Plural versus possessive at Harvard

In Teaching Information Security there was a discussion of the fact that young people at a Florida state system university rejected the distinction between plural and possessive. A friend sent me the following:

Trying to wrap my head around my MBB offer

My first two years at Harvard, I was really focused on getting a good offer once I graduated. I think Harvard really acculturated me to the idea that one of those offers is one of the big goals of undergrad.

This summer, I got a full time offer from one of the big three consulting firms, for way more money than I thought, around $140k in total comp.

When I read the offer letter, I felt deeply ambivalent. Obviously I am stoked, and really want to work at the firm. However, it feels weird to make many times more my friends who are graduating from great non-ivy’s and more than my parents, who both make six figures.

For those of you who have received similar offers, how do you feel about salary? And for those who have already graduated, how has your thinking evolved?

(For those who are more familiar with honest labor, “MBB” is for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Separately, doesn’t he/she/ze/they realize that $140k will soon be the price of a Diet Coke?)

Note the highlighted section above, in which the fresh Harvard graduate struggles to write “Ivies”.

From Hussain Altamimi, a young person bright enough to work as a legislative assistant for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Party’s primary thought-leader (Fox):

Israel is a racist European ethnostate built on stolen land from it’s indigenous population!

(Can anyone think of a country besides Israel that was built on land stolen by Europeans from an indigenous population? Are the people in the country that you’re thinking of doing anything to restore the land to the rightful indigenous owners?)

Is it time for Joe Biden to outlaw the apostrophe and save us from ourselves?


  • “California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree” (WSJ, 2011): Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years. … As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. … Over 120,000 people apply every year, according to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, but the academy only enrolls about 900. That’s an acceptance rate of less than 1%. Harvard’s is 6.2%.
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School administrators comfort the afflicted

Everyone and his/her/zir/their brother/sister/binary-resister in fully-masked fully-vaccinated Massachusetts is testing positive for a deadly virus (but this in no way diminishes our faith in masks and vaccines). The exponential spread of the mask-blocked vaccine-neutralized plague in the masked-and-vaccinated school population leads to a rash of emails from schools informing parents that a child has been tarred with the “close contact” brush. Here’s an example from a middle school in Maskachusetts:

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

I am writing to inform you that we learned today that a student in 7th grade tested positive for Covid. Your child is considered a close contact. The date of the last exposure was January 12, 2022.

Close contacts will participate in the Test and Stay program with a daily test through Tuesday of next week. You will only be notified if your child tests positive during Test & Stay. As a reminder, students who are identified as close contacts who are participating in the district COVID Testing Program may stay in school as long as they are asymptomatic.

Close contacts are not permitted to attend after school activities. Please limit exposure outside of the home and monitor for symptoms.

A close contact at school is defined as someone who has been within 3 feet of distance of the positive individual while indoors, while wearing a mask, for at least fifteen minutes, within a 24 hour period.

We cannot provide specific information about the person who tested positive. School personnel are working with the family as they navigate this stressful experience.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.


[*** name elided ***]

Lincoln School, 5-8 Principal

The highlighted content is what fascinates me. Suppose that the family comprises typical Massachusetts residents, a.k.a., Followers of Science. In that case, they believe that they have been exposed to a virus that often has crippling and/or fatal consequences within households containing middle school-age kids. Who will comfort them as they shop for coffins and grave sites? “School personnel.”

My Facebook feed was packed with parents proud of youngsters who are refusing to attend in-person school. See “Students don’t want to learn in a ‘COVID petri dish.’ They’re walking out to prove their point.” (USA Today, 1/14):

Despite surging COVID-19 cases across the country, fueled by the highly-contagious omicron variant, Quinlan said many Boston schools have started to take precautions less seriously, often not enforcing masking or social distancing.

“We are the ones who have been in this environment every day. It’s our bodies that we’re putting at risk,” said Kayla Quinlan, a 16-year-old student activist at Boston Day and Evening Academy. “Students should have a say in what their learning environment looks like, but our voices are always left out.”

“It feels like a breeding ground for COVID, like a COVID petri dish,” she said. “How are you supposed to feel safe?”

See also “Students, seeing lax coronavirus protocols, walk out and call in sick to protest in-person classes” (Washington Post):

Thai Jones, a lecturer at Columbia University who studies radical social movements, said the rise of student activism amid the omicron threat reminds him of the youth movement for gun safety that sprang up after the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school and of ongoing teen-led advocacy around climate change.

“What ties those movements together is these are all times when grown-ups have failed young people, where the politics of adults have really let down teenagers,” Jones said. “And so young people have decided to take matters into their own hands.”

(Old people have failed young people by not locking them down for another few years in order to protect old people from a virus that kills old people?)

Circling back to Facebook, each post celebrating the walkout was heavily “liked” and attracted supportive comments.

What’s happening in the Florida Free State, by contrast? We went to the Stuart Boat Show yesterday and found a fellow refugee from New England. Her summary of Massachusetts-based relatives’ current concerns: “Omicron is an anagram for ‘moronic’.”

Lest you think that everyone in Florida is ignorant regarding #Science-based methods of fighting a virus that attacks the obese, here’s a fully-masked Follower of Fauci ordering fried Oreos and a funnel cake:

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Transgender Awareness Week in our public schools

Today is the last day of Transgender Awareness Week: “a one-week celebration leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which memorializes victims of transphobic violence.”

A friend’s kids attend public school in a high-income North Shore Boston suburb. They’ve been receiving daily instruction regarding Transgender Awareness in their respective elementary and middle schools. One of the assignments is a take-home project. The middle school student is supposed to watch three school-selected videos with a parent or a sibling and then return to the (math) teacher with a report on his/her/zir/their reactions to the videos. The teacher can thus build up a file on how parents reacted to the following officially-chosen videos:

What about here in Florida? The Palm Beach County Public Schools:

2SLGBTQQIA+ has nothing to do with either religion or sex:

(Separately, in a defeat for #Science and despite having hired Elizabeth Holmes’s former law firm (David Boies was on her board and, according to Bad Blood, he and the firm were principal enablers of keeping the fraud quiet), Palm Beach County lost its legal dispute with the #Science-hating governor. Students are mask-free as of November 8 (but the library still requires masks).)

Readers: How did you celebrate?

Young Fiona can now breathe at school! Here she is talking to the Palm Beach County Covidcrats:


  • Regarding the Palm Beach County Schools asserting that tolerance/celebration of 2SLGBTQQIA+ is “not in conflict with any religious beliefs” (maybe they meant that it is not in conflict with their own religious beliefs, e.g., in Rainbow Flagism?)… “Can Islam Accommodate Homosexual Acts? Meditations on the Past Two Years” (Maydan): … nor has anyone argued that the canonical texts of Islam support anything other than specifically delineated sexual relationships that are all necessarily male-female. … Affirming the Quran as divine speech while concurrently accepting its alleged erroneousness on a subject so vital to the human experience in the modern world presents an untenable proposition for revisionist actors. In order to resolve tensions arising from these incompatible affirmations, it is the Quranic message that is overwritten in the name of sexual liberty. A Faustian bargain of epic proportions, the logical outcome of such a negotiation is a minimalist faith with no reference to the Quran as God’s inerrant word or the prophetic practice as representing the archetype of how to faithfully live that word. … It would seem we now have a workable sexual ethic that can be brought into conversation with Islamic sexual norms to then assert the licitness of same-sex relationships. However, the ethical and moral program upheld by Islam (which is, of course, the subject at hand) has never viewed consent as the sole criteria for sexual acts, and much that can be enacted consensually is indisputably prohibited. Zinā (fornication and adultery), for instance, is prohibited explicitly in the Quran irrespective of consent. Likewise with physical intimacy short of intercourse and seclusion between two marriageable persons (khalwa). Indeed, the elective agreement of two participating parties hardly counts when determining what is lawful and unlawful sexually in the Sharīʿa.
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Bad news for children, but good news for schools in Maskachusetts

I received a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jeffrey Riley, the Commissioner, shared some bad news for the children whom the state putatively serves. Their test scores fell. He didn’t say by how much, but Boston Magazine reported on this last month:

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 33 percent of students in third through eighth grade met or exceeded grade-level expectations on their math scores, compared to 49 percent in 2019 (the 2020 spring MCAS exam was canceled due to the pandemic). In English language arts, 46 percent of students scored Meeting Expectations or higher, compared to 53 percent in 2016.

Apparently it is possible to learn English by watching TV and playing Xbox, but those are not the best ways to learn mathematics.

Where’s the good news in this, other than school system bureaucrats and teachers having been paid in full for every day that the schools were closed (a full year in Boston!)? “Fortunately, both our state and federal government have recognized the need for additional resources to meet the challenges before us,” says Mr. Riley. “Massachusetts school districts are receiving state and federal pandemic relief money for an extended period of time, and the money can be spent by districts on a wide range of priorities to meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.” (note that the virus itself is to blame for the schools having been shut; it was not a human or political decision to keep “essential” marijuana and liquor stores open and allow adults to party on Tinder during the 12-month Boston school shutdown that protected 10-year-olds from a virus that killed 82-year-olds in Maskachusetts)

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The concerns of a Massachusetts public school superintendent

Email last month from the superintendent of schools in a nearly-all-white suburb of Boston:

The Superintendent’s Bulletin can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

Superintendent’s Bulletin – September 23, 2021

In This Week’s Bulletin:

Letter from the Superintendent

Diversity & Dialogue Series 2: Hispanic Heritage Month

Adolescent Mental Health Free Clinic

Webinar: Anxiety in a Time of COVID

Sustainable Food Parent Survey

October Flu Shot Clinics

Free School Lunch Through June 30, 2022

Employee Benefits Open Enrollment

District Calendar of Upcoming Events


Quiz for readers: What topic is missing?

Second question… if typical children are not at risk from COVID-19 (other causes of death being much more common), how did they become anxious about it?

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In-person versus virtual learning effectiveness

Now that the school year is upon us, with periodic coronapanic shutdowns following positive PCR results, it seems like a good time to share the results from our MIT ground school course. We’ve taught this as an in-person class multiple times and once as a Zoom plus prerecorded lectures class (MIT Video Productions recorded the 2019 lectures). Considering only registered MIT students, scores on the FAA practice test were approximately 10 points lower (out of 100) after the virtual class compared to the in-person class.

(Of course, I don’t expect the demonstrated ineffectiveness of virtual instruction to convince the Shutdown Karens to reopen schools! #AbundanceOfCaution and #FollowTheScience)

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Back-to-school anti-racism

Today it’s back to school for students in Lincoln, Maskachusetts. They’ll be fully masked, of course, by local order (from June 2: “We will follow state guidelines in the fall, which indicate that we will not require distancing between students but will maintain all individuals wearing masks while indoors.”), and sitting in trailers because the nation’s most expensive school building (per-student) isn’t ready.

A friend’s son attends private school. Here’s an excerpt from his course list:

  • English I-Honors
  • World History I -Honors
  • Anti-Racism
  • Algebra II-Honors

While, of course, it is great to see that the academic discipline of Anti-Racism gets equal status with Algebra II, I wonder what fills an entire semester (or year?). A search for “anti-racism high school textbook” does not yield an obvious result. Perhaps there is a lucrative market for a textbook? What collection of school administrators will stand up and say “We don’t need a class on this subject”?

The Lincoln public school’s June 2 email, which announced the “masks now, masks tomorrow, masks forever” policy, devoted a single line (out of three pages) to academics:

  • Continued focus on AIDE (antiracism, inclusion, diversity, and equity) and deeper learning for all grade levels.

So there should be demand for anti-racism textbooks at all grade levels!

(Separately, private schools in Maskachusetts usually have at least a handful of non-white students, e.g., Asians. Why are they sentenced to take this class? Surely a non-white student does not need to learn from a (white) teacher how to be anti-racist.)


  • Florida first impressions (white kids in our neighborhood learn about Black people from talking to their Black neighbors, not from a white teacher delivering an anti-racism lesson)
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Define irony: Private school hosts diversity, equity, and inclusion event at a country club

Garland Greene:

Define irony – a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.

I would like to propose an update to this philosopher’s work. #DefineIrony: We were invited to an exclusive (and expensive) private school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion event… at a country club.

Related, from Saturday Night Live, April 9 1977

Julian Bond: Well, this is the major problem with these studies. The measurements of I.Q. which form the basis of comparison come from tests composed by whites for whites. The tests are culturally biased; it’s not surprising that whites would score better than blacks.

Garrett Morris: Could you give us an example of what you’re talking about?

Julian Bond: Certainly. Here are some questions that have appeared on recent I.Q. tests. Number one: “You have been invited over for cocktails by the officer of your trust fund. Cocktails begin at 4:30, but you must make an appearance at a 6:00 formal dinner at the Yacht Club. What do you do about dress?
A. Wear your blue-striped seersucker suit to cocktails and change into your tuxedo in the bathroom, apologizing to your host for the inconvenience.
B. Wear your tuxedo to cocktails, apologizing to your host for wearing a dinner jacket before 6:00 PM.
C. Walk to the subway at Columbus Circle and take the “A” Train uptown.”

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Can public schools suspend students who go away for a weekend and aren’t able to arrange a COVID test?

Keeping a child from attending public school is a crime. Parents can be arrested and imprisoned for obstructing a child’s access. See, for example, “The Story Behind Kamala Harris’ Truancy Program” (NPR):

In 2019, HuffPost reporter Molly Redden wrote about the families affected by this truancy program, including a Black mother named Cheree Peoples, who was arrested in April of 2013. She came on the show to help explain why this program, which initially launched without much criticism, ended up becoming so controversial, and why it disproportionately affected families of color. Here’s the extended cut of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Cheree is a mother in California, and her daughter has a chronic illness. Her name is Shayla, and she has sickle cell anemia, a really painful genetic disease that causes lots of complications. It’s pretty typical for people who live with this disability to miss a lot of school if they’re children. As her daughter missed a lot of school for valid medical reasons, Cheree and the school were in a dispute about how to accommodate and account for those absences.

She was in her house one morning, and the police showed up and handcuffed her. She had time to put on a jacket over her pajamas. And when she was walked by the police out of her apartment where she lived with her daughter, there were news cameras waiting, and she was booked by the police. What she said to me was that she was shocked. She was really floored. And she said to me, “You’d swear I’d killed somebody.” It felt to her like a really excessive show of force for what was essentially a misunderstanding between her and her child’s school.

[Harris] fought for this law, which raised the financial penalty and made it a criminal misdemeanor for parents, up to a year in jail, when their children missed at least 10 percent of school time.

Here in Lincoln, Massachusetts, soon to be home to the nation’s most expensive (per student) public school building, the school bureaucrats decided that students could be excluded from the building (i.e., suspended) if they went away for a Saturday overnight in another state, e.g., neighboring New Hampshire or Vermont, and did not have a negative PCR COVID-19 test result to show. As with the former state governor’s order (one of 69), the test had to be taken within 72 hours of returning to Maskachusetts. So, in a twist that only students of the absurd can appreciate, it was legal to be tested for COVID-19 on Thursday evening in MA as a way of determining if someone was going to acquire COVID by traveling on Saturday morning and returning Sunday evening.

Although the school had a fully remote option, a student kicked out of school for quarantine could not transition into the fully remote option for the period of suspension.

The governor’s order was eventually dropped, replaced by an “advisory”. The school, however, continued with their requirement that, essentially, students be tested prior to departure for weekend excursions. They’d been running a “pool testing” program at the school as well, but the pool test could not be used to meet the travel requirement. So a student who was going to go to Vermont for the weekend would end up needing two COVID-19 tests in the week prior (to see if the student acquired COVID-19 in Vermont?).

Not every family can get organized for these tests nor afford them (we spent a month without insurance and we got billed $750 per child for a test at a “doc in a box” urgent care center). Perhaps a test goes awry and a result is never returned. For whatever reason, a child may end up over the border into another state (almost any of which actually have experienced far less COVID-19 than Maskachusetts; Florida, for example, adjusted for population over 65 is at roughly 1/3rd the MA death rate) and later have no test result to show. Why is it legal to deny this child an education for a two-week quarantine period?

#BecausePublicHealth? Maybe that was a good answer when the governor’s travel order was still in place. Now that the technocrats have rescinded their order, however, what is the school’s justification for denying education to children, a criminal offense if parents had done it?


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Jew-hatred in the Boston suburbs (school administrators of color to the rescue)

A parent at the Lincoln-Sudbury (Maskachusetts) high school received the following email:

Dear LS Students. Families, and Staff,

It is with profound dismay and disappointment that this past Friday a student reported seeing a swastika scraped into the back of a seat. Today administrators are addressing students in each of the classes who meet in that classroom about what was found to seek additional information and to offer support. Any students feeling in need of counsel due to this incident are encouraged to reach out to their counselors and/or Associate Principal.

It is without question that our society and schools should and can be free of hate symbols of any kind. LS stands for caring and cooperative relationships, respect for human differences and the importance of community. For this to happen when we have only recently been experiencing such joy at the opportunity to be back in school in person on the eve of a memorial day remembering those who died while acting in the service of our country adds greater salt to the wound.

For all who are feeling pained by this incident, be assured that we are way better than this incident might suggest. I have seen it in the many acts of caring and kindness extended toward each other and on the behalf of those needing aid. We stand together in support of the religious freedom of all our students, families and staff to be absent of bias, harassment, and hate.

In deep regard,

Bella Wong

A student who is upset at seeing a symbol of racial hatred will be comforted by talking to a likely white school administrator who made the affirmative decision to work in a nearly all-white town. (Mx. Wong him/her/zir/theirself previously chose to work in the all-white town of Wellesley, MA.)

What about the school bureaucrat herself? From

Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions.

As a person of color I cannot help but have thought about this throughout my life.

What does a “person of color” look like?

(from MetroWest Daily News, 2013)

Meanwhile, just to our south… “Elementary school project about Hitler causes controversy in New Jersey town” (ABC):

Maugham Elementary School in Tenafly says it is now investigating after teachers allowed a student to write a biography glorifying Adolf Hitler. … The assignment included that student dressing up as Hitler as well. “It’s appalling, it should’ve been stopped the minute this girl [c]ame to school,” resident Shimon Avrahami said.

A strong female (“girl”) taking the role of the 1938 TIME Man of the Year is not cause for celebration on the grounds of escaping gender norms?

From the 5-year-old’s kindergarten operation:

Celebrating Pride Month

Please join us in recognizing and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community! As beautifully stated by our neighbors LexPride, “Every year we celebrate Pride month in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York. Led by transgender women of color, the Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the LGBTQIA+ rights movement. It helped energize the ongoing pursuit of equality.

While we celebrate with festivities, Pride month is also a time to recognize the impact that LGBTQIA+ people have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. We honor members of the community who have been lost to HIV/AIDS and hate crimes. And we fight against oppression to make a better world for all.”

LexPride is run by the righteous of Lexington, Maskachusetts, previously featured in Our faith calls us to affirm Black Lives Matter…

Circling back to Lincoln-Sudbury, a follow-up email from Cara Endyke Doran, LS School Committee Chairperson:

It is with profound disappointment that I confirm there was an anti-Semitic symbol found in one of our classrooms. The School Committee was briefed and the LS administration is investigating the incident. The administration has sent a statement to our families and students acknowledging the incident and underscoring that this behavior will not be tolerated. Our associate principals addressed the incident with students affirming our promise to combat intolerance.

At Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, we stand against discrimination and hate in all its forms. We celebrate the dignity of all individuals in our community and are committed to advancing equity and inclusion. Respecting human differences is one of our core values. L-S is “a place that values diversity in style and substance. Human difference includes all forms of diversity, such as racial, ethnic, religious, familial, economic, and sexual orientation. In addition, L-S honors differences of opinion and differences in learning styles.”

Due to open meeting laws, we must discuss this issue in an open forum. We will be addressing this incident during our upcoming school committee meeting.

Economic diversity is good, but an apartment building where people can live without paying $20,000 per year in property tax is bad.

And then another email from Bella Wong, the “person of color”:

I am writing to follow up on my message earlier this week about the discovery of a swastika in school. An investigation has been completed which included interviewing all students seated in the vicinity of where the swastika was found. Most students interviewed did not see the marking and none had any knowledge of how the swastika was created. The only students who saw the marking was the one who reported seeing it and the ones that student told what had been seen. We commend the student who initially saw it and recognized the need to report it immediately to a teacher.

Administrators tried to recreate what it would have taken to create the marking and found that it could not have been done without being observed if in class. Due to COVID restrictions students do not have free access to classroom space when not scheduled to be in that space. It is therefore entirely possible the marking was created at a much earlier time and only discovered at this time. If anyone has other information that could be helpful to determine how the marking was created please let an Associate Principal or myself know. … I reiterate that hate symbols in school are unacceptable. Thank you to all our students who responded promptly to our request to be interviewed. Thank you to Chief Nix, Town Manager Hayes, and religious and secular community members for your outreach and offers of assistance.

A stated LS core value is to respect human differences. I would like to say that at LS we also stand for the celebration of human differences. Differences enirches [sic] our lives, it inspires where sameness dulls. … To our students, families, and staff I have the utmost faith in all of you and all of us to be able to improve upon our interactions with one another in order for all voices and persuasions to be more freely and respectfully expressed.

I wonder how this “person of color” feels about hearing from “all voices and persuasions” regarding politics? Would it enrich Mx. Wong’s life to hear from someone who says “all lives matter” or that he/she/ze/they thought that Donald Trump was a better choice for president than Joe Biden?

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