Utterly Meaningless » 2006 » December

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

Filed on December 31, 2006 at 3:29 pm under by dcobranchi

CitizenrÄ“ will supposedly install a solar panel system on your home for “free.” The deal is that you pay the going rate for the electricity the panel generates. The lease is 25 years and the company keeps all of the federal and state rebates and incentives.

Still, it looks like a good deal (too good?) for the homeowner. Am I missing something?

SOMETHING IN THE WATER?

Filed on at 10:12 am under by dcobranchi

What is it about Katy, TX that brings it (unwanted) national attention on such a regular basis?

NOTED IN PASSING

Filed on at 5:25 am under by dcobranchi

A classified ad I bumped into:

Merchandise->Pets/Supplies/Svcs
MISSBEHAVIN Mutts Home Schooling, Dog Care Svc’s. Obedience Training etc. We come to you. 910-878-5700

FIRST IN A SERIES(?)

Filed on December 30, 2006 at 4:26 pm under by dcobranchi

I have a feeling that this pic will show up again and again.
Creationism--  What a joke!
Chris has a great example of Bad Science.

FREEP THAT POLL

Filed on December 29, 2006 at 5:47 pm under by dcobranchi

Natalie says to vote early and often.

RING OUT THE OLD

Filed on at 3:40 pm under by dcobranchi

and ring in the new(est CoH).

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Filed on December 25, 2006 at 11:00 am under by dcobranchi

I’ll be offline doing the Christmas travel thing for a few days.

ONE FOR CHRIS

Filed on December 24, 2006 at 10:39 am under by dcobranchi

This is just horrible. Celine Dione covers AC/DC.

WHERE SELDOM IS HEARD…

Filed on at 7:55 am under by dcobranchi

The Chicago Sun-Times has a very nice piece on unschooling. It’s all anecdotal but almost entirely positive. Almost.

Home-schooling researcher Michael Apple, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is “wary of the hype.” He wonders what unschoolers are really learning about people of other races, religions and cultures.

“There is no public accountability,” Apple said.

I guess the g-schools are replacing the 3Rs with 2Rs and a C.

LETTER OF THE DAY

Filed on at 7:39 am under by dcobranchi

From Mississippi. I hope that the last graf lost something in translation:

No more home-school regulations needed

I am a strong proponent of home-school education. All three of my children are home-school students.

I know many families who have taken this option to educate their children. Several of them are military and have home-schooled in several states. By far they find Mississippi’s current laws the best.

State Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds insinuates in an article that he believes the majority of home-school parents are doing a good job teaching their children (“Home-school quandary: ” ‘Free rein’ concerns state ed chief,” Dec. 13). If so, then why create more regulations? Laws and regulations are for the majority of people to follow. And if most of the people are apparently already doing what they are supposed to, we need no new regulation.

If Mr. Bounds needs a tool to move those doing nothing into doing something, then work that on a case-by-case basis. Don’t pound me and others because of the actions of someone we do not even know.

The job of education of children belongs to the parents. Parents must take this role seriously and allow the state to assist if they so choose. If they choose to not involve the state, then the state must recognize this.

Should the state department of education decide that it is smarter than the parents in seeing that the children are educated to its liking, I hope our Legislature will see that it is the most minimal intrusion into the majority of families’ daily lives.

Frankie Springer

Meridian

DEAR CAV,

Filed on December 23, 2006 at 8:42 am under by dcobranchi

Please reserve a nice warm spot for the warmongers who started (and perpetuate) this god-forsaken debacle.

These kids (and a lot of them really are just a couple years out of their teen years) are going to be scarred for a long time. [Tip credit: Tammy]

ROSIE O’DONNELL IS DEPRESSED?

Filed on at 6:25 am under by dcobranchi

I link to this right-wing screed only to point out that that word doesn’t mean what she thinks it means.*

I watched the drooling and giddiness over Barak Obama with embarrassment for my gender, an embarrassment surpassed by Hillary Clinton appearing to an adoring crowd on “The View”. How can “star quality” supersede national security, morals and the very capitalist society we know? Do American women really prefer personality to substance?

As the home schooling mother of an elementary school age child, I am very concerned over the demoralization of the entertainment industry.

And I’d like to add that our 7yo son is a big fan of Cartoon Network, despite the “pornography.”

*Yeah, I know that a tertiary definition of “demoralization” means to “debase the morals of.” But she’s still using it incorrectly. She’d need to change her construct to “demoralization of America by the entertainment industry.”

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Filed on at 6:01 am under by dcobranchi

WND gets nuttier every single day.

German homeschool advocate says Nazis have returned

I feel for the German homeschoolers and hope that they are able to work towards a better home education statute. But calling the educrats “Nazis” is just not going to work.

[He] is pleading with those outside of Germany to launch a campaign to focus international attention on their actions.

Yeah, we’re focused alright. And, right now, I’d say that the educrats are far and away the more sympathetic actors in this sturm und drang.

My advice to the German homeschoolers– Quit taking advice from HSLDA and WND.

UPDATE: God am I glad that I turned down HSB’s initial offer to move HE&OS over there! They are really fanning the flames.

U.S. home-schooling blogger Dana Hanley received a copy of the letter from a German organization that advocates home-schooling, Netz-Bildung Freiheit (Net-Education Freedom). Hanley translated the letter and published it on her blog. (http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HSBCompanyBlog/256239/)

Yeah– the Nazis are coming, and it’s all based on a document translated by an HSBer. Is there maybe a possibility that something might have been lost in the translation?

ETHANOL UPDATE

Filed on December 22, 2006 at 5:42 pm under by dcobranchi

12-22-06 This one is looking fishier all the time. Dollars to donuts the plant never gets built and the incentive money just evaporates.

THESE ARE HSLDA’S POSTERKINDER

Filed on at 12:50 pm under by dcobranchi

They sound pretty wack to me.

One of the parents, Waldemar Block, told CBN News: “In public school, the occult is in all subjects be it maths, language or science. It gets ingrained into their beings.”

Yeah, I’m sure that the German schools are teaching the Hellac version of algebra. If a demon left Hell at 75 kilometers per hour and harvested 12 souls per kilometer, how many years would it take for Dis to be the largest city on (or under) the Earth?

HOW CONVENIENT

Filed on at 7:58 am under by dcobranchi

Just a couple of random quotes about an ethanol plant to be built here in Fayetteville.

A Seattle company called E85 Inc. plans to build a plant north of Fayetteville that will produce 100 million gallons of ethanol each year.

[…]

Phyllis Owens, an executive vice president with the Cumberland County Business Council, helped orchestrate the deal.

[…]

The Business Council is a private, nonprofit business recruiter that gets subsidies from local taxpayers.

[…]

The incentives include $875,000 that Cumberland County commissioners have been asked to spend toward buying the land. The commissioners likely will hold a public hearing Jan. 16.

[…]

E85 has an option to buy the land from Dr. Franklin Clark, a local developer and a charter member of the Cumberland County Business Council.

That’s a sweet deal! He negotiates with the county for “incentives” for the company who in turn buy the land from him.

M$FT PATENTS THE SUN

Filed on at 7:46 am under by dcobranchi

We’ll have to pay a royalty every time we step outside during the day. (H/T APOD)

UPDATE: They’re also attempting to patent RSS. Really.

A SHOCKER!

Filed on December 21, 2006 at 10:10 am under by dcobranchi

Another home educating family appears on Trading Spouses. WooHoo– It’s a two-parter!

THE WORLD’S MOST ACCURATE NICKNAME

Filed on at 9:50 am under by dcobranchi

World Nut Daily:

The German government, in a throwback to its National Socialist Workers Party heritage, has declared war on homeschool families, promising to bring those with banned “religious convictions” into alignment with the state regulations.

UPDATE: WTF!!!

Michael Farris, cofounder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, has called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home, in light of what is developing in Europe, and the growing influence of international court conclusions in the U.S.

His concern is that if the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child were ratified by the Senate or adopted by the federal courts as enforceable international law, American homeschooling could be banned.

He notes that the parents’ rights to control their children’s education never were written into the U.S. Constitution because the Founding Fathers recognized that it was the Bible that gave parents a God-given right to educate their children at home or in a private or government school.

Riiiight! The Founding Fathers believed the Bible gave us a right to homeschool? Does that make even the slightest bit of sense? What book of the Bible covers homeschooling? Deuteronomy?

A DUMB NICKEL PHOTO

Filed on at 9:48 am under by dcobranchi

The article is all about a public school “reaching out” to homeschoolers. So why the pic of a mom and daughter at the kitchen table?

Kudos to the reporter, though, for this bit:

Students at the tiny, nondescript public school building in North Seattle have no playground, no formal cafeteria, no sports teams, no bells signaling the end of class.

They come and go as they please, and the nearly 250 who pass through the halls don’t even consider themselves public school students.

EVERYBODY’S DOING IT

Filed on December 20, 2006 at 11:51 am under by dcobranchi

Having sex before marriage, that is.

More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study… The study, examining how sexual behavior before marriage has changed over time, was based on interviews conducted with more than 38,000 people — about 33,000 of them women — in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002 for the federal National Survey of Family Growth. According to Finer’s analysis, 99 percent of the respondents had had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had done so before marriage.

And here’s the Bush Administration’s bullshit spin:

Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defended the abstinence-only approach for teenagers.

[…]

He insisted there was no federal mission against premarital sex among adults.

“Absolutely not,” Horn said. “The Bush administration does not believe the government should be regulating or stigmatizing the behavior of adults.”

Oh, really?

The federal government’s “no sex without marriage” message isn’t just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it’s a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”

Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex.

The National Center for Health Statistics says well over 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sexual intercourse.

But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children.

Government data released last month show that 998,262 births in 2004 were to unmarried women 19-29, the ages with the most births to unmarried women.

“The message is ‘It’s better to wait until you’re married to bear or father children,’ ” Horn said. “The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence.”

The revised guidelines specify that states seeking grants are “to identify groups … most likely to bear children out-of-wedlock, targeting adolescents and/or adults within the 12- through 29-year-old age range.” Previous guidelines didn’t mention targeting of an age group.

“We wanted to remind states they could use these funds not only to target adolescents,” Horn said. “It’s a reminder.”

Same guy less than two months ago. Are they really that stupid or do they think the American people are?

AGIN (HEADED TO) COURT*

Filed on at 10:00 am under by dcobranchi

It’s not ok to pose with chain mail and a broadsword for school pictures, but it is ok for the school to use a gun as part of its school symbol. Whatever. (H/T StarGirl)

*Apologies for the groan-worthy pun

NO MORE STICKERS IN TEXTBOOKS

Filed on December 19, 2006 at 5:23 pm under by dcobranchi

No more teacher’s dirty looks.

Cobb County (GA) has finally thrown in the towel on its four-year court battle to place stickers questioning evolution in biology textbooks.

“We faced the distraction and expense of starting all over with more legal actions and another trial,” said board chairwoman Teresa Plenge. “With this agreement, it is done and we now have a clean slate for the new year.”

RedStateRabble has a facsimile of the original sticker.

THAT’S GOTTA HURT!

Filed on at 4:22 pm under by dcobranchi

One of the girls’ first attempts with stop-motion animation. They learned from this one that they need to make smaller movements between frames.

SHORT STUFF

Filed on at 1:16 pm under by dcobranchi

This week’s CoH is up.

WHO CARES?

Filed on at 12:53 pm under by dcobranchi

Why is it important for Americans to know what 1066 means?

HEADS UP: MISSISSIPPI

Filed on December 18, 2006 at 12:43 pm under by dcobranchi

A follow-up to the piece from the other day.

The “legitimate home-schoolers … are interested in ensuring they are differentiated from those parents who are abusing the system and using home schooling as an excuse to remove themselves from what’s happening with their child,” [Hank Bounds, state superintendent of education] said.

[HSLDA attorney Dewitt] Black said people who do that should be investigated.

“If there are families neglecting to teach their children, they are really just truant,” he said. “They’re not really home schooling. The law in Mississippi requires parents who make this choice conduct a legitimate home instruction program. (Signing the form and then not teaching) that would not be a legitimate home instruction program. It would be just a truancy matter that ought to be investigated and prosecuted, if in fact that’s what they’re doing.”

House Education Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said he shares Bounds’ concerns but doesn’t see lawmakers taking any action in the 2007 session. He hopes to assign the issue to a special House subcommittee for further study.

“Most (parents), I believe, are sincerely doing what they believe is in the best interests of their children,” Brown said. “My own feeling is that the state has an interest in being sure that kids are given the opportunity to obtain a quality education, in a public or private school or home school setting. … It is our obligation to somehow ensure that the kids who are being home schooled are, in fact, receiving a reasonably effective course of study.”

The problem with Black’s comment, of course, is that there’s no way to investigate the (allegedly) “fake” homeschoolers without, by necessity, catching all of the “real” ones in the same net. So the question boils down to: Are MS politicians willing to pay the political price for inconveniencing a bunch of law abiding citizens in order to possibly find some of these supposed “fake” homeschoolers? (via HSWatch)

LETTERS OF THE WEEK

Filed on at 8:03 am under by dcobranchi

Once again, I’m all by my lonesome:

The question: A new state law prohibits disorderly conduct within 500 feet of a funeral. Does that trump people’s First Amendment rights, or is the law needed to prevent protestors from disrupting private ceremonies?
Protect the rights of grieving survivors

***********************
By Chris North
Fayetteville

The new law prohibiting disorderly conduct fails miserably where funerals are concerned. This law — obviously crafted in haste — should be relooked. So should the protesters’ actions. A buffer of only 500 feet is pitifully inadequate. The law should prohibit any disruption of funerals by protesters.

Respect for the dead and consideration for those burying their dead is the mark of civilized society. Those who demonstrate at funerals to make a statement show a descent into savagery and a callow disregard for their fellow human beings.

The sad, shallow humans who would disrupt a funeral are a despicable, shameful blight. Their actions are even more onerous when the deceased is a service member who gave all to keep this wonderful country free.

Keeping protesters from disrupting a funeral violates no First Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the new law fails to protect the rights of grieving survivors in their heartbreaking task of paying respects to the deceased. People must assume responsibility for civilized exercise of free speech.

Actions of protesters at funerals are on a par with lawmakers who, for purely political reasons, criticize our troops and make anti-war statements.

Both factions are giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
********************
Peaceful protests are within the law

By Daryl Cobranchi
Fayetteville

Isn’t disorderly conduct already illegal? Now, if the law forbids peaceful protest, that would indeed be a violation of the protesters’ First Amendment rights.

The Westboro Baptist Church folks [I mistakenly wrote “Hillsboro” in the original], at whom this law is no doubt aimed, may have the most vile message imaginable. As long as they present it peacefully, they have every right to do so.

*******************************
Common decency should prevail

By Bill Wadford
Fayetteville

One would think common decency and respect for fellow humans in time of intense sorrow would dissuade even the basest of people from a loutish, boorish exhibition.

In this case a small number of people whose belief systems border on mental illness prove that some people can sink to incredible depths.

Under the First Amendment, the right to free speech generally extends to all viewpoints. There are a few notable exceptions: speech owned by others, incitement, false statement of fact, obscenity and threats. None of which applies here.

The narrow exception that does apply here is the “Fighting Words” provision, where the Supreme Court ruled that words “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace have no role in the debate of public ideas.” Further, these face-to-face insults do not fall under protected speech. The key elements here are insulting words that would incite a breach-of-peace response. Moving these dingbats 500 feet will eliminate the face-to-face component and protect their rights to spew loathsome garbage into the air.

There is no violation of First Amendment protection. One fact often overlooked is the fact people do have this right to say darn near anything, BUT, and this is huge, they have no right to be heard! Say what you will, but I am not obligated under the Constitution to listen.

************************
Freedom of speech or a crime?

By Sharon North
Fayetteville

First and foremost, the Constitution’s framers were not clairvoyant. Freedom of speech was never meant to allow the mendacity experienced by military families burying their dead.

I do not believe anyone’s First Amendment right trumps the right of survivors to have an inviolate atmosphere to grieve and bury their dead.

I was spat on in Milwaukee, Wis., while on liberty with the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, by the same kind of radical “nut” who vilifies the military who die to preserve the intent of the Bill of Rights.

These individuals are guilty of hate crime and should be prosecuted for a felony.

This country has sunk to a new low when demonstrators are allowed to harass grieving families for any reason, especially disagreement with another’s politics.

WOW!

Filed on at 7:45 am under by dcobranchi

Really cool APOD today.

NAILED!

Filed on December 17, 2006 at 8:13 pm under by dcobranchi


You Are an Espresso


At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you’re not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

What Kind of Coffee Are You?

WHO’S ON FIRST TIME?

Filed on at 7:57 pm under by dcobranchi

Jon Swift rips Time Mag for their lame Person of the Year choice.

HARRY POTTER 1, MORONIC MOM 0

Filed on at 3:19 pm under by dcobranchi

The “anti-Christian bias” in Gwinnett County (suburban Atlanta) schools will continue for the indefinite future as M.M.’s quixotic quest to see HP pulled from the school libraries gets hit with the Avada Kedavra curse.

HEADS UP: ALASKA

Filed on at 3:04 pm under by dcobranchi

There’s a proposal to raise the CA age from 16 to 18.

CAN I BE ENGLISH, PLEASE?

Filed on at 2:58 pm under by dcobranchi

Their press is just so much better snarkier than ours. Check out this bit from a long Independent piece on the American religious right.

At the same time, North Carolina’s Baptist State Convention has stayed the pro-family course by continuing to obsess over homosexuality. It has passed stringent new guidelines in regard to homosexuality that stop just shy of ousting pastors who’ve ever listened to an Elton John song.

Homeschooling and PHC rate a brief mention.

HEADS UP: SOUTH CAROLINA

Filed on at 2:33 pm under by dcobranchi

A homeschool bill has been filed:

Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, proposed permitting home-school students to participate in public schools’ interscholastic activities.

I’m typically agnostic on these bills, but the Devil is in the details. Anyone have a bill number?

UPDATE: I think this is the one.

UPDATE: This provision will dramatically reduce any opportunities for HEKs.

(5) [Homeschool] student’s participation in interscholastic activities does not deprive another student attending the school sponsoring the interscholastic activity of an opportunity to participate in the interscholastic activity.

Any sport where one has to “make” the team will be excluded by definition.

EASY ANSWERS TO STUPID QUESTIONS

Filed on December 16, 2006 at 12:35 pm under by dcobranchi

A: None
Q: What role should the state of Mississippi have in home education?

Natalie, are you on that panel? (Via HEM N&C)

SAYS WHO?

Filed on at 6:22 am under by dcobranchi

This is a pretty sad LttE, but I’m not sure it’s 100% correct:

Jonathan Bartlett, Bottineau, N.D., letter: Grandparents should be able to teach kids

The Forum
Published Saturday, December 16, 2006

North Dakota is known to be the most restrictive state in the nation in regards to its regulations concerning home education. This is clear in the case of grandparents wishing to school their grandchildren.

In Deuteronomy 6, parents are given the responsibility of educating their children within the home. However, when parents need assistance in the process, they have the right to choose who will replace or help them in their educational capacity. North Dakota has denied this right to its citizens by limiting the parents’ choice. There is absolutely no logical reason for a willing grandparent to be denied the privilege of passing on knowledge when his or her credentials in education are as legitimate as the parent’s.

The Bible teaches in Proverbs 13:22a and Proverbs 17:6 that grandchildren are a joy to grandparents and that grandparents should pass on not only a physical inheritance but also more importantly an educational one. As we all know, it is natural for grandparents to enjoy their children’s children, and it is just as natural that they pass on their hard-earned wisdom to them.

State precedence is clearly in favor of not restricting who the teacher must be. Thirty-six out of the 50 states do not require a parent to be the teacher, but instead, merely a “capable instructor.”

Please defend freedom by showing your support of future legislation allowing grandparents to home school.

Here’s the relevant passage from the ND homeschooling law:

15.1-23-01. Home education – Definition. For purposes of this chapter, “home education” means a program of education supervised by a child’s parent, in the child’s home, in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.

“Supervised by” doesn’t necessarily mean “conducted by.” Do the supervisors in the g-schools do all of the teaching? Or are they, perhaps, monitoring the activities of the teachers in the classrooms? So why couldn’t a grandparent do the teaching and the parent do the supervising? And you could drive a truck through the loophole in that “in the child’s home” bit. Who’s to say that the child has only a single home. Perhaps he lives with his grandparents 8-5 and with his parents the rest of the time.

I have no hope that Mr. Jonathan Bartlett of Bottineau, ND will ever read this, but I hope he just goes ahead and home educates his grandkid.

UPDATE: BTW, ND really does have crappy homeschool laws.

ONE FOR IZZY

Filed on at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

If this article hadn’t been local, I’d have passed it on to Mrs. Lyman, who is up on all things homeschool basketball.

The article itself is really pretty good, with only one technical foul. Worth a read.

HMMMM

Filed on at 5:24 am under by dcobranchi

Some interesting ideas from the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce:

Under the new group’s proposal, students would finish 10th grade and then take exams. Depending on how well the students perform, they could go on to community college or stay in school and study for more advanced tests that could earn them a place at a four-year college. Somewhat similar systems are in place in other countries.

The report says that by not spending today’s resources on 11th- and 12th-graders and through other changes, the government could eventually save an estimated $60 billion.

The money could pay, for example, for new pre-kindergarten programs and higher teacher salaries, which the report said would help recruit top graduates into the profession.

The commission recommends paying beginning teachers about $45,000 per year, currently the median amount paid to teachers — meaning half earn more than that and half earn less.

To help cover the cost, the commission recommends moving away from traditional, defined benefit pensions to less generous retirement plans commonly found in the private sector.

I’ve never understood the rationale behind teachers retirement plans. A 403(b) would certainly save the schools money over the long haul, as it would get the states out from under their long-term commitments. And it doesn’t necessarily follow that teachers, on average, will see less money. There’s just risk where there wasn’t before. That risk is offset by the potential capital gains.

Defined benefit plans are dead. Teachers ought not reject this out-of-hand.

LETTER OF THE DAY

Filed on at 5:03 am under by dcobranchi

I feel sorry for this guy’s kids:

Parents should monitor and test their children

There are more drugs in our schools than ever before. Drugs are more affordable, accessible and accepted. As parents, we are responsible to censor our children. When parents do not monitor their children, it becomes the responsibility of schools and the community. Do not make the assumption that only kids with “nothing to do after school” are the ones doing drugs.

There are no boundaries for drug use. All teenage social groups include kids who experiment with drugs. If you have kids, talk to them. I asked a teenager when he used drugs for the first time. He answered that he first smoked marijuana with his parents when he was 12.

Do your kids think drug use is acceptable? Drug use is illegal. It can be stopped through accountability and drug testing. As parents, we have the responsibility.

Do you know where your child is and what he is doing? Do you know if your child uses drugs? Have you asked? If you’re not sure, test them. Get a hair test instead of a urine test. Drugs stay in the hair up to six months.

I have told my own children that I will test them if I suspect drug use.

We must be accountable and hold our children accountable. When parents do this, maybe we won’t need drug testing in the future. But until that happens, if drug testing stops kids from using drugs, then drug testing has my full support.

John D. Hansen
Dunn

DUMB IDEAS IN MARKETING

Filed on December 15, 2006 at 7:35 am under by dcobranchi

This has to be somewhere in the all time Bottom 10 for really, really bad photo accessories.

ONLY 7 BEHIND!

Filed on December 14, 2006 at 8:50 pm under by dcobranchi

Go, Spunky! Voting closes tomorrow.

UP, DOWN, CHARM, STRANGE, TOP, AND BOTTOM

Filed on at 6:46 am under by dcobranchi

This is really cool science (even if it mostly goes over my head.)

THE HOLY SEE “HEARTS” HOME SCHOOLING

Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

Here’s an interesting piece on how American home education is viewed in the Vatican.

LETTER OF THE DAY

Filed on at 4:38 am under by dcobranchi

I really don’t know what to say about this one, but if this is the only reason to send billions of aid to Israel, we would seem to be mixing religion and politics.

U.S. benevolence toward Israel has been rewarded

This is in response to the letter of Dec. 11 about wasting money on Israel.

The United States gets the promise of God to protect those nations that protect Israel. Israel is God’s chosen nation. Many countries have battled Israel over 2,000 years and it still exists.

Great Britain helped Israel become a nation with the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In 1938 Great Britain had a change of heart,went against Israel, and is no longer a world power.

The United States is the most blessed nation in the world today because of sacrifices it makes for Israel and other countries.

Bob Little, Oxford, Pa.

Magical thinking, I guess.

154 AND COUNTING

Filed on at 4:27 am under by dcobranchi

With 2 more days of voting. You can vote once per day per computer.

ROB REICH IS STILL IN BUSINESS

Filed on December 13, 2006 at 4:22 pm under by Tim Haas

BusinessWeek, that is. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t get more than an obligagraf in the middle of a rah-rah piece on home education among the “creative classes”:

Slater Aldrich doesn’t attend any of the top-shelf public or private schools near his family’s Madison (Conn.) home, not even his mother’s alma mater, the $18,000-a-year Country School. Instead, the 11-year-old spends his days playing the role of town zoning officer, researching the pros and cons of granting approval to a new Wal-Mart (WMT ). Other endeavors include pretending he’s a Sand Hill Road venture capitalist, creating Excel-studded business plans for a backyard sheep company, and growing his own organic food. “It’s kind of like living on a white-collar farm,” says his dad, Clark Aldrich. Aldrich vowed he’d never put his kid through the eye-glazing lectures he endured in school, even at prestigious institutions like Lawrence Academy and Brown University.

Though it’s no different from every positive newspaper piece ever written except for bigger words (and higher income levels), I like it anyway.

IN HIS NOODLY IMAGE

Filed on at 12:59 pm under by dcobranchi

The FSM first made “a mountain, trees, and a midgit”. And in those trees on that mountain he placed an animal to point us to Him– the Tree Octopus. Sadly, this gift from the original Iron Chef Italian, the Prince of Pasta is facing extinction.

Please do what you can to help. [Tip credit: Hal Young]

GRADES KILL

Filed on at 9:48 am under by Tim Haas

A 16-year-old Eagle Scout with a sash full of merit badges. A volunteer fireman. An aspiring private pilot. A leader among his peers. And when his parents threaten to take it all away because of letters on a piece of paper, he shoots himself:

Sixteen-year-old Shane Halligan tried to keep his report card from his parents. But they found it in his backpack on Monday, and did what parents do. They said he’d have to cut back on the volunteer firefighting he loved so much and forgo a National Guard boot camp this summer.

So, while his parents slept, Halligan — a junior at Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County, an Eagle Scout, an experienced target-shooter — set into motion a plan to end his life, authorities said yesterday.

[…]

“He was despondent over his grades and his parents’ taking appropriate action,” Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said at a news conference where he described the events leading to the tragedy. “He felt that things he saw as important in his life were being taken away from him.”

I swear I’m not trying to outdo Chris on the “insensitivity in a time of horror” scale, but those parents, unable to see the promising young man they had raised except in the context of spurious and ultimately dehumanizing quantification — unable, it seems, to separate real life from the lunacy of state education — are responsible for his death.

LETTER OF THE DAY

Filed on at 6:35 am under by dcobranchi

From my local fish-wrap:

Truth: Global warming is happening

The standard example of irresponsible speech is the cry of “fire” in a crowded building, when there is no fire. However, even worse may be shouting that there is no fire in that crowded building, if, indeed, there is one. The Dec. 6 cartoon stating that “an inconvenient truth” is that Gore is “wrong again,” is the latter irresponsibility.

Global warming is happening. It will get worse. Understanding that truth is important.

Over 20 years ago, while president of the Sierra Club, I asked the staff to prepare a briefing for our board of directors on global warming. They assembled the top experts from government and academia. I recall saying, after that two-day presentation, “Anyone that does not get this, is just not paying attention.” I should have added, “or there are self-serving reasons for them to deny the truth.”

In this country, there are a number of people who hold beliefs removed from reality and truth. Some believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when we invaded. Some believe that Iraq was behind 9/11. Some believe there is no global warming.

The Observer reinforcing their stupidity is irresponsible.

Denny Shaffer
Fayetteville

I’d argue that the scientific evidence 20 years ago wasn’t compelling and that no consensus had been reached, even among climate scientists. That’s no longer true.

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