Utterly Meaningless » 2007 » July

    Filed on July 5, 2007 at 11:38 am under by dcobranchi

    Hit piece coming up:

    Home-school woes

    Are you a home-school graduate — or the parent of a home-school graduate — affiliated with a church-related school? Have you had trouble getting into college or getting a job because of your home-school curriculum or diploma? Contact reporter Lindsey Naylor at 615-726-5938 or at lnaylor@tennessean.com. Be sure to leave your name and number.

    Nothing like honest reporting.


    Filed on at 11:30 am under by dcobranchi

    It’s not often that I run into Objectivism-related articles in my home ed screens.

    So the literary folks aren’t so keen on Rand. That hasn’t stopped her from carving out a fair amount of influence. Her followers are a wide and varied bunch. Alan Greenspan has declared himself a devoted Objectivist; so has Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Members of the Canadian band Rush are among the most Randian of rockers. Billie Jean King and Hugh Hefner are also devotees.

    There are dating services that cater exclusively to Objectivists, and educational consultants have made a niche for themselves by advising on how to home-school children the Objectivist way.

    Homeschool consultants? No one ever said the free market couldn’t be stupid. 🙂


    Filed on July 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Not that I’ll ever need this information, but I find this curious:

    When two other troopers took part in a ménage à trois, which is illegal…


    Filed on July 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is a chemist’s dream come true:

    ROLLA, Mo. — Camp Winnigootchee was never like this.

    A group of high school students stood at the edge of a limestone quarry last month as three air horn blasts warned that something big was about to go boom. Across the quarry, with a roar and a cloud of dust and smoke, a 50-foot-high wall of rock sloughed away with a shudder and a long crashing fall, and 20,000 tons of rock was suddenly on the ground.

    The campers laughed.

    “That’s cool!” said Ian Dalton, a student from Camdenton, Mo.

    Austin Shoemaker, a student from Macon, Mo., concurred. “It was baad!” he said. “Do it again!”

    There aren’t many wholesome explosions in the news these day, but those are what Summer Explosives Camp provides. It is just a louder, and arguably more exciting, version of the kind of summer experiences designed to recruit students to the quieter academic disciplines.

    Darn! When I was growing up the most violent camp ever got was shooting .22 shorts. Thanks, April, for making me jealous. 🙂


    Filed on July 2, 2007 at 5:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Mike Farris and his merry band of Dominionists are bad enough without just making shit up:

    Tucked away a few miles off Interstate 40 just outside Asheville, N.C., the LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center provides Southern Baptists with a remote place to facilitate the nurturing of “Biblical Solutions for Life.”

    The sprawling 1,300-acre compound in the Blue Ridge Mountains is made up of chapels, a book store, café, guest housing, drab-colored brick buildings, fences topped with barbed wire and plenty of wooded grounds for religious contemplation or recreation. It is not easily or quickly located; its address cannot be found via a Google Maps search or traced on a Global Positioning System (GPS).

    Despite its isolated location, during the last week of May hundreds of Religious Right activists and their families made their way there for a four-day “Worldview Super Conference.” They came to hear fundamentalist Christian speakers rail about the nation’s moral confusion, claim the public schools are bastions of secular humanism and warn that Christians, especially their type of Christians, are in danger of being persecuted by America.

    I’ve been to Ridgecrest. It’s so top-secret it has its own (well-marked) exit on the Interstate. And it’s not all that hard to find it on Google Maps.


    Filed on July 1, 2007 at 7:08 am under by dcobranchi

    Chemistry professor has responsibility for lab safety

    It was deeply distressing to read the News Journal report of a chemical explosion in a Delaware State University laboratory. According to the report, students mixed the strong oxidant nitric acid with a mixture of the organic reductants acetone and ethanol, causing an explosion that destroyed equipment and injured students. While it is clear that safe chemical handling procedures had not been an effective part of student training, there was no mention of a safety provision that may have prevented the accident.

    Although a technical assistant was reported present in the laboratory at the time, there was no report of the presence of the professor. Especially in undergraduate laboratories, the chemistry professor has full responsibility for the safety of students, and the experience and wisdom to sense chemical hazards and take immediate corrective action.

    John F. Neumer, Hockessin

    I know Neumer from my old stomping grounds in South Jersey. He’s absolutely right. And the reaction that the kids ran is ridiculously powerful. Nitric acid and alcohol mixed has been used to propel rockets.

    I’ve actually run this mixture as part of an incident investigation. In an open beaker it’s pretty safe. As soon as you cover it, the NOx start to build up, turning the solution an ugly orange. The NOx autocatalyzes the reaction and a minute or so later– Boom!


    Filed on at 6:44 am under by dcobranchi

    One for JJ.

    On the dysfunctional Child Protective Service situation in FL:

    One of the worst cases in central Florida happened in 2004, when Hernando County sheriff’s deputies discovered a 10-year-old girl starved to 29 pounds and locked in a bedroom while in the care of family friends.

    These friends, Tommy and Lori Allain also had custody of the girl’s brother. The couple had extensive criminal records and lived in a filthy mobile home with holes in the floor. Yet DCF had visited the home frequently and even ended its supervision of the children at one point.

    Lori Allain insisted the girl had an eating disorder, her brother abused her and that because the Allains weren’t foster parents, they couldn’t get any help from DCF. The Allains were convicted last year of child abuse and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

    Their case left DCF and then-Gov. Jeb Bush red-faced and prompted swift changes: A DCF attorney now must sign off on all placements no matter the time or place, and children in nonrelative care are no longer allowed to be home schooled, as the children in the Allain case were.

    The assumption seems to be that homeschooling = potential abuse and that the g-schools somehow protect against this. A better solution might be for the DCF case workers to actually do their jobs. Nah!


    Filed on at 6:36 am under by dcobranchi

    From a school district facing budget cuts:

    One of the ways the district has tried to address funding shortages is by not filling positions when people retire. Summers said the district is trying to avoid firing teachers, so they just won’t hire anybody they don’t need.

    “We would love to have more, but we have to live within the budget,” Summers said.

    They’re not hiring folks they don’t need? What is the (education) world coming to?! As usual, IAATM.

    In the just-concluded school year the district lost 49 students which represent more than $280,000 based on the level of funding the state gave the district per student in the last school year. That money did not come out of the district’s budget; it merely represents how valuable each student is.

    Yes, each student is valuable. But only for how much money they bring in. Does that mean a special needs student, who might cost the district more than she brings in, is worthless and should be discarded? Seems to follow.

    She added that the district’s budget is about 35 percent local and 65 percent state funds, and more than half of the budget is spent directly on students.

    I call “Bullshit!” School districts typically spend 75% of their budgets on salaries. I don’t think teacher salaries should be described as money being “spent directly on students.”

    I hope this sentence wasn’t written by a graduate of the district:

    At the high school level the district has developed a new foundations class in an effort to try and better prepare students for success and put them in position to go where they want after leaving the RE-1 district, and it’s also implemented the Reading Recovery program, which identifies weak readers in the first grade and tries to correct problems early, with the idea that better readers will be better students.

    “Try and”? Geez!

    But, finally, some good news at the end:

    An interesting sidenote is that the number of home-school students in the RE-1 district has nearly doubled between the fall of 2001 and 2005. According to the state of Colorado, there were 33 home-schooled students within the RE-1 district in fall 2001 compared to 75 in fall 2005. Summers said she doesn’t have an answer as to why that number has gone up. In a March interview, she said that perhaps people home school because they want to spend more time with their kids.

    Perhaps. Or perhaps parents want their kids to be valued for who they are and not for how much money they bring in.


    Filed on at 5:11 am under by dcobranchi

    Our God is bigger than their God:

    Soldiers and their danger are what’s important

    I just read that two journalists had written about abuse by the 82nd Airborne while trying to obtain info. Guess what — I don’t care. Who are we to judge what methods they are using, while we are sitting in our air-conditioned homes, with no fear of anyone trying to walk into our home with a bomb attached to his person, all in the name of what? You are right — I don’t care.

    I do care that my son is in Iraq fighting for all our freedom. I care about him and all the brave men who volunteered to fight for freedom for all of us. I care so very much that I am unable to go to sleep at night thinking of all the people in Iraq that are trying to kill my son. I care so much when reading about young fathers, husband, sons and friends who are killed while standing up for what they know is right.

    My generation has made a lot of mistakes, but we have the bragging rights of these brave men — men who are ready and willing to fight for our freedom, our God and our great country. We know they will do us proud.

    A very proud mother of an 82nd Airborne member.

    Betty Van Meter
    Greenwood, Miss.

    She should care about the 82nd Airborne being implicated in abusing (i.e., torturing) prisoners. Torture damages more than just the victim. The victim may lose his health or even his life. The torturer may lose his humanity.

    I feel for parents who have kids in harm’s way. But this war is not about freedom. And it’s not about whose god is bigger. It’s about securing our access to Iraqi oil. Always was about the oil. Always will be. And the sooner we get out, the better off (and safer) our country will be.

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