Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lucia NZQA out of control - trying to change the Maths curriculum [UPDATE 2]

A controversial Question Two (e) from 2016 Day 2 Level One Algebra Exam - the MCAT
Last month’s NCEA Level One Algebra exam hit the news in a big way, with children upset over its difficulty, and teachers and parents outraged that the exam was not reflective of what the students were taught. (See NZQA slammed over ‘far too difficult’ maths exam – students left in tears)

Over the intervening weeks, letters sent to NZQA and to Hekia Parata, and the responses to those letters have been aggregated on this page: 2016 MCAT Feedback. They make for very interesting reading. A number of them contain detailed analyses of the questions that were set at too high a level for NCEA One.

A letter has just appeared today that was sent by Rhona Lever to Hekia Parata (PDF link), the lead writer of the controversial Algebra standard, that explains how NZQA and/or the Ministry of Education are out of control and seeking to impose their own curriculum ideas outside of the normal processes when it comes to Mathematics. She totally demolishes the excuses of NZQA that the exam represented more of an alignment to the standard itself.  This response from NZQA to one of the many complaints directed towards them is what inspired her to write:

"It is clear from the feedback that the communication processes we used in 2015 and 2016 to convey the changes to align the assessment to the standard were not adequate ....." (Quote from letter from Kristine Kilkelly to Craig Bradley at Rangi Ruru Girls' School, 11 October, 2016)

Rhona Lever's opening salvo to the statement above was:

I strongly disagree with the implication that the changes have been made to align the assessment to the standard. I was the leader of the group that wrote this standard and am in a position to state categorically that this 2016 examination was not moving towards the intention of the standard but was actually moving away from it, and constitutes a deliberate attempt to change the standard.
Her whole letter continues in the same vein and deserves to be read and absorbed in full by all interested parties, and I hope that Hekia Parata doesn't just send it on to NZQA for them make their normal excuses. Because so far, all that seems to have happened with complaints sent to Hekia Parata is that they have been forwarded to NZQA who say they cannot respond to specifics on the types of questions in the exam until all the NCEA exams are over and the results sent out.  This letter from Rhona Lever ought to generate a more than just a passing of the buck to NZQA who cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.

UPDATED 25 Oct, 16: Unbelievable! Rhona Lever's letter was passed over to NZQA who barely read it if their reply is anything to go by.

UPDATED 28 Oct, 16: Hekia Parata to stand down after election, announced the day after this post and RNZ noticing the above letter (see Maths teacher who wrote national standard says exam was "disastrous".) Coincidence? I thought so at the time, but now I'm not so sure, hence this update.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lucia Islamic Terrorism in the West - who benefits?

Russian embassy uses Nice attack to slam NATO

"Terrorist attack in Nice - another wake up call to join efforts in fighting real threat, not NATO-devised phantoms," said the Russian Embassy in Canada Friday morning.

This terrorist attack in France occurred just days after the NATO conference in Warsaw, Poland: Warsaw: A Very Big Deal

So it's a whole new NATO.

Despite Brexit and despite lingering divisions over whether to confront or engage Russia, the transatlantic alliance took some big steps forward at a landmark summit this week in Warsaw.

"We face a serious problem in a revanchist Kremlin and this summit has done an excellent job of addressing it," John Herbst, director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said during a panel discussion at the Warsaw Summit Experts' Forum.

By agreeing to deploy multinational military forces to the Baltic states and eastern Poland, NATO has moved from the reassurance of its allies to the deterrence of its adversaries.

Boots on the ground -- particularly American, Canadian, British, and German boots -- should put to rest any lingering doubts that the alliance is prepared to defend its most vulnerable members against a potential attack by Russia.

So, why attack France? Probably because France is a major nuclear power and could do what Britain has just done with Brexit - follow the extreme right in reaction to fear of immigrants and terrorism. France has been wavering as well, over the sanctions on Russia, over not being able to sell massive warships to Russia.

It's all a bit of a major coincidence, in my mind, the timing of this terrorist attack.

Some follow-up reading:
How Russia Manipulates Islamic Terrorism ~ Kyle Orton
Russia Is Sending Jihadis to Join ISIS - Micheal Weiss
The Kremlin's Hidden Cyber Hand - John Schindler
How the Kremlin Manipulates Europe’s Refugee Crisis - John Schindler
What if everything you know about Terrorism is Wrong ~ John Schindler

Note the argument on terrorism from the pro-Russia side:
To prevent terrorism we must lift EU sanctions against Russia ~ Rachida Dati, and other mostly French politicians.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fletch Film Shows Experience of Three Gays On Journey Back To Church

I watched a very good film yesterday online, called Desire of the Everlasting Hills. It is about three people with homosexual desire and their journey to (or back to) the Catholic Church. It is well worth watching.

Here is a brief synopsis -
Here are three intimate and candid portraits of Catholics who try to navigate the waters of self-understanding, faith, and homosexuality:

Dan, a gregarious artist who spent his life hiding a deep sense of isolation from those who loved him;

Rilene, a successful businesswoman who realized that twenty-five years with her partner did not provide the fulfillment she had hoped for;

and Paul, an international model who, after a life of self-indulgence, found grace in the last place he expected.

Desire of the Everlasting Hills

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fletch A Response To Brian Eno Regarding Israel

I notice That Brian Eno has written an article for the left-leaning Salon criticizing Israel's part in a "swag bag" of gifts given to Oscar nominees. (A five-star luxury trip to Israel for every nominee in the main acting and directing categories. The trip is sponsored by the Israeli government.).

He takes a swing at Israel using the usual tropes and arguments. I thought I'd reply in the comment section of the article, but for some reason my comments do not show up (Wonder why, ey?).

So I am reprinting my response below.

 I'm sorry Brian, but your article is coming from a place of ignorance. Let me just touch on a few points. You say that Israel is a great country "for at least half of its inhabitants". Actually, unlike pretty much every other country in the Middle East, everyone in Israel has the same rights, be they male or female, gay or straight, Jew or Christian or Muslim. Arabs even serve in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Isreal is an island of democracy in the Middle East.

For instance, try coming out as gay in Iran and you'll most likely be hung or thrown from the top of a building (and stoned if the fall doesn't kill you). In just one example, Payam Feili, an openly gay Iranian poet, is seeking asylum in Israel. He was imprisoned in Iran over his sexuality before and faces a potential death sentence if he were to return home.

As far as the Palestinian "refugees"... do you know that just as many Jews were forced from Arab lands at the end of the 1940s? Almost a million Jews who lived in Arab lands were forced out. And do you know what happened to them all? Israel took them all in. The surrounding Arab countries could just as easily have taken in all the "Palestinian" refugees, but they did not want to. They wanted to use them to create sympathy for their cause and they are still doing so.

As far as the peace process, Palestine has rejected plans multiple times. For instance, in the year 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they had been demanding, including a state with its capital in Jerusalem, control over  the Temple Mount, a return of approximately 95 percent of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, and a $30 billion compensation package for the 1948 refugees.  Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, who was serving as an intermediary among the parties, urged Arafat to “take this deal.” Could you ever get “a better deal”? he asked. Would you rather negotiate with Sharon? As Arafat vacillated, Bandar issued a stern warning: “I hope you remember, sir, what I told you. If we lose this opportunity, it is going to be a crime.” But he walked away.

Then in 2008, the then Israeli PM presented Abbas with a map, that with land swaps, gave them almost 100% of the land of West Bank and Gaza prior to the June 1967 war. He also offered to divide Jerusalem to allow them to have their capital in the eastern half of the city. Guess what? They refused again. He walked out with the map and was never seen again.

Notwithstanding that Israel totally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, leaving a thriving greenhouse business for the new population to jumpstart their economy. What did they do? They smashed all the greenhouses and elected Hamas, leading to the lobbing of bombs at Israel.

Israel has bent over backwards for the peace process. They have always been willing to exchange land for peace as they did in 1979 when they signed a peace treaty with Egypt, totally withdrawing from the Sinai.

I'm sorry, but the Palestinians don't want a two-state solution, and they don't want peace. They want Israel destroyed. Open your eyes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lucia Cold War 2.0 (VICE on HBO: Season 3, Episode 14)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ZenTiger Lying a form of free speech

When a society does not value truth, it follows that immorality becomes the norm, and the values that holds society together - trust, honesty, respect and integrity disappear. There are many stories reflecting my concern. Recently, the complete misreporting of Susan Devoy's comments about Christmas was compounded by the media who, on the same pages as they corrected the mis-reporting, were still posting opinion pieces of outrage from their own reporters, pretending the truth didn't matter.  Why waste a story, even if built on lies?

This post I came across, where the US Federal Court maintains wearing war medals never earned, expressly worn to misrepresent a persons history, is just another form of free speech. Essentially, they maintain intent to deliberately lie or commit fraud is free speech.

These judges have forgotten that free speech only exists in a society that values truth, because free speech should be a counter to poisonous ideas, lies and the misuse of power. Now, it seems, free speech is just another vehicle for mocking truth.
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Monday tossed out a veteran's conviction for wearing military medals he didn't earn, saying it was a form of free speech protected by the Constitution.

US Court Says wearing unearned medals is free speech