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  • Archive for April, 2019

    The Russia Hoax was originally aimed at Flynn, not Trump.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th April 2019 (All posts by )

    I am more and more coming around to the opinion of David Goldman and Michael Ledeen.

    The Russia hoax was aimed at Michael Flynn and his role as a Trump advisor.

    It was all about General Flynn. I think it began on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, when Flynn changed the way we did intelligence against the likes of Zarqawi, bin Laden, the Taliban, and their allies.

    General Flynn saw that our battlefield intelligence was too slow. We collected information from the Middle East and sent it back to Washington, where men with stars on their shoulders and others at the civilian intel agencies chewed it over, decided what to do, and sent instructions back to the war zone. By the time all that happened, the battlefield had changed. Flynn short-circuited this cumbersome bureaucratic procedure and moved the whole enterprise to the war itself. The new methods were light years faster. Intel went to local analysts, new actions were ordered from men on the battlefield (Flynn famously didn’t care about rank or status) and the war shifted in our favor.

    I read Dakota Meyer’s book. He was denied permission to accompany his Civil Affairs unit into an Afghan village because he was being punished for shooting at Taliban tribesmen firing mortar rounds into his base camp. The reason ? They were “not in uniform.” The ROE of the Obama administration saved his life as the unit he should have been with was ambushed and killed. He made attempts to rescue them, resulting in his award the Medal of Honor.

    On 8 September 2009, near the village of Ganjgal, Meyer learned that three Marines and a Navy Corpsman, who were members of Meyer’s squad and his friends, were missing after being ambushed by a group of insurgents. Under enemy fire, Meyer entered an area known to be inhabited by insurgents and eventually found the four missing servicemen dead and stripped of their weapons, body armor and radios. There he saw a Taliban fighter trying to take the bodies. The fighter tackled Meyer, and after a brief scuffle, Meyer grabbed a baseball-sized rock and beat the fighter to death.[8] With the help of Afghan soldiers, he moved the bodies to a safer area where they could be extracted.[9] During his search, Meyer “personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe.”

    In his account of the battle in his book, he relates how it took hours to get permission for artillery to respond to the ambush.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Middle East, National Security, Obama, Politics, Trump | 31 Comments »

    Education in the (Not Very) Good Old Days

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 3rd April 2019 (All posts by )

    (Inspired by recent email conversations with Straw School, Manchester, NH classmates, including two who are now teachers.)

    Getting lost in Wikipedia, as I often do, I read up on the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930’s.  I was surprised at how narrowly tailored it was, and how few people it employed at any one time.  But more surprising was this paragraph about the pool it drew from (italics mine):

    Approximately 55% of enrollees were from rural communities, a majority of which were non-farm; 45% came from urban. Level of education for the enrollee averaged 3% illiterate, 38% less than eight years of school, 48% did not complete high school, 11% were high school graduates. At the time of entry, 70% of enrollees were malnourished and poorly clothed. Few had work experience beyond occasional odd jobs.

    The crash came in 1929, the CCC was four years later and more, its target group was quite young, so you can do the arithmetic to see how far these lads were from the Roaring Twenties with its high employment. Yet it was the schooling that caught my eye.  This was not the previous generation’s immigrants, who had few years of formal education, as with two of my grandparents.  These were native born Americans, and these were the white boys – blacks and Indians had separate groups, and I imagine their education levels were even less. 38% of these 17-23 y/o’s had less than eight years of school.

    Conservatives like to go on endlessly about the good old days of education, and how their grandfathers had gone to one-room schools but rose to become physicians or chemical engineers or whatever, because the education was superior then despite the lack of resources. I lean pretty conservative, but this is just nuts.  Education was terrible until quite recently.

    Bloggers and blog-commenters who think about the history of education, changes in pedagogy, and can relate this to their own experience and that of their forebears, who can construct a coherent paragraph about the topic are not a representative sample of the country.

    You are not a representative sample.

    Are not a representative sample.  You are the 1%, in that metric.  The 5%, actually.

    Your anecdotal experience is of nearly no value whatsoever in discussing the situation.

    Let me bring in related statistics about years of education in the population as a whole in the decades before and after this, in order to make a distinction. From the National Center For Education Statistics:

    Progressively fewer adults have limited their education to completion of the 8th grade which was typical in the early part of the century. In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education. Only 6 percent of males and 4 percent of females had completed 4 years of college. The median years of school attained by the adult population, 25 years old and over, had registered only a scant rise from 8.1 to 8.6 years over a 30 year period from 1910 to 1940.

    During the 1940s and 1950s, the more highly educated younger cohorts began to make their mark on the average for the entire adult population. More than half of the young adults of the 1940s and 1950s completed high school and the median educational attainment of 25- to 29-years-olds rose to 12 years. By 1960, 42 percent of males, 25 years old and over, still had completed no more than the eighth grade, but 40 percent had completed high school and 10 percent had completed 4 years of college. The corresponding proportion for women completing high school was about the same, but the proportion completing college was somewhat lower.

    I was born in 1953.  When I reached my 17th birthday I had more education than half the males in the country. The ones I was ahead of was weighted to the older guys, but not entirely so.  We forget.  I was at a mill city high school, and it was not unusual for kids to drop out when they turned 16 (about 20%), or before graduating (another 20%). And NH as a whole has traditionally had one of lowest dropout rates in the country.

    But, you will correctly say, these numbers don’t measure the quality of education. These measure how many people went to school. Not the same thing.  Perhaps if you got to go to school the instruction was quite wonderful. Especially in higher grades, eliminating those who were less interested in education (plus however many others who might be talented but too poor) might have made for an excellent classroom experience, don’t you think, AVI?

    I think not.  But I will leave all this with you to ponder before I comment further.  For now, I wanted only to remind you that things were not as our current imagination tells us.  We will get topp that. Post WWII America is insanely different from the rest of human existence in terms of education – including the rest of American history..

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 14 Comments »

    Education In The Good Old (1869) Days

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on 3rd April 2019 (All posts by )

    I did a series on this in 2010-2011. This post was also part of my series on whether William Sidis was actually one the smartest people who ever lived. (He wasn’t. Very smart, but not quite top shelf.) There was originally an argument in the comments about what, exactly, a test like this proved about a student’s intelligence, which I link to here. You can indulge that curiosity or not. The argument got testy. You will recognise some of the players. It isn’t central to what comes after.

    I don’t think we argue quite enough around here. Perhaps there have been good arguments in the posts I don’t read the comments of, but it seems too much of “Yeah, and let me tell you another thing about that!” lately. So I will go after a conservative favorite, of how much better education was in the Good Old Days, which I think is bosh. I don’t defend much of what I read about education today, but neither do I think it was any better then. Since 2011, I have increasngly concluded that schools don’t matter quite as much anyway. The worst 20%, where it is dangerous to even go and hard to concentrate – that’s bad. The rest, it doesn’t make much difference. Never did. It’s all right to disagree with me about that, it won’t hurt me. I have seen lots of schools, old days and new; I know lots of teachers, old and new. I have read some of the real research, not the media-driven crap where they still can’t tell causation from correlation, and I have discussed this widely for decades. I know what the disagreements are (though I do get an occasional surprise). Have fun with it.

    I am leading with this as a teaser, for its entertainment value, and because it introduces some concepts I’ll be bringing in later. I have edited it only a little from 2011. With the recent elite school admission scandals, parts of this are wryly humorous now.

    THAT 1869 HARVARD ENTRANCE EXAM
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Miscellaneous | 17 Comments »

    A Nice Derangement of Education

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 2nd April 2019 (All posts by )

    (So – I am working up a post about communities, and self-organization. But in the meantime, a comment on another blog revived this memory of a bruising encounter with the education establishment.)

    My slightly younger brother, JP and I have always counted ourselves fortunate that we got through primary school in the happy baby-boom years of the very early 1960ies, before a hitherto solid and well-established education system suddenly lost all confidence in itself and began whoring after strange gods, fads and theories. We both were taught the old phonics way, carefully sounding out the letters and the sounds, until… oh! There was that flash of understanding, at unraveling a new word, and another and another. We read confidently and omnivorously from the second grade on, and were only a little scarred from the infliction of the “New Math” on our otherwise happy little souls. It seemed like one semester I was memorizing the times tables and the “gozintas” (two gozinta four two times) and wrestling with very, very long division, and suddenly it was all about prime numbers and sectors and points on a line, and what was all that in aid of?

    I really would have rather gone on with word problems, thank you very much, rather than calculus for the elementary school set. It was at least useful, working out how much paint or carpet to cover an area, or how what time a train going so fast would get to the next city. Thanks to the “New Math” I wound up working out how to figure what was 70% off of $15,000 when I was forty-three. Got to love those educational fads. You spend the rest of your life making up for having them inflicted on you. Pippy’s elementary education was far more adversely affected; she caught the “whole word” reading thing in the neck. While she did successfully negotiate the second grade and learned to read on schedule, she never enjoyed it as much, or read as much as JP and I did routinely.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Education, Personal Narrative | 23 Comments »

    Some thoughts on what health care reform could look like.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 1st April 2019 (All posts by )

    I have previously posted some articles on the French healthcare system, which is the best in Europe.

    Here is an article on the French system.

    The French citizen or resident joins Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie deTravailleurs Salariés (CNAMTS)—health insurance organisation for salaried workers. That covers about 80% of the population now and it pays 80% (often more like 70%) of a fee schedule for the doctor visit although specialists are allowed to charge more. French doctors are divided for payment and fee schedule purposes into three “sectors” after 1980. Sector 1 doctors agreed to abide by the fee schedule established in 1960, modified for inflation and technological changes. They are mostly primary care doctors although some had waivers from the fee schedule prior to 1971 because they were more experienced or had great reputations. Few are still practicing. Sector 2 doctors could set their own fees but reimbursement was still determined by the fee schedule. These two categories correspond roughly to Medicare assignment in the US. If you accept assignment, you agree to accept Medicare payment as the full payment (or 80% of it plus the Medi-Gap payment).

    The French have private insurance that acts like US “Medi-Gap” polices but for all.

    It seems unlikely to me that Democrats would accept a health plan that allowed balance billing, which is the only way to control costs, short of pure rationing. The French basically provide a fee schedule that is the same for everyone but which allows doctors to charge more if the patient is willing to pay. For example, I called the office of a new internist last week to schedule an appointment. The clerk required that I submit all my insurance information, not my health status, and the doctor would decide if he would see me. If he is that busy, perhaps he could justify charging more.

    Here is another article from that series explaining the French system.

    French primary care physicians are paid less than American but medical school in France does not require a college degree and is free. I suspect that system might be more attractive in the US than many realize.

    Unfortunately, such a radical reform is unlikely. There are other options under consideration.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Health Care, Medicine | 19 Comments »