Utterly Meaningless » 2003 » November

    Filed on November 14, 2003 at 5:45 am under by dcobranchi

    The Daily Princetonian (the student paper) has a short piece on how a couple of homeschoolers made the transition to college. Pretty positive throughout. The news here comes via the Dean of Admissions:

    [H]ome schooled applicants are considered in the same manner as any other applicant.

    “Students are primarily judged on their accomplishments, as is everyone who applies,” Rapelye said. “We try not to make judgments about anyone’s high school either. We just try to judge applicants based on how they’ve done in their settings.”


    Filed on at 5:40 am under by dcobranchi

    A 14-year-old homeschooler has been charged with stabbing to death his mother. There are seven other children in the home.


    Filed on November 13, 2003 at 7:18 am under by dcobranchi

    Detroit Free Press columnist Susan Ager is all aghast at some nameless magazine’s (she actually refuses to name it) list of “The 50 Best Guy Movies of All Time.” The list includes great flicks like “The Terminator” and “Scarface.” Anything with Meryl Streep in it was automatically disqualified. Ms. Ager is not happy.

    But today, in the 21st Century, the allowances for men, as for women, are liberating. You can be manly — you can even be president — without ever having gone to war, without ever killing a deer or a duck or a squirrel. You can be respected for home-schooling your children. You can refuse to compete with men. You can love one so well that you share your bed with him… That magazine’s editors might now take on a bigger challenge: to list the Top 10 movies every man ought to see to become the best he can be. Not as a soldier or a loner or a posse-of-one, but as a father, a partner, a lover, a son and a citizen. A modern man, allowed to step out of uniform and out of the box he was put in by hormones, history and tradition.

    Way too touch-feely. I wonder what she’d think of Kim Du Toit’s essay (Warning: Kim uses some harsh language.). No, actually, I don’t wonder at all. She’d hate it.

    There are some things men and women just don’t see eye-to-eye on. Films are one of them. Otherwise, there’d be no such term as “chick-flick.” And, trying to turn guys into women ain’t gonna cut it in the long run. Most guys I know can’t stand watching the kinds of movies women seem to enjoy. You couldn’t pay me to watch “Out of Africa” again, and I’d rather put a gun to my head than sit through the interminable “English Patient” a second time (Disclosure: I fell asleep an hour into that Academy Award winner). But, I own all three Terminator movies (T3 came out on Tuesday- thanks, Lydia). Lydia just leaves the room when I need a “guy movie” fix.

    Vive la difference!

    BTW, the nameless magazine is Men’s Journal. Here’s a link to the article.


    Filed on at 5:31 am under by dcobranchi

    Joanne Jacobs has written what must be one of the best blog posts ever. I am not the weepy metrosexual type, but this one literally brought tears to my eyes.


    Filed on November 12, 2003 at 9:08 pm under by dcobranchi

    That’s a direct quote from our oldest son who was “forced” (grumbling the whole way there) to attend a performance of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and wound up loving every minute of it. Sometimes you can’t take kids too seriously.


    Filed on at 9:03 pm under by dcobranchi

    A Burger King in Utah has (sort of) apologized to a nursing mom who was kicked out of their restaurant. These stories always aggravate me.

    True story (which I may have told on this site before)- a friend of ours was kicked out of the Holocaust Museum for nursing her baby in public. The security guard thought some children visiting the museum might get upset. Mind you, this is a museum where they display lampshades made of human skin and other grotesqueries. It’s ok for kids to see those but God forbid they see a baby eating the way He intended.


    Filed on at 8:31 pm under by dcobranchi

    I forgot about the 60 Minutes II interview with the Jacksons. If anyone in the Mountain or Pacific time zones catches the show, I’d love to see your comments.


    Filed on at 1:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    NYC schools are allowing the display of menorahs and crescent moons as symbols of Judaism and Islam but nativity scenes are forbidden because they’re religious (and menorahs and crescent moons aren’t). Predictably, a lawsuit has been filed. I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that the schools lose. They just can’t pick and choose. That’s what the Establishment Clause is meant to prevent.

    AN EASY “A”

    Filed on at 12:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Washington Times reports that a local girl received two “A”s and an incomplete on her latest report card. Unremarkable, perhaps, except for the fact that she doesn’t attend the school. Never has. Think there might be some grade inflation going on here?


    Filed on at 12:51 pm under by dcobranchi

    I guarantee you that D.R. will trumpet this headline in Monday’s column:

    Minneapolis public schools edge out charter schools, report finds

    Based on the statistics quoted, it may indeed be true that these survey results indicate a very slight advantage for the regular g-schools versus the charter g-schools (They’re all g-schools, remember). Neither did particularly well, though. Only 54% and 50% of students “passed”, respectively. Still it is interesting that the charters didn’t fare better.

    I think the local charter proponents know that this study makes them look relatively bad.

    Charter school advocates stress that test scores are not the way to judge their success. They point to high parent satisfaction and other measures such as the fact that several charter schools have waiting lists.

    This is just a bit disingenuous and is the same argument that the regular g-schools have been using for years. Time to fish or just cut bait.


    Filed on at 12:27 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Washington Post has a column up about the horrible conditions at DC public schools. Absolutely true. But, the columnist is just a little bit too quick to blame the schools for every problem:

    On Monday, classes at Ballou were disrupted again when a brawl began that police attributed to a “gang dispute.” But it is worth noting that the fight occurred in the cafeteria, where students have been known to complain about being served “mystery meat” and other unhealthy meals.

    Right. They got into a fight because of “mystery meat.” Whatever happened to Occam’s Razor? Save the click unless you happen to live in DC.


    Filed on at 12:18 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s one of those headlines that just makes you want to pull out your hair:

    Schools find a mission in fighting child obesity

    Sure. Why not? They’ve done such a terrific job at their primary mission (you remember, education) that it’s time to move on.


    Filed on at 6:30 am under by dcobranchi

    I received a comment in a very old post about African-American homeschoolers. The commenter was basically spamming- promoting her website. Normally, I’d just delete the comment (like I do for all of the Phentermine spam comments), but her website seems legit. So, here it is.


    Filed on November 11, 2003 at 8:56 pm under by dcobranchi

    The sequel to yesterday’s local news report on homeschooling didn’t even live up to the minimal standard set by Part I. As promised, it’s all about the “S” word. I learned something in this report. Homeschooling is apparently a disease that can be “cured” by exposing our kids to other kids their own age every day. Bah! Thankfully, there is no Part III.


    Filed on at 2:41 pm under by dcobranchi

    This is a local item. A Delaware magistrate (traffic court judge) pulled a gun on a court clerk and may be addicted to Oxycontin. His “infinite tolerance” punishment? A three-month suspension. Geez!


    Filed on at 2:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Instapundit is now calling for the Goose Creek pricipal to be fired.

    Tar and feathers are looking better all the time. This guy should be fired, now, as should the police and prosecutors who approved this raid and these tactics.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.


    Filed on at 1:50 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Port Huron Times-Herald has a profile of homeschooling mom and blogger, Roslynn Rose. I searched but couldn’t find her blog.


    Filed on at 1:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    A NY church is sponsoring a PE class for homeschoolers. Local education majors run the class as part of their practical experience leading to their teaching certificates. A good idea. And, when these newbie teachers learn that homeschoolers are normal kids, perhaps they will take that info back to the NEA.


    Filed on at 9:53 am under by dcobranchi

    And, yes, the double pun is 100% intended.

    Via Volokh, here’s a really good interview with the lawyer who won the Cleveland voucher case. Clint Bolick is the co-founder of the libertarian Institute for Justice law practice.

    BONUS: The first pun is obvious. Let’s see if anyone catches the second.


    Filed on at 7:21 am under by dcobranchi

    A WA parent is completely frustrated with the g-school textbook.

    How can any of you – Saul Bob Hughes, Nancy Bernard, Eglinglton Pendergrass sit there and say with a straight face that you think this stands for excellence in education??? Why in the world would anybody deliberately design mathematics that omits the most basic skills and concepts??? Parents in Plano Texas are up in arms over this (Just Google Plano, Math and Connected Mathematics) and suing the district.

    And, he’s running for a spot on the School Board. I hope he wins (just for the entertainment value). Read the whole rant here.


    Filed on at 4:39 am under by dcobranchi

    Unlike Izzy, my time stamps are set to EST. So, I really am blogging at 4:39 a.m.


    Filed on at 4:34 am under by dcobranchi

    An educrat thinks an alternative school for “students who have had problems with the law, dysfunctional families, pregnancy, substance abuse or truancy” is preferable to homeschooling.

    The district had discussed starting an alternative program for a number of years. This year, it placed a portable classroom behind the middle school and 22 students enrolled.
    “It has to happen for these kids; we are losing them – whether they are going to another district, or dropping out or going to home school…”

    Here’s my Carnac the Magnificent impression: The answer is “Money.” And the question is, “What do educrats care most about?”


    Filed on at 4:26 am under by dcobranchi

    Better lunches.


    Filed on at 4:19 am under by dcobranchi

    A local news program in TN is doing a series this week on homeschooling. Monday’s segment was relatively harmless. The teaser for tonight’s episode indicates it is all about socialization. YeeHah!


    Filed on at 3:20 am under by dcobranchi

    On Nov. 24th, cell and phone companies will have to allow number portabilty. That is, you’ll be able to switch between cell-phone companies or reassign your landline to a cellphone. I currently have three phones with 3.5 different companies (Cingular, Verizon, Verizon Wireless, and MCI long distance.) Come Nov. 24th, we’re getting rid of the landline completely. If things work according to plan, we should save $50 per month.


    Filed on November 10, 2003 at 8:04 pm under by dcobranchi

    Diane Patterson found a great blog entry by Timothy Burke at Swarthmore College about the fundamental reasons why middle-class America opts out of public institutions in favor of “suburbia.” Burke really hit close to home with this one; we have had memberships at both the Franklin Institute and the Please Touch Museum and many times have observed the tragedy he reports.

    BTW, the ideal time to go the the Franklin Institute is 1:30 on a weekday. That’s when all of the g-school field trips have to leave in order to get back to prison.


    Filed on at 7:45 pm under by dcobranchi

    Tim Haas pointed out that the social workers’ union blamed homeschooling for the Jackson case.

    Carla Katz, the president of the Communications Workers of America, a union representing social workers in New Jersey testified at the hearing. In her remarks, President Katz stated the following: “Home schooling creates gaps. Nearly 20% of all abuse cases are reported by schools. When children are outside the school system, extra protections are critical. There are no home schooling regulations that would require homeschooled children to see anyone from the public education system. There is no cross-referencing with the Department of Education to look for children who are in the ‘system’ but have not been seen by anyone.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the Jackson kids were seen by someone. In fact, they were seen by a member of the social workers’ union 38 times! Harry Truman is spinning in his grave.


    Filed on at 11:11 am under by dcobranchi

    Instapundit has a column up on MSNBC in which he points out that the Goose Creek incident is just one more reason WWHS:

    Sadly, this sort of behavior is far from uncommon in government-run schools. But more and more parents are looking at private schools, vouchers, charter schools, and home schooling as alternatives. To a lot who haven’t made up their minds, I think that Principal McCrackin’s behavior may provide an incentive to move their kids out of public schools that are looking increasingly like prisons, and into more congenial environments. And the ranks of public-school educators who are unhappy about such a development will have only themselves — and McCrackin — to blame.



    Filed on at 8:15 am under by dcobranchi

    A high school student has been suspended for a blog entry.


    Filed on at 6:09 am under by dcobranchi

    A TN legislator has filed a bill to fix the discrimination homeschoolers face when applying for that state’s lottery-funded scholarship. This was actually promised last May. Good to see a politician keeping his word.


    Filed on at 6:04 am under by dcobranchi

    A bunch of homeschoolers had a walk-a-thon the other day and raised $1290. That’s nice. The money is going to support their homeschooling group and will pay for field trips and such. Not so nice. I don’t like it when the g-schools “fund raise”; why would a bunch of homeschoolers seek to emulate that model? Better to give the money to a real charity.


    Filed on at 5:47 am under by dcobranchi

    (to quote a famous New Yorker)*

    The New York Times has a very positive article on homeschooling in NYC. Hardly any discouraging words. Of course, they have to throw in a quote from an educrat about socialization.

    In the debate about home schooling, socialization is more of an issue than achievement. Dr. Belfield said there was no research in this area but much anecdotal evidence that home-schooled children had plenty of social contact, benefited from being outside the dog-eat-dog world of school and were kinder to one another as a result.

    Thank you, Dr. Belfield.

    The article is not 100% positive, though. At one point, Belfield alludes to the Jackson case in NJ. There’s also a quote from a mom who is just way too happy to comply with New York’s onerous homeschooling laws.

    All in all, though, this may be a watershed moment. The most respected (and possibly the most liberal) paper in the country has basically just endorsed homeschooling! (Hat tip to Diane Patterson for the link. Diane, you made my day.)

    *”Holy cow!” is Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto’s tagline when something extraordianry happens on the field.

    UPDATE: Several other papers have picked up the NYT article. Start spreading the news!


    Filed on at 5:18 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times has a wonderful article about a particularly loathsome form of corporate welfare- the bribes, er, “incentives,” that states grant to get businesses to get them to relocate. All of the states do it and they all know it’s stupid.

    That doesn’t mean that [Indiana] Governor Kernan intends to stop offering subsidies. “I understand the argument that taking jobs away from Boston and putting them here is nationally a zero-sum game,” he said. “But Indiana, like virtually every other state, is not going to unilaterally disarm.”

    What a bunch of lemmings! If I lived in Indiana, this quote might be enough to make me run for office as a Big “L” Libertarian:

    Ninety-three cities bid for the center, and United finally settled on Indianapolis, promising to add $500 million of its own money to the $320 million that the city and state raised through bond issues. United’s $500 million would go mainly into future expansion, and there was expansion. But in the end, the airline invested only $229 million. The city, operating through the Indianapolis Airport Authority, even owns the tools arrayed in each of the 12 hangar bays, ready for the next tenant.

    United plainly drove a hard bargain. But the deal was signed during the 1990-91 recession, and the hard times encouraged the state to fold some Keynesian stimulus into the agreement, said Mark S. Moore, director of public finance for the state of Indiana, and one of the negotiators. “Whether we spent the dollars or United spent the dollars, let’s not forget it was a recession,” he said. “We put lots of people to work building that facility for a lot of years at good wages.”

    The state gave United $320 million dollars in bribes and is paying $40 million per year to service the debt and maintain the now abandoned building. Your tax dollars not working at all!


    Filed on at 4:53 am under by dcobranchi

    I removed the shot of the moon that may have been the problem. Undier IE6 and Mozilla Firebird (both at 1024 x 768) it looks fine. Let me know if y’all are still having problems.


    Filed on November 9, 2003 at 7:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    Obviously. Diane discovered the problem in the picture of the moon. BTW, noone guessed the reference. Chris is out-of-town or I’m sure he’d have gotten the paean to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” At the very end of that album, a “scientist” intones, “There is no dark side of the moon. As a matter of fact, it’s all dark.”


    Filed on at 3:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    The principal in the SC drug (non)bust case ought to lose his job. Now!

    “The high school has always had a reputation for being a safe, clean school. And I’ll utilize whatever forces I deem necessary to keep this campus safe and clean… I don’t think it was an overreaction on our part. I’m sure it was an inconvenience to those individuals who were in the hallway, but there is a valuable experience there.”

    An inconvenience?! I wonder if he’d object if the next time he gets pulled over for speeding the cop throws him to the ground, gun drawn and then cuffs him. And let’s throw in the K-9 in his face for good measure. Sorry for the inconvenience, sir.

    UPDATE: Instapundit has a good summary of the blogosphere’s response to this.


    Filed on at 3:26 pm under by dcobranchi

    A parent of Florida middle schooler is suing the school to remove their devil mascot from all school merchandise. He claims this is an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment. I don’t buy it. And why is everyone so inclined to sue? I hope the school doesn’t cave.


    Filed on at 1:29 pm under by dcobranchi

    The site is really messed up. If you’re looking for the blogroll or archives, the links are at the very bottom of the screen. I have no idea why.


    Filed on November 8, 2003 at 8:36 pm under by dcobranchi

    Here’s a very grainy shot of the total eclipse, taken about 5 minutes after totality began. This was taken with the camcorder on a long zoom. It didn’t really come through in the video, but the moon was quite orange. Bonus points for identifying the origin of the title.

    UPDATE: It appears we got luckier than most. Surfing around I discovered that a lot of the sites that had set up webcasts were disappointed by cloudy skies.

    UPDATE: I’ve removed the photo.


    Filed on at 6:39 pm under by dcobranchi

    There’s a total lunar eclipse tonight. Totality starts at 8:06 p.m. on the East coast.


    Filed on at 5:10 pm under by dcobranchi

    Beverly at About.com has a bunch of short geography studies of the individual states. You can pick a single state or sign up for a 25 week email series in the order the states were admitted to the union.


    Filed on at 4:58 pm under by dcobranchi

    In South Dakota it was illegal for an 80 year old woman to stop in the street to talk to a young married man. (via Beverly Hernandez)


    Filed on at 4:38 pm under by dcobranchi

    Sony allows unlimited online storage of digital photos. These are a few shots from the last week of several homeschoolers being “socialized.”


    Filed on at 4:09 pm under by dcobranchi

    Anthony’s roller hockey season came to an end today with a 4-1 loss in the championship game. It was a good game and season, and all of the kids on both teams played hard and fair. Congratulations to both the Devils and Penguins. Well done.

    Anthony behind the net

    BTW, this shot was an experiment with some image editing. It’s been considerably cropped. It was shot with a 1.3 Megapixel camera and then re-saved into JPEG (I know- you’re not supposed to do that but the file was too big to upload as a TIF).


    Filed on at 11:52 am under by dcobranchi

    The New York Times has a thoughtful piece on why some small schools “work” and others don’t. An interesting read.


    Filed on November 7, 2003 at 6:23 pm under by dcobranchi

    This one is nearly unbelievable.

    A drug sweep Wednesday morning at a South Carolina school has some parents and students questioning police tactics.

    Surveillance video from Stratford High School in Goose Creek shows 14 officers, some with guns drawn, ordering students to lie the ground as police searched for marijuana. Students who didn’t comply with the orders quickly enough were reportedly handcuffed.

    Police didn’t find any criminals in the armed sweep, but they say search dogs smelled drugs on a dozen backpacks.

    The school’s principal defended the dramatic sweep.

    “We received reports from staff members and students that there was a lot of drug activity,” said George McCrackin. “Recently we busted a student for having over 300-plus prescription pills. The volume and the amount of marijuana coming into the school is unacceptable.”

    The parents of some students who were subjected to the sweep disagree.

    “I was just upset knowing they had guns put to their head and a canine was barking at them and about to bite somebody,” said Latonia Simmons, the parent of one student. “It was awful.”

    Sometimes the schools really are prisons and the cops, jack-booted thugs.

    HEY, KIM!

    Filed on at 7:10 am under by dcobranchi

    Du Toit, not Swygert.

    Rich Lowry at Townhall.com has a nice snarky piece on boys and toy guns.

    The recent scare caused by a toy gun that closed down a congressional building has prompted Brooklyn Democratic Congressman Ed Towns to declare a new urgency to passing his proposed ban on “realistic looking” toy guns. His bill would “ban toys which in size, shape or overall appearance resemble real handguns.” Next Towns will be after “realistic looking” daggers, bows and arrows, battle axes and lightsabers — which, after all, could confuse Stormtroopers into thinking they are facing a threatening situation.

    He goes on to point out that boys (both young and not-so-young) and guns seem to go together.

    Many parents have seen their ambition to keep their boys from toy guns frustrated by their kids’ unstoppable trigger fingers. If denied a toy gun, a boy is liable to use a stick, or bite his sandwich into the shape of a gun, or pretend to shoot with his sister’s Barbie doll.

    I can testify to this one. Lydia and I (in our younger, more liberal days) were stridently anti-toy gun. Anthony, then age 2 and being much smarter than his parents, bit one corner off his toast every morning. Taught us a lesson.

    And in honor of the namesake of this post, I’ll throw up a photo of the gun I shouldered last night at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get this one.


    Filed on at 4:42 am under by dcobranchi

    A student in Maryland has been suspended fpr six weeks for getting into a fight during a soccer game. Six weeks for fighting? That seems excessive but the article may have omitted crucial details. Oh yeah- there’s a snarky comment about homeschooling.


    Filed on at 4:33 am under by dcobranchi

    More on my little obsession. According to the Jackson’s minister, the eldest son may have been a refugee (i.e., a “pushout”) from the g-schools.

    “At Central school he was caught stealing lunches, eating them and throwing up in the kid’s lunch bag. At Carson School there was more eating and throwing up. The final straw was when he stole food and threw up on the teacher. This is the reason they started home schooling,” Thomas said.


    Filed on at 4:10 am under by dcobranchi

    The Univ. of Delaware has released (and the News-Journal trumpets) a study that purports to show that the state-wide smoking ban is the best (and most popular) thing since sliced bread.

    28 percent of respondents said they were more likely to dine at local restaurants, while 9 percent said they were less likely; and 15 percent said they were more likely to visit bars, while 11 percent said they were less likely… 40 percent of everyday smokers said they would use restaurants less, and 48 percent said they would go to bars less.

    Very impressive-sounding but quite meaningless. First, people can easily say they’re more or less likely to perform an act, particularly when the overall purpose of a study is known. In other words, they can attempt to please the surveyor.

    Then, the survey was skewed against the people who actually frequented bars, pre-ban. Ask anyone who had ever been in a bar or taproom- a large percentage of patrons smoked. So, even if the vast majority of Delawareans are in favor of the law and claim they are more likely to go out now, the people who actually did go out pre-ban are significantly less likely to do so now.

    A better survey would have been to call up bar owners and restauranteurs to actually find the effects of the ban. Did revenues go up or down? The state of Delaware will have the relevant data when businesses file their gross-receipts taxes. I predict two things: 1) Revenues for bars and taprooms will be way down and 2) The Minner Administration will never voluntarily release those data; the governor has invested way too much political capital in the ban to allow it to be undercut.

    A smart Republican or Libertarian candidate could generate a lot of interest (and donations from the business community) by pressing the governor on this issue.

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