Taxpayers are Assholes

Watching people argue about how much teachers make makes me think that we are asking the wrong questions, and getting garbage answers. Below the fold is a vid from reason.tv showing one of their journalists heckling attendees of the “Save our Schools” rally in DC. Some of their responses were hilariously inane, like the girl who suggested that there’s no amount that’s too high to spend on schools. However, most of the people they interviewed seemed pretty sharp, including Matt Damon, who had a rather eloquent reply. One of the words he used to describe the idea that we need to eliminate tenure to give teachers incentive to do a good job was paternalistic. Now, he of course is arguing with people who ostensibly despise paternalism.

Indeed, the main argument made by the reasonroids’ side of the debate isn’t that we need to set salaries or incentives for teachers differently. If we really are simply thinking in terms of incentive or the “MBA mentality,” we’d rightly conclude that Damon, however smart he is, is wrong to downplay the importance of salary and job security and raise salaries in order to attract more and better teachers. The argument is, or should be, that it is highly paternalistic to put teachers in a position that their job security, perks and even wages are at the mercy of taxpayers. The problem is taxpayers are stingy assholes.

People on reason.tv’s side of the debate trap themselves into a corner arguing for less cushy jobs for teachers when the free market very well could offer better working conditions for all we know. The fat seems not to be in teachers’ salaries and perks, but in supporting the various parasites that feed off the system*. If giving teachers rock star salaries brings more students to your school, then teachers will have rock star salaries. So let’s free teachers from the tyranny of the taxpayer**.

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日本語の練習 (Japanese Practice)

Anyway, here’s the best I can come up with for what they’re saying.. I don’t know why TV is so hard for me! update: I fixed this to the right translation (thanks かなちさん!)

お兄ちゃん:すみません。遅れました。
お父さん(犬):遅い!
お母さん: 遅れるなら、電話してね。
お姉ちゃん: 家族関数がご利用なんだから。
お兄ちゃん:ちょっと瞥見で電話してて
お父さん(犬): おまえには瞥見などない!

Simple Syllabus for Intro to Biology

For me, the ends of education is to learn – get new opportunities or at least exercise your brain; the degree is secondary (though I do seek a PhD eventually.. just my BS suits me just fine for now). So for me, MIT’s opencourse initiative is perfect! You can take classes from MIT for free! But.. sans the instructor (oh, but this course has videos, so it’s like he’s right there on my iPod mini). That’s where PhD friends and relatives come in handy, heh.

Anyway, I made this spreadsheet for myself for Biology 7.014, which is the basic Biology course for Biology majors. Just go down the list, and do the assignments and watch the lectures.. Then, try to discover something yourself..

Biology 7.014 Syllabus (.ods)
Biology 7.014 Syllabus (.pdf)
Biology 7.014 Syllabus (.xls)

(And no, it hasn’t escaped me that the file extension for Opendocument Spreadsheet looks like “odious”)

Here’s the course itself. I can’t believe no one else is taking advantage of this!!

http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Biology/7-014Spring-2005/CourseHome/index.htm

My self-study Bio Course..

7.014 Introductory Biology
7.03 Genetics
7.05 General Biochemistry (open courseware doesn’t have this yet! shit)
7.06 Cell Biology

5.111 Principles of Chemical Science
5.12 Organic Chemistry I
20.110J Thermodynamics of Biomolecular Systems

7.02 Experimental Biology & Communications
7.13 Experimental Microbial Genetics
7.17 Experimental Molecular Biology: Biotechnology III (bastards don’t have this yet either..)
7.18 Topics in Experimental Biology

The 3 elective courses yet to be decided, but then again, I do not plan on doing my education entirely this way. Just a couple of classes tops would be ideal. My path will probably go 7.014 -> 7.02 -> try to do my own experimental study -> start at brick & mortar institution. If I do do things this way, then I will need to score very well on the appropriate tests for entry for MS in bioscience and convince people that good self-study + BS in unrelated field should satisfy them…