Filed under: Art, Education, History | Tags: Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information
“Making a presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity.
The use of corrupt manipulations and blatant rhetorical ploys in a report
or presentation — outright lying, flagwaving, personal attacks, setting up
phony alternatives, misdirection, jargon-mongering, evading key issues,
feigning disinterested objectivity, willful misunderstanding of other
points of view— suggests that the presenter lacks both credibility and
evidence. To maintain standards of quality, relevance, and integrity for
evidence, consumers of presentation should insist that presenters be held
intellectually and ethically responsible for what they show and tell. Thus
consuming a presentation is also an intellectual and a moral activity.”
Charles Joseph Minard’s data-map describes the successive losses in men of the French Army in the Russian campaign of 1812-1813. Drawn by M. Minard, Inspector General of Bridges and Roads in retirement, Paris, November 20, 1869.
The numbers of men present are represented by the widths of the colored zones at a rate of one millimeter for every ten thousand men. The tan represents the men who enter into Russia, the black those who leave it. The overall toll, French and Russian was approximately 700,000 to 1,000,000. Place names are shown, as are the rivers, and at the bottom a graphic table of the temperature in degrees of the Réaumur thermometer below zero. Moscow, October 18; October 24 –rain; November 9, –9°; November 14 –21° at Smolensk; December 1, –24 ° at Minsk; December 6, –30°. Only one soldier in 42 survived this brutal campaign — six months from start to finish.
At the war’s beginning , the army crossed the Nieman River with 422,000 soldiers. At the end, 10,000 soldiers returned across the Nieman River. The width of the lines accurately represents the numbers. So much information is conveyed by this one beautiful analytical graph, in a combination of beautiful design, true and accurate information, and a long dreadful story. Amazing.
Edward Tufte is a Professor Emeritus at Yale University, where he taught courses on statistical evidence, analytical design and political economy. He has written four books on visual displays: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations, Beautiful Evidence. They are incredibly beautiful, true, refined and luscious books, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Tufte is also a sculptor. His works are available through his website: www.tufte.com as is a poster of the above beautiful graphic in either French or English. He includes this analytical graph in each of his books, as probably the best graphic conveyance of information ever made.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Education, Health Care, Progressivism | Tags: Big Government Excess, Federal Parenting, Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided that 15 year-old girls can purchase the “morning-after” pill over-the-counter without a prescription or without the knowledge of their parents. They remain not old enough to drive, not old enough to decide what they want for lunch, not old enough to get an aspirin for a headache, not old enough to go on a school field trip without an official signed permission slip from their parents, but the “morning after” pill — no problem. Go figure.
The so-called Sexual Revolution has a lot to answer for.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, History, Education, Economy, Media Bias, Democrat Corruption, Capitalism, Statism, The United States | Tags: Politically Incorrect, Gender-Neutrality, Cultural Marxism
I’m so embarrassed. Washington State is in the news again, and the lightweights in the state capitol in Olympia, having nothing better to do in a time of economic downturn and vast unemployment, have secured our new governor’s signature as the final piece of a six-year effort to rewrite state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary. No more crass use of terms such as “fisherman” to describe those hardy souls who head off for northern waters to bring in a load of our iconic salmon. They are now “fishers”, the gender-neutral replacement.
Our colleges and universities will no longer have “freshman classes”, but only “first-year students.” Elementary schools will no longer teach “penmanship” but only “handwriting.” That last is a lie, because our schools aren’t teaching handwriting either. Now that computers are ubiquitous, our education establishment has concluded that cursive writing is no longer necessary, and once kids can print they abandon the penmanship effort entirely. You have probably noticed if you’ve been around kids — they can’t write.
“There’s no good reason for keeping our legal terms anachronistic and with words that do not respect our current contemporary times,” Kohl-Welles, the 475-page bill’s sponsor, told Reuters.
They won’t change “airman” or “seaman” because of objections by the state’s Washington Military Department. They couldn’t find substitutes for “man hole” and “man lock”. We apparently have a 40-
man person Washington Code Reviser’s Office to get all such vocabulary changes into the Washington State Code. The people will go on using the same vocabulary they’ve always used.
This, of course, has nothing to do with “sexism” or “gender-neutrality,” it is political correctness run amok. Or even more accurately — it is cultural Marxism, an effort that has been going on since World War I. It is a tale of the perpetually discontented, the victims in our world. The victims are feminists, gays, blacks, Hispanics, and they rewrite history, invent statistics, embroidered with lies and demands. Americans must be fearful of what they say, of what they write and what they think. If they use the wrong word, they may be denounced as offensive, insensitive, racist, sexist and/or homophobic.
The United States Air Force Academy removed words that stood at the base of a ramp that cadets walked up on their first day at the academy — a symbolic threshold between an old life and a new one. The words had stood for 39 years; 10 letters, each of them two feet tall” “Bring Me Men” — the first words of a poem written in 1894 by Sam Walter Foss, “The Coming American” — “Bring me men to match my mountains, Bring me men to match my plains, Men with empires in their purpose, And new eras in their brains.” Those words were taken down in 2003, so the academy could be more “gender-neutral.” Uni-sex bathrooms? Women in combat? It is all of a piece.
John Steele Gordon recently wrote about the politically correct effort to remove Christ from the calendar and replace the terms AD and BC with CE and BCE. CE stands for ‘common era’ and BCE for ‘before common era,’ since roughly half the world’s population is non-Christian, we shouldn’t use loaded terms such as AD (Anno Domini) and BC (Before Christ).
Mostly we just laugh at this stuff, or are embarrassed when some guy in the office is hauled down to Human Resources for a lecture because he had the nerve to compliment a woman. Or a first-grader is suspended from school for chewing his Pop Tart into a shape that resembles a pistol. The examples are all around us. Officialdom descends on us and tells us that we are — offensive, insensitive, racist, sexist and/or homophobic. Police have been called to deal with little kids that have water-pistols or plastic army-men. People are fired for being politically incorrect. Then it’s no longer a laughing matter.
Political Correctness is cultural Marxism, or Marxism translated from economic terms into cultural terms. It is a totalitarian ideology, and nowhere is the totalitarian nature of political correctness revealed more thoroughly than on our college campuses, where speech codes triumph and legal organizations have been created to protect the civil rights of students and faculty (F.I.R.E.).
Cultural Marxism says that all of history is determined by power, by which groups are defined in terms of race, sex, etc, and have power over other groups. Nothing else matters. Power? When a white student is denied admittance to a college in favor of a black or Hispanic who isn’t as well qualified, the student is expropriated. When a contract is denied to a white-owned company because the contract is reserved for a company owned by a Hispanic or a woman, that’s an example of power. When a bankruptcy denies the legal rights of bondholders to first claim on a company’s assets and instead gives a third of the ownership of the company to the unions (whose excessive benefits were largely the cause of bankruptcy) — that’s power, and the goal of political correctness, gender-neutrality, deconstruction of our great books, and the last obstacles to the creation of a Marxist paradise — the end of capitalism and of Western civilization itself.
An Accuracy in Academia address by Bill Lind explains the origins of political correctness clearly and in depth. (It’s not long) Or Bill Whittle explains it, he calls it “the narrative,” in the following video.
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Education, Freedom, Heartwarming, Law, Politics | Tags: Governor Scott Walker, Reform and Renewal, State of Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s outstanding young governor, Scott Walker, appears on the Hoover Institution’s Uncommon Knowledge, wonderful interviews conducted by Peter Robinson.
I am deeply impressed with this young man. He was elected to face a state in trouble, with problems with the schools, the state budget, domineering public sector unions. The Democrats in the Legislature skipped town to avoid having to face up to a vote they might lose. The Governor was picketed, threatened, the subject of near riots by angry protesters, and he went ahead and did what was right anyway. Courage, and then some.
He has fixed the problems, survived a recall election, and put Wisconsin on the path to freedom and good government, opportunity and growth. Courage, character and determination. He seems to be a really nice guy as well.
Filed under: Education, Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, United Kingdom | Tags: The Industrial Revolution, Time Machine: 1880, Transforms Farming
If you have time this weekend, and need a respite from the Boston bombings, I recommend this documentary from the BBC. It is called Victorian Farm, and is an observational series following a team who live the life of Victorian British farmers for a year.
This is not ‘reality TV’. In Britain, the Acton Scott estate in Shropshire is a world frozen in time, the time of Victorian rural England. The buildings and grounds are cluttered with antique tools and machinery collected by the Acton family, who have lived on the estate since the 12th century.
The team consists of two archaeologists, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn, and historian Ruth Goodman who go back in time to relive the day-to-day life of a Victorian farmer. The team moves into a Victorian smallholding on the Acton Scott estate that has not been used in nearly half a century. Their first job is restoration of the cottage. As incoming tenants, they help thresh the previous summer’s wheat crop, their first experience of steam-powered machinery. Alex attempts to sow a wheat crop using horse power. Ruth and Peter install a range in the cottage and take a trip to the canals to load up on coal.
They have as a guide, an 1844 guidebook explaining Victorian tools, and local folk knowledgeable in traditional country ways come by to help them with unfamiliar tasks. It is very professionally done, and if you have no interest in history, probably not your cup of tea. The full documentary is six hours long, but broken up into manageable segments. I enjoyed it immensely. Not Kim Kardashian, but serious scholars discovering the past by doing. Watch a little, you’ll get hooked.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Energy, Health Care, Law, National Security | Tags: A Truly Tragic Figure, Every Program a Winner, Ten Million Unemployed
Barack Obama has been, as president, a very private person, in spite of his constant presence wherever there is a camera. .He doesn’t pal around with Congressional Democrats, nor with much of anybody else. Somebody actually called him “a man of mystery” a few days ago.
He does not reveal much of himself; and according to aides, associates with only a very few close allies, and keeps much to himself. He avoids meetings, and prefers that advisers present their ideas in writing, with three options for him to choose from, which he tackles late at night. Yet he loves large crowds, the cheering and applause — which explains the constant campaign.
Because he reveals so little of himself, people are quick to attempt to categorize him. He has made no secret of being drawn to radicals, and of seeking out the more radical teachers, advisers and mentors. Is he then a communist, as many have claimed, or a socialist? I think not, though he leans towards communitarianism and is concerned with “fairness” as an ideal.
I think Barack Obama is a truly tragic figure. Shuffled around from one country to another, from parent to grandparent, always the odd one out, the different one. He took his story and made it a triumph of the exotic and the different that destined him for something truly special. It came when he spoke to the Democrat Convention in 2004. A promising state legislator, and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he was invited to give the keynote address. He stood before 4,322 Democrat delegates in the Fleet Center in Boston, and told them the story of his life, and they cheered and applauded.
Obama noted his unlikely presence on the convention stage. His father was a foreign student, born and raised in Kenya. He grew up herding goats. Obama’s mother was born in Kansas to a father who served with Patton and a mother who worked in a bomber factory. …I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, That I owe a debt to all who came before me and that, in no other country on earth is my story even possible.
The media were enchanted. To Obama it was the moment when he said to himself “I can do this.” His term in the United States Senate was extremely boring to him; he believed he was destined for bigger things. So he ran for President.
Michelle, according to reports, had doubts. He hadn’t done anything yet. She was right. He had no executive experience, no management experience, and no understanding of the private sector. But he really enjoyed being on the campaign trail, doing and saying whatever it takes to get elected, including lying shamelessly about his opponent, the nation and the world.
Supplied with vast political theatrics, from songs for children to a podium with an almost-presidential seal, and the infamous Greek Columns, it was a campaign such as Americans had never before seen.. He promised much, but the promises were empty. They were only designed to please.
Governing was something else again. Obama was an amateur. Confronted with a recession as so many other new presidents have been, he proclaimed it the worst since the Great Depression, the worst trouble ever left by a former president, and quickly rammed a Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through Congress with the help of that former president, who went to great lengths to make the transfer of power easy.
So Obama embarked on a massive stimulus, $860 billion flooded into the economy only to learn that there weren’t any shovel-ready jobs. Much went to government agencies who sat on it, and the rest was simply wasted. The Auto Industry had to be saved from normal bankruptcy with another $63 billion, the bondholders were illegally shafted, a third of the company was given to the unions who were the reason the companies were bankrupt, and auto dealers (private businesses) were abruptly put out of business.
The federal government made a huge effort, behind closed doors, to take over the world’s best health care system to imitate instead the world’s worst health care system — Britain’s NHS. ObamaCare is an unworkable, unbelievable mess that will ruin lives, kill patients and destroy the medical industry. It is unaffordable, and its nature and its costs are not yet apparent to most people who think they are getting “free” health care.
The facts on climate science have changed, but no one in the administration has noticed. There has been no warming for over 15 years. CO2 continues to rise in the atmosphere and is greening the world, as CO2 is a natural fertilizer for plants. Fracking has changed the earth’s energy picture and the United States has exceeded Saudi Arabia in oil production; but the President is still trying to protect us from our “dependence” on “foreign oil.”And federal subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays continue to multiply although both only exist with constant support from fossil fuel fired power plants, and represent only a miniscule portion of electricity produced
The U.S. National Debt is $16,809,211,500,878 and climbing too fast to count. Our Gross Domestic Product is $15,692,319,919,688 and not climbing nearly as fast as the national debt. We have ten million Americans looking for work, and a president who has no idea how jobs are created.
The president’s narcissism and self-regard do not allow him to consider criticism as meaningful. After this morning’s temper tantrum in the Rose Garden, he will undoubtedly go out campaigning again. He “has a gift,” as he has told us. He can move crowds with the magic of his baritone voice, and he tells people what he believes they want to hear.
He is a tragic figure. Not a tragic hero. When he secured the presidential nomination, he said: “If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. This was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last best hope on Earth.” Looking back on that— it’s only words.
Many Democrats remain enthralled. He is theirs, the first black President of the United States of America, and he is their absolution. They have been burdened with guilt. Slavery and segregation are the history of the Democratic Party. Their parents and grandparents fought against the Civil Rights bill. Racism is the worst, the greatest sin of the modern world, and electing the first black President proves that they are no longer racist. They are absolved. That leaves them free to call everybody else “racist.”
Will the rules continue to be different for this president? I don’t know. Will the media continue to absolve Obama of every failure? Obama wants to bury the deficit, raise more taxes so he can “invest” taxpayer money in new projects.
When he demands a new entitlement of national preschool for every four-year-old to be paid for by raising the tax on cigarettes as a solution to America’s unemployment problem — does no one notice the absurdity?
Filed under: Art, Capitalism, Economy, Education, Fun n Games, Politics | Tags: Crayons, How Thing Are Made, Pigment and Wax and?
I love watching assembly lines, seeing how things are made. It’s no wonder so many science fiction stories portray a society that suddenly doesn’t work at all; and we’re all left to try to cope, and we don’t know how to make anything useful. Did you learn how to make fire in Boy Scouts? And snares? We are useless without our electricity and creature comforts.
Filed under: Africa, Education, Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, Humor | Tags: Liking Waterholes, Mud is Good, The Elephant's Trunk
When you are very young, there’s all sorts of stuff you have to learn. You humans have noses with which you breathe and smell; ours does that as well as collecting food, touching, grasping and sound production. We can eventually crack a peanut shell without harming the peanut itself, lift up to 770 lbs., reach up to 23 feet, suck up water both to drink and to shower. When we swim, it’s a snorkel. So don’t go laughing when we have to learn how to use our proboscis, it just takes time.
Filed under: Education, Environment | Tags: Alleviating Confusion, Basic Deer & Buffalo, Scientific Knowledge
What’s the difference between horns and antlers? The Brain Scoop’s Emily Graslie explains.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Education, Humor, Intelligence, News of the Weird, Pop Culture | Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Political Power, Propaganda
Public Policy Polling is a respected polling organization. They found in January that Americans have a higher opinion of colonoscopies than they do of Congress. That may be specious, and anything noxious would get the same result. We do, however, have to remember that we elected them, and they are only human— which means they have real faults just like the rest of us. Just means we have to look at their qualifications a little more closely next time, rather than just their party affiliation.
PPP has just released a Conspiracy Theory poll. They” took the opportunity to poll 20 widespread and/or infamous conspiracy theories. Many are well known to the public, others just to the darker corners of the internet.” I picked ten to list here.
- 37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58–25% margin, Democrats disagree 11–77%, and Independents are more split at 41–51%. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax.
- 6% of voter believe Osama bin Laden is still alive.
- 29% of voters believe aliens exist
- 9% of voters think the government adds fluoride to our water supply for sinister reasons (not just dental health).
- 20% of voters believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism, 51% do not.
- Voters are split 44%–45% on whether Bush intentionally misled about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 72% of Democrats think Bush lied about WMD, Independents agree 48–45%. Just 13% of Republicans think so.
- 14% of voters believe in Bigfoot.
- 15% of voters think the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry “invent” new diseases to make money.
- 5% of voters believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966
- 11% of voters believe the US Government allowed 9/11 to happen, 78% do not agree.
PPP surveyed 1,247 registered American voters from March 27th to 30th. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 2.8%. More results can be found here.
I grew up in the woods, and I do not believe in Bigfoot. I believe that “global warming” is a proven fraud. I also grew up with the perfect amount of natural fluoride in the water, no dentist needed. And the headline came from a statement on the radio by a professor who has just written a book on unsolved mysteries (or conspiracies).
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Education | Tags: 700 Percent Increase, Students Bear the Burden, Too Many Administrators
The news has been full over the past few years of a flood of politically correct nonsense emanating from our public schools, large amounts of it to do with a zero tolerance policy for guns, violence, or anything threatening.
So we have had small boys removed from school for biting a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun (more a case of non-artistic bites, he was trying for a mountain). Small children have been banished for drawing pictures of guns, bringing the inch-long guns from toy soldiers to school, decorating a cake with toy soldiers, the silliness goes on and on. Teachers and administrators are unable to distinguish between a real gun and a plastic squirt gun, or a picture of a gun.
Now some clues to the absurdity are emerging. In the last 20 years, the number of K-12 administrators has increased 2.3 times faster than the number of students in school, according to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Teacher employment has also outpaced student growth, though not as rapidly as the numbers of administrators.
Since 1950, administrative positions at K-12 schools have increased by 700 percent— seven times faster than the growth in student enrollment. Benjamin Scafidi, a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation and associate professor at Georgia College& State University said there is scant evidence that such an employment surge has done anything positive for student achievement.
The burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools,
If education loads had not declined, and universities used that savings to offset tuition increases, they could have not done 54 percent of the tuition increases.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Glenn Reynolds, K - 12 Education, Schools and the Law
This video is based on Instapundit Glenn Reynolds Encounter broadside by the same name. Our schools are not doing a good job. That is hardly news, it’s been going on for years, but it seems to be getting worse. We know we don’t fare well in international comparisons. Our schools are far more concerned with absurd political correctness than with drilling the basics of reading and math into small heads.
Private schools seem to do a better job — but think about it— if they don’t, families won’t pay the tuition. And teachers’ unions, proclaiming “it’s for the children,” fight tooth and nail to prevent any real innovation. As one national head of the teacher’s union remarked, ‘when the kids start paying dues, we’ll be for the kids.’ (paraphrased)
So why can’t we learn from the countries who are doing so much better than we are? Why has the left been so intent on dumbing down the schools? Why do they get so excited over a kid eating his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun (when he was trying to make it into a mountain)? It’s because our public schools have become a giant bureaucracy. There are more administrators than teachers. There are more rules than there are children. We put too much emphasis on the wrong things. The left keeps trying to indoctrinate our kids. Teachers who enter the field full of passion lose the passion all too soon. Parents who home school are getting better results than the public schools. Kids are graduating from high school who cannot read.
School choice seems to be the best answer we currently have — just get them out of the public schools. Then what? See Glenn Reynolds’ The Higher Education Bubble as well.
ADDENDUM: How about this one? “In Corpus Christi Texas, Kara Sands noticed a question on her son’s fifth-grade test “Why might the United States be the target of terrorism?” Possible answers were: (A) Other people just don’t like Americans (B) Decisions we made in the United States have had negative effects on people elsewhere (C) Terrorists hate everyone, (D) None of the above. The “correct” answer was (B) although any other choice might have been closer to the truth. What happened next?