Utterly Meaningless » 2008 » April

    Filed on April 29, 2008 at 6:42 pm under by dcobranchi

    But I wanted to pass this one along, care of my friends at the DNC:


    Filed on April 24, 2008 at 6:06 pm under by dcobranchi

    Heading out on a bizness trip to S. Korea. The hotel claims to have internet access, but I seem to recall that there was some problem with it the one other time I was there.

    NEW AD —->

    Filed on at 5:54 pm under by dcobranchi

    An anti-NCLB ad. I might’ve run this one for free.


    Filed on at 5:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    “Rebate” update. Checks start to go out next week, based on the last two digits of your SSN. Mine are 01. 🙂


    Filed on at 2:27 am under by dcobranchi

    I met a senior citizen today yesterday who was only vaguely aware of homeschooling. She asked where my kids attended school, so I gave the standard answer. What followed was a brief exchange that obviously upset her. She asked if we had to follow the state guidelines and if we had to get approval from the local school board and about them inspecting us and testing the kids. I explained that none of that was required. She then branched off into Lydia’s qualifications. Is she a professional teacher? Finally, she got around to the “S” word, concerned that the kids were bing locked away from society.

    She was very nice about all of this and obviously concerned about the kids. I just found it a bit interesting that it seemed so dated. We’ve only been home educating for seven years, but these kinds of questions were old news then.


    Filed on at 1:55 am under by dcobranchi

    The GOP successfully filibustered a bill that would have provided that women who discover that their employers are illegally discriminating against them in terms of equal pay for equal work would have 180 days to file suit from the time they discover the discrimination. A recent (stupid) SCOTUS decision held that they can only sue during the first 180 days of being discriminated against, even if the pay discrimination remains undiscovered during that time. A stupid, stupid decision that any rational government would fix in a heartbeat.

    Apparently the only thing that rationality and Republicanism have in common is that they both start with “R.”


    Filed on April 23, 2008 at 8:01 am under by dcobranchi

    A home educator is planning on how to spend his “rebate” check. As for me and mine, ours is going straight into savings. Last time the “rebate” merely ended up being subtracted from that year’s taxes withheld. So you get your tax refund this year instead of next Spring. Or, if you usually end up sending a small check to the IRS each April 15th, you’ll have to send a much larger one next year.


    Filed on April 22, 2008 at 6:58 am under by dcobranchi

    Just to prove that I’m an equal opportunity asshole, I’ll call this pro-Democratic Op/Ed among the worst of this political season. I’ve met Marena a couple of times. Nice lady. But this is really bad:

    On this campaign trail, the political workplace is no better. The Democratic Party realized too late that many women see it as epitomizing the injustice of a less qualified, less experienced man trying to take the job promotion from the more qualified, more experienced woman who survived years of the good-old-boys’ club to earn the status of best candidate for the job.

    They see Obama supporters heckling the press over Obama’s own abysmal performance in the Philly debate, playing the “angriest voting block” card to take her job. They see his big-money marketing him as an inspirational movement to take her job. But can Obama win the general election if he takes her job opportunity? There is an ominous rumbling in the ranks. From the national political blog “Talking Points Memo” in April: “I don’t see this as any different from any other case where a less-qualified male gets a job over a more-qualified woman. She said she found the Democratic Party doing this more repulsive than a McCain presidency … It was clear in her voice that where I was equivocating, she was not.”

    First a bit of a fact check. The quote is not from Talking Points Memo. It’s from some pseudonymous blogger who is a reader at TPM. Saying that this quote is from TPM would be like pulling a quote from one of my rants at DailyKos and attributing it to kos.

    As for the substance, total bullshit! We don’t choose a nominee based solely on resume. If we did we wouldn’t need primaries. Just program some computer to find the person in the country with the most impressive CV and Bingo! We have a winner! We choose a nominee (and president) based on a whole lot of factors, including experience. No one is entitled to the job. That’s been Hillary’s problem since before Iowa. Her campaign has been run entirely on that premise. It doesn’t work that way.

    I’ll also strongly disagree that he is less qualified. A big part of running for President is being able to raise the money to do so. Obama routinely pulls in 3X what Hillary does. Her campaign is literally broke, while Obama has some $40M on hand to spend on the rest of the primaries. So how is Hillary the better candidate?

    Do I agree with Obama’s positions on all of the issues? Not really. Hillary’s health-care proposal is better. But Edwards’ was better than Hillary’s. So what? Obama is right enough on enough issues and McCain is wrong on all of them.

    Obama will win the nomination. There’s just no way that the math works out for Hillary. Not even a blowout in PA today will get her close to parity with Obama in pledged delegates. The Hillary people are going to have to recognize that, although Hillary’s was an historic run for the presidency, she didn’t do what she needed to do to earn the job. And if they don’t want to see McCain’s face on the teevee announcing that we’ve just gone to war with Iran, they’re going to have to bite the bullet and vote for Obama in November.


    Filed on April 21, 2008 at 8:57 pm under by dcobranchi


    Filed on at 5:57 pm under by dcobranchi

    No “debate” in NC. And you’ll love the reason (via dKos):

    Despite pressure from the governor, from the local media, from their own-state campaign, Barack Obama’s advisers refused to accept an invitation to debate in North Carolina because they did not want to give Hillary Clinton any excuse to stay in the race beyond Tuesday, assuming she doesn’t fare that well. The Obama campaign’s gambit paid off: the debate is canceled.


    Filed on at 5:44 pm under by dcobranchi

    Compare this spin from the Christian Post with a more realistic hed.

    ‘Expelled’ Explodes into Top 10 Box Office

    “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” the pro-intelligent design documentary featuring actor Ben Stein, made history this weekend as it propelled full speed into the top 10 box office. It opened as the widest and one of the most commercially successful releases for any documentary film.

    In an impressive opening weekend, the film debuted at No. 9 at the box office, earning a respectable $3.2 million while only appearing on 1,052 screens.

    This is really funny. They apparently didn’t get the memo that ID isn’t religious. Even better is the first of the “Related” links:

    * How to Share Your Faith Using Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
    * ‘Expelled’ Set to Release Amid Wave of Attacks
    * Expelled was Excellent!
    * Myths about ‘Expelled’


    Filed on April 20, 2008 at 5:51 am under by dcobranchi

    The NYT understands that torture is bad. Why don’t Bush, Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Tenet, and Powell?

    I look forward to seeing them all in the Hague.


    Filed on April 19, 2008 at 6:47 pm under by dcobranchi


    Filed on at 6:25 pm under by dcobranchi

    Katelyn’s in heaven. She auditioned for NCSA again today. The new dean was there. Ethan Stiefel is a phenomenal dancer and the star of Katelyn’s all-time favorite movie, Center Stage. Katelyn got to talk to him and got his and his girlfriend’s (Gillian Murphy) autographs on her pointe shoes. Murphy just happens to be Katelyn’s idol.

    And the audition went well, too. 🙂


    Filed on at 9:49 am under by dcobranchi

    My local paper, today:

    Demerit: For the political candidates in important races who are ducking debates. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have jousted over holding a debate here in North Carolina, which may be the battleground that settles the Democratic nomination. Clinton was the first to resist. But when she finally agreed to a date and time, Obama turned it down. Gov. Mike Easley and other top North Carolina Democrats have urged Obama to accept an April 27 debate date. But so far, he’s not budging. He should — North Carolina voters deserve one more good look at the candidates.

    My emailed response:

    Why should Obama agree to another so-called debate? It’s obvious that the media don’t take them seriously enough to ask substantive questions. The National Enquirization of your profession is complete.


    Filed on April 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm under by dcobranchi

    A reality-based blogger on the vaccine issue was served a seriously twisted subpoena about her blogging activities. It seems the anti-science lawyer and/or the plaintiffs take issue with what she wrote.

    She pretty effectively destroys the subpoena here. [Tip credit: Toni]


    Filed on at 6:34 am under by dcobranchi

    An educrat asks, “What constitutes a homeschooled student?” She apparently has several HEKs enrolled full-time in her g-school. Strange, huh?


    Filed on at 5:47 am under by dcobranchi

    Our long national nightmare is over.


    Filed on at 5:30 am under by dcobranchi

    Blue Collar Scientist helpfully compiles a nice selection of reviews of Ben Stein’s Expelled, which is apparently a giant load of crap.


    Filed on at 4:34 am under by dcobranchi

    Please read this editorial in Fort Bragg’s hometown paper. And then pass on the link.


    Filed on April 17, 2008 at 1:52 am under by dcobranchi

    Hey, Tarheels! Early voting starts today. You can vote even if you’re not registered. So, go vote. Today.

    UPDATE: I voted. Number 394 at the main elections office for Cumberland Co. There are three others, so we may have had 1000 people vote on this first day of early voting.

    $117.33/SECOND 24×7

    Filed on April 16, 2008 at 9:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    That’s how much the top hedge fund manager earned in 2007. I’m definitely in the wrong line of work.


    Filed on at 8:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    the most depressing day of the year. At least there’s some interesting reading here.


    Filed on at 8:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    Expelled is a giant load of crap.


    Filed on April 14, 2008 at 7:07 am under by dcobranchi

    And it goes on and on, my friends.


    Filed on at 6:09 am under by dcobranchi

    Take the King’s tests.

    April may be the cruelest month for charter schools that serve home-schooled students.

    That’s because April is when California public school students take the STAR test. STAR stands for Standardized Testing and Reporting. And standardized is exactly what charter schools – and home-schooling families – are not.

    Yet charter schools get public dollars, and so they must test at least 95 percent of their students or risk losing their funding and their accreditation.


    Filed on April 13, 2008 at 11:02 am under by dcobranchi


    There is no longer the shadow of a doubt that the torture of prisoners was planned at the highest levels of the US government with the explicit knowledge and approval of the president. How do we know this? Bush himself admitted it.

    Read the whole thing.


    Filed on April 12, 2008 at 6:38 am under by dcobranchi

    in Wilmington, NC. It’s really depressing that not a single one of my “neighbors” was honest enough to report the mistake. Instead, it appears that the entire town is populated with thieves.


    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Greg Millman, he of recent WaPo fame, has set up shop here.


    Filed on April 11, 2008 at 4:40 am under by dcobranchi

    American Homeschooling Missionary Family Allowed To Stay In Germany


    Filed on at 4:33 am under by dcobranchi

    Being given a couple months to leave the country is not the same thing as being deported. It’s “reaching a resolution.”

    A resolution has been reached that will allow a homeschooling family of missionaries from the United States to continue their work planting new Christian churches across Europe, although they won’t be allowed to remain in Germany, according to a human rights group working on the case of the family of Clint Robinson.

    German officials had ordered the family deported because they chose to homeschool their children, which is not allowed in that nation, but officials with the International Human Rights Group now have told WND a resolution has been reached.

    “What they’ve done is this: they’ve given the family a quasi-legal status. They don’t have a visa as they would typically, but they have an assurance they can stay until the end of the year and homeschool, and they’re not going to have a black mark on their record,” said IHRG spokesman Joel Thornton.

    These missionaries were idiots. They knew going in that homeschooling is illegal in Germany and yet they went in without trying to hide it or even be subtle about it. Educrats can and do overlook these kinds of things when addressing them is more trouble than ignoring them. But they can’t ignore blatant shove-their-noses-in-it disregard for the law.

    WND can spin all they want to, but these folks got kicked out for just being dumb.


    Filed on at 4:23 am under by dcobranchi

    How ’bout evolved homeschoolers who teach the truth of global climate change (Yes, it’s real) and the socialist/Darwinist/scientific orthodoxy? 🙂

    As a home schooling mom, I welcome any and all into the fold who realize that the government- run education system is a dismal failure that is not turning out the “best and the brightest,” but rather global warming-embracing, would-be Socialists with little in the way of math, reading and communication skills.


    Filed on at 4:15 am under by dcobranchi

    WORLD: Do you think that the homeschooling movement would have grown the way it has if so many intelligent design advocates hadn’t been expelled from academia?

    STEIN: No, and I think the recent case out of California [where a judge made it illegal to homeschool without a teaching credential] and the teachers unions reactions to it suggest that homeschooling is very threatening to the academic establishment because it is a threat to the scientific/Darwinist/state orthodoxy.

    To an extent, he’s right. Homeschooling’s growth in the late ’80s and early ’90s was fueled, to a large extent, by anti-science luddites who couldn’t tell you in even the vaguest terms what evolutionary theory (not Darwinism, BTW) is really about. But that doesn’t make homeschooling a threat to the “scientific/Darwinist/state orthodoxy.” It just makes all homeschoolers, and that includes the thinking/evolved variety, look like idiots. Guilt by association sucks.


    Filed on at 3:04 am under by dcobranchi

    My answer to Joanne’s question.


    Filed on April 10, 2008 at 7:15 am under by dcobranchi

    Might as well throw away your passports. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.

    Then-Attorney General Ashcroft was troubled by the discussions. He agreed with the general policy decision to allow aggressive tactics and had repeatedly advised that they were legal. But he argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources said.

    According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”

    The Principals also approved interrogations that combined different methods, pushing the limits of international law and even the Justice Department’s own legal approval in the 2002 memo, sources told ABC News.

    At one meeting in the summer of 2003 — attended by Vice President Cheney, among others — Tenet made an elaborate presentation for approval to combine several different techniques during interrogations, instead of using one method at a time, according to a highly placed administration source.


    Filed on at 12:35 am under by dcobranchi

    That’s the proper response to a reporter looking for a quote. Otherwise, you end up with crap like this:

    “I’m thinking they just want to know where people are home-schooling so they’ll know they aren’t truant. That’s a noble thing,” said home-school mom Cathy Garnaat, 58, who traveled from Alto to Lansing.

    “But if you give one freedom away, they next thing they’ll want to add more rules. That’s just typical government. I don’t want to see any of our freedoms go away.”


    Filed on April 9, 2008 at 5:39 am under by dcobranchi

    1500 prisoners escape for a day.


    Filed on at 12:45 am under by dcobranchi

    My employer gets a couple of nice shout-outs for some cool science in this NYT piece.

    OH! MY! GOD!

    Filed on April 8, 2008 at 7:37 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is beyond belief.

    Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) interrupted atheist activist Rob Sherman during his testimony Wednesday afternoon before the House State Government Administration Committee in Springfield and told him, “What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous . . . it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists!

    “This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God,” Davis said. “Get out of that seat . . . You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.”


    Filed on April 7, 2008 at 7:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Heads up, MI. Bad state law in progress. But what I want to highlight is a quote by a clueless educrat:

    A proposed law recently introduced in the state legislature, however, could change all that, home-school supporters fear. HB 5912, introduced on March 19 by 34th District State Rep. Brenda Clack and co-sponsored by 24 Michigan House Democrats, would require parents to report the names, addresses, and ages of all home-schooled children to their local school district or intermediate school district at the beginning of each school year.

    On the surface, these requirements would seem to be relatively innocuous. Ron Koehler, who is the assistant superintendent for organizational and community initiatives at the Kent Intermediate School District (KISD), said he thinks having the information would enable the intermediate school district to inform parents about programs and classes that may be available to home school students. Currently, such reporting is done on a voluntary basis.

    “They’re still our students and families,” he said.


    Filed on at 7:21 pm under by dcobranchi

    After a long hiatus, one of my favorite edubloggers, Kimberly Swygert, is blogging again.


    Filed on April 6, 2008 at 7:38 am under by dcobranchi

    This one is possibly the best the FO has published in the last year:

    Children are being abused in state schools

    Thank you for covering “The hitting stops here” campaign, which rallied in Robeson County in an effort to bring awareness to the abuse that is tolerated in our schools. North Carolina is behind the rest of the civilized world in its maltreatment of children in the school setting.

    I want to correct a statement that was in the March 21 article. We are told that “North Carolina is one of 21 states that allow corporal punishment in its public schools. It is administered only with the permission of parents or a guardian.”

    Parental permission is NOT needed in North Carolina for educators to strike your child in the pelvic region with a wooden board. Educators can hit your child without your consent, and parents are not able to opt out of this abusive action.

    While some districts may ask permission, state law does not mandate that consent is obtained. If your child is injured, there is no one to turn to. Local school boards protect their own, and the state board of education seemingly has no interest or jurisdiction.

    We have seen a teacher promoted to vice principal after bruising a student. It is no stretch of the truth that child abuse is actually promoted in North Carolina schools, and applauded among our educators.

    Parents, beware. Your children are at risk of being abused in our schools.

    For more information and to sign an online petition in support of banning corporal punishment in our state, please visit www.nospank.net/bancp-nc.htm

    Peggy Dean,
    Board of Directors,
    Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education


    Filed on at 7:31 am under by dcobranchi

    For sale: One thesaurus, excessively used

    Is protecting Israel our penance?

    If slavery was the original sin that gave birth to our nation, is protecting Israel our penance? Divine intervention has evidentiary support.

    Consider this: While all manner of social and economic upheaval plague our towns, cities and oh-so-porous borders, democracy — and order — prevails.

    The White House has changed hands nearly a dozen times since the start of World War II. U.S. foreign policy concerning Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank remains relatively constant. Disparities in America’s opposing political parties notwithstanding, defense of the Jewish state has seldom wavered. This year’s crop of candidates will soon produce a new president, and he or she would do well to remember those precedents.

    Despite the inexcusable bloodstains of barbarism, nobility of spirit — not godless profiteering — was at the heart of our nation’s founding. Improbably, in these days of rampant strife, idealism endures in every shade and hue. Proof-seekers need look no further than the grassroots of the electorate. Signs of the apocalypse are aplenty, and the disease of apathy pandemic, but activism is at an all-time high. Said the pollster to the pol, “The economy isn’t the only thing they’re worried about, stupid.”

    Has America survived this long just by virtue of our oceanic borders? Let’s hope not. The Israelis are completely surrounded, with water at their backs. If racism is the caustic residue of an era we should ever regret, perhaps preventing the genocide of God’s chosen people will one day prove the cleanser.

    Gary Villani


    Filed on at 12:17 am under by dcobranchi

    Blue Collar Scientist notes a measles outbreak in AZ and concludes that not vaccinating ought to be illegal.

    We’ve vaccinated mostly on schedule. The one exception, IIRC, was for Hep B. Delaware hospitals were administering it at birth. We didn’t see a huge need to get the babies vaccinated against an STD.


    Filed on April 5, 2008 at 6:17 am under by dcobranchi

    Barack Obama knocks one out of the park:

    Q: York County [PA] was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What’s your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?

    A: “I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”


    Filed on April 4, 2008 at 5:21 am under by dcobranchi

    Someone wake me when this Heritage.org white paper on home ed is over. It’s harmless, if a bit dull.


    Filed on April 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm under by dcobranchi

    Some joker signed me up for a new email list:

    It’s “Confederate History Month” on DixieBroadcasting!

    As many of our listeners will already know, April is generally recognised as “Confederate History Month” across the South. In honour of this, we will be playing a number of presentations on Southern Heroes throughout the month on the “Dixie Dynamite” show at 7am and 7pm Eastern.

    Also, be sure to listen to the special “Confederate Heritage Month” interviews EVERY WEEKDAY this month STARTING THIS WEEK on the “Political Cesspool” from 9am to 11am Eastern!


    ** Note: All speech CD’s from previous orders have shipped this week!

    Southern Heroes Set # 2

    Like any other distinct people, Southerners have our own heroes — those who have dared to challenge our enemies in defense of our beloved Southland. Sometimes in the halls of government and sometimes on the field of battle, these Southern heroes are the kind of men worthy of emulation and admiration of men, women, and children, alike.

    This Set Includes:

    *Brian Cisco – “Wade Hampton”
    This presentation deals with the leadership of Wade Hampton of South Carolina during the years of Reconstruction following the late War for Southern Independence. It was Hampton who led the famous Red Shirts to ultimately shake off the yoke of federal tyranny and lead the people of his home state of South Carolina to find Southern Redemption and once again regain a measure of autonomy and independence. The example of Wade Hampton is certainly one that Southerners and all freedom-loving Americans would do well to study today.

    *Charles Baker – “Jefferson Davis: The Christian President”
    A biographical sketch of the first President of the Confederacy which emphasizes his Christian character, something which set him apart from his counter-part on the other side of the Potomac and made him to stand out as a giant among men, even in his own day.

    *John Dwyer – “Stonewall Jackson: Standing Like a Stone Wall”
    A lion among men, Jackson was said to have been worth more than 1,000 men, according to one of his opponents on the battlefield. This speech discusses the feats of Stonewall and the source of his greatness.

    *John Dwyer – “The Christian Character of Robert E. Lee”
    Even his enemies could find nothing evil to say about the greatest military leader in the history of America. His noble Christian character provided the personal traits essential in leading the South, both then and now, by example.


    Filed on at 6:07 am under by dcobranchi

    Local edition.

    Today’s lead editorial is horribly alarmist. And just plain bad science. A little background is necessary. The C8 level in the Cape Fear River, source of Fayetteville’s water, is very low and not increasing. It’s also no higher downstream of the plant than it is upstream. And the only place it’s increased (from 7 to 17 ppb) is in one test well on DuPont property about 1/2 mile from the river.

    UPDATE: Via email, Tim White, Editorial page Editor, agreed that the paper had missed the mark today. Just wanted to set the record straight.


    Filed on April 1, 2008 at 8:22 pm under by dcobranchi

    I have an older version of this Panasonic. $300 is an excellent price. Unless you just are really into switching lenses, this one will probably do everything you could ask of a camera.

    UPDATE: DPReview does their typical outstanding job of getting into the nuts and bolts.

    EDWARDS ’16

    Filed on at 7:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    Elizabeth Edwards, that is. And this isn’t the first time that I wished she’d run.

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