Utterly Meaningless » 2006 » December

    Filed on December 13, 2006 at 6:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Thanks a lot to the federal government and to the idiots on the School Board:

    Cumberland County students will have to agree to take a drug test next year before they join a sports team or some extracurricular groups.

    The county Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to start a random drug testing program in the high schools.

    …The school system has received a four-year, $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct the tests.

    …Board member Frank Barrigan said he would like to see reports on whether the drug tests are effective. In four years, the board will have to decide whether it wants to spend its own money to continue drug testing.

    Evidently, the only smart ones in this whole debacle are the kids, who recognize it for the privacy invasion it is.

    HS football is BIG BUSINESS down here. I wonder what would happen if every football player in the county refused to be tested. Games would be canceled or forfeited. Alumni (and the businesses which cater to them) would go nuts. I’d bet the Board would back down from an organized civil disobedience.

    Kids should “Just Say No” to testing.


    Filed on at 2:43 am under by dcobranchi

    Spunky is within a few hundred votes of first place.


    Filed on December 12, 2006 at 6:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    and let God sort ’em out.

    Mainstream Baptist has a good take on a new family-oriented video game– kill the heathens. It’s set in NYC.


    Filed on December 11, 2006 at 4:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    You gotta love the way HSLDA spins. Check out this statement and see if you can spot the sleight-of-hand:

    In 2006, the results were mixed. Endorsed candidates, however, still prevailed in half the close races, and without the presence of Generation Joshua, the results for pro-family and pro-homeschooling candidates could have been much worse.

    Language only a lawyer could love.


    Filed on at 1:57 am under by dcobranchi

    Cavalor Epthith.

    There are places where we go just to get worked up into a lather and this has been the case from the very first day this blog started. Our first truly horrific foray into introspection and recalcitrance came in November of last Terran year on the topic of homeschooling. This was where we met the formidable likes of Chris O’Donnell, Ser Daryl Cobranchi, Lioness and the gangs at the Denim Jumper and the Homeschool Cafe. I called my staff together and we spent time doing research I sent minions to Terra to talk to people and to bring back data that we could look at rationally. In the end we realized the public school machine was broken in the United States and had devolved into at best a doping mill that stood as an excuse for people who at their hearts might have wanted to educate children but in their minds wanted only to secure their jobs and their summers off. At worst these institutions, and I use that word in its most incarcerating not rehabilitative sense, have become the preying grounds for both the neophyte and the professional pedophile as Diane Tomlinson has pointed out in her Edu-Cons â„¢ columns with nauseating regularity. My children when they reach the first year age of study will most certainly be schooled at home by my wife and I and this in a place where education like on Terra is paramount. American public schools would be quite satisfied creating more consumerist sheep that the state can ply with divisive politcal rhetoric like “stay the course” and swiftboat economic attacks on the middle class that include tax cuts for the wealthiest people. That is what those cess pools of materialism hate and hormones are all about. They do not socialize they desensitize and despite the small percentage of truly insane racists and naive fundamentalists who will be ground up by the millstone of progress in short enough order that do homeschool they are far outweighed by those seeking to prepare their children with rational knowledge and their own ability to decide one course from another. Perfection is never the goal but the grand achievement is raising a child who can stand on the knowledge it was given and fly from the nest with stronger wings.

    Good deal. Another kid saved.


    Filed on December 9, 2006 at 6:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    We’re going to host an An Inconvenient Truth viewing for the local 4-H group on the 17th. The group, of which my kids are members, has as its focus working to better the environment. The viewing is a perfect fit for an activity.


    Filed on at 4:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Really, how hard is it to figure out that schools should not be distributing Bibles?


    Filed on at 10:14 am under by dcobranchi

    We can give Spunky’s blog(s) a nice going away present by voting for her in the Wizbang Awards for Best Edu-blog.


    Filed on December 7, 2006 at 2:48 pm under by dcobranchi

    Alt title: Not that there’s anything wrong with witches

    File this one under “Be careful what you wish for.” It seems a conservative Christian group threatened a lawsuit last year against a school district for refusing to allow them to send fliers advertising their services home with the kids. The school caved, but now it cannot discriminate against any religion (that would be a First Amendment problem, for sure). Some Unitarians/pagans decided to take advantage of the situation ,and you can guess the rest.

    The calls from concerned parents began almost immediately.

    Former Republican city councilor Rob Schilling, now a host on WINA radio’s morning show, went to the NatureSpirit website after hearing about the flyer.

    “They’re talking about witchcraft and magic. Is this appropriate to be sending home with school children?” he asked on his December 5 show.

    People who called the show were disturbed to see the Christian and Jewish symbols displayed with the pentagram, says Schilling.

    I’m sure Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity will soon be highlighting this as another “attack” on Christmas.

    UPDATE: I should not that the conservative Christian/blogger Jeff Riddle is right. Sadly, he seems to be one of the few sane members of his tribe.


    Filed on at 5:28 am under by dcobranchi

    Last trip of the year. Be back Saturday.

    UPDATE: Aside to Toni– I got your emails, but spamhaus won’t let me reply from ATL. I agree it is all very strange and that multiple letters from multiple sources might be more effective. I’ll try to respond in more detail this evening when I get to the hotel (assuming spamhaus doesn’t hate the Somerset Doubletree).


    Filed on December 6, 2006 at 6:39 am under by dcobranchi

    Joanne Jacobs, guest-blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy, was all over a story about students protesting a school uniform policy. And, until the very last graf, she was on target. But she then took a hard turn to the right:

    School uniforms can help create a sense of community in a school. My book, Our School, profiles a charter school that requires high school students to wear uniforms: khaki pants or skirts and black, gray or white polo shirts. Students hate it, but it makes it possible to eliminate all gang clothing and colors (red and blue).

    Students are people, too. And their clothes are a significant way for them to express who they are. Forcing them to wear clothing they hate is, as Skip Oliva pointed out via email, more than a bit fascistic.

    [Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on JJ, though. We also have a school uniform– pajamas ’til 3:00.]


    Filed on December 5, 2006 at 7:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    NCHE has once again scrubbed their website, this time sending their lousy advice (along with the video) down the memory hole.

    UPDATE: My bad. The horrible advice is still there in its entirety. I misremembered it, thinking that it and this other bit of horrible advice were one and the same. Apologies to NCHE– though this does mean that you’re twice as bad as I thought.


    Filed on at 5:01 pm under by dcobranchi

    the first CoH was posted. Here’s the 49th.


    Filed on at 7:49 am under by dcobranchi

    Jeanne pointed out that several home educators have responded to some ignorant ramblings in the New Scientist. The first is particularly good (though I completely disagree with CA’s approach).


    Filed on at 5:17 am under by dcobranchi

    Evidently, there is no requirement that editorial writers cannot be brain dead. As evidence, I submit this WND piece on why we need a constitutional amendment for homeschooling rights.

    Thus, Farris’ concern is quite justified. The liberal judges on the U.S. Supreme Court are relying more and more on international law for guidance in their judgments. In the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, the Court upheld the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as enforceable U.S. law.

    IANAL but I’m pretty sure that the reason the Geneva Conventions are enforceable U.S. law is that we are a signatory. And, IIRC, under the same U.S. Constitution that Farris is continually seeking to amend, international treaties are the supreme law of the land.

    “This Constitution, and the law of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be Supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

    Now I’m just a lowly blogger, but I’d be embarrassed to put out something so lame with my name attached. But Blumenfeld regularly writes for WND, so he may be beyond embarrassment.


    Filed on at 4:48 am under by dcobranchi

    My local fishwrap has endorsed random drug testing for all student athletes. Why? Because the SCOTUS won’t allow them to test ALL students:

    Some argue that randomly testing athletes editors is intrusive and unfair. But sports editing are voluntary activities, on which the schools paper can set conditions. Athletes Editors already have to meet special requirements like maintaining high grade-point averages not being brain dead and staying out of trouble. Passing a drug test is no different.

    Some critics point out that athleteseditors are not, by definition, less trustworthy. It’s true, athletes editors aren’t the only students news folk who are tempted to use drugs. But it makes sense to focus on them because of the great numbers of students news folk who participate in school-sponsored sports editing. In order for random drug testing to have the best deterrent effect, schools papers must reach as may students news folk as possible. Also, in many cases student athletes editors hold leadership roles in their schoolspapers and communities. If athletes editors remain drug-free they just might encourage some of their peers to do the same.

    I think it is very forward-thinking for the editorial board of the Observer to volunteer to pee in a jar. I look forward to seeing the results of their tests published on page 1 in the near future.

    UPDATE: I’m not sure the editors could actually pass the “not being brain dead” requirement.

    Protecting young people from drugs requires more than a drug test. The school board must also develop an education program that avoids dishonest scare tactics and recognizes the range of drug use and misuse. Drug education could be incorporated into chemistry, biology, psychology and history classes. Schools should also encourage parents to get informed so they can recognize the signs of drug abuse.

    Yeah, let’s show Reefer Madness in chemistry and biology. I’m sure that will really help the students along in any future scientific endeavors.

    UPDATE II: Just a thought– The compulsory attendance age in NC is 16. So attendance for the last two years of high school is optional. Under the Observer‘s (and the SCOTUS’?) reasoning, the schools ought to be able to test every junior and senior.


    Filed on December 4, 2006 at 9:08 am under by dcobranchi

    I figured the fine folks in Dis would get a kick out of this website.


    Filed on at 7:02 am under by dcobranchi

    I’ve been thinking back on first dates (our oldest son is going to his first dance next week) and the trauma I felt asking girls out. I was shy and very unsure of myself around girls. So, I really can’t imagine allowing a newspaper to set me up on a blind date and then having the girl critique me and the date in print. But that’s exactly what this former HEK did.


    Filed on December 3, 2006 at 6:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    PHATMommy writes:

    Hello fellow homeschoolers. I will be a guest on BlogTalkRadio this Tuesday night to discuss homeschooling. The show description is as follows:

    School Your Children Well: We’re talking about tot yoga, college-prep preschool, homeschooling v public school… Featuring Alex Elliot, PhatMommy and Pundit Mom.

    The web site to listen is here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=5165

    The program starts at 10 pm ET, but my segment will begin around 10:30. (Prior to that they will be discussing preschool.) My “opposition” is Joanne from PunditMom, http://punditmom1.blogspot.com/ and she will be speaking in favor of private schooling. I suspect that most of the listeners will not be in favor of homeschooling.

    I am asking for your help in two ways. One, please promote the show on your blog. Even if your readers can’t listen on Tuesday night, they can go to the BlogTalkRadio page any time and listen. Please link to this page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/hostpage.aspx?show_id=5165 . Second, I would love it if you would call in between 10:30 and 11 pm ET Tuesday night and support me by posing thoughtful questions to PunditMom.

    Thanks for your support. 🙂

    Shannon Entin, phatmommy@gmail.com
    Blogging @ http://www.phatmommy.com


    Filed on at 3:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    Does anyone know of a free basic movie editing package (for Windows) that can handle Quicktime (.mov) files? Microsoft MovieMaker doesn’t play with Apple.

    I’ve tried some of the .mov to .avi converters and they leave a lot to be desired.


    Filed on at 3:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    This “conservative” screed is out and out racist. And I’m really not so keen on home education being associated with a “white” canon.


    Filed on at 2:15 pm under by dcobranchi

    eAriel’s Child, 318 Blooming Grove Turnpike, New Windsor, is Mecca for homeschoolers, with the most comprehensive line of learning and teaching aids in the Hudson Valley.


    Filed on at 2:12 pm under by dcobranchi

    How can 3 of 4 strands of Christmas lights that were working perfectly when they were (safely) stored last January be dead when they are removed from storage 11 months later?


    Filed on at 10:51 am under by dcobranchi

    I really don’t understand this attitude concerning the DNPE’s meeting “requests.” How can someone get to the point where they buck the system to home educate and yet be so willing to roll over and be a “good little doggie homeschooler”?

    What is all the fuss about. If we are homeschooling our children the way we should, following all the requirements and such, why should we not be able to prove it. At least by having these inspections we can see that they actually care that our kids are being educated. If we didn’t have someone checking we would have a whole lot of parents pulling their kids out of school and saying that they are homeschooling their kids and are not actually homeschooling them.

    Parents that have their kids in public schools are held responsible for having their child attend school so why should we be required that our kids are actually in school?


    Filed on at 8:46 am under by dcobranchi

    The morons and bigots have been particularly active in DE lately:

    Deviant lifestyles mock teachings of the Bible

    Our world has become a mockery of the Bible. The newest thing is gays can adopt children. Next they will be able to marry. What a wonderful lifestyle to introduce to children.

    Our world is sick. We have accepted many sins. Abortion is probably the worst. Gay lifestyle is close behind.

    I hear people say, “The Bible is an old book, so it doesn’t mean anything.” The people I hear saying this are usually doing things the Bible condemns.

    If everybody would only follow this old book, the world would surely be a lot better.

    Herb Fogleman, Ocean View

    And yet another letter bashing gays.

    Dear Dr. Laura:

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I
    have learned a great deal from your show and try to share that knowledge
    with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual
    lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22
    clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

    I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other
    specific laws and how to follow them.

    1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
    pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They
    claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
    period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19-24. The problem is, how
    do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev.20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.



    Filed on at 8:37 am under by dcobranchi

    The theory of evolution is responsible for Hitler and Nazism, racism, and Columbine.

    Evolution weakens West’s Christian civilization

    A left-wing church’s ad in The News Journal proclaimed “Thank God for evolution!” This statement seems intended to take a position in the creationism vs. evolution dispute, opposite from what is expected from the Christian community. The statement is provocative, and also flat-out wrong.

    In his recent book “Evolution’s Fatal Fruit,” Tom DeRosa shows convincingly how Hitler’s obsession with eugenics and his genocidal campaign against Jews, the mentally handicapped and others are attributable to the Darwinian concept of natural selection. Other horrors generated by the theory of evolution include the Columbine High School killings and racism.

    In evolutionary thinking, there is neither need nor room for God, obviating the moral compass on which Western civilization was built.

    This interesting but seriously flawed theory is mistakenly being taught as fact in public schools and no questioning or dissent is permitted by the establishment. The horrendous moral consequences of this godless concept are increasingly evident.

    William P. Cooke, West Grove, Pa.

    I’d like to add that Bohr’s model of the atom is responsible for Hiroshima, and Pasteur is rotting in Hell for unleashing AIDS upon the world.


    Filed on at 8:28 am under by dcobranchi

    I had never understood how a planet or moon became gravitationally locked, so that one side always faced “in.” This page, via APOD, does a really nice job explaining it.


    Filed on December 2, 2006 at 8:23 am under by dcobranchi

    Can we agree that this is a First Amendment violation? ‘Cause the Maine-CLU seems to think so.


    Filed on December 1, 2006 at 10:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    Did Shortt make the claim? And what exactly does being responsible for them mean?

    Houston lawyer Bruce Shortt refers to himself as an ordinary guy who “lives in flyover country.” But he has an unusual pastime that has attracted both critics and supporters: He’s working to encourage parents to “leave behind” public schools.

    Shortt said if parents take their Christian beliefs seriously, they will do everything possible to ensure their children get a thoroughly Christian education. A growing segment of the faith community is joining Shortt’s call for an exodus, saying the public school system is hostile to their values and unresponsive to their concerns.

    They claim to be responsible for most of the 1 million children nationwide now being homeschooled.


    Filed on at 9:58 am under by dcobranchi

    It is really sad that the only true statewide in my home state routinely makes even HSLDA look good. Here’s their latest advice concerning the extra-legal “requests” from DNPE:

    The Division of Non Public Education is planning to meet with more than a hundred second-year homeschool families living in Wake, Johnston, Cherokee, Macon, and Buncombe Counties in November. These meetings are by invitation to randomly selected families.

    These meetings can be an opportunity to present homeschooling as an excellent educational alternative to a state official. If you choose to attend, NCHE suggests going as an ambassador for home education. While DNPE has authority to inspect certain legally required records at your school (link to h.s. law: see section 115C-549), attendance at these particular meetings is completely voluntary.

    And for historic perspective, here’s what their advice was less than two months ago. Interestingly, this advice has been completely scrubbed from their website. Even Google has no record of it.

    “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.”

    NCHE Response:

    (RALEIGH, October 10, 2006) The state Division of Non-Public Education has sent letters to randomly selected second year homeschoolers in the Raleigh/Johnston County area asking them to “voluntarily come and meet with a representative of this office” at a local police station. The letter asked families to “please bring … students (those aged 7 through 17) currently enrolled in your school …” along with records and materials beyond those required by the state homeschool law.

    The November 2 meeting date also accelerated the program start by two weeks and began in the Triangle rather than the mountains, as previously announced by DNPE and communicated in NCHE’s last E-brief message.

    The October 9 letter stresses the voluntary nature of the meetings but asks for a number of items which are not required by any part of the homeschooling statute. The opening sentence implies that attendance at the meeting is the alternative to an inevitable home visit from the state. Item 5, requesting “[a] textbook list; this year’s daily log/lesson plan book; examples of student work, etc.”, while labeled both optional and voluntary, asks for items are not subject to state review. Item 1, requesting to meet students, does not even have that disclaimer.

    NCHE President Ernie Hodges attempted to contact DNPE Director Rod Helder this morning and express our opposition to the location of this meeting and wording of this message, but he is out of the office for the week. While homeschoolers have enjoyed a peaceful regulatory environment under Mr. Helder’s administration, these meetings exceed the legal requirements on several points, and NCHE strongly recommends against participating.

    As the DNPE letter acknowledges, these meetings are not required by law and you cannot be penalized for choosing not to attend. In addition, there are only three records required by statute — attendance, immunization, and testing — and DNPE has no legal standing to ask to meet your children, review your curriculum, or examine student work or teacher plans. Although the additional records were called optional and voluntary, the bringing of children to a police station was not. If you do choose to participate, NCHE recommends you do not bring records other than those mentioned in the law and nothing further, especially not your students. Remember the requirement to bring your children clearly exceeds the law since seeing them cannot be required even on a home visit.

    While we urge full compliance with all requirements of the law, NCHE does not endorse this action by DNPE. With all due respect to state authorities, including DNPE Director Rod Helder, we recommend that homeschoolers decline this invitation to provide extra-legal information to the state.

    If you have received one of these letters and would like to discuss its contents, please contact NCHE at nche@nche.com or (919) 790-1100.

    DR. PHIL, II

    Filed on at 8:27 am under by dcobranchi

    Evidently, some of the stations who got preempted by football on Friday are airing the show today.


    Filed on at 4:59 am under by dcobranchi

    A blogger is conducting an experiment using Technorati. He needs links.

    Here’s what I need you to do:

    1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
    2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I’m one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
    3. Ping Technorati.

    Well, I’ve done my part.

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