Are you a happy or bitter person by nature? The Christmas season is one way to tell. If someone wishes you a “Merry Christmas,” do you respond with a hearty greeting of your own, or do you glare back angrily and state that you don’t celebrate Christmas, or declare that wishing someone a merry Christmas is presumptive and inappropriate?

“Are you saying that all non-Christians are bitter?” Heck, no! One rabbi I know happily accepts holiday well-wishes from everyone and returns them in kind, but he is a happy person by nature. It doesn’t bother him that people often wish him a merry Christmas because he is secure in his religion. Regardless of the winter holiday I am greeted with, I can accept the well-wishes in the happy spirit in which they are offered.

When I have witnessed people who get a grouchy or sharp response to their holiday greeting, I have seen the joy of the season drain from their faces. One grumpy person’s bitter view succeeded in killing the happiness they felt–killjoys, in the full sense of the word.

You can see this same bitter reflex in action when a man holds open a door for a woman as a kind gesture, only to be rewarded with an angry retort of “I can open my own door!” The gesture wasn’t meant to be an insult, but a simple act of kindness. Heck, I hold the door open for anyone who comes up behind me, male or female. But for some people, the first response is to see offense where none was meant.

Or have you ever tried to compliment someone on her appearance or choice of outfit, only to be slapped down for it? (I use “her” because I rarely see this sort of response in men.) Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a “Nice dress” is just a compliment, not a male way of grunting, “You. Me. Sex. Now.”

There are so many ways we complement and wish each other well. And it is our reaction to these complements and well-wishes that shows whether we are basically happy or bitter inside. The good news is that being happy or bitter is a matter of habit and not a fixed characteristic. We can change our attitude, if we choose to, merely by resolving to respond to well-wishes in the same spirit as they were offered. Here’s hoping that your nature is the former and not the latter.

Merry Christmas to you, and a Happy New Year!

We are enjoying having our 11-year-old niece staying with TPK and me. She is a great kid. The other day TPK found one of Miss V’s homework papers dealing with fact and opinion. As an example of fact, she wrote “I am 11 years old.” And as an example of opinion, she wrote “I don’t like math.” After seeing some of the math homework she has been given, I can see why.

The math course used in our school district is Investigations in Number, Data and Space by TERC. Rather than teaching kids the best way to solve a math problem, the course asks the kids to develop their own methods. While I like the idea of emphasizing creativity in problem solving, what is the likelihood that anyone in a fifth grade class will come up with the same method commonly recognized as the easiest and/or most effective?

I’ll give you an example. One of the math questions she was given went somewhat along these lines: “Frank bought seven packs of gum at $0.78 each, five bottles of soda at $1.36 each, and two packages of cookies at $2.93 each. How much did Frank spend?”

Since this was “invent your own methods” homework, Miss V started off by adding stuff up. First she added $0.78 three times, added $0.78 four times, and then added the two answers together. At this point I noticed that she had already made two errors. I asked her why she didn’t multiply $0.78 by 7 rather than doing a bunch of addition. She replied that the teacher hadn’t explained how to do it. She told the students that they needed to figure out how to solve it on their own. With a lack of clear direction and instruction, it’s no wonder Miss V doesn’t like math.

I’m not the only one to dislike Investigations and other silly math curricula more concerned with how students feel and less about actually teaching math. A classic fill-in-the-blank problem from these “feel-good” math curricula is “If math were a color, it would be —”

Michelle Malkin has pointed to a video of a local Seattle meteorologist, M.J. McDermott, and her fight against Investigations and other silly fuzzy-thinking curricula. This video McDermott put together does a great job of showing the confusion caused by these badly-formed curricula.

Because Investigations sucks, I am spending time after school tutoring Miss V in her math. Why? As McDermott puts it, “Students who learn math via TERC Investigations rarely become efficient, confident, and fluent math users.” And with what I have seen with Miss V, I agree. At the next parent/teacher conference, TPK will ask the teacher why Investigations is being used in the school district when it’s been so widely discredited.

To end on a lighter note, here is a video mocking the New Math that died in the ’60s.

I’m hoping that the efforts of people like M.J. McDermott and others will succeed in derailing the New New Math train wreck before it runs over too many more kids.

Just in case you have missed some of the news coming out of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, we are all gonna die! Here are some of the news articles about this report:

A world dying, but can we unite to save it?

Humanity is rapidly turning the seas acid through the same pollution that causes global warming, the world’s governments and top scientists agreed yesterday. The process – thought to be the most profound change in the chemistry of the oceans for 20 million years – is expected both to disrupt the entire web of life of the oceans and to make climate change worse.

UN Panel Gives Dire Warming Forecast

Global warming is “unequivocal” and carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere commits the world to an eventual rise in sea levels of up to 4.6 feet, the world’s top climate experts warned Saturday in their most authoritative report to date.

U.N. Report Describes Risks of Inaction on Climate Change

In its final and most powerful report, a United Nations panel of scientists meeting here describes the mounting risks of climate change in language that is both more specific and forceful than its previous assessments, according to scientists here.

U.N. report: Global warming accelerating, suffering, species extinction ahead

The Earth is hurtling toward a warmer climate at a quickening pace, a Nobel-winning U.N. scientific panel said in a landmark report released Saturday, warning of inevitable human suffering and the threat of extinction for some species.

Yep, Earth is going to Hell in a handbasket, and it’s all your fault!

Or not, but it certainly makes for great headlines. And as race-baiting poverty pimp Jesse Jackson could tell you, managing a crisis (rather than solving it) is like minting your own money. Plus, when you are in crisis mode, it’s possible to make statements to stifle the opposing forces. Chest-thumping statements that “the debate is over” serve only to shut up actual debate because this is not settled science. Here’s a good example of this type of rhetoric:

The debate is over: global warming is real and the scientific consensus identifies human-caused greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, as the primary cause.

They take a statement that is factual and provable: “global warming is real,” and mix it with a statement that is pure speculation: “the scientific consensus identifies human-caused greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, as the primary cause.” I’ll ask again — what is the primary cause of global warming? The answer is the sun, but you will get dirty looks and angry responses when you point that out to people. It is undeniable that gases like carbon dioxide and methane certainly help in helping keep the heat from the sun here with us, but they are not the primary greenhouse gases. Water vapor is the greatest in overall amount and effect.

And it is propaganda because, despite all the rhetoric, the theory of anthropogenic climate change is not settled science yet. The first question that needs to be answered is whether the Earth really is warming up or not. “Of course it is warming! Didn’t you see photos of retreating glaciers in Alaska, the vanishing snows on Kilimanjaro, and the starving polar bears?” I’ve heard people put forward these three examples as proof positive of global warming. But they do not prove global warming. They are anecdotes, not data. Data comes in the form of temperature measurements, not stories.

Global Temperatures“But the temperature measurements show that we have been warming up!” Really? The commonly-used graph of global temperature (on the right) put forward as proof of warming shows temperature changes over the last century. From the look of this graph, it does seem that temperatures were going up until the 1940s, dropped to a low in the late ’70s, and have been warming up since then. But I’m not all that impressed by the graph because I know the world was recovering from the Little Ice Age at the beginning of the graph, so it’s not surprising that the initial temperatures are lower there. If we expand our time frame to the past 1,000 years, we would see that the Medieval Climatic Optimum was warmer than it is now. If we look at the last 10,000 years, we will see still warmer spots, and before that was the Pleistocene ice age with Manfred, Diego, Sid, and Scrat. Expanding our time frame out to many millions of years in the past, Earth has undergone much hotter time periods than our own.

“But if we don’t do anything, species will die!” So? If we look at the history of life on Earth, the commonest state for a species is extinct. The estimate is that 90-95% of all species that have ever lived on the planet are currently extinct. That’s why T-Rex doesn’t go rampaging through Los Angeles except in bad movie sequels. I am happy to know that T-Rex is no longer a danger since I doubt my .30-06 would do much damage to it. In any case, it would be tough meat, even though it would probably taste like chicken. “But what about the polar bears?” Yeah, well, what about them? Let’s imagine that the entire Arctic ice sheet melted completely in the summer. It’s not all that hard to imagine since it has happened before in the recent geological past. And oddly enough, the polar bears made it through those times, too. If they were really smart, they would have moved to a condo in Florida with the rest of the retirement crowd.

You’ll continue to hear more and more about how messed up the world is, and how it is all our fault. But before you come to believe this is settled science, you should spend some time listening to what some scientists are saying. I suggest you watch the following videos at the very least. The first is Bob Carter talking about the nature of global warming. He basically says that the world has continually warmed and cooled, and if we look at the averages for the past few million years, it’s more common to be cooler than hotter. It’s not a question of if we will have another ice age, but when.

The second video is David Archibald talking about how the 24th solar cycle will very likely be wimpy, similar to the wimpy cycle from the 1900s.

The third video is by Warren Meyer of CoyoteBlog.com and Climate-Sceptic.com, asking the obvious but rarely-voiced question, “What is normal?” He explains much of the fear-mongering and bad science being put forth by the supporters of the anthropogenic global warming theory. These are many of the topics he has addressed already, but it’s nice to see them in a single video.

Is the debate on climate control over? Not by a long shot, but certain people like to tell us that it is. After watching these videos, you should have a good idea of some questions you can ask supporters of the anthropogenic global warming theory.