Monday, January 02, 2017

My Bit of Fake News!

I had a lot of fun pranking friends with this one. Before, I was fourth rate. I am up a notch! LOL
Many thanks to Harris Lertzman for showing me this first. "@TrumpInsulter" should tip people off.

Arms Race with Russia?

You have to be careful how you read the chart. It just stacks the amounts. Subtract $350bn from $567bn and you have China's amount. $217 bn - far less than half our spending, which, ironically, is partially financed by China. Russia comes in at 1/10th our spending. Granted, spending is probably not proportional to predicting the likelihood of prevailing in a conflict. Odds are we would all be dead in the end from a direct confrontation with China or Russia. Look at Saudi Arabia. You know where they get their weapons? From us.  

image source: 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Washington Post's Yellow Journalism

Compare these to headlines.

From their email alert:

compared to their headline for the article

Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say

They say different things. The latter is more accurate but still misleading based on their own reporting. They said a laptop at the utility (owned by whom?) that was NOT connected to the grid, had some malware on it, supposedly of the variety associated with Russian hackers. They offer no proof of a Russian operation.

Oh ya, and the story relies on anonymous sources. As does this piece below.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Hoopla Over Alleged Putin Meddling - A guest post...

From Philip Panaritis:

"Grizzly Steppe" hah

They released nothing, nada, zero, zilch, beyond fuzzy insinuations that in no way corroborate the Putin hacked our elections mendacity.  

To wit, the report begins with this ominous assertion, "However, public attribution of these activities to RIS is supported by technical indicators from the U.S. Intelligence Community, DHS, FBI, the private sector, and other entities."  Okay so far. There's a preponderance of evidence and we're about to find out the details. 

But consider the slippery premise that the entire argument hangs on, "technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by the Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS)." And that's it!  No further distinction between the two crucially different categories provided, just "RIS", "RIS actors", or "RIS cyber-actors," from then on, except for one deviation at the bottom of page three where the authors helpfully denote another version of the culprit: "Actors likely associated with RIS are continuing to engage in spearphishing campaigns, including one launched as recently as November 2016, just days after the U.S. election."   

Seriously?  "Actors likely associated with RIS ..."  What constitutes "associate with"?  What does "likely" entail and how do these people differ from "RIS actors" above? They Got Nothing!

Of course "Russian civilian and military intelligence" is cleverly worded to imply that "Russian civilian" belongs to "intelligence services", instead of constituting its own category.  So, unlike America where many hackers and hacking groups are clearly on their own and even adversarial to government intelligence agencies, in Russia, they're all known to and work for, an arm of we might say, the Kremlin.  Credit card scammers, bored computer geeks, phishers and blackmailers, for the thrill of it malware designers, disaffected server techs, geeks with a grudge against the US Olympic Hockey Team, phishing and retired military techs with time on their hands, ... all their deeds are explicitly directed by Russian spy agencies and personally approved by Putin.  That's plausible!  They Got Nothing!

Page four of the "report" lays out all 48 of the cool names our American spies came up with for "Reported Russian Military and Civilian Intelligence Services (RIS)" like "Onionduke", "Sandworm," and my personal favorite "Crouching Yeti".  And while at first it seemed odd and a lil heavy-handed that "Grizzly Steppe" was the only name in 49 to specify a particular geographic feature indelibly associated with Russia, once you run into "Fancy Bear," "Energetic Bear," and "COZYBEAR," the ursine pedigree of "Grizzly" is apparent. Oh, don't forget "reported" -- still another wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed, lower branch on the decline of certainty and attribution. 

They Got Nothing!
And they think we're stupid and brainwashed.
The Mainstream Media is already selling it as conclusive proof.

Background Story From: The Hill

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Farina's Compliance Clerks and the End of Educational Leadership and Unionism

In an email 12/23/15 to fellow educators I discuss the end of educational leadership and unionism and the triumph of compliance and intimidation:

I am back after 6 months on medical leave. The Compliance Clerks (formerly known and principal and dept. AP) have wasted no time in investigating (formerly known as observation) my classroom- 6 times in the past 5 weeks. All drop-ins. Superintendent was in one, principal in a couple, principal's mentor in another and AP in the rest. 

I suppose I should be grateful they are here to help. But, that's not the case. The new model, hence the term- Compliance Clerk, is just to evaluate; to determine who they can run out. I got this from the principal's mentor last year in a meeting, and it's the only explanation that makes sense. When I said the principal and AP have very little experience and subject matter expertise, nor do they even teach a class, it is obvious they have zero capacity to lead by example. He said that's not what they are here to do. The new model makes them just a kind of Compliance Clerk or Danielson rubric technicians (my interpretation). It's valid, and I respect the mentor's honesty.  But, that's not the impression they give.

Since they are not here to help, I won't waste my time with the illusion of due diligence in the form of feedback meetings, pre-formal observations, etc. Why participate in a fraud? This new model may not have hit your school but it will eventually. It's bad for the administrators too. Imagine being put into a situation where you are pretending to lead but cannot?

And speaking of Illusions; the UFT (teachers union) plays its part too. They have put in place an appeals process and the APPR (Annual Profession Performance Review) complaint form to give the members the feeling like they have recourse for unfair evaluations.   I have been a chapter leader for 9 years and have yet to see an appeal reverse a decision more than once out of dozens of cases, or an APPR complaint have any kind of impact. If I am wrong let the UFT publish its statistics on rating reversals as a result of their appeals process. But, don't hold your breath.

The grievance process is the same illusion. Yes, you can file a grievance, let's say for illegally excessing your newly elected chapter leader (a true case a Murry Bergtraum).  You file a grievance, it goes to Step 1 after a week when you meet with the principal. He/She always upholds their decision. You escalate to Step 2 if the UFT agrees. If they do you wait a month or more for a step 2. They did in this case. During the step 2 the principal brushed off the call in the Step 2 process and you have to reschedule. This was back in November. Still waiting... Maybe by August the step 2 will happen. Then the UFT, if the past is any guide, will reject going to arbitration when they find out they lose at step 2 (which is assuredly the case). The result: Murry Bergtraum High School has no union representation. The first time in over nearly 40 years. 

Score 1 for the Compliance Clerks. Score 1 for the UFT? Since new teachers hired to replace senior teachers run out of the system pay the same dues, the UFT doubles its money as two teachers paying the same amount of dues each at the bottom rate can be hired. 

Do you think it needs to change? There's a UFT election this spring. Tell your colleagues not to throw their ballot in the garbage for a change. The vast majority do. Mulgrew was elected by retirees (why he campaigns in Boca Raton, Fl.). There are good people running against the Mulgrew/Unity old guard. MORE and Solidarity. While I know Francesco Portelos as a courageous fighter,  I am endorsing MORE as I think they have the most democratic form of organization and also have a strong leader in Jia Lee. We need a democratic union for a start. 

Happy Holiday and In Solidarity!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Like Teaching a Class with no Mobile Phone Discipline

This is exactly what it is like trying to corral a group of teenagers to focus on a lesson with no social discipline or mobile phone impulse control. See video:

Teachers, can you relate?

Thursday, April 09, 2015


...a true patriot in the service of all that is right and fair in education in the service of children. It has been my honor to serve as Nicholas Weber's representative at Murry Bergtraum. I invite you to explore his thoughts on this, his new web site.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Buddha in the Classroom

This was sent in an email to staff, expats of Murry Bergtraum and the Chancellor.

As our PD the last two weeks has told us- greet students with unconditional positive regard. Don't punish, but look at yourself. See how you can grow together to a better relationship. After all, discipline is about relationships and compassion, not punishments. I agree wholeheartedly. 

The problem is that Buddhist philosophy doesn't pass muster at the Principal's Leadership Academy. Machiavelli is the prevailing philosophy when dealing with "subordinates". Is that the message from the top as well?

The damage done is to drive cynicism even deeper in us. Below is a quote from an article about the extent of the Chancellor's Buddha nature

"The schools chancellor, who defined her first year on the job as a mission to restore “joy” and “respect” to the classroom, has, of late, been encouraging hundreds of city principals to identify and get rid of their weakest teachers. “The teachers who are not up to the job, you’ve got to get them out the door,” FariƱa said to a large group of high school principals at a conference in late February."  
If there was every effort to develop the "bad" teacher it would not be such a blatant contradiction of the Chancellor's pledge to bring "joy" back to education. But, that's not what we are hearing. It's because of the void in leadership. Type A personalities, that belong on Wall Street (to be blunt the Chancellor's way), have flocked to fill the administrative vacancies created by the explosion of small schools. They often have neither the experience or intent, to develop teachers. Their job is to fire. We have experienced that first hand at Bergtraum going on 5 years now. It's Social Darwinistic to terminate without a meaningful intervention. 

The culture of the school must be consistent from top to bottom. Everyone deserves patience, understanding, compassion and support. I would give the Chancellor the benefit of the doubt that she did extent the possible patience and support to teachers who needed it before she wrote them off. I hope she conveys to the new principals to get their Buddha nature up.


“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein

John Elfrank-Dana
UFT Chapter Leader
Murry Bergtraum High School