Start Here:

Some people aren't too sure what I'm about even when I am serious and use no hyperbole, invective, parody, satire, sarcasm or deliberate provocation at all.

To the purpose of normality and rational discourse, I'll use this blog to talk about my run for Columbia School Board. I hope those of you planning to vote in April will take advantage of this place to post comments and ask questions. You may email me at daveraithel@gmail.com

It would seem that the one constitutive part of my on-line persona I cannot detach from here is my blogger profile. It is as true as it is tongue-in-cheek, and it will be with the rest of this.

Other than that, I am here to speak in neutral vocabularies - the who what when where why and how of classical journalism and Hemingway. No writing tongue-in-cheek to see whose eyeballs I can make bounce .... for that kind of fun, people know where to read me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

For why is this still here?


It is still here because it is an artifact, a matter of history; and I do not approve the erasing of history. But since it is here, and I stumbled back to it and saw that some 9000 or so other hits have stumbled to here, for whatever reason – probably by mistake – I thought I should not leave it moribund and never do anything with it....

So, as I was losing the election 18 months ago, I said to more than one board member and administrator that I'd be interested in serving on a committee - that too many people had taken their time to explain what's and why's of policies and practices and problems for me not to give something back. And I did show up at a committee meeting that a third party – a known critic – gave me notification. I sat and listened a couple of hours, asked a question or two, but simply could not get past the perception that the committee was trying to re-invent the wheel but make it not round. Every problem the committee was identifying, as I listened, was one not solved by the previous bureaucracies and services available through the schools. Those problems, as we know, are grounded in the dissolution of family life in the lumpen and downwardly mobile proletariat and middle classes. So again, the purpose is to solve those problems. Yet THIS committee was, as best I understood the members, charged with organizing a scheme of committees....to address those problems.... as best I could follow. Yet nobody wanted to acknowledge my observation: What will get put into place will be another version of the last collection of programs. I swear this is what someone whose opinion I do in fact respect said in reply, “We just cannot do nothing.”

About that, that we just “cannot do nothing” - I am not so sure anymore....to think one can do ANYTHING not logically impossible is, well, hubris? Sometimes, maybe one should do nothing, since anything else will not work....either.

Anyway, after that meeting I told the Chairperson I'd like to help somewhere, but that I did not think THAT committee is where I should be – so might they pass the word?

Never heard anything from anybody.

But no matter, as I was finding it impossible to get work. I have now been without regular work for almost exactly two years. Actually, I got hired twice but the jobs fell through when the contractor hiring me did not get the job, yada yada. I schlepped onward. I was and am too ashamed to be standing in a public place making arguments to do this rather than that when I am not allowed to make a living. Another election cycle in April 2012, with me identified as “unemployed” in all the reporting, might well have gotten somebody hurt.

True to the sycophancy and insincerity that is the zeitgeist of our moment, some dolt who wound up changing every belief he had about the District before getting on the Board was elected the April 2012 race, only to quit six months later. I found this especially hilarious, since one of the arguments the Columbia Gossip Mongers and Fishwives' Trash Talking Society spun against me is that I would get frustrated and quit....But since no one would go on the record, I could not refute any false claims, etc. Usually, I am accused of persisting to the point of futility. But hey, it must be other people, not me: The Trib said I was too confrontational, the Missourian said I was too funny.

All that said, nobody will ever admit that the current Board is adopting polices for which I advocated – oh, they'll admit the policies, but not my acumen or foresight or perception, e.g, that the district should return to the use of full time permanent “substitute” teachers. The Board did also ask for a levy increase, when I had been the only candidate to say unambiguously that I would vote to raise taxes. You can read all about it in the papers.

None of that, however, goes to prove any bourgeois bona fides about me, unless of course one wants to argue that I am not a Commie after-all, but just another “liberal.” Which is, again, hilarious.

Anybody who thinks I think like Darin Preis doesn't know both of us....

So, life goes on, even stumbling from temp jobs and gigs that show up a few days worth of work each month – I still have it better than billions, literally billions of people here on Planet Earth. Better than people in Rockaway, ya don't even need to leave the country to see the difference. Sometimes I read something that sounds pretty stupid – the new proposed bus schedules, for example – and I think “What the hell?” But I am now getting ready to be a grand-dad, my efforts must go elsewhere, and besides, I think Belcher is a pretty good games-man: To kill a bad idea, run it up the flagpole and let the public pull it down.

On the other hand, if it turns out that 7 year olds are standing outside in the dark of January to meet their buss at say, 6:50 am … well, I am pretty good at being a fucking pest... even when I am censored from the Columbia Daily Tribune for using phrases like “Negro slaves” and swearing at people in Latin.....

Not that anybody gives a rat's ass....






Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Unpublished Thank-You Letter

It would seem that the Columbia Daily Tribune has declined to publish my thank-you letter to the public. I make the inference on the basis of the content and dates of the letters to the editor appearing the past few days, and on past assurances from Jim Robertson, the managing editor, that the Tribune does not "sit" on letters, or give preference of order, etc. So it would seem the following is simply not appropriate content:

7 April 2011

Dave Raithel, Ph.D.
402 Lema Lane
Columbia Mo 65202

Columbia Daily Tribune
Dixiecratia, MO 65205

Dear Editor:

Please allow me to thank all those people who took the time to tell me what they knew about the district, its hopes, its abilities, and its problems; and to thank all those people who took the time to share their concerns with me, and to read my reports and reflections, and to respond to them; and all those people who took the time to vote, whether for me or not – just so long as they voted. As ill-feeling as I am about politics, I am still sufficiently na├»ve to believe in representative democracy. I lament that we need more practice at it, not the imperfections of the theory.

It should be said that the CPS is, in sum, a good district; and though one should not make the perfect the enemy of the good, I'll not be satisfied that it is good enough until it is as good as any district can be.

Best of luck and effort to the newly configured board. I sincerely hope for its success.

Dave Raithel


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Debacle

I gave myself the day-off yesterday - well, I did go observe the Finance Committee meeting that afternoon - but I doubt anyone needs to read this blog to know that I came in last. Neither losing, nor being last, really surprises me. I know how politics works, I just refuse to play along. Politics is what's wrong with us. We're not even supposed to really talk frankly about how politics works, as politicians, because it's embarrassing for some people. So, my first comment to the Tribune re the results was deleted by the editors, though I had said nothing false, nor employed any invectives. I have resubmitted my comment, with more detail but omitting one name, and will see if that too is removed to protect someone's - not sure whose - sensibilities.

I want to put here that I am more bothered that Tom Rose - the most experienced, most informed of the candidates - came in THIRD, more than 1000 and nearly 1000 votes behind the 1st and 2nd place finishers respectively. No doubt, somebody is going to take my observation as a slight to Ms. Wade and Mr. Sessions personally. I cannot control how other people interpret me - you must do your own deconstruction, if you will. What I do when I make the observation is point, not to the other candidates per se; I point to political culture. Rose is the current Board VP with four years experience; but like me, he eschews fund raising and politics as the practice of promotional features. He was bested by the candidates who raised the most money and spent the most money. If people approve that, then my pointing it out must offend them, as I appear to slight Wade and Sessions. I slight political culture: It is the business that people like Karl Rove do well in, and people like that creep me out.

I should add - as I am amused - that another commenter who did not vote for me did point out that my deleted comment did not violate Tribune policy as he/she understands it. So the Trib has the problem of re-writing history, but failing to rewrite the observations of those who witnessed the re-write. Oh what tangled webs they weave....

Nah, I ain't going away. But I do need to go find a job. And I have a whole year to learn ....

Monday, April 4, 2011

The KBIA Interview

These are the answers I gave to the questions asked me. Other candidates were asked some of the same questions, and some different ones. I don't understand that - but, I don't understand how one newspaper can eschew me on the grounds I am too confrontational, and the other on the grounds I am not serious. It's like being accused of being too tall and too short ...

I've tried embedding them here, but maybe because I run Linux on an old Dell Opticon whatever, or because YouTube won't make money off these, etc., they will not stay. So the link above will get you to KBIA, and you should be able to scroll to the bottom of the page and find the clips.









Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mr. Dave Visits the Schools ... The End

You cannot get the most you can get out of this unless you've read the beginning, Part One, and the middle, Part Two, because this is The End, my friend.

The elementary school day most usually begins - after brief administrative details - with language arts - reading and writing and word study. But disciplines and curricula overlap, and so some of the mathematics I saw in the earliest grades were the most amusing - and I don't mean that meanly. On a work sheet, one little girl correctly identified all the geometric figures as required, and answered all the questions correctly, deploying every phonic talent she'd acquired: cirkel, sfere, cilinder... and so on.

The first time I sat in to observe explicit arithmetic instruction, I recognized everything I saw: The kids took turns going to the Smart Board and solving equations, inequalities, and simple "algebra" problems - the "x + 12 = 32" kind of stuff, where the task is to solve for "x". But nobody calls that algebra, and instead of variables there are little boxes to fill with a number. None of that was strange and most the kids did just fine. When adding, they carried their 10's forward and marked the acquiring columns accordingly; when doing subtraction, they explicitly carried back their 10's when needed, crossing out the column entry borrowed from, reducing the entry by 1, and adding to the column needing the loan. Nothing peculiar.

Yet there were the two or three kids who simply had no interest, who neither followed along in the text book nor copied down in their notebooks what was being solved on the Smart Board for their benefit: Copy these steps. Do it like this.

Now, somebody might immediately say: THAT'S exactly why conceptual, over mechanical methods - those algorithms - have to be taught. But if not parsimonious, we can find ourselves mired in a plethora of "strategies," yielding at the extreme the kid who knows at least two ways of figuring what is equal to 5 times 6, but who cannot tell you it is 30 without working through one of them. Those stories about High School Freshmen who do not know their multiplication tables to 12 are not apocrypha - I've met those kids, I knew their names....

Every strategy once routinized, one should know, IS an algorithm: A list of instructions directing actions in an order such that by following them, a correct answer to a mathematical question can be given in a finite amount of time. We are, perhaps even as an entire culture, beside ourselves which of the methods is best, if there is only one best, etc.

My overview observation about all the arithmetic (and it all was arithmetic - whether solving equations and inequalities; determining perimeters, areas, and volumes; adding and subtracting fractions, etc.) comes to this: The teachers who kept the best attention of the students were those who did not bog down in the plethora of solution strategies. A problem would be started. A student would be invited to propose a first step. If useful, the teacher would proceed; if not, the teacher would give maybe one more opportunity, or simply say "Let's start with this step first instead." Then, another student would be invited to propose the next step; if useful, accepted; if not, the teacher would GIVE the next step. The result was to work through as many examples of the kind of problem to be solved as the time given allowed. One should distinguish that from doing the SAME problem over and over more than one way.

So, for example, a class is adding fractions, reducing improper fractions, etc. They come to a problem with different denominators. Somebody gives a solution, adding first the numerators and then the denominators. The teacher then asks the class: Do you ever add the denominators? NO says the class. Do you ever add the numerators when the denominators are different? NO says the class. What is the first step when denominators are different? Somebody ventures: find a common denominator. "Correct" says the teacher. How do you find the common denominator? asks the teacher. No answer. The teacher: You multiply the denominator of the first fraction by the denominator of the second, and THAT number is your common denominator. Somebody then says (I am not making this up) Why?

And the teacher says: Because if you do it this way, you will get the right answer. If you do it this way, you will not get the wrong answer. I will show YOU why if you want to know why later, but for now, I want you to follow these rules...

Now, I know full well that to some people, some teachers, what I've just described is horrible teaching. Yet consider this: When it comes to behavior, we expect the kids to do as asked EVEN if they do not know why. At some point, there is the explanation - so you can learn better, so you can be safe, so you can respect others - but the bottom line is, they are EXPECTED to comply with behavioral rules regardless of their comprehending their purpose or effect.

Yet if the matter is a concrete applicable skill required by the curriculum, the explanation: Because it works and so I ask that you follow it - is somehow improper....

And the teacher I just described had control of the class, and people were paying attention.

Similarly with another teacher whose class was computing the volumes of irregular rectilinear solids - think of a smaller cube immediately atop, or adjacent to, a larger cube except that it is one object, as the typical case (or the volume beneath a flight of steps, etc.) Some of the dimensions are given, and the rest can be computed from the explicit measures.

The teacher asks: Who has an idea where to start? Without pictures, this is a bit harder to describe, but generally, the teacher guides the kids into partitioning the larger object into smaller parts where the formula "Volume = H x W x L" can be applied, and then the sum of each of those smaller solutions is the total solution. Whenever a kid suggests a move getting to there, the teacher accepts it; and when the move suggested is wrong, she just says, very delicately "I'm not sure about that - anybody else?" and there is ONE more chance for somebody to give the next step; if that isn't right, she says "No, let's do this, because we already know ...." and explains why. THAT step done, she asks for the next one...

Otherwise, quite frankly, the kid trying to figure out the problem in front of everybody else becomes the teacher, and the other kids - either because they already get it, or because they haven't got it till now, just drift away. My point here is NOT that the kid figuring out the problem gets it wrong - but that THEIR exploration is NOT the same as teaching. The following example will, no doubt, push just about every button anyone has about mathematics instruction in the schools:

A class is comparing fractions, converting decimals, ordering on number lines, etc. They are reviewing a worksheet/test returned to them. A typical problem is: Which is the larger fraction: 4/7 or 5/8? A student volunteers to show how she got it right. Up to the Smart Board she goes; she draws a rectangle; she divides the rectangle in half with a line parallel to the base; she then subdivides the top half into 8 pieces with lines perpendicular to the mid-line; then subdivides the bottom half into 7 pieces with lines perpendicular to the base from the mid-line; colors in 5 of the top 8; colors in 4 of the bottom 7, and voila, demonstrates that 5/8 is larger than 4/7.

Well now, these are some facts about this:
 1) There is, in fact, an algorithm for her method. I just described. It can be written with variables, and the procedure is iterative. In a finite amount of time, following it will let you compare any finite number - no matter how large - of fractions.
  2) It is laborious. This took some time - several minutes, but the teacher never intervened, and I saw kids just quit watching her work, and fiddle....
  3) It works with larger grosser measures, in an ample space, but more complex comparisons would require a ruler - another metric - and space might be limited.
  4) The student showing her work had every problem on her worksheet correct. EVERY single problem, she'd got the right answer.
  5) On a MAP test, her method is acceptable (or so I was told just today.)
  6) When a boy solved the same kind of comparison problem, he found the common denominator, etc. Making the conversion simply went faster than drawing the picture....

This of course goes to Ines Segert's fundamental objection to the mathematics curriculum in the schools. I know my citing her is perhaps to my detriment as I seek a Board seat, as she is clearly not the most popular of future ex-board members. But I neither betray nor repudiate intellect. I do not know that I agree with her on all points; rather, because we share a common lingua franca, I understand what she means when she put her point this way (in paraphrase): There is a well established, well known canon of solution methods and algorithms which mathematicians have established through the course of the past several centuries, and the District does not teach this canon.

I do not know if that is true about all the District, or about some levels of mathematics in the district, or only about some teachers in the district; I only know I understand her criticism.

So consider this episode as a more clear demonstration of what the absence of the canon might mean: A class is computing areas. One of the areas is an isosceles triangle. A method in the canon would be: complete the rectangle on the triangle, compute that area, and divide that area by 2. That is not what I saw. Again, the method was to (without pictures, again requiring your imagination) break the triangle into unit squares, and then re-assemble the half-units together to make full units, and then count them. THIS DOES WORK. So do not misunderstand my point. The success depends upon the exactness of the selection of the unit square, such that the slope of the sides bi-sects the unit squares. ...

The issue then for me, as I understand Dr. Segert's concern, is the generalization of any strategy. Clearly, some developing minds will benefit from the kind of visual-manipulation of space the above exercise employs. The question is: When in a student's cognitive development has the EXAMPLE been conflated with the universal principle, such that, her reliance upon the example has become an impediment, rather than a step in advance?

... Well, I could go on like this, ad nauseum for some readers I am sure. I once self-diagnosed my logorrhea. So I should impose my halt, and leave you with this:

I did like most of what I saw on my visits. I have omitted some particular things that did bother me which go less to curriculum than to discipline. Still, the fact is: Most kids I watched and spoke with are getting an education, though to varying degrees of perfection. That is good. But though one often errs to make the perfect the enemy of the good, I am not yet going to claim that the Columbia Public Schools are good enough....

Word.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mr. Dave Visits the Schools .... Part Two

You'll need to read Part One, because I'm going to jump right in...

Some people offer "technology" as the panacea for what ails the schools. I am not a luddite. I know the future of textbooks is Kindles and I-Pads. Everybody needs to know how to use a computer; it is to the future what driving a car will be to the past. But the evidence re: "give them kids electronic stuff to work with" is, at best, as equivocal and faintly praising as the evidence for adopting "out of the box" reading programs:

This review examines research on the effects of technology use on reading achievement in K-12 classrooms. Unlike previous reviews, this review applies consistent inclusion standards to focus on studies that met high methodological standards. In addition, methodological and substantive features of the studies are investigated to examine the relationship between education technology and study features. A total of 85 qualified studies based on over 60,000 K-12 participants were included in the final analysis. 

Consistent with previous reviews of similar focus, the findings suggest that education technology generally produced a positive, though small, effect (ES=+0.16) in comparison to traditional methods. However, the effects may vary by education technology type. In particular, the types of supplementary computer-assisted instruction programs that have dominated the classroom use of education technology in the past few decades are not producing educationally meaningful effects in reading for K-12 students. In contrast, innovative technology applications and integrated literacy interventions with the support of extensive professional development showed somewhat promising evidence. However, too few randomized studies for these promising approaches are available at this point for firm conclusion.
The emphasis bold face is my doing. I am going to go out on a limb and tell you how I understand what ES=+.16 means. Suppose we do our controlled experiment. The kids are all pre-tested. The mean is 50, the standard deviation is 10. So, 66.666 of the kids get a score between 40 and 60 inclusive. Then we do the "treatment", i.e., apply the practice of the technology. Then we do the post-test. If the treatment is successful, then roughly, the treatment group improves its mean by 1.6 points - from 50 to 51.6 ....

Anybody but me remember what the Hawthorne Experiments were all about?

So let me share one anecdote that underscores SOMETHING more is still missing: In one of the classes (3rd grade) the kids got some group instruction on "homophones." The teacher used the Smart Board, the kids were asked to pick the correct word of two or three to complete some sentences, as in: "Jimmy had (to) (too) (two) many marbles (to) (too) (two) fit in the box." "While dancing the fandango, he turned a whiter shade of (pail) (pale)." Etc.

That all went fairly well, though I did recognize the "hard case" in the room after my being there about five minutes. After the group instruction and then some individual time spent on a work sheet, the kids were released to "stations." During "stations", which rotate day to day, some kids work at the bank of computers, some play card games (Do you have a word that rhymes with "Ring"? Go fish...) etc., while the teacher works with the small group whose station is her for that day.

So I follow people around and see what they're doing and then deliberately go watch the "hard case" at the computer. The scheme is this: The student starts a game - in this case, football. After about 10 seconds of play, the game stops and the student is asked a question, e.g., What word below rhymes with "table"? Which word below is mis-spelled? (reference is a picture) etc. If the kid answers correctly, the game comes back on for 10 seconds of play, and then repeat.

I observed that the student in question made NO effort, NONE what-so-ever, to answer the questions. He would run his left hand over the keys while clicking the mouse cursor, and voila, the game would come back on. He did this successfully a few times, until a screen message popped up which read something benign like "Guessing detected" and so a different question would appear. No difference to him, same strategy: Cheat.

I think it is safe to say that technology did NOTHING to help this kid. The question about him is not: What kind of new gizmo will bring him into the fold, but rather, why does a kid of 8 going on 9 evince such cynicism and indifference so early in life?

At the risk of being politically incorrect (when have I ever shied from that?), let me emphasize he was white; he did not look like he'd ever missed a meal but was not obese; he had clean clothes; tied shoes (and I've seen flip-flops and house-slippers when it was sleeting out...); I saw no bruises on his arms or face - seemed completely ordinary to me. So what was his problem? I asked him: Do you think you might get to play more football if you tried to answer the questions? No. Why not? They're stupid. Why are they stupid? Just are.

Even while conversing with me, he kept doing the same behavior. He did not want to talk to me about what he was doing. Autistic? Just rude?

I approached the teacher as I left that class and intending no accusation, shared that I'd noticed his alienation within moments, and how he'd done the computer, and she would/could only share with me: He is difficult to work with....

Is it possible that some kids do not connect to school ONLY because no adult figured out what REASON that kid needs? Suppose we can set aside all other causes - no ADHD, no false diagnosis of ADHD and the "medicine" that comes with it, no undiagnosed cognitive learning disorder, VISION itself has been tested, etc. Nobody can find anything wrong except that THIS kid simply does not give a shit.

This did happen - I don't need to lie, the truth is bad enough:

The Pearson Habits/Readers program conjoins writing sessions with the group and guided reading sessions. In one class, I observed the students - (not sure if this was 1st, possibly 2nd) learning that every story has a beginning and a middle and an ending. I observed that they have a work sheet to get them started on writing their story. The work sheet has spaces labeled with "What is the title of your story?" "Who are the main characters in your story?" "How does your story begin?", etc. It's basically an outline. The work sheet has spaces for writing the story, and spaces for illustrations. Seeing all that in one class, I move to another class next door where the kids are continuing the same project (that's the "beauty" of Pearson...). I ask permission to look over shoulders, all the kids say "yes". I then came to one boy who had written nothing - not even his name. He had made some illustrations - airplanes, tanks. We conversed a bit and so I just asked "You don't like to write?" and he said No. I then tried to engage him: What if you had to leave a note for your mom or grandma to say you'd be late for supper? I'd call them on the phone. What if the phone lines are broken because of a tornado? I'd ask my neighbor to tell them. Well, right there, I knew this kid was NOT stupid. Every variable I threw him, he had a retort. So finally I asked him: What do you want to do when you grow up?

And he said: Be in the Army.

Well, I told him, I was in the Army. You cannot join the Army if you cannot read and write. I am not telling you a lie, cross my heart I hope to die should I lie, but I joined the Army the month after I finished High School, and I promise you, you cannot join if you cannot read and write. They will not let you in.

The expression on his face changed from bantering imp to wonderment. He then picked up his pencil, wrote his name, and started to fill in a title ... though by then, the teacher, who'd been working with others all this time (the only other adult in the room), said it was time for the class to end the writing session ...

I should emphasize that my visits mostly reaffirmed my impressions from the time I subbed about kids' being engaged in the earliest grades: It was rare then, and as rare when visiting, that kids as young as 3rd grade and below are so thoroughly disenchanted with school - the two episodes I cite above are the extremes. Most the time, even though there are the ranges of accomplishment and demonstrated capacity in spelling or reading or arithmetic in the earliest grades (I even did a couple of Pre-K jobs), the kids all are making some effort. Often, they just seem a bit "lost" in the shuffle from one task to another: In one Pearson assignment after a group session, the kids are to retrieve their "book bins", and from their books, find examples of "captions" and "close-ups" and "cut-aways" (think of those drawings that come with your washing machine or lawn mower manual you need when playing "Mr. Fixit.") There is the shuffle of "transitioning." Most people make it to their desk with their book bin - sometimes a third their size and almost as heavy. There's always the girl or boy who just didn't make it that far, who returns to his or her desk and who has to be reminded the instructions but when reminded, off they go in earnest...

The deliberate avoidance doesn't usually appear until the 4th grade - again, from my experience and from talking with staff and teachers. Because my reading about reading has emphasized how crucial it is that basic reading skills be established by the end of the 3rd grade, I do now wonder: Are those we first see turning off after the 3rd grade those who did not get their foundations set? The difference between the atmosphere in 3rd grade and below, and then in a 4th grade room, can be palpable. Enter the room, and somebody is already in the "Safe Seat" or maybe even the "Buddy Seat" (The kid in the Buddy Seat is from another class. He/she has been "promoted", if you will, from the Safe Seat of his/her home class. From the Buddy Seat, it's either back to the home class, or maybe to the Recovery Room, or to the office. This is the aspect of PBS that comes into play when the positive reward side has failed.) There's tension that signals a difference between little minds that are still trying to follow what big people say, and prepubescent minds that are losing, if they have not already lost, interest in what big people say. This did vary from school to school - so my point is NOT that everywhere I went, I saw this stark difference. Rather, that within a school, if there are kids falling out, you can see them start to tip by about the 4th grade...


I have more anecdotes and observations - all true reports - about reading and writing - about the compositions kids read me on the day their parents and guardians could not attend as did those of their classmates and I played surrogate - about the MAP preparation that people could explain to me but nobody would "defend" - about those kids who, even in this digital age, fill lab books cover to cover with reflections and observations and fantasies and hopes - but I'll save that all for another time, if there is one - the above is already perhaps too much and pointless.

What's a guy who's dismissed as too confrontational by one newspaper editor, and dismissed as not serious by another, to do? One wonders whether they read or hear anything but themselves. I can only say: This is what I see, this is what I read, this is what people tell me, this is what I have concluded and why.

I'll try get a short post about arithmetic/math up sometime later today.