about preparing students for fulfilling careers. Business leaders have identified the skills they want students entering the workforce to have–we call them the four Cs–Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity. Our devices allow us to build aptitude in all of these areas, and those skills are not easily measured using a multiple-choice test.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Norm, I’m with you on all that except maybe “Education is about preparing students for fulfilling careers.” Yes, we need it to do that, so that kids become productive adults.

                But I think the first job is to prepare students to be informed, engaged citizens.

                Of course, the tragedy is that our education system failed all those people voting for Trump. It’s a rather shocking failure. No one who understands anything about our American system of government and the values that inform it could possibly consider voting for him. Yet, there are all those people who have, and who will, vote for him…

                1. Norm Ivey

                  As I re-read my post, I recognize that was an unfinished thought. Education is about preparing students to be engaged citizens and productive adults.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Then we are in agreement!

                    Actually, one of my own words was inadequate, though. I said “informed, engaged citizens.” The inadequate word is “informed.” It implies that all that is needed is information.

                    Really, what is needed is understanding. You can know all the names and dates, and even have the Constitution memorized, but without understanding of how it all goes together and what it means, you have nothing.

                    And that understanding is the hardest part to impart.

                    That’s one of the things I liked about what I saw and heard in that documentary about “Hamilton.” I think Lin-Manuel Miranda is going for understanding, and to some extent achieving it…

                2. Doug Ross

                  “But I think the first job is to prepare students to be informed, engaged citizens.”

                  Citizens without jobs – that’s what we call Hillary voters, right? Don’t even have to be citizens.

                  Everything flows from having aptitude, attitude, and training. The best citizens ARE people with jobs. They are surely more engaged and contribute more to society.

                  It’s very easy to defend all the millions spent on technology with anecdotes. How many colleges are saying students are better prepared to enter higher ed today than they were ten or twenty years ago? Not many, if any. There were plenty of promise that were made about how technology was going to radically change education. Didn’t happen, won’t happen. Intelligence is not a function of access to technology. Show me ANY evidence of across the board gains in literacy at any elementary or middle school due to technology. I would rather have a good teacher who was paid extra money equivalent to the cost of the technology.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Doug, no one said anything here to suggest “Citizens without jobs.” I didn’t say anything remotely like that.

                    But an education that ONLY prepared kids for jobs would be inadequate…

                3. Doug Ross

                  When has an education EVER prepared students to be good citizens? What would that even mean?

                  Most adults today can’t even name their Congressmen, can’t describe how a veto works, can’t name more than one cabinet member. Somehow society moves along — why? Because people work.

                  I think you want schools to teach values. That’s not their purpose. They are supposed to teach skills that can be applied. If you know HOW to read, you can understand how to be a good citizen on your own terms, not by being spoon fed some set of “community standards”.

                4. Doug Ross

                  Hey, it’s the difference between dealing in reality and fantasy. Reality is that schools have never produced “good citizens” and they can’t.

                  You live in the world where actual tangible results don’t matter. Where everything is possible if someone else pays for it. Where we can do all things without any thought of priorities, costs, or unintended consequences.

                  Me? I hear someone say that spending millions on technology will provide an amazing educational experience for all… and then I actually expect them to deliver on it. But when you spend other people’s money, the results don’t matter. Anyway, “IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!” That’s reason enough to do anything at any cost.

              2. Bryan Caskey

                “I’m not talking about simply a video you watch on your screen. You are physically at Gettysburg, and whatever direction you aim your tablet, you can the battle overlaid on the actual scene itself. It’s a different experience.”

                First of all, I love history, so maybe this colors my opinion, but I don’t think we need some virtual reality video thing to teach history. I don’t think it adds much. As my dad would say “It’s a long run for a short slide.”

                When you’re teaching about something as interesting and dramatic as Pickett’s Charge, you don’t have to be a great teacher to really make it exciting and have the students interested and engaged. I mean, it’s the climax of the war! It’s the high-water mark for the Confederacy. It’s a daring charge! If a teacher can’t make that interesting without VR goggles or whatever you’re talking about, I sort of question his or her ability to teach.

                Teachers don’t need VR screens. They need to be able to convey an understanding of what was at stake, the context, the danger, the absolute astounding level of bravery/foolishness that it took to order a frontal assault on an elevated and position covered by enemy artillery. They need to teach how Lee’s over-aggressiveness and over-estimation of the fighting ability of his troops (which had previously never let him down) was his weakness and led to that fatal order.

                Don’t get me wrong, (VR screens or whatever they are) sound cool, but technology is no substitute for an engaged teacher who loves the subject matter and wants to share that passion with his or her students.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I confess, I had a similar thought.

                  Let me share what I had to say awhile back about my own first visit to Gettysburg:

                  Above, you see a picture I took, right about this time of year in 2005, of the high water mark of the Confederacy — the stone wall at the top of the ridge.

                  I had just looked out over that wall, and was stunned by what I saw. It wasn’t really anything my camera could capture, because what I was looking at was vast, flat, open space — the space across which Pickett’s men walked, suicidally, into a hailstorm of lead. It looked to be two miles across. The high ground was not only well-defended by infantry, but crammed with artillery. It was the worst place in the world to attack, and the world possible ground to attack across.

                  What could they have been thinking of during that long walk? What ran through their heads?

                  I’d never seen anything before that made history seem so immediate. I was in awe. How brave they were. How stupid they were. How mad they were. And they just kept coming, until there was only a trickle left to try to fight their way over the wall, and then… it was over. And with it, the South’s hope for having its way — although the South being the South, that wouldn’t be fully acknowledged for almost two years….

                  Frankly, I think a computer simulation would have spoiled my experience of being there…

                2. Norm Ivey

                  Brad and Bryan, you are both people who are engrossed by military history, so you would likely not benefit from a simulation–I understand that. For those of us for whom the content itself is not as engaging, a simulation or visual adds much to our understanding. When my bride and I visited Gettysburg a few years ago, it was the Cyclorama and the visual displays that helped me to understand and appreciate what had occurred there. The battlefields were just fields.

                  History teachers probably loved having you guys in class. As a science teacher, I had kids so enthralled by some aspect of science they could hardly be contained–they contributed much to the classes. As an ELA teacher, I had students who could write so well that I had little to offer. Technology would have allowed me to develop a personalized lesson plan for those students.

                  We live in a technological age. Technology is not a panacea, but it is a necessary and permanent part of a child’s education.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yeah. I sort of wish all my classes could have been history classes. I satisfied the requirements for a second major in history quite inadvertently. (In fact, the school may not even have a record of my earning that second major, because I don’t think I ever declared it). I had just taken SO many history classes as electives — and quite a few poli sci courses as well — that I realized in my last semester that I only needed six more hours for a major. So I took two more classes, and as it happens they were two of my all-time favorites, U.S. Social and Intellectual History before and after 1865.

                    How had I had time to indulge my interests with so many electives? I had tested out of a lot of required courses. Thanks to my Spanish (in which I was still pretty fluent in those days), I didn’t have to take a foreign language. Ditto with math — I had taken everything through Calculus, and retained it.

                    As for preparing for a job — I couldn’t even pretend to have gotten any kind of education if all I’d studied in school was journalism. Journalism is a trade for educated, literate people. The important thing is not knowing how to write a lede — any decent writer can learn to do that on the job — it’s knowing as much as you can about the world you’re writing about…

                  2. Bryan Caskey

                    “We live in a technological age. Technology is not a panacea, but it is a necessary and permanent part of a child’s education.”

                    Technology is a tool. It’s usefulness depends on how you use it. I agree that it can be helpful, but I worry we may becoming overly reliant on it.

                3. Doug Ross

                  “I agree that it can be helpful, but I worry we may becoming overly reliant on it.”

                  Yeah, but look how well technology has allowed us all to communicate and share our thoughts and feelings so that we can better understand each other and improve society! Every comment I write moves us closer to that day when we all agree. Otherwise, I’d be left to sitting in my cabin writing my manifesto in goat’s blood on a brown paper bag.

        2. Brad Warthen Post author

          What it reminds me of is something mentioned in Ken Burns’ series about baseball.

          Apparently, early in the 20th century, there was this thing where people would gather in a public place and watch while markers representing men were moved around on a huge billboard-type thing, going along with a radio broadcast. Which I thought was pretty cool, for a time decades before TV…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Well, yes, I suppose you’re right, since there’s an important principle involved.

          But I confess, I have in the past occasionally cheered for the Red Sox…

  2. bud

    Nothing about the horrific bus crash? I’ve been doing highway safety 25+ and I can’t recall a 13 fatality crash. If 13 people were killed in a mass shooting that would be news for days. There is a solution for this, automatic braking. Those systems are in passenger vehicles, why not tour buses?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I didn’t see the coverage of that. Of course, I was just citing stories that were LEADING the various cites, in order to illustrate my point. Maybe it was there but I didn’t look down that far…

  3. Douglas Ross

    How about the news about Obamacare premiums and deductibles skyrocketing as they enter the death spiral period we all knew was coming? Obama’s “signature” policy is a disaster and his HHS Secretary has the nerve to try and spin this terrible news as no big deal because “most people will get higher subsidies to cover the increases”. Gee, I wonder where those higher subsidies will come from? You mean we’re going to raise taxes on everyone to pay for it? No? Then surely we will cut spending somewhere else to pay for healthcare because that must be more important than foreign aid or military spending? No? Then I’m confused… where will all this extra money for subsidies come from? SUrely not more deficit spending. That would be too easy.

    “Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the increase for this year, according to new government figures.

    The spike in average rates for the 38 states that rely on the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act was announced by federal health officials on Monday. The figures serve broadly to confirm what has become evident piecemeal in recent months: Prompted by a burden of unexpectedly sick ACA customers, some insurers are dropping out while many remaining companies are struggling to cover their costs.”

    1. Claus

      At this point for many it’s a wiser financial solution just to pay the penalty. When it reaches the point where some are paying $24,000 per year for health insurance ($1500/month and $6000 deductible) out of pocket because they work for a living and don’t qualify for government assistance. The system never was set up to succeed, all it is doing is providing insurance for those on welfare and forcing those who had insurance to drop their coverage.

      What was it Obama said about keeping your doctor? He must not have been talking about in states where insurance companies like Aetna provided coverage. Several people I know received notices last week of their coverage being dropped.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And of course, that’s the problem with the ACA. Both average citizens and insurance companies can opt out. They shouldn’t have that option. Mandates are essential to effective healthcare reform. You either get everybody in, or it won’t work.

      You know, single-payer…

      1. Doug Ross

        There are mandates. There are tax penalties for not owning insurance.

        Do you think single payer would cost you less money? Are you willing to pay more for it? Or do you just want it to be “free”.

        I’ll go for single payer only if everyone pays the same percentage of their income off the top with a maximum cap. Fold in Medicare, Medicaid.. and have a line item on every paycheck. But we all know it will get bogged down in Congress when every group tries to tinker with exceptions and loopholes. The lobbyists will win. It will end up with a poorly run, second class “free” healthcare system that only the poor will use while those who can afford to will have access to other providers. Lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians will kill any chance for a working system.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            I hate to jump in here with the legal stuff, but it’s important. You have to remember that the very thin thread by which the ACA was found to be constitutional in NFIB vs. Sebelius was that the Court found that it was a “tax” and not a “penalty” and that Congress has the power to tax.

            However, to the extent at tax becomes so burdensome that it is a de facto penalty, it will be unconstitutional. The Court specifically held:

            “We have nonetheless maintained that “ ‘there comes a time in the extension of the penalizing features of the so-called tax when it loses its character as such and becomes a mere penalty with the characteristics of regulation and punishment.’ ” (citation omitted).

            So you can’t have a penalty high enough to work, because it then becomes unconstitutional. The law is fundamentally flawed. If only there were people who were saying this back when they were discussing it. Oh well!

              1. Bryan Caskey

                No, it’s not a penalty – it’s a tax. Congress has the power to pass and levy taxes. The Court held that it was a tax to save the law. Roberts held that you have to view it as a tax, and it will remain a tax as long as it’s not punitive. Once it’s punitive, then it’s no longer a tax.

                Again, it’s not the law that’s a Catch-22; it’s that the legislation is inherently flawed. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Bill Clinton called the ACA the “craziest thing in the world“.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, and it this is the condition: “I’ll go for single payer only if everyone pays the same percentage of their income off the top with a maximum cap.”

          Then forget about it. Some of us can afford to pay more than others; some can’t afford to pay at all. You can’t get blood out of a turnip…

          1. Doug Ross

            Then the turnip better get a tourniquet.

            Anyone who has a job can afford to pay for their healthcare before anything else.

            How many people are getting subsidies yet have a smartphone and cable TV? That’s unacceptable.

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